Don’t settle for meager returns

I just read an email from Tom Bilyeu at Impact Theory. It said,

Christmas is by far my favorite time of year. Why? Because it’s a time of year where the whole world has decided they’re going to allow themselves to feel joyful even though it’s literally the coldest, darkest time of year.

If I had to guess, that’s exactly why so many cultures have massive mid-winter celebrations. They needed something to combat the emotional doldrums that come with the winter weather.

The point the rest of the email made was that you can change your emotional state based on how you think. Because we associate this time of year with tradition and parties, Continue reading “Don’t settle for meager returns”

Flip the Switch

Two seemingly conflicting themes have been coming across my reading lately. One is that working harder and getting rid of distractions is the key to success. The other says that taking frequent breaks, working shorter hours, and limiting time checking in on devices is the key to productivity. So which should we follow for a more successful life?

According to Timothy Ferris, and incidentally other notables, it is possible to do both (1). In fact, both of these concepts are saying the same thing. They have just been, in my opinion, interpreted wrong. If you put 100% of your brain power into each thing you are doing while you are doing it you will do that thing better and get more out of it. This applies to work and downtime with equal importance. The problem is, we divide our attention between too many things and end up getting nothing done. Not even relaxation…especially not relaxation.

Continue reading “Flip the Switch”

The best-laid​ plans

I was frustrated this morning.

Yes, me. Even though I often write about reducing stress, focusing on what is important, taking time out, sleep, self-care, meditation, gratitude, and good nutrition. All of these things have the ultimate goal of reducing frustration and increasing joy. And I walk my talk. I know about these things because I do them. So what happened?

Continue reading “The best-laid​ plans”

You don’t know it before you know it

Honestly, I could talk about dietary theory until I was blue in the face. I could give you evidence from study after study about how sugar is bad, sleep is good, and meditation can change how you digest and incorporate nutrients. But until you are ready to hear and process that information I will be talking to myself.

People will not change until they are ready to. I could be dying to help you, but if you are not ready for that help I will be nothing more than an irritant in your life. So people like me sit back and watch you chip away at your health one can of Coke and piece of pizza at a time knowing full well the ailments you complain about can be alleviated, or even eliminated, by a few simple changes in your lifestyle.

When I ask my daughter (who is five) what she is going to learn in school today she says, “I don’t know, mom. You don’t know it until you know it.” That same phrase came up for me yesterday while listening to a lecture about food sensitivities and elimination diets. The lecturer (Tom Malterre, MS, CN) said something along the lines of, “People are amazed how good they feel once they eliminate the foods that have been causing them distress. Of course, I had been telling them this, but you don’t know it until you know it.”

My theory is that this is why people tell stories. Honestly, a personal story resonates with me better than a dry scientific paper even though the scientific paper (probably) has more accountability. In that spirit, let me tell you my story, which is in progress.

I have digestive problems that have been ongoing for several years now. I honestly can’t tell you when they started. That isn’t the reason I became a nutrition nerd — not consciously anyway, although I do believe our gut microbes are more intelligent and have better communication skills than we realize — but it may have been solved because I’m a nutrition nerd. Either way, being educated in holistic nutrition led me to become aware of my digestive issues.

I had several symptoms ranging from ever-present gas (a family trait laughed about at intimate gatherings), bloating, frequent diarrhea, cramping, being generally uncomfortable in my abdomen, fatigue, and several other seemingly unrelated issues that I’ll revisit in a moment. These symptoms finally became bad enough that I visited my doctor. Who had me tested for several things, but told me nothing. So it seems there really was nothing wrong, but why was I not thriving when my diet and exercise were far superior to any of my friends’ and they seemed to be doing fine? Is this just how I should expect to feel at almost 40?

Then I hired a health coach because I was not taking, “Well, hon, you are nearly 40” as an adequate diagnosis. She suggested an elimination diet, which I had thus far avoided because I expected it to be difficult. It was difficult. In fact, I was feeling much worse. Was I detoxing? Surely not. I wasn’t eating that much differently. I only had a few things to take out and I was only occasionally eating those in my regular diet, to begin with. What was the deal?

So I visited another doctor. He was about ready to plant the IBD diagnosis on me — which he explained was basically a catch-all diagnosis that basically meant they didn’t know what was wrong after they had ruled everything else out — then he offhandedly suggested a food sensitivity test may be beneficial.

At the time I didn’t know the difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy. Basically, a food allergy is acute, which means that it is evident right away and it is usually severe (rash, swelling throat, vomiting, anaphylaxis, etc.). A food sensitivity can show up days later and may not be obvious until it builds on itself. Sensitivities can be very difficult to pinpoint and, since there is no immediate reaction, they can be hard to avoid due to compliance. When you get sick 2 or 3 days later, it is very hard to think back and guess what it was that caused your problems.

I was sensitive to 25 foods to varying degrees. The reason why I was getting so sick on the elimination diet I was on is that I was sensitive to very few things the diet eliminated and quite a few things the diet used as substitutes. For example, elimination diets do not allow grains of any kind because many people are sensitive to grains. I am not (technically) sensitive to grains, but I am sensitive to cauliflower and almond. The diet I was on encouraged cauliflower “rice” and pizza crust and substituted almond flour for wheat flour. I was also eating a protein bar most mornings that was heavy in almonds and making a granola out of nuts. I am also sensitive to peppermint and ginger, two things commonly used to treat digestive upset. And legumes. I cannot look at a bean without getting all of my symptoms back.

So, by eliminating these foods for a period, healing my gut (which I don’t have time to get into today, but would be glad to talk about with you anytime you like), and experimenting on adding some foods back in (and leaving others out). I am now a fairly healthy person. The inevitable gas that accompanied family meals is gone along with the bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. The fatigue remained.

So then I eliminated all grains, refined sugar, and most dairy. At this point, symptoms that I had not realized could be affected by diet started to ease. Some of these had been chronic conditions I had had my whole life. Some I wasn’t even aware of until they weren’t there anymore. My depression eased. My social anxiety lessened. My creativity increased and I started writing again which I haven’t really done since high school. It turns out there have been studies on the effect of grains on mental health. The reference that comes to mind is Dr. William Davis’s book Wheat Belly.

Also, my rosacea, which I didn’t even realize was a dietary problem, is much improved. Several skin issues have their roots in the gut as it turns out. The fact that my hot, red cheeks come back if I indulge in anything containing grains is proof enough for me that this dietary theory is working.

The benefits continued. Every female member on my mother’s side of the family has had their gallbladder out. Interestingly, none of them are clear as to why. My mom said her’s didn’t have stones but wasn’t emptying properly. Apparently, that’s a solid enough reason to remove a body part. I had become worried that my symptoms were going to head down that road. There is significant evidence that avoiding lectins, which are proteins found in several different types of grains (not just wheat), significantly reduces the rate of gallbladder dysfunction leading to the surgical removal of the gallbladder. According to Dr. William Davis, Lectin blocks cholecystokinin, or CCK, which is “responsible for stimulating the gallbladder to release bile and the pancreas to release pancreatic enzymes. This results in bile stasis and gallstones…” Read the whole article here. The results of this for me remains to be seen. However, I am fairly confident that my family’s overconsumption of baked goods may have been their downfall.

An important improvement is that my highly symptomatic periods are no longer a source of misery. I was surprised at how much my diet had affected both my cycle and my symptoms. I no longer have major mood shifts or terrible fatigue, and I have not had bad enough pain to use anti-inflammatories since committing to this diet change. It’s all because the diet itself is anti-inflammatory.

A happy side effect of all this is that I have lost 15 pounds! These are pounds that needed to be lost, most of which were hanging around my middle. I had been at my highest weight ever. I tried exercise, low fat, low carb, vegetarian, more intense exercise, and ended up nowhere. Once I cut out all refined sugar (and most unrefined), all grains, and all legumes and started adding a ton of healthy fats…Bam! The weight practically melted off.

I didn’t intend for this post to be as long as it is. I was just going to tap out a few lines about how you can know before you know to save you some of the headache (literally) that I went through. If you suffer from digestive upset, skin issues, fatigue, female problems, joint swelling, or inflammation anywhere, get a sensitivity test and educate yourself.

It helps to get a coach who knows about elimination diets and the steps to take to help you along. There are pitfalls that will set you back if you aren’t careful and a coach with experience in food sensitivities will be able to help you avoid frustration. I am taking new clients now! Drop me a line if you want to know what you don’t know! Is what worked for me going to be exactly what works for you. No. You are an individual and you will have to figure out for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Having a coach to support you and guide you to the right path will be vital to success. You will be amazed at how good you feel. You really don’t know what you are missing out on before you start joining in!

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via Daily Prompt: Theory

Chasing Happiness

We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges. – Unknown

What would it take for you to become wildly successful? Reach way down and find your most audacious dreams. Not the stuff you are supposed to want like money, cars, the big house. I mean your real dreams, the ones you maybe haven’t even mentioned to anyone because they seem too ambitious. Perhaps you’ve even packed them away in a box labeled “unrealistic”. Unpack them, blow the dust off, and take a close look. What is holding you back from pursuing your dreams? Connections? Money? Some agent to discover you in the grocery store and turn you into a star? Maybe you think you’re too old, or don’t have the education, or are in the wrong economic class.

Those, my friends are limiting beliefs. I have even heard them called, appropriately, B.S. Which stands for Belief System, or the other thing it stands for works well, too. When you believe your own B.S. you are the reason your dreams will never come true. You are Continue reading “Chasing Happiness”

Of Alcohol and Infestation

On Sundays, I write what comes to mind, free thought, a flow of conscious writing. It may be incoherent to many people, but it may make total sense and be helpful to some. Tune in on Sunday to go down the rabbit hole with me.

This is a much later post than usual. I am normally a morning writer and lose much of my edge and want-to spirit by the time evening comes around. That, and by the time it is evening here most of my readers are in bed. So why even bother? This weekend got strange for me and I missed out on writing yesterday and today. It is my goal to write every day, and I let myself down. I know what my excuse was, and although I feel it was a justified day and a half off, I still don’t like to skip out on a goal. I like to hold myself accountable and show up for myself. Anyway, here’s what happened. Continue reading “Of Alcohol and Infestation”

New Books and Monkey Socks

What brings you joy? I mean the deep down silly joy that maybe not everyone understands. It could even be something that seems a little selfish, like the mom who hides from her kids to eat a chocolate bar in peace. Or something that seems a little weird, like the big guy who collects ceramic unicorns. Whatever it is, now is the time to celebrate it.

Those of us in the northern hemisphere are experiencing ever shorter days and chilly temps on top of holiday overwhelm and the usual day to day stressors that we carry around. That means our joy is sucked out of us at the very time of year we ought to be practically overflowing with it. What is the solution? That’s right, whatever brings us the most joy. In my case, right now anyway, new books and monkey socks.

Continue reading “New Books and Monkey Socks”

Eating Mindfully vs. The Holiday Gorge

I’m sure you are at least superficially aware that diets don’t work. If not, let me give you a pro tip: Diets Don’t Work. They don’t work because they often require a Herculean effort in willpower that is made even more difficult by the simple fact that you’re flipping hungry. You’re hungry because you’re restricting calories and likely, in the process, also cutting out the very things that make you feel satiated (i.e. fat).

Then the holidays come around with endless temptation at every turn, not to mention the lack of sunlight causing seasonal depression, and your family and friends heckling you for being on another silly diet. It’s a recipe for disaster. Consequently, many people give it up entirely for the month of December and start binging on goodies, vowing to start the diet again in the new year. Hence, the holiday gorge. Continue reading “Eating Mindfully vs. The Holiday Gorge”

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