nutrition

Becoming FULL-Filled

It had been a long day that started early with getting four kids up and out the door to school, then getting ready myself and literally running out the door to the office. The day continued with client appointments, phone calls, returned e-mails, progress notes, wrapping up at the office then back home to get kids off the bus, run kids around to their prospective activities, overseeing homework was complete, dinner and then time to get all the kids to bed at a decent time. I know I’m not alone with this type of schedule. All of my girlfriends are in the same cycle it seems.

By the time I sat down that night after I had cleaned up, I decided I really wanted something sweet. Now I have a daughter that has a milk sensitivity, so there was a pint of Ben & Jerry’s PB & Cookies non-dairy dessert in the freezer. My body was still running on adrenaline, so I sprinted over to the freezer, found the PB & Cookies, scooped out about a third (ok maybe a half) and sat down with my laptop. Because it tasted SO GOOD, I ate it about as fast as I did everything that day. In time-lapse mode. And then, it happened. I hit a wall. A very hard concrete wall. Head on. Going 90mph. I remember thinking that I felt like I was sinking into a coma. I felt sick to my stomach and I just wanted to lie down. Which I did. I closed my eyes and fell asleep. I woke up a couple of hours later, dragged myself up the stairs to bed and somehow remembered to set my alarm. When my alarm went off at 6:30am the next morning, I felt like I had a hangover. My brain was fuzzy and my temples pounding, my stomach hurt, my body was slow to get out of bed. I had no motivation to get four kids out of bed, and on top of that, I was cranky.

The next night, the other two-third’s (or was it half?) of the Ben & Jerry’s was still in the freezer. But when I thought about it, I immediately recoiled, remembering my coma-like state, the stomach ache and the awful carb hangover. The thought of Ben & Jerry’s was making me ill before I had even put another spoonful in my mouth. I realized how easily food can be a drug to us. Whether we need to slow our brains and bodies down at the end of an adrenaline-filled day, or whether we use food to calm our anxieties. In my case, I had used food as a depressant. To slow and calm my brain and body. On the other hand, caffeine, refined carbohydrates, including sugar, can act as short-term stimulants when we need energy pick-me ups or when we are feeling tired, sad or depressed. I have yet to find someone who has broccoli or spinach cravings when they are upset about something.

As I continued to process my Ben & Jerry’s “coma”, I thought how I needed to really re-evaluate my adrenaline-filled days. I have four children between the ages of nine and fourteen, so no doubt adrenaline will fill my daily life here and there. But on a continual basis, twenty-four/seven, I must take personal responsibility for that. And make some healthy changes.

So I came up with a plan. I’m a terrible planner on a day-to-day basis. But I am a great planner in terms of self-improvement. If there is a problem, I will come up with a plan to fix it. Being stagnant is not an option. So here is what I came up with for my plan:

PROBLEM: Running around like a crazy woman. I was in a chronic state of heightened adrenaline. I needed to reset on a physiological level. I had been skipping my workouts to try to fit in more patients. Running and classes at the gym had always been a part of my routine, and now they were getting pushed out of my schedule. Both my brain and my body were unregulated and suffering. I know that in this continued state, not only is my body being flooded with cortisol and other stress hormones, but that this also leads to inflammation. Not only will I eventually burn out my adrenal system and hit a more permanent coma state, but I am also increasing my risk for turning on genes within my body that could change my life forever. This could mean a new diagnosis or condition that I will have to manage the rest of my life. NOT worth it!

SOLUTION: Schedule runs and group exercise classes. I took my calendar and blocked out times for my exercise, just like I would block out a time for a doctor’s appointment, for a patient or for one of my children’s games. It was time to re-prioritize my health.

PROBLEM: Energy levels (and likely blood glucose levels) all over the place. I know what it takes to balance energy, blood glucose and subsequent insulin levels, yet I wasn’t practicing what I preach. I wouldn’t schedule a lunch for myself, or I would get caught up in writing a progress note or calling back a patient and forget to eat. Before I knew it, my next patient was ready to be seen and I hadn’t eaten anything in five, six or seven hours. I know on the deepest level that is a no-no. Sigh.

SOLUTION: Nourish my body with the macronutrients and micronutrients that I need, when I need them. I started doing (again) exactly what I tell my patients. I reset my eating habits. I purchased and had readily available healthy snacks at my office that I needed and scheduled time for lunch again. I have also been better about keeping healthy leftovers for lunch the next day, so I can eat lunch at my desk while I write my progress notes or return emails.

PROBLEM: Being Un-Full-Filled. I wrote it that way for a reason, Un-Full-Filled. Often I see that we (myself included) are using food to fill us up. And it can be at the root of beating the battle of obesity and weight-related diseases. It can be on the other end of the spectrum as well. Denying ourselves food and nourishment, to obtain control as with eating disorders or with extreme diets where we are starving or depriving ourselves in order to achieve “success”. I believe there is an epidemic of food addiction/obsession in our country. I will give our failing food industry most of the credit here. However, I will also make sure to credit the devastating food addiction epidemic. We are using food to fill us up. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

SOLUTION: Reprioritize my spiritual and emotional health. I am happiest in my life when things are in balance. I am a Libra. The woman holding the scales. I’m not sure how much credibility I give to astrological signs, but in this case it’s true for me. I need to have space for myself (time and brain space). This means my day can be busy with work and kids, but I can handle those things well if I have my priorities in check. For me, that means my mind, body, and spirit are all being filled with good, healthy things. In my experience, this comes in the form of prayer, listening to music, being silent in nature, or connecting with a stranger or a friend or family member on a spiritual level. My days are often full of challenges and sometimes even painful ones, but if I am connected spiritually, then it is always a good day. I do believe we are spiritual beings having a physical, human experience. When I am able to keep this perspective, I am spiritually filled. I am Full-Filled.

How are you FULL-filled? What is it that makes you feel centered and balanced? Do you find that you are using food or other substances to “fill” up a part of you that needs to be filled up in other ways? If so, write down what the problems are. And then start thinking about the solutions. Then, comes action. It’s worth it. Things will start to fall into place when we prioritize our spiritual health. This is an important piece is self-care that often gets neglected. I believe it is at the foundation of our entire well-being. Make becoming FULL-filled a priority in your life. Aaaaaaaaaannnnd GO!

The Path to Healing: A 6-week series to help guide you on your path to health

Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 9.54.09 AM.png

The path to healing is very personal. We each have our own journey in this life and it isn’t without pain or trauma. And at some point in our lives (or at multiple points), we get to the place where we can’t go on any longer in the state we are in. Whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual pain, we must face something within ourselves that needs attention. And our bodies are equipped to tell us we must pay attention or else the consequences can be devastating.

The body is a messenger. The state of our physical, emotional and spiritual health are sending us messages constantly. Sometimes they come in whispers and sometimes they come in shouts. At first we may hear a quiet message. It may come in the form of an emotion. Maybe we are feeling angry or sad or anxious. Or maybe the message presents itself in our physical body. We may have a headache or stomach ache. Sometimes these symptoms just come and they go. They aren’t significant or long lasting. They could be situational or circumstantial and not long lasting. But if something persists…if the “down” feeling persists and steals our joy for weeks or months. Or if the occasional headache turns into daily headaches or migraines, then we must pay attention. And thus begins our search and our path to healing.

I always believe that whenever we actively seek answers that we will find them. It may take longer than we had hoped for, but if we keep pressing on with our eyes, ears, minds and hearts open…eventually we will find the answers. Sometimes the answers bring immediate relief. Sometimes, we don’t like the answers and we fight them in our grief of letting go of something we have been holding onto. Even if it has been something that has been hurting us. And sometimes after we get our answers we feel overwhelmed by the steps ahead. This is the beginning of the healing process. And it may take time, but our bodies will tell us we are on the right path. That things are getting better. That we feel better. That it isn’t the easy path, but it is the only path to freedom. Stay on it and you will be rewarded. Go off course, and you will begin to feel that old familiar pain. This is designed to keep us on course. We must stay awake. We have to continue to pay attention to the messages our bodies are sending us.

I have come across many who are seeking answers in need of healing, in my practice and in my personal life. As I listen to the stories of physical or emotional pain or unrest, I always see how they are connected to our spirit. Something is amiss or unbalanced. It may be a job situation or a relationship or what we are eating or how we are taking care of ourselves. Something in our lives needs attention. We need to start working on making changes. And it is does require work. The first step is realizing and accepting this. Sometimes that is the most difficult step. And then the next step is beginning on our journey of healing. We are navigating into the unknown. But the answers will come as we are ready and do the work. This is the time to pay attention along the way, to keep our eyes, ears, minds and hearts open. You will get to the other side. Pain is often the catalyst to healing. To heal not only our physical and emotional pain, but also our spiritual pain. Then, when we are restored back to health, we will have the energy to live our life fully. To be able to do what we were meant to do in this life. My hope is that anyone who reads this, wherever you are in your journey, that you are reminded of this today. We were created to do great things in this life. We were created to live life abundantly. And I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, but I guarantee that it will definitely be worth it. Annnnd go!

Change

image.png

Every time I meet a new patient in my practice, there is a great mystery in each of them I begin to try to understand...what their greatest motivators are and what their greatest barriers are...to change. 

Change isn't easy for anyone. But for some, the motivators may be a new health diagnosis that scares them to make changes. Or it may be realizing that they have no energy or that their quality of life is affected by their weight. It may be that they have come from generations of obesity and now that they have children, it's time to break the cycle. 

But it's the barriers to change that are even more challenging and take more time to uncover. Sometimes it's slowly sifting through the sand until they are discovered one by one. They can be something as simple as a bad habit. But they can also be tied to something deep inside of us. It could be that we were taught that food represents love and the more food the better. It could be that we are used to being overweight and thinking of ourselves that way. It could be a fear of failing again, or even more difficult to discover is that we are afraid to succeed. Sometimes we don't want to give up some of these things that have created us even if they are unhealthy. 

Even though I am a dietitian, much of what I do is also helping others discover and process something inside of themselves that will help them reach their wellness goals. It's a quicker journey for some and a longer one for others. But as they learn some new things about themselves, these discoveries will begin to encompass every aspect of their life. Other areas inside of them that have been closed off, will be touched and transformed.

What motivates you? What prevents you from getting to where you want to be? Sift through the sand and discover some new things about yourself. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.