self-care, Uncategorized

Protecting yourself from the flu!

 

My husband came home last night and said, “Everyone at work is out with the flu.” I quickly suggested he take that zinc and those multi-vitamins I had just purchased for him, and (maybe for the first time) he didn’t blow me off. Side note: It’s hard to be married to a health coach. Good thing I can cook. 😉

This flu season is predicted to be one of the worst in recent history, and that is pretty scary especially for those of us with a whacked out immune system. Here is what I am doing to protect myself and my family. 

Disclaimer: I am a health coach and not a doctor, a dietician, or a nutritionist.   I make no claims to any specialized medical training, nor do I provide health care, medical or nutrition therapy services; or to diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

1. Wash your hands! I know this is super fundamental, but I see people in public bathrooms. I know that at least some of us are not washing our hands as often as we should. Wash your hands before you eat, after you come in from being out, and after touching stuff like money, handrails, and elevator buttons.  In other words, if one potentially sick person touched it, wash your hands! 

2. Stay away from sugar. Sugar is just horrible for us. It creates inflammation and harms beneficial gut bacteria which leads to immune system problems. If you must have something for that sweet tooth buy yourself some richly colored fruit so you get the fructose you’re craving and the vitamins you need. Note: Fruit juice doesn’t count!

3. Get that sleep. We need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, but most of us get about 5. We have to get the sleep we need so our body can do its job of protecting us.  If you need to be scared straight on this topic, I found this interview with sleep scientist Michael Walker to be very effective. 

4. Eat the rainbow. Load up your plate with veggies of all colors! Vegetables are full of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber our body needs to nourish our cells and feed our good gut bacteria. 

5. Take your supplements. I’d rather get my nutrition through food because I know that work better for my body, but there are somethings that I can’t get through our food.  This looks different for all of us, but for me, this means making sure I get my vitamin D, omega-3, and gut healing probiotic every day, without fail.  Note: People with very active autoimmune symptoms should not be taking loads of immune-boosting vitamins like echinacea. If you aren’t sure what you should be taking, talk to your openminded nurse practitioner or doctor to see what they recommend for you. 

7. Eat all those probiotics! If it isn’t clear by now our gut health is super important. SEVENTY (70%) percent of our immune system is located in our gut. If you have lupus or another autoimmune diagnosis you have to address your gut health.

During this flu season, I’m making sure I give my gut everything it needs (and avoiding what it doesn’t) to make sure my immune system is given the best chance to protect me. I’ve written about eating your probiotics here, but for a shorter version, I’ll just tell you that I am loading up on miso,  tempeh, homemade sauerkraut, and these Bubbies pickles that I can’t seem to replicate.

So far, staying vigilant about these things has kept the flu at bay, and I’m hoping and praying that it will stay away. However, if it does happen, I am confident that my little family and I will be in good enough shape to weather the storm. 

May the flu pass you by!

Public Service Announcement: Stay home if you are sick. I know that’s hard. I know that kids have to be places and sometimes work is unforgiving about days off, but you have to get the rest you need to protect yourself. And you have to keep your germs to yourself. You flu could literally kill someone with a weak or whacky immune system. Stay home in bed and binge watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because it’s brilliant.

self-care

How to protect yourself from election day

hagrid

Today in the United States it’s election day…in case you hadn’t heard. To say it’s been a little stressful for the country would be an understatement. In fact, I’m supposed to be writing about adrenals today, but that’s just not going to happen because it’s not what’s happening in my world. vote

What is happening in my world is how toxic I feel from the last year and a half of campaign coverage and mud slinging. How the ugliness from all sides has penetrated into my daily life. And this is with a strict policy to turn off the radio at the mere mention of the campaign.  So today I’m acknowledging the anxiety, stress, and fear I am feeling and then I’m taking back my control.

Step 1: Vote. I voted with my little girls like I always do because if you don’t use your rights you lose your rights. I value my right to vote, and honestly, at this point, this is the only meaningful control I can exert in the process.

Step 2: Back away from your devices. For me, this means no radio, no Twitter, very little Facebook, and a whole lot of good music. I choose to not expose myself to that which will stress me out!

Step 3: Prioritize your mental and physical health. This morning after voting and dropping off the kiddos, I had a nutrient-dense breakfast and did some yoga to focus my mind. A little extra self-care on days like today will go a long way to protecting your body from stress

So that’s it, three simple steps and you should be fine today…okay, maybe it just means you won’t end the day in a ball of stress.

We cannot control the outcome of today (or any days), but you can guard your health by refusing to let those events dictate how you will respond. Besides, in the immortal words of Hagrid, “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.”

self-care

I’m back and I got something to say… and a new series on the way!

Hello, Everyone! I’m back from my media fast with an epiphany. Are you ready? Here it is: We are super adaptable.

I know, you are probably thinking, “Duh! How else could we live on every corner of the planet and function when the heat index is an ungodly 108 if we weren’t adaptable? 108!!!!”

What I mean is that we adapt very quickly to new behaviors, for better or worse. For example, before going on my media fast, I was spending a lot of time scrolling through social media with jaw clenched and outrage turning my stomach in knots. But despite my daily (often hourly) habit, my first day of living media-free was incredibly easy.  I did have to remind myself not to just mindlessly “surf” while waiting in line at the store, but, other than that, I wasn’t missing anything. The days following were about the same, except that I felt much more relaxed. Even when my partner would give me updates on a disturbing news story, I just wasn’t getting as bothered.

The moral of the story is not that I learned so much or grew as a person, but rather that the Carrie with clenched jaw scrolling passed outrageous memes and the Carrie that was living her life outside of a screen is the same person. The only difference was the behavior. We slip into behaviors so easily, and, unfortunately, it’s often the ones that we don’t want to have. Staying up too late, drinking that extra glass of wine, having a daily “treat”, or just forgoing exercise comes so easily that, before you know it, it’s just how life is.

It’s as if we are on autopilot.  I try hard not to be on autopilot because I would rather be practicing intentional and purposeful living, but sometimes we just have to shake things up to keep from falling into bad patterns. That’s why I’m starting a new series on detoxing or, more specifically, supporting our body so it can do its job and get the toxins out. Stay tuned!

 

self-care

Lean in to your life!

Alex yoga

Today (Tuesday, July 5th), I have hit the halfway point in my challenge to do a month worth of yoga. This isn’t the first time I’ve done a yoga challenge, but I’ve had an epiphany that might apply to you too, dear reader, even if yoga isn’t your thing.

Lean in rather than backing off when life gets challenging. In the past, when things would get stressful at home/work/what-have-you, I would give myself a break. I would forgo exercising and eating right because something had to give. Right? Wrong! Taking care of yourself is essential when life is hard. By not taking care of myself, I was pulling myself into a vicious cycle: stress, treat my body like crap, get sick and gain weight, stress. Life was just happening to me through a haze of stress and poor health.

Taking time to tend to yourself adds time to your day. I know there are some math whizzes out there that will tell you that that is not possible, but they are wrong. (At least this time.) Another math whiz once said that time is relative, and never is that more clear for me than when I am facing my day/children/random obligations with energy. During the years I was sick, there was just never enough time in the day to get everything done. But now. . . well, I still wish I could get more done, but I have the energy I need to be productive.  Even when that means taking 30 minutes or more out of my day to do something that is just for me.

Find the self-care thing that works for you and commit to it like you do your Netflix account. For this period in my life, yoga has been my go-to. It is helping me heal from a pretty traumatic birth experience, and it’s helping me keep my focus on my goal of living a healthy, productive, and giving life. There might be something else that works for you. Maybe it’s walking with your neighbor, cooking nutritious meals, kickboxing, or something else entirely.  Whatever it is, make it a priority and start leaning in to your life.

 

For those of you who are interested in doing a 30-day yoga challenge, I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene’s free 30-day yoga series on YouTube. Check it out here.

 

Gut Health, self-care

Gut health 4: Stressing out our guts.

Source 

Stress is a killer of joy, a robber of your time, and, as it turns out, devastating to your gut health. I’ve written a lot about stress and its effects on your health and tips for managing it, but today I want to take a slightly different approach. The little ecosystem in our guts made up of bacteria, viruses, and fungi (microbiome) aren’t just helping us digest our food and strengthing our immune system.  This ecosystem is actually influencing and being influenced by our brain. Scientists call this the microbiome-brain-gut axis.

Researchers have found that being put under stress affects the make-up of our microbiome.  Under stress, both animals and humans show a decrease in lactobacilli.  This is fine when stress last for just a little while because the microbiome will bounce back, but most of us aren’t dealing with small bouts of stress. Unfortunately, many of us live with chronic low-level stress which means our microbiome doesn’t have the chance to bounce back.

This starts a vicious cycle. “Evidence (shows) that bacteria residing in the gut can also affect central brain function including neurobiological features and behaviors relevant to various psychiatric disorders.”  Basically, our mental state influences the makeup of our microbiome and the microbiome impacts our mental state, which for many of us shows up as anxiety and/or depression. Can you think of a better reason to take care of both? Me neither.  Here are some things you can do to protect your health.

  1. Prioritize stress management! I know that we live in a stressful world, and we are even financially rewarded for being constantly stressed out. I’ve been a part of a work culture where working all hours and heating up your lunch at 3pm only to eat in front of your computer is seen as a symbol of your commitment and dedication. This is crazy! Your stress level is the key to avoiding disease and absorbing nutrients and a hundred other things that create a quality life.  For tips on how to start managing your stress check out my series on the topic.
  2. Watch what goes into your body. So far this series has focused on things to avoid like antibiotics and processed and sugary foods. I’ve also written about keeping your microbiome healthy by increasing your intake of fiber. I’ll be sharing more about what you put into your body and its effects on stress in more detail over the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
I hope these tips are helpful and that you’re inspired to reduce your stress and increase those good bacteria! For more in this series check out parts onetwo and three.
healing journey, Health, self-care

Self-care, dang it!

self-care

I’m taking a break from my gut health series to write about something that has been on my mind: self-care.  Self-care is vital to our health and, in many ways, is the linchpin of creating and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. And while it’s one of those things that is talked about ad nauseam in health blogs and in health-focused magazines, it’s really hard to get people to actually do it.

In fact, self-care might be the most challenging aspect of health for my clients.  I preach it because I know how important it is, but even I can have a hard time incorporating it into my life. In fact, over the last month I’ve not tended to myself at all. And I have excuses. There’s my business and volunteer commitments, unexpected travel, illness, and now a toddler that can scale just about anything.  In the face of all that, I just let self-care fall off the list. And you know what? It did not serve me. Here I was trying to serve everyone else, but I had nothing to give.  I did it; I took care of those diverse needs, but I wasn’t eating as well as I should or exercising enough. I felt overwhelmed; I had very little patience for those around me and  started to seriously feel resentful. I don’t know about you, but this is not how I want to live my life.

Part of the challenge of incorporating self-care into our lives is that we don’t really know how to do it.  When pushed to say what we think it is, we tend to think about eating right and exercising. While there is truth in that, it goes a little deeper.  It’s really about the why and how. Self-care requires a shift in our thinking. We prepare good food or exercise not because we are beating ourselves into submission but because we know that when we eat well and move our bodies we feel better and we can handle our lives with more grace. It’s about turning off the T.V. and the phone at the end of a long day and curling up with a good book so that we can get deeper, more restful sleep. It’s meditating, spending time with friends that lift us up, and paying attention to and managing our stress.  It’s about making those things that build us up and nourish our body and mind a priority.

Here are a few tips for incorporating self-care into your life.

  1. Pick your self-care. Decide on one or two self-care practices you want to work into your life. Maybe it’s just using all that fancy face washing things you got for Christmas or maybe it’s practicing yoga daily. Pick something that will nourish you.
  2. Schedule it. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, put it on your calendar each day and treat it like you would a meeting with your boss.
  3. DO IT! Seriously, you will always have too many things on your list and not enough time. What does it hurt to take half and hour or less to focus on your health? Nothing. It hurts nothing.

If you need help figuring out how to get self-care into your life or are ready to transform your health, contact me for a free consultation.