Archive for April, 2012

Update on other life things…

It’s Wednesday, aka: Nichol’s blog post day.

I don’t have too much going on right now. I’m trying to figure out how to pay for summer school. That’s been pretty stressful. Side note: does anyone have about $4000 spare dollars I can borrow?

I have been relying too much on walking, so I’ve put some restrictions on that. I am now only allowed to leisurely walk a mile once a week when not in school, and twice a week when I am in school. And each day that I walk, I have to walk at least 20 minutes longer than the previous walk. I haven’t had to use it yet, so I’ll keep you posted.

Work is stressful. That’s really all I have to say about that. I am literally filling two positions right now and I’m wearing down. Guaranteed there will be a mental health day within the first week of May (that’s when my sick time refreshes).

Everything else is good. I’m feeling pretty good. I did have to have an EKG on Tuesday morning and I’ll know by the end of the week if I have to go see a cardiologist. On a related note, does anyone have $1,000,000 they can contribute to my HSA?

Perception

It’s Wednesday! Nichol chimes in again!

The human brain is an odd thing. Wait, let me clarify. My brain is an odd thing.

I like to give myself a break on weekends. I work out, I monitor what I eat, but I don’t weigh myself and I don’t count calories. Generally, I do pretty well. This last weekend was not great. I (mindfully) ate some pizza for the first time in four months on Saturday and I ate a large cupcake from The Farm on Sunday.

Well, I weighed myself on Monday morning and I was 2 pounds heavier than I was on Friday. I’m not dumb. I know that my weight fluctuates. I’ve gone up and down 5 pounds over one day before. But the combination of 2 extra pounds on the scale and the two delicious crap items I ate this weekend made me feel very . . . hippo-like.

I look in the mirror and I can see the changes that are happening in my body. I shave my legs and I admire the definition in my calves. I brush my teeth and pose like Mr. Universe so I can inspect the developing bicep definition in my arms (let’s not talk about triceps or abs). I put on pants that, after a run in the wash were tight but now make me second-guess my decision to hate belts.

It never fails though. My weight goes up by half a pound and I immediately begin to think about how fat I look. It doesn’t matter that people I see on a daily basis are starting to see the change more and more, I begin to see how I used to look. I’m not thin. I’m still quite heavy, but I’m a far cry to the old, on-her-way-to-300 Nichol. But those days, especially when I’m feeling guilty about something I ate, I see her. That girl I’m trying so hard to leave behind shows up and crushes me. It could be for five minutes, or it could be for three days. But she sucks my energy, motivation, and self-esteem.

It’s really hard to get past that sometimes. And then someone or something comes along that jolts me back to new, healthy Nichol. Monday, it was a co-worker telling me that she expected that I was going to disappear soon. Two weeks ago, it was a friend telling me that they were inspired by my follow-through. Sometimes, it’s just me. Looking at old pictures, getting rid of pants that I have finally given up on wearing because I’m afraid the next time I run down the hallway at work, everyone is going to see things that they shouldn’t.

Mostly it’s just being conscious of how far I have come and how much effort I have put it. And how much of a waste it all would be if I gave into that hopelessness and frustration.

Instant Gratification

Our culture is, unfortunately, very much one of instant gratification.

I got to wondering the other day whether this influences the general denial of the negative effects of “technology” on our health.

GMOs = not good for you. Plastics = not good for you. Processed foods = generally not good for you. Artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners = not good for you. Partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) = not good for you. Antibacterial products = not good for you. Dairy/meat from animals treated with hormones/antibiotics = not good for you.

These things are pervasive in our lives. As time goes on, they seem to take up more and more space in our homes and in our foods.

The incidence of disease and other bodily malfunctions is rapidly on the rise: cancer, obesity, autism, ADHD.

I don’t think that any one factor causes any of those things. I think in combination, they cause all of them.

But the effects are slow and not easily visible, so it’s easy to deny that there are links.

People think I’m crazy for not using plastics with The Kid. (I’ve been told so outright on more than one occasion.) But there are so many chemicals in plastics β€” including but not limited to BPA and its replacements β€” that I can’t, in good conscience, let him ingest from or chew on plastic toys. There is solid documentation that this is a problem. Sure, plastic is “better” in the short term β€” it’s lighter, it’s cheaper, it doesn’t break when it hits the floor*, it comes in fun colors. But in exchange for my baby’s health?

So is it denial of the problem that causes people to think I’m nuts? Is denial a result of long-term vs. short-term effects? Belief that we couldn’t buy it if it was actually dangerous? Something else?

What do you think?

*We’ve dropped bottles a few times and none of them have broken so far. Just sayin’.

Mindfulness

Its Wednesday. Nichol Is about to throw down some words for you to read.

As a student of social work and an employee working within a strengths based system, I hear a lot about being mindful. Usually being in regards to myself, staying present and nonjudgmental with my client, being aware of my thoughts, feelings, and potential biases. This is admittedly very difficult.

I was using Facebook on my desktop the other day, which I rarely do, and one of the “customized” ads caught my eye. It was an advertisement for a place that teaches mindful eating. I was definitely intrigued. I like being mindful. And Lord knows I sure like to eat, so I googled mindful eating.

This is an actual practice. They have centers. And workshops. And seminars. And books. And endless websites and PDFs about how to practice mindful eating.

Mindful eating (as defined in the article Mindful Eating , by Dr. Jan Chozen Bays) is

Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body.

I decided to try some mindful eating and see what happens. There was a ton of information on how to accomplish it, but I’m too busy to sit with an apple slice in my mouth and think about my thoughts before chewing…(actual step one in one of the articles I read). So I am just taking the idea of mindful eating and make it my own.

Turns out, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I tried to remember to put my fork down between every bite, but when I’m sitting in front of my computer, TV, or current book, I don’t think about my eating. Is that irony? I just eat.

New plan is to eat with no distractions. I will eat without TV or computers or books in front of me, at least once a day. I read a lot of studies that say mindful eating allows you to feel when you really are full. I’ve only accomplished one meal without distractions. It was a measured out meal and I wasn’t able to finish it. Crazy!

It also took me a long time to eat. Wonder how my dining out companions are going to feel about that.

This weeks pic is from DAY 100!
20120411-062426.jpg

[Heather’s note: you can read more about eating mindfully here … and click through the links in that post to see all remaining posts where I talked about some aspect of eating mindfully. Those posts are pretty old. Perhaps I should revisit…]

Change Is Relative

I’ve been thinking about this recently: I wonder if it’s been easier for me than it (apparently) is for some others to be getting older (physically) because I was never a skinny hottie when I was young.

I was always chubby as a kid and as a teen, except for basketball season my freshman year of high school. And I was downright fat in college.

By the time I moved to Arizona, any clothes I might have still had left from high school didn’t fit any more β€” they were too big. And at my trimmest, I was another 10 or 15 pounds slimmer than that.

But that all happened in my late 20s/early 30s.

Same thing is true of physical fitness. I wasn’t a great athlete growing up. (Ninth grade was my last year of basketball and softball.) My motto became “run when chased.” So as I got in shape and started running and biking and swimming and lifting, I was easily lapping the “old me.”

What about you? have you found it difficult to be getting older physically? Any hints as to why or why not?

Blog Hiatus…

Hello, faithful readers.

I am letting you know that I’m going to be taking a blog break. Working and baby-ing and trying to maintain some semblance of life is stressful (duh!) and not blogging will give me a bit of extra time and take off some pressure.

As you know, I was participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge; I’m dropping out of that. I thought it would be a good way to connect with other health and wellness bloggers, maybe pick up a few readers.

Problems:

  • a post a day right now is just too much
  • I’m not looking at anyone else’s writing
  • and am therefore not connecting with people
  • I’m actually losing RSS subscribers
  • the prompts are not up my alley and are mostly not in line with what I write about

I will be back in May some time. Nichol will still be popping in on Wednesdays. If we try and love a new recipe, I’ll be sure to post it. If I come across something that I need to blog about, you’ll see it. And I have two posts scheduled to go up this week that I am going to leave scheduled.

Have a great couple of weeks! Enjoy the fabulous spring weather πŸ™‚

The Best Conversation I Had This Week

Today’s prompt was to write about the best conversation I had this week in dialogue form.

I’m going to twist that up a bit, not use dialogue form, and use “best” ironically.

The Big Man and I were in the Big Box Baby store, picking up a few things that we couldn’t find used. (Used is the way to go for almost all things baby!)

We were in the high chair/bouncy seat section, and a woman came up to us and commented on how beautiful The Kid is. (Thanks πŸ™‚ ) She kept talking, and we ended up in conversation for about five minutes. She was pointing out all of the items in that area that she had purchased for her grandson. Apparently, he refuses all of them.

“I’ve spent thousands of dollars and he won’t use any of them.”

Besides leaning more and more towards a more minimalist lifestyle (for a variety of reasons), we didn’t buy a few chairs and a bouncy seat and an exersaucer and a swing and on and on because we were told by many people that babies are picky about what you can toss them into. Some love a swing; others hate it. And the same goes for all of those “must haves.” So we bought one vibrating chair, and that’s all. (And so far, it has gotten the job done just fine.)

Why is this ironic?

She was in that section looking for something to buy him for Easter.

(She pointed to a section of items and asked if we had any of them. I said no, but that if he doesn’t like anything she buys, she should just go with the cheapest one. She laughed and said that was smart. I didn’t say anything further, but “smart” would have been to buy him some books or toys or clothes or something that he was more likely to like. Or buy him nothing. He’s The Kid’s age β€” he has no idea if the Easter bunny came or not…)

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

(Today’s prompt is a “free writing day” β€” conveniently coinciding with recipe day πŸ™‚ )

A healthy sweet treat for you today!

I’ve made this twice now, and I can give you some advice: have everything prepared ahead of time β€” the sheet greased, the honey measured β€” before you start to toast the seeds. If you wait, the seeds will burn in the still-hot pan while you wait for honey to pour … and then you’ll learn that not all of the honey will come out so you’ll have too many seeds for the amount of honey you have and the end product, while not terrible, will be slightly burnt and not as sweet as it ought to be. Just sayin’.

The original recipe calls these “Sesame Honey Candy” and I suppose that some folks (generally not in the US) would consider these to be candy. Regardless of that detail, they are tasty but not in a “I’m going to eat this whole batch right now” kind of way β€” which is good πŸ™‚

A few things that the linked recipe didn’t address that I haven’t figured out (so I can’t help you, but if you figure it out, let me know): how thick should these be on the cookie sheet? I have cookie sheets in a few different sizes. It’s also a pet peeve of mine when an ingredient should be added “to taste.” I’ve never made this before. How can I possibly know how much I should add? Give me a starting figure and let me add or subtract from there.

Anyway, next time I make these, I’m going to add some crushed nuts. Haven’t decided yet what sort of nuts. Or maybe finely chopped dried cranberries. Mmmmm.

Sesame Honey Candy

  • olive oil
  • 3 cups sesame seeds
  • 1 cup honey
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Measure out your honey.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat until it becomes hot to the touch.
  3. Pour sesame seeds into the hot pan and stir them continuously until they’re well-toasted and golden-brown in color – about four to six minutes. (A cast iron skillet and wooden spoon were recommended. I don’t have a cast iron skillet but I did use a wooden spoon. Not sure if/why it matters.)
  4. Stir honey and a generous dash of unrefined sea salt into the toasted sesame seeds until they become well-coated and the mixture stiffens.
  5. Pour the mixture onto your baking sheet and pat down and smooth out the mixture with a spoon.
If you’re just munching at home and don’t care about eating right out of the pan, you can stop there, wait for it to cool, and cut off pieces as you want to eat them. Otherwise:
  1. Score the candy into pieces of 1/4-inch by 1-inch and set the pan aside until the candy is cool enough to handle comfortably.
  2. When cool to the touch, but still warm enough to be malleable, grease your fingers with olive oil and roll the pieces of honey candy into small, round logs.
  3. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Health Haiku

Today’s prompt asks for one (or more) health haikus. I’ll share just one with you, but please feel free to add your own in the comments πŸ™‚

Change IS possible!
Those who tell you otherwise?
Stuck in their own rut

I Write About My Health Because…

Today’s prompt in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge is to write about why I write about my health.

For me, it’s pretty simple: I hope to educate, inspire, assist.

My path started a long time ago, in a long-gone body with a remarkably different diet. Small changes led to more small changes led to more small changes. A few big changes got tossed in. My body changed. My diet changed. My mindset changed. As all of this happened, I became more aware of and connected to information about health and wellness. As I became (and continue to become) more aware, I made more changes. And so it cycles.

I know other people who want to make changes, or who are already on the path and want to continue.

I hope that what I write is useful at least some of the time for my audience. I endeavor to share things that I find interesting or infuriating (or both), things that I think are useful, things that in any way catch my attention.

In small part, I hope to bring a little business to my business, but that really is secondary.

My readership is small but growing. People are interested.

Not only does this blog allow me to share things I’ve experienced, read, or otherwise learned, but it allows me to learn via feedback from readers. (Thanks, commenters!)

That’s why I’m here. Why are you here?

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