Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's To New Beginnings

As I completed my last meditation of 2016 this morning, as I sat in silence wrapped in the beautiful prayer shawl made for me by a wonderful friend in Australia (I met her through Facebook), as I breathed deeply in and out and opened my eyes to a new day, I was reminded that each breath is a blessing. 

No matter what is going on in the world at large or in my world, I am grateful for the ability to breathe deeply and reap the benefits of a strong flow of oxygen into my body—hell, I’m glad to be able to move my body even though it creaks some time. 

Each day my meditation has a thought to ponder or focus on throughout the day.  Today’s concept was intention.  Rather than a goal it’s more of “how do I want to show up in the world”?, “who do I want to be”?, “what are my motivations”?

None of us can be sure what tomorrow brings but my intention for the new year is to be more of “me”—more human, more loving, more understanding (of myself and others), more grateful, more kind, more focused on my health, more giving—just abundantly more!!!

As we leave 2016, I leave you with the LovingKindness meditation that I love and a wish for peace, hope and abundant love in your lives.

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Because I'm Happy....

I promised that I’d come back to let you know how my little experiment went, so here I am!

If you remember, three months ago I got some test results that were far from exciting—in fact they indicated that I needed to take medication for gout, pre-diabetes and cholesterol.  Well that didn’t sit well with me because I don’t like to take medication especially when I might be able to control the issue with modifying what goes into my mouth, or how much I exercise.

So instead of just taking the medications my doctor prescribed, I asked her if she’d work with me for 3 months while I modified my diet and lifestyle.  She said she would.  And so I did.

For the next 3 months I applied the 80/20 rule.  Most of the time I ate a vegan diet, no meat (red or otherwise), no fried foods, no cheese, lots more water and increase my exercise to 1 hour a day versus 45 minutes. Lots of homemade green juice.  I did allow myself the occasional treat (that’s where the 20% came in).   My daily 2 cups of coffee with half and half was part of the “treat” I allowed myself.  Over the 90 days I ate red meat or chicken 7 times, ate cheese twice.  How do I know these details?  Because I kept a food journal detailing the times I allowed myself the occasional treat.

To say the least, my doctor was pleased at my check-in. She was actually over the moon.  I’d lost 5 pounds and my blood pressure was 110/70.  I told her that I had much more energy and just felt so much better.  She was even more pleased when my tests came back.  Everything was normal—my LDL went from 110 to 90.  My A1C (pre-diabetes indicator) number was well within the healthy range, and my uric acid level (gout indicator) had fallen back into the normal range—“No medication indicated—keep up the good work”.  I was so stoked, I just levitated out of her office.

I’d read that there was a great deal that could be done by modifying diet and I’d always  believed it, but here was the proof—my own successful experiment!

I’d already told myself that if the numbers didn’t come out the way I expected, I’d still maintain the same kind of diet knowing that heredity sometimes plays a part in these things and that I might just have to work more diligently to reduce my numbers.  I’d also asked my doctor that if the numbers didn’t come out stellar but were going in the right direction, whether she’d work with me for another 3 months.  She said she would.  So what I’d promised myself was this.  If my numbers came out really good, I would continue my new lifestyle, moving further towards veganism and my next challenge would be sugar—I am a real sugarholic.

For the rest of this year, I will continue to eat a plant-based diet (perhaps with a few treats here and there) and get myself ready for removing sugar from my diet at the first of the year.  Why the first of the year?  Why not now? Come on, the holidays are coming—I’m not even going to try “no sugar” until after they’re over.  I want to set myself up for success.

Back in 2013, Ted and I found our way to Shabaka Amen, Charlotte's First (and I believe only) Vegan Personal Trainer.  That was my first exposure to what a plant based diet could do for your body and mind.  Thanks so much, Shabaka for your guidance.  I would not be here without your guidance.  If you're interested, you can find more information about Shabaka by visiting his Facebook page:

Do you have any success stories you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear them. I leave you with this.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Thanks For The Memories

Today a friend reached out and told me that her husband of 46 years had died a couple of months ago.  I didn’t know how I’d missed it on Facebook, but I did.  She told me some of the things she was doing to ease the pain and as I looked through her Facebook feed I was amazed at the joy I got from watching the videos and reading the posts commemorating her husband’s life—well lived.  His life touched many others.  Whether we know it or not, that’s our purpose.

Last weekend I went away to camp to scrapbook to my heart’s content.  A group of women get together twice a year to go 35 minutes away on Lake Norman and spend time exactly the way they want to—scrapbooking their memories, reading, rocking in the comfy rocking chairs on the porch overlooking the lake, fellowshipping.

As I looked through my friend’s memories, I thought about how difficult it was for me the first time I tried to attend one of those scrapbooking weekends.  I paid for the whole weekend but could only stay one day—the pain was too raw—I had to leave.  The second time I stayed two days and felt a little better but got barely anything done—I spent most of my time reading.  This past weekend I was able to stay three days and I completed an entire scrapbook (59 pages) depicting the next to last trip that Ted and I took to London, Paris and South Africa. 

As I worked on the pictures, touched the memorabilia, remembered how we’d gone barreling through the South African savanna in our open Land Cruiser piloted by our safari guide playing the South African national anthem at the top of my Ipad’s lungs—I remembered saying “I’m so happy”.  And I was!

Happiness is measured in moments strung together.  Some of us get more moments strung together than others, but that we get any, is a true blessing.

To those of you who have loved and lost, I feel your pain.  Hold those memories close.  They will get you through the difficult times.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Putting Myself in Check

On July 26, 2016, after a routine physical, I received some test results that I did not like.  At. All.  Nothing life threatening, but a wake up call for sure.  I was shocked.  I hadn’t been paying really close attention to what I’ve been eating lately and so when I got numbers from my A1C, uric acid and LDL tests that were outside of acceptable, I was like WHAT???? 

I go to the gym most every day, meditate, and eat very little meat—at least that’s what I do most often, in retrospect, lately I’ve been getting really sloppy.  These test results brought it home loud and clear.  Healthy habits won’t help if you don’t use them and you really can't eat vegan once or twice a month and whatever you want the rest of the month.  Go figure!!!

After picking my jaw up from the floor, I immediately went to the library and got books on gout, the Mediterranean diet and a new take on the Mediterranean diet the Vegiterranean diet (vegan Mediterranean) and made a commitment to eliminate red meat, ice cream, fried foods and cheese from my diet for the next 90 days.  My doctor agreed that she’d let me try diet and exercise before pushing medication.  I really didn’t want to go on any more medication than I take now.  Hypertension runs in my family--After trying to control it myself with diet and exercise, I succumbed to my DNA and took the hypertension meds—but I was adamant that I didn’t want to take any more medication.  I do believe that what’s going on with me are things that I can fix with diet and exercise—what they call “lifestyle” issues.  I’m averse to taking medications that can cause wide-ranging side effects and bad interactions with other drugs.  Not having it!!!

In thinking back, I realized that when Ted was alive, I was much more cognizant of what we ate.  I was really focused on keeping him healthy so, though we loved ice cream, we only had it once a week as a treat.  We watched the hamburgers and fried food and we were very active.  Not only did we go to the gym most days, we were always on the go to museums, parks and festivals.  Since he died, I have been cultivating the things I like to do—read, scrapbook, write—none of which really get me out and moving.  Add to that that I’ve been succumbing to the barbecue rage all around me and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

You all know that I love a challenge so this is a challgenge to me and, as always, I will meet it head on.

*Starting August 1st, I will:
  • Eliminate red meat from my diet
  • Be active each and every day – Incorporate movement into my day – Get my 10,000 Fitbit steps each day.
  • Eliminate cheese, pizza, ice cream and fried foods
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  • Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per day (I hate to tell you what little sleep this night owl gets)
  • Step away from the computer every hour for at least 20 minutes – do some stretches, walk, do something active
  • Do some of my computer work standing up – It is possible to do that!
  • Continue my daily meditation practice and add yoga at least 5X week
Instead of keeping a food consumed diary, I’m going to keep an exception diary.  I expect that I’m going to be eating right at least 90% of the time so I will only log the times I stray, which should be very, very few. 

Eating this way and moving much more should help me take off those stubborn extra pounds I've been playing with for the last year.  The way I look at this, it's a win-win.  I develop some new habits--yes habits, that will become my new lifestyle, lose weight and get healthier as a result.  Who could ask for anything more, right?  Now, it may turn out that because of genetics, no matter what I do I still won't be able to change my numbers appreciably but I won't know if I don't try.  I like to stay on the optimistic side of things and like the little choo choo train said "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can."

I’m making myself accountable and there’s nothing that builds accountability more than shouting from the rafters, what you’re going to do, so here we go.

I’ll report in monthly and let you know how I’m doing and after my 90-day appointment, I’ll let you know the results.


*Footnote - I know, it's already August 8th - I started on August 1st.