Where is the Joy?

It’s morning. I get up, grab coffee, read something inspirational, then head to the shower to get the day going. My routine is pretty… well.. routine. Prior to getting into the shower, I step on the scale for my daily weigh in. I’d like to say I’m super cool, calm, and collected, and that I’m aware one’s body fluctuates and to expect the scale to go up and down, but I’m not. I’d like to think I am, and if a friend was telling me she stepped on the scale daily and was up a pound or two, I’d brush it of saying, “you know your body does what it wants to do and going up a couple pounds is normal!”.

Lately the scale hasn’t shown much of anything. It’ll go up .4 pounds and then down .4 pounds, and then up .4 pounds and then..well you get the picture. I’ve been trying to be calm about this whole situation, and act like I’m not frustrated. But I am, and its affecting other areas of my life.

An easy mindset for me to get into is the When/Then mindset. When I lose the weight, then I can enjoy my life. When its Friday, then I can relax. When my husband finds that sweet job in Hawaii, then life will be complete. I keep thinking that once a certain goal falls into place that my life will be dramatically changed for the better.

But isn’t this a crappy way to live? You only live for the victories, the Fridays or the weight loss? What about all the moments in between? By only allowing ourselves (because unfortunately… as much as I don’t want to think so… its me who isn’t allowing) ourselves to enjoy a small sliver of our lives, we are missing out on so much.

I’m not saying throw your entire progress, plan or goal in the trash, but maybe find the joy in life right now. Are you only enjoying a small piece of your life? Are you holding back until you reach your goal? Why are you holding back? Is life only work living if you fulfill X, Y, and/or Z?

So much of this journey towards health has been about undoing what I thought it was supposed to look like, and calling myself out on thought process that really limit me. Whenever I get into this “I gotta steamroll through” mindset, its a red flag that I’m missing out on joy. Sometimes I think joy can get confused with comfort. You can be joyful and in an uncomfortable situation at the same time. I find myself seeking comfort A LOT, but comfort doesn’t always equate to joy, which sucks because I sure do love being comfortable.

What do you think? How do continue to connect with life and finding the joy in the everyday moments? Do you get caught up in When/Then thinking? How do you get out of that thought process?

Thanks for reading,

Lana

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Is Letting Go Good For Your Health?

I’m lying down gritting my teeth as the bariatric surgeon attempts to find my LapBand port with his needle. I’ve come into the good doc’s office because I need my band filled to increase the restriction around my stomach therefore limiting what I can eat. He isn’t necessarily having difficulty finding the port, it’s more like he is having a hard time getting the needle in the correct position to inject the fluid. After the fourth attempt I wince in pain, he looks up and is visibly frustrated, “well if you weren’t so fat I wouldn’t have any trouble with this!”

Wait… hold on there cowboy. Wasn’t I approved for LapBand surgery BECAUSE I was fat??? If I was thin, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t of had weight loss surgery…. Right?  That’s kind of his specialty right???  Operating on, and have patients, who are… you know… fat???

He never does find the correct position, and ends up poking a hole in the tubing connecting the port to the bad; therefore, creating a LapBand flat tire. All the fluid eventually leaks out of my band and I have zero restriction. I can tell this has happened by the second day, and I am PISSED.

When I first came home from the appointment with that bariatric surgeon, I felt really ashamed. I was ashamed I was fat. Ashamed I wasn’t able to control my weight and be in a “normal” BMI. Ashamed of who I was as a human. Why was being normal so difficult for me? I wallowed in my pain through the night, and the next morning I could tell something was wrong with my band. I tried eating scrambled eggs for breakfast, and it went down easily. That’s not good. Normally, in the mornings (if you have a LapBand), you have the most restriction and liquid is the only thing that will go down. At that point I knew my band was broken, and I went from shame to red hot anger. I was angry I had let the doctor talk to me that way. I was angry I had felt ashamed. I was angry I had let the doctor initially talk me into LapBand surgery. I was angry I had not had the success that I saw many others have with the LapBand. I was angry that I was angry about this!

When my husband came home from work, I immediately informed him my band was broken and the world should burn. He seemed to take this all in stride and responded with, “babe, I think you gotta let this anger go. It’s hard on your health.” To which I responded with, “how the $%&* am I supposed to do that?!?!?!”

And that, right there, is my issue with “letting go”. I really like the idea of letting go, visually it looks like your holding a balloon and you just let go of it. The balloon gently drifts into the atmosphere and away from you. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our messy emotions would just do that… slowly drift away from us by simply thinking “let go”? It’s a nice concept, but that doesn’t really work for me.  I think my letting go balloons are actually pieces of concrete chained to my ankle.  Not real sure how to let concrete float all gentle like in the air… but I digress.

Letting go implies that whatever it is you’re holding onto or obsessing about is bad, and you need to eliminate that from your life. That very thought though, that thought of needing to eliminate the bad parts of us, creates more tension and feeds whatever it is that we consider bad.

Our lives are dynamic and filled with good, bad, and a range of moments and emotions. Sometimes the moments we consider bad, or the emotions we consider bad, end up being gateways to a more compassionate, loving life. I’m not saying I want to live a life of constant suffering to be a more compassionate human, but maybe these “bad” things we are going through and feeling have a bigger story to tell later on down the road.

So what does letting it be look like? Letting it be can be defined as loosening our grip. What if instead of judging myself for being angry I let the anger be and breathed through it. I don’t deny its existence, shame its existence, or numb its existence through food or drink. I try not to judge myself for being angry, but rather realize its a normal part of being human.

But why do this? Why take the time and energy to relax our body and breathe through difficult emotions? Wouldn’t it just be easier to eat through it, or use whatever coping mechanism of choice? Taking time to breathe through all these crappy emotions takes time and patience… and I would rather use that time for something much more fun and exciting. Except, its draining to live a life where we are constantly responding to emotional triggers. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to continue to compromise my health and well being for repressed emotional crap.

My New Year’s Resolution was to enjoy the moment more. I want to be present in life, not repressing and attempting to let go! By opening myself up to feeling my emotions, whatever they are, then I also open myself up to really feeling joy. I don’t think I’ve felt joy in a long time, but I also haven’t allowed myself to really feel ANY emotions and let them be.

What do you think? Do you think there is a difference between letting go and letting be? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Lana

What Does Weight Have to do With It?

Dear Ms Chödrön,

I love you but you are wrong, or maybe you mean nothing ever goes away, except our weight “issues”, until it teaches us what we need to know. Clearly you need to fix this.

Hugs and kisses,

Lana

I try to take quiet time each day to reflect on my $%&*, and this wasn’t because I really wanted to. This quiet time came about because I was starting to lose my mind once I took away my main coping mechanism… food. Each morning I get up, get my coffee, and take a moment to read something that encourages me to self-reflect and deal with my internal drama.

Today’s quote by Pema Chödrön pushes buttons instead of soothing my soul. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my buttons pushed before my second cup of coffee. What is Pema implying by saying nothing ever goes away until we learn from it? What could my struggles with weight and body peace possibly be teaching me? All I want is to fit into society and ultimately an airplane seat! I’m a quick learner Pema, or at least not someone who takes 30 some years to learn a stupid lesson!!

Or maybe it does…

I am a sensitive soul. I’d love to be a thick skinned, take no #$%^ human, but unfortunately I’m not. Growing up everything made me cry. I was bullied at school (and not to the extent that I see kids bullied now, omg social media makes it 1,000 worse), and I was bullied because I was fat (isn’t that original). Instead of standing up to these girls and telling their frizzy, bad permed faces to go away… I cowered and begged my mom to fix me.

My family, and extended family, didn’t really know how to deal with my over dramatic behavior, and would often try to soothe me by saying “let it go” or “pray about it” or “give it to God”. My mom also took me to see a dietitian to help me lose weight and “fix” me. Keep in mind, this was the late 80’s and I believe heroin chic was the “thing”. No one over a size 12 would be caught dead in a bikini. Studies came out that said kids would rather lose an arm or a leg than be fat. Fat shaming was celebrated and normalized during this time.

Once I was put on my first medically supervised diet at age 10, this seemed to seal my weight issue fate. It’s almost like I took on my weight as my big comfy identity. My weight was who I am, a chubby female who will forever value herself based on the number on the scale.

But what is this really about?

Looking back, I realize now how much easier it was, and still is, to focus on my weight when my life feels out of control, when my feelings feel out of control. My weight is really a symptom of things going on beneath the surface. I had believed that if my weight was under control then my life would be really really good! But this is definitely not true. Every time I had gotten close to a weight I deemed appropriate, the goal weight all of a sudden didn’t seem low enough, and a LOT of feelings were coming to the surface that I didn’t want to deal with. It was at this point that I would start to regain the weight.

When it really comes down to it, my struggles with weight are really about worthiness, and being ok with my sensitive soul. I am not comfortable expressing certain emotions. I would be humiliated if I started crying, or feel intense happiness, in public. To me that shows vulnerability and someone would be able to hurt me in that vulnerable state. I would much rather be armored up, feel less and focus on weight loss then actually allow someone to possibly hurt me.

Some where along the line, I learned that I was bad because I was fat and sensitive and I BELIEVED that story. I took that belief and made it my life long story (obviously I’m not afraid of commitment) and my excuse to not experience life. I don’t have to feel anger, rage, deep sadness, or other negative emotions if I’m preoccupied with my weight. I don’t run the risk of someone telling me to quit being so sensitive or to simply let something go if I’m exercising two hours a day and measuring every drop of food that enters my mouth.

Unfortunately Ms Chödrön, I do think you are on to something because I do believe that my weight will be more stable-ish once I come to peace with my whole being… with the positive and negative emotions… with what I see as shortcomings, imperfections, and disasters. By embracing the mess that I am, this opens up a more nurturing, less restrictive, relationship with my body. Food and exercise become about nourishment, not punishment. Life throws me a curve ball (which it will because life is about change not familiarity) and instead of eating my way through it, I may actually feel my way through it. So yes *sigh* I do grudgingly agree…. My weight struggles may be trying to teach me something.

What do you think? Do you feel like your struggles, or even weight struggles, are here to teach you something? Is there a gift in the struggle?

Thanks for reading,

Lana

How Intention Shapes Our Health Journey

When you decided to start living a healthier life, were you aware of your intentions behind this? Have your intentions changed as you’ve moved through your health journey?

I joined Weight Watchers in January of 2017 out of desperation. My panic attacks were ruling my life more than I wanted to admit, and I knew addressing my health would help alleviate some of the panic. My body had felt out of control. Each year that went by I was gaining more and more weight, and I kept hoping, at some point, my body would stop gaining and maintain a certain weight. After five years on continual gaining, I was very afraid I would not find this plateau point of my weight. This fear of continual weight gain seemed to fuel my panic attacks, and I worried constantly that I was going to get cancer, have a stroke, die of a heart attack, or get diabetes. My cycle went like this: worry and panic over health – eat to numb worry and panic – feel numb for .2 seconds – feel worry and panic again over health – eat to numb worry and panic… you get the idea. This cycle was getting worse and worse as the number on the scale went up and up.

Finally in January of 2017, I decided to face my fears head on and address my health. I had considered lots of different ways to approach my health, but one of my main concerns was having a support group. I needed physical connection and a physical support group. Nothing like this existed at my doctor’s office, so Weight Watchers seemed like the next best option.

When I joined the big WW, what I didn’t realize was the energy behind my intention of joining. Yes, 95% of the reason I had joined was because I was hoping for some relief from the exhausting panic attacks, but 5% of the reason was to be a certain weight within a certain time frame. I didn’t realize this 5% was there until I neither gained nor lost when I stepped on the scale in mid April of 2017. Up until that point, I had convinced myself it was only about getting healthy and relief from my panic attacks. When the scale said the same exact number as it did the week before, I was pissed, which surprised me because I thought I hadn’t made it about the number on the scale.

After that meeting, I dropped out of the program. Why should I pay someone to help me lose weight when I’m not losing weight (hmmmm….. wait didn’t I say this wasn’t solely about the weight?

In Oprah’s book, The Wisdom of Sundays, she devotes a whole section to the word Intention. Oprah says, “Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself, what is my truest intention?” Looking back, I believed I knew what my intention was in joining Weight Watchers in January of 2017, but I wasn’t honest with myself. I joined hoping for relief, but I didn’t acknowledge that part of me craved weight loss, and weight loss in an orderly fashion. I expected to lose about 10 pounds a month, and reach my goal weight by the end of 2017. I expected my anxiety to disappear as the weight came off. I had expected to be running half-marathons by Christmas 2017.

When I dropped out of the program in April, I kept some of my new behaviors, but not all, and the weight slowly started to creep back up. During this time I started to tease out what I really wanted for myself concerning my health. How did weight play into my overall health? What were my intentions for my health?

In late September of 2017, I rejoined Weight Watchers, but this time, I felt more clear about what I wanted and the energy behind my intentions. Yes, being on the program did alleviate some of the panic. Yes, I did want to lose weight; however, I was going to let my body have a much bigger say in how this happened. I was aware that I did have expectations, but those would have to come and go. This time my intentions were for a  nourishing health journey, not a rigid and forceful journey where I starved my body to make it do what I wanted. I don’t have a goal this time around. My intention is to nourish my body, let go and trust the Weight Watchers program, and take time each day to check in and see if I’m living in integrity.

When you joined Weight Watchers, or started your health journey, what were your intentions? Did you have expectations to be at a certain weight by a certain date? How does that truly feel to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Lana

Bad Doughnuts: How Labeling Food Can Affect Our Metabolism

“I can’t believe I just ate that piece of cake. Why can’t I stick to my food plan? I’m so weak.”

“Sugar is the devil!”

“Keep that naughty doughnut away from me!”

For many of us, food can be a very complicated topic and we have a complicated relationship with it. We need food to survive, yet we can easily adversely affect our health with the same substance meant to keep our body functioning. As someone who has been on diets for more that 30+ years, I’ve thought a lot about food, how it tastes, smells, how it feels in my belly, and how I can let it totally ruin my day.

I don’t believe in moralizing food. Food isn’t good or bad. We label food good or bad. I know that if I eat a candy bar for breakfast I feel vastly different than if I eat scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. The excess sugar in the candy bar also affects my body in ways that don’t feel good to me and make my body work harder to counter the affects of a shot of sugar. I don’t think this makes the candy bar bad, I think it makes the candy bar a bad choice for breakfast.

By moralizing food, we give food waaaayyyyy too much power, and also seem to associate that bad food with ourselves… for example “I just ate a candy bar, I’m a horrible person because I can’t stick to my food plan.” News flash, eating something won’t instantly erase all the goodness in your heart to now being a bad human! But when you talk like that… when you say, “I’m a horrible person for eating…” your being is listening and reacting to that message. So instead of enjoying a piece of cake, you have labeled that piece of cake “bad” and are stressed about eating it. Your body went from a state of calm to now raised cortisol levels, elevated heart rate, and blood pressure. The effects last long after the cake has been digested. Many of us who eat something that is “bad” continue a little bit longer on our “bad choice” and think, “well, I blew it so I might as well eat what I want,” and feel guilty until we can reign ourselves back in.

It’s easy to think that how we label food doesn’t matter, that our body digests it and our mind has no bearing on how its digested. I’m not so sure. Consider the milkshake experiment*. Two groups of people were given the same exact milkshake. One group was told the milkshake was low calorie milkshake. The other group was told it was a real milkshake. After consuming the milkshake, both groups were assessed to see where their ghrelin hormone was.

Ghrelin is a “hunger hormone” that is secreted in gut. This hormone also affects our metabolism. As our ghrelin level rises we receive signals that we are hungry, and if we don’t find the food we are seeking, it will slow our metabolism. For instance, you are getting hungry, your ghrelin hormone is rising, you eat a large pizza and feel satisfied. Your ghrelin levels will drop and signal your body to rev up your metabolism as to burn all the calories just consumed. However, if you ate a small salad instead of pizza, your ghrelin levels wouldn’t drop as much and the signal to rev the metabolism won’t be as much.

Interestingly, scientists believed that ghrelin only responded to what it received in the stomach. The milkshake experiment throws a wrench in that theory. The indulgent milkshake group’s ghrelin levels dropped almost three times as much as the group that believed they were drinking the low calorie milkshake.

The bottom line is, how we perceive and label food does have an effect on how our bodies process it. What if, instead of labeling a piece of cake “bad”, we decided to eat one slice of it. Let’s even say we have maxed out our food budget that day but we really want that slice of cake. We decide that the cake is just cake, we take one slice, enjoy it, feel satisfied, and move on with our life. By taking away the cake’s “power” of being bad, we don’t feel guilty eating one slice and therefore don’t consider the day blown. We log the cake, and move on. Who knows, maybe these once-in-a-while indulgences contribute to keeping our metabolism reved. The more science uncovers the mind-body connection the more puzzle pieces come together on how our body works.

Do you label foods good or bad?  Do you think labeling food affects how your body processes it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Lana

* Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/04/14/299179468/mind-over-milkshake-how-your-thoughts-fool-your-stomach

Negotiating Our Worth.

brene (2)It’s 2012 and I’ve just lost 100 lbs. In the past year and a half, my life had been dedicated to weight loss. I had been working with our military base Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist, and a personal trainer to get the weight off of me. During that time I had ran several 5k’s, 10k’s, mud runs and also two half-marathons. When the Exercise Physiologist had conducted the VO2max assessment I fell within the “elite athlete” category. During my last BodPod (a machine that measure’s body fat percentage), I fell within the normal body fat range for a female. However, if you solely looked at my BMI (which should NOT be used as a gauge of health* ) it would tell you I’m obese. When I gathered up the evidence concerning my health the scales were tipped towards me being healthy. From everything I, and the people working with me, saw, I was a human that had a large skeletal frame and carried more muscle mass than the average female. The only way I would ever be a “normal” BMI would be to lose 50 pounds of mostly muscle.

Keeping all this in mind, I decided to finally go see an OB/GYN for that super special appointment we all love. I hadn’t been to an OB since my daughter had been born 5 years ago. Doctors and I didn’t have the best relationship. As a military family, we rotate through our main doctors (PCM) quite a bit. We’re lucky if we have the same doctor for a year or more. I didn’t problems taking my kids to the pediatrician, but I avoided doctors for myself at all costs. Normally this is how the doctor visit would go.

“Hi Doctor, I have a sore throat and don’t feel so well”.

Long pause.

“Hmmm it says here you weigh 296 pounds. Have you considered doing anything about your weight?”

“Yes, but right now it hurts to swallow. Do you think it’s STREP? My kid just had it.”

“Maybe. But you know, you would have STREP if you weren’t obese.”

This is an actual conversation with one of my previous doctors. Instead of looking at my throat, I received a lecture on how I was killing myself and that just because I didn’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or glucose issues that they could show up at any time. This wasn’t an unusual visit either. I would often leave doctors visits feeling ashamed and not heard.

However, since losing 100 pounds, I felt that it was safe to visit a doctor and have him/her really dive into my health. I needed to have my lady parts looked at because I had been too ashamed to see a doctor in years.  Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for larger humans like myself to not seek medical attention due to medical fat shaming*.

It’s the day of my appointment and I sitting on a cold table wearing a flimsy paper gown. I’m waiting for the doctor to show up, feel my boobs and swab my goods. She enters the room holding my chart and I instantly know things aren’t good. Her whole face is scrunched up like she can’t believe she has to deal with me right now. She sits down, looks at me and says, “You weighed in at 198 pounds today. Do you know what your BMI is?” Well !$%* here we go. I don’t say anything, and she gets out of her chair and walks up to a massive BMI chart hanging on the wall and points to my BMI… which is obese. I feel myself shrinking in front of her. My brain says “I told you so. You aren’t good enough! You haven’t done enough to be good woman. You aren’t worthy.” I should have got up right then, tore off my stupid gown, throw my clothes on and walked out. Instead, I continued to negotiate my worth with her. I questioned myself and rationalized believing her.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe your doctor; however, I had other medical professionals monitoring my health and they were NOT concerned with my BMI; however, they were using the plethora of evidence (besides BMI) to determine I was healthy. This doctor ONLY looked at BMI. She didn’t ask me why I had lost 100 pounds, if I had done it intentionally, what my eating habits were, if I was exercising, if I had been seeing a dietitian or had had my body fat tested. She didn’t even ask to see blood work! Yet, I gave her an immense amount of power, and let her negotiate my worth with myself.

Looking back. I don’t think it matters what I could have done or said, I think what would have mattered was my internal dialog TO MYSELF, and this is heart of the issue. Part of this process.. this whole working on whole person health… is noticing how we move through the world, and how we consciously give our power away. When someone makes a snide comment on our clothing, our social media, or our food choices how do we react, and more importantly WHAT DO WE SAY TO OURSELVES? We may react angrily and put that person in their place, but what is going on in our minds? Have we already sided with that person? Did we let that person set up shop in our mind and invite those criticisms over for dinner?  Our actions are important, but what’s even more important is what conversations and feelings are happening internally.

I don’t know about you, but I have been negotiating my worth with far to many people for far too long. I am slowly starting to shut all negotiations down, and this is a process because there are situations where I wasn’t aware I was doing this! As you move through your journey of health, where have you noticed yourself negotiating your worth? How do you think you’ll address this?

Thanks for reading,

Lana

* Impact of weight bias and stigma on quality of care and outcomes for patients with obesity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4381543/

* The relationship of obesity to the frequency of pelvic examinations: do physician and patient attitudes make a difference?  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8372479

* Fat Shaming in the Doctor’s Office Can Be Mentally and Physically Harmful https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/fat-shaming.aspx

* Underdosing of common antibiotics for obese patients in the ED.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22169576

* Body Mass Index: Is the Formula Flawed? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255712.php

Are Your Thoughts Sabotaging Your Health Goals?

It’s been a hectic day. The morning didn’t start out the best, the kids were in no mood for school, snow Armageddon was on the horizon, I need to grab some groceries in case we can’t leave the driveway for days, we received a heating bill that was twice what we normally pay, and I’m starving. Normally I have some meals stocked up (or pressure canned) that are delicious and healthy, but with everyone’s weird schedules because of the previous snow delays , I haven’t had time or energy to make these. So here I am, driving frantically to finish errands and hit Trader Joe’s before everything shuts down tomorrow. Taco Bell sits across from Trader Joe’s, like a beacon of deliciousness in my crazy day. I zoom into Taco Bell, hangry and feeling a bit guilty because it’s fast food. I don’t have time to check the nutrition info and go with one bean burrito. It can’t be that bad right? It has beans (which are free on the Weight Watchers program), a tortilla, a little cheese and some sauce. I quickly eat my burrito, slam some water, and run into Trader Joe’s.

I didn’t realize that the burrito wasn’t the best choice (like almost half my daily food budget choice) until I was logging it before dinner. Then I !@$%& my pants. My mind went into a well worn thought pattern, “you are a failure, how could you be so stupid to pick a burrito, you know you can’t do this, give up and eat what you want… you’ll never make it to your health goals”. I’m not sure how much time I sat in those ugly thoughts, but what I wasn’t doing was just noticing them and letting them go. Instead, I was buying into them, letting the thoughts be mistaken as me. I began to see my world through a pinhole rather than take a step back and realize what options I did have (because I had quite a few).

When we start something new, or decide to pursue a goal, such as a healthier life, it feels very hopeful and exciting. If we just buy the right groceries, make time for exercise, resist temptation in all forms, we’ll make it to our goal right? Maybe. Many of us don’t realize how much our thoughts, the ones we are and aren’t aware of, affect our goals. Interestingly, 90 percent* of our daily thoughts are repeats. Of that 90 percent, 80 percent of our repeat thoughts tend to be negative. Most of our thoughts throughout the day focus on how we aren’t enough, how we’ve failed before, and how we need to do better. To put this in perspective, its like having someone with you throughout most of your day constantly bringing up your mistakes, how you failed, and discouraging you from your goals because you aren’t good enough. That’s a lot your own energy that is working against what you have set out to accomplish.

Are we doomed? No. Believe it or not, these repeating negative thoughts are actually something that helped our ancestors survive. Even though this is part of our makeup, it doesn’t mean we have to feed into it. Neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor discovered that when we think these negative thoughts, each single negative thought can last 90 seconds if we don’t follow that thought down the rabbit hole. For instance, in the above example, I freaked out about my food choice, but instead of adding onto that initial freak out, I could have just let myself be shocked about the nutrition value for 90 seconds and moved on.

How do we apply this knowledge to our lives? Noticing our thoughts is a skill. Obviously meditation, prayer, and/or journaling is a great start, but why not work this into your everyday life as it happens? When a situation, or person, triggers a reaction from you (such as the scale not moving in the direction you want it to, your boss criticizing you on work you thought you did well, a spouse saying something hurtful) try taking a moment to pause and notice what is rising up in you. This is a HUGE step because many of us don’t want to feel uncomfortable feelings *raises hand* . While noticing what rises up, it’s important to try not to add onto it, to really feel whatever is happening in your body and breathe. After I’ve given myself that moment to feel those crappy feelings, I’ll realize I didn’t die and the world didn’t end, and the crappy thought doesn’t have the power over me that I believed it did.

The bottom line in all of this is that we are NOT broken. By choosing to live a healthier lifestyle we are taking a chance to uncover more of who we are and allow our authentic self to come out of the shadows of denial, shame and pain. By noticing our thoughts, we are getting to know ourselves better. We will also notice the lies we tell ourselves, and the pain we cause ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be ashamed or afraid of who I am. I want to show up to the world as uncool, weird, non-trending as I may be because an authentic Lana makes very different choices than a scared, ashamed Lana.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading,

Lana

The structure and consequences of repetitive thought – http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/03/repetitive-thought.aspx

How Curiosity Can Help You In Your Health Journey

img_9667Do you consider curiosity a gift or a curse? Do you feel like you even have time for curiosity? Has being curious helped you along your health journey?

Curiosity doesn’t have the best reputation. You can see this in the cliche saying, “curiosity killed the cat”, meaning stay in your lane and out of people’s business. I’m not saying we should get in other people’s business, but a certain level of curiosity is healthy AND it can really aid in problem-solving and growth.

For instance, I’ve always been fascinated with herbalism and in 2016 I decided to take a couple classes on it. I knew I wasn’t going to make money off of this knowledge, and it didn’t really serve a huge purpose in my life. It was just something I was curious about and wanted to explore a bit more. I took the class, loved it, and have used my updated knowledge in ways I never imagined. My new knowledge helped me put together a herbal first aid kid, remedies for my family during cold and flu season, and even helped me improve my health. When I first signed up for class, I wasn’t thinking about an end goal, rather I was just curious about herbalism in general. If I had spent more time thinking about how herbalism was a waste of my time, that I wasn’t good at it, or how does herbalism even relate to my own health/weight-loss journey, then I wouldn’t have signed up for class or even continued to be curious about it.

If we constantly only participate in activities with end goals, then we risk the chance of missing out on opportunities and knowledge that may serve us in unrelated situations. I personally believe that curiosity is the way that God/Universe/the Angels speak to us. It’s a whisper, a spark of wonder, a comment made that sticks with you. It may not make sense why you are curious about something, but what’s important is to explore it, and if nothing comes out of it, then nothing comes out of it.

When I joined Weight Watchers, I joined with the thought that I wasn’t going to let it be all consuming. I have notoriously done this in the past, where I start a diet (or healthy lifestyle) and my entire life revolves around that diet/lifestyle. This time, I wanted to join but not let it BE my life. I wanted to still have some space for curiosity because I believe curiosity can not only heal, but also aid in my goals for overall health.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on curiosity.

Thanks for reading,

Lana

Respond vs. React

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 2.32.10 PM.pngIt’s day three of below freezing temperatures, snow, school closures, base closures and being inside our house. Before the cold and snow hit our area (which is an unusual occurrence in my part of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia) I had done a good job gathering groceries, firewood, and other essentials to get us through in case we lost power or were unable to leave the house. However, cabin fever has not only set in by this time, but set up shop in my kitchen in the form of homemade brownies, ranch dip, hearty casseroles, and warm buttery bread. I had prepared for the physical effects of the snow and cold, but I hadn’t prepared for the mental/emotional effects being inside 24/7 would afford.

I don’t know about you, but I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on how I sabotage my health goals and what sets me on a food binge. In the past I have blamed the environment, special holidays/birthdays, and the lack of preparation for sending me into a food coma. Six years ago, I created the most perfect environment to lose weight by working with a dietitian, exercise physiologist, and a personal trainer. I literally had a team of people working with me to help me achieve ultimate health awesomeness! And it worked. I lost 100lbs, and then my environment changed, and I gained every pound back.

​The problem was, I believed the reason I gained weight was because my environment had changed. I attributed my success to everything outside of me, and that it wasn’t an internal process at all. I’m not saying our environment doesn’t affect us, it does. However, our environment isn’t what shoves a warm homemade brownie in our mouth, our hand does. And this is where I believe the key to stopping unwanted eating or binges is… that space between deciding to pick up the brownie and deciding NOT to pick up the brownie. What happens in that moment? Are you responding to life at that moment? Or reacting to it?

Reacting has been my default behavior for a lot situations. Reaction comes from a place of survival. When we are reacting we aren’t aware of our body, our feelings, or others feelings for that matter… when we are reacting we are focusing on surviving. This is great when our lives are in danger, but fortunately my life isn’t in danger 99% of the time. When I’m sad/depressed/restless I default to reacting to food (more brownies to numb the feelings). When its my son’s birthday, rather than check in and realize I feel like a victim because everyone can have cake without the “guilt”, I numb out this feeling by…. You guessed it… eating cake. I’m reacting to those feelings rather than, feeling them, coming back to my body to see if I’m even hungry for cake (I’m not really a cake person… and frosting isn’t my jam), and being ok with having uncomfortable feelings rather than eating them.
Responding to food, and ultimately our life, is a skill. Responding comes from a place of mindfulness. When we are in a space of internal calmness (mindfulness) in a stressful situation, our entire behavior and choices change to more big-picture pre-frontal cortex thinking. We have more clarity and make decisions that better serve us.

​Looking back, I didn’t re-gain my weight, binge, or make poor food choices because of the environment I was in. I did these things because I was reacting to a situation(s), and this is where my power is. It’s not in food prepping till the cows come home, or avoiding all celebratory events, or hiring the best health/wellness professionals… no my power is turning inward and listening to what is going on in my body and mind. In this way, it doesn’t matter what life throws at me, what does matter is if I’m willing to show up for myself, listen, and make a choice that supports my overall wellbeing and not just a quick fix to ease uncomfortable feelings.

So the big question is, do you react or respond to your food choices, and do you think it matters?

​Thanks for reading,

Lana

It’s Cold and Flu Season. How Do You Stay Healthy?

We are knee deep in cold and flu season and it looks like this flu season may be a rough one. So far (knock on wood) I haven’t caught the flu and I’d like to keep it that way! During this time of year, I do add some extra preventative measures to give me, and the family, the best chance possible to fight off the flu OR if we do catch it that it ends up being mild. Here are a list of my favorite preventative measures, I’d love to hear yours in the comments below!

* Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Staying hydrated keeps mucous membranes soft and moist, preventing tiny cracks that allow viruses and bacteria to enter.

* Homemade Chicken Broth – I make my own Chicken Broth using my Instapot using a Rotisserie Chicken carcass, thyme (antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. Thyme is great for respiratory infections and coughs. It is also good for the stomach and relieves gas.), garlic (anti-viral, antibiotic, and antiseptic), onion (great for coughs), cayenne powder (stimulant, anti-microbial, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Cayenne can help prevent a cold or flu as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu), turmeric (anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant), and I’ll throw in celery if I have it. I use this broth is as much of my daily cooking as I can! (Herbs for cold/flu season: https://tinyurl.com/yadzysyw )

* 1 – 2 TB of Fire Cider daily! Fire cider is a spicy vinegar that is sweetened with honey. Many cultures throughout the world have their own version of this drink. Fire cider helps clear out the sinuses and wakes up the immune and circulatory systems. There are several ways to make this (Receipe HERE – https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/fire-cider ) OR you can purchase it at Mountain Rose Herbs https://tinyurl.com/y7zr5jrw

* I make a batch of Vitamin C Pills. Here is the recipe I use! I buy all my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, but you can also find the herbs on Amazon. Recipe HERE: https://tinyurl.com/y9sdf7gf

* I take an Elderberry Gummy daily. They are super simple to make. Elderberry has been used medicinally for centuries in Europe and North America for a wide variety of ailments and are immune enhancing. Find the recipe HERE: https://tinyurl.com/y7upobu8

* Lastly, I make sure to drink my herbal “tea” (infusions). An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed over a long period of time (over 4 hours) or overnight. I put a cup of herb in a quart jar, fill it to the top with boiling water from my tea kettle, cap it and let it sit on my counter over night. The next morning I strain out the herb with my cheesecloth, compost the herb, and put my infusion in the fridge to drink throughout the day. My favorite herbs to use are oat straw, nettle, and red clover. You can find all these herbs on Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs, or Frontier Herbs. Info on infusions: http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/September08/anti-cancer.htm

I’d love to hear everyone else’s preventative measures or other ways they stay healthy during this time of year!

​Thanks for reading,
​Lana