Insight from COVID-19 – Transforming Reaction into Response 1.0

We are in the midst of chaotic times, no doubt.  It is truly a call for us all – to wake up to the fact that we live in a global community.

Arguments to the contrary can no longer be entertained.  However, new thoughts, habits, and routines can be inner-trained.

When faced with challenging circumstances, I have trained myself to search for something worthwhile that can be gleaned from the suffering.  With practice these kinds of thoughts become like beachballs in water – they inevitably pop to the surface.

Folks are afraid, and there is good reason.  This contagion is real.  Government protocols are being rewritten because of it.  The lifestyles of the rich and famous and poor and unfamous are changing because of it.

We are at a crossroads.  Will we react?  Or respond?  There is a world of difference.

Here are a few of the things that I am learning from this outbreak.  These include the pragmatic and philosophical, as well as the humorous…humor is Now Therapy.

  1. Appreciation is an Elegant Art.  Appreciate our health care workers, retail clerks, truck drivers, utility workers, and those who maintain our vital communication, and emergency services.   Friends, this realization is changing the water on the beans – without these folks we WILL be in dire circumstances indeed.  Keep in mind that those who are in direct contact with the public (you and I) have to go home to their families.  We can spread the love not the virus.
  2. Appreciate our personal vitality, health, and strength.  If you are healthy it is honorable to help others.  There are those who will not be able to get to the grocery store.  We can always drop off food and meds to those who are even more shut-in than we are, while maintaining a necessary distance.  This is a vital community service.  Contact your local organizers to find out how you can assist.
  3. We can walk outdoors (if we are not under a strict isolation order) while keeping our distance from others and even if we are confined to our home we can do stress-relieving and flexibility enhancing exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong.  There are hundreds of videos that are free online.
  4. Kindness costs nothing but pays a huge return on our investment.  It is also stress-reducing.  We are all consumers.  We are all contributors.  What are you consuming?  What are you contributing?  It is true kindness to only use what you need and leave the rest for others.  These days, kindness also looks like staying home!
  5. We can ration paper products.  What is this new Toilet Paper Index but a sign of irrational times? This is not gross, folks, it’s a natural bodily function.  In many cases, two small squares of TP is all you need to attend to a #1, ladies.  Gents understand this pragmatic approach and have for eons.  Hippies and hikers have known the benefits of rationing products that decimate our old-growth forests for what seems like forever.  Glad to have y’all on board!
  6. We can get by on about half the amount of food we regularly consume.  The SAD (Standard American Diet – this includes all of North America) is excessive.  We have heard that before.  With people hoarding food, this is the perfect opportunity to practice calorie-restriction.  It won’t hurt you.  Cut your consumption of meat in half or quarter – there are huge benefits for your pocketbook as well as your innards.  You won’t simply survive, but you may find yourself thriving.
  7. Eliminate food waste.  With the requirement for social distancing, you may find yourself a lot more mindful about what food you are buying (getting to the store is a privilege of these who are healthy) and, if you are community-minded you will find yourself naturally limiting your trips to the stores that remain open so we can continue to eat.  You may find yourself using leftovers in creative ways!  Bravo!
  8. Staying at home has its benefits.  We can play more games.  We can write and listen to music and hang out with those that share our home.  Our wardrobe is not a concern.  One change of clothing is all we need.  Minimalists have been saying this for years.  Consider what truly is important – enjoy the benefits of not doing nearly as much laundry too!
  9. You now have time to give your windows the attention they deserve.  I accept my responsibility for cleaning the dog snot off the living room window, and now I have plenty of time to attend to it.  Wash your dishes by hand!  My hands have never been cleaner!  🙂
  10. I have new empathy for my dog and cat and every critter who has ever spent time confined.  I can go outside.  I can move around my home.  I don’t have to hold my bodily functions like my pup does if he or she is crated.  My human litter box is clean.
  11. Feed the need now – pets need more than food.  Pets need petting.  That is the definition of petting – where it originated.  Pets give us so much – this is the perfect time to give them a whole lotta love!  This is a gift that keeps on giving!
  12. There is logic in cat poop.  Sharing negativity and nastiness on social media is like taking the contents of your cat’s litter box and handing it to others.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a piece of it.  Neither does your cat!  Litter box wrangling is a solitary endeavor for the cat (ask him!) and a solitary pursuit for their hooman…scoop it up and dispose of itPlease don’t try to distribute it to your social media community.

Yes, I agree.  Some choices have to be curtailed for a while.  It isn’t fun.  There is a whole world of adjustment happening – financial strain and frustration and fear is real.  We still have many choices available to us – ones that don’t cost anything – like learning to transform knee-jerk reaction into clear-eyed response.

This virus outbreak may be historical, but it is only hysterical if we let it be.

Stay healthy, my friends.

Afterthoughts

Can we ever truly heal from the death of a loved one?

I was listening to a radio show on CBC where the author being interviewed was discussing healing. He said he thought that you never really heal from the death of someone you love.

It struck me as a pessimistic perspective. I think healing depends on what healing means to you.

Oxford Dictionaries defines healing as “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.” This does not mean a reset back to the way life was before the event occurred.

After we experience the death of someone we love, we are not the same person we were before they died. To use the analogy of a wound being inflicted, we experience a deep rend in the fabric of our lives, one that feels like our heart actually has a gaping, bloody gash. It feels soul deep.

This gash did not exist before, so how could we possibly be the same after its infliction?

The way of all things is to be stripped of all things…

When you open yourself to love in this world, you are opening the door to its loss. Argue as we often do, we are neither exempted nor excused from any aspect of living or dying. We all live, and we all die.

Given time, wounds heal. Bones knit, and scar tissue forms. It may be bumpy and not as pristine as before, but we know that once it has healed, the actual site of a wound can be even stronger than it was before the injury. Nature has mechanisms for healing that operate unhindered if we accept this as fact.

The problem is, death is not a fact we are prepared to accept.

There is an appropriate and necessary period for a human being to mourn. This is unique to the character of each individual and cannot (and should not) be circumvented.

Grieving and feeling have a purpose. We need to deeply feel our farewells. The problem with healing from loss lies in our resistance to it.

When someone dies, you are abruptly smashed in the face by their physical absence. This shock happens not only after an unexpected death but even after a prolonged illness or the end of a long and productive life. You discover just how accustomed you were to your umbilical-like energetic connection when you, who are left, can no longer feel it.

Now you are faced with an entirely unfamiliar sensation — an unsecured and unbalanced feeling that will undoubtedly be one of the most terrifying experiences of your lifetime, an experience that may be further intensified for reasons that perhaps you are not aware. It brings you face to face with the naked brutality of your aloneness.

An adjustment period is natural, but we often resist this transition of learning to live our lives without our loved one in it. We hang on to their personal items, their favorite things. We search clothing for their scent; we lie on their side of the bed. We trace their scars in our mind and picture the way they wore their hair… Their little gestures and vocal inflections become overwhelmingly endearing. We visit their grave and talk to their headstone. We cherish these snapshots of them in order to keep them with us, as solid and earthly as possible. You only have to consider the despair you feel when you realize you can no longer recall the sound of that person’s voice to understand this deep resistance.

Through our desperate clawing at who they were in life, we keep the wound open. Deep down we know the purpose of our clinging — we are grasping for some measure of control over a situation that was entirely out of our control. We focus on worrying the wound, on keeping it as open and bloody as it was the first day it happened. We believe that if we keep it bleeding, the person is not that far away.

However, this wound is not fresh. It happened in the past. It could have been a year ago or 10 years ago.

During that time, your situation has evolved, but for some confusing reason, you may find that the fond memories do not satisfy you. Your mind keeps rolling back to the moment when they died. The situation is multi-layered; you may believe you wish to heal but perhaps do not recognize the contradiction of your words and your thoughts as you continue to replay and relive the moment of their death in your mind.

Your efforts to heal as well as to keep the wound open and bloody have been partially successful. A scab and some scar tissue have formed in some areas (you may be able to function on a superficial level), but your continued efforts to keep this wound open has opened the door to disease. The wound has festered, and when you are alone, you know the full brunt of its infection.

There comes a time in the healing process when you become tired of feeling sad. This is normal. It is not a betrayal of your loved one’s memory. It is the mind’s natural mechanism that allows you to move on and live — to create healthy scar tissue. After all, you are still alive.

When you are faced with this feeling, you have to realize that what you are doing is not working.

There is a distinct difference between mourning a death and celebrating a life. We must come to the point where we understand that we are not honoring either life (theirs or ours) by this suffering.

Do you continue to mourn the person’s death, or do you instead celebrate his/her life? Does their memory bring tears through loss or tears through smiles?

You have to consider that perhaps you have deliberately kept the fond memories at bay (and therefore denied your loved one’s life force or energy from once again blending with yours) because you cannot let go of who they were in life.

Where is the joy that their presence brought to your life if every time your mind accesses the memory of that person you become sad? What is more important to feel and share as their legacy?

Each time you are reminded of this person, the energy you generate through these thoughts serves to feed or to starve your own life force as well as that of all whom you encounter.

Healing is hard work. This presence of mind does not happen easily. It involves actively letting go, and, as I stated before, this takes time. Be kind to yourself, and let the days go by as they will. Feel and deal with your grief and loneliness in order to heal.

Remember, healing does not mean you will be the same person you were before their loss. Healing can mean you are a better person now because you knew and loved them.

It is the experience that, once you know, you will never forget, nor should you forget any aspect of their love and the gift of that person’s influence in your life. You simply train your mind to recognize the nurturing memories and gently substitute them for the sad ones whenever the sad ones come along.

I have found it beneficial to write down some of the happy stories about my loved ones and share them with others. It works just as well to keep them private and to read them in the times when you cannot seem to let go of your sadness.

Healing: the process of making or becoming sound or healthy A-GAIN. Wouldn’t that make your loved one smile, thinking about what they have given you?

Healing from death is honoring the life of the person you love through the way you choose to LIVE yours.

Excerpt from, Saving Your Own Life:  Learning to Live Like You Are Dying by Paula D. Tozer

In Defence of Comfort…

How far are you willing to go?
How much are you willing to know?
This is the question that nobody knows,
Just how deep that rabbit hole goes…

Last year, while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, I was faced with a dilemma.  We were at a small, out of the way park in which there was a really cool freshwater pool, called a cenote in Spanish, in which we were invited to swim.

A cenote is a freshwater pit or sinkhole, caused by the action of water, over time, eroding of the limestone and creating a natural pool.  These pools are exquisite – sparklingly clear, vibrantly blue-green in color, and refreshingly cool.  To the person who dislikes jumping into 25-26 deg. Celsius ( 77-78 deg. Fahrenheit) water the refreshment “shock” takes you out of your comfort zone.

Yeah.  I am one of those people.

I had no trouble walking into the pool, immersing myself a bit at a time, but when the tour leader guided us to the rock from which we could jump (about a 6 ft drop) into the deepest part of the cenote, I declined.  I watched my husband gleefully leap with the abandon of a child into the clear sapphire water.  He shot me a wicked grin that conveyed his pleasure to be here, in this place, and to be able to enjoy the experience of jumping into the pool.  An experience I did not share.

You know what?  That sucked.

It was a tattoo moment for me, one of those moments that gets tattooed on your memory.  It is a “snapshot” of time when I think of that cenote, I think of my husband’s wicked grin as he tried to encourage me to jump in with him.

A tattoo moment can serve as an excuse.  I am no different than anyone else, there are times when I argue for my limitations.  The water was too chilly – I don’t like jumping into “cold” water…the rock was “too” high – I don’t like heights…Why don’t I just do it?…because I can choose not to and I chose not to…

Cool.  There was nobody or nothing to stop me either way.  I missed out on that very cool experience because I was stuck in my comfort zone.

I will give myself some cred here…I have blasted my way out of many comfort zones in my life resulting in significant changes and personal growth, including addressing my fears around my personal death and dying in a profound manner.  I have written a book about that process called Saving Your Own Life:  Learning to Live Like You Are Dying, but comfort is a funny thing.  It creeps up on you when you aren’t looking and causes you to be less than you could be.  Less than your best.

Frig that.

I began exploring my comfort zone in more depth this year and discovered pockets of resistance. There are more but these seemed to be enough to begin to address at that time.

I found myself avoiding:

Unscripted public speaking.
Tightening up my diet.
Engaging in exercise even in cold, windy, winter weather.
Strenuous exercise.

Can you identify with any of these pockets of resistance?  Where do you most defend your comfort?

I addressed my discomfort with unscripted public speaking by joining two Toastmasters clubs last fall.  I threw myself into it by entering contests and speaking at every opportunity.  My comfort level with unscripted speaking (without a memorized, prepared speech) is much higher now.

The other three on my list, I discovered, revolved around my beliefs about aging.  As I have grown older and, I like to believe, wiser, I have realized the benefits of giving myself a break.  I was really hard on myself for most of my life and bullied myself into strict diet and exercise protocols that I could not maintain in the long run.  I felt I was too lean, and I exercised a lot of the time while injured.  I stopped attending Hapkido classes due to pain caused by what I believe to be a serratus anterior (sometimes called the boxer’s muscle) injury.  I kept injuring it over and over and had to leave the sport for a year in order to have it properly heal.

It was a reality check.  I was 50 yrs old at the time.  It stands to reason that I would not heal as fast as I did when I was 25.  We still cycled, hiked and ran, but I had to limit my upper body exercises, including kayaking, for a while.

During that time I also began to eat more bread and pasta.  I truly believe in the Mediterranean style of eating for optimum health and longevity, but at that time I began indulging more than was necessary for health and long life.  I have a very healthy appetite.  My abdomen expanded as I sat more working on my books, eating that second helping of pasta…indulging in more crusty bread and cheese than I had before.  I was not overweight by anyone’s standards, but I felt dumpy and sluggish.

Not one to deny the subject of age, I began to consider the idea that perhaps this slowing down was natural…that the best of my years may be behind me…and that perhaps…it was natural to decide to ski and snowshoe and walk on sunny, nice winter days that kept me comfortable?  Didn’t I deserve it?

Indulging in our just desserts…

How many times have you heard people complain about winter weather?  Does it sound like you?  Generally, we stay inside more in winter and steel ourselves from the biting winds and snow as we make a dive to the car and then into the nearest heated building.

However, life goes on.  Days go by.  And one morning you wake up, hating the snow and the below zero temperatures, even when the sun is shining…because it is -10 deg. Celsius…because it is too windy…because there is always tomorrow…

I decided this year to step up my game, and step into my discomfort.  How?  The solution was elegantly simple.  With the exception of a driving snowstorm or sleet that covered everything in a veil of ice, I piled on the clothes and went anyway.

Here is a really easy way to begin blasting yourself out of your comfort zone – take a cool shower every morning.  Work up to a cold morning shower.

Yeah.  A cold shower works wonders.  It certainly blasts you out of your comfort zone.  It also saves on hot water, by the way, and saves on your water bill because I can guarantee you won’t stay in there any longer than necessary to get the job done, especially at first.

I begin with a cooler shower and before I got out, I began to turn the water colder and colder.  I hold my head under it for at least 30 seconds and then spin around (for some reason it feels colder on your back!) a couple of times.  Yeah, I grimace, but WOW! is it energizing!

And it is way cooler than the temperature of a tropical cenote.

This morning I found that I have become acclimatized to cold weather and cold water in a manner that is very satisfying.  Cold water showers have many health benefits (see link below).

That, my friends, is truly cool.

I have addressed the items on my list and realized something interesting…it had nothing at all to do with getting older, but everything to do with mindset…I can choose to and I chose to…

Naturally, you can choose, too…

Consider your own list, your own tattoo moments…yes, a tattoo moment can serve as an excuse, but frig that… make it an invitation to jump!

What comforts are you defending?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/health-news/12-benefits-of-taking-cold-showers-every-day/ar-BBUq4zD

Is Your Body A Dump Site?

What if I told you that you could achieve a BB in a martial art at 40; be slim and fit at 50; run races, hike mountains or take up road biking at 60 while significantly decreasing the chances of developing the diseases that plague your parents and caused misery for your grandparents?  Live a healthy life well into your ’80’s and ’90’s or even beyond?  Establish a new family health legacy that you have the privilege to pass on to your children and grandchildren?

Would you believe me?  No if’s, and’s or but’s?

What is your waist to height ratio?  You can learn how to calculate it here:

https://www.wikihow.com/Measure-Your-Waist-to-Height-Ratio

This is a vital measurement for our health.  Waist to height ratio is a strong predictor of cardiovascular risk and mortality.

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-weight/healthy-weight-and-waist

Our Family Health Legacy

I have been lean all of my life.  A percentage of that must be genetics, I assume.  However, considering my family genetics on both sides, it was more likely that I would have become overweight than stayed lean.  No matter how much I loved these women, it could not be denied that my mother, both of my grandmothers, and my aunts were overweight all of their lives.  That is a fact.

However, being lean does not preclude me from other factors in my familial health legacy – for things like heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and dementia.

In my teens, I began looking at health and nutrition in a manner that was contrary to my cultural norm.  I remember reading books and being influenced by inspirational folks on TV to a degree, but in the ’70’s those books and inspiring folks were not plentiful.  The only athletes I recognized in real life were some of the kids in my school.  Those kids were not part of my tribe.

Athletes who excelled in sports came into our home only through the television set, on the Wide World of Sports and Hockey Night in Canada.  As a spectator, those people were as foreign to me as was our Prime Minister.  Growing up, I had a bike and played outside a lot, but never once considered what healthy activity or clean eating would look like.   That conversation didn’t happen in our home, our school, or our community.

Mom and Dad both worked, so coming home from school we ate from cans, TV dinners, or prepackaged frozen fish sticks or triangles and fries, unless my Gram, who lived across the road, prepared our meal.   Vegetables were eaten mashed.  I didn’t eat an iceberg lettuce, celery, and tomato salad until my teens.  I remember it vividly – Dad prepared it.

“Boughten” white bread and sweets, canned vegetables, big brand peanut butter and processed cheeze “food,” soda pop, chocolate bars, and deli meats were staples.  We ate weiners right out of the package and plastic wrapped cheeze slices by the dozen.  Mayo and butter spread naturally on every sandwich.  Peanut butter was best consumed with a spoon right out of the jar.  When we went to our country store, our regular “treat” (I am shaking my head at that oxymoron) was a bottle of pop, a chocolate bar, and a bag of chips.  Every time.

Our family outings revolved around dining at a take-out, or “canteen,” as we described our fast food places prior to the arrival of Dixie Lee Fried Chicken, MacDonalds, and KFC in our small town.  Dixie Lee Fried Chicken was the first franchise in town and we embraced it as a gastronomic delight.

By the time I was 14 I was a skinny, weak kid with a face full of acne.  There were many just like me.  I watched friends and classmates struggle with extreme body issues and acne so severe it scarred them for life…and not just physically.   I shared their pain in my own private, unique way.  My tribe suffered.

It was as a young adult that I first began to try some alternative foods to the meat-and-potatoes fare served to me by family and neighbors.  Before that, rice was served with cow’s milk and sugar.  Pizza came from a box.  Pasta was macaroni.  Green peas were grey/brown in real life, and came from a can, sometimes mixed with carrot bits.  Juice was orange-flavored sugar that came from a package wrapped in plastic.

Perhaps you recognize some of your own childhood in this post.  My family was no different than any other family on the Cassilis road where I grew up, or anywhere on the Miramichi River.   Most likely, it was the same for most small town folks.

Somewhere along the way, I began to notice these practices in every household in my community.  Every celebration and ritual and holiday revolved around the same types of foodstuffs, prepared in the same way.  And we cannot forget the other ritualized part of our culture – our celebrations that revolved around drinking large quantities of alcohol.  We also embraced that with gusto.

When we look at the way our great grandparents, or grandparents died; or consider the misery and disease with which our parents are living right now; or assess our personal state of health in a realistic manner, we have two choices:

  1.  Give up and continue to do the same.
  2.  Do something about it right now.

Consider this statement:  What if you have never known what feeling good feels like?

As a young adult, I became determined to figure out a way that my family’s health legacy wouldn’t be my own.  When I began my research into healthy eating and well-being I had no clue what I would find when I made changes to my diet, but one day it dawned on me that I actually felt good.  Energetic.  Mentally sharp.  Healthy.

That was when I began to speculate on the idea that I had been so used to feeling a certain way that I didn’t know there was any other way to feel.

Our bodies adapt to whatever we throw at them, or dump into them.  In our natural youth and strength, we are at our most resilient and bounce back rapidly from our self-imposed bodily insults.  However, by the time we reach our late-30’s the results of our lifestyle have truly begun to take its toll.  Recovery time is longer.  We no longer have the flexibility of youth.  Our girth expands.  We sit more and complain more.  Still, our bodies adapt in the most efficient way possible.

It is entirely possible that you have been gifted with the genetics to live a healthy and happy old age.  It is also entirely possible that you have been doing your best to sabotage that gift of health most of your life.

This was true for me.  However, losing 15 friends and family members in a little over a decade was a wake-up call.   It was now or never.

I was forced to get real with myself – I saw the awful ways that my loved ones were dying – crippled up and tormented by arthritis, eaten away by cancer, consuming a handful of pills to keep their heart beating and their blood flowing in a way that did not blow the top of their head off.  I also saw the deep, devastating sadness and resignation with which we who were left to mourn, said goodbye.

That was scary crap!

Is this the way that I would be in my 60’s & 70’s?  Wracked with pain and struggling to live another day?  It didn’t slip by me that only one person in my family, to that point, had lived beyond their 70’s.

The census profile gathered in 2016 for my hometown area of Miramichi, NB, indicates something interesting…at the time of the census 23.8 % of the population were 65 and over.  2.8 % of the population were 85 and over, with the majority being female.

What good is all of the longevity research and breakthroughs going to do for me if this was my future?  That was, and is, simply not acceptable.

Something was, and is, so obviously wrong with this picture.

Do You Treat Your Body Like a DUMP SITE?

We cannot predict when we will die or how we will die.  Nobody wants to die young or die in pain.  It stands to reason that most people if given the opportunity would make changes right now to lessen their odds of dying young or in pain from something that was preventable.

Here’s an experiment for any of you who have elderly parents:  Try introducing something new.  Begin with a new food that you know they have never tasted before.  Is it too different?  Is it too spicy?  Is it too crunchy, or mushy, or not salty enough?  Try something as simple as multi-grain bread…

Are you shaking your head at the idea of even making the introduction?

Now let’s consider what happens when you go to a foreign land, let’s say to the Carribean.  Do you enjoy trying new foods?  Or do you look for what you know is familiar and complain if it doesn’t taste like home?

Has your mind already begun to calcify?  Is rigor mortis already setting in?  Is that you?

We purchase healthy foods for our children and grandchildren and try to coax them to eat it while we scoff down burgers, grease-soaked fries, and TV dinners.

Our dogs and cats eat organic, grain-free, high-quality food rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy oils.  We give them the best food that our money can buy, while we shop for our food in the convenient, prepackaged, fast food aisles.

We feed our pets better than we feed ourselves, and then we wonder why we feel sluggish and defeated and old.

I am no different than you are.  I have struggled with these things.  I like the occasional burger and fries and more than the occasional pizza.  However, I believe that my family’s health legacy does not have to be mine.

We who were raised eating what has been called the SAD diet (Standard American Diet, as in North American), are already at a distinct disadvantage.  Our bodies are built on sub-standard nourishment.  Many of us were reared as infants on canned evaporated cow’s milk.  As we age we are feeling the effects of this degraded food supply even more potently – in obesity, diabetes, strokes, and the new norm…dementia.  Dementia is on the increase, with 76,000 new cases diagnosed each year in Canada.

I don’t think any of us want to be part of those statistics.

What is the alternative?  What can I do today?

First and foremost, change your mind.  Resist the calcification that hardens into becoming a stubborn old complainer.

Change your diet.  Up your nutrition, promote digestion, lose the belly fat.  This will reduce the inflammation that leads to disease.  Eat clean and green.

Change your exercise.  Walk for exercise, regardless of the weather.  Do resistance training.  Work on your balance.

Keep in mind the computer acronym GIGO – garbage in, garbage out.

Consider your family health legacy:

What do you have to lose?

What do you have to gain?

What could be different if you gave it a go?

Do the research.  Find a new tribe who lives like that and supports you.

Could be epic.

 

Canada’s New Food Guide!

Canada’s new food guide offers us a refreshing new dietary protocol to follow, but it can be a tad daunting, especially for those who are not used to eating this way.

It has a lot in common with the Mediterranean diet, a way of eating that has been linked to longevity.

  • A lot less meat and dairy
  • Little or no sodium, sugar, or saturated fat
  • Water as the drink of choice

They now warn the consumer to be aware that, food marketing can influence your choices.  Bravo!

Time to do our homework, folks!  food-guide.canada.ca offers us healthy eating recommendations, recipes, and information on how to eat in a healthy way on a budget.

Don’t know where to begin?  For many of us, it will take some getting used to.  I suggest using the Kaizen Method* for continuous improvement – small improvements incorporated with consistency over time, lead to significant results!

The key is to begin now but do it gradually.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make at least one day of the week a meatless day.
  • Incorporate two suppers of fish into your diet.
  • The food guide recommends two servings of chicken per week. I would assume that includes turkey, as well.
  • Try vegetarian recipes that use beans, lentils, or quinoa as the protein source. There are plenty online.
  • Have a salad (not iceberg lettuce – use romaine, spinach, baby kale, or spring mix, or another variety) with every meal. Substitute half of your regular amount of prepared dressing for Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil.
  • Take your regular serving size of pasta or potatoes and put back half. Fill that part of the plate with cauliflower, broccoli, peas, green beans, or carrots.
  • Do not use margarine. Use very little butter, if any.
  • Do not butter your sandwich. Replace mayo with low sodium mustard wherever possible or cut your mayo in half.
  • Toss your ketchup, corn syrup, and pancake syrup.
  • Do not buy wieners and prepared meats. Eat deli meats once a month, at most.  Cook a chicken, or some other meat or fish, for work lunches.  Better yet, take a big salad.
  • Eat more seeds and nuts. Check portion sizes.
  • Buy natural peanut butter or another nut butter.
  • Eat whole grain cereals that you have to prepare on the stove. Make refrigerator oatmeal for breakfast.  It is really great!
  • Substitute dairy yogurt for non-dairy yogurt.
  • Incorporate more organic coconut, olive, and avocado oil into your diet. Do your research on the other oils – I think it will be enlightening.
  • Limit dessert to a treat or have a sliver of whatever portion you would normally eat. Prep more fruit instead of a sugary dessert.  Try watermelon with cinnamon – it is a total treat.
  • Cut your juice with water. This limits the amount of sugar that you and your kids are drinking.  Gradually cut it more and more.
  • Stop drinking pop. Substitute sparkling water for pop.  Add a small amount of fruit juice concentrate (in the health food section) to it to make it flavored.
  • Drink more tea.
  • Switch from cream to milk in your coffee. If you have to, use a small amount of sugar.  Never use artificial sweeteners.  Gradually begin lessening the amount of milk and sugar you put in coffee until you are used to drinking it black.

 

These are some simple substitutions and suggestions to get you started.  Use these as a beginning, and then start your own research here:

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

You don’t have to do it all at once, but it is vital that you begin making changes now.  Your quality of life, and of those you love, may depend on it.

 

 

What’s Really In Your Bubble Bath?

I used a lot of talcum powder from Johnson & Johnson (marketed as baby powder) on my children.  I used it myself for years.  It was quite shocking to find out that this company knew about the asbestos in their products for a very long time and still kept the product on the market.  Asbestos has been known to cause some forms of cancer.

According to http://www.cancer.org, In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled.  

It becomes even more disturbing when I consider that I sprinkled this on my children, from newborn to toddlers, on a daily basis.

Approximately a decade ago I switched to pure cornstarch powder.  I like it.  However, if you will be using any form of powder on yourself or your children, it is wise to do your own homework.

The skin is the largest organ of the human body.  Wikipedia states that for the average adult human skin measures between 16.1-21.4 square feet.  That’s a lot of square footage to absorb toxins!

Parabens.  Synthetic colors.  Fragrance.  Phthalates.  Triclosan.  Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/ Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) Formaldehyde.  Propylene glycol….these are present in many of the personal care products that we buy.  They are considered toxic to the human body.

The products that we apply to our faces and smear on our bodies go farther than skin deep – these chemicals get absorbed internally, contributing to your “toxic load.”

When you think about decreasing our body’s toxic load what do you think of first?

The foods we eat that are sprayed with pesticides?  Do you choose to eat organic food wherever possible?  That is super!  However, this is only one piece in a giant, confusing jigsaw puzzle.

Have you considered the shampoos and conditioners, the moisturizers, deodorants and antiperspirants, the makeup, and the toothpaste that sits on our shelves and in our bathroom drawers…some of which could survive the next ice age, as being toxic?

How often do you succumb to the latest commercial from a well-known cosmetic or hair care company and buy a bottle of their product because the model looks great and it is on sale at a big box store for $2.99?  How often do you buy personal care products at discount stores, from companies that you haven’t heard of before, but take them home and use them because they cost $1?

How often do you take a bubble bath and soak for an hour in these products?

Man ‘o man, it is like a minefield out there…

I am happy to say that we are slowly living into the spirit of the warrior in this regard.  The modern consumer is wiser than we were decades ago.  We know more about cost-cutting practices and slick marketing programs.  We know about class action lawsuits and coverups.  We know we should educate ourselves.  We know we should be reading every darn label that comes into our home, before a person we love, especially a child, uses it.

Take a trip to your local health food store.  Ask the staff for healthy, non-toxic alternatives and suggestions for decreasing both yours and your family’s toxic load in this area.

Your body will thank you for it.

 

Everyday Alchemy

philosophers-stone-as-an-alchemy-symbol-alchemical-symbols-and-their-meaningsThis is the Alchemy symbol for transmutation.  It means the action of changing.  Inviting the spirit of the warrior into your life can result in the transmutation of mind, body, and spirit.

A few months ago I was watching an online video by Lisa Nichols, motivational speaker and teacher who was featured in The Secret.  In this particular session, she was speaking at an event called A-Fest, hosted by Mindvalley, https://www.mindvalley.com/.

A-Fest (or Awesomeness Fest) is the brainchild of founder and CEO, Vishen Lakhiani.  It is an annual event, held in a different part of the world each year, at a 5-star location. These events gather a community of like-minded folks who come together to learn from the world’s best teachers, for the purpose of making a healing, lasting impact in the world.

A-Fest is accessible by invitation only.  

Intrigued, I did further research on Mindvalley.  WOW!  What a superb website and array of products they offer!  I am super impressed with Vishen’s extraordinary vision for his company (to impact a BILLION people!), his humility, and, most of all, his drive to bring the planet’s most influential thought leaders together to engage the world in mind transmutation.

As part of Mindvalley’s Conscious Engineering program, I watched an interview with health guru, Dave Asprey.  Dave is the author of 16 books.  I was impressed with his explanation of what he calls “Bulletproof Coffee.”  He describes it on his site as, “the most satisfying, energizing cup of coffee you’ve ever had. ”

The “official” version of this coffee consists of his brand of coffee; Brain Octane Oil, and grass-fed Ghee.  You mix it in the blender – it turns into “the creamiest, most delicious cup of coffee you’ve ever had.”

In the interview, Dave went on to describe how it fits into a ketogenic diet.  I do not wish to follow this style of diet and have opted for a more Mediterranean-style approach, but his chat with Vishen was very interesting…

Dave also advocates for intermittent fasting, as well as physical training on an empty stomach (bulletproof coffee only).

This fall I began to realize that I naturally use a form of calorie restriction called intermittent fasting on a daily basis.  My mornings generally consist of waking at 6-630 am and spending the early part of the morning (6-9), reading and researching topics I find of interest, and writing.  This fall I was finishing the Editor’s draft for my next book, An Elegant Mind’s Handbook: Expanded Version.  We head to the gym to resistance train three days a week.

Most evenings I am finished eating by 6pm, but before this fall I would eat immediately upon waking.  I felt hungry.  Breakfast was what got me out of bed in the morning.  It generally consisted of black coffee, or black tea, and some form of carbs, like oatmeal or a bowl of breakfast cereal.  It seemed to work well enough.

However, when I decided to incorporate my version of bulletproof coffee into my routine (using organic coffee and a mixture of Ghee & MCT Oil that I bought at my health food store, https://www.stfrancisherbfarm.com/products/ghee-mct-oil), I discovered something remarkable.  I wasn’t hungry.  I had no urge to eat breakfast.

Additionally, up until that point, I would never have considered working out on an empty stomach, as I didn’t like feeling “growly.”  I had it in my head that only the 6-small meals per day method could energize my day and sustain me through my workout.

What I am finding is really cool – not only am I not hungry, but I also have more energy. I feel stronger, sharper mentally, and have upped my resistance-training weight significantly!

We generally have a whey protein shake after our workout, and then eat lunch when we get home from the gym (around noon).  I am delighted to report that not only am I not “famished” when I am prepping lunch, but I find I am also satisfied with less food!

My intermittent fasting, bulletproof coffee, working out on an empty stomach routine has evolved in conjunction with a bit of a dietary overhaul.  I was eating too much bread and pasta, and drinking too much fruit juice.

I have always eaten reasonably clean and followed the advice of The Eat-Clean Lady, Tosca Reno, but in the past few years I had begun sitting at my computer writing more and move, and gradually had slipped back into the habit of eating a lot of bread and pasta.

I have tightened up my diet, bought a new cookbook, Clean Eating For Every Season, by Clean Eating magazine’s Alicia Tyler, https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/, and began to eat clean again!

As I understand it eating clean has many elements that are very similar to the Mediterranean diet.  It advocates fresh, organic food, prepared simply.  I have incorporated more of the good oils into my diet – extra virgin organic olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.

The look of my dinner plate has also changed, as I am once again watching my pasta, rice, and potato portion sizes and eating a lot more vegetables, salads, soups, stews, and miso.  I enjoy fish, chicken, venison, and pork, eat beef on occasion.  I rarely consume any processed meats (including vegan products).

And the changes have been easy!!  No BS!

I am experiencing what I can only describe as everyday alchemy – a transmutation process that has offered me a kick-in-the-butt energy surge while melting the “soft” off my midsection!

If you feel so inclined, check out the sites I have included here and let me know what you think.  Perhaps you may want to give bulletproof coffee a try yourself!

Remember, this works for healthy individuals of healthy body weight.  I recommend checking with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or exercise regimen.