Stop Struggling! Start THRIVING!

Good morning and Happy New Year!

Christmas
My cousin who's been thriving for 92 years!

What a great day to become more aware of ourselves and our relationship to our lives! Did you awaken this morning rested, smiling, and excited about the possibilities today brings? Are you looking forward to the Rose Parade, a good bowl game, and dining on black-eyed peas and greens while still in your pjs, or are you feeling hung-over, angry over the hardships of last year, and annoyed that you won’t be able to eat whatever you want today because your health requires limitations?

Do you feel content or dissatisfied? 

Are you too busy or numb to even know how you feel?

I will admit it would be easier to force a smile, make the usual list of resolutions to be ignored, growl over every healthy choice as though it’s deprivation and have a glass of wine to take the edge off.  Perhaps you can even reward yourself with dessert tonight since you skipped the doughnuts this morning. After all, that’s the norm, right?

Unfortunately, it’s a norm that’s often reinforced by our surroundings, our friends, our families, and the media. And there’s a certain amount of comfort in conforming to the norm.  If we fit the mold, conventional wisdom tells us, then we’ll be seen as “good”, acceptable, and lovable. Yet many of us work hard, perform well, do what’s expected only to spend most of our time feeling as though we’re pushing ourselves from one struggle to the next. We do not feel more loved or more joyous.

How can we stop struggling? By controlling our circumstances, right? 

If removing struggle is predicated on controlling our environment, we will always be fighting our surroundings, feeling angry and dissatisfied that we never seem to get ahead.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  We may believe that we can be masters of our own destiny, but we cannot control our spouse, our boss, the reckless driver who hits our car, or the tornado that hits our home. We can do everything right and life will still present us with challenges over which we have no control. The longer we choose to fight, the longer we choose to struggle. If we struggle long enough, we will drown any possible joy under the weight of perceived difficulties.

Like the drowning swimmer, we believe that fighting to keep our head above water is the way to preserve ourselves. Like the drowning swimmer, we must calm ourselves and allow our surroundings to buoy us in order to survive.

By now, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. That’s okay with me. I cannot control you. Not only that, I don’t want to. I do want you to stop struggling and start living!

How can you do that? 

First, recognize that it will be a process. There’s no quick fix for a lifelong struggler.

Next, develop practices that support the process. You’ll need these for reinforcement when fear stands in your way.

Third, begin to recognize the preconceived ideas with which you filter life experience. Get curious about how another point of view may feel and allow yourself to experience that difference without expectation regarding the outcome.

Fourth, let go of your protective persona in order to allow your authentic self to be known. This will require setting boundaries and making choices. With good boundaries for protection, you can begin to open yourself to receiving. This is the environment in which real connections begin. 

Fifth, step into your personal power.  You must be present to win!  Experiencing personal power is all about being present.

Sixth, practice, practice, practice. Note the experiences that make you feel more whole, connected, encouraged, supported, and joyous. Repeat those experiences when you can.  Visualize them when repetition is not available. (Here are a view visualization possibilities for me.)

Pancakes

cooking

waterfallSeventh, acknowledge and appreciate the experiences you note. Revel in these positives with the same amount of energy you previously devoted to struggle. 

Eighth, acknowledge and appreciate yourself.

Ninth, acknowledge and appreciate others. 

Tenth, sit still, do nothing, be, be, be. You are enough. When you know you’re enough, you will live a full life and make a great contribution. When you know you’re enough, you will make healthy choices. We like to call that thriving!

Is all of this easier said than done? Of course it is. But feeling better is worth it and we’ll be here to feed and nourish you along the way.

 

Happy New Year!

 

What is the Best Thing about a White Christmas?

frontdoor
View from my front door

This morning, I’ve been looking out the window at the 10 inches of snow that fell on Christmas.  It is beautiful. The branches on my elm tree are sparkling in the sunlight. The streets are quiet because we have no snowplows in the south so most people are staying home. I feel relaxed because I don’t have to hurry to get ready and get out the door to get to the office by a certain time. In fact, I feel like I’m able to move at my own pace instead of at the pace of someone else’s expectations.

Is that it? Is it that the snow frees us from the usual expectations, takes away the pressure of rushing around to accomplish the too many tasks of our over-scheduled lives, and allows us to move at the pace we determine is correct to meet our immediate needs?

Is it the quiet that comes from the soft snow cushion that muffles sound, plus less traffic noise, and no airplanes passing overhead? Is it the beauty of the snow’s changing reflection of light that keeps pulling us into the moment?

All of these questions have run through my head as I’ve relished the quiet peacefulness of the day, lingered over coffee, left the TV off, and wiggled contentedly under the blanket covering my legs. I feel less pressured, more peaceful, and more connected to the being of life rather than the activities of life.  I am able to continually watch the light changing on the snow and stay right here in the moment.

It is as if the veil that clouds life’s possibilities has been lifted and I am free to explore what I want right this minute. I don’t have to try to get around to seeing my options once I’ve met everyone else’s deadlines (a time I know will not come before I’m too exhausted to care). I can stay in, or bundle up and go out. I can shovel my walk, or see how many funny looking footprints I can make. I can cook brownies and then cake and then the bread that has been rising to the warmth of the oven vent. There’s plenty of time for the bread to rise twice without me having to plan ahead. I can put on make-up or I can skip a shower. I can read a book, organize photos, meditate, do yoga, or just sit quietly and be with myself.

This is the kind of day I want to have every day – the kind in which I’m present in the moment, open to the possibilities, and deliberate in the activities I choose. For me, such a day always begins with stillness and quiet. That’s the very best thing about a White Christmas – beauty that keeps me focused in the moment, and the blank slate created by a blanket of stillness and quiet. It is from this place that all good things begin.

arbor
View from my kitchen window.

Holiday Indulgence–Is It Worth It?

For those of you who are tempted to fudge a little here and there, I recently asked myself this question–Was a recent holiday indulgence worth it?

After 9 months of strict adherence to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Thanksgiving arrived.  I cooked sweet potato pie, corn casserole, cornbread dressing (stuffing if you prefer), an amazing sweet potato and squash soup, and gluten-free macaroni and cheese for my extended family.  While I cooked, I tasted.  At the dinner table, I tasted.  For a couple of days afterward, there were leftovers in the fridge that…I tasted.  Now mind you, a taste isn’t a serving.  It’s just a couple of spoons full, and I never tasted anything containing harmful gluten.

Then came the cold December afternoon when I returned to my office ready for an afternoon snack.  No, not just ready…I felt like I was starving.  While I was out of the office, the most beautiful, red holiday basket had arrived.  Sporting a huge bow and from the most exclusive flower shop in town, it was filled with chocolate chip, key lime, and iced spice cookies, party mix, candy, and one gluten-free item – a tin full of dark chocolate hazelnut toffee.  Not more than 5 seconds after I finished reading the label, I ripped off the plastic seal and popped open that tin.

After all, I was starving and there were huge hazelnuts embedded in the toffee.  I broke the toffee away from a nut and popped it in my mouth.  After all nuts are allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  Still hungry, I continued.  The third nut I peeled had a tiny bit of candy still attached. Chocolate, caramel tasting sugar – YUM!  I didn’t try nearly as hard to remove all the candy from the fourth nut…or the 5th, 6th, or 7th.  After all, it was only sugar (not gluten) AND I had been strictly following the SCD, perhaps I was ready to reintroduce some items into my diet.  This justification worked so well for me that I used it again the next day when I pulled the lid off the tin.

Then came Christmas lunch.  May as well try the scalloped potatoes, and then finish off the toffee.

Four days later I have two New Year’s parties to attend and I am doubled over in pain or I would be if I weren’t talking to the repairman who’s here to fix the alarm.  I can’t believe I used to work like this all the time.  It feels like someone detonated a bomb below and to the right of my belly button.  I’m contemplating the minimum amount of time I can spend at each party because I’m afraid I may need to stick close to a bathroom.  I plan to take a second dose of activated charcoal and hope for the best.

In the midst of this pain and anxiety, I hear the question nagging at the back of my brain: Was straying off the SCD worth it?  Hmmm.  The toffee was delectable, and the potatoes satisfied my longing for filling carbohydrates, but now I’m on track for what may be a lengthy healing process.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm.  Was it worth it?

YES.  Yes, the transgression was worth it.

Ahhh yes, the transgression was worth it, but not in the hedonistic way you may think.  It was worth it because the discomfort I am experienced reminded me in a very concrete way WHY I choose each moment of every day to adhere to an eating plan which allows my body to heal. Such discomfort also serves as a reminder of how difficult it used to be to focus and function before I went gluten-free. I feel amazed and proud of my progress.

And I feel proud of you for wanting to feel your best and for being willing to make choices that will keep you on the path of healing.  To be tempted is to be human.  Give yourself a break if you weren’t perfect last week, but don’t use yesterday’s mistake as an excuse to give up on yourself or to stop making good choices.  Just use it as a reminder of WHY you choose to consume only foods that contribute to your optimum health.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Cheri

Let’s Talk Turkey

chili

 

Ever throw turkey burgers on the grill because you think they’re automatically healthier than regular burgers? Ever make turkey chili to appease a spouse who’s trying to lose weight? If you substitute ground turkey for ground beef in order to reduce the fat in your diet, but you also need to be concerned about calories, sodium, and cholesterol, you may not be making the best choice.

These days, general wisdom assumes that any white meat is healthier for you than red meat. Let’s see if a nutritional comparison supports that wisdom(1):

 

 

Ground Turkey 3oz, cooked                        Ground Beef 90% Lean 10% Fat                   Ground Beef 85% Lean 15% Fat

200 calories                                                     148 calories                                                           181 Calories

50% fat, 50% protein, 0% carbs                     51%fat, 49% protein, 0%carbs                      63%fat, 37% protein, 0%carbs

Total Fat 11.18g = 17%                                      Total Fat 8.4g=13%                                              Total Fat 12.6g=19%

    Saturated Fat 2.883 = 14%                              Saturated Fat 3.409g=17%                                Saturated Fat 4.927g=25%

Polyunsaturated Fat 2.747g                             Polyunsaturated Fat .389g                                Polyunsaturated Fat .364g

Monounsaturated Fat 4.159g                         Monounsaturated Fat 3.657g                        Monounsaturated Fat 5.506g

Cholesterol 87mg = 29%                                  Cholesterol 55mg=18%                                   Cholesterol 57mg = 19%

Sodium 91mg = 4%                                          Sodium 55 mg 2%                                             Sodium 55 mg=2%

Potassium 230mg                                              Potassium 270mg                                            Potassium 248mg

      Total Carbs 0%                                            Total Carbohydrate 0%                                      Total Carbohydrate 0%

Dietary Fiber 0g                                                Dietary Fiber 0%                                                   Dietary Fiber 0%

Sugars 0g                                                             Sugars 0G                                                                  Sugars 0G

Protein 23.27g                                                      Protein 16.8g                                                         Protein 16.25g

Vitamin A 0                                                          Vitamin A 0                                                           Vitamin A 0

Vitamin C 0                                                           Vitamin C 0                                                           Vitamin C 0

Calcium 2%                                                           Calcium 1%                                                            Calcium 1%

Iron 9%                                                                 Iron 10%                                                                 Iron 10%

The first thing you may observe is that all beef blends are not created equal.  Because the cost of leaner beef tends to be higher than either less lean beef or turkey, we must also factor in cost.  If budget is your primary concern, ground turkey is probably your best bet.

If your budget allows you to purchase leaner beef, then there are other factors to consider. Three ounces of ground turkey contains more calories and total fat grams than three ounces of 90% lean ground beef. The turkey also contains twice the sodium, a bit less iron and potassium, and 10% more cholesterol. Surprisingly, ground beef has fewer calories than turkey, but that’s partially because it has fewer grams of protein per ounce.

It seems the best conclusion we can draw is that your personal priorities will determine whether beef or turkey is healthier for you. If you need to limit sodium and cholesterol and reduce calories, choose the leanest beef you can afford. If you want to limit overall fat, then turkey is a better choice. Turkey is also a good choice when you want to increase the protein in your diet without increasing the saturated fat. Turkey will also be easier on your pocketbook…which can reduce stress…which can increase your health.

Now that you’re informed, you can enjoy your burger knowing you’ve made the very best choice for you whether you choose beef or turkey!

 

1)”Ground Turkey (Cooked).” Calories in and Nutrition Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2012. <http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/ground-turkey-(cooked)>.