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I'm glad to say I figured out what was dragging me down for several weeks. As many parents know, this time of year can get hectic. It certainly does for me. Not only are there the usual end-of-school-year events for my children, preparations for summer travel, and registrations for the next school-year's activities, but I also put on a spring dance recital every late May/ early June--a culmination of five months preparation that must come together perfectly in one day.
While all this went on, I fell into some bad habits without even realizing. Eating on the run, meant turning to pre-packaged foods. Now, I don't know if this is true for everyone, but sodium content in pre-packaged meals gets me every time. I swell up like someone attached a tire pump to my body. Sea salt I use at home is fine, even when used generously on steak, and more moderately in my other cooking and baking. But no matter how healthy (low-calorie, low-fat, well-balanced) that packaged meal seems...I almost always regret it by the next day, waking up with puffy eyes and feeling bloated and heavy. In all fairness, if I were to buy meals labeled, "low-sodium", I might not have this problem.
If this sounds familiar, try fixing all your own food to control what's going in your body. I have the same sodium issues with eating out, although I will say I've had good results so far with The Cheesecake Factory's "Skinnylicious" menu items.
Busy? Keep simple foods on hand. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always winners. Also, fill a tupperware with pasta for a quick re-heat. Or try my pumpkin or banana muffins for breakfasts, or a healthy snack on the go. (Recipe can be found here: Pumkin Muffins ). These types of items can be made in less than 30 minutes and used for several days after. I recommend freezing the muffins if you don't use them within 3 days though. Those fresh ingredients will turn eventually if left at room temperature.
Moral: When life gets hectic, show yourself love by tossing out the high sodium and keeping foods simple and homemade when possible!
Do you have any suggestions of handy, healthy foods for busy people? Please comment below!
Thanks and Blessings!
My last blog post was about being consistent, and while it focused on career goals, consistency is also important to good health. Daily we make decisions on how to treat our bodies, and we hopefully choose beneficial foods and actions. But set-backs happen, either for obvious reasons, or because they sneak up on us. The trick is not letting setbacks weigh us down or break our spirits.
Anyone who's read my posts this year knows I advocate not dwelling on imperfections, but loving ourselves for who we are right now, and taking steps to feel good today. Now, I don't talk about weight loss, because that in itself isn't the goal. The number on the scale doesn't tell me how I feel today, my body does. But you know what? Even though I'm still exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced diet with limited indulgences, that scale number has been steadily climbing and I feel bad. Not mentally bad, because of the number itself, but physically bad: heavy, bloated, and low-energy. And I'll be honest, I have a lot of clothes that I miss being able to wear, too. It's disheartening to keep plugging away at something, anything, and not only do things not improve, they get steadily worse.
Something is going on that needs to change. I haven't yet figured out why my standard methods are suddenly not working. Is it hormonal? Is it that I'm writing much more lately (yay!) but that more of my time has become sedentary? (booh!) Is my life simply out of balance? With family and work, have I unknowingly cut back on my time for personal well-being? The end of the school year is always especially busy for me, with my kids school events and projects, the big annual recital for my dance students, making summer plans, etc. So a life out-of-balance is a good bet.
But what can I do, right now, today to make a difference? DECIDE TO KEEP GOING! I won't say, "Ah, screw it all!", get myself a huge jar of Nutella, and drop down on the couch for a twelve hour Netflix marathon. I will eat my green salad with fat-free dressing. I will give myself a dance class in the family room. I will do all the other things I have on my daily To-Do List, that aren't about my body, because they also are important, either to me or to others. And I will examine my lifestyle more fully. I will figure out what changes to make without giving myself a deadline and berating myself if everything isn't fixed within two days.
Today's moral: Allow that setbacks happen to everyone. Don't beat yourself up for yours. Show yourself love by deciding to just keep going! And remember, if you are feeling a bit low now, you are still doing way better than if you weren't trying at all. So KEEP GOING!!
Love and Blessings!
During my high-school years, my ballet teacher once pointed out the greatest strength each of us had a dancer. To some, she mentioned flexibility, control, gorgeous feet, or being a natural at turns.
I eagerly waited to learn what my greatest gift was, that special something which would grab the attention of future teachers, choreographers, company directors and huge audiences too.
"And, Emerald..." she began, having saved my compliment for last.
I stood a little taller. A smile pulled at the corners of my mouth.
"Emerald, you...are consistent."
Consistent? My smile fell.
"You just keep on going." She sounded like the announcer in an Energizer battery commercial. Then she walked back to the record player to ready for our next combination.
Consistent? I thought to myself again. Where is the glamour in that? Who will ever watch me dancing and say, "Wow! Look at that girl! She sure is consistent!" I wanted to be a ballerina more than any one else in the room. More than the dancers with beautiful, high leg extensions, and feet so gorgeously arched they nearly folded in half. More than the dancers who could pirouette as easily as breathing, while I panicked a little every time I tried to do a double turn.
Was I the only one who didn't have any special talent at all? I pictured myself as a hopeless child, getting a pat on the head and a participation award, while everyone around me received a satin ribbon or medal.
That night I went to bed sad and discouraged. Over the next several days, the lingering disappointment weighed me down, but I still attended daily ballet classes. If "consistent" was all I had, then I'd just have to be the best at that.
And I was.
Ten years later, one of my classmates had gone on to run a successful studio of her own, but I alone, was still performing. Getting paid as a professional, in fact. Far more talented dancers than I had given up for one reason or another after high school. One girl, a close friend of mine with a beautiful body for dance, had said, "Ballet is just too hard."
I learned through my years of performing, and subsequent years of training other young dancers, that being consistent may not be a sparkly talent, but it is a necessary one. All the sparkly gifts in the world won't matter if you don't put in the never-ending hours of labor.
Now a writer for the past several years, I'm reliving the experience of not being the most talented, brilliant, witty, or creative author on the scene. And as with dancing, I may receive my share of setbacks and emotional beatings, but I will continue all the same. Because consistence will get me where I want to go, eventually. And that's a whole world better than never getting there at all.
Parent Guilt. New parents may have it the worst, but it can stick around even as our children get older and become more self-reliant. We may live with the notion of: "If I take this time for myself, I'm taking it away from my kids." Now, I don't know about every circumstance, but I'll tell you one guilt-trigger I'm completely over...exercise. Whether it's going for a walk (not bad, less than an hour away from home) or going to take a dance class, which means driving and at least two hours away--exercise is the gift I give myself AND my kids.
Why do I take as much time as I can for exercise? Three words: Mom with Alzheimer's. According to an article published on www.alz.org, exercise at midlife could reduce the chance of developing dementia by up to 60%. Many sites are making similar claims, often stating that exercise (and diet too) reduces the change of developing Type 2 Diabetes, which statistically increases the risk of dementia.
Yes, Type 2 Diabetes preceded my mother's Alzheimer's, and high blood sugar runs in my family. Anyone who has lost a loved one to dementia knows what a long, slow, misery it is. My own mother first showed shocking signs of short-term memory loss almost 17 years ago. The disease progressed slowly and continually until she ended up bedridden in a nearly vegetative state, a condition in which she remains several years later.
The disease has not only put my mother in a sort of purgatory for many years, but has also devastated her family. A loving and self-sacrificing woman, life for my mom was always about her children, she took no time for her own care. In the end, her family is suffering along with her.
Now every time I do something for my own physical well-being, I don't grapple with guilt anymore. It's for myself and for my kids. I don't want them to deal with the pain of me not recognizing them one day, or to put the emotional, financial, and physical strain on them of the 24-hour care needed for a person with this illness.
The moral: Oftentimes, showing yourself love is the best way to show love for others.
Have a great week and take care of yourself! Blessings to you!
After a week of being sick and still having a truckload of "To-Dos", I'm left feeling bloated, sluggish and under-accomplished. The cold is about gone today, so time to get back on track. Reviewing some of my past posts is helping me refocus. Today for good health and positive outlook I will:
1. Compliment myself on any physical feature.
2. Eat slowly to savor my food.
3. Go for a nice long walk in this beautiful SoCal weather.
4. Pat myself on the back for all I managed to get done while I was sick.
5. Drink plenty of water
Do you find it's easier to dish out advice to others, but don't always take those tips yourself? Any specific ones that you especially struggle with? Do you have any special motivation techniques for when you "just don't feel like it"?
Try just picking at least one good thing for today. Show yourself some love. You can do it!
As always my posts are not focused on losing weight or changing appearance, but about feeling good. What can I do that will make me feel well now and leave me feeling great thirty minutes from now? Since I've started blogging about loving ourselves at any age and size, I've been out to eat a few times, and realized it presents new challenges.
The first recent meal out with a friend, I tried to consume all my food while in the restaurant. Once I realized what I'd been unconsciously doing, there was still too much to finish. I ended up taking home a box and felt overly full.
Box Home=Great! Leftovers that I can enjoy later.
Overly Full=Feeling yucky. Why didn't I eat less and take more home?
The second meal I went out with my spouse and kids, who inhale their food and are ready to leave so quickly that I often wonder why we didn't just get take out. I end up rushing through the meal, enjoying it less, and eating past the point of fullness because I haven't given my stomach time to relay the message to my brain that it's had enough. Solution? I should have planned ahead to save some for later when I could savor it.
The third meal out, I finally got it (almost) right. I generally go for lean proteins and vegetables because I feel better after eating. This time I picked something that sounded rich and amazingly delicious. It was. I ate slower, which was easier because my friend and I were talking so much. I enjoyed the meal, and saved a full half to take home to share with family. There is still room for improvement, because I should have done the same thing with dessert.
Tip: Unless you are ordering a very small portion, plan to take around half of the food, and/or dessert, home. Enjoy another meal or two later on. Feel good about showing yourself love!
In my last post I talked about not beating ourselves up in a struggle to manage unrealistic goals. With that in mind, I've been mostly offline for the past two weeks, giving myself needed time to knuckle down and finish a big writing project.
As previously mentioned, I've been polishing up my memoir about being a chubby, wannabe-ballerina looking for love. This week I finished going over the "completed" work for the...10th? 15th? 20th time? (I did start the darn thing 17 years ago!) Anyway, it feels pretty solid. Now the submissions have all been sent to agents, and an editor, who requested it at the San Francisco Writers Conference.
About two seconds after hitting "send" on that last email submission, I immediately started thinking about everything else I haven't finished, or fell behind on. Overwhelmed while making a mental list of what "needs" to get done next, I finally told myself, "STOP! You've worked long and hard on this! How about a little treat for the stress and work and lost sleep? How about some kind of payment for efforts that often receive little or no monetary reward?"
I've been cramming in writing time between playing Uber driver for kids, doing household chores and errands, scheduling doctor visits. working on volunteer projects, and countless other things we parents do on a daily basis. So yes, I WILL chill out and watch an episode of Scrubs on Netflix while eating a couple of my favorite chocolates from Ethel M. I WILL take a few minutes to do this blog post, and I WILL touch up my roots tonight, because after weeks of taking no personal time, I found myself picking up kids from school today looking like a middle-aged, beat up version of Peppermint Patty. And I'm pretty sure nobody rocks that look.
So yes, work hard, set goals, and reach for them. But when you've accomplished a goal, even a small one, no matter how much is still left in that "To Do" mountain, take a little time to celebrate, and to say, "Yes! I did it. Good for me!"
And as always, feel good about showing yourself some love.
Sometimes I have such an overwhelming list of things to accomplish in one day that I get that horrid, churning of anxiety in my stomach. I hate that feeling! Also, anxiety is neither good for mind, nor body. So how do we get rid of it?
When stress over an upcoming day/event starts to take over and ruin my "now", there are a few things that help tremendously:
1. Taking care of anything that can be done ahead of time to reduce the load. (I often stay up a little late the night before if necessary, to get a jump on things. I sleep better that way.)
2. Remember that worrying won't make things go any better.
3. Remember that if every single thing on the to-do list doesn't go as planned...well, it just won't be the end of the world.
4. Remember that in general, NOBODY ELSE CARES! Not as much as the planner does. If something goes awry with things that aren't life or death, no one else is likely to lose sleep over it. So...we shouldn't either.
5. Remember to love ourselves by not holding ourselves to impossible standards.
Have any stress-reducing tips to share? Please put them in the comments below. Thanks and
(P.S. In taking my own advice, I'll be posting this tonight instead of tomorrow, which is scheduled to be a packed day.)
I've blogged about taking a moment to compliment yourself in front of a mirror. Appreciating who you are and what you have. Do this regularly to keep a positive perspective. Today I recommend doing the same for someone else. When you build up others, you add that much more positivity to the world, and strengthen your own sense of well-being at the same time.
So many people are over-focused on their "flaws." Shine a light on their good qualities. Notice that haircut. Comment on how that color looks so good with her(or his) skin tone, or how flattering that outfit is. Make someone's day and help spread the love!
About this Blog: A place to share body-positive thoughts and stories. Guests are invited to share from a few sentences, up to several paragraphs of their own experiences