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All The Pretty Shiny Distractions

Reduce Your Stress Manage Your Time 022015

The modern world is stressful. Western culture generally compounds the things that cause stress exponentially. It’s all too fast. Too much. Too expensive and too toxic. Stress has been found to play a large part in the overwhelming health problems most Americans are faced with. And yes diabetes and weight gain are conditions that are affected to a large degree by stress. According to www.diabetes.org, “Excessive stress is a major barrier to effective glucose control and a danger to one’s general health. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-life/managing-stress-and-diabetes.html#sthash.jSzF3sLT.dpuf

That article goes on to say that excessive stress impairs sound thinking and contributes to poor decision making which can lead to eating poorly and compulsively. Coincidentally poor judgment can also lead to eating the very things that cause weight gain as well. Stress also releases hormones that cause us to prepare to fight or run and also to make us hungry even when didn’t actually have to expend the additional calories fighting and/or running. Those extra calories cause weight gain and of course we know that uncontrolled weight gain is a recipe for disaster if you’re diabetic.

Deciding to lose weight is admirable but the constant cycle of trying-failing, losing-gaining can ultimately be frustrating and stressful itself. This is where effective goal setting comes into play. The key here being effective. I have found that for me this was problematic. I have Ooooo-its-new-and-shiny-syndrome! Because I am a Health Professional I am often bombarded with emails on every new program for every kind of wellness activity and I find that many of them have real merit. I really want to know it all so that I can help myself and my clients so for a while I signed up for every class and every seminar often times missing sleep and cramming more & more into my already crazy schedule. It was all so new and shiny, so very interesting. Lack of sleep, the stress of so many deadlines and appointments and the constant stress nibbling shot my blood glucose into the stratosphere. Shiny and new? Yes. Good for my overall goal of weight and diabetes management? Uh No! Not even!

It was time for me to get myself under better control. I took a moment to take something I had seen in time management books and modified it so that it better suited me. It became my 4 Quadrant Approach to Time Management. I’d like to share it with you. It works for almost every aspect of my life.

Here’s how it works: First you divide the area of your life (ie your weight loss) into “4 Goals” that are absolute priorities that will move your weight loss forward. Next divide each of those Goals into “4 Projects” that will move you toward reaching your Goals. Do this one Goal at a time so that Projects 1-4 are all listed under the appropriate Goal. Next under each Project list the Task or Tasks that lead to completion of that specific Project. Once you have filled in all 4 Goal quadrants you have created your overall road map. Anything that comes up that doesn’t fit into a Task for a specific Project under a predetermined Goal is a distraction. Pure and simple. Obviously I’m not saying that if your hubby comes home with tickets to see that R&B group you’ve adored forever that you can’t race him to the car giggling like a school girl. I’m saying don’t allow every offer of a movie you hadn’t really even thought about, every happy hour invite or social media posting frenzy keep you from doing what you’ve committed t yourself to accomplish. Activities that don’t fit comfortably into one of the quadrants are distractions…pure and simple…and they don’t move you toward your ultimate goals. Don’t allocate any time toward distractions. Don’t try and squeeze them in! If you have tackled tasks in every project under every goal and you still have some time left over go back and look at the Goals you set for yourself in other areas of your life and work on them. If you still have time left over…your goals weren’t big enough…your dream wasn’t large enough! It’s time to get Ready2Roar!

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40lbs of Cotton and Hot Water Corn Bread

When those of us from African descent arrived in this country we were usually given diets that were high in what was inexpensive to feed us. In general that included foods that were very high in carbohydrates and the animal parts nobody else wanted, the bones, the gristle and the fat. Those diets were full of calories but the work we were assigned burned all of that. The constant physical activity kept our muscles in peak shape and burning on all cylinders. There was very little excess and “insulin resistance” wasn’t an issue at that time. The diet of “soul food”, heavily loaded with fat back (that’s salted pork for those of you who don’t know) in our greens and corn bread to sop it up with was joined by macaroni and cheese and fried chicken to signal our “arrival” to the “promised land” once we were freed and continued because it’s what we were used to and had long enjoyed.

But we don’t work from “can to can’t” any longer and our bodies no longer need diets that are loaded in calories. Even in our grandparents’ day many of our people worked very physical, manual labor jobs and those calories were a necessity. That is no longer the case for most of us now. In fact because we are far more sedentary than we once were that diet no longer serves us. So we need to consider choosing whether we will increase our activity level, lower our caloric intake and replace some of those “favorites” with healthier options or some combination of the two. I have no desire to pick 40lbs of cotton and I know I don’t need to eat like it.

Eat Well! Move Well! Be Well!

Ensuring the Health and Wellness of Your Pride!

 

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Tis the Season…

for vendors to send goodie boxes and goodie baskets of treats that I can’t eat. In addition to my Health Coaching practice, I work in the employee benefits field. Employee benefits, while necessary and beneficial for millions of Americans, is a lot of things but I promise you exciting is not one of those things. As a matter of fact as a rule after 4pm I try my level best to pretend I don’t have to go back to my office. EVER. I specialize in denial. This denial allows me to enjoy my evenings without the cloud that sits over my head 8-4 Monday through Friday.

It is also the time of the year when my company throws a gathering they call a party (everyone knows that it is in fact NOT a party since there is NO music and NO dancing).

There will be alcohol and there will be cake. Neither of which can I indulge in. And before you ask… it’s mandatory and I will be forced to stand around pretending I am socializing all the while fighting the desire to eat ALL the cake and drink ALL the liquor so I can have something to do. I don’t want to talk shop. I will not discuss politics. I could care less about golf. Never mind that the event is being held at a country club in the middle of a golf course. I will do my best to find a corner to sit in so as to be as inconspicuous as possible. Perhaps if all goes well no one will attempt to talk to me at all and I can count down the minutes until I am free to resume my life.

But if that doesn’t work, I do have some more productive strategies I will be employing as well.

  1. I will get as much rest tonight as possible. Being tired makes me irritable and it would be awful to start my day that way and almost guarantees a less than pleasant rest of my day…and evening.
  2. I will meditate on gratitude that I have employment while my coaching practice is building. That will help me feel less infringed upon by my employer for forcing me to do this year after year. This will be especially challenging. I admit it.
  3. I will focus on how I can treat myself with the overtime pay that comes along with this event.
  4. I will have a healthy snack or two before the event so that if there is nothing served that is suitable for my nutrition plan eating off plan will be a choice based on my desire and not on the need to fill my tummy.
  5. I will pay close attention to my hydration, drinking extra water so that if I do indulge in an adult beverage the effects will be minimized.
  6. I will smile as much as possible in hopes the endorphins released from the act of smiling will make the occasion less stressful.
  7. Lastly, I will get over it quickly and encourage denial to kick in as soon as I walk out of the venue. No sense thinking about it after that. At least not until next year.
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Brain, Lioness Lessons Series, Uncategorized

Ah To Sleep…Perchance to Dream

You’ve heard the saying “a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind” right? Well you know what else equals a cluttered mind?… A cluttered mind does. Seriously… there are days when there are so many thoughts, ideas and plans running through my head that I can barely form a coherent thought. So I started really using the task app on my iPad in order to break things down into more manageable steps. It was a great idea until it got… well…cluttered. The problem is that I just want to do everything!

I feel like I found my passion late in life and I have so much ground to cover. I have about a hundred years worth of things I want to do and only about 50 left to get it done in. I worry that I won’t get it all done unless I create some more time. So I sleep a little less. I skip a few exercise sessions. I’m not as careful with nutrition; sometimes eating the same thing for lunch every day rather than wasting time thinking up something fresh and engaging.

These are all incredibly bad strategies however because when I miss my sleep I risk becoming ill, my thinking becomes foggy and I get clumsy. Like the time I decided to turn around on a moving treadmill, fell and broke my coccyx (that’s my tailbone for those who prefer). One year and I’m still paying for that dumb move. If I had gotten a good night sleep, I might not have thought that was a good idea just because the woman on YouTube did it.

I think better on a good night sleep. My meals are better planned out and more enjoyable. My workouts are more productive and not only do I tend to be more creative; what I create makes more sense to me and everyone else.

I’m getting more sleep these days and sometimes I miss a late night email or text message and I try not to schedule clients after 9pm so I can prioritize the next day’s activities, work out and meditate before bed. On Friday nights I turn in as early as possible. I want to be energized for the twins’ ballet classes on Saturday mornings and the seminars I conduct on Saturday afternoons.

I have accepted that I won’t accomplish everything on my list every day and that many of the things I dream of doing with the rest of my life may not get done at all but I have more energy for the most important ones. I don’t fall down as much as I do when I overtax myself and I pass on dancing backwards on treadmills…while they’re moving at least.

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It is what it is…

I know me pretty damned well. For the most part I know what I like and what I don’t. I know what i know. I know how I feel. And while I am open-minded I am not easily swayed.

There are a few food items I swore I would never like that a clever cook proved me wrong. There are others I will eat because they are good for me and I can keep them down. They will never be my first or even my 100th choice. The smell, the texture, whatever the reason. Those items are just not for me.

I feel the same way about dresses and skirts. The thought of wearing them doesn’t make me break out in hives any more but if there is any way NOT to wear one…most times I’m going that way. They’re just not for me.

There are people who like seeing their own form in 2D that they even take pictures of themselves when no one else is around to do it for them. I believe they call them selfies. Now I admit once or twice I have resorted to this in order to have a picture of an outfit with me so I could make my trip to Charming Charlie’s a worthwhile trip. But I had no urge to post it, send it or share it. It was a tool not recreation.

I spent this week trying to justify to other people my dislike of cameras and having my picture taken. It was probably the number of people who acted as if there was something inherently wrong with me or my feelings that caught my attention. It made me question whether my attitude toward this issue was a knee-jerk reaction or a real self esteem issue as was suggested. I analyzed it. Meditated on it. Journaled about it and finally chewed it up and spit it out.

Conclusion. I simply don’t care for it. It’s not my thing and I don’t need to justify it any more than I need to justify my dislike of dresses, Lima beans, okra, chitterlings or salami. It’s just not my thing.

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Let’s Call It What It Is…Shall We?

Marla stops off for happy hour after work, first once in a while and then gradually escalates to almost every day. Her child care provider, fed up with the late pickups refuses her child admittance. She has to change day care centers…for the 3rd time.

Jeremy loses his job for being caught watching porn on his office computer… repeatedly.

Leonard dreads his trip home anticipating another argument with his wife because he gambled away the rent money again. He walks in to find his place empty, wife and children gone but stops to buy a lottery ticket on his way to beg her to come home.

Carla wants nothing more than to lose weight and be healthy. Joins exercise classes, hires personal trainers and starts program after program but can’t seem to keep her hands out of the cookie jar or stay away from the bakery aisle. She has been told she is at risk for several weight related health problems but she often behaves as if it’s a matter of her own will power. And any attempts to reason with her on the subject are met alternately with sarcasm or anger depending on her mood which swings wildly.

Different issues? Not really. Let’s call it all what it is. Shall we? It’s addiction!

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (www.ASAM.org) defines the word addiction in part, this way:

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

All addiction is serious but my primary focus in my practice as a Wellness Coach would be Carla. Carla wants to lose weight and improve her health. But Carla has a problem. Let’s hold her up to the magnifying glass of our definition. She repeatedly starts to make changes only to relapse and fall back into the same patterns. She is unable to consistently stay away from or control her cravings for sweets. She doesn’t seem to recognize the genuine danger to her overall health. She seems oblivious to the fact that both the “addiction” and the health results of it are progressive. She really just thinks she likes sweets. She likes them a lot!

But she isn’t the only one. Americans scarf down tons of sugar each year and the rest of the world is joining us. Sugar was once a luxury. Now it’s in practically everything. And I do mean everything! It’s hidden of course and difficult to find. Made even more so by the clever and imaginative minds of those who want more of us addicted. Much like the common dealer on the street these folks are allowed to play fast and loose with our health and our lives. They do this with no care about the possible consequences other than to fill their coffers with our hard earned dollars. Sugar works on the same region of the brain as most other addictions, the dopamine receptors, the part of the brain that signals pleasure. And sugar is pleasurable. It was designed that way so that humans would seek it out and be able to satisfy our need for the energy that it provides. This was supposed to be a good thing but that was back when we were hunter/gatherers or even when we were farmers and tradesmen. When the way we made our living required strenuous physical activity and food was not so plentiful and easy to come by.

As we progressed there were more and more people able to earn their living or provide for themselves at others’ expense. Let’s call them the aristocracy or merchant class. They could afford to have others do the hard work while they did less and less. That may be why when we look at pictures of Europe back in the good old days all the wealthy appeared to be …well…Fat! Even then the real cost of eating empty calories was a risk to weight and health. Now the problem has simply multiplied by billions. As even those with very little money can now get their hands on the same crap that killed only the rich less than a century ago. In fact the least well off are more at risk as sugar is a cheap filler that by virtue of the pleasure it gives keeps those who can least afford it coming back for more, in spite of the risk to their lives and its cost. Wait! Isn’t that the very definition of addiction? And now we can all have it cleverly hidden under a lot of different names.

Sugar By Any Other Name:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sacchrides
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar

The greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world he doesn’t exist. The greatest trick the food labeling and manufacturing industry ever played? Sugar!

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The Love You Save Could Be Your Own

There are parts of me I’ve always been fond of. My legs, although I seldom show them, are a particular favorite. I’m pretty happy with my smile and there used to be a dimple but it’s gone now I think.  But my pride and joy are my locs! I love my hair! It’s a security blanket, something to fidget with when I’m nervous, a veil to hide behind and the way it feels against my bare skin is well…it’s erotic. But as a general rule I haven’t been all that overjoyed with the rest of me. I’m not what anyone would call a small woman. I’m tall and I have a large frame. My feet are large and while I adore shoes the shoes I love don’t readily come in my size as if the shoe designers and manufacturers have decided that women with big feet have no right to fashionable sexy shoes. Hell, we need them worse than everybody else does to camouflage the ginormous feet.   The same thing for foundation garments. Just between you and me being well-endowed is a monumental pain in the wardrobe. Bras require a down payment and the cutest clothes are not made to hide the straps, braces, girders and other hardware with any degree of comfort. But as I have embraced a healthier lifestyle and focused more on fitness I have come to love what my body is capable of accomplishing even when it doesn’t quite conform to the standards of beauty in this country.

In fact I recently started an affair; a full blown, hot and heavy, “can’t keep my mind off my significant other” affair. The fact that my affair is with me may come as a surprise to many who know me personally. I am more likely to put the needs of almost anyone else before my own and taking care of me has never really been a priority in my life. But as I said recently I’ve developed this genuine passion for me. Through personal development I have learned to truly love me. To love me enough to know when situations or people are not good for me and cut my losses early in the game. To want to feed me the kinds of foods that nourish me; mind, body and spirit. To recognize when I have helped everyone I can and that I am depleted and need to rest and recharge.

Carrying on an affair with your self can be exhilarating, satisfying and enlightening. It can help you to see some things for what they are. My life has been like a checking account. I have given so much of my reserves to others that I find myself over drawn to the point where I simply have nothing else to give. But I have learned that I have to protect the object of my affection from herself. She, we, have the right to be unavailable sometimes and there’s no need to manufacture acceptable excuses for doing so.   

I don’t have to come up with a reason to be unavailable. My life is a series of reasons to be unavailable and I am a grown damn woman with excellent communication skills and I am considerate enough not to leave someone wondering as to my availability. So I have to tell others that I am not available because, I am in fact, unavailable. I just finished the last of my tests for this week. But I am starting T25, a new workout video this evening. I am restarting Tai Chen tomorrow morning. I have journaling and meditation. I have laundry to do. My hair to wash.  Dinner to cook. Clients to follow up with.  My twins to care for and entertain. A marketing plan and a business plan to work on. A boot camp to work on, a VIP program to work on. My daughter’s wedding and wedding shower to finalize the plans for and when all of that is done…I need to floss my teeth. So yeah my schedule is pretty damned full. 

Damn I love me when I’m protecting me. Loving me. Being good to me. And I am jealous of our time together. I insist that if we’re gonna share our time it’s with someone that loves us at least as much as we love us.

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