Who Are You?

06/02/2012

I sometimes wonder if this is what those forms that say, “Tell Us About Yourself” really want to know.  I have a wide variety of standard answers that would fit into the little box that they offer, however, I find myself stating the usual (safe) suspects of, “dependable, honest, trustworthy…” when, in fact, what I would really like to say is: I would love to ride a dragon. I often fantasize about being a Samurai (and fighting in a battle where I win).  That I never quit and I rarely yield. That I believe Laughter is a cure for almost anything. That I want to be fearless and fierce every day of my life.  I want to lead.  I’d declare that I place the most value on my happiness… and on true love.  I want to inspire and be inspired.  I’d write how I too struggle with my own identity and insecurities.  I’d say how I try very hard to follow the Buddhist way of not holding onto things but it’s something I have to remind myself of frequently.  I exercise mindfulness and although I teach yoga and love to teach…. I often don’t make time for my own practice.  I’d add I believe that brilliant things can be learned in silence.  And, I’d end by saying, that a long time ago…. I was my own hero and that knowledge makes me fearless and fierce (almost everyday of my life).

There is no amount of space in a box that could possibly contain “Who I am”.  It changes every day.  But the one thing that never changes is that I always hope and strive to be the very best version of myself.

So, that’s me…. at least me right now 😉

Who Are You?

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Autumn… Epic FAIL

09/21/2011

Or a fail of epic proportions… So, I stated that I was going to be giving up sugar for one week starting a few days ago.  I have this fantastic detox plan that I was going to do and share with all of you in case you wanted to participate.  However, pretty much as soon as I published the blog post stating that I was giving up sugar… I went to have 1/2 a cookie… I then went back to eat a few more 1/2 cookies.  Even as I sit here, right this very minute, my fingers are sticky with these delicious “organic energy chews” called ‘Honey Stingers’ in fruit punch flavor.  Excuse me while I grab yet another (now I’m squeezing the package to make sure it’s actually empty… sad).  It’s nearly 6 p.m. so the very last thing that I need right now is energy.

Normally, when I begin to remove sugar from my diet I will look on the package for the “Nutritional Facts” and scan down until I find “Sugars”.  I will limit the amount of sugar (that I will consume) to any one item to 5 or less grams.  Would you like to know how many grams of sugar are in these honey chews?  27!  OMG.  If I’d known that I would have had them for breakfast too… I could have really used some energy this morning.

So, sugar….honeybear, sweet cheeks, gumdrop… I think I shall abstain from using these words and stick with names like:  Beef jerky or maybe Protein shake or Filet Mignon (that sort of sounds like “filet of my own” if you slur the words a little).  Sadly, images of the Marlboro man come to mind… he was certainly a bit ‘beef jerky’.

As I’ve completely blown my low / no sugar quest so far this week, I’m going to…. (I so badly want to say, QUIT) but I don’t like to quit anything and love a good challenge.  I had no idea sugar would be such a worthy opponent 😉  Tomorrow I will try again (and tonight I’m going to eat a 5lb bag of sugar) 🙂

If you are struggling with this too, I can tell you what I have been told.  1) That quitting sugar has been likened to quitting heroin (I’ve never tried any other drug… besides sugar so I can’t verify this), 2) that if you can stop or lower your sugar intake considerably for 1 week then your cravings will diminish significantly and 3) I’m sick and tired of everything that I love to eat being bad for me. (Yes, I’m pouting)

I think I will tape together this detox form I had been working towards (I’d, in a fury, cut it up into the tiniest pieces ever  – think ‘Edward Scissorhands’)… that should give me something to do with all this “energy” that I now have.  And, then, I will stomp off to the kitchen to find something… omg… dare I say it…. green.  Gummy bears come in green don’t they?? 😉

Autumn…

09/18/2011

Autumn is a great time for cleaning.  People generally think of spring as the best time for “spring cleaning” but fall can be a great time too.  Except that it isn’t called “spring cleaning” and “fall cleaning” sounds like some sort of dangerous reality show.  When fall comes around, it’s like we can finally slow down a little. The days shorten, the weather becomes cooler, we get a sense that nature is going to sleep and that can help us to find some peace and relaxation in ourselves too.  However, most people, live in a world, where their lives aren’t going to suddenly become less stressful just because it’s a new season even though the changing of seasons does affect us mentally, emotionally, maybe physically our lives don’t really allow for any of that.  Jobs don’t become any less demanding, schedules don’t become suddenly full of free time, and our anxiety over what needs to be done doesn’t diminish much either.

Autumn has become a great time to give myself permission not to care about everything as much as usual… permission to get up and walk away from things without having the guilt I might normally associate with it.  During this time, it’s also the time I reevaluate my life.  I have a harder look at those elements in my life that might be causing me stress or unnecessary concern.  For me those things are, my diet, relationships, how I’m managing my time, and exercise.  I tend to live inside my head… constantly thinking about this or that.  I believe the technical name for it is:  Ruminating.  I ruminate.  So, to distract myself from ruminating, at least for the next month or so, I’ve decided to completely change my diet.  I’ve noticed that I am living a bit on carbs and protein bars (ones that contain chocolate, of course).  I’m not overweight, but, I’m not exactly feeling great either.

Eating a cleaner diet of veggies, water, unprocessed foods, only low, natural sugars is when I feel and look my best.  So, I’ve decided for this first week to eliminate:  SUGAR.  I LOVE sugar and have even noticed myself sort of sneaking it without being completely aware.  I seem to find things that contain sugar that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered ‘sugary’ (like ketchup).  I tend to use stevia and that works well for me, but, I’m still craving sugar.  There are some tricks for this.  We did this challenge last fall so I know that I, personally, have all the tips I need to avoid sugar and I have loads of knowledge on how horrible it is for the body.  However, this does not stop me… in fact, it doesn’t even slow me down when I want something sweet.

We’ve all heard about the “emotional” eater and other reasons why we might overeat.  Honestly, after hearing from a friend that visited I think we are just bombarded with an overabundance of overabundance which causes overindulgence.  It’s my excuse today in any case 🙂  I also came across this article which suggests that we have a section in our brain that you need to exercise to have better self-control.  It also mentions that by continuing to surround yourself with temptations can cause mental exhaustion.  I can relate to this.  If you’ve ever spent a certain amount of time trying not to eat a certain food(s), had an alcoholic drink, smoked a cigarette… whatever your ‘temptation’ might be, then you know just how exhausted this can leave you.

So, let’s start the process of cleaning up our diet by eliminating one thing.  Maybe sugar isn’t your “thing” and you’d prefer to eliminate bread, cheese, alcohol, etc then go ahead and chose that one thing that you feel is most important to you right now.  That one thing that will with your footing while we spend a month cleaning up our diets (we can tackle the basement another day) 😉

If you chose to do the ‘No Sugar’ challenge with me this week, then you might find this article in WikiHow on how to Stop Sweet Cravings.  If you chose to do something else… let us know how it goes for you 🙂  And, good luck!

 

I was working out the other day.  I like to lift weights… yes, I’m a real She-Ra.  Okay, not really… but anyway, that’s not the point here… stop looking at me!  I was in the free-weight section and it’s mostly populated by men (no, of course that’s not why I go to that area! lol) and I started looking around… and something occurred to me.  People that workout look constipated.

You think I’m joking, but, I’m not.  Next time you see someone running down the road or at your gym or wherever you go to workout, look at the expressions on people’s faces.  They look constipated (and maybe a little bit mean… but being constipated might make you feel mean… anyway).  Which is ironic because when you workout, your body releases endorphins which are supposed to make you feel happy.  So, maybe people really are constipated… I have no idea.

But then I had an idea… well, it was more like an idea for an experiment because I love to experiment.  I started smiling at people when they would look at me.  Normally, I do smile a lot and I like to smile at strangers, most of the time people will smile back, however, at the gym this is what happens:  Me:  Walking towards a constipated man.  We make eye contact.  I smile at him.  He: Stops dead in his tracks.  The constipated look falls off his face.  Which is replaced by a scowl (and beady eyes).  Me: (okay I made up the part about the beady eyes) Take 2 giant steps to the left and let Mr. Constipated pass.  Luckily, I do have a friend there that smiles nearly as much as I do (Gabe) but he’s getting paid to be there and I’m paying some crazy amount… aha! now I know why people there look constipated. 😉

Can smiling change your life?  Absolutely it can!  Now that is something to smile about for sure 🙂

Once, in one of my yoga classes… it was packed with about 60 people.  And, they looked a little grouchy too, so, I’d heard that Thich Nhat Hanh had tried this (don’t quote me on that) and decided I would like to try it too (and yes, I was a bit terrified).  All you had to do was take your hands to the sides of your body… and tickle yourself.  So, of course, at first no one laughs (and my anxiety sky rockets), then, suddenly, I see smiles and hear giggles and then laughter.  Then, the entire class was laughing (except for someone in the back who I believe truly was constipated).

So, what are some solid reasons we should smile?

1.  It will make you more attractive.  Seriously.  Haven’t you ever seen a person smiling and felt drawn to them?  You want to know why they are happy… just seeing their smile makes you smile, which brings us to,

2.  Smiling Is Contagious.  When one person smiles it can make other people smile… you can brighten a whole room.  You can be the sunshine that everyone is drawn to.  Smile.

3.  Smiling can make you look younger.  It strengthens the muscles of the face and makes you appear younger.   You will feel younger, you will have more confidence, and these are all things that help keep us looking and feeling youthful (I think 3 is a perfect age for me).

4.  Smiling can make you HAPPY.  Yep, when you are sad or mad or hurting…. maybe you feel like crying… you just smile.  And, all of a sudden you feel like smiling.  You feel happy.  It can’t be a fake smile… that will never work!  But, the muscles in your face work because your brain tells them to.  So, if you make the muscles work… then, maybe it tricks our brains into thinking we are happy.  Try this test:  Smile.  Now think of something negative without losing your smile.  It’s really hard to do!  We want to be happy 🙂  It’s natural for us (well, most of us anyway).

5.  Smiling: lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins (yeah, those same things working out is supposed to do), relieves stress, releases serotonin.  Smiling is a natural drug.  And, it stimulates your parasympathetic system (this among many many other functions, helps us to relax, slows our heartbeat… LOL… relaxes the sphincter muscles… omg… I think I peed myself.)

Your challenge this week?  Smile. Smile. Smile. 🙂

If you are really at a loss and have no idea how to smile then this article on “How To Smile” will be perfect for you:

http://www.wikihow.com/Smile

And, a warning:  Hmmm… it was a little more difficult to think of a warning that someone might need with this ‘challenge’, but, I can definitely say smiling while riding a motorcycle… big no no.  Big, bug teeth… not attractive.  Ack.  Actually, I thought of another one.  There was some cop show on at the gym and this officer had this little 2 year old… an apparent hardened criminal, in handcuffs.  I guess this little… candy burglar had snuck some candy… without paying!  Shocking.  Everything was going fine until… the kid smiled at the officer.  That’s when he actually got cuffed.  The officer said, “I knew when that kid grinned… I had to take him down hard”.  Okay, that’s not exactly what he said, but, I can’t be expected to remember everything!  And, maybe the kid was more like… 14 and maybe it was more like a smirk… 😉   The point is… don’t smile at an officer while being arrested for stealing candy! ~Toodles

Dr. Goulston once said, “I have become convinced that our skin has a memory separate from our minds – of good touch, bad touch and no touch.  There is not enough good touch in the world, and too many people walk around settling for no touch, in an effort to avoid bad touch.”

Teaching yoga has taught me quite a bit about reading people.  Sometimes when I walk over to offer a gentle adjustment to a student I can feel them pull away before I even touch them.  They are shying away from the touch and sometimes I won’t push the issue with them, but, offer spoken support instead, but, most of the time, I will continue with offering the adjustment and gentle touch.  I can usually feel this amazing amount of stress and tension initially and then, feel it melt away from them.  They realize that I’m not there to hurt them and that having the support of a teacher can be really nice.  And, a safe place to be.  I’ve even had students come up to me after class, in tears, thanking me because they haven’t been “touched” in a very long time.

We are all connected.  I can feel your stress even if you are trying very hard to hide it and I think a lot of other people can too.  Maybe you don’t realize what you are feeling is someone else’s stress… maybe the stress of another country that is suffering… but, we can and we do.

So, to counteract some of the negativity going on in the world today, I thought it might be good to work on something we all could use more of… HUGS! (I love hugs)

Health.com (http://www.health.com/health/) has a great article on hugging it out and I will include their suggestions in this blog 🙂  There is so much research on hugging and what happens and even shirts that you can buy that will simulate hugging!  I haven’t tried it myself, I’m not sure I want my shirt to be that tight.  I’d hate to get the urge to get away from the ‘hugging shirt’ in the middle of the mall.  News Flash:  “Crazy Women Strips Down to Her Bra While Stomping On Shirt Yelling ‘NO MORE HUGGING!!’.”  Yeah…..

Getting a hug from someone you care about (even a little) feels good 🙂  It releases cortisol and lowers blood pressure.  Fights anxiety and encourages happiness and a sense of calm.  So, just what can a hug or gentle touch do for you, let’s find out 🙂

Get a rubdown
Anyone who’s ever gotten a massage — even a quickie at a mall kiosk — knows that it helps you unwind. That’s not just a mental sensation: Getting massaged causes muscles to unclench, a racing heart rate to slow, heightened blood pressure to fall, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol to drop. In that relaxed state, your body is able to regroup and recharge. One happy result: a more robust immune system.
“Cortisol suppresses the immune response,” explains Roberta Lee, MD, vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “Anything that increases the relaxation response triggers the restoration of your immune response.”
Recently, researchers measured immune function in healthy adults who got either a 45-minute Swedish massage or 45 minutes of lighter touch. The massaged group had substantially more white blood cells — including natural killer cells, which help the body fight viruses and other pathogens — and fewer types of inflammatory cytokines associated with autoimmune diseases.

Hug it out
The act of embracing floods our bodies with oxytocin, a “bonding hormone” that makes people feel secure and trusting toward each other, lowers cortisol levels, and reduces stress. Women who get more hugs from their partners have higher levels of oxytocin and lower blood pressure and heart rates, according to research done at the University of North Carolina.
But a hug from anyone you’re close to works, too. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison tested that when they analyzed stress levels among volunteers giving a presentation. Afterward, participants who got hugs from their moms saw decreases in cortisol levels an hour after the presentation.

Hold hands with your honey
Twining your fingers together with your one-and-only is enormously calming. James Coan, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, discovered this when he administered functional MRIs to 16 married women while telling them they might experience a mild shock.
The resulting anxiety caused the images of their brain activity to light up like Christmas trees. But when the women held hands with one of the experimenters, that stress response subsided — and when they held hands with their husbands, it really quieted down. “There was a qualitative shift in the number of regions in the brain that just weren’t reacting anymore to the threat cue,” Coan says.
Even more intriguing: When you’re in a happy relationship, clasping hands reduces stress-related activity in a brain area called the hypothalamus — which lowers the levels of cortisol coursing through your system — as well as in the part of the brain that registers pain, which actually helps keep you from feeling it as much.

Have sex
No surprise — after all, lovemaking involves total-body contact. All that skin-to-skin stroking (not to mention orgasm!) floods us with oxytocin and feel-good endorphins that do wondrous things for our emotional well-being.
Regular sex also does the physical body good, possibly even preventing us from getting sick as often. People who had sex once or twice a week had 30 percent more infection-fighting immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva than those who didn’t do the deed as often, according to a study done at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Not partnered up? Solo sex counts, too: At least one study links masturbation with lower risk of depression.

Cuddle up with your pet
If you’re a pet owner, you’ve no doubt noticed you’re less tense when scratching your animal behind the ears. In fact, research shows that people’s blood pressure drops when they pet dogs, particularly if it’s a dog they know and love. Dog petting has also been shown to improve immune function and ease pain, or at least the perception of it.
“You’re focusing on the animal, not on you, so your mind isn’t able to ruminate about the pain,” explains Brad Lichtenstein, a naturopathic physician and assistant professor in the counseling and health psychology department at Bastyr University in Seattle. (Experts say snuggling with any furry pet should be just as soothing.)
So don’t resist when your pet curls up with you — spending quality time together may be just what the doctor ordered.

*And, as always a word of warning:  If you are trying to hug someone and they are beating at you furiously or dialing 911… please let go.  Let’s stick to hugging and touching people we know who we know who might even give you one back 🙂

For More on Hugging:

Psychology Today ‘The Art of Hugging’:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/debunking-myths-the-mind/201007/the-art-hugging

How To Hug:  http://www.wikihow.com/Hug

NYTimes ‘For Teenagers, Hello Means “How About a Hug”:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/style/28hugs.html

The Diet

02/06/2011

Every year, people make ‘losing weight’ a New Year’s resolution.  As a rule, I’ve never made this my particular goal as the last thing I want to think about after spending 2 months with my face buried in a trough is now trying to lose some of that food I so happily gorged on. This year was a bit different.

I’ve never had any trouble losing weight and gained it fairly slowly.  But, after starting a new job that I love (and won’t give up no matter how much weight I gain) I realized that “sitting” didn’t really burn that many calories.  So, I bought a new bodybugg to measure my calories.  And, let me tell you… sitting at a computer… burns about as much as sleeping.  No wonder I’d put on 20 or so pounds!

So, I bought a balance ball to sit on while I work…. with the “chair”.  Extra calories burned… zip, zero, nada.  Although, it is fun to bounce on it while I work; however, the rate of deflation is annoying, although, technically pumping it back up does burn a number of calories.

I’ve worked out my entire life.  I was on the track team and actually skipped classes in college so I could work out (neurotic?? me??).  I lived on a rigid diet of absolutely no fat and suffered from painful stomach-aches and ulcers.

So, now, who needs all of that?  Fat is delicious and I couldn’t live my life without Nutella and chocolate.  But, what I could live without, is feeling sluggish and slow.  Feeling depressed over my clothes not fitting the way they should (I can only blame the dryer so many times and it’s even harder when I haven’t dried them… damn air!! *shakes fist at sky).

What am I saying?  Well, I’m in the same boat with a lot of people.  How am I going to lose this weight?  I started going to the gym.  And, yes, I did lose some weight eating at a big calorie deficit, but, still it’s depressing when you know you’ve got weight to lose and it’s not coming off as fast as we visually need it or want it to.

The scale becomes a god that determines how we will feel about ourselves.  And, we happily bow down to it and then slink off when it accusingly tells us that 1) we haven’t lost enough weight or 2) we aren’t losing fast enough or 3) (my most favorite)… we’ve actually gained weight (*lightning strikes).

Gaining the weight was a journey… quite a fun one I might add.  It gets old always saying “I’ll take the healthy option” when we are surrounded on every side by delicious and enticing fattening foods.  We want to make choices for ourselves, we are, after all, grown ups who work hard and deserve it!  But, all of that “entitlement” isn’t doing too much for our bodies.

So, although, this is a ‘weekly’ challenge blog (one that’s been on a bit of vacation) I’m suggesting, if you are trying to lose weight, then think of this as a lifetime change.  A daily (maybe hourly) challenge.

Where do we start?  Well, the basic formula is still true:  Eat Less Move More.  You can always walk a few more trudging steps to burn a couple more calories, but, if you watch what you are eating first… you will eventually have control.  Sounds so easy doesn’t it? (As I sit here with a spoonful of Nutella).  Well, it’s not.  And, what is that saying, “Nothing worthwhile is easy”.  Well, picking flowers is easy and definitely worthwhile!  Okay, and picking flowers can burn calories too!  Win. Win.

There are some sites where you can effectively manage your calorie consumption and burn.  Two of my favorite sites (because the bodybugg is seriously lacking) are:

I know you all have sites that you like to use or recommend and I hope you will leave them in the comments so that our little community of people will be able to choose the one that is right for them.

Now that my life has resumed a bit of normalcy… I’ll resume writing our weekly challenges.  Sometimes finding inspiration can be a struggle… and that is my own personal challenge 🙂

Nice to see all of you again xox

Every week I think about what challenge we might do… wanting it to be something that is both challenging but still give you the opportunity to have the experience of changing a small part of your life a week at a time.

So, for this week the challenge that kept coming to mind over and over was:  Fear.  We all have those things we fear.  Some of the fears are realized and sometimes unfounded… but, nevertheless, they still keep us from doing things in our life that we might want to.

This weekend, I attended a workshop on inversions (getting upside down) and arm balances (yoga).  One of the fears I’ve always had is falling.  I put what was around 900 lbs. of pressure on my knee when I was skiing once because of this fear and ended up seriously injuring myself.

I’m not sure where my fear of falling originated, but, it kept me from learning to ride a bike until I was almost 10.  That’s something I’m actually quite embarrassed about and now have shared it with the world… yikes ;).  It kept me from getting better at rollerblading and skiing.  Climbing down anything steep (loose rock especially) is almost impossible for me and it’s something I wish didn’t have such a hold on my life.

During the workshop I had a chance to try the pose that has become the hardest (most fearful) for me.  Forearm balance.  I’d fallen on my face a couple of times attempting this pose and never had the chance to try it again (with assistance).  My heart was beating so fast!  I think our teacher sensed my fear (could have been my wild-eyed expression of fear…lol) and walked over to help.  I got one leg up…. then, the other… and…. fell on my face… ungracefully.  He told me to try it again.  I didn’t want to.  I sat adjusting the block in front of me while breathing deeply trying to calm myself.  I made it up in my mind to do the pose and not fall.  I knew that meant adjusting my shoulder placement and really focusing on keeping my arms strong… and… I was up!  Terrified… but up 🙂

The pose still scares me.  I’m not confident with it but it’s something I really want to know how to do.  So, this week, every day… I’m going to attempt to do it.  I reserve the right to quit on a day that I break my nose 🙂

So, what is it that you are afraid of?  And, if your fear truly warranted?  Are you in physical danger?  If not, then, this week’s challenge will be to find that one thing you are afraid of and do it every day.  You can do it once… but, you aren’t going to master it unless you continue to make yourself do it.

Challenge starts Monday.

Also, I am not a doctor so if you have any questions or concerns please contact him or her before doing any challenge.

Love and Happiness, Jen

No, we are way too old for those.  This weeks challenge is about pampering yourself.  With the oncoming of the holiday season and the stresses that it can bring it’s time to think of yourself before you are caught up in the whirlwind that can leave us feeling drained.

Stress.  I’m very good at stressing myself out, but, am normally good about finding healthy was of releasing it.  But, then, life gets busy and finding time to deal with the stress in our lives takes a back burner to just “dealing” with the stress.  We go into survival mode and simply learn to accept that “this is the way things are”.  Really?  since when?  Doesn’t that attitude create a lot of stress?  Maybe… we’ll decide about that later.

When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol (think flight or fight).  Cortisol can be a really great thing if you are being chased by a dinosaur or chasing down your food for the night (please do not take this as an invitation to hunt down the neighborhood cat) and in small amounts it can increase our mental clarity, give us the energy we need to flee from the dinosaur, help with memory function, etc.  But, with our current high stress lifestyles… we are getting more cortisol than we could possibly ever use.  Cortisol is a hormone and is referred to as the “stress hormone”.  It can harm the body in many ways but the one that will mean the most is:  it makes our bellies fat.  Yep.  Stress gives you a fat gut. 🙂

So, this week…. be gentle with yourself and treat yourself (no not with sugar!) to a  few moments of less stress.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sex (I think this one is self-explanatory)
  • Get a Massage (remember to drink lots of water afterward)
  • Take a warm bath.  You can use sea salts or oils that are appealing and relaxing for you.  Light candles, use bubbles… whatever floats your little toy boat.
  • Take a yoga class (you all knew that one was coming)
  • Exercise (20 minutes at least) will release “endorphins” that are better than any happy pill.
  • Meditate (if you want more information on this please email me)
  • Turn your cell phone off (see?  I’m reducing stress not ignoring everyone! lol)
  • Enjoy a healthy dinner (abstain from more than one drink and sugar as they can create stress reactions in the body)
  • Breathe.  Taking some time to breathe in through the nose and exhale through the nose or audibly through the mouth can keep the bodies stress reactions under control.
  • Listen to music

I’m not a doctor, but, I have spent nearly my entire adult life researching ways to have a healthier and happier life.  I can only tell you what has worked for me and what I hope will safely work for you.  You have to be your own guide and listen to your body and as always, check with your doctor if you need to.

Also, if you have your own suggestions for relaxing… please post them.  Your idea may be just the thing that someone else is looking for in their life 🙂

Love and Happiness,   Jen

First day with no sugar. Not so bad for the first 2 hours that I was awake… and then, a bit of stress set in and then the cravings for sugar. I am basically a sugar addict, I’ve decided. I may need to go to rehab. I’ve gone without sugar before, so I know I can do it… but, in lieu of this Reiki training where I can have no alcohol, meat or caffeine… and then my food allergies (dairy and gluten)… I’m starting to feel a bit panicked when my stomach rumbles. I ate 2 little containers of the most horrid food on the planet: bbq tofu… the name makes me want to throw up.

I was starting to stress out so much today that I felt like I needed a giant hug and a shoulder to cry on… sob on….. and possibly blow my nose on (where did everyone go??).

Sadly, I did eat sugar… I noticed around 2 that I really started wanting something sweet and held it off until 4 when I said, “just one”… which somehow translated into 4 little Halloween candies (all chocolate).

So, what I learned… chocolate is the best frickin’ thing on the planet…. oh, yeah, sorry… okay, what I learned is this:

  • 1. Stay hydrated, drink lots of water (I’ve had none today). I’ve nearly convinced myself I was a camel in a past life (except my spitting skills suck).
  • 2. Eat a snack as soon as you start to feel hungry. And, I’m guessing, (since I failed miserably today I can’t say for sure)… but, I’m guessing that carrots, apples, oranges… something with natural sugar in it will curb the craving.
  • 3. Throw all of the candy and sugary foods out with the trash (don’t laugh, I’ve done this many many times) 🙂
  • 4. Brushing your teeth can kill those cravings.

You know what else I learned today? That every single food (that I want to eat) has sugar in it. My soy yogurt (which is fairly weird all in on its own) has 21 grams of sugar! That’s a huge amount! Ketchup is loaded with sugar, one of my favorite, healthy, organic, all natural soups has 12 grams of sugar, our bread has sugar, crackers have sugar, pickles have sugar (and food coloring!!)…. you see my point. You don’t have to be as fanatic as I was… and I’d only been curious about the yogurt and then started analyzing everything in the pantry and fridge.

I feel icky… my teeth feel gross and my tummy is not happy. I’m hoping tomorrow I will have learned my lesson from today and make better choices.

How was your day?

So, we’ve been developing some ‘awareness’ over the past 2 weeks.  Being aware of our own behavior and making time to treat ourselves gently by walking instead of rushing and racing.  Finding appreciation in ourselves, in others around us, and in our surroundings.  Life is good 🙂  Or, it was until this week 🙂  uh oh….

Sunday, being Halloween, I felt was the very best time to start our new challenge.  Let me start by saying “YOU CAN DO THIS!!”…. okay, I’m mostly talking to myself here (as panic has set in and I’m wondering what in the hell I’m thinking!)  But, it is the very best week of the year to try this.  Well, that’s a lie… it’s actually the very worst week of the year, but that is beside the point.

Sugar.  Is a poison.  Yikes, sadly, this is true.

In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! ~healingdaily.com

My worst fear here is that I am setting myself (and possibly you) up for failure.  With all the sugary temptations from Halloween, surely, there are thousands of other challenges we could do instead… but…. for some reason, after Halloween I just feel gross.  My body feels ill from the additional candy and sugar I’ve consumed and it sets me up for an entire holiday season of craving sugar.  So… failure or not, I’m making the commitment to myself to avoid sugar as much as possible.

What I personally recommend instead of sugar is stevia or xylitol… both natural sweeteners.  The problem (I’ve been told) with sugarless gums, sodas, etc. is that our bodies don’t really know what in the world we’ve just put in them.  They can’t recognize what the chemical is and it creating lots of problems especially in the stomach and intestines (cancers, ulcers, food intolerance, Chrohn’s, etc).  So, do without sugar and without the chemicals too.  Another “food for thought”, honey is also considered a ‘refined’ sugar and causes tooth decay.

Again, I’m not a doctor… so if your doctor has told you to eat all the sugar you want that it is in fact good for you… then, that is the doctor for me 🙂

Diabetes and cancer are major health concerns… have a look at some of the effects sugar can have on you and your body:

  • Sugar can suppress the immune system.
  • Sugar can upset the body’s mineral balance.
  • Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
  • Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
  • Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
  • Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
  • Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
  • Sugar can cause kidney damage.
  • Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
  • Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
  • Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
  • Sugar can promote tooth decay.
  • Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
  • Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
  • Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
  • Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair.
  • Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
  • Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
  • High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
  • Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
  • Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
  • Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
  • Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
  • Sugar causes food allergies.
  • Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
  • Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
  • Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
  • Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
  • Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
  • Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
  • Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
  • Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
  • Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
  • Sugar can cause depression.
  • Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
  • Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
  • Sugar can cause hypertension.
  • Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
  • Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind’s ability to think clearly.
  • Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.
  • Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
  • Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

Info from: Sugars Effects On the Body: http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/sugar.htm

Be gentle with yourselves.  Honor your bodies and yourselves by taking a week to treat yourself to a healthier option 🙂 No tricks!