Weight….What?

A letter to April….

Yes, it is that time of year again…another vacation is around the corner and I am looking at my very no-go bikini bod.  Pale red heads were probably not meant to go to a resort in November.  I mean at least in Summer I had a little color, but if you are a natural red head then that color fades out in about 2 weeks.  So by November I am looking like Snow White.  Needless to say, I need to do some work on myself in the next 6 weeks.  We are talking tan and tone ladies and gents!  So I turned to my beloved friend (whom I have never met in person, but I know we would totally do lunch on a regular basis) in Cali who is obsessed (in a good way) with nutrition and fitness.  I am horrible at sticking to my guns when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly.  I mean, I totally come out of the gate like Rocky Balboa…running, weights, competitive and gung-ho 100%!  Then about half-way through week 2 I look in the mirror and think…what the crap?  I have been working my arse off and I look exactly the same!  Screw this, I want a beer and a taco!

So there ya go April, that is the God’s honest truth and I am not proud to admit it, but I am ready to admit I need help.  I am ready the beautiful blonde California girl to motivate me and mold me into something better.  Everything else in life is clicking on all cylinders but my health and fitness has been pushed to the back burner for far too long.  As April guides me through my process I plan to share it with you.  So I plan to be brutally honest with where I am starting and how I progress.  This will not only motivate me to stay accountable but hopefully inspire some of you as well.  Any comments, tips or advice along the way are welcome!

With love, happiness, health and sunscreen

Stacy

The important job of R&R

Ever feel like you have been on hyper-speed for too long and you just need to slow things down?  You have work, school, then nights out for special events, functions with friends and family and finally, you hit a wall where you realize you haven’t had one real moment to yourself in a while?  I need my moments of rest and relaxation like I need water, food and air.  I can feel myself hitting the tipping point this week.  I believe getting  a little R&R is like investing in yourself.  It is just as important as the financial investment we make into our retirement fund.  If we don’t take the steps necessary to care for ourselves now, then we will have more of a mess later.

When it comes to getting some down time for myself I love the idea of staying in comfortable clothes all day and not leaving my house.  Occasionally a vacation is nice but I honestly feel there is a lot of work involved when it comes to packing and planning a vacation and then returning to more work.  I don’t want more work, I want to sleep in and then sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on my front porch or back deck.  I want to water my plants and pet my dog and cats.  I want cook a really good meal and drink a glass of wine.  I want to watch Ozark on Netflix and then take a bubble bath.  I want to get in bed early and read a good book until I fall asleep.  What is your idea of a day of R&R?

If we do not take time to recharge our batteries then it can lead to weight gain, mental and physical fatigue, mental fog, forgetfulness, mood swings, bad skin, and a weakened immune system.  Taking a full day is not really necessary to keep yourself feeling good, you can schedule an evening walk, or a massage after work.  Finding little moments for yourself throughout your work week is a great way to keep yourself balanced and energized.  I could go in to the importance of investing in yourself in other ways, such as diet and exercise, but really giving yourself some time to slow down is equally important.

As a single mom, in school, and working two jobs, I need my R&R for my sanity.  I don’t get a full day to do exactly what I want to do very often.  So on my lunch breaks from work I will go to the park to eat lunch and read a book, sometimes it is a textbook, but it still puts me in an environment that feels peaceful.  Balancing productivity with enjoyment is really a win-win for me.  So my words of wisdom on this Funday Sunday is to enjoy life, rest and relax….it’s a smart investment.

With love, peace, and a little R&R

Stacy

 

 

 

Time

The world around us seems to be consumed with time.  Every day we are all on a schedule from what time we get up, eat, go to work, get off work, and sleep again.  This process day after day can eventually make us feel like we are all just a bunch of hamsters on a wheel.  We think of the past and may have thoughts of guilt, shame or hurt, and we carry those negative thoughts and feelings with us.  We think of the future and we may constantly be working towards a future goal of a better job, nicer home, a new car, a great relationship, or more money in the bank.  When we tend to be consumed with thoughts of the past or goals for the future we rush through the only thing that is really important…the present moment.

Time is just an illusion and a tool to help us through our day to day lives; it is not meant to be the controlling or key factor that our lives revolve around.  We should not fear time or race against time or wish for more time but instead simply embrace the now.  So how can you move your thought process more into the present?  How can we practice becoming more conscious and appreciative of where we are right now instead of worrying about the past or the future?  Well I will list my top five practices that can help you get started and lead you to a life that is free from the worry associated with time.

Meditation:  Many people I know struggle to be alone and would really struggle with the idea of spending time alone and quiet with themselves.  However, one of the best ways to really learn about yourself and the world around you is to learn to be alone and get silent.  Quiet time for prayer and meditation is one of the most important tools to bring a person into the present moment fully.  Being able to sit comfortably in your home, with no distractions like TV or radio, and just take in the feelings within your body.  Breath deep in and out a few times and just listen to the sounds around you, smell the room, be aware of how your body feels, do you feel stress or tension in some areas of your body?  As you sit and allow yourself to be fully aware of that moment you can choose to focus on something certain that you desire or you can just enjoy the practice of being fully in the now.  You do not have to be home alone in order to do this process.  I have instructed my daughter to use this tool anywhere, especially when she is having a day where she is feeling overwhelmed or anxious.  At your desk you can just take a moment to stop and take in the sounds, sights and smells of the room around you and ask yourself how you are feeling right in that moment.  Doing this a few times a day is like hitting the reset button and simply brings you back to yourself, pulling you away from worries about the past or what you need to do for the future.  Just focus on what you can do right now.

Finding Joy in Solitude:  Bringing yourself into the present and become more conscious and self aware while finding something you enjoy and doing it alone.  Solitude is key in the process of knowing thy self.  If you like to write, paint, go hiking, do yoga, sing….whatever it is that you really enjoy; practice doing it alone and be fully in the moment with no distractions.  Pay attention to how your body feels and the sights and smells and what you hear just like you would when you are meditating.  I know people who love to read and take time each morning to read from the bible and then they meditate on the scripture before they start each day.  This combines the enjoyment of reading Gods word with the power of meditation and prayer and can be a very positive and powerful way to start the day.

A Motto or Mantra for Your Life:  Sometimes we can get so busy and lives get chaotic with work, kids, friends, family and life that we lose track of what our personal goals are in life.  It is good to stop and refocus and re-evaluate life every now and then.  It is easy to refocus when you have a mantra that you repeat to yourself that is easy to remember.  When I feel chaos in my life and things are getting too hard I remind myself of my mantras, ‘money comes easily and often’ and ‘love starts within’.  These two mantras were created because I struggle with remembering that money is not elusive and hard to come by like I was taught by my parents.  The second one is to remind me that what I think about myself will set the tone for how another see and treat me.  When struggling financially or feeling insecure in a relationship the negative thinking can creep in and that is when it is good to refocus and repeat your mantras.  Bad experiences or negative thought patterns from our past can creep into our lives now and cause problems that do not apply to the now, use mantras as a tool to remind yourself that you have learned from the past and will be better now. Repeating your mantras can be a nice focus tool during meditation as well.

Feed the Body & Rest the Soul:  Now we get into a little deeper idea for the now that will affect your body inside and out. There are two things we do everyday, or we should, and that is eat and sleep.  These are two of the most important things we will do in our lives and they will affect us on many levels.  When, where, what, how and with whom you choose to do them is very important.  Eat when you are hungry and only until you are satisfied, do not over-indulge.  Choose food that will nourish your body and make sure you give thanks for the food and the nourishment the food will provide for your body.  Focus on how the food will affect your body in a positive way.  If you believe the food will not affect your body in a positive way then you will be right and that is where negative effects like weight gain will occur.  Do not rush through meals, do not stand or drive while eating meals, do not watch TV while eating.  Give your meal the respect it deserves because you are what you eat.  Do not eat a meal with someone who causes you negative feelings about yourself or life in general.  Negativity while eating will lead to disease in the body and possible overeating or nervous stomach.  Eating in a positive and loving environment with family and friends and saying grace before and thank you after a meal is enjoyed is the best and most healthy way to eat.  The same with sleep, do not allow yourself to sleep too much or too little because both can cause health issues.  If you find you are tired all the time you need to ask yourself why, could there be signs of depression or other health issues are you not giving yourself a heathy amount of sleep?  Give yourself a peaceful and comfortable place to sleep each night with no distractions of electronics.  Make sure if you have a sleeping partner that you share a moment of appreciation and love with that person before you go to bed each night.  I think most of us have heard the wise words, never go to bed mad at one another, and those are very wise words to live by.  Being completely focused on your body and the food when eating and completely focused on your body and the peaceful and positive mantras you have set for yourself as you go to sleep each night can be life changing for your mind and health.

Give Thanks & Show Gratitude:  The most important tool for keeping yourself in the now and fully conscious is to be thankful.  Be thankful for who you are, where you are in life, what you have right now and who you have in your life.  To be truly grateful in life right in the moment is a great way to bring more greatness into your life.  If we are overly focused on what we don’t have or what we want in the future without ever acknowledging all the wonderful things we are blessed with in the present moment, then we will continue to struggle for the elusive thing we call happiness.  To be truly happy is to be content with exactly who we are and what we have and where we are in this very moment.

These basic tools are the foundation of a happy and healthy life that will help you practice each day to be in the now and lead to a happier, healthier peace within you. Always remember to choose love over hate.  Our actions, words, thoughts and beliefs reflect who we are and what we attract into our lives…keep it positive and from a place of love and respect and the world will bring more love and respect into your life.

Sincerely,

With love, health and happiness right now…

Stacy

Recovery from a Cold or the Flu

I am in the process of recovering from Strep Throat, which is a bacterial infection effecting the upper respiratory system.  This infection went from Strep to an ear infection and now I am struggling with a cough and post-nasal drip.  This process has been going on for approximately a week now and I have 3 more days of antibiotic.  At the point I got bad enough I felt I needed to see a doctor I was miserable and desperate for relief.  It took about 3 days before the antibiotic began to work its magic and my symptoms started to subside.  I went from tears of pain to tears of joy once I was able to just drink a glass of water without pain.  Being sick during the cold, dreary winter months just adds to the seasonal depression and each day I arrive home from work I feel more exhausted.  I am on day 7 of my antibiotic and wondering what else I can do to speed up the healing process and just get my positive vibes back, along with my energy level.

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I have been on auto-pilot all week trying to just get through each day and I refuse to spend another week this way.  I need to get back on my treadmill, I need to be able to have a conversation without coughing so hard I want to throw up.  I need to clean up my house and go grocery shopping. I need to study for my Statistics test. Life does not wait for us to get better, we just get further behind!  I really and truly cannot afford to be sick any longer.  I have to work both my day and evening job today so I will be getting home around 10pm.  This makes for a long day for sure so I want to make sure I get all I can out of this weekend.  I believe it is just as important to have a plan for your time off as it is to have a schedule for your work week.  I try to include time for myself and the daily chores that I want to get done, like grocery shopping and laundry.  I feel that a productive weekend is one where you have time to both relax and still feel like you accomplished some projects that make the next work week flow easier.

Too many people think they are better off to just push through or maybe they are the opposite end of the spectrum and take a whole week off work spending day after day in bed; both can be very bad.  Everyone is different in how they deal with being sick. Most of us can agree that pushing too hard can only make matters worse and staying in bed too much can be equally damaging.  Extra rest is important when healing, especially from an upper-respiratory infection but getting up and moving around can actually be a good thing.  A little fresh air and movement in the body can get the blood flowing and circulation process working, which speeds the healing process.  Deep breathing techniques used during meditation is great for helping your body heal as well.  Knowing which vitamins and supplements work well for the healing process can also be helpful.  Vitamin C is always good for boosting the immune system and Vitamin D can boost your mood if you have been stuck sick in bed for days.  Make sure if you are prescribed an antibiotic or any other medication, that you take it as directed by your doctor and make sure you do not stop taking the antibiotic until it is gone.  Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, will help the body process the vitamins, supplements and medications more easily and speed the healing process as well.  I have found the more I increase my water intake the better I feel with fighting upper respiratory infections.  Also, make salt your friend!  Gargling with with warm salt water and using a saline solution to cleanse nasal passages is a cheap and easy way to help reduce nose and throat discomfort.  Also, throw away your toothbrush!  Any time you have been sick it is smart to replace your toothbrush so that you do not reinfect yourself.

I plan to push through tonight and sleep in tomorrow.  Hopefully by keeping hydrated and taking my vitamins & supplements I will not take a step backward with the extra hours while I am still not completely recovered.  Knowing how to balance responsibility and self-care is the key to a happy, healthy life and a quicker recovery time!  Here is to looking forward to Spring…warmer temperatures, green grass, fresh air and sunshine! That is true medicine!

Sincerely,

Yours for better health, happiness, and balance

Stacy

 

 

 

Winter Blues

How do they do it? I cannot imagine living in an area that has snow more than a few weeks out of the year.  I really do despise cold weather even with its moments of beauty.  From the moment my alarm goes off the thought of cold creeps into my world.  I must jump up and turn on the heater in my bathroom because I just hate being cold while I get ready in the morning (or anytime for that matter).  Then, I make my morning coffee, put on my 4 layers of clothes, and warm up my car before heading off to the office.  I feel chilled off and on throughout my day and I dread going anywhere other than straight to work and back home.  With snow and ice on the ground it just basically sucks to do anything, even walk!  If I go grocery shopping, pushing the cart to my car is like embarking on an off-roading adventure.  Life just takes more effort, I don’t want to go to the gym or go lay in the tanning bed.  Doing any of that means going out in the cold, and getting naked to lay in a tanning bed is absolute torture!  I am one of those people who gets cold and no matter what I do, I cannot get warm until the end of the day when I sit in a hot bath or take a hot shower to finally thaw out.

I suffer from what I call the winter blues.  I take vitamin D, I try to exercise and sit near a window to be near natural sunlight, I go to the tanning salon,  I do my best to drink plenty of water, meditate, and I have houseplants and flowers in my home & office.  All of this effort still leaves me wishing the cold and snow would just hurry up and go away.  I find myself looking through Hulu and Netflix for a movie or reading a book and I just can’t get interested.  I go to sleep early and wake up early like my grandparents used to do.  All of these efforts definitely help me to some degree and I recommend trying them if you haven’t.  However, in the end, the best thing you can do is face it and get out in it.  Don’t hide out!

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Push yourself to live your life and don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the winter blues.   Get yourself together and go do what you would be doing if it wasn’t freezing outside.  I get tired of hiding out and trying to wait it out, I just bundle up and get my ass to the gym anyway.  I always feel better once I do.  I find the more active I try to be in the winter the better I feel.  Allowing yourself to go into hibernation mode is a very bad idea.  In order to keep your immune system strong and avoid getting hit by the cold and flu season during the winter months, it is best to stay active, drink plenty of water, and get out in the fresh air when possible.

Embrace the easy, one pot recipes when winter arrives!  There are so many yummy soups, stews, and chilis and that you can put in the slow cooker and have ready when you get home from a long cold day.  I also love different herbal teas at night, before bed and wonderful essential oil blends to put in a warm bath. Embrace the cute and fashionable winter weather clothes, it makes the morning a lot easier to face if you have a coat, hat, gloves and a scarf that you really love. We don’t open windows in our home, office or car when it is freezing outside, so it can get stuffy;  I try to keep candles at my home & office, or tropical scented air fresheners in my car, so when the heat is blowing full blast I can enjoy the smell of the beach!  A cool mist humidifier is also wonderful, air can get dry in your home and adding a few drops of essential oils to the humidifier can add moisture and a wonderful, healthy scent to the atmosphere. Dry skin happens too, make sure you slather your body with a good moisturizer after your shower or bath to avoid dry, itchy skin (and don’t forget chapstick or lip balm!).  Eating fruits and vegetables that have lots of vitamin C and vitamin D is important to help keep the immune system strong and your mood improved as well!

Winter weather health is different than the other seasons and for me, it is a bit more of a struggle.  I have to push myself harder to motivate each day, those really cold days, when the ground is covered with snow, I just want to crawl back into my warm bed.  I must admit, once Spring comes it definitely brings a stronger appreciate for the other seasons!  Truthfully, I love all the seasons and I am thankful that in Missouri I get to see them all to the full extent each year.  I just prefer to watch winter through my living room window and not have to venture out in it.  However, this year I have practiced embracing it by finding things to enjoy and even though it is still my least favorite season I am pushing through like a champ!

With love, happiness, health and motivation (and dreams of Summer),

Stacy