LIFE plus what?

I believe that there is a formula to success.  Individuals can reach their goals despite roadblocks, loss, hardships and life situations but it may take hard work, determination, motivation and accountability! As a wellness coach, I help others achieve success through small steps and habits that are anchored with proven, evidence-based research.

Truths:

We have a life.

Life can be happy and healthy.

We need balance and wholeness.

I have found that activities, work, people, food, and nature can add positive elements to our lives. Finding balance is sometimes the challenge. Making time for self-care is so critical to moving forward with meeting personal goals. Focusing ONLY on ourselves will surely lead to problems in our relationships, work life and friendships. Balancing the art of being true to ourselves while meeting our obligations to others can be tough. How does one learn to juggle like the best clown in town? How does the fun-loving clown keep all of the balls in the air?   Is it skill? Practice? An unfair advantage?

Years ago I found that when I focused my attention in one area, the other areas of my life were neglected and I became out of balance and began dropping balls. Finding balance or creating balance is crucial to life satisfaction and whole health. Just as a stool needs its legs to stay steady, we need BALANCE to be happy, healthy and effective.

Sometimes, we have to let things go… Does that mean we slip up and drop a ball? Not necessarily. We can dig deep and determine what pulls us down or simply keeps us busy to be busy. Then, the decision can be made to let go of things. Feel at peace with the decision. Juggle fewer balls perhaps. There is a time and season for all things. Dig deep and decide what this season is for in your life, get organized and have a vision for the future. Once we have the particular balls in place to juggle, we need achievable steps in place and routines established and supportive people around us.

Maybe this is your season to focus on your health!

  • To those people who are too busy or stressed or frantic – I hope you will slow down, breathe, look around you and know things will work out. Seriously. Do your best, work your plan and adjust as needed.
  • To those stuck or feeling defeated or who have decided to be satisfied with mediocrity – I hope you will put yourself out there, try new things, take a chance, invite meaningful conversation, be open to being social and nurture your friendships and make new ones, set some goals and lean on others.
  • To those hopeless or burdened – Believe that things can be better, work on your faith; know things will change over time and that your attitude can lead the way.

Whole Health takes Finding Purpose, Moving More, having a “Tribe” or Community of Support, Good Nutrition, and Reducing Stress. Whole health means feeling well and living long and well.

One might say… “That would be The LIFE.”

The LIFE plus energy

The LIFE plus love and support of self and others

The LIFE plus satisfaction

The LIFE plus wellness

A life of balance is LIFE plus so much more!

I encourage you to let this season be about your wellness.

 

Journey Together

I’m a volunteer coordinator at a hospital in Jackson, MS and we are about to start a walking program! It’s called Friendship Journey.

Here’s how it works… We are promoting an active lifestyle, providing resources and offering encouragement to all participants. Each week, everyone will report the number of miles that they walked/ran/swam/biked from the previous week. By receiving weekly tips and words of encouragement, hopefully the support and accountability will keep folks focused on their goals.

The organizational piece is so fun to me. I enjoy gathering ideas, generating excitement, looking closely at the small details, and preparing for the kick-off date. As of today, the packets are ready, activities are planned, incentive prizes have been ordered, and speakers are scheduled for promoting healthy living. The sign up period is officially January 1 – 14 with the start date of January 15, 2017. We already have participants signing up and people throughout the hospital are wanting to join in on the fun! I’m excited for how this kind of program builds community, encourages healthy living and gives purpose to individuals.

By the end of the 10 weeks, we will have collectively walked at least 1,173 miles together. We are walking virtually from Jackson, MS to Springfield, IL. I suspect we will easily make it to Springfield ahead of schedule so I’m planning on additional sight-seeing stops throughout the journey. With the momentum building, we are likely to make MANY side trips along the way!  The interest in Springfield is that we are a Catholic hospital and we have nuns at our hospital who regularly travel to their home, the mother-house, in  Springfield. The Springfield Dominican sisters are our founders.

I’ve organized several walking programs before and it is so fulfilling to see the process unfold. People often need time to think about participating. Many know they should do it but dread it slightly. Others sign up immediately because they like the gentle nudge and feel inspired to be part of a group focused on improving their health.

My approach is…

Everyone is welcome – invite your friends and family.

You can join the 10 week program at any point in the journey.

Exercise a little or exercise a lot. Just start moving more!

Yes, we can count your dog’s miles also. Haha

If you miss a week, don’t stop! Just begin again the next week!

Stay tuned for updates about our Friendship Journey! You’ll hear more about mall walkers, cemetery scavenger hunts, grocery store tours, nutrition presentations, lunch-and-learns, exercises anyone can do and more!

Inflammation

Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection and foreign substances. Redness, pain, and swelling are indications that there is infection and inflammation. Most Americans are living a lifestyle that causes chronic silent inflammation. People with Cardiovascular diseases, Arthritis, Diabetes, Obesity, Cancers, Asthma, Allergies, all “itis” inflammatory diseases are linked to having higher levels of inflammation than those without these diseases. Silent inflammation is like a poison that seeps into all of the body’s systems causing destruction to the immune system and major organs like the heart and brain.

The inflammatory state is usually associated with redness, swelling and pain. It is a sign that something is wrong due to an injury or infection. If a virus, bacteria or parasite enter the body, inflammation attacks any tissue that may have been infected. Inflammation is also the way the body responds to trauma and injury in order to repair itself. Medicines are prescribed to reduce the inflammation and attempts are made to decrease tissue destruction. Although, pain medicine can be very effective at providing temporary relief, they do not stop what is causing the inflammation. Often, anti-inflammatory drugs can cause harmful side effects.

Silent Inflammation is inflammation without any known sickness or pain that is attacking internal body tissues including the heart, lungs and organs and leading to chronic diseases. Silent inflammation kills, whereas, classic inflammation hurts. Silent inflammation is demonstrated by a disproportionate ratio of aracadonic acids and eicosapentaenoic acids. When these hormones are in balance there is wellness. If pro inflammatory eicosanoids continue to be generated after the effective time, they will bring destruction to healthy tissues, cells and blood vessels. When the pro inflammatory hormones are dominant there is silent inflammation leading to chronic diseases.

Silent inflammation can remain hidden for years. Like a poison, it seeps into all of the body’s systems causing destruction to cells, immune system, and major organs.

Due to an injury, infection or some “initiating event,” pro inflammatory hormones attack the site and cause cellular destruction. If the eicosanoids become persistent rather than promoting cellular healing and leveling off, they cause continued cellular destruction. This can go on for years without knowing the extent of the damage being done to the body until a disease presents itself. This destructive activity attacks the immune system and major organs which may lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases.

Small meals with primarily fruits and vegetables, some lean meat, healthy oils and limited grains and starches will reduce fat intake and reduce insulin levels. Poor food choices can cause excess fat and low blood sugar. The more insulin you have, the more blood sugar is driven down, and the hungrier you are as you try to maintain adequate blood glucose levels for the brain. Balancing hormones reduces inflammation. Eating the right foods and the right amounts of food will allow hormonal balance.

There are three blood tests that are indicators of overall health. They include AA/EPA (fatty acids), Insulin (diabetes) and TG/HDL (Cholesterol). Following a healthy diet gets a person to a state of wellness and sustains wellness. Foods to avoid include processed starches, traditional starches, sugar loaded foods, and unhealthy fats. Adding fish oil, moderate exercise, and eating healthy foods all encourage living in the zone of wellness.

Finding Treasure through Lifestyle and Health

rfid0_7kep4-natalie-foxMetabolic Syndrome

Society’s treasure has been focused on complete freedom to eat, behave and live in any way without regard for others and without consequences. Our guilty pleasures, instant gratifications and flippant attitudes towards responsibility and humanity do have consequences though. The consequences have shown up in poor human relationships and our declining health. During the last 20 years, we have seen more degenerative diseases than ever before. At the same time, our eating habits declined. Today, we are more stressed, eat poorly while we are stressed and are increasingly more tired from our schedules and food choices. This often leads to choosing caffeine or other stimulates to keep us awake and alert. Then, we reach for alcohol to help us relax. We add medications on top of all that and exercise very little. We are making ourselves so sick.

Metabolic Syndrome is a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

The risk factors include:

  • Large waistline
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High triglyceride level
  • Low HDL cholesterol level
  • High fasting blood sugar

High insulin levels result from low-fat/high carbohydrate diets, stress, dieting, caffeine, alcohol, aspartame, tobacco, steroids, stimulants, lack of exercise, excessive or unnecessary thyroid replacement therapy and all over the counter and prescription drugs. This is a broad listing that can lead to high insulin levels. Ultimately the high insulin levels disrupt hormones and biochemical reactions at the cellular level. This means one thing. We must find ways to reduce stress, eliminate or reduce particular things from our diet and live a balanced life focused on our health.

Even after healthy habits are formed, we face challenges. A fast–paced life causes daily obstacles for people. Take jobs for example that are demanding with long hours or families of school-age children with extra curricular activities. Managing a healthy meal for yourself or your family with limited amount of time at work or between activities is challenging. Not only does our schedule make healthy eating difficult, but also the food industry has provided many unhealthy options in our grocery stores. When these foods are eaten out of convenience or habit, they contribute to accelerated aging and disease.

Great strides have been made in bringing awareness to linking diet to overall health. A healthy lifestyle can extend longevity while regenerating and healing the body. We must value our health and teach our children how choices today have consequences tomorrow. Perhaps, with a little extra planning, those busy families can provide nutritious meals on-the-go and design a schedule that doesn’t put such stress on the family. We can learn to stay away from particular “foods” in the grocery store by focusing on real food around the edges of the store – the fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods areas. Nutritional planning can lead to treasures of good whole health and keep the risk of metabolic syndrome at bay. Treasuring health means we have to focus on it. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34. At work and at home, put your heart and mind to intentional healthy living!

Feel your best to be your best!

 

Drop a Beet

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I went to a healthy cooking class a few years ago and discovered that I really like beets. Not the pickled ones in a can, but beets that have been boiled or roasted. There are many ways to cook with beets and some of my favorites include making beet humus, using beet leaves in my protein drink, juicing beets and the easiest – boiling beets for a beet salad. During the cooking class, the instructor showed us how to boil beets until soft, remove the skin, cut them up, and add spinach leaves and goat cheese. That’s it. Simple, pretty and delicious.

It doesn’t seem like beets could be so fun, but I find them quite entertaining. The first time my young teenagers saw beets boiling in a pot on the stove, they asked, “What is that?” When I looked to see what they were asking about, I noticed the long root tail of a beet sticking out of the pot. The first thing I thought to jokingly say was, “It’s the stray cat.” Each of them knew I was joking and knew it was silly fun. Then, they were even more intrigued to find out what was really in the pot.

Beets are slippery when removing the skin after being boiled. Besides, my hands turning red (which is kinda fun) I almost always DROP. A. BEET. The first time I said that out loud it was just a literal comment that turned super funny. Years later, my teenagers still find it funny. Even if they don’t want to laugh, they laugh. “Mom is dropping a beet in the kitchen!”

Okay, seriously… beets are filled with super nutrients and have many health benefits. They have high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They are high in a unique fiber and are a good source for folate and betaine. Beet greens are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that protects the eyes from age-related issues. Research indicates that beets produce nitric acid, which can help increase blood flow in the body and in your brain. MRIs done on seniors after ingesting beets had more blood flow to the white matter of their frontal lobes. More research shows that beet juice mixed with apple juice can make certain activities like walking for exercise less exhausting for seniors. Runners use it for athletic performance. Prepare beet greens as you would other greens by boiling or stir-frying. Once you remove the leaves from the beet, I’ve found that they only last a few days in the refrigerator. Better go on and use them.

One last entertaining and useful bit of beet information is that beets may help you go to the bathroom, but don’t be worried if your stool or urine is pinkish or red in color. That happens when eating beets.

Here is a picture of the beet that I grew! One beet. I was so proud. It was delicious and I didn’t drop it.

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Try beets, you might love them. If you already like beets, please share your favorite way to prepare them.

Labyrinths

 

For Mental Clarity and Reflection

Have you ever walked through a labyrinth?  My first experience of walking one is a fond memory of discovery and interest. I had never seen a labyrinth and was fascinated with the design and beauty. I knew the moment I saw it that I wanted to learn more about them. Since then, I’ve seen outdoor labyrinths, large indoors ones painted on fabric, labyrinths drawn with chalk, small labyrinths designed for a table top and more. All are uniquely different but similar in design.

In the middle ages, the Catholic Church began using labyrinths within the church. The Chartres Cathedral in France is the home of the most famous labyrinth inlaid in the stone floor around 1220CE. The Chartres labyrinth indicates the early tradition in the Christian church of walking meditation.

Although labyrinths aren’t biblical, they are a source for encouraging reflection and prayer. For me, I feel more focused and free after walking a labyrinth. I use it as a time to think and pray. I can be more effective in my work and personal life if I am mentally focused and I have found this is a way to clear my head. I’ve heard it said that a busy person would benefit from meditating 30 minutes every day and if you are too busy to meditate for 30 minutes then you need to meditate for an hour each day. That doesn’t make sense, but it makes perfect sense. Those running around crazy-busy, pulled in a million different directions will likely have fragmented thoughts and decreased focused. Finding ways to maximize time by sharpening focus to complete tasks precisely the first time is worth the effort it takes to nurture thoughts and strengthen the mind. Continue reading “Labyrinths”

What Drives My Bus?

img_0796Immune System

Feel your best so you can BE your best! A huge part of feeling well and staying well has to do with your immune system.

Everything is connected to everything. As I like to say, “What is driving the bus?” To me, the “What” is longevity with good health and fewer medical issues along the way. What drives my bus is my desire for happiness, wholeness, making a difference in the lives of my children and in my little orbit of friends, family and community. In order to do that well, I must feel well. Getting caught up in the newest, best, and fastest can often drive the bus into murky waters of apathy, selfishness, and shallowness. How then, can an apathetic or selfish attitude nurture relationships with nature, self and others?

The immune system is affected by a compilation of five elements including the physical aspect, emotional factor, nutritional intake, environmental surroundings and a spiritual connection. What is put in the body, what is thought, what is felt, what is believed, and what has been experienced through the environment all play a role in the health of the immune system. Continue reading “What Drives My Bus?”

Stress

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“Clear the road I’m sixteen” causes me stress just thinking about it!

Stress is the natural occurrence of changes happening that impacts a person physically or mentally or emotionally. Any event that causes change and demands readjustment in the life of an average person is stress. Weather, sickness, traffic, being a victim of attack, and suffering loss are examples of stress.

In years long ago, humans mainly dealt with issues of survival that caused great stress. Today, we still respond to stress as we did long ago. Back then; most dangers were physical prompting the Fight or Flight response. Blood flow is stronger and heart rate increases as one prepares to fight the situation at hand or flee for safety. Hormones create changes in metabolism, and breathing changes as a person prepares for flight or fight. Keeping stress under control sometimes requires purposeful techniques such as practiced breathing, tapping, meditation, and thought-filled therapy. Maintaining a positive, hopeful attitude and developing a stress hardy outlook enables a person to manage stress and return to a balanced state as quickly as possible when encountering stress.

Continue reading “Stress”

Cheers for Whole Health

We celebrate with someone when they lose weight, right? We can all agree that when weight loss is needed to improve health that it is worth celebrating. What about those small changes that are also so important to overall wellness such as drinking more water or pausing to reflect on spiritual beliefs or committing to an exercise routine? Can you see a group of friends clapping for you because you decided to meditate before work or chose to take the stairs instead of the elevator? Those small victories need to be valued and celebrated and encouraged, too. Continue reading “Cheers for Whole Health”

Understanding

“Spotting Butterflies” is how I describe living with an eternal desire for human life to be full of love, happiness, goodness, acceptance and kindness. This may seem like a simple-minded and often impossible expectation, but my foundation in religion that has developed into the spiritual life that I now practice gives me inner joy and peace that promotes kindness towards others. To me, “spotting butterflies” seems like a better choice than expecting the worst in life, living without integrity, or being selfish.

Continue reading “Understanding”