Thank you, Flu

dietitiansorders

Wondering where we’ve been? Well, first Arizona, and then, during the week where writing a blog was at the top of the list, something happened. Whether it was a delayed on-set from exposure to recycled airplane air or just from another silently contagious human, the flu caught up with us.

An early morning of feeling super-slow, as though walking through molasses, and strange aches made us call a meeting short. Thinking we could still rally and celebrate a friend’s birthday dinner, we decided on a nap. It was only upon awaking that the sad truth set in, with its fever and chills, achy joints, headache, and congestion. The flu.

Too tired and weak to drum up a will to fight, we chose an opposite approach. Giving in. It was decided: instead of trying to force ourselves to feel better and continue working (at least from home), we would do what animals tend to do – including slowing waaaay down. The first day we didn’t eat, the second day was spent in the cave-like bedroom allowing sleep to take over whenever tiredness hit (which was basically all day). Though we couldn’t eat much at all, we took a look at our mental diet…what would we watch or read that would make us feel better? (It ended up being Netflix’s Kindness Diaries and Queer Eye, both rather inspiring and heart-warming). For someone whose stomach rules her life, it was odd not to feel hungry and day 3 brought back a little hunger and ability to enjoy a favorite Mediterranean meal. Here are some silver linings from the experience:

  1. Slowing down – the experience showed the wisdom of not running ourselves into the ground all the time
  2. All of the delicious vacation meals (including homemade Butterfingers and coconut ice cream) put some weight on, which was promptly removed by the flu.
  3. Seeing people in life care and bring wellness remedies, food, and even humor to the situation.
  4. Gratitude for health increased dramatically; how we take it for granted when we’re well!
  5. A nice surprise: sugar cravings went away! It felt like a whole-body reset after a few days of tea, remedies, lots of water, and rest.

Though it was wise to take time to heal, it was more than a bit frustrating to have to scratch all of our appointments and goals for the week. So if getting sick is something you don’t have time for, take time for keeping yourself well. Here are some tips to do just that:

1. Wash hands thoroughly; clean door handles on a regular basis
2. Get enough sleep; skimping here will lower your immune system’s ability to fight off illness
3. Healthy diet; this should go without saying. Proper nutrition is critical to protecting the body and keeping it well.
4. Stay hydrated; it is easy to over-look the benefits of getting enough water
5. Laughter: it boosts the immune system!

Stay well, friends!

10 Ways to Increase Body Love

10waystoincreasebodylove

A recent interview with a journalist brought more to light about the importance of body positivity and how to practice accepting and loving our bodies. Part of the work we do here is not about nutrition at all. It’s about helping people see themselves, first as they really are, in that moment, and helping to change their mindset on the way to advancing to a more whole life. What does this involve? It involves treating yourself kindly and learning to be your own best friend. It involves respecting yourself and your body – in self-talk, with exercise & sleep, and how you feed it.

Here are 10 tips to increase love for you body; perhaps it will provide an ‘aha’ moment for you too, or at least encourage you to take a small moment and express gratitude for your earthly body.

  1. You’re in good company if the first thing you do in the mornings is hurl an insult at yourself. Many clients have shared the thoughts that run through their heads and there’s a similar thread of “oh great, I have bags under my eyes,” “ugh, my thighs are so fat! How did I let this happen?! Okay, now I really need to buckle down with my diet this week.” What kind of tone does this set for the day and your week? One of disappointment, temporary resolve, and self-loathing. Solution: 2 put-ups for every put-down. Every time you have negative self-talk, you have to say two good things about your body or personality.
  2. Remember that your body is the temple of your spirit; your body is also like a fancy car. How would you treat such objects? Surely any dirt in a temple would be cleaned up; surely you’d not put 87-grade fuel into a Porsche, right? Perhaps consider how you could show your body respect and reverence.
  3. Focus on how you Feel in your body, not just your appearance.
  4. Ask yourself why you are grateful for your body today. Were you blessed with the ability to dance to music? What about the ability to walk (remembering that not everyone can)? Are you grateful for your curly hair? Can you be glad you have strong thighs, even if they aren’t the size you’d like? Do you appreciate the beauty your eyes feast upon everyday; or merely appreciate that you Can see?
  5. Clothe yourself comfortably and in a way that shows your self-respect. Wearing a giant tent of a t-shirt and stretchy gym pants can be part of a ‘depression uniform.’ By wearing a fashionable dress and highlighting your attractive features, you start feeling better about yourself…and that often leads to wanting to DO better for yourself (i.e. making a healthier choice)…which can lead to looking better.
  6. Treat your body like a baby. Honor your body’s needs and act accordingly. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired. Don’t always push yourself so hard.
  7.  Write a love note. You’ve likely done it for others; now it’s time to catalog some of those qualities you adore about yourself. Keep them handy for days when you’re feeling less-than-stellar.
  8. Forgive yourself everyday for one thing you didn’t do perfectly (i.e. eating a cookie or two, or a sleeve of them).
  9. Remember: hindsight is 20/20. When you’re 70 or 80, you’ll probably look at photos of yourself and think you were hot stuff. Why don’t we try on that perspective now?
  10. Besides your physical appearance, do you have certain attributes or character traits that you admire about yourself? Perhaps you make others laugh easily, are a great leader or writer, are an expert paddle-boarder or French cook. Sometimes appreciating the beauty inside helps us connect with it on the outside.

BONUS: Your body LOVES you. Every cell in your body is working to keep you alive and well. It’s your ally, not enemy. Why be at war with it?

You can check out the full article 20 Ways to Have a More Positive Body Image and a very fitting blog about this same topic from a couple of years back!

 

Tips: Healthy Holiday Indulgence

pumpkin pie

1. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you set your eyes upon a prepared feast. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how much food you’ll need to feel satisfied. Your surroundings, mood, stress  and hunger levels will influence your answer. Be mindful.

2. Restricting one’s self takes a lot of willpower and brainpower, which can pull focus away from enjoying a meal together and spending time with loved ones. Take time for conversation, slow down, relax, savor your food, and listen to your body’s response.

3. The holidays are marketed as ‘special’ and ‘limited time only’, which makes it so we often believe this is our only chance to eat certain foods. This causes thoughts of scarcity and deprivation, which can easily lead to over-indulging, just to ‘get it while it lasts’!  Remember, you can have these special foods again – ask for the recipe, go back for a second helping, have leftovers. This helps with staying mindful while enjoying our food and the holiday celebration.

4. Identify a few things that really make the holidays for you. For some it’s visiting  the zoo lights and hot chocolate, reading by the fire, or time with friends over a pastry and coffee. For us, the holidays come alive while baking cookies with family.  Since this isn’t something we do during the rest of the year, it’s nostalgic and has a wonderful feeling of holiday celebration. Find the special treats that are an integral part of your holiday celebrations and take the time to mindfully savor them.

5. Hosting for the holidays? It’s easy to forget to eat while cleaning the house, bathing the dog, and running errands; however, skipping meals during the day can lead to intensified food cravings and overeating at night. Remember to check in with your body often to assess hunger level and have healthy snacks or meals on hand.

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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!

 

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