With many of our family members and friends in different homes this day, we have the opportunity to switch up our traditional meal for something a bit lighter (and perhaps healthier?), and we wanted to share this delicious recipe with you for you to try later. On our menu, due to special request, we are breaking out the cauliflower, adding a little spice and crunch and calling it a wrap! Have a happy, healthy Thanks-giving day! Find the recipe here.
Everyone who makes the decision to improve their health and wellness is a winner in our book! Each little effort weighs in like gold and can only help you learn and grow. We just wanted to let all of you know that we appreciated your participation in this challenge and wish you all the best in the months to come!
Although it is likely impossible that we, as the human race, will ever know all there is to know, as science expands and knowledge increases, we understand more and more about our human condition and what that means in the realm of whole-body wellness. In addition to the physical and mental elements of health, experts have long recognized the human need to believe in something beyond ourselves. More than this, solid science recognizes that human health is altogether incomplete when only the physical and mental aspects of a person are nurtured and well kept. Though many would argue against this point, it has become altogether evident that we are spiritual beings. So what can a foundation of faith, this "God Time" as noted on our Wheel of Health, do for our life and wellness? We'll explore briefly some of the evidences below.
Researchers such as Dr. Herbert Benson (Harvard Medical School cardiovascular specialist), Dr. Andrew Newberg (University of Pennsylvania), T.M. Luhrmann (anthropologist), the National Institute of Health, and many others are recognizing more and more the significance of this spiritual element of human life and its overall impact on the whole being. They have discovered that individuals who daily experience a relationship with a loving God are found to extend their life expectancy by 2-3 years on average, compared to those who do not have an experience with God at all, or see God as punitive or arbitrary. Additionally, multiple studies have uncovered a correlation between daily prayer (to a loving God) and significant health benefits over those who do not pray. Some of the benefits noted are:
• Lowered blood pressure (40% less than peers)
• Increased immune function
• Lowered heart rate
• Relaxed breathing
• Improved recovery post-surgery or illness
• Deactivation of genes that trigger inflammation and cell death
Additionally, studies have also noted that individuals who feel that they have a direct connection with this loving God (in comparison with those who do not feel a loving connection with God or no god) experience:
• Less loneliness
• Lower stress levels
• Fewer psychiatric symptoms
Though experts agree that individuals who have this life-changing experience exhibit increased levels of dopamine and a greater overall sense of wellness and joy, they are not in agreement with the physiological logistics behind it. Some would argue in favor of the idea that some things in life simply cannot be explained. Whatever the case may be, the evidence is growing in relation to the benefits of such a relationship on human health.
To actively ponder and seek out the real answers to the deeper questions in life is part of what makes our lives as human beings meaningful: What is good? What is pure? What is noble? What is honest? What is just? What is right? What is truth? To challenge our own beliefs and determine to find the truth (like we did when we discussed the difference between foods that are "tasty" versus those that are truly "good"), not as we choose to perceive it, but as it really is, is a beneficial way to improve our overall wellness. It is incredibly important, at a neurological level, to ensure that our pondering is lively and stimulates beta wave production (that which is active during thinking and reasoning processes), as this helps stimulate our frontal lobe function and improve our overall health. This is the type of thought that takes place when one ponders the deeper meaning of a proverb or learning a new skill. When we allow ourselves to "zone out" and become hypnotized by repetitive thoughts or ideas, or allow ourselves to partake in passive thinking (such as being absorbed by modern forms of entertainment), our frontal lobe function shuts down, and with it, many vitally important psychological processes, such as reasoning.
And finally, in connection with prayer, we consider the spiritual component of gratitude. Our tendency as humans is often to dwell on that which is negative. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can benefit us enormously. Additionally, our gratitude should find an outward expression in the way we deal with ourselves and with those people and creatures outside of ourselves. One of the health experts I have learned the most from over the course of the last five or more years, Dr. Neil Nedley, offers a challenge to his participants during every wellness class he facilitates. This is the challenge of positive thinking. The idea is this -- to complete successfully the task of not thinking or speaking negative words towards or about anyone or anything for a consecutive 14 days; and, if someone does say or think anything negative, they must begin the fourteen day period all over again -- even if they completed the first 13 days successfully! It is a hearty challenge, to be sure, but one that can tremendously help improve our health.
We hope that this journey around your personal Wheel of Health has given you further insight into the areas you may need to focus more strategically on at this point in your life in order to achieve your goals and dreams. We salute all of you for your efforts this month, and wish you a very wonderful Thanks-Giving full of wisdom, watchfulness, and gratitude for the blessings in your life.
Until we meet again...
As our No Excuses November challenge draws to a close, one of the most important thoughts we can share with you is this -- we are only human. Our successes in life come from within based on the determination we possess to achieve our goals. Part of that determination stems from believing that we are worth it. And for that reason I would like to take the time now to remind you, you ARE worth it! Perhaps the strides you have made this month in improving or regaining your health and wellness seem rather small on the large scale, but remember, for every brick that is set in place, a home begins to form. You are on a journey to building a better life for yourself, step by step, brick by brick, piece by piece. Sometimes the obstacles we face seem monumental to us, but if we are determined, we can always overcome. Keep on going. We are confident you can get to where you want to be, whether by brute strength, help from friends, or a little ingenuity!
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be prepared for success.
Thanksgiving (if you celebrate) is just around the bend, it's up to you to decide whether the coming holiday will be your foe, or your friend. We hope you will continue through to the new year with the attitude of persistence. If you know that your tendency is to simply give up after having a week of feasting, think about ways to pick yourself back up after Thursday is gone. If you keep your momentum going, it will be easier to pick up your speed once again.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Forming new habits is a slow process for most, but well worth it. Be kind to others, they may not understand fully the challenges you're facing, or how much you want to achieve. Visit with your loved ones, if necessary about making adjustments to the meals you will eat. Eat an extra large, fiber-rich, whole-food meal to help curb the cravings for unhealthy options. Or set yourself a limit on how many pieces of pie you can eat. Chew everything thoroughly, including the sweets, and this will increase the feeling of satiety. Wait twenty minutes between your first plate and any seconds your tongue tells you that you must have -- often the tongue is a liar, and you'll feel that you are actually quite full after just one plate of food. And most important of all, go in with an "I can do it" attitude -- be prepared for success and you won't be disappointed.
Thus far we have discussed in brief the components of Rest, Air, Water, Nutrition, Exercise, Temperance, and Sunlight... but our Wheel of Health is not complete without DAY TWENTY-ONE. We will meet one last time for this challenge in the morning!
Once again we will begin our weekly break beginning after work this evening. Our meals are all ready, our work is nearly done, we have scheduled time with friends and loved ones. We love this day each week that we can take time to rest from the stress. We hope you have a lovely weekend, and we’ll touch base again next week!
One of nature's most healing agents, sunlight has the capacity to impact nearly every function of the human body at one level or another. A simple health promoting agent, sunlight not only plays an active role in maintaining good health, but it is also believed to be a critical part in helping to reverse various disease processes as well. We know that too much exposure can be a health hazard, but too little can be a health hazard too. We want you to be the healthiest version of yourself you can be, and that is why DAY SEVENTEEN will take us on a little journey through the warming rays of the sun, for your health, and not just for fun!
Though sunlight is known for it's role in vitamin D formation, most people do not realize that it is the action of the rays of the sun on the skin's sebum (natural oils) four hours after exposure which allows the body to manufacture this vital nutrient. It is a rather complex process, involving dietary tryptophan, B6 and other such components, which indicates that if one area falls short, the whole process can suffer. Frequently, our habit as humans is to shower as soon as possible after sweating while being outdoors, but in actuality, without these natural oils, our body fails to adequately process vitamin D. Additionally, we have a habit of blocking the sun from interacting with our skin by utilizing chemical agents which prevent burning (which is good), but also inhibits this vitamin D production (which is not good). Studies suggest that we need a minimum of 15 minutes of uninhibited exposure on at least fifteen percent of our skin surface each day to be healthy. For those living in the northern latitudes, experts suggest that this may not be enough to produce the vitamin D our body requires for good health (it may be wise to visit a specialist and have your vitamin D levels periodically checked). In the event that we are not producing enough, it may be wise to curb our habits to promote more vitamin D formation.
In addition to vitamin D production, sunlight also works with several other nutrients and chemicals in the body to produce melatonin, a night time hormone which helps the body repair and rejuvenate as we sleep. When our eyes are exposed to unfiltered sunlight early in the morning, our body sets in motion the chemical cycle that will result in melatonin production which in turn will help us sleep late at night. As with our human interference in the production of vitamin D, so it goes for melatonin as well. Rather than soap or sunscreen being the culprit of our failure to produce melatonin in the quantities and at the correct time, we can point the finger instead to sleeping in, to sunglasses and to window panes, to name just a few. All of these things contribute to our not getting enough unfiltered sunlight into our eye in the early morning when we need to in order to produce melatonin appropriately. It's important to spend a little time outdoors in the early morning light -- some have the habit of sitting on their porch taking in the rays while drinking a warm cup of herbal tea. You also can get your fresh Air this way.
Our winter time schedules often do not help matters. When we get up before dark, go into our artificially lit buildings, and then go home in the dark, it can really mess up our body functions. Some individuals cope with low light by purchasing specialized "blue light" units which emit 10,000 lux of special blue light to trigger melatonin production. Others spend time in tanning beds, or brave the cold like snow monkeys just to get enough light throughout the year. We, as always, recommend the natural approach whenever possible, but when sunlight is scarce and your health or sleep might be compromised, it is important to supplement to ensure you stay healthy.
Yesterday we were blessed with an amazing day for an sunlit outdoor stroll at noon, but when the days are frigid or cloudy, we encourage you to do the best you can to make sure sunlight stays in all of your days. Remember, the sunlight can penetrate the clouds to some degree too. You'll thank yourself for every effort you make when you feel those warm soothing rays of the sun reach to the depths of your soul (sunlight contributes to the production of serotonin -- the happy hormone -- too). Ten minutes, over fifteen percent of the skin, each day... that's a new goal!
Yesterday we discussed the difference between what is "tasty" (like Oreo cookies) and what is "good" (like apples). No matter what lifestyle program you adopt, it can be helpful to set a day to splurge a little. We have no hard and fast rules for picking a day to do this periodically, but we need to remember, the days we splurge need to be the exception and not the rule. Also, we'd like to pose the question: How much progress can someone make if they starve themselves for five days counting every calorie consumed, only to turn around on their splurge day and eat six double cheese pizzas, an extra large order of fries, a sugary soda (plus free refill) and a triple scoop of ice cream on the side? It's a really good thing to consider your options before proceeding.
Let's think this through a bit more. Remember, "good" vs. "tasty" -- a "good" treat will still be semi healthy (made from whole-food ingredients), while a "tasty" treat will taste oh-so-good, but may be filled with questionable ingredients, addictive additives, and high in fat, salt or cholesterol. We aren't suggesting you never indulge in a chocolate truffle ever again, but rather that you weigh the risks with the benefits. Many of us suffer with food addictions, and sometimes it's best to stay away from treats which may cause all our good wellness-related intentions to slip out the door. Sugar can be particularly deceptive in this way. Only YOU know your real weaknesses, and whatever they may be we encourage you to stand strong and keep trucking on! You're health and your life are worth the self-discipline it takes to make "good" choices vs. "tasty" ones.
Our next splurge? We are looking forward to joining our CHIP alumni and guests tonight, Thursday November 16 at 6:30pm at 602 Bordeaux Street to watch the "What the Health" documentary, enjoy some hearty soups and stews, and some homemade healthy pumpkin cinnamon rolls (whole wheat, low sugar) -- a little on the "tasty" side, but also relatively "good" too. If you'd like to join us for this free event, give us a call (seats are limited, but we still have room for more). Call 308.432.4558 to save your seats!
We're lingering a bit on food this week, because honestly, that's where a lot of us really struggle. Between family favorite recipes, and night's out with friends, we tend to enjoy whatever is dished up, but that's where the party ends. Sometimes the things we enjoy most are not really our friends.
While we are encouraging you to explore more wholesome whole-food options, we thought we'd review a vocabulary term we have adopted in recent years, "tasty" -- "tasty" as opposed to "good." You see, there can be a HUGE difference between something that is "tasty" and something that is truly and genuinely "good" for you. Even plant-based food options can be "tasty" rather than "good," and this is why, in line with our temperance discussions (previous), we thought it was time to encourage a broader definition of the word "good." Is it really "good" for you? This is food for thought as our challenge continues. Shall we opt for what is tasty, no matter how tasty it is? Or shall we opt for what is truly good?
The "good" news is that we have uploaded more healthy recipes for you, so be sure to check them out on our website -- we heartily recommend the Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew!
We are here on DAY FOURTEEN of our No Excuses November wellness challenge and we hope all is going well for you this week. As you strive to maintain your Water intake, fresh outdoor Air exposure, Exercise, and Rest, we thought we'd share with you one of the most helpful methods we have found for keeping up with a wellness program. What is it? Since our wellness is largely related to the foods we consume, we have adopted the use of a foodie folder. A foodie folder is a organizational folder used to store your favorite new recipes. When we first began putting serious efforts into our wellness journey nearly 20 years ago, we found that having healthy recipes on hand made living healthfully day-by-day significantly easier for us, and we know it can do the same for you!
Learning to cook more healthfully isn't always something that comes naturally to everyone. Our German heritage laid a foundation of cooking which involved significant amounts of high cholesterol, high fat, high sugar foods, and we knew that we needed to sort through family favorites and make changes, or replacements wherever we could. If you are serious about your wellness journey, it may be time for you to do the same.
We recommend using a three-ring binder with a plastic page sleeve on front and back covers. In addition, we have found that utilizing plastic page protectors not only prevents spills and splatters from damaging your treasure trove of recipes, but it also ensures you are able to make copies of a clean recipe page for friends and family when they ask. You may choose to organize your gathered recipes however you like. We have chosen to group into the following categories: Beverages; Dips, Spreads and Sauces; Entrees; Breads and Sides; Desserts; Personal Care (this is a great place to store home remedy or personal care recipes); and Fun (play dough recipes for the little ones, et cetera). Whichever categories you choose, we definitely suggest you organize because as your collection grows, you will ensure it is easily to find the recipe you are looking for. The front and back cover serve well as a quick access storage location for a recipe you wish to try soon, or as a photo collage space for your foodie adventures.
We hope you enjoy collecting new healthful recipes for your foodie folder. Be sure to share your favorites with your family and friends!
Babies aren't born with an instinctive draw to consume refine sugar, nor do they naturally lean towards overly salted or extremely sour foods. If you have ever watched an infant experience their very first taste of raw sugar, lemon, or snack chips, you can easily see their initial reaction to such things is naturally unfavorable. Reason suggests that the affinity for such food items is not innate, but rather learned, and begins after birth based on the foods that our primary caregivers provide through repetition. If then, our tastes are learned, does it not stand to reason then that they can be unlearned? Science has proven that this in fact is exactly the case.
As adults, often times or bodies fail to provide us with appropriate responses to the things we put in our mouths. As infants, the initial reaction our bodies present us with is frequently a warning signal that we need to be cautious about overconsumption of such items, or avoid them altogether. Having been conditioned throughout childhood to eat whatever comes our way, we frequently find that we have lost this natural response altogether. In our day and age, when food tends to be a conglomeration of isolated elements which are combined in order to extend the shelf life rather than to provide balanced nutrients or promote health, we actually run the risk of serious injury to our health by ignoring these natural warnings, and all the more in smaller infants. There are many experts who feel that this is in fact the case, and that the rise in food sensitivities, allergies, auto immune disorders, and other disease processes is a growing evidence of our ignoring our bodies red flags for far too long.
Teaching our taste buds to readapt is not all that difficult to do. The main method for doing so involves reducing the unhealthy food choices and replacing them largely with the healthy choices for a period of time. There are a great deal of chemical additives mixed in with our packaged foods that are actually designed to create a food addiction (search excitotoxins if you wish to know more) which further compel us to keep going back for more. It is certainly a challenge to beat some of these food addictions, but it is most assuredly possible. Some recommend replacing packaged foods with whole, plant based foods for a period of 21 days, but a rigid cleanse can actually help break food addictions in some individuals in as little as one week! This is typically the approach we suggest for hoping for significant transformations. Even so, there are some who find it is easier to overcome by eliminating one or two items over the course of a month, and doing so month by month until they have successfully transformed the majority of their food intake over a longer period of time. Whichever method you choose, it is helpful to have the support of your friends and family in order to strengthen your resolve to stick with it and ultimately reach your goals.
Unlearning old dietary habits and the love of lesser quality foods is something that anyone striving for balanced wellness should consider at some point in their journey. In our Western world, we tend to be inundated with literally millions of so called "food" choices that simply make us sick rather than promote health. You have been on this wellness challenge journey for almost two weeks now and if you have been diligent to keep up with the raw whole plant foods which we have suggested, you probably have seen an increase in your desire to consume raw whole plant foods on a daily basis (if not, keep it up, you are likely still cleansing and flushing out toxins). Our bodies recognize good nutrient sources, and as we continue to provide them, we will begin to "crave" these healthful items more and more. and eventually we will also crave the junk food items less and less.
This wraps up DAY THIRTEEN • Taste is learned... and unlearned -- we challenge you to keep up the good work, and to keep fighting to "unlearn" your negative food cravings day by day as you maintain your faithfulness to your wellness journey. We are glad you have chosen to make improvements in your life, and if food is a big one for you, we know you won't be disappointed as you find your wellness goals drawing nearer and nearer each day.
We will be taking a rest break (as we do every week) from our daily routine over the coarse of Day Eleven and Twelve. In combination with our challenge from last week to truly rest from the stress, and include mental relaxation too, coupled with time with friends and loved ones, we will be instituting DAY TEN • Detox too. We look forward to meeting you here again next week for more No Excuses November challenges. See you then!
Along with the need to rest physically, comes the need to rest at a cellular level. Our body's cells work hard. They may be small, but they are mighty, and every day they do a profound work. DAY TEN of our No Excuses November challenge is Detoxification, giving your cells a rest too.
Today's challenge is a simple one -- give your body a break from the less than great. Detoxification can be attained in many ways but the basics of it is this, eliminate the harmful and flood with good.
So what is good? Water is good. Fresh air is good. Fresh, whole-food nutrition is good. Our challenge to you today is a 24-hour fruit and veggie buffet, this will be especially beneficial if paired with nuts, nut cheeses, and dairy-free (low cholesterol) dip and spread options. Bread, a little oil and vinegar, crackers and hummus are also good to include. Beans and tortillas with tomatoes, olives, lettuce, and salsa is a good option for those in need of a heartier food. Your body cells will better be able to heal with a concentrated influx of whole, fresh food.
Other options include preparing whole-grain oatmeal or cooked whole grains (such as rye, barley, kamut, brown rice, millet, flax, et cetera) with fresh or dried fruits for breakfast (or veggies if you prefer) for breakfast -- an excellent way to start the day. Whole grain toast with garlic avocado spread, a baked, stuffed sweet potato and side of salad for lunch, and for dinner, a fresh spread of fresh finger foods that will easily digest before you go to bed. Or make a sandwich with tomato, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, and cooked sliced beets! (Beet sandwiches are one of our favorites.) You can simply let your imagination soar to come up with all kinds of delicious things!
While you are increasing the volume of fresh foods over the next day, be sure to keep up with your recommended water intake. With the influx of nutrients, you will want to ensure that any toxins that are released are readily flushed out with adequate water intake. Adding a slice or two of lemon to your water throughout the day can also boost alkalinity and help your body to detoxify too.
There are more radical detox routines, but we thought we'd start you off with something simple. You may experience symptoms of detoxification (headache, nausea, need to frequent the bathroom, mood changes or the need to be alone, et cetera) but coupled with the extra rest over the weekend, it shouldn't last very long. While not all methods are great for every body (example: diabetics will need to pay close attention to the changes they make, for more info try this link), please remember these are only suggestions for you to try -- adapt them as necessary to your particular needs. Always use your best judgement, and if in doubt, don't (it may be necessary to talk to your doctor if you are currently under a physician's care).
NOTE: Once again, we will be taking a rest from our daily work week, but will catch up with you again at the start of next week. Be sure to keep up with your current wellness challenges and have a restful week end (at the cellular level too).
On days seven and eight, we took a look at our will (power of choice) and the miraculous function of the brain's hypothalamus in making or breaking our wellness through our thoughts. Though it's true that we can literally turn on or off the chemical signals in our body that promote or inhibit health, no matter how much we will to think ourselves physically fit, we will never grow muscle without putting our mental actions into physical efforts. This holds true for all areas of our health -- water, air, rest, nutrition, temperance, et cetera. Today, it's time to start thinking more heavily about another key component to our wellness routine. Join us now for DAY NINE • Exercise, and not just any exercise, but physical exercise .
What constitutes "physical exercise" exactly? Physical exercise is defined as "any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness." While mental exercises, like learning to think positively and retraining our brain to think truly good thoughts, are important to your health, physical exercise is crucial to optimal health. As we noted in Day One's lesson on Water and the importance of moving that water throughout the body through motion, and Day Two's lesson on fresh air and its impact on whole body health, exercise is the only way to ensure that our body is adequately utilizing the components of health we provide it. And no matter your current fitness level, you can implement strategies for improvement, even if they are small at first.
One of our favorite ways to introduce exercise to individuals who have either never really formed the habit, or for those who have been unable to maintain their routine and have fallen off the proverbial "wagon," is the simple act of walking. Walking not only pushes water through the body (see Day One) effectively helping import nutrients and wash away toxins, but it also moves oxygen to each and every cell, including those in the brain. Exercise (physical movement) in effect, is critical for optimal health... and most of us do not get enough. Thirty minutes of walking alone has tremendous health benefits, is easily accomplished by most at some point throughout the day (if made a priority), and does not take much more than a pair of good walking shoes (with a pair of "ice cleats' in the winter for outdoor use).
A very close second to walking, as an introductory routine, is that of the Seven Minute Workout. This simple routine can be easily adapted to suit most individual fitness levels and skill types via moderation (or when necessary, exchanged of) of the suggested exercises. The Seven Minute Workout is known as a HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine, and as such it is one of the most effective routines for increasing health and vitality with minimal time required and virtually no equipment necessary. If you'd like to check out this short routine, there are a myriad of smart phone apps available, or you can view a preview here. If you'd like to know more ways to adapt this routine to fit your personal needs or restrictions, please feel free to give us a call and we'll be happy to provide recommendations wherever we are able.
Most people say to themselves, "I don't have time to exercise" and while it does take a certain amount of commitment and time to implement any wellness routine, exercise is not one that you have to skip. A thirty minute walk, and seven minutes of strength building can boost your health significantly, and in a relatively short amount of time. For those who have concerns about limited mobility or other health issues, there are options for you. We'd like to recommend you check out this video for ideas. (As always, use your best judgement, and if in doubt talk to your doctor, especially if you are under current care for any medical condition.)
For those of you who are already on the walking routine and wish to pick up the intensity of your workout, we recommend a set of home weights for basic strengthening exercises. This does not entail spending an hour or two of your time to pump iron. We advocate (and personally use) a short 15 minute workout, whether in the local gym or in the home to build and maintain peak fitness. In combination with a steady cardiovascular routine, proper nutrition, and stretching for mobility (which we will discuss later), you will be in line for a better, healthier and happier you in no time!
We challenge you to implement one or more of the strategies above if you have not thought about, or are just now implementing your wellness exercise routine. You're doing great so far, and with each additional step you'll be that much closer to your ultimate goals!
To find out more about how to implement a 15-minute workout with home weights, give us a call at The Great Escape Massage & Wellness Center LLC in Chadron (308) 432.4558.
Moderation or voluntary self-restraint, this is what constitutes temperance. Yesterday we looked at the importance of positive thinking in relation to our decision making. What we allow ourselves to believe is "good" or "bad" will ultimately drive our actions. Understanding this can help us to make an important mental paradigm shift and to think more deeply about the ever day choices we are faced with in regard to our health and wellness.
Temperance, for some, unfortunately brings with it a negative connotation of elimination of fun and happiness due to imposed restraint (thanks to the Prohibition), yet alcohol alone is not the only object of desire over which temperance can be implemented. Temperance can effectively be implemented over all things harmful, of which overconsumption of alcohol is included for many. As noted yesterday, it is important to evaluate the truths and lies that we tell ourselves. Not every golden door leads to perfect health, bubbly or not. There are a wide range of marketed products and promoted ideas that provide a solitary element or component of health, but fail to provide the complimentary components which are necessary for whole wellness. We discussed the idea that whole foods have multiple components which the body needs for proper digestion and assimilation, and thus is suggested the notion that perhaps not all supplements are what they ought to be (this is not to say they are all bad either). We know and understand that walking is important for moving water throughout the body, but it is not necessarily true that we should walk from morning until night either -- we need rest and nutrition too. Implementing temperance involves weighing the facts and striving to choose the options that best promote optimal health and wellness.
Today's thought can be summed up nicely in the following brief statement:
"All good things in moderation."
Therefore, as you continue to work towards redefining what is "good" or "bad" in your lineup of options, and weigh the evidences against your beliefs, we hope you will let this thought guide you.
Any time an individual begins a so called "health journey" they often have the immediate realization of the weakness of their will power. As we draw to the close of our day, we wish to present you with our No Excuses November wellness challenge for DAY SEVEN & EIGHT • Testing your temperance, which is a crucial point and one necessary for you to achieve your goals. Temperance (a.k.a. self control) is defined as "moderation or voluntary self-restraint." Practicing temperance will help ensure you are able to beat your own worst enemy -- self. But how can this be done? We'll tell you in just a moment.
First we would like to ask you, what is "wellness"? Merriam-Webster's definition reads, "the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal," and we think that's a pretty fair verbal depiction. Knowing this, what then will drive you to attain the epitome of wellness? Your mind -- your thoughts, your beliefs, and your values all drive you in the direction of your destination. "Whatever you think, you believe; whatever you believe, you become" is a powerful visual of your reality. Why? Our thoughts produce our beliefs, and our beliefs produce our actions. If you believe in your heart that Twinkies are healthy, then there is nothing in your thoughts to stop you from eating them. It is time to sit down and be serious with yourself about your present thoughts. Are they true? Accurate? Backed by solid science? Does the current state of your health prove that you are the epitome of wellness? If not, then which of your current thoughts or beliefs are inaccurate? Take a moment, grab your pen and paper and start scribbling your thoughts and beliefs about "wellness". Then add your present state of wellness to your scribbles, be sure to include your current actions towards wellness (a few writing prompts are included below). When you are through, join us on a brief journey further into your inner workings.
There is a marvelous teeny little part of our brain that has BIG power to determine our wellness. "Whatever a man thinks in his heart, so is he," is a well known proverb that has modern scientific evidence to prove its worth. The hypothalamus "links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland." "That's great," you say, "but what does that mean?" It means that our hypothalamus has the capacity to literally take our thoughts and produce chemical instructions within our body to make our physical body line up with the thoughts we think. For example, if we think in our heart, "I am dying," our body will literally begin to produce chemical signals that direct our physical body to follow the direction of that thought! That's incredibly powerful information. No wonder scientists have stated that 90% of all disease begins in the mind! What happens then, if we determine to think positive thoughts? "I WILL succeed." "I CAN do this." "I am getting BETTER." "I am WORTH it!" You do the math -- if negative thoughts produce negative results in the body, positive thoughts will ultimately produce positive results. It's all in the thoughts you allow yourself to think!
What does this have to do with temperance? Temperance, or voluntary self restraint, is a result of our thoughts. When we think something is good for us, our hypothalamus will ultimately lead us to choose the path of that which we think is good. When we think something is bad for us, our hypothalamus will ultimately lead us to avoid the path of that which we think is bad. Our thoughts produce our beliefs which produce our actions. If our actions are not lining up with what we believe is best, then it's very likely we have inaccurate thoughts (small or large) blocking the path to our success. If we believe exercise is good, but we fail to exercise, then it's likely we have little thoughts like, "I don't feel like exercising right now," or "I'd rather watch the rest of this show first." Which, in turn, inhibits our actions from having a straight shot at success. Look at your thought list again. Do you have false thoughts causing you to compromise? "Just this once." "It's a special event." "I just don't care today." "I'll be good tomorrow." "It's just a little piece." By evaluating or "testing" our thoughts, we indirectly test our temperance or self control. If we lack self control, it is our thoughts which are the culprit.
The most important challenge you will ever have in achieving wellness is the battle over your thoughts. Replacing false or negative thoughts with true and positive thoughts is the only way you will gain control of your self and be able to successfully practice the art of temperance. The good news is that it IS possible, it simply takes being more aware of the thoughts that drive your actions. Truth, when you think it, will become a belief, and that belief will become an action, and that action will set you free -- free from the "old me."
Analyzing My Thoughts
If you have trouble analyzing your thoughts on your own, the following questions may help you get started.
What is "wellness" to me?
Is my family the epitome of wellness?
What are my family's health habits now?
What are my health habits now?
Is my Wheel of Health able to roll (see DAY ONE)?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
What are my "triggers"?
What social support do I have?
False Thoughts in My Family
Something else you may wish to seriously consider is the topic of your family history. Our family is typically the source of our core beliefs and values; our morals, our habits, our view of ourselves and our world. Our families do all they can to raise us right, but sometimes we grow up in situations where the beliefs that are imparted to us aren't entirely accurate, and sometimes they can be downright wrong or even harmful to us. One area of discussion that is often overlooked when confronting our "inherited thoughts" is that of health and wellness -- particularly in the area of nutrition. My family, for example, is largely German in heritage, and what was considered to be "healthy" food in the era which my great grandparents were raised in has since been proven not to be the best for my health or that of my family in our current age. Why? Instead of being a hardy labor force, full of farmers and herders, a great many of us now sit or are relatively idle during the majority of our waking hours in comparison to our ancestors. My present lifestyle habits required me to make some significant changes in order to improve my health, and once I committed to these beliefs, the journey became so much easier for me. At first, there was resistance to my wanting to change family traditions (not only from my family members, but myself as well!). Once people began to see how much my health improved though, they began asking questions wanting to know how they could change their lifestyle too. The thoughts and experiences I shared, in turn, began to bridge the gap for others to find wellness for themselves, and since that time, the wave has continued to roll. It's important to remember that it all begins with our thoughts, if you are leery of starting big, then start small. Either way, your life is sure to improve.
Thus far, the intensity of our wellness trek has been relatively mild. Water, Air, Rest, and the bare bones of Nutrition. From here on out, we will begin to pick up the pace. Be certain to evaluate any issues you may have with Temperance over the next two days. And by all means, feel free to share thoughts of those things which have helped you!
In our profession, we talk about the benefits of massage nearly every single day, but did you know massage not only brings out the best in humans but sometimes in kale too! Really, it's true! Kale is one of our more common vegetables that people tend either to love or hate. It has a firm bite for a leafy green and depending upon the season and variety it can also be a little bitter, but experts such as Julie Thompson of Kitchen Daily know that "a quick five-minute rubdown can transform this green from being bitter and tough to turning it silky and sweet" and make it much more palatable to eat.
Kale is a personal favorite for us. Though it can occasionally be difficult to purchase in our neck of the woods, whenever we have the opportunity to purchase or accept some, we find ourselves adding it happily to soups, stews, smoothies, salads and the occasional holiday casserole. Kale is a nutrition powerhouse (it gets a whopping 1000 for its ANDI score!) and it also lends itself very well to high protein fitness menu plan without the concern over cholesterol or protein induced kidney damage (read more).
In order to celebrate the goodness of kale and encourage you to explore the options for eating more raw whole plant based foods (DAY SIX of our No Excuses November challenge) we wanted to share some simple recipes with you, and some of our personal favorites too!
Check out our collection of salad recipes here.
We know it's early on Sunday for some, but since we opted for an early wake cycle and starting the week off right, we are feeling good and we wanted to get in gear a little earlier than planned. We thought we'd start off with a brief overview of our challenge list so far:
There, that's not so hard, right? How are you doing so far? Have you taken a break, have you been able to accomplish your personal goals? Be sure to focus on the positive - what you did well - and keep trekking forward from there.
Now to prepare for WEEK TWO! We've got some wellness treasures in store for you. Today is the day to reevaluate, revise, reinvent your goals if you need to. Sometimes we discover that we may have bit off more than we can chew in one bite... keep your goals realistic, adopt the changes you feel confident you can make, and if you weren't able to get even remotely close to a desired goal, perhaps rewrite it in a way that will help you to get half-way there. Baby-steps are ok if you're just starting out. Remember, with any adjusting you do, be sure to keep your ultimate goal in plain view, lest it elude you.
The human body is an intrinsically complex biological machine which requires a myriad of nutrients in order to function properly. Each fruit and vegetable available to us holds within it all the components necessary for our body to digest and assimilate its nutrients. Not only do our bodies require the various macro and micronutrients found in plants, but often we also require the phytochemicals for proper digestion and assimilation as well. Eating a large variety of whole unrefined plant foods throughout our week is the only way to ensure we are obtaining adequate amounts of each nutritional component necessary for proper health and function throughout our lives (we will discuss vitamin D and B12 later). As full-fledged Americans, thanks to our modern day convenience foods, we often fall very short in our consumption of these vital nutrients, and as a result we suffer from maladies such as sluggishness, cold and flu, anxiety, depression, cancer and more. But it doesn't have to be that way.
DAY SIX of our No Excuses November program hits this concern at its core with the challenge to consume at least one whole raw plant based food at each meal. Whether you elect to add kale, tomatoes, cabbage, apples, grapes, sweet onions, celery or something else, try to have a side dish that is a nice portion of your overall meal, and is mostly or totally raw. Vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli are best raw or lightly steamed, but still tender crisp. There are a wealth of salad recipes available that offer far more than lettuce as a base. A basic vegetable tray with a few homemade dips, sauces or spreads are another excellent, time-efficient way to include fresh foods in a simple way.
We need nutrients from our food to survive and thrive. The pharmaceutical and supplement companies know this fact well, and that is why they so often attempt to profit off of our necessity. Yet, no matter how hard they try, they will never be able to outdo what was already designed for us in nature. Mankind can never bottle, reinvent, repackage or repurpose what was already created inside each plant. There is a time and a place for every good thing, and it is always best when it comes in the original package.
Remember, this challenge isn't over the top, we aren't suggesting you eat all raw -- just one item at every meal. We know you can do it! Good luck and have fun!
Evening everyone! As our busy work week draws to a close, it is time to stress the importance of... taking a break from the stress. Our body needs time to unwind, to reset, be nourished, and heal, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. We challenge you today, to take a REAL break, to make time for yourself and your loved ones (pets included). Take a breather from technology. Separate yourself wholly from work (it will still be there when you get back), to kick up your feet and relax, laugh, play and maybe even cry if you need to. Unplug yourself from the wires and wireless connections, pick up the journal and write, get the watercolors out and paint, read to your hearts content. Enjoy nature... real, genuine nature, with your family or friends. Take time to think deeply, to pray if you wish, to pour out your heart, and spend time listening in return. Try cooking your meals in advance, so you have all the time in the world for quality time before it slips away. Today, and tomorrow are going to be a great day! Now, sit back, turn on some relaxing music and unwind. Now's the time!
We will be taking a break too, so we'll catch back up with you in about 72 (hours that is). Be sure to keep working at our wellness challenge goals from Day One and Two, Water and Fresh Air.
Folks, it's cold outside! Yet, no matter how chilly it may be, it will not get us off the hook for today's challenge. Our tendency as the temperature drops is to close all the windows and doors, grab a hot mug of herbal tea and hunker down wherever the warmth may be. But DAY TWO of our No Excuses November unabashedly reminds us of the importance of regular exposure to fresh air.
When we consider that the human body only has a life expectancy of about three minutes without air, we know it's pretty important stuff. The most beneficial air is that found amongst pine trees, and moving water such as waves and waterfalls. This air is known as "negatively charged" air (in this case, "negative" is positive). Negatively charged fresh air induces a state of peacefulness, decreases survival of harmful pathogens, and improves our sense of wellbeing.
One way to ensure we have adequate exposure to negatively charged fresh air is by opting for the outdoor walk instead of the treadmill, even when it's cold outside. As we mentioned yesterday, at least 30 minutes of movement (such as walking) is best. There are great products available now for those leery of slipping on ice, which simply slip over our shoes or winter boots to afford much better traction (YakTrax is one familiar brand). So really there are no excuses not to get your fresh air, even this time of year.
For those who simply cannot make the outdoor walk work, there are other options which may help. Try closing off your bedroom at night and crack a nearby window, add a few extra blankets for warmth and sleep peacefully, slippers nearby (in case of midnight trips to the restroom) -- it's actually a well documented fact that we sleep more soundly when we are exposed to fresh, crisp air during the night. Drive with the window cracked in the car on your morning or evening commute. Or take 10 minute breaks to practice your deep breathing in front of an open office window occasionally throughout the day. The added bonus to this, is that a few moments in fresh air (especially when combined with movement) will help your clarity of thought and can even boost productivity!
All excuses aside, be sure you get some fresh air today! (And remember to drink your daily amount of water too.)
We all know the importance of water in the body. Today begins DAY ONE of your 21 day challenge with The Great Escape Massage & Wellness Center LLC in Chadron. If you haven't already considered how much water you drink in an average day, you should! Experts recommend a simple equation for determining the proper amount for you: take your body weight (pounds) and divide that number by two, the resulting number is the number of ounces of pure water you should strive to consume in a single day. If you are under a large amount of stress, are very physically active, or are exposed to extreme cold or heat, you will need to up your intake.
Another important factor to consider when increasing your water is that water is fluid. It flows, it moves and it washes away toxins. In order for water to do its best job in your body, you need to move! So, along with increasing your intake if necessary, be sure to strive for at least 30 minutes of movement (walking is great!) each day throughout this challenge... it will make the water you drink do more for you!
TIP: Some of us don't like drinking water. If you don't like the flavor of water, try adding slices of fruit such as lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, cucumber, lightly crushed berries, et cetera, to improve the palatability. If you are not a fan of drinking cold water, run it through an empty coffee pot, warm it slightly in a tea kettle, or simply run warm water from your tap. If you aren't able to walk to increase movement (icy streets, no walking buddy, or other), massage and stretching are two other excellent ways to push that water through your system!
What is it? No Excuses November is the first of a series of better days for you (and your friends and family too). Beginning November 1 through 21, we are inviting anyone who wants some added motivation to stay in touch for three weeks worth of encouragement geared towards your lifestyle and wellness success.
Why are we doing this? For FREE!? (We’ve had a lot of questions to that effect.) The short answer to that question is that we know how much social support means to the success of lifestyle change. We know how it feels to be on track, and how it feels to be derailed. We’re ready to get ourselves together, and thought we would offer our support and encouragement to others on the way.
DAY ONE • Set your goals!
Although we know that some of you have already done so, day one of No Excuses November is a perfect time to sit down and determine your ultimate goals. Do they involve stress relief, moving more, having more energy, trimming down, more social time? Jot them down and place them somewhere you can see them each morning. Once you have done that, it’s time to determine your action plan. Identify your biggest challenges. Choose achievable markers of progress. Gather your supplies. (And talk to your supervising doctor if necessary.)
WEEK ONE • Ready. Set. Go!
We are excited to begin this “reset” for ourselves and hope you’re excited too! Though our goals are personal to each of us, we are all aiming for success no matter how large or small. To help you achieve your goals, we will be providing daily lifestyle tips covering any number of different topics such as stress relief, nutrition, environment, water, sleep, et cetera. If you have questions, be sure to holler, we’ll help wherever we can. We’ll be posting updates to Facebook and maintaining a database of useful information on our website (www.thegreatescape4u.com). No more excuses!
THE EIGHT "LAWS" OF HEALTH
Life is a balancing act. As we grow and develop (well into adulthood) and determine who we are and what role we play in this lifetime, we are constantly managing a myriad of different factors that make, or break, our wellness. What are these factors? In short they are Air (fresh oxygen), Water (daily intake, eight 8 ounce glasses minimum), Nutrition (fresh whole foods), Rest (sleep and relaxation), Exercise (strength, cardio and stretching), Sunlight (moderate daily sun exposure), Temperance (abstaining from what is harmful), God Time (uninterrupted spiritual time with God). [Note: Some people also included Generosity and Gratitude as key factors in a well balanced life.] Determining how well you are currently managing your key lifestyle factors can be an eye opening activity well worth taking a detour for. Using the chart and simple instructions below, mark your own progress to determine how "balanced" your life currently is, the answer may surprise you!
Lastly, imagine yourself taking away the rest of the design, leaving only the center dot and the dots you drew along with their connecting lines. Would your "Wheel of Health" roll like a well formed circle? Would it get very far at all? This exercise should give you a picture of how well you are doing, and whether or not you have areas which have room for improvement. The object, to have a "wheel" that rolls like a well balanced circle. By focusing on each area of your life one by one, you can improve your wellbeing and help others along the way!
MAIN "MENU" • Meal Planning & More
For most of us, meal time is a big issue. We work hard, play hard, and sleep hard, and often there doesn't seem to be much energy left for cooking healthful meals in between. The irony of this problem is that it is all too often our fast and convenient foods that slow us down, sap us of our energy, and generally make us feel "blah". So what's the best answer for meal planning? Honestly, this varies with each individual and family and to give a one-size-fits-all answer here would simply be self-defeating for many of us. That being said, there are several key thoughts I'd like to share about nutrition here:
FOOD CRAVINGS ARE OFTEN TRIGGERED BY
Poor nutrition value
Addictive substances (MSG, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, sugar/refined starches, etc.)
MEAL TIME SUCCESS COMES FROM
Selecting high nutrient foods
Incorporating high fiber foods
Keeping it simple
Drinking plenty of water between meals
"Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, dinner like a Pauper"
(eat a large, fiber rich breakfast; a moderate, nutrient dense lunch, and a small, light supper if anything at all - this helps self regulate metabolism, ensure better sleep and avoid GERD)
ALWAYS HAVE A HEALTHY PLAN "B"
Let's face it. Life happens. Knowing this, it's important to always have a healthy plan "B" ready for the unexpected. High fiber, nutrient rich foods make better on-the-go meals as they digest more slowly and provide the body with essential fuel which ultimately keeps those hunger pains at bay. Freezer meals and make-ahead meals are wonderful fail proof ways to ensure there is no last minute trip to the local fast food chain. Smoothies, especially green smoothies are another nice alternative, coupled with a healthy whole grain bagel or veggie loaded burrito.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR FAVORITE HEALTH-RELATED WHOLE-FOOD SITES
Forks Over Knives
Chadron CHIP Club (local)
Oh She Glows
Engine 2 Diet
And remember to take a peek at our RECIPES page too!
Stay tuned for more...
NOTICE: The information provided herein is meant for educational purposes only. We accept no liability for your use of the information provided. As always, use your best judgment and if in doubt, please consult your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.