Friday, March 30, 2012

One Word

I've mentioned the site Daily Health Challenge before. They send you a new challenge every day on the premise that one small change a day can truly effect your health, happiness, and life in general. Sometimes the challenges are exercises, sometimes diet changes, and others, lifestyle changes. Yesterday, the challenge was to think of a joyful time in your life and describe it in one word. My word was, TOGETHER. I chose that word because I realized that the really happy times in my life were always shared with someone I loved. I also remember times when I felt extreme joy but then a let down because I had no one with me to share the moment. Thinking about this made me realize just how blessed I've been to have shared my life with so many special people. I think I like these type of challenges more than the others because they do make me think and they often change the way I think. I truly believe that you can change your life by changing your mind. I saw an exercise recommended a few days ago that I plan to start doing...today! You simply look in the mirror at least once a day and say an affirmative statement, "I love and accept myself just like I am." The psychologist who was talking about this exercise, said that, at first, your mind will argue with you and you'll start thinking of all of the faults you perceive in yourself, all of the things you want to change or wish you could change. She said, that's okay. Just let those thoughts come but each day, look in the mirror and repeat that affirmation. She added that it will take about thirty days but eventually, you mind will start to change its mind; it will start to believe the affirmation. You will start to believe in yourself, love yourself, and accept yourself....and how wonderful would that be?

A very good note.......I've lost 5, five....count 'em FIVE pounds this week!!! Whoohoo! Yahooo! Yippe Ky Yah!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Must Watch

This film is available online to watch in its entirety for free for a very short time, the end of the month. You must watch this. How I wish that I could include the video here but I can't, you must go to this website to watch but it is worth it. It is called Hungry for Change and it explains why we are fat and how to not only lose weight for life but to feel alive. It speaks to all of the toxins in our foods especially processed food. It tells of how the manufacturers and food processors deceive us and what we are really eating and what it does to us. It is scary stuff!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

5 So Called "Health" Foods You Should Avoid

I'm sharing another article, this one is from the Washington Post, because this warning hits too close to home today. Logically, I realize that because of the celiacs disease and because I want to lose weight, too, I need to be eating only from the outside periphery of the grocery store. In other words, as purely and fresh as possible. For the most part, I do but yesterday, after nearly two weeks without diet Dr Peppers, I couldn't stand it any longer. They say that sugar is more addictive than cocaine well Dr Peppers must be close behind. I've had headaches and been exhausted the entire time I was doing without them. True, the small, still sane part of my brain keeps telling me how unhealthy they are but the larger, illogical, gots to have 'em part is larger and usually wins the argument. It isn't just the obvious reasons that I shouldn't consume something so completely artificial and void of nutritional value but also how I always think that I need to be eating even more junk food every time I drink a diet cola. Just because something is labeled gluten free does not mean it is healthy. In fact, the cookies and nutrition bars and other "goodies" are just as much junk food as their gluten filled alternatives if not more so. Sometimes I think that even more fat and sugar is added to gluten free packaged foods just to make them palatable. So, I'm very guilty today of junk food indulgence and delving deeply into the processed, junk food filled center of the grocery store yesterday. My buggy had some good foods in it, vegetables, fruit, pure juice, fish, and lean meat but it also contained, gluten free chocolate chip cookies, gluten free breakfast bars, chips (these are mainly for Steve because they're his obsession but I indulge occasionally, too) and those much loved diet colas. There has to be a way to pump up the logical side of my brain so that it can overpower the illogical side next time I get a craving.

And here is the article...which makes me feel even guiltier about yesterday's binge.


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Eating healthy can be harder than you think, thanks to an enterprising food industry that wants us to consume more than we need. That’s because our country’s agricultural system produces twice what most people require, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This encourages creative marketing to unload the excess, much of it with minimal nutritional value. As a nutrition consultant, I know that words such as “low fat,” “high fiber,” “multigrain” and “natural” can fool even the most sophisticated customers into believing what they’re buying is healthful. So what can you do? First, make a habit of reading the ingredients list, not just the Nutrition Facts panel. And remember the following products worth resisting.
Reduced-fat peanut butter (not guilty of this one - like my pb as pure as possible)
The oil is the healthiest part of a nut, containing most of the nutrients, so there’s no advantage to taking it out. In fact, it’s worse because it robs the peanut butter of its health benefits. “Reduced-fat peanut butter has as many calories and more sugar than the regular,” says Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Instead: Buy regular peanut butter. Eating one or two ounces of nuts daily is associated with reductions in heart disease and cancer risk. A recent Harvard study showed that eating nuts is associated with lower body weights.
Enhanced water (have indulged in these but have found that I also like my water pure...or with a little fresh squeezed fruit juice added by moi)
Drinks such as Vitaminwater are essentially sugary drinks with a vitamin pill. They are “unequivocally harmful to health,” says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Whether vitamins dissolved in water have any benefit will depend on who you are and whether you are already getting enough. . . . Some people may be getting too much of some vitamins and minerals if they add vitamin water on top of fortified foods and other supplements.” A recent Iowa Women’s Health Study found an association between certain commonly used vitamin and mineral supplements and increased death rates.
Instead: Drink water, ideally from the tap (“Eau du Potomac,” as it’s known locally). It’s the best drink for hydrating your body, is naturally calorie-free and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. No supplement matches the nutrients in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
Energy bars (huh oh...one of my many food blunders)
The reputation of these bars, also known as meal replacement bars, is that they are healthy, aid in weight loss or help build muscle. In fact, they are calorie bombs: candy bars with vitamins, protein or fiber added. For most of them, sugar is either the first (predominant) or second ingredient.
Instead: Snack on fruit or veggies for weight loss and yogurt for muscle gain. If you’re hiking a long distance and want a healthful, nonperishable calorie bomb, try nuts and dried fruit.
Multigrain foods (no worry for me anymore but I was cautious about this label before and still make certain to get true whole grain for Steve now)
Multigrain breads, crackers and cereals are often the most confusing foods. People see “multigrain” and think “whole grain.” That’s not necessarily so. This is an important distinction because people who eat whole grains have a lower incidence of diabetes, heart disease and cancers, and are less likely to be overweight compared with those who eat refined grains. Note that when “enriched wheat flour” is listed in the ingredients, that’s refined flour.
Instead: Be sure a whole grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats or brown rice, is the first and preferably the only grain in the ingredient list. A great example is a cereal listing whole rolled oats as the only grain. Alternatively, consider an egg for breakfast. “The huge amounts of refined starch and sugar that many people eat for breakfast, often thinking that this is the healthy choice, does far more damage to their well-being than an egg,” says Harvard’s Willett.
Non-fried chips and crackers (If your great grandparents wouldn't recognize a food, don't eat it....unless it's some exotic fruit or vegetable and then you're allowed....Okay, that rule really makes no sense so just stick with pure and natural. You can get in trouble with that "periphery of the store" rule, too, because that's where my grocery keeps the candy, chips, and pastries....oooh,my!)
It’s easy to believe these foods are healthful because of labels such as “baked,” “low fat” or “gluten free.” But most are made with refined grain or starch, which provide plenty of calories and few nutrients. Popchips, for example, are a new product marketed as healthful. But the ingredients are highly refined potato flakes, starch, oil, salt and about 14 additional things. Pita chips, made with white flour, oil, salt and several more ingredients, are no better. To boot, research shows that too much refined grains and starches increases the risk for heart disease, cancers, diabetes and weight gain.
Instead: Try Wasa or Finn Crisp Original Rye crackers. They’re 100 percent whole grain and have little sodium. If you’d like a chip, try Terra Chips, made with sliced vegetables, or even a 100 percent whole grain chip fried in a healthy oil, such as olive or canola. Tortilla chips and SunChips are two examples. “Now that trans fats have been removed from most cooking oils, the healthiest part of potato chips is the fat,” Willett says. “And chips made of whole grains rather than potatoes, like Frito-Lay’s SunChips, can legitimately be considered a health food,” so long as you keep to the one-ounce serving size.
Tallmadge is a registered dietitian and the author of “Diet Simple” (LifeLine Press, 2011).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So, You Have Celiacs Disease....

From, Jane Anderson on About.com......


Top 10 Things to Stop Doing If You Can't Eat Gluten

1. Stop being afraid to try new foods. It's easy to find yourself in a rut and eating the same foods over and over, especially if you're sensitive to gluten levels below the 20 parts per million generally considered "safe." You even can get so you're a little afraid of food — my article Don't Fear Food on the Gluten-Free Diettalks about this phenomenon. However, you shouldn't let your fear of getting glutened dissuade you from trying new foods. You can guard against gluten reactions by checking on the gluten status of a food prior to eating it, and by only eating a very small amount at first. If you react, obviously you should eliminate the food ... but you may just find something new to enjoy.
2. Stop avoiding eating out. It's possible to dine out with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, even if you're particularly sensitive or if you have other foods (think: soy, corn, dairy) that you also avoid. Obviously, you'll need to take precautions, even if you're dining at a restaurant with a gluten-free menu (I list possible chain restaurants in this article: Gluten-Free Restaurant Menus). It will take some extra work (of course!) — for example, you'll need to choose your restaurant carefully (a cafĂ© with an attached bakery may not be a good choice), and I strongly recommend talking with the chef first (see other tips to eat out safely in this article: How To Dine Out Safely Gluten-Free). But you shouldn't give up on going out to eat just because you can't eat gluten.
3. Stop being afraid to travel. Yes, traveling can be far more of a hassle when you can't eat gluten — you have to carry extra food, worry about what types of gluten-free food you can take through airport security, and guard constantly against reactions on the road. However, you shouldn't avoid taking a vacation, since it's quite possible to find places to travel that are very gluten-free-friendly. If you like big cities, try New York City or Los Angeles — both have many gluten-free restaurant options. For family travel, I find it tough to beat Disney (Gluten-Free Dining At Disney explains what you need to do), but other family destinations can handle gluten-free requests, as well. Always call ahead to ask. In addition, there are plenty of travel sites that list customer reviews of gluten-free-friendly restaurants — my article Gluten-Free Restaurant Directories will show you what's available.
4. Stop being in denial on reactions. I can remember my first experience with a particular gluten-free brownie mix — those brownies tasted so good. When I felt glutened the next day, I blamed everything but the brownie mix (even though it was the only logical culprit). It took four more brownies (and two more sick days) to convince myself that this mix — tested only to 20 parts per million — was causing my symptoms. It's easy to create a state of denial on reactions ... especially if you really like that suspect food. But don't do it. It's perfectly possible to get glutened by gluten-free foods, since many of them still have some trace gluten in them. Pay attention to your body's reaction and begin to figure out what foods you need to avoid, despite their "gluten-free" status (this article on How Much Gluten Can Make Me Sick? can help).
5. Stop blaming everything on gluten. It's tempting to blame that evil protein every time you have an off day or your stomach is queasy. But gluten's not always to blame — it's also possible you have the stomach flu, that you ate something questionable, or even that you're just a bit more stressed than normal and don't feel well because of it. It helps to track the symptoms you get with known gluten exposure — you'll eventually get a feel for what may be gluten-related and what probably isn't. If you get dermatitis herpetiformis, that will make it easier to identify gluten symptoms, but many people who don't get DH still get an identifiable cascade of symptoms following gluten exposure that really doesn't differ much from exposure to exposure. Learn yours, and you'll know whether you've got the stomach flu or whether you've been glutened.
6. Stop eating foods prepared by friends and family members. Unless you're part of a family or a group of people with celiac or gluten sensitivity who really do know how to cook gluten-free, you're all but guaranteed to get glutened if you eat their food (my article Should you eat gluten-free food prepared by friends or relatives? explains why). The gluten-free diet has too steep a learning curve for anyone to master it in one afternoon. Bring your own food to social events (make sure it's something you really enjoy) and focus on the company, not on the food.
7. Stop being a hermit. While you shouldn't share food made by other people who don't follow the diet (see above), you shouldn't simply stay home. It's tempting, especially if you're newly diagnosed, to avoid occasions where foods are being served which you cannot eat (see Coping with Emotions When You're Newly Gluten-Free for more details). I've done that myself. However, you don't want to live life like a hermit — make something really delicious to take to the event, and make the effort to go. You won't regret it.
8. Stop preaching about the benefits of the gluten-free diet. If you feel great now that you've gone gluten-free, it's tempting — really tempting — to try to convert everyone around you. In many cases, you'll see family members who likely would benefit if they would just go gluten-free, and friends who have symptoms of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Mention the possibility once(you have my permission to do that), but then keep quiet about it. Take my word for it as someone who finds it incredibly difficult to drop this subject: They don't want to hear about it over and over ... they really don't.
9. Stop believing everything you read on the Internet or hear at support groups. The gluten-free diet is trendy right now, which is good news for us. But there's also tons of misleading and outright incorrect information out there on it. Beware of people claiming that over-the-counter digestive enzymes will help you to process gluten (my article Can digestive enzymes save you from the symptoms of gluten exposure? explains why they won't). Also, ignore people who claim that your reaction to a particular product can't be gluten-related simply because they don't react to it —Is It a Real Reaction to Tiny Amounts of Gluten? Or Is It All in Your Head? details this phenomenon, which unfortunately is all too prevalent in the gluten-free community. I've seen people giving (sometimes poor) advice on forums when they've only been diagnosed a couple of weeks themselves. If there are new advances in the science of celiac or gluten sensitivity, or a potential way to treat it (such as one of the celiac disease drug treatments now in development), you'll absolutely hear about it here. Otherwise, make sure you check the source before taking the advice of someone who may not even have been eating gluten-free as long as you have.
10. Stop cheating. If you're a diagnosed celiac, cheating on the gluten-free diet can lead to osteoporosis, additional autoimmune diseases and potentially cancer in rare cases. You may have no symptoms (or only minor ones) right now, but the gluten is still doing damage. It's never a good idea to cheat — if you have the urge to do so, try fighting it by enjoying the most delicious gluten-free treat you can find.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sharing a Horoscope?....Say, what??

Okay, ridiculous as most people think they are, there is still the occasional horoscope which comes my way that is incredibly right on the mark. This is one of those since this was just my plan for this week, to jumpstart my new healthier lifestyle.

Drop and give ’em 20! Spring training begins this week as the Sun shifts into Aries and your sixth house of healthy living for a month. Shimmy into the Lycra and start exploring new forms of exercise. You need a combination of upbeat, energetic movements and flowy, meditative movements. Mix it up: an invigorating Zumba or African dance class on Mondays, Vinyasa flow or ballet barre on Wednesday, a run through the park on Saturdays. Variety is the spice that will keep you motivated.

Get your eating habits into a structure of sorts (not to be confused with a conventional diet). Tracking your food in an app or a food journal will keep you on point, ensuring that you ingest the right amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, veggies and so on in any given day. Eating at regular intervals is what keeps you fueled up all day. Feed yourself the good stuff too. Cut back on the packaged, processed goods and opt for fresh and natural. Although it might cost a few extra bucks, buying consciously farmed products, like free-range animal products and some organic fruits and veggies, has a holistically nourishing effect on your life. If you plan your recipes carefully, this doesn’t have to break the bank. Ditto for your cleaning products. Instead of blasting your home with bleach spray, whip up a lemon juice and tea tree oil disinfectant. Check out sites like thedailygreen.com for DIY concoctions that won’t harm the environment. Your au naturel glow is “au-so” radiant, Scorpio, attracting healthier, more grounded people into your world.

If you fall off track with your new routine on Friday, don’t beat yourself up. There’s a tendency toward perfectionism near the weekend, which can cause you to rebel and do the exact opposite of what you intended to do. If you get off track, don’t dwell on it. Forgive yourself, then recommit to your healthy goals. You can’t change the past, but you can create the future in every moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the Subject of Gratitude

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”—Marcus Aurelius

I've been writing and talking a lot lately about gratitude. Thursday was one of my rare days out. You all know that I rarely leave the farm. Vacations are certainly out of the question since we acquired five four legged babies that constantly need our care. Oddly, I don't have a friend who will volunteer to take care of them and if I paid to board all of them, I couldn't afford a trip any farther than the next town anyway. It doesn't matter, they are well worth the sacrifice. Still, it isn't just the horses that keep me tied to my doorstep. I am truly becoming a hermit in my old age. Part of the reason is my weight. I was once told by a therapist that I was an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. I think that is probably true. If you want to know the most essential difference between an introvert and an extravert, let me tell you since I've evidently experienced both sides of that coin. An extrovert wants to be on display and the center of attention; an introvert always feels as if they are on display and the center of attention even when they aren't and especially when they don't want to be. So, introvert that I most surely am, I always feel as if every person I encounter be they friend, foe or stranger is scrutinizing my appearance and judging me. Rationally, I know this isn't true. My pal, Paula, hair dresser extraordinaire(!) said to me last Thursday, as we were discussing many of those painful and embarrassing facts of life that you don't learn about until you pass fifty, this time namely, facial hair, that she was always afraid that people were staring at her facial hair while she shampooed their hair. I assured her that I didn't even look at her while she shampooed me and I really think that I'd have to strain my neck back to do so. But isn't it odd that we all think people are really looking at us more than they actually are? I'd say that the truth is, most people are far more concerned about their own appearance than they are anyone else's and we also tend to overlook other's faults and accentuate their best features when we do just the opposite with ourselves. Yet, even though that is all very true and it was my own realization and observation, I'm still insecure going out in public with what I see as my grossly obese body and obscenely long stray facial hairs (okay, occasionally one will sprout up on my neck, too...those are the worst because I don't always see them.) I never feel insecure when I make my monthly visit to see my friend Paula however. That is my one constant social activity and honestly, the one I enjoy the most. I love Paula and the other two girls who work with her, Kathy and Jennifer. We laugh so much and occasionally we cry. We share our lives both the good and bad and always feel that they sincerely care and like me without judgement. That is indeed something to be thankful for and Paula and I talked about gratitude last Thursday and how it is good for our souls, our hearts and our well being. Since we do always share so much of our lives and so many of the same interests, that conversation was not unusual. What was a bit of karmic coincidence (Albert Einstien said that coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.) was the conversation I struck up after my visit with Paula with a stranger in the Walmart produce section. I joked toward the end of our talk that we bonded over pineapple and strawberries. That is exactly why we began to talk. This tall, elegant lady, in a beautiful blue dress which was quite appropriate for the warm, sunny, Spring-like day, was sniffing pineapples at the same time I was and we started talking about how much we loved the fruit and what a great price they were (1.67 each if you're in the area and interested.) I don't know how we got to the subject of weight and health but I discovered so much about that lady as we stood between the fruit bins. She has recently lost 90 pounds! She use to work in the corporate world. She was a competitive body builder at one time. She loves to swim. She never believed in debt and she saved for years and paid cash for her home. That last fact is significant because, two years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease,Guillian-Barre'Syndrome, which left her partially paralyzed and unable to work. She told me that she had forced herself to remain as active as possible. When she couldn't walk, she swam. When she couldn't walk upright, she came into that same store stooped but determined never to use a wheel chair or one of those ride about carts that the store offers to the handicapped. She said that she still has bad days but Thursday was a good day and she was grateful for that. She said that she was also grateful that after almost a year of testing, she had finally been diagnosed. And she was grateful that all those years of saving and never going in debt allowed her not to worry about not being able to work or days that weren't so good. I told her that I had just before, been talking with a friend about gratitude and how blessings hide within hardships. She told me that she so very much agreed. I commented on her beautiful smile, how she seemed to radiate happiness and confidence and well being and she said, "It's all in the attitude." How very true that is and what a blessing it was to meet that stranger whose name I still don't know. If she can face such hardship with that much positivity, I think I can deal with my minor problems with a bit more joy and enthusiasm. I also think that I will reconsider my hermit ways if this woman is so determined not to let this disease beat her that she will venture out stooped when she can't walk and hold her head high and proud when she can. My nephew came up toward the end of my conversation with her. I introduced her to him and my sister, his grandmother, who followed him. As the lady walked away, my nephew, in a typical, slightly snide, teenage way, said, "You always start up conversations with weird people." I responded, "She wasn't weird. That is an extremely nice lady." I wish I had elaborated on just how special she was but we would have been there all day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hidden Gluten

I really haven't minded given up the pastry, breads, pastas and other gluten filled foods that I've removed from my diet since discovering my celiacs disease. It's not that I don't miss them, I do but feeling so much better is worth the sacrifice. The hardest part of trying to live gluten free for me is finding all those little hidden traces in foods and items that I wouldn't have ever thought contained it. Yesterday, one of those deceivers got the best of me. Steve took the day off to fertilize our hay fields. I had appointments and errands all afternoon so I wanted to fix a nice lunch before I left that we could enjoy together. I seasoned some chicken breasts and threw them on the grill. I mixed up a nice salad of spinach, cranberry, walnut and mozzarella topped with raspberry dressing. I didn't however know what I would fix as my "starchy" side. We were out of potatoes and I wanted something faster than quinoa or regular rice. So, I pulled a pack of the "Ready Rice" that I pack in Steve's lunches for work and popped it in the microwave for the required 9 minutes. It was delicious and I seemed fine for most of the afternoon and evening. In fact, I had no real problems or discomfort until this morning when IT started and this episode was as bad as any I had before I cut out the gluten. It's still plaguing me seven hours after it began. Today at lunch, Steve and I went over exactly what I ate yesterday and we couldn't find anything that might contain gluten. Then Steve asked if I thought the rice we'd had at lunch yesterday might include soy which I also seem to be sensitive,too. I thought, that must be it so I got a package of the rice out of the cupboard and started reading. The first three ingredients were brown rice, red rice, and wild rice but number four threw me for a loop....wheat and soy!! I would never have thought that there was wheat in that pack of rice but from now on, I will make all of our rice from scratch. I know I should have read the ingredients on the package before I ate it but still, even those ingredients lists can be deceiving just like they frequently are with fats and sugars by calling them by different names and listing them several times so that it doesn't look like there is as much as there actually is. To see wheat at number four on a long list of ingredients still is dumbfounding but now at least, I know better than to just take these things for granted.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gratitude

Today's Health Challenge was gratitude. I very much believe in gratitude. I was raised in a small Southern town where please, thank you, you're welcome, yes ma'am and yes, sir were taught to us from the cradle. I extend those polite responses not only to strangers and friends but to my immediate family and always thank my husband whether he opens the door for me or builds a barn for my horses. Today, not only is my husband home and working on my hay fields so I will certainly be thanking him but I have an appointment for a hair cut. I will make one of my rare ventures off of the farm; I'm becoming an old hermit, haha. I always thank Paula, my friend since we were teenagers and my hairdresser for the last 36 years, for doing such a great job cutting my hair....she is amazingly talented. I'll thank the checker and the person who bags my groceries when I make a stop at the store. Gratitude is an essential part of my life and I always try to start my day with a prayer thanking God for all of the blessings I have. I believe this is so good for us. It makes me realize that some of the things I see as hardships or problems might just be blessings in disguise. In this case, it's the sheep in the wolve's clothing because underneath the fierce and frightening outside is often something that's sweet, precious and very beneficial. So, even though, by now, everyone is aware that my house is in dire need of repair and remodeling, I'm grateful that I have a roof over my head to protect me from the elements, four walls around me to allow me to sleep peacefully with no fear of harm, and a home filled with love. As for my home's needs, everyone needs a challenge in their lives to keep us energized and moving forward. When the house is finally finished and once again, guest ready, I'm sure that I'll feel a lot of satisfaction and pride in a job well done and completed but I bet there will be some disappointment, too, once that challenge is gone.

I truly believe that even on days when we might feel a bit cursed, we are always richly blessed. Sometimes it just takes a bit of digging to find the blessing. Today, I woke with a bad headache, later than usual and feeling very overwhelmed because I was interrupted yesterday and didn't complete any of the many tasks I had planned. That means that today, which was already going to be a busy day, I know I'll feel like a failure by day's end because I don't have the time to accomplish all of the things that need to be done. Sitting around worrying about what I have to do just makes it worse and gets me farther behind and as I was contemplating that fact, I hear coming from across the hall in our bedroom the voices of Celtic Thunder singing about the Galway Girl. Not only is that one of my favorite Irish bands (I love Irish music so I have several favorites:) but Galway Girl is a favorite tune. It was a treat to watch and hear them perform this song live on the Today show and that song is all about being grateful for what you've received not what you've lost or what you expected and didn't get. The last lines of the song are, "I awoke next day and I was all alone, with a broken heart and a ticket home but I ask you friend, what's a fellow to do because I never met no one like that Galway girl." If that isn't about gratitude for what you've received and it out weighing what you lost, I don't know what is. ;-) Happy St Patricks Day, my friends and count your blessings whether they're Irish or not.

This version is by my favorite Irish band, The Kilkenny's. Galway Girl is actually written by an American but we won't hold that against it.


And I want to share this Irish blessing that a friend sent to me on Facebook with all of you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Today's Daily Health Challenge was to name your five best traits or talents. This was very hard. I do realize that we all criticize ourselves far more than we should but I found myself seeing some of my best traits as also some of my worst. Yesterday, I was looking over a cleansing diet and program meant to rid your body of all of the toxins and other nasty things that we hold onto. Most of the toxins came from processed foods or household and environmental pollutants but there was an entire section devoted to meditation, journaling and yoga to help make us aware of all of the emotional toxin that we hold onto every day. One exercise asked you to list the five things that you most wanted to change or let go of in your life. First, I will put in my answer to the Daily Health Challenge and then below that, I will list at least five things that I want to change in my life.

My five best traits, characteristics or talents:
1) Artistic/Creative: My art and creativity in whatever form it takes....my earliest memories are of drawing stick figures, usually dressed in cowboy gear, on any surface I could find including my mom's walls:) Not only is this the way I've always made a living (and sometimes not,haha), it also helps me in other parts of my life to think in a creative way and come up with solutions to my problems.
2) Friendly/Polite: I grew up and still live in a very small town where everyone you passed threw up their hand in greeting and smiled. I still do that when cars drive by my rural home even when I don't recognize the driver. I still smile and say hello when I pass someone on the street and say excuse me, please, thank you, and you're welcome just like my Mama and Daddy taught me....even though it does occasionally get me some strange looks and one poor lady in the grocery who actually seemed frightened by my friendliness and willingness to talk to a stranger.
3) Expressing myself through the written word: I've had people tell me that I touch them with what I write. I've also had them tell me that I talk too much, haha. I think those two things go hand in hand because I write from my heart and try my best to express my feelings in words that will not only, I hope, touch someone but intrigue and interest them. I know that I don't always succeed but if I can help just one other person, who feels the same way I do or has had a similar experience, to know that they are not alone, I've succeeded.
4) Talking AND Listening: I may talk too much but I do enjoy a good conversation. For it to be good however, it needs to be like a tennis match with the ball going back and forth with consistency. I hope that I am always a good listener, too and that I can always hear exactly what my conversation partner is trying to say whether their words always convey their thoughts.
5) Compassion and Kindness: I try my best to be accepting even when I don't necessarily agree with someone. I try to always show kindness and compassion to those who need it and forgiveness to those who sometimes appear to have no kindness or compassion. My success at that last one comes in varying degrees.

The five things that I would like to change about myself that would change my life:
1)Certainly number one has to be being more active, exercising more, working with and enjoying my horses more, working on my art and working on my house. Everyday, I consider what it would take to give me the life of my dreams and my wants and needs aren't very complicated or very extravagant. I want to create more, I want to spend more time with my horses and work and play with them, I want to be more active and fitter which will lead to vitality and energy, I want to work hard enough and sell enough of my art to be able to pay off the debt that is weighing me down and have the money to begin fixing up my home again and then the final thing that will make me happy will fall into place, more of a social life, more time with friends and family, a home where I can entertain again and won't mind friends dropping in unexpectedly. None of that seems like much to ask for and I think that, if I try, I can start living at least part of that life that will make me happy right away. I can in a matter of weeks, get my new work area and work out area finished and organized so that I can start working on my art again with passion which will energize me. In the mean time, I have a large farm that I can walk to my heart's content on and start being more active. Now that the weather is becoming warmer and mild, there is nothing that is keeping me from spending more time with my horses either working with them or photographing and sketching them in the pasture. If I start those positive changes, surely the last two will follow or if they don't and I don't make the sells that I hope to, I will at least be happier and better equipped to handle the hardship and stress of debt and house in dire need of repair and refurbishing. Also, what's keeping me from going out more and being with friends and family outside of my house until the house is ready for guests?
2)I need to spend less time wasting time on this computer and the internet. True, I need to do more of what comes in at number 3 which is productive time on this machine but I spend far too much time checking Facebook updates and playing games. I need to concentrate on what's important in the long run not what gives me short term pleasure or a short lived feeling of accomplishment.
3)I've already said it, more productive time on this computer. I have so much software that I need to work with and learn. I need to learn my new web building software and redo my webpages which are currently in limbo. I need to finally finish the calendars and book that I've paid for and should have been printed months ago. I need to get busy not only with my business sites but with the magazine I proposed two years ago, The Tennessee Equestrian. Money hasn't come through for a print version but I need to get the online version created and launched in the next few months. Then, who knows, the money might come in from advertisers to finally make the print version a reality. I need to work more on my photography both photos and composite art. It's been months since I truly created anything and I need to learn all of the expensive software that has been sitting idle for two years so that I can enhance my art and perhaps come up with some new ideas.
4)This morning on TV, it was on CBS's Sunday Morning a favorite news magazine program of mine, they were talking about how few Americans get enough sleep and how this lack of sleep can lead to all sorts of problems. Not just the lack of productivity or slowing of response times that you'd expect but more serious long term problems like obesity and heart disease. There were several people whose only change was actually sleeping the recommended eight to nine hours a night and they had changed their lives and dropped a significant amount of weight. They said that they didn't use drugs to bring about this change but rather, removed all electronics from their bedroom (TVs, computers, radios) and lit candles thirty minutes before sleep as a means of relaxing. I'm planning on moving my bedroom in the next few days (hoping today but we will see) and we'd been discussing moving the TV and where we would put the large TV in the smaller room. Our old master bedroom is being converted to my work area and a workout area for the time being. We've decided to leave the TV in there where we can watch it as we exercise and watch the news while we eat. Having a table in there that we can eat at will eliminate another non sleeping bedroom activity that needs to change, eating in front of the TV. I'm sure that we'll eat less and converse more when we actually sit back down at a table where we're facing each other and not the TV.
5)That brings me to the last bad habit I want to eliminate or at least alter, TV. I'm obsessed with TV. Since we switched from satellite to Hulu and Netflix streamed on our Roku (aaah, our modern world:),)I rarely am in a room without some movie or television show playing on the TV or computer. I have shows that I've watched the entire series and in a very obsessive way, often going without sleep or avoiding work that needs doing or even getting out of my pajamas for most of the day and forgetting to feed my horses, my dog or myself. That is just plain wrong and I do recognize it as such and admit to being very embarrassed with the admission but it will change. I won't promise that the TV won't still be on a great deal but I'm going to do my best to always be exercising or otherwise active when I do watch and not just sitting there, still and mindless with my hand in a chip bag.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breath In ~ Breath Out

The "Everyday Health Challenge" for today was, take ten deep breaths. What a great way to start the day! I realized about three breaths in just how much tension I was holding in my body even at this early hour in the day. Might be a good idea to do this several times a day. I've always said that it is good for the soul to stop and contemplate the beauty of this earth at least once a day whether it is a sunrise or sunset, a bee sipping nectar from a lovely bloom, my beautiful horses grazing in the pasture while the sun casts their shadows along the hillside, the trees gently dancing in the wind, or puffy clouds that bring back memories of childhood afternoons spent lying on my back in the cool green grass, letting the sun warm my face while I let my imagination run rampant imagining all sorts of mythical creatures forming in sky above me. Those moments really make us appreciate our lives and be grateful for every blessing. Perhaps we need to stop each day and breath deeply for at least ten breaths while we contemplate the wonder of our own bodies. A few seconds each day spent appreciating ourselves and our lives could very well change our lives....or at the least, make living far more pleasant :)


The following video was posted on my Facebook page by my friend, Tony Woody. It is so beautiful and certainly will give you lots to contemplate.



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Support

I put yesterday's blog post as my status on Facebook (thank goodness that FB allows loooong status updates now because you all know how long winded I can be even at the keyboard;-) and the tremendous amount of support and love that my friends showed to me was just amazing. I think I can change my life especially with so many wonderful people behind me.

Today on Pinterest.com, I discovered this recipe and I'm so glad that I checked it out because otherwise, I would not have known that it is gluten free! It's from the Biggest Loser cookbook and it looks and sounds delicious.

Oatmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:

6 egg whites
1 cup rolled oats, dry
1 cup cottage cheese
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla



Instructions:

In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Heat a griddle or large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. For each pancake pour 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. Flip when they start to bubble. Cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batches, spraying the griddle as needed. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Number of Servings: 3

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
181 Calories, 2.7g Fat, 10mg Cholesterol, 361mg Sodium, 20g Carbs, 2.8g Fiber

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Getting my Priorities Straight

Today's challenge from Me and You Health was to list five things that make you happy. I think this challenge might just change my life. I realized as I thought about this that I need to reclaim my joy. For several years, I've allowed all of the worries and burdens of life to take over my life and leave me with little time for myself and my loved ones much less joy. So, I think I might just have to go back a few years and remind myself of just what does make me happy.

1) creating.......I've become stagnant over the last few years. First came burn out by trying too hard to make my business profitable and letting it take over my entire life....and when that happened, I lost the joy of creating. Those of you who are artists or creative in any field will understand what I mean by losing yourself in your work. When you completely lose yourself in the creative process, it brings such bliss.

2) spending time with my husband, my life mate, my best friend exploring and discovering new things. The best vacations have come when we just surrendered ourselves to the process. I let go of my tendency to over think and over plan every thing and he let go of his need to constantly be productive and busy and we both just relaxed and immersed ourselves into our surroundings, the culture of where ever we happened to be and the experience of the moment....again, bliss.

3) spending time with my horses and my dog....I've neglected all of them as well as myself. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't ridden my own horses in nearly two years. Both they and I have become fat, slow and sluggish. In my defense, I felt progressively worse and worse last year until I finally discovered that celiacs disease was to blame and in the previous year, I had my fear of riding to overcome which had been caused by a bad fall several years prior which had also become worse and worse. It is the same as with the other activities on today's list though, when I am riding and truly one with my horse, there is not only a connection which is amazing and almost spiritual but there is that feeling of bliss that you get only from totally surrendering yourself to the moment and the experience and letting go of your fears, worries, and anything else which is preventing you from being happy.

4) the primary reason for so much of my unhappiness over the last few years has been my home. We almost literally tore it apart quite a few years ago (I'd say ten but I stopped keeping track long ago because it depresses me to think about it) with the intention of remodeling. Then a family illness and death kept us preoccupied for some time and when we were through that, we suddenly realized that not only had this hill turned into a mountain but we no longer had the money to complete what we'd started. I keep chipping away at it but if I'm being honest, I'd admit that I'm overwhelmed and do little more days than I actually make any progress and each day there is more and more that needs doing, fixing, completing. The odd thing about this is that house pride use to be one of the things that made me happiest. I loved decorating, I loved gardening (also long neglected and awful looking for other reasons that I won't bore you with), and I actually loved home maintenance. Now, this house is just a source of distress and depression for me.

5) which brings me to the last item on the list of things that make me happy....spending time with my family and friends, entertaining them, cooking for them, laughing with them. It's been far too long since I've even invited anyone to my house or let them in the door for that matter much less entertained or had house guests (we use to joke that we were the half way house because we are half way between our friends in the frigid North and the warm beaches of the gulf and Southern coast and we were a popular stop over for those friends ten years ago.) Now, I panic if anyone says they might stop by.

I'm adding a 6) physical activity.....when I was in shape and working out every day, I loved it. I loved how it made me feel, I loved the "high" I got when I was doing it and if I missed a day, it just didn't feel right. I ate a healthy diet and craved healthy foods not the junk I eat now.

I'm looking over this list and I realize that I can get all of this back. True, the house which has been the major burden holding me back will take the longest and many things will have to be make do and do my best until I get the money to fund changes and repairs but what I need to do is move the repairs and home maintenance down to the bottom of my priority list for a while and concentrate instead on: my art, my husband, my horses and dog, my health and fitness and my spiritual well being. I'm thinking if I once again get my priorities straight that the worries and burdens that have been holding me back will eventually be taken care of.

Thanks Me and You Health Challenge.....I really needed this one!