Have you ever watched a reality TV program called “My 600-pound Life“? Morbidly obese people travel to Houston, Texas in hopes of getting weight-loss surgery. There are extensive personal interviews as we follow these people on their weight-loss journey before and after their surgery.
They talk about what food means to them, about how eating makes them happy and hunger is never satisfied. Their every waking moment is consumed with their desire for food and they only feel complete when they are eating. Yet, at the same time, they hate their lives and their bodies.
Food becomes their addiction and obsession, longing for the comfort only food can bring. Just as strong as the desire for food are their feelings of shame, self-loathing, disappointment, hopelessness, and frustration over their lack of self-control.
Whenever I watch this program, I cry inside for those frustrated, pitiful, unhappy people. I understand the yearning for change and the shame and disappointment that comes after the eating. Fortunately, I do not weigh 600 pounds, but the struggle of seeking comfort in food is very real for me, too.
Are you feeling moody? Anxious? Depressed? Trouble sleeping? Sluggish or overactive digestion and bowel movements? Low libido/sexual desire? Poor concentration?
There is common thread running through these symptoms: a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is one of more than 40 neurotransmitters found throughout the nervous system. It is intimately tied to our sense of well-being.
We live in a world that is filled with invisible living creatures known as microbes. Algae, fungi, and bacteria are types of microbes. Microbes are single-celled, living creatures. Look at a drop of pond water under a microscope and you will see a variety of fascinating creatures of different shapes, sizes and methods of movement.
Can the foods we eat be related to acne outbreaks?
Ask any teen-ager if they think foods can cause an acne outbreak and I’m pretty sure they will mention chocolate. Well, in addition to chocolate, greasy foods, sugary foods and drinks, as well as highly processed, refined foods are all suspected of contributing to acne outbreaks.
Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates tend to cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is known to increase incidents of acne. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation may help decrease acne outbreaks.
I recently started a series about the causes and cures of acne and cystic acne. Click here to read part one in the series. This week, I will tackle the causes. In part 3 and 4, I will conclude the series by discussing the role of diet and will introduce a remarkable cure and case study for this troubling condition.
As mentioned earlier, a significant aspect of self-mothering is self-reflection, becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings on a deeper level. Journaling and meditation go hand in hand to help us develop the habit of being still and listening.
Some people love to journal. They’ve been pouring their heart out, solving problems, complaining and expressing gratitude in writing for years. Other people have tried to keep a journal, find it tedious or just don’t keep it up, or have used it occasionally to remember a special trip or period in their life. Then there are those who have never journaled and find the thought foreign and unappealing.
Personally, I fall into the second group. I am aware that keeping a journal is a powerful tool toward self-discovery, yet, I have never been able to get started and stick with it. However, I have recently discovered a different kind of journal. It is a five-year journal.
A five-year journal allows you to write just a very few lines about your day, a thought, an experience, or an event. It only takes a few minutes at bedtime and there is no pressure. There are no year dates, only a page for each day of the year and each page has five sections of a few lines each. So, the first year, you write the year date and a few lines, then the next year you go back to the same day and can see what you wrote the year before as you begin to describe your current day for the new year.
At the end of the day, you write what has happened. There need be nothing more than that to get you thinking and listening to yourself. As I began to write my few lines, I discovered I often wanted to say something else, but didn’t have any more room for that day. So, I began to write those few extra things into another journal. Suddenly, I was journaling and enjoying the process.
If you have never journaled, or have never been consistent, using a five-year journal could be your gateway to writing and investigating your thoughts and feelings.
In addition to writing our thoughts on a regular basis, meditation is the most ancient practice of self-discovery. The earliest written records of meditation come from Hindu writings 1500 years before Christ. In addition to Hindu traditions, many other religious traditions have included some form of meditation. Meditation was introduced to the United States following World War II, by soldiers who encountered it while serving in the Pacific Theater.
Regardless of which tradition practices meditation, the purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind, become still emotionally and physically, and become open to inspiration and the energies of the universe.
Today we often hear the term “Mindfulness” to describe becoming still and quieting our minds so we can become more fully aware of who we are and where our thoughts lead us. Whether you call it mindfulness or meditation, the result of the practice is a calmer, more relaxed state of being, that often leads to personal insight and personal growth.
Finding time for yourself to learn who you are is a great gift. It is an ultimate expression of self-mothering.
There are online courses and centers all over the country where one can learn the art of mindfulness and meditation. All you have to do is Google. I encourage you to search the internet to find books, centers, courses, DVD’s, and/or CD’s that appeal to you. The practice of meditation will change your life.
To end this series, I am including a list of references to help you in your search toward self-love, self-mothering, and better health.
Loving ourselves requires thinking about what we eat and how it affects our health and well-being. We are inundated with foods that have been designed for maximum shelf life and maximum taste appeal. Many of these foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified for any number of different reasons: promote faster growth; resistance to disease; contain chemicals to control insects; create sweeter taste; or to insure longer shelf life.
Processed foods are chemically manufactured using refined ingredients, artificial additives, and high levels of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. They are foods engineered to appeal to our natural affinity for sweet, salty and fat, resulting in overconsumption.
Processed foods contain preservatives, colorants, and chemically created flavors and textures. Because processed foods have been engineered to appeal to our taste buds, they are extremely rewarding and can become highly addictive. They often contain refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and are low in fiber and nutrients.
A word about artificial sweeteners: DON’T! We should always avoid putting things into our bodies that were chemically created and have nothing to do with natural processes.
The scientific evidence is clear: plant-based, unprocessed, natural whole food diets have been proven to promote health, prevent disease, and even reverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
A plant-based diet consists of emphasis on eating a variety of vegetables and fruits that are supplemented with whole grains, beans and legumes. Animal products, including dairy, if eaten at all, are a very minor part of this way of eating.
The most important aspect of plant-based eating is that it is not a “diet” in the traditional sense. It is a lifestyle choice. The concept of a vegetarian lifestyle, has been talked about for more than 80 years. Robert Bootzin, widely known as Gypsy Boots, was the first person to bring public attention to the importance of organic food, vegetarian eating and fitness. He is actually reported to have opened the very first health food store in the country.
An interesting fact about Gypsy Boots is that in the 1950’s, he was considered a kook, a weirdo, with strange ideas. We now can see he was a leader, so far ahead of his time that people could not understand the truth and wisdom of his teachings. Today, being vegetarian, using organic produce, and exercising to stay fit is a way of life embraced by millions of people. The best part about this lifestyle is that it has been proven by scientific investigation to produce optimal health and prevent disease.
This time of year brings about a flurry of extra activities, many of which we are unwilling or unable to say, “No” to. Last year (well, actually last month), we discussed the ways various people celebrate during this time of year. Today, we wanted to offer helpful advice about how to stay healthy in 2019 and beyond. To read part 1, click here.
The additional pull on our (likely already) overscheduled lives, leads to additional stress, generally compounded by lack of sleep. Stress can sap our natural resources, leaving us susceptible to illness. University of Birmingham researcher, Dr. Anna Phillips, warns that:
“A breakdown in usual routines, less sleep, more alcohol and immense pressure to be the perfect host can combine to create a very real risk of Christmas making people ill.”
This time of year brings about a flurry of extra activities, many of which we are unwilling or unable to say, “No” to. The additional pull on our (likely already) over-scheduled lives, leads to additional stress, generally compounded by lack of sleep. Stress can sap our natural resources, leaving us susceptible to illness.
It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of activities you really don’t want to miss, and those which you are alright eliminating from your schedule this season. This ensures that the activities you do participate in are ones that you really enjoy, and, by not overscheduling yourself, you are better able to fully experience them – stress-free!
Unless you are the picture of restraint, everybody indulges a bit more during the Christmas and holiday season. Each event we attend has platters heaped with scrumptious treats, and most of us attend a ton of events during this season.
University of Birmingham researcher, Dr. Anna Phillips, warns that, “A breakdown in usual routines, less sleep, more alcohol and immense pressure to be the perfect host can combine to create a very real risk of Christmas making people ill.”
Additionally, the added load on our schedules, leaves less time than usual for fitness.
This disruption to our fitness routine, combined with our loosened diets, can do real damage to our bodies. As I stated in my last blog post, the average person puts on between 1 and 4 lbs. each holiday season, and most do not go on to lose the extra weight afterward.
Mindfulness and preplanning go a long way toward helping you successfully navigate the holiday treats. Moderation really can be the key to helping you enjoy the seasonal treats, without the extra weight.
When you are doing your Christmas shopping, park as far away from the entrance as possible, forcing you to get some extra walking in, and freeing you from competing for the “prime” spots.
Poor Mental Health
The winter holidays and Christmas are a joyous, warm, wonderful time of the year, but for many, they are also filled with painful reminders of dreams, and loved ones we’ve lost. While the message of Christmas and the other holidays around the winter season is one of hope and joy, the heart wrenching emptiness felt at the loss of a loved one, can make it difficult to feel that hope, let alone celebrate it.
It may be helpful to participate in charity events during this season; sometimes putting the focus on others (and their needs) can distract us from our own pain. For some, continuing with favorite traditions is a soothing comfort.
Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season. And, if you need a little restart, feel free to contact me for assistance with your wellness journey.