Exercise: A 4 Letter Word

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

6. Exercise. Some of you may be so far in denial, that you question what that even is. I block out exercise sometimes. I go in stages where I do wonderfully, and then I will get slammed with some physical ailment (could be a cold with a hacking cough), that will put a crashing halt to my routine. I love routine, and right now, I’m searching everywhere for the one I lost a while back. Isn’t there someone, somewhere, that can do it for me instead? It goes back to the time thing again, exercise takes time, so if you can’t find the time, then make the time. If you wrote down all your necessary tasks, including sleep, and the time allotted, there would probably be some time to fit in a few sit-ups, push-ups, or some yoga. You would probably be surprised. Simple. Instead of watching your favourite television show, go for a walk. Yah, that’ll work.

nike free run light green shoesYes, exercise. It’s a four letter word for those of us with weight and other challenges. At the moment, I too dislike the word. It’s exhausting just thinking about it, and how to find the time. What? There’s that all too familiar excuse of not having any time. Time will not drop into our laps, we have to plan for it, just like everything else we do in our daily lives.

It’s pretty repetitious, don’t you think? I believe awareness and/ or planning have reared their ugly heads over and over again. My son and I were sharing conversation and laughing, and he said to me, “Suck it up Princess”. This is such an appropriate saying for those of us basking in our sorrows. In other words, get over it. Quit whining, sniveling, and thinking up excuses. No one else can do this for us…although that would be delightful. The sooner we all realize that everything going on inside of us, is because of how we react and cope with life, the sooner we can get ourselves on a better track.

None of us are as stupid as we let ourselves believe and lead others to believe. Others are aware of our ‘poor me’ stories and the excuses we dream up. Nobody is fooling anybody. Now that we’ve established that…

I am not a huge fan of outdoor activities or having to go to the gym for a workout. I like exercise I can do at home with minimal equipment, like maybe a yoga mat. All you need for the following videos; approximately a 6X4 foot space and maybe a yoga mat, especially if you have pets, and I like to wear runners for extra padding and support.

My favourite exercise videos:

Hip Hop Abs

  • combination hip hop dance moves and exercise
  • focuses on abs the entire workout
  • low impact
  • extremely effective
  • lots of fun

Yoga workouts

  • so important for health and prevention of injuries
  • provide stretching, balance, strength, endurance
  • fantastic stress relief
  • love yoga!

Tae Bo

  • low impact workouts
  • provide strength, endurance, balance
  • low intensity
  • fun and challenging

Insanity

  • just like it sounds
  • an all-round workout
  • uses your own body weight for resistance
  • can easily alternate low/ high impact
  • extremely challenging

Buns of Steel

  • intense workout for thighs and buns
  • low impact
  • just feels good

Other:

Walking/ hiking

  • thoroughly enjoy walking
  • when I say hiking, I mean walking with more of a challenge, not scaling a mountain
  • fresh air is always good for us and being out in nature can be very relaxing and meditative

Treadmill

  • love the treadmill, plug in the tunes and get lost in my thoughts
  • all-year-round workout
  • change the intensity as you want

The only reason for exercising, is to be healthier. Move past the idea that we do it for weight loss, or to tone our muscles, and make it simple. Do it for the bigger picture, the long-lasting picture, your health. By not focusing on individual issues with our bodies and how we need to change them, we release the negativity, thereby allowing positive changes to happen. Remember, what we focus on, is usually what we get more of. The choice is yours, negative or positive.

 

Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

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Have You Got The Time?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

5. The amount of time it takes to prepare fresh food daily, is mind blowing. The daily routine becomes much longer, albeit a healthier one. You are standing and moving about while slicing and dicing, and not being a couch potato. I attempted this a while back, making huge salads (to last a few days), and preparing mostly vegetables for meals. It literally sucked up my days. I don’t enjoy cooking at the best of times–just ask my guy–but this was ridiculous. I ended up wanting to do anything else but prepare food. Honestly, when will ‘They’ come up with a pill, that covers all your nutritional needs and fills you up? I’m sure I would still have an occasional treat, and my green tea lattes, but I definitely am not a ‘live to eat’ girl. I am an ‘eat to live’ girl. On a positive note, the four days that I completely cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, anything processed, my energy level went through the roof. A hill that might have noticeably increased my breathing, had no effect at all. That lasted a good few weeks, even though I added back a few things to my diet. Why then, since I felt so divine, am I not continuing? Well, that is a good question, isn’t it?

Take some time to write down all your activities, and the time it takes to complete them. Include the hours you sleep, how long it takes you to dress in the morning, and be honest when it comes to how long you sit on the couch. There are 168 hours in one week. If you break it down, I guarantee that there will be some time that could be freed up to pursue healthier activities, like making a salad.

If accomplishments are to be made, then efficient use of time is important. There are many new advances that seem to suck up our time, ways of procrastinating until we are cramming to get something done. What is last on the agenda? Our health. Not for everyone, but for a lot of us. Who wants to be chopping vegetables for a salad when they could be playing their favorite game on the computer, or watching their favorite television show. It’s easier to ignore our troubled minds and our fat, out-of-shape bodies, when we can have some fun with just the tap of a finger.

I’ve said before how much I dislike cooking, partly emotional, built up over years, and the lack of excitement over food. I’m alone for a week and am using this time to re-introduce a routine, which includes making myself decent meals and snacks to eat. I kid you not, end of the second day, and I’m mulling over in my head, a plan to have nachos one night as a treat. What the heck do I need a treat for? Why does it have to be something so dripping in fat? (I make them with ground beef, jalapenos, and lots of cheese.) I must have been thinking about it for a good hour, until I had my broccoli and cauliflower in sesame ginger sauce. It was delicious, as always, and I was completed satiated with no more thoughts of ‘pigging out’.

Awareness has definitely given me insight that I choose not to ignore. Until I’d eaten, I couldn’t believe how my mind was working overtime. Yes, nachos are good, but would have been more trouble to make than my veggie dinner. Day three, so far so good. I have a plan for dinner and am determined to follow through.

Planning, planning, and more planning. For me, the planning is the fun part.

  • Sit down with your recipe books, a notepad, pencil, and some ideas on what your favourite foods are; chicken, beef, pasta, etc. Go over them in detail, look for lower fat, lower calorie, and generally ‘healthy’ meals. Almost any recipe can be adapted to fit your needs. Obviously you can google a ton of recipes as well.
  • When making your list, group the food items according to the grocery store aisles. Gather any coupons or fliers. Check out the sales and plan accordingly. Start with the coupons, google recipes with those particular items.
  • Check out the preparation and cooking times because if you’re like me, shorter is better. Some foods such as salads, there is no getting away from the washing and chopping, so increase the portions while you’re at it. I find cutting up a head of broccoli/ cauliflower and keeping it in a bowl seems to make it last longer, and it’s easy to grab a handful. Adding extra vegetables to any meal and cutting back on the sauces/ gravies is a great option to lower fat and calories.
  • If you feel overwhelmed at this point, ask a friend to help with the planning. Sometimes it’s simpler, for someone outside of your ‘mind’, to make the bigger decisions. Two can make it a lot more fun!
  • Get out your food processor (huge time-saver, and one of the best purchases I’ve made), to help with the chopping and grating. Grated salads taste better because all the flavours blend together and the texture makes for easy chewing. I put seeds and nuts in as well. Anything that has a tendency to go mushy, like cucumber or peppers, chop up and put in a separate bowl. Any veggies for a soup or stew can be whizzed through, and you will have uniform slices that will cook more evenly and be pleasing to the eye.
  • There is nothing wrong with leftovers. Choose three healthy meals for the week and double them up. Make enough to put some in the freezer for lunches or dinners.
  • If you are not feeling up to snuff for the week ahead, don’t buy a ton of fresh produce as it will end up rotting in your fridge. Been there, done that more times than I care to admit. Waste of food, waste of money. You can always take an extra trip to the store if you perk up.

The book that had me spending all my time washing and chopping was ‘Eat To Live’ by Joel Fuhrman. Love this book! There are a few recipes that having me shaking my head, just awful. Then there are a few recipes that are absolutely out of this world, delicious. Personal opinion. Eating this way is very healthy and really lacking in nothing. A lot of time is taken up with preparation, something I don’t have the patience for, and with the truckloads of produce, it was a little expensive. However, this eating style had me feeling my best ever.

Get your family/ significant other involved in the process. With all the ingredients needed for that large salad, do all the washing and chopping together on the weekend in preparation for the week. I just purchased the book ‘Mason Jar Salads and more’ by Julia Mirabella; wonderful, appetizing, and efficient plans for salads and other lunches to grab on your way out the door to work.

Check out this ingenious idea for organizing crock-pot meals: a whole month’s worth of meals via crock-pot freezer cooking. Maybe when my guy returns, we can get started on this.

Make a genuine effort to cook healthier meals and snacks. If you have kids, show some interest in the whole process and be a good role model for them. Get them involved (if they’ll let you). All this planning will leave you with much more free time to engage in all those mindless activities, only now, you won’t feel guilty.

Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Can You Afford It?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

4. It can be expensive, the fruit and vegetable isle. Low income presents a huge problem. Depending on our location, we could grow our own gardens, freeze and can the food for winter. That is time consuming, and if someone has a long commute, or has to work two jobs, when would they have time to garden? Or could they have a garden, if they lived in an apartment building, in the middle of a busy city? Would there be enough fresh food to sufficiently feed a family of four or more? It seems that there is always a sacrifice of one thing for another. Depends on what you most want, what is most important to you. It’s the ‘get out of your head’ thing again. New study confirms that eating healthy does indeed cost more…  Even if we eat healthy food, we still aren’t getting all the nutrients required; enter supplements. Even a really good multivitamin is not going to help meet those needs. If you are going to take supplements, choose ones that will address your individuality. –and yes, supplements add an extra monthly expense. Yay!

money jarI consider myself a very organized individual. However, when it comes to being a savvy, grocery store shopper, I’m severely lacking. Maybe it stems from my issues with food, (not an excuse, just an observation).

So, I know I should be checking the paper for sales and clipping coupons, because it is a great way to save some money. Now that doesn’t mean that you buy all the stuff that’s on sale, a large portion of which is unhealthy. If you check regularly, you will probably find a bit of a pattern with the sales and then you can plan ahead. Coupons may have a use by date that is further away, increasing your planning time.

Planning ahead is key for saving your hard earned pennies, on food. I’m a planner; doesn’t mean I always follow through. In my case, as in most, that is indicative of an emotional crutch preventing forward motion; similar to a rubber band that allows you to take a few steps forward, but then pulls you back before you are successful. I like to call it a ‘work in progress’. Planning involves spending some time, perusing recipes, meal plans, scanning sales, clipping coupons, having a file system and making lists. The idea is to then take your list to the store.

Without this plan in place, I generally shop once a week and pick up extras as needed. Using up all perishables will ensure you savings; you are not wasting the food or your money. Again, meal planning is essential to know what you will or won’t need in the week/ weeks to come. I love looking through recipes, and if you’re like me, the simpler they are the more chance you will use them. Making lists is a favorite pass time, but then what? It really is productive if you can follow a weekly meal plan, honest! I have done it before, and noticed that it even saves time when it comes to cooking. Knowing what your meal will be each day of the week, prevents the hunched stance and glazed eye stare, while releasing all the cold air from the fridge.

Buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season, and grown locally if possible. If the produce is readily available, then it should be cheaper. Farmer’s markets are great for in season produce. Note: not everyone has the funds for organic, but don’t worry, regular produce will still give you vitamins and minerals. Yes, there is the issue with pesticides and such, but if you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money.

When you hit the grocery store, make sure you buy ONLY what is on your list. Huge savings there! I don’t think it’s fun, but some people enjoy wandering up and down each aisle, browsing at all the new stuff. If you want to save money, keep your head down, your list in front of you, and make sure you have eaten prior to going to the store. Wanting to try some new things? Check out some new recipes, make your list, and purchase the new items. No brainer.

Why Are Food Prices So High? –This was written March 2012, but there’s probably not much change.

Another option; grow your own veggies. There are some very unique and space-saving ways to have a garden. I love the idea of a container garden; does not mean I have one. This is another area that I love to dream about and plan, but that’s where it stops. Maybe one day. The rest of my family all grow stuff in their gardens; what happened to me? FYI: I’m always here if you need someone to plan, strategize and organize your future container garden. I’ll even draw out the plans for you with lovely descriptive paragraphs on the veggies and how they should be arranged and what they should be planted next too. I researched and designed a six by six foot veggie garden with companion planting and it was amazing! I think I still have the drawings…lol.

Bottom line, start with one or two pots, see what happens. You will never know until you do it. Every little bit counts towards some savings, and you know you are growing organic. Bonus!

There is so much information out there on container gardening, and some very unique designs that could be lots of fun. Here are a couple links to get you started.

Vegetable Container Gardening; Getting Started

Container Gardening For Vegetables

The Great Global Food Gap  –This is just fun to see what other people are eating. You may even notice that you are eating healthier than some. Boost to the ego!

What I’ve learned about supplements:

Some individuals’ bodies do not absorb certain vitamins and minerals as easily as others. There could be a physical ailment that works against absorption. The diet simply may be lacking. When it comes to vitamins/ supplements, I believe that we are all individual. We are all unique in what our own bodies need. Yes, there are the general vitamins such as vitamin C, D, and iron, that we all might need a little extra of. I’ve been taking iron supplements for over twenty years, being borderline anemic, due to other crap. Luckily, iron is not too expensive. If you have a deficiency, then it’s important to address that.

In general, those who might want to add some supplements to their diets are:

Vitamins/ supplements come in all different shapes and sizes. How quickly they dissolve in your stomach acids, will give you an idea of their potency and effectiveness. If absorption doesn’t take place in the proper area, then how beneficial are they? Probably a waste of your money. Buy a couple different brands of multivitamins, some apple cider vinegar, and you’ve got yourself a home test. Apple cider vinegar somewhat resembles the stomach acids with regards to breakdown times. Add a vitamin to a small cup of vinegar, and time it to see how long it takes the vitamin to dissolve. Shaklee brand has come out on top with this test, being broken down quickly and therefore absorbed in the most effective area of the body.

Shaklee Vitalizer Multivitamin Review… I chose this one as I am a fan of Shaklee products, but there are others as well that rank high on the list.

If you have a reasonably well-balanced diet and no blatant deficiencies, keep spending your money on the healthy food you are eating. It is better to purchase healthy food, cook with limited salt, fat, etc., than to spend money on vitamins/ supplements in an attempt to reap amazing benefits from them. They are only meant to be used as a complement to regular diets, not a replacement. That also goes for all the meal replacement shakes and bars, while in a pinch they can satiate, but real food simply can not be replaced.

Knowledge is always power. It gives you options and the ability to make choices for the health of your body and mind.

 Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

This Way or That Way?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

the road less travelled3. We take the road well travelled, not intentionally, but because it feels easier, faster, and fills the gaping hole inside of us, so we can get back to doing other, more fun, time-wasting, mind-numbing, stuff. A sugary snack (instead of a healthy one), can give you a high, and while you are in this high, you can do and be anything. Then you fall from the sky, as if your parachute didn’t deploy. When you hit bottom, your emotions are free to trample your heart and your thoughts, then your high ends on an even lower note than the day before. This is the vicious cycle that so many of us are caught in. I’m looking in the mirror right now. Changing your entire maddening behaviour, is all it takes. Just get out of your head and make the changes. I know, I know, it’s not that easy! It really is though, just your attitude that is holding you back. Your excuses, the lies you tell yourself, become your truth. One day at a time, downhill or uphill. It is a choice.

The decisions we make on a daily basis all come together to provide us with a step by step flow chart, a diagram of where we are and why. It can be a frightening picture, which may throw us into the belly of denial. “That can’t be me!” Once denial has it’s hooks in us, there is an endless source of excuses at our fingertips, to not change anything. In order to stay in la-la land, change is forbidden. The repetition of negative behaviour is the foundation for success.

We think (while we are in denial, and among other things such as depression), that it is just easier to be lax about our unending unhappiness. Too much effort is needed to take the road less travelled. When we are in ‘it’, answers can be difficult to find, but we are well aware that there is something not right with us. For me, it was easier to make the trip to the store on a daily basis, to purchase large quantities of chocolate for consumption the moment I got home. Of course, I would have to hide the wrappers in the garbage because this was for my eyes only. My treat. Share the chocolate? Not a chance. The chocolate was so delicious, but by the third bar, it always made me feel a bit ill physically, and like crap emotionally. I had to finish them though, I’m not a save-for-later kind of girl, and I wouldn’t have wanted to waste any by tossing the excess. Also, the next day was a new one, and I was definitely not going to eat any chocolate. A mild depression had a hold on me for quite some time without me being aware of it. As I said, it is not intentional. It was my circumstances at that time in my life.

I filled the void the with creamy chocolate. Every day the process would be repeated because I was not getting the necessary_______________. I’m sure you can fill in that sentence with your own emotion. Hopefully you have a significant other in your life, who can be completely honest with you, without the fear of hurting your feelings. I do, and that is how I ended up at the doctors and with a diagnosis of depression. I knew something was off, obviously, but wasn’t able to put a finger on it. I did not want to endure this anymore, so I was started on antidepressants. I’m not one to pass up on feeling better, and I have no problem with getting help. Some may feel this is weak, but let me tell you, this is strength, and let no one convince you otherwise. One pill and the sun came out bright and shiny for me the next morning.

That was the moment of change. I no longer wanted the chocolate (at least not all the time), I began exercising, and my eating habits improved immensely. I had the energy to treat myself better. The choice to get help if needed, is vital to your life, to living. We can’t do this alone, not any part of it. We are not meant to. I’ve been more successful when I share my crap, and join in with others, than when I do it alone. Common sense, even though I still fight it sometimes.

My point here is; ultimately, the choice is yours. If you feel you aren’t moving forward, there is a reason. Get some help and get to the bottom of it. There is no shame in that. Talk to someone, anyone. It’s a balancing act that must be worked on all the time, and once you get a little brighter about noticing what, when, where, how, and why, you can prevent backsliding. Positive outcomes will happen faster, and that will motivate you to continue on the path to success.

 Comments are welcomed and encouraged! How many of you have experienced depression? How did it affect your life? What changes did you make?

What’s Your Plan of Action?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

2. Our lives are so hectic (or so we think), that we eat in our cars, while at our computers, or in front of the television. Here’s a new concept; turn the television off, turn your computer off, turn your phone off, and just eat. Savour each mouthful, taste the food, be mindful. Show gratitude for the food you eat. Enjoy some conversation over the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table. Make eating a pleasurable experience. You will begin to build a routine that way, which will only lead to other positive changes. Take charge and be consistent, give it a chance. Nothing happens in a day or two, obviously.

For some of us, yes, life can be hectic, can’t it? I’ve read some articles about the word ‘busy’. We’ve all been busy, haven’t we? Do we really know what makes us so busy? Have we actually sat down and made a list of activities and allotted times? Probably not, because we are too busy.

How do you feel about cutting back on those things you do or have, in order to be less busy? It scares me a little. I’ve become so accustomed to what I have and do, that it makes me a little nervous to think of what would replace it; abyss, nothingness, loneliness, boredom. I will wager that boredom frightens people. That is one thing that does not bother me.

cartoon couch potatoYou are aware that we have created our own hectic schedules by adding all the latest, greatest technologies, and anything else we can think of? Yes, we did it all by ourselves. By constantly feeling the need to be in contact with everyone, all of the time, has left us bombarded by text messages and links to funny stuff, and other crap. Our laptops are open almost all of the time, and pull at our attention, our desire for an escape from reality. Mine is open right now. Sigh. The T.V. is left on even when no one watches it, so the noise seeps into our brains unconsciously.

It’s no wonder we feel like our lives are hectic!

We spend so little time by ourselves, that when we are alone, we scramble for the nearest piece of equipment in order to create the illusion of company. Unfortunately, we’ve added this to our eating schedules as well, or lack of. Unless we are at a job with set breaks, we tend to eat unconsciously. If we are not on some sort of schedule, we basically eat all the time, or hardly at all. Little snacks here and there, with bigger snacks in between, giving a false impression of a meal. If we hardly eat during the day, then we end up binging in the evening, and leaving no time to prepare something decent.

It’s called a ‘Plan of Action’. The only way to make behavioural changes is to have a plan of action. If there are no goals, you have nothing to strive for. This will take up a small amount of time throughout the day, but is essential in beginning to understand yourself.

  • Write down the times you eat (any time you put food into your mouth)
  • Write down what you are eating (including amounts)
  • Write down what you are drinking (including amounts)
  • If you are really into this, jot down some calorie and fat totals while you’re at it
  • Make a note of what activities you do throughout the day, this includes active and inactive (don’t be shy, write it all down and include times)
  • Do not eat healthy the day you start this (you want a baseline of your bad habits)
  • Have a family member or friend do it with you (bonus: you may be doing better than       they are)
  • Do not weigh yourself (you already know you’re more than you should be because you are wearing the ‘couch potato sweat-pants’)

If you continue to do this for a few days, a pattern will start to emerge. You will get emotional, so have a box of kleenex handy. It is not pretty to look closely at your downfalls, or how many you have. Study them and learn from them. These are the things you do to fill the void in your life, the excuses you keep using to avoid being healthy, and this is the pattern you will fall back into when you fall off the wagon. Awareness is key. You may even stop yourself from falling on occasion–boost to the ego! You’ve probably discovered some of your emotional issues along the way, and this will further aid in your awareness.

How many times have you sat down to eat without any distractions? I’ve been doing this on and off for a while now and I can tell you, it is just as enjoyable, if not more so, to simply eat your food as it is to be watching a show while eating. Only now, you will be conscious of what you are filling up on. Once that happens, your choices at the grocery store begin to change. Your awareness has grown. You feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally when you’ve eaten something healthy. In a sense, healthy food can be comfort food also. Comforting because you don’t feel like crap afterwards.

This plan of action will jumpstart your self discovery and hopefully lead you to some conclusions on what you need to do to make some changes. Again, keep starting over, however many times you need to. I start over all the time.

 

Any other suggestions? Comments are always welcomed and encouraged!

It’s Called Boob Tube For a Reason

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to sayold style retro tv icon. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

#1 Television ads of fast food, cereals, snack bars, etc., entice us with the happy looking, healthy looking, slim and fit looking couple or family; who of course, have the perfect relationships and the happiest of lives. This is wonderful! Don’t we all want that? So lets buy that food, and then we will be happy forever. They convince us that food has a therapeutic value, and yes it does. However, there are many other healthier options for providing therapy, that don’t lead us to more therapy. You will also see how quick and easy it is to cook a meal from scratch, should only take thirty seconds, yes? Turn it off. Have limits on how much you watch per day. Make sure you’ve eaten a healthy meal before you zone out or you will be participating in a little something called ‘unconscious eating’; that hard to break habit of force feeding yourself some sugary or salty snack.

Most of us experience desire; thinner, taller, more tanned, more blonde, a hairless body, whiter teeth, nicer clothes, faster car, more friends, more time. Whatever it may be, it causes fluctuations in our reality. If we are not at a stage in life where we can put those ideas into perspective, decide on some goals, and work towards them in a healthy manner; then we will be caught up in the vicious cycle of believing everything we are told, and blaming all our misfortunes on everyone and everything but ourselves.

Television ads reach out and touch us in those vulnerable spots, seemingly at just the right moment we need them to. They can help where we have failed ourselves. Whatever our desires, our mind will seek out those ads, or moments in them, that relate to us. Ads want to sell us something, and they are very good at it. Manipulation of our weaker selves, is what they do, in order to make money.

Speaking of food related commercials, aren’t those modern kitchens beautiful? The sharpest knives, the gleaming pots, the latest appliances; just what we want. I know that healthier foods would be prepared in a kitchen like that. Don’t have it, so can’t do it, so won’t do it. We feel a little defeated. Then come the ads about fast food restaurants, microwave food, and snacks. There is no longer the inclination, because there is no dream kitchen, to spend the time on our health. Even though it is a pathetic excuse, a little piece of us feels sorry for ourselves, and that grows into a bigger piece each time we view an ad that has anything to do with health, body image, beauty, weight, etc.

There is only one way to stop the cycle. Turn the television off, especially during mealtimes. We watch far too much of it anyways and then leave it on in the background no matter what our activity. It burrows into our brains. It becomes the norm, to never be by yourself. I don’t watch much traditional T.V. anymore. Most of what I watch is on my laptop and commercial free, but if my mood is a bit down, even the shows can affect me. I begin longing for what I don’t have.

Having a strategy in place for when you are in need is important. This works for me.

At least one meal a day should be spent with yourself. No T.V., no book, no magazine, and no phone. Nice music is okay and can be uplifting and encouraging. Use your good china and set a place at the table. Give yourself that gift, the time to just eat your meal. Focus on what you’ve prepared, taste it, enjoy the sensation that doesn’t happen when you are otherwise engaged with the T.V. Start by giving one meal a week, your full attention. See if you can come up with something healthy, and by all means share it with a partner, or with your family, and join in on some conversation. You know, talking to real people can be good fun. One small step at a time.

Denial is such a great option in your arsenal of tools, especially if you share your space with someone else. If you live alone…well, denial may not work as well. How do you end up with so many empty chip bags, ice-cream cartons, chocolate bar wrappers? How do those snacks disappear so quickly? It is always nice to have a delicious snack at hand while you watch a movie or your favourite T.V. show. Instead of bringing the entire bag to the couch, grab a bowl and put one serving size in it–the serving size is on the package. Then close up the bag or the box properly, and put it away. Take your bowl with you to the couch. You might be less likely to want more because now you have to get up to get it. Laziness will work in your favour here. Regardless of how many times you do get up, keep dishing out only one serving at a time. After a while, you will notice a change in your behaviour, and the need to have more, will be less.

There are lots of people who can do this without even thinking, but for those of us stuck in a rut, this is a start that will have you feeling a little more in control. Keep starting over how ever many times you need to.

Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

3 Simple Steps: How To Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

A while ago I shared my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy, with a focus on body weight. You can read it here.

I will be expanding on each of the eight points I made, beginning with the next post. What I write about comes from my own personal experiences and observations. Everyone is different when it comes to health, because of various health issues, body type, emotional stress, coping skills, age, and so on.

As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

I thought I would start off with a very important issue, something I learned a few years back; how to be my own healthcare advocate. This will also work if a friend or family member is unable to do this on their own. I strongly suggest this as a way to improve communication with your doctor. Also, to figure out where you stand with diet, exercise, and your overall health; increasing your level of knowledge.

1. Do you have difficulty remembering all the details that you wanted to tell your doctor?

This is big, and one of the most important points. If your doctor does not know all the details, how then can he help you?

Before heading to the doctor’s office, take some time, lots of time if necessary, and think about what’s going on. Find a quiet place, and bring a pen and paper with you. Really consider your emotional state, because you will want to be completely honest with yourself, for your own safety. Start paying attention to how your body works. If you start imagining or making stuff up, you won’t get the help you need.

Jot down some notes as you remember; what, where, when, and how.

  • What is the most pressing issue? The most recent? Work back from there. Go back years, if you have to, and be specific.
  • Where were you when you noticed the symptoms? What may be some factors that set it off? Perhaps it was a very hot day. What were you doing differently?
  • When did it start? When did it stop?
  • How long did it last? Making a timeline is an easy way to visualize, for you and for your doctor.
  • Does it integrate with an existing health problem?
  • Why do you think this is important? Not everything needs a doctor, so be sure. Ask someone if you aren’t.
  • Know about the medications you take, including supplements. The pharmacy can print out a list of your medications, make sure you or someone you know, has knowledge of why you take them.

2. Do you feel like your doctor is really listening to you?

This is where detailed notes come in handy. The more detail, the better.

  • Google until you can’t Google anymore. There is a surplus of information , so you do have to take your time going through it very carefully; comparing and compiling your notes. Take this seriously, remember to be realistic. Ask a friend or family member for their opinion.
  • This will raise some questions that you can ask; listing symptoms, and giving you solutions. All of this is for clarification. This is not about being a hypochondriac. Getting answers is not always easy, but if you go in with your questions written down along with some possible solutions, they will more likely be answered.

Let’s face it, doctors do not know everything, nor can they remember everything. They have many patients, all with different issues, and they are very overworked. I’ve noticed dramatic results from taking my health seriously, learning everything I can about my own issues, and bringing up my results during the visit. I think it challenges them, keeps them on their toes, and you end up with some answers through an informed discussion. If your doctor doesn’t like playing that way, find another doctor. Some of them can be a bit pompous, but do gather up your self-confidence and go for it. You have nothing to lose.

3. Do you feel rushed through your visit?

There is a simple way to stop that.

  • When you are making your appointment, state that you need to discuss some issues and need some extra time to do so. The appointments are usually 10-15 minute blocks, and they do overbook in advance of probable cancellations.
  • Take with you, two copies of your detailed timelines, questions, etc. One is for you and the other one is for the doctor. If you go into the detail, that I suggested above, then they don’t have to write everything down, and have time to focus on you. This is also handy, as it will be added to your file for future reference.
  • When you hand over the extra copy, tell him what it is, and that you would like to go over it with him. You can also add, if you are feeling brave, that you will not leave until each question has been answered sufficiently.

My health is a work in progress, and I continue to write down, (like a journal), anything new that arises. Essentially, I have created a baseline for ongoing health concerns. I never head to the doctors office without my notes, and I don’t leave until I have my questions answered. I’ve also learned a great deal about myself, during this process.

I’m sure that some of you may find this a bit ‘whiny’ or ‘obsessive compulsive’. Maybe you never ask questions, and just go along with what the doctor says. That’s up to you, of course, but I want to be in charge of my health; looking at the bigger picture and how it all relates.

If you have anything to add to this, please feel free to leave a suggestion below. As always comments are welcomed and encouraged!