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  • Read your labels everyone!

    This has been a tough couple of months trying to eat a healthier diet. The occasional pie, cake and ice cream dessert is to be expected over the holidays and even during this time of year. Now, though, I try so hard to get back on the healthy eating wagon. Healthier snacks, no ice cream (!!) small servings of desserts (as the family cannot apparently live without them now) etc. and Wham! Valentine's day and chocolate....sugar and fat, they're everywhere.

    Knowing where the sugar and fat are coming from are one thing. I can control what I put in and how much of it. I read labels regularly too, to check on saturated fat content and the % of fat and sugar I may be consuming.

    Why, I ask myself, when I feel like I’m eating better, do I find out that there are hidden sugars in almost everything?!?!? Loaves of bread, Applesauce, Barbecue sauce, Almond milk, spaghetti sauce! What’s happening here means I have to be much more vigilant in reading labels.

    If you don’t read labels yet, you should do so now! The following list is all the different names for sugar: Be on the lookout for these being added in the same item, ingredients are listed in the order of weight; the higher a substance is in the label, the more of it the food contains.

    Manufacturers use more than one type of sugar in a product and are allowed to list them separately, which may give the impression that a food had less sugar than it does.

    Agave nectar   Agave syrup   Barley malt   Beet sugar   Brown rice syrup   Brown rice sugar

    Cane juice solids   Cane sugar   Caramel   Coconut sugar   Corn sweetener   Corn syrup

    Date sugar   Dextrose   Evaporated cane juice   Fructose   Fruit juice concentrate

    Glucose   High fructose corn syrup   Honey   Invert sugar syrup   Malt syrup

    Maltodextrin   Maltose   Maple syrup   Molasses   Sorghum syrup   Sucrose   Treacle

    So, the lesson here is to read the label carefully as more than one of these could be present in a single item.

    It is not recommended to stop eating sugar all at once! Remember when altering a diet of any kind, start small and work your way up to bigger changes.

    Know how much sugar you are ingesting and how much your children are eating. Pay attention to the labels! Fresh fruits and vegetables are free from added sugars, so start there and add more of those to the household meal menu.

    According to Consumer’s Digest, excess sugar consumption has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

    If it’s as simple as reading a label and making some changes to what we may be used to, I can do that, can you?!?!?

     

    The Benefits of Walking

    We’ve heard about the benefits of movement, and as mentioned in an Oprah magazine article, moving every day is the single best thing we can do for a longer life. This is a tough time of year for us Northeasterners, we have winter to deal with, so walking outside isn’t always an option. Community centers however, often have great tracks for walking and running and let’s not forget the gym equipment, whether it’s in your living room or the actual gym, there are ways to get around the weather.

    Here are the steps to getting started on your walking habit:

    • Warm up before starting! Just because it sounds benign, walking (especially if you aren’t in the habit of it yet) is as hard on the body as any other exercise. Stretch the hamstrings, quads, knees and hips most especially before you start.
    • Pick a route that you know to be not only safe, but motivating as well. I love to walk through the local park that has the paved paths and the always inspiring scenery. Our walking park here even has exercise stopping points with various equipment available for stretching, pull-ups and the like.

    If you don’t have a nice park to walk through, stay to the left side of the road facing traffic; share the road and be courteous to those that give you a wide berth.

    • Start modestly, maybe a mile or two a day until you get into shape. Increase your distance when you feel motivated and confident to do so.
    • Drink plenty of water- stay hydrated- you will need it!
    • Listen to your body; if you feel pain, don’t ignore it.
    • If available, walk with a buddy! If not, load your ipod or phone with your favorite inspirational music or pod-cast.
    • Reduce your caloric intake so that all of your hard work isn’t thrown away by binge eating.

    Medicine.net provides the following information on the benefits of walking:

    Walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%!

    Walking strengthens your heart! For males, mortality rates among retired men who walked less than a mile per day were nearly twice that of those who walked more than two miles per day. In a study of female nurses, those who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary event by 35% compared to women who did not walk at all.

    Walking is good for your brain. Researchers found that those who walked the equivalent of 1.5 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than those who walked less than 40 minutes per week.

    Walking is good for your bones: postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances.

    Walking for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47%!

    The list goes on! Let’s walk people!!

    Did you know this? You have a Brain in your gut!

    A fascinating fact to remember- we have a secondary brain in our gut! This is an actual fact, in case you’re doubting it or have never heard of it. The ENS or Enteric Nervous System is located in the sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. It is a series of neurons, neuro-transmitters and proteins that zap messages between neurons, support cells like those found in your “main” brain and a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn, remember and produce “gut feelings!”

    What!!?? I know right? How cool is that? I never would have guessed that our two brains could work independently of each other! If you experience colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or some other stomach or intestinal issue, the “how” our two brains communicate with each other directly affects what our gut will be doing. Bacteria plays an important part as well, since every person’s gut bacteria is unique to them.

    There is way too much science to list here on how it all works, but the message is clear: your body is a well-oiled machine, tuned and working in the background at all times. This brain is known to help you make decisions based on “gut feelings”.  It is also directly affected when we feel emotions like anxiety and fear that may immediately result in symptoms in the gut that send you to the nearest bathroom.

    Your higher brain sends signals based on these feelings and decisions but the “gut brain” can actually work independently of it! Have you ever had that burning in your “gut” that lead to you changing your mind about something, like getting in that cab or all of a sudden realizing that you need to turn around “right now!” These are signs of your intuitive second brain in action!

    When you pay attention to these “feelings” or whatever it is that draws your attention, it is trying to tell you or make you aware of something that’s not quite right or different, so don’t ignore it!!

    The more information you have about how your body works, the more you can make decisions on feeding it properly by providing the best nutrition. Regulating your inner machine workings will go a long way in guaranteeing that your two brains will signal each other in a balanced way and you can always trust your natural “gut” instinct!!

    7 steps to Sleeping Better

    7 Steps to sleeping better: Jason Ong, a sleep psychologist at Rush University Medical Center, offers these quick reminders to help you get to sleep.

    Beginner’s mind
    Remember: Each night is a new night. Be open and try something different! What you have been doing to this point is probably not working well.

    Non-striving
    Sleep is a process that cannot be forced but instead, should be allowed to unfold. Putting more effort into sleeping longer or better is counterproductive.

    Letting go
    Attachment to sleep or your ideal sleep needs usually leads to worry about the consequences of sleeplessness. This is counterproductive and inconsistent with the natural process of letting go of the day to allow sleep to come.

    Non-judging
    It is easy to automatically judge the state of being awake as negative and aversive, especially if you do not sleep well for several nights. However, this negative energy can interfere with the process of sleep. One’s relationship to sleep can be a fruitful subject of meditation.

    Acceptance
    Recognizing and accepting your current state is an important first step in choosing how to respond. If you can accept that you are not in a state of sleepiness and sleep is not likely to come soon, why not get out of bed? Many people who have trouble sleeping avoid getting out of bed. Unfortunately, spending long periods of time awake in bed might condition you to being awake in bed.

    Trust
    Trust your sleep system and let it work for you! Trust that your mind and body can self -regulate and self-correct for sleep loss. Knowing that short consolidated sleep often feels more satisfying than longer fragmented sleep can help you develop trust in your sleep system. Also, sleep debt can promote good sleep as long as it is not associated with increased effort to sleep.

    Patience
    Be patient! It’s unlikely that both the quality and quantity of your sleep will be optimal right away.

    Mindful Magazine, Dec. 2015

    Awakening

    Awakening

    I love this word! I love what it makes me feel just saying it in my head or out loud. I love the pictures that form instantly when I say awaken, like a flip book that goes from one picture to another randomly. There are a lot of great words in our language that trigger a visceral response, let’s delve a little deeper into this one shall we?

    The first picture this brings to mind for me is a baby, learning something new for the first time. The expression on their little face, the emotion they feel while experiencing this new thing leads to the awakening of their soul to something new as well. It’s absolutely priceless to be there and witness it with them.

    The same could be said of anyone I suppose learning or experiencing or even witnessing something for the first time that leads to some form of growth. The awakening of something new. A beautiful circle develops between people that experience an awakening of their own and the people that are there to witness it.

    Awakening also brings to mind my journey to where I am now, how I’ve evolved.

    I’ve learned a great deal about myself over the years. I was always the one watching and caring for others in certain situations, never really wanting to be front and center, don’t pick me etc. I was content with this, I was learning everything and learning about others as they learned too. When I started coming out of my shell, or comfort zone and made to participate more in the learning process, my awakening began!

    I had to come face to face with my flaws, (yes I had some, hard to believe,lol) I had to step out and be recognized for myself and I had to deal with the emotional backlash of that. We all feel not enough at some point in our lives, I was no exception, I was just better at hiding it and acting like it was all good.

    Awakening began when I stepped out and confronted myself from a different angle. Accepting these parts of myself that were not good enough and allowing growth and room to feel ok with that. As soon as I started this process, felt the emotions rolling through, allowed them the freedom of expression (crying, laughing, and getting angry) my insides started to unfold, like the petals of a flower. With each lift of release, I felt lighter.

    Walking into a room full of peers felt different and because I felt different, everyone around me reacted differently. I no longer felt invisible or shy, so lots more people met me in the eye and started talking to me. People that had intimidated me were the first ones to smile and wave.

    Awakening can be so much to so many, I hope this helps others that can relate to what I’ve been through. Being around the right people at the right time, reading a book at the right moment to spark a flame in you, participating in a webinar at the right time to help move you through to the next phase of life. These can all help awaken you to the power you alone have inside and allow you to be witness to others awakenings.

     

     

    Ahhh, Winter… 6 things to keep your spirits up this winter season!

    Here it is for us up north, the cold, blustery weather and the bleak and colorless landscapes. Yet, we all stay here! (Unless retired and snow birding it) Why?

    Some of us have no choice, that’s for sure. Families, histories, real estate etc. keep us where we are located and we deal with winter the best we can.

    How can we make this an uplifting season? Let’s go over 6 things to do this winter to keep our mood elevated and help us to look forward to each day.

    Winter is a harder season for some of us, mostly because of the driving conditions and cold winds. We can all agree on the beauty of it when the sun is shining and the wind is still, but honestly, how often is that? Let’s make a pledge to try these six ways to stay positive and hopeful this winter!

    1. Shoveling is great exercise! You can really burn some calories working the snow blower or shoveling by hand. When dressed properly for the wind, but not too heavily that you sweat and catch a chill, don’t hesitate to get out there and work it! If you regularly exercise, you’ll know your limits, if you don’t, make sure you never go past the initial muscle fatigue right away. Build your stamina, so that by the end of the season, you’re in better shape than when you started!
    2. Cuddle with the family! Winter is awesome for family time. Take out the board games, light some candles and enjoy a long night of Monopoly, Risk or your favorite game. How often during the busier months do we enjoy face to face time with each other?
    3. Read a good book or ten. Find your new favorite author or re-read your favorites from ten years ago. There’s nothing cozier than snow falling outside while warm and comfortable on the couch reading! Don’t forget that reading builds your vocabulary as well as sending a good message to your kids that reading can be fun and relaxing, not just a chore for school.
    4. Visit relatives that live in warmer climates! January is a great month for visiting relatives in the south in my experience. We always go after X-mas and before Valentine’s day to take a break from the weather and visit loved ones we won’t see for a few more months. It is absolutely revitalizing to get actual warmth from the sun mid-winter!
    5. Snow ski, Cross country ski, Snow board! If you’ve never done any winter sports, (I’m a summer person if you couldn’t tell already) this is the time to try something new! If you already do these things, bring someone new to them with you! The only way to get me out there is with someone I trust that knows how to teach me!
    6. Taking walks in the park in winter is great too when weather and snow levels permit. The quiet of winter is remarkably different than any other season. Take note of what birds have hung around, what animal tracks you can see and take some pictures of the crazy patterns that snow can make on the trees and man-made structures.

    For those of you that love winter, great! You can share your own favorite things to do this winter, please feel free to go to the Comment section!

    Stay positive this season! Enjoy what Mother Nature throws at you as best you can. Before you know it, it’s over!

     

     

    Illness vs. Wellness

    How important is your vocabulary? Very!!!

    Illness----a cry to discover a truth about yourself in the midst of an illusion. Requires specific posturing to maintain itself.

    : Unhealthy condition; poor health; indisposition; sickness.

    Wellness----is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being.

    : The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.

    : An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

    Wwellnesshich word are you interested in being associated with? What dialogue is going on in your own mind that reflects one or the other?

    There’s no right or wrong answer, only what is right for you, right here, right now. If where you are in life is not where you wanted to be, do something different!

    Change the inner vocabulary to move you towards your goal, whether it’s to lose weight, exercise more, eat less, relax and sleep better, change something in your daily routine that will lead the way for more changes, which leads to more availability to change something else and on and on it goes. Before you know it, you start to build up confidence in yourself, that you can be well!

    Halloween! Don’t judge!

    shutterstock_214805170_halloween_resizeI found this picture of fruit dressed up as Halloween treats! How cool is that? I wish I had found this when my kids were little, I would have preferred to serve them these treats instead of all the sugar. I will for my Grandbabies though! How about you?

    I love that some people are so naturally creative and are able to see things like a banana ghost when looking at a banana! Someone came up with it first right? Something so simple, yet so out of my range of perception. I see very well all around me, my peripheral vision is phenomenal and I notice every little detail, but I’ve never been able to see from an artist’s perspective.

    I don’t feel bad about that at all, considering how many people don’t have my ability either. I just get such a kick out of how different we all see the same things. It is so important to remember that, especially when living with others. Some people are very comfortable dressing up for Halloween, while others still have a stigma attached to it or a complete disinterest. Who feels the most uncomfortable at a Halloween party?

    Having worked through these issues personally over the years, I can honestly say, that until you feel completely comfortable in your own skin, with your own perceptions, owning your surroundings and consciously accepting that everyone around you has their own, you may never be the one that’s comfortable!

    This Halloween, try to be more forgiving of yourself and others, don’t judge! Let people dress up or not, let their kids have candy or a healthy treat, but be true to yourself and find it coming back to you!

    Nurture with Nature - Fall - Part 2 of 4

    shutterstock_108730421._fall_resizeHere it is! Another season upon us. Depending on where you live, the leaves have to drop for the season. The summer places are getting closed up, lakes and pools are getting colder, so here’s what we need to focus on and notice in the next couple of months:

    Enjoy the cooler nights! They come earlier now but it’s oh so much easier to sleep!! We need to take those walks now too, especially if we haven’t been able to fit any in. Remember to walk slowly, pause or stop and breathe deeply of the air, smell the earth and leaves around you and try to tune in and feel the energy of your surroundings before moving on.

    Fall is a great time of year to catch up with chores at home, like window cleaning, gardening, weeding or lawn mower service. It may be a great time to check on the snow blower as well! Those of us that rely on that piece of equipment can use this time to make sure it’s ready to go now instead of at first snow fall.

    Birding is in full swing now as some are migrating and flocking. Notice how the Starlings start to multiply in number from now until spring on the electric lines and how cool they look when flying in a group. How many Hawks can you count as you’re driving, they sit on the street lights or low hung branches by the road? They don’t migrate out until closer to November and some stay all winter. Start a journal if you regularly see a lot of different birds in your area, it’s great to review years later and compare.

    The smells of Fall are incomparable. Close your eyes when you come upon a pleasant smell that only happens now, the smell of leaves, dried grass or farm crop. Look around with fresh eyes and notice the beautiful fall colors, the insects that are still out and operating( look out for the bees!) or the clear blue sky that is like no other sky this time of year.

    Do you have anything that you love to do in the Fall? Please feel free to share on Facebook or leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

    Mindfulness and Present Moment Awareness

    You’ve seen many emails and articles on our website now that have mentioned Present moment awareness and Mindfulness. To explain them further and give you an understanding of just what they are, I found a great explanation that follows:

    Mindfulness is conscious awareness of what you are feeling and experiencing in the present moment. But there is more. To get to joy it's not enough to just be aware of the present. To get to joy you have to trust that the present moment is exactly where you belong.

    Joy comes from the knowing, the trust, the deep understanding that you are, right now, enough. With that trust and the joy it brings, you can let down your defenses and stop seeking validation. You can lean into happiness, which is the bubbling up of little pieces of joy in the moment.

    As adults with histories, we can't know happiness unless we know it’s opposite and find it in our hearts to trust despite that knowledge. It takes vulnerability and reliance on forces outside of our control, but, mostly, it takes a commitment to creating live out loud joy for ourselves.

    Huffington post; Debbie Woodbury, author, speaker, survivor

    Wow, that says a lot! I find this to be a beautiful explanation of what we’re talking about when we mention these terms. A real example in my life; things are running smooth and happy, my husband was able to retire from the Fire Dept after thirty years of putting his life on the line. Then, BAM, someone comes in to our home and steals our emergency money, right out from under us. All the plans we had for that money, gone…..

    How do you stay present when these things happen? Debbie said it best above, that it takes being vulnerable to trust in the things that we cannot control! Yes, we felt violated and crummy!!

    Yet, we allowed ourselves to feel these emotions and then come back up from them to more positive feelings, like gratitude and love. Does this happen overnight? Everyone is different as to how long they stay in that space and hold negative emotions, but the more practice you have in processing through them, the quicker you can move.

    Our strategy? We started counting the good things about it all; they did not hurt anyone or anything! They took nothing else. We can always replace the cash! Present moment awareness example; where do we go from here? Better, stronger locks; no hidden keys for starters! So, no big vacations for us this year, we’ll take smaller local ones. Wait until next year though, we’ll have saved more and learned more from this than we ever thought possible and we will concentrate on Today until then!