Blame it on the Alcohol?

kermit-1651325_1920

Image source: pixabay.com

Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.

Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”

What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?

Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:

“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”

“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”

“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”

With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:

Continue reading

Reward ≠ Food

rewardnotfood

Patient and client conversations can be a rich source of writing inspiration to address common concerns. As we discuss new changes, cravings, accomplishments and challenges, ideas start to percolate as we work together to find the best solution for the individual. If the same issue is mentioned by different individuals more than three times in relatively short succession, we can almost *feel* the universe tapping on our shoulder.

The latest recurrent theme among us all seems to be regarding emotional eating, over-eating, and reward-eating.

Let’s break this last one down. Why would we associate certain foods with a reward?

    • With thousands of years of evolution working for (or against) us, humans naturally crave sweet flavor. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would get a little *ping* of dopamine by eating berries and other naturally sweet substances. The brain would reward eating this food, which some argue helped our ancestors survive by promoting fat storage to see them through the leaner times. This survival mechanism is all but unnecessary during the times in which we live, with plentiful food stores and sedentary lifestyles (when was the last time we burnt 2000+ calories a day hunting down buffalo?).
    • An ostensible lack of other options or ideas for rewarding ourselves. We’ve leaned on food to give ourselves a pat on the back after a hard day in the office, for finishing a big project, or to relax after a full day with the kids finally in bed. After many years of this, we may have forgotten how to celebrate our accomplishments without cake, doughnuts, french fries, or chips.

After the sleeve of cookies is finished, there can be a poignant anxiety that settles in. Guilt and shame follow soon after and we feel terrible about ourselves. Then we say “what the Hades, I’m probably never going to lose the weight anyway” and keep going or we decide with firmness and determination, “starting tomorrow, no cookies ever again!” However, we all know how this plays out; the deprivation leads to cravings and the whole cycle begins anew.

When you eat, try eating to nourish your body and experience pleasure. Tying food to your reward-system will unravel advances in your health goals and, here’s the kicker, it doesn’t even work. By the time we are done with the chocolate chip cookie party, we only temporarily feel sated before we either look for more sugar (during the ‘down’ of our blood sugar rollercoaster) or we feel guilty…..which drowns out what ephemeral feeling of pleasure we got from the food in the first place.

By having some non-food rewards instead, or at least sprinkling them into your current routine, you can start to challenge the ‘need’ for something sweet and, instead, ‘treat’ yourself ‘sweetly’ (double puns, couldn’t resist :D). Here are a few ideas to get your started on non-food rewards:

Continue reading

Emotional Ice Cream

sad-strawberry-ice-cream

It starts at a young age with associations we can’t remember making. But by this point in our short lives, we have engineered quite a few if-then connections.

If I throw my food on the floor, then mommy will be upset.

If I behave while at preschool today, the teacher will give me a sticker.

Perhaps there was a time where you fell, scraped your knee and began to cry because of the pain and shock. Maybe an adult offered you a lollipop to help cheer you up. Bam! Neural pathway made: “okay, so when I feel hurt, eating sweets is an acceptable solution”

Fast-forward decades years later and it’s still going on. A difficult conversation with your boss or spouse become an excuse, albeit mostly unconscious, to indulge in some ice cream. A night out drinking with friends is a ‘reward’ for a hellish, stressful week. And it’s OKAY to treat ourselves, but there’s a distinct mindlessness involved in emotional eating. Very few people think to themselves, “boy do these feelings hurt, perhaps I’ll eat enough chocolate chip cookies to squash them down.” And yet that unconscious belief can be at play, creating patterns that are deeply ingrained.

What to do?

The first step is awareness.

Perhaps the next time you find yourself reaching in the freezer for ice cream, ask yourself why you think you’re doing it. Perhaps you’ll reflect upon your day and remember that your boss assigned a short deadline for your next project, you’re completely overwhelmed by responsibilities, or that your mother-in-law criticized your parenting. Ice cream can seem like a balm for these ‘ouch’ moments, but there is more shame than comfort at the bottom of a pint of rocky road. Even if you find the answer to your question, you may not be able to change the behavior just yet. That’s okay. It’s something we can work on together; schedule your complimentary 20-minutes Discovery Call to get started.

Review: Floating at True REST

flotation-tank-obw

Ah yes, a perfect flashback to Modest Mouse’s “Float On” and the lyrics work perfectly with our topic: floatation tanks!

Given our hectic lives where ‘being busy’ is a twisted badge of honor, the idea of a sensory deprivation state or REST (Restricted Environment Stimulus Therapy) has appealed for quite a long time. We’ve seen egg-shaped chairs and chambers but NOW….Columbus has a most perfect option; so we recently went to check it out.

For first-time floaters, you’ll need to get there half an hour early to have some tea and watch a video with a bit of the history of floating, benefits, and how to have a good float. The room is already set up for relaxing with some comfy chairs and Himalayan salt lamps. Towards the end of the video, it turns into a relaxation screen with colorful prisms and tranquil music.

From there you’ll be assigned a room with a floatation pod, shower, and all sorts of accoutrements, including ear plugs. All you need to do is shampoo and wash your body, wait for the signal, climb in and pull the pod lid down to start your float.

If you have a bit of an issue with claustrophobia, rest assured that you can lift the lid at anytime. As you get into your float (aptly named- with all the salt in there you can’t sink!), you may experience a wee bit of what meditators often call the ‘monkey mind’. “Did I lock my car? How annoying it was standing in line at the grocery today! What will we eat for dinner?” But after awhile, you body -being so still – allows your brain to get the message that we are RESTING now. You may even start falling asleep!

Before you know it – soft music will be piped into your pod to remind you that your float is almost over. It’s time to stretch yourself out, shower (careful – you don’t want salt on your clothes) and adjust to the ‘real world’ in the soft, peaceful oxygen bar area. The attendants are extremely dedicated to good customer service and you’ll likely have multiple people offering to grab you another cup of tea or infused water. If it suits you, they also have coloring books and journal in the relaxation space. Just make sure you’ve given yourself time to adjust from the Theta brain wave state before getting into your car and the phone starts pinging again.

oasis-room-obw

The owner, Patrick Gerke, was assisting other floaters with their oxygen bar selections. It was the perfect time to inquire about the history of True REST. He shared that he had been in the Marines and found it hard to turn off his highly-alert nervous system upon returning home. He found himself constantly watching other people’s hands, paying attention to their purses/bags, and the doctors he went to offered pharmaceuticals. He didn’t want to flirt with possibility of addiction to these drugs and his friend in the Navy SEALS suggested floating. Shortly thereafter, Patrick went to nearest flotation tank experience available – in Chicago – back in 2013 and as he told us”found his calling.” From there he and his wife set up the Powell location and recently expanded to Easton.

The benefits of floating are said to extend beyond relaxation and stress reduction to pain relief as well as enhanced sleep and cognition.

True REST is so confident you will enjoy the experience that if you are not 100% satisfied with your first visit, you won’t pay. We seriously doubt that ever happens, especially when you feel like a refreshed version of your ideal self. So there’s nothing to lose!

In fact, a single float is normally $79 but let them know Adrienne Raimo from One Bite Wellness sent you and get your first float for $49 (instead of $59).

Bonus: your experience may be even better when you do yoga or get a massage (both on the same shopping strip!) before your float.

They say you can never step into the same river twice; we add: you will can never step out of the floatation pod in same state you entered :).

Let’s all float on alright.

Stop the Worry Train!

 

train with OBW

“Do I need to see a doctor?”
“Am I spending enough time with my family?”
“What is the point of everyday life?”
“Should I have a baby?”
“How can I make the world better?”
“Do I spend too much money/not save enough?”
“Am I getting paranoid?”

These thoughts can run circles through our minds at night, precisely when we are trying to settle down to grab a few hours of sleep before the next day begins. They also pop in during our daytime hours as we experience a bit of anxiety around whether we misspoke in our meeting, didn’t perform well enough during a presentation, or wonder if our health is failing us. Worrying may seem to provide some benefit as they bring some mindfulness back to an issue we may want to resolve, but most of the time anxious thoughts do not make our lives better – they are counter-productive and drain our energy.

So unless worrying about the leaking roof results in the action of calling the repairman, it is essentially just a sticky, negative thought loop that generally begets more of itself. Of course, fear is the parent of worry and these two emotions can cause all sorts of issues, ranging from insomnia and digestive issues to tense shoulders and lower immunity.

“Don’t worry, be happy,” Bobby McFerrin advises in a song; people may tell us to ‘lighten up’…but it may not be that simple. As with cravings, sometimes the best way to address worries is to first understand them and then change the way they affect you. Start here and see which situation(s) apply to you:

1. Worrying as a means to Control. Sometimes we believe that ruminating enough about something will help us prevent it or control the outcome. Anxious thinking about the future – 7 months or 7 years into the future – about the potential housing market or where your kids will go to college doesn’t help you in the now nor will it assist you in the future.  The unknown can be scary and life is constantly changing; by embracing, rather than resisting it, you can cultivate more inner peace. Many traditions, including yoga and Buddhism, urge a focus on the absolute present – the moment we have right now – and to bring our attention and energy to it. Give it a try:  look at the colors and textures of items at your desk or down the hall. Take a 5-minute walk outside and notice the sounds and scents of nature.  Embrace the flow of life and your place within it.

2. Fortune-telling. Worrying isn’t a special ability that enables the affected individual to gain some esoteric insight into the future. Some believe that worrying thoughts portend the future and they acknowledge this ‘information’ as a high-level threat. “I might lose my job. I might get divorced. Does this repair signal that my car is breaking down?” Some would say that if you are constantly thinking about how your boss doesn’t think you’re a great employee, or you’re always worried about the state of your marriage …you may bring these worries to fruition.

Also, there’s a notable difference between intuition and worrying. If you’re on a meeting with a new associate and feeling uncomfortable because they give you the creeps, that’s your gut. If you’re feeling uncomfortable because you see them as competition for your job, that’s worry. Just remember intuition starts as a gut feeling which can help provide clarity or insight whereas worrying starts as an idea that often stems from anxiety and/or fear.

Distinguishing between productive and unproductive worry, with regard to the future, is important. If you’re worried about having enough money at retirement or whether you’ll develop type II diabetes, this could goad you into creating a budget, speaking with a financial consultant or reducing sugar intake and getting some labs drawn. Unproductive worry can manifest as thoughts about whether people will show up for your presentation or whether Aunt Edith will like your version of mashed sweet potatoes. The difference is understanding what is within your control and what isn’t. A good practice for this is writing down your worries and then seeing what you can do about them. For some you could make a note next to them – set an appointment with a doctor, look through your financial records, see a marriage counselor, or have a lower-sugar breakfast. For others on the list where there isn’t an action step, cross them off as they are typically areas outside of your control which are creating needless anxiety.

3. Http://world-wide-worries. Perhaps terrorist attacks, colony-collapse disorder, GMOs, global warming, and other such maladies are on your mind and causing you nervous energy. While it is wise to be concerned about the the state of the planet and humanity, these worries could go on forever. Constant guilt about the plastic packaging brought into the home or giving up on the purchase of a new lawnmower because of global warming, may not help (the latter will likely earn you a fine from the city). Suffice to say, worrying about the planet isn’t going to help, but supporting the causes most important to you can help create productive action out of that worry. You can choose to modify your buying habits, write letters to officials, grow a garden, volunteer at a food pantry, and join local activist groups. Taking action can be the best anti-dote for these worries.

4. Existential anxieties. These can cover a breadth and depth of anxious thoughts that put the other forms of worrying to shame. Lying awake at night with haunting thoughts about whether or not you have a soul, the point of everyday life, or why you (or any of us) are here may cause restlessness instead of sleep. These thoughts are great for intellectual discourse and for helping you clarify your own beliefs, but if they over-shadow your ‘smaller’ worries (i.e. showering, paying bills, or showing up to work), the latter will become much bigger, very quickly. In a sense, are lucky to be living in one of the periods in human history where we have both time and resources to spend on philosophical ponderings. Not too long ago, many people were not able to read, write, or discuss philosophical ideas when the priority was either finding dinner or not becoming dinner. For this type of worrying, consider taking a philosophy class, reading a book, or attending a small-group meeting in order to discuss these ideas and then release the overwhelming worry.

5. Over-analysis and Ruminating. This worrying takes form as a never-ending carousel ride of thoughts where you just can’t seem to jump off. Running conversations or events on repeat and pulling them apart and analyzing every word and action is rather fruitless. Moreso, it usually just breeds regret of wishing the situation had been different. Unless you’ve taken a quick lesson from poor behavior or word choice, worrying about the past only impinges on your present and your future.

Also, it’s easy to engage in negative self-talk during this type of worrying. Notice your internal dialogue: “I can’t believe I said something so stupid. I always do that” or any other thoughts of self-doubt can be part of the worrying issue. One idea for ruminators is to journal about what happened, what you did, and what you learned and will do differently in the future. Be mindful of negative words you’ve used – “always, never, should, can’t”- and replace them with more positive ones – “will try, prefer not, will choose to.” This allows reliving the experience to gain wisdom and then to close the chapter.

In short, if you identify with one or more of these ‘worrier’ scenarios, remember that action is a productive use of worry, not constantly ruminating and causing additional anxiety. Remember to keep a healthy perspective on life’s flow, engage in relaxing activities, challenge your thoughts, and most of all, perhaps find a bit of gratitude in the process. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

.

The Cost of Clutter – Death, Peace, and Money

a clean space1

Almost imperceptibly, we slowly accumulate increasing piles of…stuff. Like cholesterol blockages in arteries, clutter doesn’t happen overnight but its effects can be just as deadly. It’s true, people have died from extreme clutter, or hoarding, in their own homes – by fire from which they couldn’t escape or crushed and hidden beneath their stuff. It’s estimated that up to five percent of the U.S. population has a problem with hoarding and a CBS News poll found that 1/3 of Americans say they have too much clutter in their homes.

About 10% of American families rent storage space for belongings which don’t fit in their homes or items they aren’t ready to part with. That money serves your stuff, instead of your life and growth. Then there are some people who will forgo renting space but choose larger homes to contain their clutter.

It’s simple to put a dollar figure on the cost of rented storage spaces, but what about the clutter in your home? The first step is to assess and take stock of your possessions and the space they own in your home. In a single room, take a look and estimate the cost of what you’re not using and what you don’t love. Unworn clothing, make-up purchased years ago, jewelry, knick-knacks, spider-webbed sports equipment, and paper all have a financial cost. If you find that a certain item tugs at your heart or causes an emotional response, that’s an added cost (which can be greater than the financial one!).  Add up the cost of the items – what you remember spending or the item’s price tag. If you’re still paying it off, record that too. A perusal through one’s closet may show hundreds of dollars of unused, cluttering clothing, shoes, and accessories. Are you still paying on the $2000 television purchased 3 years ago? Guess what, even if it breaks (and if the term ‘planned obsolescence‘ means anything to you, it will), you’ll still pay for it AND the new television. Is anything worth the stress of those monthly bills?

Another tactic is to figure out how much each square footage of your home is worth and then discern how much of the space is ‘owned’ by clutter. If you own your home, take the current, roughly estimated value of the home and divide it by the square footage (i.e. $75 per square foot). If you rent, we find it’s easier for clients to add up the total rent for the year and divide by the square footage of the home. Once you have this number, multiply it by the square footage of space stuff is taking up in your garage, bedrooms, living room, and basement. You may find a surprising estimated cost for the clutter in your space. Whether you’re paying a mortgage or a landlord, are you writing that check mainly on behalf of clutter storage?

How about money spent for replacement items? Have you purchased a new pair of sneakers only to find some in your closet from last summer? Clutter costs us money and time when we buy duplicates of stuff we already own but can’t find. 

Part of this equation should be a discussion on safety and health. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, most accidents occur in the home. Clutter can pose risks for falls and accidents. Slipping on laundry thrown down the wooden basement stairs? Kids toys? Feeding what could have been a small house fire with paper clutter? Also the growth of allergens like dust and mold can be expensive to treat.

When you are disorganized, you can’t function effectively, much less optimally. Much like a small business, you need to have an organizational structure for your home life. Misplacing checks in piles of paper, late fees, tax penalties, and library fines are all extra dollars out your door. At a very basic level, time spent looking for car keys is time that could have been spent relaxing, working, or socializing.

Clutter also costs us time by demanding our attention. We have to work around it to get groceries in the car, pay our bills, find a useful item, and make a meal. What could normally be accomplished in 15 minutes can take 3x as long! The extra hours of housework are a time and energy drain that could be used for creative endeavors, education, hobbies, or any number of productive projects.

Clutter can also affect your mental health. You know the feeling when you enter a dwelling and the space is bright, clean and welcoming versus one where shoes are strewn all over the dirty floor. One client felt her life was becoming unmanageable and she was dealing with increasing amounts of anxiety and depression. It turns out that she didn’t need pharmaceutical pills, she needed a clean and welcoming sanctuary to call home. We made a few recommendations and she flew with it, hiring an organizer to help her declutter and a housekeeper for occasional, detailed visits. As of this writing, she reports feeling calmer and more emotionally stable.

What about the sheer joy and lightness of being that comes with having space to twirl around your room without running into piles of stuff? A place for you and your family to grow, expand, and learn in a clean and orderly environment? The contented sigh as you look over and see flat surfaces without piles on top?  Living in peace is priceless.

Perhaps the biggest cost is an intangible one: clutter impedes and causes procrastination for personal growth. It’s just one giant, clutter-y obstacle to overcome on living a life you desire.

We can become prisoners and Stuff is our warden. We tie up our money in rarely used sports equipment, shirts that don’t fit quite right, gadgets, and various entertainment. Some people develop Stockholm syndrome with their clutter, relating positive feelings for their stuff and imbuing it with sense of human comfort to counter-act their loneliness. Liberate your stuff, liberate yourself. tweet this

When there is too much stuff around you, it’s like being a plant in a tiny pot. It’s overly challenging to thrive and grow when you are tucked into a bunch of clutter. The answer, of course, isn’t moving to a larger space. The solution is to put your space on a diet. Once you get rid of stuff and get organized, that’s when you begin to expand your wings and take off!

Ready to take charge and get support? Come to our Declutter your Home, Clear your Mind class this Thursday!

Call to the Nation: Take your Vacation!

983966_10103105851745125_2018924107_n

Of all industrialized nations, America has the least number of vacation days. A far cry from the 30+ days offered as annual leave and paid holidays by other countries such as Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy, some Americans are lucky to get (and use) the roughly two weeks given as a ‘benefit’. However, quite a few of us are not even taking this small amount of time off, in the true sense of the word. To ask for a week or *gasp* two off requires advance notice of a few months, large efforts to secure work while away (though about a third of us do work during vacations), and tends to bring a decent amount of anxiety as we worry about being perceived as disloyal or lazy.

Often vacation time is now mostly utilized as personal days, taken here or there, to run errands and ‘catch up’ with life’s demands or to take a mental break from the severe stress of over-work. Do you know anyone who works 40 hours a week? Rarely do we at One Bite Wellness encounter a person who works 40 hours or less at a job; most people answer their work ranges from 45- 60 hours per week. Because of this over-working, we have higher levels of stress and depression and less recreational time with friends and family, much less time to cook and exercise.

Americans may be economically more advantaged than other countries in the world, but we seem to have lost our health and longevity. We have some of the poorest health rankings and spend more money per capita on healthcare than almost any other country. In 1980, we ranked 11th in the world for longevity; now we’ve fallen to 42nd, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

How did we get here? Well the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 regulates the maximum number of working hours, over-time, child labor, and minimum wage but never mentioned paid time off. There was never a baseline set for vacation or sick time and now it’s up to the employee and employer to negotiate. Many companies will give workers about 1-2 weeks off per year, but they can also stipulate that you cannot use more than a certain amount of days in a row. About a quarter of Americans don’t get any vacation time at all.

Benefits of a Break

  • Studies suggest that those who take vacations are less likely to suffer from heart disease and other illnesses.
  • Taking a vacation from work is associated with better health, relationships and social life, productivity and creativity, and general well-being.
  • Replenishment and life-enriching experiences, preventing ‘burn-out’
  • Stronger social and familial bonds
  • Improved patience and tolerance, less anxiety and depression

These benefits really take place over a block of vacation time, not a day taken here or there.

Focusing on this issue of vacation time forces us to examine our values, as individuals and as a country. What do we value? Economic progress over all else? What about our health and our families? Our mental well-being? We work hard and long for progress and production, but if we want to improve our quality of life and well-being, we have to fully realize that vacations matter greatly.

Do it for your sanity and your health. Be ‘time rich’. Take a vacation– holistic nutritionist’s orders. 🙂