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Monthly Archives: December 2011

How do your New Year’s Resolutions stack up?

English: This came from New Years Eve 2004 int...

I’ve mentioned in other blog posts that I am really inspired by Gretchen Rubin and her “Happiness Project” Here she shares some tips on what questions to ask yourself before making your resolutions to make sure they are lasting ones. I think I’ve covered them all for myself…how are your resolutions looking?

“Forty-four percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and I know I always do. I’m more inclined to make resolutions than ever, in fact, because if my happiness project has convinced me of anything, it has convinced me that resolutions—made right—can make a huge difference in boosting happiness.

So how do you resolve well? This is trickier than it sounds. Here are some tips for making your resolutions as effective as possible.

1. Ask: “What would make me happier?”

2. Ask: “What is a concrete action that would bring change?”

3. Ask: “Am I a ‘yes’ resolver or a ‘no’ resolver?” 

4. Ask: “Am I starting small enough?”

5. Ask: “How am I going to hold myself accountable?”

6. Ask: “Are there any small, nagging issues weighing down my happiness?” “

To see more detail about each of these questions, visit Gretchen Rubin’s Blog.

So how about my resolutions…

1. What would make me happier? I asked that months ago and the answer was a resounding ‘to be healthy’. That is the number one goal of this blog. I also want to help others, which can easily be done if others want to help themselves.

2. My concrete steps? Creating a health plan to follow, consulting health care experts and creating a blog to reach all the people who are looking to make a change, but aren’t sure how.

3. Am I a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ resolver? My nature is divided here as most of my resolutions have to do with DOING something to make a change, rather than abstaining from something. However, for example, my ‘I’m sweet enough without the sugar’ month has to do with NOT eating sugars and sweeteners…I think I’m both.

4.  Starting small enough? I guess it depends on how you look at it. I’m starting small by doing my Year of the Detox in steps, but considering the whole year will be a complete health overhaul…maybe not!! lol

5. How am I to hold myself accountable? You’re looking at it! By opening this journey up to the world on the Internet, I’m sure I will have perfect strangers kicking my butt if I fall off the wagon, not just my husband!

6.  Nagging happiness issues? I think mostly my health…it isn’t small, but it is definitely nagging. Probably also the fact that my health affects every aspect of my life in one form or another.

How about you? What are your resolutions and how do they stack up to Ms. Rubin’s questions?

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Stop feeding your kids crap!

Out today, amid all the boxing day shoppers, I stopped for lunch at Harvey’s. (For the non-Canadian readers, this is a Canadian fast food restaurant chain.) I love their onion rings. I’ll admit, not the best choice, but I had a crave on and it would be awhile until I was home. Anyways, on the way in I was followed by a family that consisted of a father, three boys and a girl. The father was of average height and weight, but the kids…oh, the kids!

Here’s the breakdown:

1 teenage male, about 5’8″, overweight with dark rings of skin on his neck

Overweight

Image by just.Luc via Flickr

1 male, approximately 12 years old, overweight

1 male, approximately 9 years old, no discernible chin

1 female, approximately 7 years old, wearing a shirt that allowed her belly to hang out in the cold winter air

As they walked in from the parking lot, the three younger children all had big issues trying to step over the ridges of snow. Much more than they should have. This all may sounds incredibly judgmental, but these observations can be important. For example, dark rings around the neck could actually be acanthosis nigricans, which is a sign of an insulin level issue such as diabetes. The lumbering movements across the parking lot is a lack of energy. Noticing that the father is not overweight means it might not be genetic. (Though the mother was not present, so we can’t know for sure.)

They were right behind me in line and none of the children ordered anything healthy. Only soft drinks, fried foods and hamburgers. On top of this, none of them ordered off of the kids menu. A seven year old ordering an adult meal? I call health shenanigans!

I ate near them, just to see if the kids would actually finish their meals. Don’t worry, I was very inconspicuous.  ; ) They finished everything they ordered and the teenager went back for a refill of his soft drink. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t eat all my onion rings just in silent protest and I never finish my soft drinks. The kids moved even slower as they walked back to the car, stuffed as can be with food that won’t give them the energy they will need to complete their day.

Even as I write this, I can hear my sister in law’s voice in my head with her favourite comment, “You don’t know what it’s like to have kids.”, or a variation thereof. Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t care if people think that since I don’t have kids I don’t know what parents have to go through. It was still all I could do not to walk over to that father and say, “By the way, there is a Subway down the street.”.  I know it’s the holidays, but all the more reason to give your children a lighter lunch after all the crap they assuredly ate Christmas Eve and day. A treat now and then I grant you, but these children were all seriously overweight. And I mean seriously overweight. It made me sad to see how unhealthy these children were. That’s not to say that if they were skinny that they would be healthy, but if they look that unhealthy on the exterior, imagine if we took a look at their interior health. Shudder!

Yes, yes, you can bring up as many excuses for the father bringing his incredibly overweight children to Harvey’s as you want to.

It’s the holidays…I don’t have time to cook a meal…It’s cheap….

This is what I say.

It’s their health and habits for the rest of their lives (and they are already overweight)…There’s a subway down the street with much healthier options…Home cooking is way cheaper, so is only letting them order off the kids menu!!!

So what do you all think? Am I off my rocker? Is there a valid reason for bringing your unhealthy and overweight children out to a fast food restaurant and allowing to order from the adult menu? Yes, that last question was a bit snarky, but feel free to give me a valid reason nonetheless. Cheers!

3 tips to get you through the holidays

For the next few days many of us will be carting around from house to house, visiting with family and overeating. Here are a few tips falling in line with my Year of the Detox to save yourself from the looming “holiday party regret”. These are things that I have discovered in my readings this year that I will also be trying out for the first time. Let’s try it together!

Holiday Greetings

Image by Anemone Letterpress via Flickr

1. Drink lots and lots and LOTS of water.

I know this can be really hard when you are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Drink a huge glass when you wake up and try to have a bit within reach throughout the day. This will go a long way to maintaining your energy and help you not to get too dehydrated after all the alcohol you will be consuming. I doubt it’s just my family that is guilty of this! It will also help you digest all the crazy amounts of holiday goodies you’ll enjoy.

2. Take a breather

If at any point you are feeling overwhelmed, or tired, head to another room and hide out for a few minutes. Take a moment to slow down, breathe and even do a few stretches if you are so inclined. Then you’ll be ready to head back to the festivities and be better able to enjoy them. This step can be especially important if you are in charge of the holiday feast. Talk about under pressure!

3. Try to get some physical activity in

Whether it’s playing outside in the snow or braving the boxing day sales, your body will get extra lethargic if you don’t move it enough. Movement will also help you digestive process and burn off all those calories. It might be too cold to go for a walk, but is it ever too cold to go shopping? I think not! Of course, now you’ll have to look at the health of your bank balance as well. 🙂

There you have it, nothing too complicated and it may help you avoid those “can’t do up my pants” woes and keep you in tip top, socialite shape for the upcoming New Year’s Eve parties.

Do you have any tips to get us through the holiday season?

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a wonderful holiday season to all!

Appreciating health care workers who excel at their job

With the requisition for blood tests from my doctor in hand and a night of fasting under my belt, I headed to the clinic to have my blood taken. When my husband and I arrived, there were already many people in the waiting room. I took a number and eventually was called up to the desk. The man sitting at the desk look frazzled. His name tag was not actually a name tag, but white tape with his name printed on with marker. Now, this was not the first time I had been to this particular labwork clinic. I knew he must be new.

I handed him the form and waited patiently while he sifted through the requested tests. The woman who was called up right after me was in and out by the time he had finished finding all the tests and asking about the apparently elusive vitamin D test. (Which, if you get it, you’ll have to pay for.) Finally, we headed to the room. He nervously set everything up, placing all the bar code stickers on to my vials. Meanwhile, I was lapped by another client in for their blood tests.

I already know that I have incredibly difficult veins to draw blood from. I have been told by numerous nurses and technicians that this is the case, so I decided to warn this technician. More than one tech has told me that taking blood from my hand is much easier. I am given to believe them, after one horrific experience in high school when a technician poked needles in the crook of each elbow a total of thirteen times before asking an experienced tech for help. I know, it sounds unbelievableEnglish: Santa Rita, Guam (June 16, 2005) - Bl..., but it happened.

As he attached the butterfly needle to the tube, his hands were shaking, he picked it up afterwards and it fell off. “Oops!” he smiled at me nervously. I smiled back, but man, was I not looking forward to this! I didn’t want to shatter this guy’s confidence, but if he had of messed up on the first go, I definitely would have requested another technician. Finally he put everything together and began to examine my arms. He couldn’t find any veins he thought he could get, so the day’s biggest blessing became that he was going to listen to me and go through my hand. It hurts more and this time it really did, but at least it is one poke instead of several. It took forever, but finally the vials were full enough. I said goodbye to him and left quickly. During the time I had my blood taken, four other clients had passed through the one other technician working there.

I’m not relaying this story as a means of bashing the poor guy, who was obviously new at this, but as means to get people to really appreciate health care workers who are amazing at what they do. It may seem very simple, but if you get a tech or nurse that is able to draw your blood on the first go, that is a great thing. Anyone who has had blood taken multiple times can attest to this fact, especially if they are like me and have tricky, tricky veins. So the next time that you have your blood taken and they do a good job, take a minute to thank them for making your experience a little less crappy.

 

What have your experiences been with having blood tests taken? Generally good or often bad?

PS – I’m not sure if ‘technician’ is the proper term for the people who take blood at the lab clinics. If it isn’t, please enlighten me!

Support from your doctor

I went to see my doctor this morning. I was so nervous. Revealing my health plan to the person who is technically in charge of my health history file. It actually went really well. She seemed almost as excited as I am about this journey. I asked her for a few tests so I can make sure that I’m on the right track for me and also so I can measure my internal success.  I highly recommend that if you want to join me on the Year of the Detox, or any other detox, that you consult your doctor. If you can, you should also enlist the help of a registered dietician. If your doctor is worth their salt, they will make sure you have all the help you need. Like mine, they may also be excited about you starting your way towards a healthier lifestyle. After a brief review of my plan, my doctor seemed very impressed and actually said my steps were something that everyone should do in order to improve their health. Yay! I would have gone on to do my Year of the Detox with or without her help (unless she said it would be damaging), but it is so nice to know she’s rooting for me too. Without any prodding from me, she admitted that these steps may help to resolve my lingering health problems as well. That is my number 1 ‘why’. I’m literally beaming right now!  I know I would like to trim down a bit, but if my internal measurements are improved, that is what really matters.

If you are interested, here is a list of the tests I asked my doctor for.

  • Glucose (blood sugars)
  • Creatinine (kidney)
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • ALT (Liver)
  • Bilirubin (Liver)
  • Lipid Assessment (Cholesterol levels)
  • Ferritin (Iron)
  • AST (Liver)
  • Vitamin D
  • BUN (Urea measure)

These tests will not only tell me if I am deficient in some nutrients, but also how my organs are functioning. A healthy person is not just the sexy one with the killer abs on the cover of the magazine, they are the one with the happy organs sitting behind those hot abs. All in all, a great day.

Ps – One more good thing that came out of my visit today was finding out that my blood pressure is a healthy 116/76. Do you know your blood pressure numbers?

Broccoli needs a better marketing team!

I was walking down the street towards my house this evening and I was following a woman with her son. They were having a conversation about what he was going to have for dinner. It went something like this…

Mom: Your father and I are going to have stir fry. You can have pasta.

Kid: Yuck…I don’t want pasta.

Mom: Well, I was going to give you macaroni and cheese…

Kid: Mmm, I’ll eat that instead.English: its broccoli

Mom: Well, macaroni IS pasta!?!

The whole conversation, brief as it was, got me thinking. When I was a kid there were a few things that I wouldn’t eat based on their names alone. Eggplant…as if. What an unappetizing name! Baba Ganoush…ya, I don’t think so. Hummus…we learned about that in science I think, sounds dirty. This kid was put off by the word “pasta”, not even realizing that macaroni is pasta. It just has a way cooler name. So cool that the one weekend we babysat my niece and nephew, my nephew

refused to answer to any name except ‘macaroni’.

Accompanying these thoughts was the light musing that if it was marketed properly, will a kid eat nearly anything? With all the bombardments of flashy advertising kids face from sugary treat companies, it is surprising that they eat any vegetables at all. ( Stop me if I start to sound like a disgruntled grandparent…too late? Oh well.) If only cauliflower had a campaign team! Why don’t string beans have a mascot? A bag of brussel sprouts with a decoder ring inside! Would a little bit of advertising make kids beg mom to put a broccoli crown into the cart? It could easily be only about taste, but I bet that some of it is a prejudice inherent in many children against the words ‘healthy’ and ‘vegetables’. What do you think?

Harnessing the power of my ‘why’.

I’ve been to enough goal setting lectures and read enough goal setting materials to know that in order to succeed, to really make a change in my life, I need the ‘why’ to be strong enough. What is the why? Sounds like the beginning of an Abbott and Costello routine, doesn’t it? Your why is what will drive you to achieve your goals. When I’m down in the dumps ( I’m sure  I will be at some point) thinking that an entire YEAR of detoxing was a bad, bad idea, my why is what will lift me back up. It will dust me off and say, “Hi, remember me.” Smiling warmly. Then I will say, “Oh yes, I do. Okay…I guess I can do this if you’re waiting for me at the finish line.” And then the people at the mall will call security on the lady who is talking to herself. He he he.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I have my husband, friends, family and hopefully by that point several blog followers who will be there to lend a hand. But when I’m heavy into May, the “I’m sweet enough without sugar” month, standing amidst racks of chocolate bars while I pay for my gas, it’s just me. Just me and my ‘why’. If my why is not strong enough, I won’t be strong enough.

Looking through some of the blogs hosted on wordpress, I came across one called Towards Healthy Life. It’s author, Julie, states her why in the about section of her blog.

I want to be able to move more freely, have more energy, learn to like exercise, integrate it in everyday life and learn moderation. Most of all I want to be a healthy model for my daughter.”

That last part of the statement is a really powerful one, I think. I don’t have any children but doing something not just for your betterment, but the betterment of someone you live for must be an incredible drive. If you stop and think about it, it is very natural for us to create a ‘why’ list while we set our goals. In society, we are constantly asked to account for our actions and when we are doing something challenging, often we need to be reminded of why we are on that path.

So what are my ‘why’s?

1. I have been sick for so long and I am ready for change. I no longer want to be a victim of

Goal Setting

Image by angietorres via Flickr

my health, but the commander in chief of it.

2. In a few years, I want to have children and I want my body to be in the best shape it can be before I get pregnant. Healthy body = healthy nest for the development of my family.

3. There are so many things that I want to do! Travel, write, photograph, act…the list goes on. My health problems have not only been time consuming but expensive. I’m sure I could’ve gone to Disney a couple times for what I’ve spent on alternative health care.

Those are my ‘why’s. For me, the first two are powerful and the third is a strong follower. Whenever I am having an off day, I will remind myself, “I am the commander in chief of my health.” When it’s May and the gas attendant sweetly asks me if I want a chocolate bar with my fuel purchase, they are on sale after all? I will say, “I want a healthy baby, not a chocolate bar.” Of course…I will be using my inner dialogue voice, I don’t want her to call security.

What ‘why’s have you used in the past or are presently using to achieve your goals? Please share, you may inspire someone to reach their goals!

Forming new habits, I’m on the right track!

Cover of "The First 30 Days: Your Guide t...

Cover via Amazon

Only a few weeks left until I embark on what could possibly be the biggest adventure I’ve ever consciously undertaken! I know that you could consider every day an adventure, but a lot of us are just along for the ride. We might be existing, but not all of us are living.  Is that you? I want to live my life to the fullest and to do that, I need to successfully implement some change in my life.

I was looking at a blog by Ariane de Bonvoisin called “First 30 Days“. (PS – She’s obviously in the right profession of helping those around her, since her name is French for ‘good neighbour’!) She proposes that anyone can change their life in 30 days by forming new habits. Ariane offers 30 steps for most any change you are looking to create in your life.

Along with these changes, she has what she calls he 9 Principles of Change. Number 8 really resonated with me, because that is what I feel I am doing right now with my blog.

“People who successfully navigate change are not alone; they surround themselves with people who can help, who have the right beliefs and skills. And they create an environment that supports their change.”

By writing this blog I am opening myself up to all the help and sources the Internet has to offer. I am surrounding myself with people who can help me, even though I haven’t met them. What a fantastic age we live in! I’ve also gone about creating a knowledgeable support team of people I know directly. I’ve asked for dietary advice from registered dietitian Meghan Barnes here in Ottawa. I will also be speaking with my doctor about the plans I have.

I encourage you all to do the same. If you can, speak with your doctor about the plans you have to improve your health. See if they can recommend a registered dietitian. (Note: My dietitian told me to make sure I mention that a nutritionist and a dietitian are not the same thing. In Canada, dietitians are regulated and licensed by the government, but nutritionists are not. Unless you live in Quebec that is.) Make a list of people who can help you. Are you missing anyone? Am I on it? hehehe.

New Year’s Resolutions

I know, I know…it seems a bit early to be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. We haven’t gotten past eating our way through massive holiday meals, indulging in a few too many drinks and having trouble buttoning the pants that fit just fine at the end of November. However, lots of magazines have already started to look at people and their New Year’s resolutions.

For example, I was leafing through “Success Magazine” and saw a wee stats breakdown on people’s resolutions. A study by the Barna Group looked at resolutions made by certain genders, of certain ages in certain tax brackets. You can probably guess what resolution had the highest percentage of people claim it? That’s right, it has to do with losing weight and getting fit. 30% of women from the baby boomer years who earn over $75K have losing weight/getting fit as their resolution.

Well, I am a woman…but not from the baby boomer years and I am nowhere near the $75K income bracket, but of all the choices, that is the resolution that rings truest for me. My Year of the Detox is not about losing weight specifically. In fact, when I plot out my starting point, I don’t intend to include weight. I will however include more important numbers like my waist measurement, my cholesterol levels, etc. I want this resolution to truly be about regaining health and not be pigeon-holed into how much a difference the scale says I’ve made. My success will not be based on the number between my big toes, but the way I feel.

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions that you are committed to maintaining this year?