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Category Archives: Inspiration

Words of wisdom, quotes or personal opinions that will keep me (and maybe you) on the road to detox!

Changing Labels and Your Health

Although I made some headway with my detoxing in 2012 and limiting my wheat intake in 2013, I have still gained weight. Sigh. I am currently at the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m not only heavy, I’m also what I would consider ‘dangerously’ out of shape. No, I don’t have trouble walking up stairs or anything, but man, if the zombie apocalypse hit tomorrow I would not be running for long!

I also have trouble with my knees, lower back, feet and movement in general. ‘Try Yoga’, I hear those yogis calling. Yes, I’ve tried that. ‘Try walking’, I hear others in perfect chorus. Yes, I’ve tried that as well. The truth of the matter is, I need help. In the past few months, I’ve come to realize this and I’ve sought it out.

Firstly, I knew that even when I was at my healthiest, I still subscribed to certain labels of myself that have not changed. These labels still haunt me to this day. With the help of an alternative practitioner, on my blog I affectionately call, ‘My Adele’, I have delved into some of these labels. She has been trained in hypnotherapy and we used this to look at the more prominent labels I have put on myself. The exercise was to take these labels, erase them and replace them with a more positive one.

The first label was ‘SELFISH’. When I told my husband this, he was flabbergasted. To him, I am one of the most selfless people he knows, but that doesn’t matter…this is about the way I see myself. I’m not sure why I’ve taken on this label. I can be as simple as something I was told as a child and internalized it. I took this label, erased it and replaced it with the word  ‘SELFLESS’.

The second label I came upon was ‘UNDESERVING’. This one I already knew about. I often feel like I don’t deserve the happiness and love in my life. I had been working on this for the past year, so when I read the label during my session it was no surprise. This label I changed to ‘DESERVING’.

The third label I read was ‘GUILTY’. This is the second one I already knew about. In the past, I’ve felt guilty about everything. My husband gives me a hard time because I apologize all the time. Sometimes it got so bad I would apologize and he would say, “For what?”. Often, I would not have a good answer. I took that label and replaced it with ‘FREE’. My thinking was that in affirmation writing, you don’t want to write the negative word within your affirmation.

The last label I was able to change was a triple-threat. Three words were attached to the same ‘bottle’. The three were ‘FAT’, ‘SICK’ and ‘UNHEALTHY’. I had been trying to detox, get healthy, lose weight and all while carrying these labels internally. Talking about pushing a boulder up a hill! I changed that one to ‘HEALTHY’.

Now that I have my labels changed, I am ready to start a new journey. I have also retained help from a personal trainer named Andrea Portillo of Visualize Fitness. Andrea specializes in dealing with people who have injuries or physical issues that make it difficult for them to get fit on their own. I have been avoiding the gym lately because a big part of me is terrified hurting myself. With Andrea’s help I am going to rebuild my strength and regain my fitness. Wish me luck!

What labels do you have that you should change? What would you replace them with?

my new labels!

my new labels!

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7 things I learned in Nepal

If you regularly check in to YOTD, you may have noticed a long hiatus has just occurred. No, I’m not ignoring you! I promise! I just happened to have been on a life changing trip to Nepal. I left for three weeks, two of which I spent volunteering to build a school. I’d been fundraising for over a year and when it finally came time to go, I’ll admit I was nervous. I’d never been to a developing country before in any of my travels. I was bracing myself for some intense culture shock and while some did occur, I ended up spending most of my time just feeling so grateful to be there. I also made a conscious decision to gather lessons from my interactions and observations of the wonderful Nepalese people. Not everyone gets a chance to go to Nepal, so I thought I would share these experiences with you.

1. Be happy and greet people with a smile

If your first instinct as to why this is my first lesson is that I’m a North American saying we should be happy for who we are and where we live, you’re only half right. We are so blessed to live in countries with modern amenities and civil rights movements, that while many would argue are not perfect, EXIST. However, that is not why the lesson of happiness came to me. It came to me because every day, in every circumstance while in Nepal, I saw smiles. I saw warmth. I saw a willingness to help others with no other motivation than the deed itself. Greeted by smiles in a village that has not seen many white people. People of all ages holding their hands infront of them in the Namaste position and welcoming us everywhere we went. I saw fairly large families living all together in small, clay huts that projected nothing but a happiness to be together and to be sharing the day with us. While they don’t have everything, they are happy and grateful for what they do have. Isn’t that the key to happiness?

Upon my return to Canada, I watched a documentary called “Happy” which was narrated by an author I enjoy, Marci Shimoff. Research has found that the people of Kolkata, India are just as happy, if not more happy than many North Americans. I’ve seen it.  It amazes me that people who we would consider destitute have a level of happiness that some North Americans never achieve.

Smiling Nepali women

Smiling Nepali women

2. Always ask for more

Walking the streets of Thamel, the more touristy district of Kathmandu, you will know exactly what I am talking about. The vendors here are AWESOME at this concept. They always ask for more than what they are willing to take for a product. Who knows, maybe they will get more than what they will accept! This is a great thing to do in life, in general. Ask for more than you want, you never know, you just may get it.

3. Walk and bike everywhere

While walking down from the hilly home of the Kopan monastery, my friend Adele and I came across this young, local boy. He was fifteen years old and we asked him for directions to the Boudha Stupa. Instead of just pointing a vague direction, he actually walked with us over an hour to get us there. Not only that, he walked us right into the Stupa compound and began to tell us everything he knew about it. He was our own personal tourguide delivered to us by Karma! Everywhere you turn in Nepal, there are people walking or biking to their next destination. When you ask someone from Nepal how far something is, you need to specify if you mean by foot, bike or car. No wonder you’d be hard pressed to find obesity in this country!

This is Sanam, our Karmic tourguide!

This is Sanam, our Karmic tourguide!

4. Accidents happen, don’t take it personally

We live in a society so ready to place blame. We need insurance to mitigate every little accident that occurs. I’m not suggesting we abolish insurance, but since we have it, why do people get so bent out of shape over the little dings we get in life? While we were traveling in  Nepal, one of our drivers happened to be following a rickshaw a little too closely and when it stopped suddenly, the driver bumped it. Turned out the rickshaw had a little piece of metal sticking out further than most do, on its back. So what happened? The rickshaw driver got out, looked at it while a small crowd of Nepali men gathered around. He told the driver to back up and helped to navigate him around his rickshaw. No major damage was done, so the attitude was, “I’m alright, you’re alright, let’s move on with our day.” There was no yelling and screaming, no dramatic arm waving. Obviously the driver didn’t mean to hit his rickshaw and there was minimal damage so why get bent out of shape over it? I doubt this occurrence would have gone over so smoothly in Canada, where we are supposed to be polite beyond all reason. So the next time something is done by accident to you and you aren’t actually hurt, take a breath and deal with it calmly.

5. Take a nap

In the Dang province, where we spent most of our time volunteering, most of the people there lead simpler lives. They live in smallish houses with their families and many of them tend fields or animals to feed themselves. Often, they get up very early to get work done before the heat of the sun comes into play. While we were there, one thing I noticed was the amazing ability of Nepali people to sleep almost anywhere. Then there was me, who got all of three hours of sleep on a thirty hour flight path! According to research done in the past few years, the Nepali have it right! If you want to know more, visit information on napping and productivity via Inc.com. Sometimes, we could all use a nap.

Can you see my napping friend under the tree?

Can you see my napping friend under the tree?

6. Carpool, there’s always room for one more!

While I’m sure many would agree that the motor vehicle safety practices with regard to passenger numbers in Nepal can be less than desirable, they have the right idea. Nepali people will give everyone they know a ride if they can. Cars, trucks, rickshaws are all stuffed to capacity as they go from destination to destination. If you drive to work, is there someone that you could share a ride with? If you are going on a trip, is there someone headed that way that you could give a lift to? Friendly bit of advice though, Canadian police will definitely stop you if you have some friends hanging off the back of your vehicle. Please, don’t tell him that I put you up to it!

7. Give your children responsibilities and don’t hold on so tight

I have my masters degree in childhood education, I babysat for years and I know a lot of people with kids. Though I won’t generalize to everyone, many North Americans are a little over-protective of their children. They coddle them and some spoil them to within an inch of their lives. More and more, educators are seeing children coming through the system being so incredibly self-entitled that they are almost impossible to discipline. The blame gets passed around from teachers, to schools, to television, to diagnoses of disorders that must explain why the children are behaving the way they are. I saw many children in Nepal. They had chores to do, they were driving cattle, they were taking care of younger siblings. Things that the majority of our population would never dream of letting our children do. Children walking around by themselves with no adult supervision in sight. Sure, there aren’t a lot of gangs and guns running around rural Nepal (now that the civil war is over)…but there are rhinos and wild boar! While I think that we are privileged enough in our culture to have more of the notion of ‘childhood’ available to us, I also think that many of our children are over-coddled. I may be stepping on the toes of parents everywhere, and my sister-in-law’s favourite expression “You don’t know what it’s like to have children.” is ringing in my ears, but I’ve seen it! I’ve seen children with more responsibility to themselves and their families. They still find time to play, they still smile and have fun. So while I don’t expect even myself to make my children work nearly as hard the children of Nepal do in every day life, I will remind myself over and over of what I saw there. I will try to remember that my children are capable, little, human beings and hopefully, I won’t hold on so tight when it is my turn.

Myself and some very happy Tharu children!

Myself and some very happy Tharu children!

7 tips on how to write effective affirmations

Affirmations are a way to attract something that you want in your life, a manifestation if you will. This manifestation doesn’t have to be of something concrete, it can be for an emotional state, an encounter, anything that you desire. Several years ago, I went through a depression. My life wasn’t where I thought it should be at that time, I was overstressed and overworked. We’ve all been there, but this time was different. I had a little ‘break’. During this time, I was living at home and my mom gave me a set of CDs by Bill Nasby called ‘ The Path to Deliberate Creation‘. At first, I didn’t want to listen to it. Eventually, I gave in because I didn’t want to fight about it either.  Bill’s voice and years of experience chipped away at the shell of depression I was encased in. I began to realize that my inaction and marination in a low vibration wasn’t going to do me any good. Crawling out of there was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Anyone who has ever suffered from a depression knows what I am talking about. I don’t care how long it was, the feeling of crawling out into the light is fantastic.

One of the things I used to deliberately create my new reality, as suggested by Bill Nasby, was to write affirmations. Now, as I understand it and from my experience, it is extremely important to actually write your affirmations. You see, there’s this little part of your brain that lives solely to smack down new ideas. Some call it ‘ego’, others liken it to a little demon in the brain that squashes anything that your internalized habits say is wrong. For example, if you are overweight and have been for some time, your ego has created that identity for you. When you are trying to lose weight and you simply say aloud, “I am skinny.”, your little ego demon replies, “No, you’re fat.” Simple as that. By writing your affirmations, you bypass the home of that little, dream-squasher and enter the information you want to internalize through a different, cerebral route. Some people might disagree with me on this, but my experience has been that written affirmations are much more powerful than spoken ones.

Now that you know that you need to write your affirmations, what are you going to put down on paper? Here are some tips to help you write more powerful affirmations.

1. Always write in the positive state.

So, if your health is something that bothers you and you’d like to affirm yourself into a better state of health, you will not write “I am never sick.” Saying that focuses on the state of being sick. You would instead say, “I am always in perfect health.”

2. Always write in the present.

Do not affirm that you “will be” or “will have” something. That is affirming a state of not having what you desire yet. You wish to affirm in the present so that you live like you already have what you want. Never “I will be rich”, but rather, “I am rich.” The more you write it, the more you will believe it and draw wealth to yourself. This is not to say that you should go out and live a lifestyle you cannot afford so that you ‘believe’ you are wealthy, but eventually you may see a turnaround in your financial state, or whatever else you were affirming.

3. If you can, attach an emotion to your affirmation.

For example, if one of your goals or intentions in the upcoming year is to tone up your body, do not simply write, “I have a toned body.” Put a little OOMPH into it! ” I absolutely love my toned body and everything contributes to this perfect result.” Doesn’t that sound much more inspiring!?! Writing with an emotional or joyful intention is much more powerful.

4. Write your affirmations in a comfortable language for you.

If flowery words with lots of syllables has never been your style, then don’t use them! If you’re more like me and crave fantastically constructed sentences that coat your mind with their honeyed sweetness, then use them! Remember, these affirmations are for you and you alone. No one else ever has to read them, so don’t write to impress. If you are always searching for words to make more impressive affirmations then it becomes a chore. One you are unlikely to continue.

5. Write your affirmations every day for at least 30 days.

There’s no hard and fast rule about when you write your affirmations. Some suggest that your mind is most receptive to them upon waking up and right before bed, but you will have to play around with this and find what works best for you. However, you definitely need longevity to the process. Writing affirmations for a few days and then stopping will not help you to manifest anything. Make your affirmations a part of your daily routine. I like to write my affirmations at night, right before bed, repeating each one three times. If you are just starting to write affirmations, I would limit the number to about three affirmations per day with no more than twelve words a piece. If you feel comfortable upping the number of affirmations or words, do so at your own pace.

6. Print your affirmations rather than using cursive.

A lot of people find that their writing style is not legible. Printing however, is another story. It may take you longer to do, but think about how you first learned to write. You printed! You learned to print in a time when your little, ‘ego demon’ probably didn’t exist. I find printing to be a much more effective means of internalizing affirmations.

7. Speak your affirmations aloud as you print them.

I’ve never seen this suggestion in any of the ‘self-help’ books, but I really find it amps up the power of the affirmations. My mind tends to wander when left to its own devices. Anyone who has played an instrument knows, that when you are rehashing the tune that you have played over and over, your fingers just take over. Your mind can wander and most importantly, your little ‘ego demon’ has a chance to get his idea-squashing racket out for a game. Say your affirmation aloud as you write, this will help you focus all your attention onto it and not on what you are going to wear tomorrow to work. Even you just say it under your breath, you will hep to hone your mind.

Writing affirmations is a fantastic way to help you manifest your goals and desires. It helped me crawl out of a depression and, by the end of that year, I met my future husband. That’s quite a turnaround, if I do say so myself. So, if you want to give your New Year’s resolutions some added spark, start working on your affirmations. I’d love to see some affirmations you are thinking of using in the comment box below. Please share!

Scrooge or Cratchit: It’s your choice everyday

As part of my emotional and stress detox, I’ve been ending my days by writing in my journal five things that happened that day that I am grateful for. It is by no means a new concept, but I actually wonder why more people don’t do it. My husband and I have been expressing gratitude for having each other in our lives, every night for over four years now. It is a great way to reconnect at the end of the day and remind ourselves that, no matter what, our relationship is the most important thing in the world to us.  Now, I extend that outlook on my entire day. Ya, crap happens. Ya, it will happen almost every day. But if you go to bed thinking about that, it will just surround your whole mind and energy in that blackness. How can you expect to have a sound sleep and wake up the next day with a good feeling? You really can’t.

I know, it’s hard. We get so caught up in the drama of our lives! It’s so easy to focus on the crap. But does that mean that it is okay to focus on it? Absolutely not. Since I’ve been doing the gratefulness exercise, I notice a lot more of the resistance the people around me are having to it. Even when my day isn’t going so well, if someone asks me how I am, I’ve chosen to answer, ‘Great!’. A lot of people start answering my statement with myriads of their own problems. Almost as if they are trying to douse the light of my happiness. I’m not perfect either, I still give in to those lower vibrations occasionally, but I feel it happening less and less.

I’ll tell you a story, that happened to me only a few days ago. I’ve had to take a part time position in retail at the mall this Christmas season. The moods of people vary greatly during this time of year. From the overjoyed and bubbly, to the overwhelmed and snippy. An older man came up to our cart and when the other woman working approached him, asking if she could help him.

“I don’t want nothing!” He scowled. Obvious grammatical error aside, the waves of negativity were just rolling off of him.  I don’t know what possessed me, but I turned to him and replied,

“Oh, just here for the free smiles, eh?” and flashed him the biggest smile he’d probably seen in years.

“No, no. I don’t even want those neither. I don’t want anything from anybody. I’ve seen real people and they aren’t worth it. When you get to be my age, you won’t be smiling anymore! I guarantee you!” Though I was completely taken aback by the negativity, my years of improvisational skills didn’t fail me now.

“Well, my grandmother smiled right up until the day she died and I will be, too.” I said, matter of factly.

My Nana - team Cratchit member.

My Nana – team Cratchit member.

“Oh ya.” He said, sensing the challenge. “Did your grandmother live through a war?”

“Yes sir, she actually went to work in an artillery factory.” I replied.

“Well, I had those things come at me in the war!” By this point, he was much less belligerent but still trying to make his point.

“Well, it’s because of my grandmother that you had something to fight back with.” I smiled. Then, the oddest thing happened. The old man just started laughing and smiling, with the sound of genuine amusement at the edges. He tipped his cane to me, turned and left. The woman I was working with was amazed. She couldn’t believe I got him to leave with a smile, after such a rocky beginning. As many of us do, she started making excuses for the man. Like, how some people have just seen things in their lives that they just can’t get over. Honestly, I don’t fully buy that. Yes, atrocities such as war, rape and abuse are things that can heavily affect someone. Yes, you are allowed to be upset, have rage towards it and be haunted by it. I hope never to be visited by war in my lifetime and I am beyond grateful to all the men and women who stood up for our country and our allies in their time of need. But does that mean you take one experience and allow it to jade your entire outlook on life, for the rest of your days? Really, it’s your choice.

I am reminded of Viktor Frankl. He was a psychologist who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. He wrote about the state of the prisoners in the camp, his observations and the like. His ultimate conclusion was that even in times of great suffering, life still has meaning and even the suffering itself has meaning.

“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” – Viktor Frankl

So, Viktor Frankl took this dehumanizing experience and found the good in it, inspiring all those around him. In my opinion, good choice. Cratchit-grade, in fact! Meanwhile, the random old veteran that I’ve met has chosen to focus on the worst part of his life and transpose it onto the entire population. He goes around looking for people to bring down to his level and quash the light around him. In my opinion, a very bad, Scrooge-rated choice.

At the end of my day, one of my gratitudes was: The chance to make an old, war veteran smile and maybe have a better day because of me.

Coming into the Christmas season and the new year, take a real look at where your head is at the end of the day. Do you need to make a shift? I say, join team Cratchit!

My Birthday Wish

Yesterday, it happened. I turned thirty years old. It is the start of a new decade and I hope to continue on my path to better my health. My husband took me out for some AYCE sushi, so delicious. Obviously I ate too much. Hmm…I’m going to have to work on that. After that we just spent a relaxed evening at Chapters, surrounded by so many gorgeous books and I may have spent some money. But I held back, I REALLY did!

A few things have happened in the past few days, all leading up to an observation my husband made while we waited in line at the checkout. We turned to see the face of bullying‘s latest victim, Amanda Todd, on a magazine in the stands. He pointed her out and we both talked about the story of the man who was fired after posting some negative comments on the Internet about her. As someone who was bullied myself in high school, I can only imagine and cringe at what it must be like now that bullies have access to social media sites. People hide themselves in anonymity and the worst part of them is ‘type-vomited’ out on to the page without a second thought. They aren’t opinions, they are judgements that people who are insecure hand-out without thinking about who they may hurt. Although some people do verbally or physically call out others and publicly bully them, social media allows the numbers of bullies to grow. It’s easy to make fun of people you don’t even know while you are sitting at home in front of your computer.

Our conversation extended to people doing the same things to celebrities. Apparently, there are people posting online about how fat they think the singer Adele is. Some have even gone as far as commenting on how stupid and ugly they think her child is as well. Really people? Whose business is it to tell someone else that they are fat and what kind of monstrous human being says a baby is stupid and ugly!?! Those are not constructive criticisms, they aren’t even opinions, they are judgements. Worse, they are the judgements of small minded people who would rather pick out perceived flaws in others than to take a serious look at themselves.

My birthday wish? Maybe my wish is that the people who posted negative comments about Amanda Todd, hiding in anonymity on the Internet, would have to sit down with her mother and say those comments to her face while being broadcast in their community. Look someone’s mother in the eye and tell them you’re glad their fifteen year-old child is dead and leave still feeling good about yourself. I dare you. Along with that, I might wish that we could track down one of the people who called Adele’s baby ugly and stupid. Let’s call a press conference at their home and talk to them about how ‘fantastic’ it was that someone pointed this out to us. Obviously, the people making these comments are experts of child psychology and pleasing facial aesthetics. Right?  Then let’s have some psychologists come and give that person an IQ test. Even better, let’s have Tyra Banks whip in there and tell them how they rate as far as looks go. That girl has sass that would put most cyber bullies to shame!

So, are those truly my birthday wishes? A part of me does agree with them, wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that part of me lives dangerously close to where my own potential, cyber bully might reside. ‘Why not?’, you might ask. Here’s why. A few days ago I was appearing on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, not for the Year of the Detox, but for a fundraising event I’ve put together. One of the other segments on the show was a father and son author team. They’ve written a book called, “Empowered Youth“, published by Hay House, which may have been where I spent some of my book money last night. Hee hee. During the segment, the son, Michael Eisen, was talking about how he was bullied when he was younger. I am a firm believer that bullies are suffering themselves and that is why they bully in the first place. What he said next though, was something I had never thought of before. He said that if we all worked on our self-esteem, then bullying would not be as rampant. If we all loved ourselves, we wouldn’t feel the need to lash out at others. To judge them. To belittle them. If we were bullied, our strong sense of self love would carry us through the experience. I’m not saying that we would come out completely unscathed, but if our self esteem and self love were strong, the damage would be minor. My lower self aches to call out all the people shrouded in anonymity on the Internet, as they judge people from afar, but that does not serve to help them better themselves or to better ourselves either.

After their appearance, I had the chance to talk to the father, Jeffrey Eisen. For a long time, he and his son did not have a good relationship. He was always telling him what to do, trying to tell him how to be better. Then, as the father started his own journey towards betterment and spiritual awakening, his son took notice. Eventually they were on the path together and look what they’ve accomplished so far! Don’t work on others, work on yourself, the people who come along on the journey are the ones you want to be with anyways.

My true wish is that we could all find a way to love ourselves enough not to feel the need to judge and hurt others.

One of the suggestions Michael Eisen had was to find three things we like about ourselves and write them on a piece of paper, every day for seven days.

Well, here it goes.

1. I like my sneezes. They are cute and make other people smile.

Happy Birthday to me!

2. I like my hands. My fingers are long and for some reason, my pinky sticks out when I’m holding a drink.

3. I like the colour of my eyes. Sometimes green, sometimes blue, with little yellow flecks in them.

How about you? Will you help my make my birthday wish come true? Write down in the comment box three things you like about yourself, for the world to see.

Belly brain: Why you should be eating mindfully

I recently reblogged a post by life coach Marie, having to do with eating mindfully. It is a concept that many of us have heard of before. What she had to say was important, most certainly, but I recently read something that goes so much deeper. It really hit home for me while reading a fabulous book about our digestive tract called “The Inside Tract” by Mullin and Swift. Mullin is a doctor who specializes in gastro-intestinal health. He had some problems of his own, so when he writes, he writes from both sides of the coin. Mullin talks about mindful eating from a biological basis and why we really need to take it into consideration. Let me break it down for you.

The autonomic nervous system (the one that we don’t consciously control) is broken up into three different subsystems: the sympathetic, the parasympathetic and the enteric.

Your parasympathetic nervous system is where your digestion comes into play, along with other ‘relaxed’ processes. Your sympathetic nervous system is what is activated when you encounter stress, basically it is your ‘fight or flight’ response. The unfortunate thing is, the sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive for many people in North American society. In a time where we’re eating from the drive thru, chewing and chugging while we drive to work, school or other events, the sympathetic nervous system is turned on for most of our day. When this happens, your digestive system is told to shut down. Why? You are in a time of stress, your body is making sure that your blood is ready to pump if you need to fight or flee. So if you are in a rush, or not eating mindfully, your body will not activate your digestive tract properly. That is why it is so crucial that when you sit down for a meal, you take the time to breathe in the smells. Turn off that tv, take a few moments to relax and don’t talk about anything “heavy” at the table. Do you ever feel sick when you are nervous? This is part of the reason why! Your body is diverting its energies to help you deal with the crisis at hand. If you are always in crisis, your digestive system can really take the toll. Stress is linked to many gastrointestinal issues from heart burn to irritable bowel.

The enteric nervous system is where the ‘belly brain’ portion of my post title comes from. Half of all the nerve cells in your body are actually contained within your gut. Most people think of the brain as the master and commander of the human body, but although they are in constant contact, your gut can actually function separately from your brain. It can perceive when you are in times of stress, depression or a state of happiness. I know personally, if I’m really nervous about something, my digestion can be thrown for days afterwards. Just as many neurotransmitters live in your gut as there are in your brain, and the variety is the same as well. Astounding! The next time someone tells you to go with your gut, you know that may be the best thing to do with all those neurons and no ego to get in the way! German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer called it, “the intelligence of the unconscious”. I couldn’t agree more.

Now that you have all this information in your head brain, let’s help out your belly brain!

Try a few of these things to make your digestive tract’s job a little easier.

Happy Tummies at Stack 'Em High

(Photo credit: ljfullofgrace)

1. Don’t eat anywhere but a table.

Eating on the run, in your car or on your couch is not conducive to helping your digestive system work at optimum levels.

2. Stop and smell your food.

Take a few seconds to sniff your food, a few deep breaths in, begin your meal in a relaxed state of mind. Many studies show that digestion begins before you even place any food in your mouth. Your brain(s) are getting ready for the food that is about to be eaten.

3. Choose to Chew!

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but chewing is so very important! It helps you to start your digestion off right.

4. No negativity at the table.

Try not to have any stressful conversations before, during or after your meals. It slows or halts your digestive process. Also, don’t have any negative thoughts towards your food. What do I mean by that? I mean if you’ve decided to eat that piece of cheese cake, don’t hate yourself for doing it. If you can’t eat something without feeling guilty about it, then don’t eat it. If you think, I shouldn’t have something but decide to any way, at least ENJOY IT and don’t guilt yourself for hours afterwards. Your gut can sense that and do you really think it will digest that piece of cake in a healthy, optimal way? I don’t think so!

I have started to do these things whenever I can and I have noticed a difference in my digestive health. Foods that I usually have a problem with don’t seem to bother me as much. My digestion seems to be smoother as well. I am combining these things with more fiber and a probiotic, but since I’ve read this information, I have noticed an even greater improvement.

Anyone else have some tips for ways to eat mindfully? Please share them, I’d love to hear what other people do.

And then, life happens

You may have noticed a small lack of posts from one, Ms Jennifer Walker. Alas, I know I have not been posting as much as I want to. I’d rather not get into all sort of reasons…otherwise known as excuses, tee hee. But sufficed to say that summer is wedding season and as a wedding photographer, I need to focus on my primary source of income. I have, however, been eating as much organic food as possible. I am bummed that I haven’t made it to a local market yet, though. I want to support local as much as I can!

I will also have to make a shift in my life as far as financials go, due to a recent purchase that I’m positive will create a domino

Freya. The goddess Freyja, in the woods.

Freya. The goddess Freyja, in the woods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

effect of future purchases. Her name is Freyja. I have never been a dog owner before but something drew me to this dog. Like there was  a gravitational pull between us and all I could think of was, “This is my dog.” While waiting for my husband to come meet her, I was thinking about names and it was almost as though someone whispered into my ear, “Freyja”.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this name, it is pronounced ‘fray-ah’. The J is like the J in ‘jalapeno’…and not the Kraft cheese commercial version. She is a Norse goddess of love, fertility, life, death and also a Valkyrie. I’m not 100% sure why that particular name appeared in my brain, but I think it suits her perfectly. My poor husband will be surrounded with even more estrogen than before. Between me, our two female cats and now Freyja…I think I should buy him a new grilling set and a season of ‘Band of Brothers‘ or something!

All this to say that while my detox is a priority in my life, sometimes I can’t be ‘all in’ due to extraneous circumstances. I will have to be more picky about what is organic and what is not, since buying all organic and having a puppy at this time in my life is not completely viable. I’ve chosen not to beat myself up over it. Instead, I’m looking on the positive side of things.

1. A puppy means lots and lots of exercise.

2. I get to learn about incorporating enzymes into dog food and I will of course share this with anyone interested.

3. It may teach me more about balancing responsibilities with another little life, while making myself a priority. Cats are wonderful, but they are pretty self-sufficient, little creatures.

4. Less eating out at restaurants. Since she’s a female, to get her fixed will be pricey so we will have to cut even further back on how much we eat out. That will make it a lot easier to control what we put into our bodies.

While we weren’t shopping for puppies, I am sure that I was drawn to Freyja for a reason and that she will have a positive impact in our lives. We pick her up on Tuesday, so pictures will follow. 🙂

For those dog owners out there, did you find an increase in your health after owning your dog for awhile?

Easter and the resurrection…of my detox, that is.

To be completely honest, I’ve been feeling like my detox has somewhat fallen by the wayside. I knew when I started the detox ‘easy’ wasn’t going to crop up often in my vocabulary, unless it was in the sentence ‘It’s all too easy to fall off the detox wagon’. While I was hoping to create health habits by doing it one month at a time, as I add more to my detox it seems to be harder and harder to keep the old habits with the new. I definitely have been consuming more water, but do I reach 8 cups a day? Not always. I have been having an even harder time with the get moving portion from month two. This has a lot to do with physical pain, but still, walking is easy enough and because of the cold weather, I haven’t been doing much of that either. Month three just finished and already I feel like I’m not eating as much enzyme rich food as I should be. Sigh. So right now, I am proclaiming that Easter will have another resurrection. Perhaps not as incredible as the story of Jesus, but mine will still be magnificent. I will resurrect all the past month’s goals.

You get to a point in your year where your New Year’s goals seem like they never existed. I say, let’s use the coming symbolic day to get back on the wagon! After a weekend of calorie splurging on holiday feasts, getting out of synch with our schedules as we visit family and eating as many Cadbury Mini Eggs as we can fit into our mouths, it’s time to get back to us. As of Monday, it’s time to get back to the promises we made ourselves at the beginning of the year.

Although it has a much more powerful meaning to believers in Christ, we can still all see Easter as something personal to us. A day to resurrect the health routines, the stress reduction, the emotional outreaches and anything else where you said, 2012 will be my year to ____________. 2012 is the year that I reclaim my health! I have done well so far, but I know in my heart that I can do better. I can say that it isn’t my fault, that I’ve been busy. While it is true, it is still just an excuse. If I ask myself honestly if I could have done better, the answer is yes. I don’t want to shirk the responsibility I have to myself, to get my body back to a state of health. The truth is that if I don’t do it, no one will do it for me.

Life happens, we all know this. But to take responsibility as the creator of my own little universe. That’s a scary thought…but it has to be done.

So, what are the goals I will add in addition to my month four goals?

  • Get back on the boat and surround myself with water! I want to always have at least 8 glasses a day.
  • 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if it’s leisurely.
  • Have raw food at least once a day, if not at every meal.

That’s it. Similar to all my previous goals and the habits I wanted to create RE-stated so that I can keep them clear in my mind and focus on them every day. Will it take planning? Yes. Will it be easy? No. Can I do it? ABSO-FRICKIN’-LUTELY!

How about you? Are there any goals that you set at the beginning of the year that you’d like to resurrect? How will you go about doing them?

Craving Shifts

Captain Vegetable would be proud!

It’s a two fold title, that one. The shifts in food cravings that I’ve already had and the shifts that I am still craving. I love words! But seriously, I have noticed a change in the foods I am craving as a result of incorporating more raw and fresh foods into my diet. I always thought that I had a decent diet. One that included many vegetables, but most of the time they were cooked. Now, while that actually helps make nutrients available to your body in some foods, it often sacrifices enzymes in the process. For example, sweet potatoes or legumes are cooked so that the nutrients can be properly absorbed by your body but this is not the case with all vegetables. Consciously including raw foods in your diet, you need to be creative. A salad at every meal will get boring if it’s the same one every time. Since I’m not the cook in my relationship, it means I have to step up. I’ve been trying new recipes that are completely raw. Some elements I like, others, not so much. My husband needs to work on this ‘adding a raw element’ thing. I love him dearly, but when I ask him a few times in a row what the raw component to our meal is and he replies, “Uh…baby carrots.”, it is not evidence of a mental shift for him and it shouldn’t be for you either. (Note to husband: I love you!)

Trust me, I know what a pain it can be to prepare something you are not used to, especially if the kitchen is not your favourite room in the house. But give it a little effort, you might be surprised by the things you find. For me the surprise was that my cravings are starting to shift. I say starting because I still crave some sweets, but not nearly as much as I used to. My husband bought me some chocolate peanut butter cups from the Bulk Barn and I found myself not wanting to touch them. Normally, anything with chocolate and peanut butter in the ingredient list would be devoured almost immediately. When I looked at them this time, I just didn’t want them. I’ve also found that my cravings for fried food are almost non-existent. Normally once a week I crave a good ole hamburger and fry combo. Again, I can’t even remember the last time I craved that for a meal. This may also have something to do with my watching the documentary Food Inc. , but even that can’t account for the lack of french fry cravings.

I’m starting to crave more and more fresh foods. A similar thing happened when I started drinking water. I never thought I could make it through to 8 cups a day and suddenly found myself reaching 10 or 11 cups without even trying. Sometimes I was actually still thirsting for more. I want to eat something raw at every meal. I like the feeling of energy it has given me. I am craving kale salads, hummus and universe help me, even baby carrots! Now if I can just start craving time in the kitchen, we’ll be all set.

Have you ever experienced something like this? You start off dreading what you have to do and then start to enjoy it, even craving more of it.

Today I discovered how not to make raw burritos

Thomas Edison built the world's first large-sc...

Image via Wikipedia

I attempted my first completely raw meal today. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out how I hoped it would. The original recipe I found online consisted mainly of avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, onions and lettuce. Sounds delish, doesn’t it? I thought so. I followed the recipe almost exactly. The only things I didn’t do was add the corn (cause I couldn’t find any) and I left out the onions because…well, I just don’t like them. There was WAY too much garlic and cilantro in the recipe. I took a bite of the first burrito and my mouth felt like it was on fire. After one bite, it was like the halitosis hall of fame club moved into my mouth. I couldn’t even eat them. 😦 My husband tried them as well. He agreed with me…definitely not edible. Thank goodness we live close to emergency shawarma. But I’m not giving up. I still have enough of everything to try again tomorrow, although I will have to get some more avocados. I think I will adjust the recipe to minimize the halitosis and make them much more edible. At first I was looking at this as a failure. My husband gave me an ‘A’ for effort, but I was still down on myself from the experience. Raw ‘cooking’ is hard! But I’ve mulled it over for a few hours and the optimistic side of my brain finally spoke up, reminding me of this great quote from a well known human being.

I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Well Tom, I have not failed either. I’ve just found one version that doesn’t work.

I did, however, find a way to make key lime pudding! I will post both recipes tomorrow after what I hope will be great success on my second attempt at raw burritos. Wish me luck!