Thursday, September 27, 2012

Destressing and avoiding the Distractions in life

When I was younger, I used to chuckle to myself at those who said they were "SO STRESSED!" or were "SO BUSY!"  I thought they were either over-reacting, wanted attention or weren't managing their lives very well. Little did I know that the older you get, the more that can pile on both time-wise and emotionally.  My dad used to tell me, "Renee, life will never be as easy for you as it is right now" and in many ways he was correct. There are ways to destress, though, and separate yourself from the distractions of life.

Recently, I've learned a few ways to identify my biggest sources of stress:

  • Thoughts during Exercise  When I wake up in the morning to start my workout -- whether it's sweaty heart-pounding cardio or serene yoga postures, as I begin, my mind is flooded with what is worrying me or causing me stress.  I used to think this was interruptive to my workouts and now I see it as an indication of what I need to either cut out of my life or work on.  Often the workout will leave me less stressed, but the issue is still there and even though more relaxed, I need to work on it or it will resurface the next day (or when I lie down to sleep -- Oops!  I just gave away the second one). 
  • Sleep Deprivation: If I'm overworked, sometimes my body responds by falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  But other times, thoughts swirl around in my head for hours and I just CAN'T get to sleep (or I wake up in the middle of the night for hours tossing and turning).  Annoying to say the least!  When your body needs the sleep the most, it sometimes can't get it because of stress.  So what do you do?  Give your brain new messages.  Tell yourself all of the things that went well that day.  Think of all that you accomplished, even if it's as simple as laughing with a friend and bringing her joy.  Balance out the negative by recognizing all the positive that happens in your life.  Counting your blessings is another way to recognize the good.  
  • Declining Mood:  Maybe this sounds oversimplified, but if you're no longer enjoying your days, then something needs to go.  Not all of life can be rainbows and prancing ponies (I stole this phrase from my niece who once complained about all of us "glass half-full" types), but we should be happy or content at least most of the time.  If not, you need to identify if you are indeed over-scheduled, if you have friends or relatives who are draining you instead of supporting you.  Cut out what you can that causes you stress and your mood will elevate.  Not everything is on our control, but do what you can and you will see a difference.
  • Negative Media:  We all know it. The media isn't in the business to cheer us up or bring us joy. They may not even be there to entertain us.  Their bottom line is making money, which is often obtained by what will get our attention.  I'm sure there are plenty of artists and journalists out there fulfilling their life-long passions, but the decision-makers for news and information choose what will make them money or promote their ideas.  Often this leaves us overwhelmed with the imbalance of misery and contention paraded before our eyes.  Do what you can to avoid this cause of stress. Listen to your own music (may I suggest Sting?) instead of a radio, play your favorite DVD when you want to unwind instead of watching the news.  We play plenty of carefree sitcoms from the 60s in our home and absolutely love it.  
  • Personal Media:  Our ever so portable computers (laptops, iPads and smart phones) can also be a major distraction to the simplicity and joy in life. I learned at the middle school Back-to-School Night last week that it takes 7 minutes for our brains to focus back on what we were doing before we stop to read a text.  Sometimes texts are happy interruptions.  Other times they are adding to our To-Do List or mental stress and need to be paced.  I could write a whole post about this (and likely will), but just be aware of the complications a handy dandy notebook can be and try to not make it quite so available to yourself so you can keep your focus on your family and friends right in front of you and what you need to get done throughout the day.

    The older, wiser me now believes that stress is like pain -- it's a signal to our bodies that something is wrong.   Just as a painful burn tells your hand to stop touching the flame, the stress is trying to tell us that we need to make some changes so that we can be at ease once again.  Listen to your body and do what you need to do to help your body and mind enjoy life.

    Top Photo by loop_oh 

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    The Challenge with Eating Addictions

    I know everyone has said this at some point when it comes to dieting  -- if we didn't HAVE to eat, it would be so much easier.  I've never smoked, drank alcohol, or done drugs, but I know that those who have to break those addictions have a tough time.  Addictions have their name for a reason.  BUT those who stop smoking, drinking and doing drugs don't have to smoke, drink or have the drug once a day (or even 3 to 5), but no more. When we eat, we do just that.  We have to curtail our eating, but we have to keep eating.

    One of the strategies for eating healthier and breaking our food addictions is to not have any of the foods that can tempt us in the house.  This is helpful because sometimes just the sight of the food can make us think "Oh yeah, I want to eat that!"  But even if the addictive food isn't in the house, sometimes we still go ravaging through the kitchen thinking things like, "Where's the chocolate?  There's got to be some SOMEWHERE in this house!"

    But the more we go without the foods we are addicted to (sugar, refined flour), the less we miss it.  It truly is a physical addiction and the longer we are away from it, our bodies get cleansed and don't crave it.  The tricky part is when we make connections for needing that food with holidays, family occasions, events, emotions, etc.  It's a hard thing to shake, but it is possible.  And your brain does get healthier as your body gets healthier.  So eventually, you can control those thoughts and urges.  There is hope for those with food addictions.  Don't give up!

    P.S. (This photo is from my daughter's wedding reception this summer.  TONs of fruit, salad and several sandwiches were served.  Very yummy!)

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    My very own Pumpkin Smash a la Jamba Juice!

    I've attempted to make my own Pumpkin Smash many times since I first tasted it at Jamba Juice.  It's so incredibly yummy, but only available part of the year.   First I tried making it raw.  Didn't ever come up with anything resembling tasty.  Then I tried several recipes I found online.  They were okay, but never delish.  So I tweaked and I tweaked and I FINALLY came up with a winner.

    Jamba Juice-like Pumpkin Smash 

    1 c. pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)

    1 c. almond milk or your choice of milk (I use   unsweetened vanilla by Blue Diamond)

    3 c. vanilla soy creamy (Trader Joe's soy ice cream, you can use vanilla frozen yogurt, soy, coconut or ice cream)

    1 c. ice

    1 t. pumpkin pie spice

    1 t. cinnamon

    Blend like crazy in your Vitamix, BlendTec or other power blender.  Super yummy!

    (If you want it a bit healthier, you can sub frozen peaches for 1/2 of the soy creamy.  It's still yummy!)

     I love Pumpkin Smash smoothies, but my daughter Terra loves them even more.  Maybe it's because it matches her hair color or that she loves EVERYTHING pumpkin.  But it truly makes her as happy as she was on this rainy day.

    Monday, September 10, 2012


    Guess which band wagon I just hopped on?  Yes, it's Shakeology!

    I will admit to two things first though:

    1. I thought the name "Shakeology" was kind of hoakie when I first heard it.  To an English Major, it doesn't exactly roll off your tongue or seem like a legitimate word.  Maybe it's just that silent "e" next to the "o."  Seems strange to me.
    2. I didn't trust that Beachbody would actually use THE most nutritious ingredients to fill up their shakes.  I thought it would be some protein and a bunch of garbage like so many other fitness shakes.  But no! Beachbody delivered BIG time!  When I heard they had a Vegan option for Shakeology, I decided to give it a closer look.  After all, I do have a background with Beachbody and they treated me well.  (See previous posts on filming Slim Series Express with Beachbody if you want details -- 1, 2, 3 plus QVC and another infomercial).

    So I read the Vegan Chocolate label and it's made from whole foods -- whole plant foods!  That's it!  And some pretty nutritionally powerful ones, too!  You may have to take out some reading glasses, but take a look at the nutrition label yourself:

    (If you want to see this nutritional chart a little bigger and clearer click here).

    I'm drinking Shakeology daily right now to hopefully get off these stubborn #% pounds (that's a symbol protecting myself from revealing how many I need to lose -- I wasn't swearing, I promise!), but I'm also excited about the fact that I can add it to my diet after I lose the weight to get all these nutrients that I'm not going to grow or travel around the world (or at best, around the aisles of the health food store) to get individually. Exciting times!

    I have a website now (since I signed on with Beachbody as a coach -- to get a 25% discount on their products, mostly, and to help share it with others).  Check it out and if you want to order some retail price, do it through my Shakeology site.  Or if you're interested in getting a 10% discount by being a TeamBeachbody Member or a 25% discount (and later on, more) by being a Coach, go to my Beachbody Coaching site.  I'm still trying to find my way around there, but if you have any questions, let me know!

    Shakeology has a 30 day guarantee, too.  You can drink it for the full 30 days and ask for a refund if it didn't live up to your expectations.  It's like the Costco of nutritional shakes!  (I love that I can return anything at Costco -- less risk in life that way).

    Oh, and I guess I'm getting over the whole "e" next to the "o" thing.  If it helps me get through my afternoons without ravaging the kitchen, I'm fine with it!  And besides, it looks kind of cute with that leaf over the "o."