Tag Archives: Moderation

Overwhelmed?

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I am overwhelmed.  Who hasn’t said that?  But what does it really mean?  The definition is “to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything.”  That is certainly true when it comes to all of the health and wellness advice that we hear.

I truly believe that everyone wants to feel good and to be healthy.  There are so many reasons that we have trouble striving for, and reaching, improved health.  These reasons can be emotional, physical, political, and many others.  Add in the vastness of information at our disposal, much of which is confusing and contradictory.  How are we supposed to navigate all of this, and who has the time to do it anyway?

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Sometimes we have to make the time if we are faced with serious illness in our lives.  We need to be able to find reliable and valid information.  Please, please, please remember that what we read is not always true just because it comes from an excellent public speaker and/or a doctor.  Solid starting points are:  WebMDHealthfinder.gov, US Department of Health and Human Services.  Take advantage of their search functions.  Also, Wikipedia is always a great place to start a search, but keep in mind that the information can be posted by anyone at any time and always needs to be verified.

prioritize

So what is the most important aspects of health and wellness to concerns ourselves about?  Exercise?  Diet?  Stress control?  Should we worry about butter vs. margarine?  Alkaline vs. acidic?  Carbs vs. fat?  Organic vs. conventional?  The concerns seem endless.  And for each concern there are multiple and conflicting opinions as to what we should be doing.  Then, just when we think we have it figured out, the experts discover something new and everything we know as true is turned upside down.  Frustrating?  Yes.  Yes it is.  But it is also the nature of the proverbial beast.  As our technology and understanding evolve and increase, so do our core beliefs on what is healthy.

Certainly when our lives are effected by a specific illness we tend to concentrate on that one as the most important.  If we are predisposed to a disease, that should be of greater importance to us to learn about.  Knowledge is power… as long as we are willing to implement that knowledge.  Just how much time and energy do we need to spend researching all aspects of health and wellness in order to improve our health and quality of life?

Good_News

The good news is that for most of us, simply being mindful goes a long way toward improving our health and wellness.  Start with the basics, my personal mantra:  balance, moderation, and variety.  They all are all different, yet each ties in with the others:

download     Balance:
Work and play, good food and junk food, spending and saving, exercising and relaxing… It doesn’t matter what it is.  Too much of one and not enough of the other infringes on our health and happiness.  When we balance all aspects of our existence we can enjoy a healthier, happier life.

images (2)     Moderation:
Anything taken to the extreme can be harmful.  As I’ve mentioned before, that includes drinking too much water.  Not only do we want to balance relaxation with exercise, we also want to exercise in a safe manner and not push harder than our bodies can safely handle.  If we are not active, we need to work up to strenuous activities.  “Weekend athletes” suffer injuries due to their lack of conditioning.  If we “work hard and play hard” we are balanced, but if we are pushing ourselves too hard in each of them, we will suffer from the lack of moderation in both.

Variety of fresh vegetables at market. Siem Reap     Variety:
We all know how important it is to have variety in our diet.  Different colored fruits and vegetables each provide distinct health properties.  We need a variety of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in order to survive and thrive.  Most of us eat wheat (white or processed whole wheat) at every meal and for snacks in between.  Many of our bodies are rejecting the wheat we are consuming at every meal (and it’s not the same wheat our grandparents ate.)  We are complex organisms.  When we consume a large variety of healthy foods we don’t have to concerns ourselves with the specifics of eating the right combination of nutrients.  When we vary our exercise routines we are working different muscle groups and different systems.  By varying our mental activities, we work different parts of our brains.

When we are mindful and aware of what we are doing to and with our bodies, we can do so with balance, moderation, and variety which will increase our health and wellness.  Will you start with being mindful and perhaps throw a little more balance, moderation, and variety in?  I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome!

You CAN Have Your Cake (and Eat it Too.)

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I just love this graphic (and the article that goes with it) and had to share it.  But that’s the literal-thinker in me.  I just can’t help myself sometimes!

I woke up this morning with a burning desire to share…  Is sugar ‘evil’?  Of course not.  It’s an object.  A substance.  Evil comes with maliciously causing harm.  (More on this later…)  So why, now, do we hear about so much about sugar being evil, and how diabetes and heart disease – all related to sugar consumption are at epidemic levels?  Sugar has been refined since 642 AD, and in “the 11th Century AD. Crusaders returning home talked of this “new spice” and how pleasant it was.”  642 AD.  That’s a looooong time ago!  So, what has changed?

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Quantity has changed, that’s for sure.  Some by choice, some not-so-much.  We used to have a small amount of homemade confection on the rare occasion, a holiday perhaps, because as we’ve all learned:  “food is love.”  And when we are fed food that makes us feel good it must mean we are loved more, right?  With increasing technology and science, sweeteners became more physically and financially available to more and more people.

As the technology has advanced, and the processing increases, not only is it more affordable, it is often the cheapest “food” source.  The only available option for many where quality foods are not available at grocery stores are the highly processed foods often high in sugar.

As if that’s not enough, the food products industry has learned to use our predilection for sweets (our bodies’ own survival instinct) against us.  “Even the common “sweet tooth” may be rooted in survival instinct, he suggested. Carbohydrates, typically sweet, are a vital energy source to a wild animal continuously on the go. The evolved ability to associate sweetness with energy may lie behind our present-day preferences for ice cream and candy bars, Pritchard speculates.”  This is why, in addition to insidious advertising, our food products are laced with sugar and salt and chemical concoctions to keep us coming back for more.  And the ‘evil’ encroaches!

So, what is one to do?  It’s a hard call.  I am all about balance, moderation, and variety.  I think it is very important not to deprive ourselves because deprivation causes us to feel bad, lacking, angry… and it can cause us to binge.  If you can occasionally have a ‘sweet treat’, then by all means enjoy it.  Preferably homemade and less processed…

As I learned from Potatoes Not Prozac, I work best when coming from a mindset of abundance, not deprivation.  By changing my diet and slowly cutting back the ‘sweets and treats’ and increasing the different ‘real foods’ I was eating, not only did I begin to feel and look better, now I am able to eat so much more than before.  And since I LOOOOVE to eat, this is a definite win-win for me!

Balance.  Moderation.  Variety.  Have that very occasional dessert if you are so inclined, if you can.  That doesn’t work for me.  If I have some, I want more.  The addictive component of sweeteners is too strong for me.  I choose to stay away completely.  It’s a personal choice.  Choose what works best for you, your body, your heath and well-being.  And enjoy your life!

“Motion is Lotion”

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“Motion is lotion.”  That’s what my vet told me when my dog (Guinness, my wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog and my ‘first born’!) had joint problems.  We all know this.  Exercise has so many different benefits:  It makes us physically stronger and healthier, emotionally happier and healthier, and of course it helps us with our weight and appearance.  For those of us that have osteoarthritis (“Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 27 million Americans” WebMD), It’s very important to keep moving.  “Move it or lose it.”  Remember what happened to the Tin Man?  Even the oil didn’t help until he started moving!      

The WSJ reported that “Medical experts say inactivity poses as great a health risk as smoking, contributing to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis and osteoporosis. ”  And the WSJ displays this infographic which shows that even periodic exercisers benefit from movement with an increased immune response against colds.   

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Here are 50 Reasons to Exercise, to get moving and get our blood flowing (which delivers oxygen and all the raw materials our bodies need to every cell.):  

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So, do our number of reasons to *not* exercise out number these reasons *to* do it?!  We can pick one, or several, from the above list and give ourselves a reason to take time to take care of ourselves.  For those of us who like a challenge, The challenge is to move more!  For those of us who work better with a gentle push, I strongly suggest we move more!  Just a little more than yesterday to start.  And keep it up for a month.  Just a month, and see how you feel.  At that point we probably won’t want to give it up!  A brisk walk is inexpensive and a great way to engage our bodies in a little activity.  And we can get some sunshine and fresh air, too.  (Please do not start an exercise routine without consulting with your physician.)

And remember, moderation and balance in all things.  Going from zero to sixty might be an attractive quality for a sportscar, but we don’t want to push ourselves to the point of injury (and the inability to exercise!)  

Tips for starting an exercise program:

  1. Contact the doctor to make sure all systems are go.
  2. Choose an activity that is enjoyable.  (Otherwise it’s drudgery, and it should be fun.)
  3. Choose an activity that is available.  (Choosing skiing if we live in the tropics probably isn’t the best choice!)
  4. Determine a time of day that works.  (If I don’t go first thing in the morning, I never make it.)
  5. Enlist a buddy or support system if possible.
  6. Eat regularly, starting at breakfast, to fuel our bodies.
  7. And always hydrate before, (during if it’s strenuous), and after exercise.
  8. Start slowly and work up to more strenuous activity.
  9. Feel great!

 

What *is* all this health and wellness talk, anyway?

wellness-wheel - AZ Health Dept

Seriously.  Why do we need to keep hearing about it?

Now we have to carry water around with us?  When did that happen?!*  (A comedian did a skit on this, but I can’t find it.  A gold star if you can find it and post it for me!)  I’m pretty sure that my homo erectus ancestors didn’t worry about getting exercise or eating right.  No, not them.  They worried about outrunning saber-toothed cats and hunting their next meal.

A little closer to home, our great-grandparents (and theirs) had a rougher lifestyle than we do in a lot of ways .  Much simpler, too.  Besides plagues and communicable diseases, I don’t think they thought much about health, and probably didn’t have to.  They had to work hard (exercise), and had only basic foods available to eat (clean, balanced diet.)  “Treats” were just that.  Occasionally consumed.  They lived in close-knit groups for support and survival.  They could count on each other.  Of course there are exceptions to all of this, but I believe that was the norm.

Not us!  Fast forward to today.  We have technology that plants us firmly on our butts (like right now!)  We have so much to do and so many things to see.  We are overwhelmed and stressed.  We have all kinds of food and food-like products available to us at all hours of the day… and night.  (Perhaps that is why we actually have to carry said bottles of water with us now – to re-hydrate so our bodies can function properly after consuming all the processed foods and diuretic drinks we do.)  Often it is a downward spiral as one area becomes more unhealthy, other areas of our lives or health deteriorate too.  

Moderation.  Great concept.  One of my favorites.  Yet so hard to practice for many of us.  I love the above image for so many reasons.  It encompasses all of the aspects of health and well-being, that they are all interconnected, and that we need to balance them,  And it does so in a beautiful never-ending rainbow.  (Thank you AZDHS.)

Health is not how we look, it is not just diet and exercise.  Our overall health and wellness depend on keeping all aspects of us healthy and in balance.  Everything in our lives might be great, but if we are not emotionally healthy, I guarantee the rest will begin to erode, too.  We are greatly affected by the environment that we live in, and it is our responsibility to keep it as healthy as we can for our own sake too.  Perhaps we have everything we could have ever hoped for, but we become physically ill.  The rest doesn’t matter so much anymore because we can no longer enjoy it, and often can’t hold onto it.  If we are not financially healthy (very different from wealthy), that too, will interfere with the other aspects of our lives.  I could go on (and on, and on!), but I’m sure you get the idea.

Due to the nature of our current living conditions, we not only need to think about our health and wellness, but we need to proactively work toward a healthy balance in all of these areas in our lives.  The beauty of it is that we don’t have to do it all at once.  Pick one area to work on and start there.  It’s the opposite of a downward spiral.  The better we feel, the more we want to feel better, and the easier it becomes.  So I ask you.  What will your first step be?

I’m Seeing Red (meat, that is.)

Cow Face Tongue

Low fat.  No, low carb.  Butter.  No, margarine.  No, butter.  (We use pasture butter in our house.)  Who do we believe?  How do we keep up?  Nutrition is one of the least studied sciences (although I believe that is changing now.)  The facts, as we know them, change frequently as we learn more and more.  For those of us who try to keep up, it is often frustrating and difficult.  For those of us who don’t really pay attention, it is even more frustrating and more difficult!  And when we are unwell, we visit doctors, who have had very little nutrition instruction (and it is likely not up-to-date, either.)  No disrespect to doctors here.  Our system is set up for doctors to be ill-care, not well-care practitioners.  Hopefully this is changing too.

The further we move away from living life as nature intended, the more our “lifestyle diseases” such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and many others are reducing our quality of life.  Even our lives, themselves.  Not moving as much as our bodies need, eating more food-like products and less real food, and introducing innumerable toxins into our bodies and environment does not bode well for any of us.

We can find so much information that tells us “this is healthy,” and just as much information saying “this is not healthy,” whatever “this” happens to be,  So what about red meat?  It is a food, not a food product (I’m not attempting to visit processed meats now), so that must count for something, right?!  Red meat, as we currently know it and consume it, is definitely not good for us or for the environment.  There is no question about that.  But why?  First let me ask you a question:  Have you ever seen a cow, out in nature, grazing on a corn stalk?  (Me neither.)  Cows were designed to graze and roam.  That is how they stay healthy.  Eat right and move more?  What a concept…  <smile>

Conventional beef:

  • Omega 6 fat (too much causes cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases)
  • Hormones and Antibiotics (many possible health problems)
  • E. coli (bacteria that lives in the gut of cattle and other ruminants)
  • Feedlots (potential damage to humans, the environment, and the cows…)

So why eat it?  Red meat, if raised and consumed responsibly can be very healthy.  some of the benefits include:

  • Omega 3 fat (twice as much of this heart-healthy fat than conventional)
  • Vitamin B3, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B12, choline…
  • Complete protein (much leaner when pasture-raised)
  • Less environmental impact than feedlots
  • MUCH less E. coli (fascinating information – see Eat Wild below)
  • More humane

We all have the same nutritional needs, yet each of us has slight differences in our chemical makeup requiring specific attention.  Can most of us be healthy without red meat?  Absolutely.  Can most of us be healthy with it?  I believe so.

Again, moderation is key.  An adequate portion size of red meat for most adults is 4 ounces. If eating a varied diet, red meat would be only one of many protein options.  The average red meat consumption per person in the U.S. in 2010 was 59.6 pounds per person.  This means that many of us ate more than that since many of us also ate less or none.  Eating a healthy portion as part of a varied diet would decrease the need for such tremendous production processes, minimizing any negative effects to our bodies and to our environment.  When consuming organic, and/or pasture-raised, and any negative effects are even more greatly reduced.  Enjoy responsibly.  

Resources:

http://www.aafp.org/news-now/resident-student-focus/20101020nutritioneduc.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/safer-food-healthier-you
http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html#where
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/jul03/feed0703.pdf
http://www.npr.org/2010/04/08/125722082/the-truth-about-grass-fed-beef
http://www.eatwild.com/foodsafety.html
http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/273335/oce121e_1_.pdf