Friday, April 26, 2013

Anxiety


My husband and I have made some big changes in our life recently.  They aren’t obvious to the casual observer but I have been reeling a bit as a result.  Reeling and getting anxious.

I have realized that I am highly susceptible to stress.  I have an anxiety issue that I keep in check with a combination of medication and natural means.  Occasionally, however, the stress level peaks and knocks me off my equilibrium.  This causes the typical symptoms of anxiety like the adrenaline rush, stomach upset, dry mouth and jitters.  Some episodes are worse than others.



My anxiety seems to flare up when I am unable to see the path ahead.  Chaos freaks me the hell out.   It feels like bumping around in a dark and scary basement with noises that are very likely zombified mutant spider people coming to kill me. 






Then the lights come on and the basement is actually quite cozy and the noises are just the hot water heater.
 

So the light came on in my brain and I may not be able to see the destination but I am on the path and it’s rather nice, a little bumpy, a few curves,  but I know I have the strength to navigate it and no matter where it ends I will make it and be a better person for it.

Anxiety

Anxiety is the enemy of a positive outlook.  It will creep into every area of your life and poison it.  Anxiety is the zombified mutant spider people that lurk in your brain waiting for the opportunity to strike.
 
In Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny, author Martha Beck explains that we each have an inner lizard, stemming from the reptilian brain, which inundates us with frightening messages of "lack and attack" which is the primal way we keep ourselves fed and safe from saber tooth tigers.  Unfortunately for most of us, lack has become, "I don't have enough money!"  And by attack you might think people have it in for you or are going to hurt you in some way .  Attack fears might make you defensive -- or offensive -- at times, or it might give you anxiety ranging from mild to curling up in a ball and sucking your thumb.





I have pictured and named my inner lizard, in order to become able to soothe the lack and attack thoughts using the higher, more ‘evolved’ brain.
Beck says:
“This silly visualization is actually a very serious, powerful exercise, rooted in sound psychological and neurological evidence. It may in fact, physically change your brain. By calling on the non-reptilian part of your neural complex to watch the reptile, you subtract neural energy from survival fear and move it to a more highly evolved portion of the brain.”
When your lizard starts wringing it’s claws and bleating terrifying predictions stop and ask yourself “What am I really afraid of?”
What am I really afraid of?  When I started identifying the fears that were causing this particular bout of anxiety I realized how ridiculous they each were once in the full glaring light of reason.
Usually when I follow these thoughts to their source I find that they all stem from the same basic fears that are part of every human: fear of debilitation and painful death all alone, poor, and nobody loves me. 
Okay, maybe this is just me.  But I am sure your core fears are really along the same lines.  
So that is when I need to comfort my lizard and remind her that everything will be okay and she doesn’t need to freak out. 




My lizard is Louise.  She is technically a chameleon, not a lizard, since she is afraid of being a target.  She tries to hide, she curls up tight and hunches over almost fetal.  She has a medical condition so I need to be very careful what I feed her.  Her favorite thing to eat is fear.  She will eat it until she is full and fat and completely terrified.  

 
Which leaves me feeling like I want to crawl into a hole and die. 
 
It is vital that we see the lizard brain for what it is, a survival tool to keep us from jumping out of windows or playing computer games for several days straight until we die of thirst.  But every fear it chirps must be scrutinized for truth.  Be like a wise cow, eat the straw and spit out the sticks.
 




 
 
 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Antioxidant Truth


You can't really do anything today without hearing the word "Antioxidant".  I have been a big believer in the antioxidant method of wellness and it didn't hurt that some of my favorite treats were on the list...berries, coffee, chocolate and wine.

Imagine my shock at finding out that I have been misinformed.

We have all seen products in the grocery store ranging from supplements to candy claiming high antioxidant content. 

But what does that mean?

"Antioxidants came to public attention in the 1990s...Some studies showed that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing these chronic conditions than were people who ate plenty of these fruits and vegetables. Clinical trials began testing the impact of single substances, especially beta-carotene and vitamin E, as weapons against heart disease, cancer, and the like." credit: Harvard School of Public Health


So how did the media, and the supplement and food industries react to this news?
"Even before the results of these trials were in, [they] began to hype the benefits of “antioxidants.” Frozen berries, green tea, and other foods labeled as being rich in antioxidants began popping up in stores. Supplement makers touted the disease-fighting properties of all sorts of antioxidants." credit: HSPH

(That's sort of exactly how we should expect them to react.)


So are the corporations lying to us?  Well, kind of.  Certain foods and supplements are higher in antioxidants than others.  They can even rate them according to amount of antioxidants so you can be confident in knowing that the dark chocolate covered pomegranate is kicking butt and taking names.

What is not proven is whether the antioxidants actually affect your body and health one way or the other. 

Yes, you read that right...nobody knows for sure if antioxidants do a blessed thing for your health.  If you look closely at the products on the grocery shelves claiming high antioxidant content you will notice that none of them actually make any sort of health claims  We consumers just connect the two in our minds and buy buy buy. 

Right now are you paying more for specific kinds of juice that claim immense amounts of antioxidant power?  Because if so you are wasting your money.

Well, at least ingesting copious amounts of antioxidants might help...and it can't hurt, right?   'Just in case'.   Not so fast.

"The first inkling came in a large trial of beta-carotene conducted among men in Finland who were heavy smokers, and therefore at high risk for developing lung cancer. The trial was stopped early when researchers saw a significant increase in lung cancer among those taking the supplement compared to those taking the placebo." credit: HSPH 



But "Not all trials of beta-carotene show this harmful effect, however. In the Physicians’ Health Study, which included few active smokers, no increase in lung cancer or any other adverse affect was seen even after 18 years of follow-up." credit: HSPH 

The Bottom Line on Antioxidants and Disease Prevention:

According to the Harvard School of Public Health: " Free radicals contribute to chronic diseases from cancer to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease to vision loss. This doesn’t automatically mean that substances with antioxidant properties will fix the problem, especially not when they are taken out of their natural context. The studies so far are inconclusive, but generally don’t provide strong evidence that antioxidant supplements have a substantial impact on disease."

So eat healthy, include whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and buy the super juices only if you really love the taste. 

There are ways to provide protection against many of these scourges of aging but, sadly, chocolate and wine are not going to do it.  That's not to say they aren't enjoyable and can contribute vitally to our emotional health. 












Sometimes Natural Is Not Enough




I want to thank you for visiting my site with a gift.

I am a strong proponent of natural health and healing but I know that there are some instances when digging roots from the garden for a tincture aren't going to do the trick.

When you need to use the pharmacy for prescribed medicine please have this InCareRx card handy.  It is my gift to my readers.

This card is 100% free to use! It's active! Simply save it to your computer and print it! Save money on your prescriptions (And your pet's prescriptions!) Save up to 90% on generics and other scripts.
Make sure that your pharmacist saves the information so that you don't have to continue to bring the card with each visit.

Again, this is a free gift.  If you would like to print a few and hand them out to friends you have my blessing!

Enjoy your exuberant life!



Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Gold that buys health can never be ill spent. 
~Thomas Dekker, Westward Ho, 1604"




What would you give for health? 

This is a question I have had to ask myself recently.  What would I pay to be well?  How much time would I give?  How much energy would I put forth?

It's not an outlandish statement to say that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can cost you more in terms of time/energy/money at the onset.  Fortunately it will be an investment in your long term wellness and can save you money later on. 

It's like spending the big bucks on the energy efficient appliances.  The out of pocket is pretty stiff but the cost of energy savings makes them worth that initial investment.


Being healthy costs you.  Eating healthy costs money.  Exercise costs time.  Maintaining health costs energy. 

Are you willing to spend? 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Misery

 


Omigosh it has been a miserable week.

On Sunday our water heater broke and we had to order the part Monday morning.  We had no hot water until Wednesday morning.  Sponge baths and lots of lotion.

On Monday our 10 year old told me he was itchy.  I looked and discovered...chicken pox!  WTH?  He was vaccinated when he was little but he caught them nonetheless

Wednesday Superman (aka my awesome husband) left for Salt Lake City for a business trip.  He and his friend drove in our big ol' diesel pick up truck.  They broke down in Rock Springs, WY.  If you have never been to Rock Springs Wyoming I should tell you that there is noooothing there.  (patriotic Rock Springs residents please forgive me). 

The guys had to get a hotel room for the night and then rent a car to make the rest of the trip to Salt Lake. 

Now my husband is in Salt Lake, the truck is in Wyoming and it's going to cost $600 to repair, and I am holding down the fort with the five kids, three dogs, and three cats. 

On that note, so that I do not start feeling sorry for myself, I will post some pictures of people who have it worse than I do....

 
 
 
 
 

There.  I feel better.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Healthy Terrain





The healthiest crops grow out of healthy soil.  Regardless of whether you grew up in Kansas, Brooklyn or the Moon you KNOW this essential truth about good soil. 

Many believe that our bodies work the same way.

How?



Meet Antoine B├ęchamp who believed that living entities called "microzymes" created bacteria in response to host and environmental factors; he did not believe that bacteria could invade a healthy host and create disease on their own. (credit: Wikipedia)

Wait, what?

Haven't we been taught in elementary school health class about how germs work?  The germ theory of disease refers to the discovery in the late 19th century that some infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms, small organisms too small to see without magnification, that invade the host. (credit: Wikipedia)

Germs invade the host and we get sick.  Soooo the logical conclusion is to create antibiotics and vaccines that KILL THOSE GERMS!  Right?

Well, not exactly.

Bechamp (among others) believed that the "germs" couldn't create disease on their own but that a healthy 'terrain' could prevent the invasion. 

I, personally do not want to be invaded.  At least not by germs.  I also don't enjoy the idea that I am helpless against the microorganisms that float around our lives just waiting gather enough forces to attack.  Really? 

What would happen if a country didn't work at defending it's borders but instead just tried to fight the enemy once they had begun occupation? 

I will tell you what...the country would lose more troops AND civilians fighting an adversary that had already started buying real estate and joining the PTA. 

Doesn't it make more sense to fortify your defenses before the enemy strikes?

Doesn't it?







Fountain of Youth..?




 
Ever since Herodotus mentioned a a fountain containing a special kind of water which gave people amazing longevity, the human race has, well, raced to locate this magical water that would restore youth to anyone who drinks of it.
 
 
Of course we are modern, scientific thinkers and the idea of a magic fountain is quaint and ridiculous. 
 
(But secretly we all wish it were true)
 
I personally wouldn't want to live forever but I would absolutely sign up for a sip of something that would keep me looking and feeling young until my life plays out to it's natural end.  Heck, I would take just the young-feeling part and let the wrinkles and gray hair run rampant.
 
Can we all agree on that?  I think so.
 
Is there a fountain of youth?  No.  But we all know that there are certain formulas to maintaining the best possible health as we age.  Eating healthy foods.  Exercise.  Stress management.  Reduce free radicals.  Take your vitamins.  Get eight hours of sleep a night. etc. etc.
 
The problem is that while all the 'authorities' agree that these are vital in maintaining a healthy life, what they don't agree on is what it all means.  We have all heard the jokes about the medical authorities coming out with a study that says that coffee is a powerful antioxidant and should be enjoyed daily, and the next day they report that coffee will kill you.  Or at least damage you beyond repair.  The same with milk, wine, wheat, corn, sweeteners, and the list goes on.
 
One authority publishes a book saying that a high protein diet is the best while another bestseller asserts that vegan is the way to go.
 
I am pretty sure that the only things that can be agreed upon across the board are organic fruits and vegetables and purified water.  Anything else is entering uncharted waters.  
 
The fact is that we live in a messy, dirty, disease ridden world and at one time we would have died young from measles but now we are killed slowly by Little Debbie.  
 
The fountain of youth is a myth and we can't truly determine what foods will help or harm us.  What we need is not a new and exciting 'medicine' to combat disease but an improved inner health that will enable our bodies to work as intended to create an internal 'fountain of youth'.  A terrain of wellness.
 
 
SHAPE Diva Dash
On March 6, 2013 I committed myself to 'running' a 5k with some co-workers at the SHAPE Diva Dash in Boulder which was going to take place on May 4th. 

I haven't run since middle school and I was one of those people who said 'If you see me running there is probably something after me.'

Fact is, I hadn't even been walking.  I mentioned in my last post that exertion was causing me pain especially in my hips.  I would wake up in the morning hunched over and shuffling around like Baba Yaga.




 
I am also not the brightest bulb in the pack so I chose a ridiculous motivational tool like signing up for a 5k with my coworkers acting like I was a frequent runner and strutting about the office. 
 

 
I kept planning to go walking and I even downloaded the Couch to 5K guide, which is excellent by the way.  I bought a new pair of running shoes (Saucony) and bought the cutest pair of yoga pants which make my butt look amazing even without working out.  I wore these around the house and acted like a runner.  I told my husband that wearing the right clothes is the first step in motivating a person to exercise.  (He didn't fall for it).
 
How would I make the transition from this:
 
To this:



 

 

Monday, April 8, 2013

If I Can, So Can You!


I'm going to confess my deep dark secret once and for all....I'm kind of lazy.
(Although this probably is not a big revelation to the people that know me.)

I have a job that I work hard at and I have five kids, three dogs and three cats.  Caring for all of these things and keeping a house will drain anyone and the idea of working out was kind of like the idea of visiting Egypt: I really want to do it someday...but this is not that day.

Also, to be perfectly honest, I would hurt like hell after exerting myself.  My back and hip pain had been getting progressively worse over the years--likely due to the pregnancies and carrying around children all day.  As I have gotten older the pain has been more frequent.  Like daily.  Getting out of bed in the morning I felt like I was in worse shape than my 83 year old mother!  I took ibuprofen daily. 

So, like most women, I had a nice list of excuses (or if you rather, reasons) for not being active.  For spending far too much time on the sofa instead of on my feet.  I was freaking exhausted and in pain.  What are you going to do? 

I will tell you what I did...

I signed up for a 5k!

Good grief!  What was I thinking?  I hadn't run since middle school.  I got winded walking up a flight of stairs!  I weighed the most I have ever weighed (not pregnant) and it was settling around my midsection.  I was beginning to add knee pain, joint pain and high cholesterol to my list of ailments.  I knew I had to do something or I was heading down the fast track to a heart attack. 

But a 5k???

Motivation, baby!  I know my limitations mentally and lack of motivation was a huge barrier on my road to health and fitness.