30 March 2010

Popeye made my children angry!

The spinach bingeing character? Oh no, not him!  The other one that claims it's food is wholesome and flavorful!   Parents of this great nation, we must unite and fight for the health of our children!  I appreciate Michelle Obama's initiative to address the issue of child obesity, but as Jamie Oliver of Food Revolution says, it truly will start with the parents!   We have to say, "No!  My child will not eat that!"

As a divorced mother, it is a bit challenging to convince my children that certain foods they eat are not ideal for their health because their father is not as passionate about the subject as I am.  A person has to want to take the extra steps and time to learn about food and it's purpose in our lives, and to continually seek information about what has happened to our food supply and suppliers in recent years.  WE have to get proactive and perhaps it is a long and difficult road to make major and necessary changes, but we can start by enlightening our children about the choices they have, and encouraging them to make the wiser choice for their own good.

A few days ago, the children were with their father and he decided to take them to Popeye's, a fast food joint, for lunch as they happened to pass one on the way back from the movies.  As a parent, it's important to realize that even when you plan out a day of activities, you should also plan out the meals for your children so that you are not subjected to last minute, unhealthy choices. If you practice certain habits/routines, your children won't demand or expect you to "end up" at those types of eateries, at least, not on a regular basis. 

They took a few minutes to review the menu while standing on line, and while trying to solidify their selections, they heard a patron ahead of them request a bottle of water with their order only to hear a response from the restaurant clerk, "we do not have any water."   My children told me that they quickly became surprised and whispered to their father, "how can they not have water?  What are we going to drink?"   I love these children of mine.  They don't drink soda, and they also know that two wrongs don't make a right, meaning that, it's bad enough they have to eat fried food but they don't want to chase it with a sugary, chemically ladened beverage!  Balance...if you can!  

My son said he begged his father to leave at that instance but he was not able to get his wish granted.  Popeye the Sailor, come rescue my children!  Later that day, they returned home to me in time for a very healthy home cooked dinner, and as they entered the front door they could not wait to tell me of this "lack of water situation" that happened earlier in their day.

I truly appreciated how they viewed the situation as abominable and how they were ready to leave.  This is the problem that people seem to face daily, they just "put up" with whatever is there.  Don't make any waves.  Just settle. It's not such a big deal?  My son also told me that the clerk did not seem to care that they had no water and did not offer any apologies for the situation.   Let me just state, water is on their menu and they claimed they ran out.   My mind got the best of me and I quickly became Sherlock Holmes as I tend to do when I try to size up a situation.  I thought to myself, "perhaps they don't normally sell a lot of water and so they don't normally keep a large enough supply of water, but this one particular day/weekend, more water was purchased than normal and they DID run out!"

Well, if that's the case, hopefully it will be a brand new day at that establishment.  Hopefully whoever is in charge of inventory will now make certain to stock the back room with EXTRA water for their patrons.

As for me and my lovely babies, I am so thankful that I have bothered to enlighten them about food, and particularly the foods that are being served/sold to them outside of my house, making them aware that "it's truly all a mystery"  and they have to be very careful and selective about the choices that they make.  This type of lesson teaches them how to respect themselves, their bodies, and empowers their minds about the fact that it is their personal right! 

Eat your organic spinach!  Be strong and make healthy choices!

28 March 2010

Forty something and truly blessed!

"One of the best ways to realize that age is an illusion is to have your body get older and realize that you are who you always have been." ~ Alan Cohen 

I found this quote after I decided to write this blog today and I thought it was rather fitting and could be interpreted in different ways.  I remember a few years ago having a conversation with another woman/mother who was also approaching 40 as myself at the time, and the words out of her mouth astonished me.  We were talking about much the same things that women often talk about, our bodies, clothes, food, and I will never forget when she said, "Now that I am almost 40, I realize that I will be getting older, more conservative and unable to do certain things...." I sat there a bit confused about why she was planning her own demise with such language. 

I just could not relate to such thoughts because at that time (and still) I could not begin to comprehend how you can combine a number, in this case 40, with rules about how you may inevitably feel given that number and thus how you should live based on this predicted downward spiral that your life will take.  What?!!!

Back to my quote, I realized that I had one way of interpreting "it" and "life" and other people/women perhaps their way as well which is why I believe many of us either flow easily through and others of us struggle.   Let's first consider the woman who thinks approaching 40 is the crossroads to middle age and old age with restrictions thereafter, a quote like this could mean that her body will age but she will still be who she was all along into her senior years.   A limited way of thinking, which seems to explain what I suspect. 

When I read this quote just a few minutes ago for the first time, I quickly had a totally different interpretation to the point that I felt exhilarated that it landed right in my lap as it was amazingly suitable for my pre-planned blog today!  Age is an illusion to me because there are many days that I forget how old I am but thanks to my darling children, they often remind me and/or tell other people.  That in itself is often very cute because it could be at a time when someone is saying something like, "you young mothers..." and my son quickly chimes in, "my mom is not young, she is 45 years old!"   Oh I love him so! 

Remember that woman who was ready to retire her high heels?  She does not believe that age is an illusion and perhaps it is because of the media, or the nonsense she was taught growing up.  Today we are being told that 40 is the new 20 or something like that, but many still don't believe that and I would venture to guess it is because they are not doing something great for themselves to make it so. 

I wrote a blog over a year ago about how many of us walk around mumbling those three special little words, "I used to..." referring to the fun-filled, energetic, exciting things they used to do but don't do anymore because they are of a certain age.  For many it is because their minds and bodies are not capable, and that is because they allowed themselves to deteriorate, physically, emotionally, mentally and perhaps spiritually too.

The latter part of this quote says, "to have your body get older and realize that you are who you always have been" to me speaks about how your mindset was all along.  If you always had a mindset that your life was going to be a time-line resembling that of a mountain, one you climb and then get to the top and just turn around and go back down, then you always planned to limit yourself and play into the hands of an old-fashioned idea of living a normal and full life. 

There are believers and then there are "true" believers.  I am a true believer.  I believe that God gave me a healthy body and mind and expects me to work with it to the fullest.  I don't believe there are any cut-off points, any boundaries, age restrictions, time limits, etc. but, that there are endless possibilities.  First and foremost, it's important to not get wrapped up in primitive ideas about age and what "society" expects of you, and realize you should have expectations of yourself and strive to achieve them. 

I sometimes run into old friends, school mates, former co-workers and we get into conversations about what we are doing, and I always get asked, "are you still working out or running?"  My answer is always, "of course!"  It seems strange to me, am I supposed to stop ?  Because of my age?  If so, why?? 

This morning after my amazing 90 minutes on the treadmill wearing 10 lbs in my X-vest, followed by a very intense, funky 50 minutes doing Punch Kick Jam (Turbo Jam), I was giggling to myself saying, "wow, who would not love to be doing this at age 45, age 55, age 65?"  Only someone who is crazy enough to believe that being 45 or older is a reason to stop loving life, feeling energetic, happy, empowered and truly thankful for great health!  

Thank you God!  Thank you for allowing me to be who I am, who I have always been, which is a person who does not feel that I should do anything but embrace living with the same intensity from one decade to the next! 

I will happily encourage anyone out there who dreads approaching 40 to reprogram your beliefs.  Turning 40 is not the end of the road, it is actually a new beginning!  Time to realize that you are smarter than you ever were and now is the time to truly START living your life.   Time to do all the things you thought you could not do and understand that your mind AND body are more powerful than you could ever imagine.  You can exercise and eat healthy everyday, you can dance, you can laugh, you can dress younger than you are, you can do whatever you used to do -- as long as you respect yourself and others.... sky's the limit!

22 March 2010

Gremlins? Want vs. Need...

I remember having a conversation a few years ago with another mother about a philosophy that her and her husband had instilled in their children whenever they had those moments when they would request something.  She said they would go through this exercise each and every time asking them, "well, have you thought this through, is this something you really need or something you just want, and why?" 

I thought about how profound such an exercise was to practice with the children especially in these times when it seems essential for them to learn this to cope now and in the future in all aspects of their lives.  Such a philosophy is highly impactful when you are making decisions on what to eat, how to spend leisure time, who to spend your time with, what to buy, where to live and more. 

I recently caught an episode of Dr. Oz where he shared information about this interesting hormone, "Ghrelin" which in simple terms, is secreted in our stomachs.  Experts say that it is the hormone that triggers your hunger, it makes you hungry, slows your metabolism and decreases your body's ability to burn fat effectively.  You may have heard about it and it is compared to that of the similar sounding, "Gremlin," because it wreaks havoc in our bodies. 

Dr. Oz went on to show a demonstration on how this little gremlin, I mean "ghrelin" may function.  Many folks get up in the morning and opt not to eat breakfast, telling themselves that they are not hungry.  Stop right here.  If you slept during the night, a few hours, or perhaps many hours, and did not eat, you should be hungry when you get up.  Opting not to eat in the morning sends the signal to the gremlin, I mean the ghrelin, to start it's menacing work! 

The demonstration continued as Dr. Oz showed, if you just gave the body some sensible food right away, perhaps some fruit and/or some lean protein, just a moderate amount, you would balance out your body's (and mind's) needs and this little gremlin, I mean ghrelin, would stay quiet and not bother you.   However, if you let those hours go by and not feed yourself, the substance is being secreted in a larger quantity. 

The longer you don't eat, more the hunger is building.  You may not even notice or feel what is happening according to Dr. Oz but what happens is, when you wait too long to eat (instead of eating small meals every so often) this ghrelin is mounting and finally you look for all the wrong foods to satisfy this hunger and more often than not, you eat way too much of it!

It actually takes a few FRESH, healthy foods to banish that ghrelin compared to the large amounts of unhealthy, fattening, processed foods.   The ghrelin does not easily respond to unhealthy foods so you just keep eating.  The little wretch enjoys feasting on bad foods! 

All of this brings me back to the philosophy of wants vs. needs.  When you rise in the morning, your body NEEDS food, and a certain type of food.  You have to try to put aside the idea of wanting or not wanting to eat, and realize you NEED to eat -- and to eat certain foods to enable your body to function properly and to keep the GREMLIN... I need Ghrelin away! 

A great exercise, besides physical exercise, is to get up every morning and have that conversation with yourself, "I need to eat.  I need to eat the right foods to address my body's needs."  During that conversation, make an effective decision on what to give your body.   As with any new habit, you will have to practice this exercise for a few weeks to get it to stick.   Eventually you will find yourself not giving into those impulsive undesirable "wants." 

08 March 2010

Sticks and Stones

Words will never harm me!  What a beautiful weekend it was and I was surprised with extra opportunities to spend time with friends, talking and laughing about all sorts of stuff that go on in our lives.  One person, in particular, confessed to me that he did not get a lot of sleep and that he was very concerned about his health.  His list of issues were quite troubling and I tried to understand why he did not prioritize his health. 

He started asking me bunches of questions about myself and what I do,  and when I told him about how I exercise almost everyday no matter what, and how I tried to managed a mostly healthy nutritional lifestyle, he immediately blurted out, "oh, you are obsessed!"  From there he also added that people like me look at people like him and criticize what they are doing/eating.  

I can admit that unless I am summoned for my opinion, I do not pass judgment on other people's indulgences, or lack thereof!  Let's remember, with this fellow, he voluntarily shared his issues with me, I did not insist on this information.  With that, I somewhat took it as a cry for help or he was desperate for a little attention.   

In the past, I probably would have been offended by such an assault, but I realized a few things, (a) it was not his fault that he misused the English language because many folks do on a daily basis, and (b) he was admitted he was living an unhealthy lifestyle and was seemingly clueless about how to change.  Throughout the discussion, though he was a nice person, he oozed of great discomfort. 

I did not preach to him, nor did I tell him what he should be doing, however, I did impress upon him that no matter what is going on in his life (which was challenging to say the least) he should realize that his needs should be met first.    The only reason why I jumped to that conclusion is because of what he said to me.  He initially bragged that he did not get much sleep, and then added that he is constantly afflicted with thoughts about what is going on in his life, stuff that has happened over the years and the fact that major health issues run in his family.  He is scared.

Worry will get you no where but into a very unhealthy state of being, physically and mentally.   Addressing your health does indeed empower you to, at the very least, have some sort of control over the way you feel which in turn affects how you think.  If you have one less thing to worry about (something as major as your health), you are better able to function in other aspects of your life.  I felt very sad for him, and I gently suggested to him that he take some small steps to make some changes and see how he feels.  I hope he will and over time I can just imagine that he will enjoy the good feeling!

Obsessed?  Gosh, what a compliment!!!  Exercising daily to show great love to the body that God has blessed me with, and then eating foods that God has blessed this earth with -- seems like a balanced, sensible obsession to me! 

For anyone out there who crumbles under the attack of "name calling" when you are invested in a well-balanced health program, I beg you to brush off those sticks and stones and press ahead with taking care of you!