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Keeping a gratitude journal can improve your health

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

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A couple of days ago, IUHRYTR posted a blog about writing a gratitude journal and asked us to join him in this exercise.

I have been keeping a gratitude journal for 5 years. I started this after I read an article about a study that was done on a group of 1,000 people. At the beginning of the study, the people were given medical (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) testing as well as psychological testing. The participants were then divided into 3 groups.

Group 1 journaled one thing they were upset about that day.
Group 2 journaled one thing they were envious about that day.
Group 3 journaled one thing they were grateful for that day.

After one year, the participants were given the same medical and psychological tests as at the beginning of the study. The groups that daily journaled something that they were upset or envious about had higher blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and/or higher cholesterol levels -- their physical health had suffered in some way over the year. And their psychological health scored lower than at the beginning of the study as well.

However, the group that journaled something that they were grateful for each day improved their scores on both their medical and psychological tests. Being grateful actually helped the third group improve their physical and emotional health.

What better reason to start a gratitude journal? Repeating IUHRYTR's challenge -- Will you join us on this journey?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TOTALLYTARA 1/3/2010 12:26AM

  A gratitude journal seems like a really cool idea. I have never thought of that before. I might just take it up!
I know a group of girls on youtube called the fiveawesomegirls and for one year each girl would have a day to post a video each week and in all of their videos they said why that day was awesome. Their project reminded me of the similarities between a gratitude journal and their videos.

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TERI99 12/29/2009 8:23AM

    How interesting! It would seem obvious that the emotional effects of grateful thinking would be positive. How fascinating that the physical effects follow suit! Not surprising, I suppose.


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GABY1948 12/29/2009 8:22AM

    I also loved Lou's gratitude journal blog and this is even more reason to start. I will begin today. I am always a grateful person to God but in thought and prayer. I will make an effort to actually write it down now. Thanks so much!

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IUHRYTR 12/29/2009 7:03AM

    Thank you for following up on this idea I read about in Woman's World magazine. Thanks, too, for the insight on the studies. Guess it does show that focusing on the positive has medical benefits. I'm grateful for having read this today. Be well. -- Lou

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MUSHCAT 12/29/2009 3:29AM

    I will be happy to begin a Gratitude journal. I will challenge myself to blog everyday and add a gratitude to each day's blog. I will also record my gratitude in a separate word document so that I will have a list of 365 gratitudes for 2010.

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Thanks for the life preserver!

Monday, December 28, 2009

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I'm home recovering from neuroma removal and bunion correction on both feet. I'm supposed to keep my feet elevated above my heart for at least 2 weeks. The first week, I felt too crumby to get around much, and stayed at a friend's house, who brought me healthy meals. Now I'm home, and able to get around a little better -- get my own ice packs each hour, make my own meals. I found myself eating (over eating) out of boredom and self-pity.

I had not been on SparkPeople for over a week while staying at my friend's house, as she did not have wireless internet. So, I was not recording my food. I decided I needed to reconnect and be accountable with my food. So, I'm back -- in more ways than one. I'm back in connection with people who share my goals and encourage me. I'm back to reading others blogs and how they got through various challenges. I'm back to recording my food and being accountable. I'm back to conscious eating. I'm back to basics - 3 meals and a snack daily. I can't exercise like I used to right now, but I can use hand weights for a light upper body workout.

Thank you, SparkPeople, for being my life preserver. You saved me from the slippery slope of emotional eating. You guys are awesome, and I thank God for the gift you are to me -- the best Christmas present ever!

Together we can do what we cannot do alone.

Nancy
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROCKYCPA 12/28/2009 7:37AM

    Sorry to hear about your surgery but glad that you are healing and feeling better. SparkPeople really is a good life support system and I am sure you will be back on track as soon as you are able. Have a good holiday season.

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GABY1948 12/28/2009 6:06AM

    As I told you before, I had the same surgery over a year ago. I didn't have to have my foot elevated for so long...but I am sure you will agree soon it was so worth it. So glad you had it done and are mending and getting back to normal. I have had so many foot surgeries in the past 2 years (but they are all done now and so worth it) and my dumbbells became my best friends!

Take it easy and it will soon be a past memory! Huggs,
Gaye

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IUHRYTR 12/28/2009 3:28AM

    Wondered what happened to you. Good to read that you're healing okay. Congrats on your positive attitude. -- Lou

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Reaction to “Diabetes: The Quiet Killer”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am taking a Healthy Eating class at College of DuPage. My professor is the one who introduced the class to Spark People. Last week in class, we watched a documentary on diabetes and were asked to write a reaction paper to the movie. Following is my paper.


Diabetes Reaction Paper
Physical Education 1154

Just before coming to class, I ate a piece of anniversary cake. Then I saw the movie, “Diabetes: The Quiet Killer” in class – and it scared me. I have a family history of women getting Type II diabetes. My mother passed away from a heart attack 5 years ago tomorrow (November 5). She was a cardiac care nurse, yet due to her Type II diabetes numbing her nerves, she did not realize that the pain in her chest was a heart attack. Rather than going to the emergency room or calling 911, she waited 3 hours to get into her doctor’s office. This movie really hit home for me.

Type II diabetes can be caused by either reduced insulin production by the pancreas or by insulin resistance – the inability for glucose to enter the cells. Diabetes can harm eyes, nerves, kidneys; damage blood vessels leading to heart disease and stroke; can reduce blood flow to parts of the body, especially the feet, causing pain and slow healing. According to the movie, 220 people a day get an amputation due to diabetes. Now that is scary.

Some of the lifestyle changes that minimize or prevent this disease are: Exercise regularly and consistently, eat balanced meals low in fat, eat low-glycemic foods, limit sugary foods, eat smaller meals more frequently, check blood sugar levels if pre-diabetic or diabetic, keep weight under control, and manage stress.

The movie pointed out that there is a strong genetic component to diabetes, with Asians, African Americans and Latinos being most affected. I don’t know if there is a genetic component to Type II diabetes. But since I have a family history of Type II diabetes, I try to do many of the aforementioned preventative lifestyle changes. I have a sweet tooth, though, so it is often best for me to just avoid eating sweets. This time of year is especially challenging with the holidays coming up. The ability to be able to exercise at the college Fitness Center before school 2 or 3 days a week sure makes it easy to implement the regular exercise. I also have 2 big dogs who want nothing more than a long walk in the dog park on weekends. I used to eat a lot of raw fruit and veggies, daily. But since I got braces, the raw foods are harder to chew. I need to be more creative in getting my fruits and veggies in now. This class is reinforcing my need to eat healthier and be persistent with my exercise routine.

I was doing some reading online recently about diabetes, knowing that this paper was coming up. I came across a British Medical Journal study on diabetes prevention. The study followed over 13,000 participants, ages 20 – 90, for over 4 years, who ate the traditional Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes, and fish but relatively low in meat and dairy products. This large prospective study showed that a traditional Mediterranean food pattern is associated with a significant reduction (35%) in the risk of developing Type II diabetes. (1)

Our health care system is really a disease care system. It is easier to get an amputation than to see a podiatrist. There is something seriously wrong with that. Our attitude that we can eat poorly and not exercise and a pill will cure us of whatever ails us is going to bankrupt our healthcare system. I need to take individual responsibility for my health. In my opinion, it costs less to prevent disease than to cure it.

The movie ended with Patti LaBelle saying that there is a cure for diabetes – we are the cure. Diet alone is not enough, it also takes exercise. I’m grateful for this Healthy Eating class that is helping me on my “eating right” journey to preventing the family curse of Type II diabetes.

_____________________
(1) Martínez-González, M Á, “Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of developing diabetes: prospective cohort study.” British Medical Journal. 2008. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. November 3, 2009.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDA! 11/10/2009 10:53PM

    Great blog!!

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GABY1948 11/10/2009 8:38PM

    I hope you get an A+ on this paper. It is awesome! I lost a friend a year ago yesterday...who was only 54 from diabetes. Type II runs in my family also but I so agree that people need to change how they eat AND exercise. MOVE those bodies!
Thanks for this post.
Gaye

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KPMAMA82 11/10/2009 3:09PM

    Excellent paper!
My husband is overweight and at his last physical was diagnosed as Pre-diabetic. Talk about a wake-up call! I've done some research and discovered that most people who are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes have been "pre-diabetic" and never knew it. The American Diabetic Association estimates that there are 57 MILLION people in the US who are pre-diabetic and the majority of them show NO SYMPTOMS. The thing is, a pre-diabetic diagnosis can be reversed if the condition is caught before it crosses over to Type II diabetes. A recent study concluded that by combining diet changes with a regular exercise program, there is a 58% reduction in the progression to Type II diabetes! And we've seen it in my husband. He changed his diet first and didn't see a big change in his blood sugar level. But then he added 30 minutes of daily exercise to his routine and his blood sugar level dropped 25 points! Just 30 minutes of exercise did that! His levels are almost back to normal now, and we're thinking he dodged a bullet!
So, sorry for babbling on, but this hit close to home. I appreciate your posting this on your blog. Perhaps I should post something on mine too!
THANKS!
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MARY1313 11/10/2009 12:45PM

    Thanks for this article. After I quit smoking two years ago right in the middle of menopause, I gained about 40 lbs. I now have type II diabetes. My wieght is all around my middle. I attended a diabetes class at a local hospital and got lots of information that I so desparately needed. I was also given a free meter and shown how to use it. I was given a lot of literature on carbs and a book of foods that have their carb counts listed. I was advised to keep my carbs down to 50 per meal. I also found out that this would just about insure that my calorie intake would be around 1300 to 1400 if I kept the carbs down to about that level.

Two months later I have lost 15 lbs. I feel great and am exercising nearly every day. On the days that I don't exercise during a set time, I go to the mall and walk around fast and window shop. I take my little Poodle on walks. I park as far away as I can from stores. I walk down every isle of the stores I go into, just to gaze around. These extras in my life have been so beneficial and have not cost me a single thing and are actually quite enjoyable. They have added to my self confidence and my self esteem. I feel better in my own skin.

I am on a mission now. I want to get off the diabetic medication I am on (Januvia). I was just recently denied health insurance coverage because of my diabetes. This was a total shock to me.

Thanks for this article. I wanted to put my two cents worth in because I know that there are so many of us on here who are pre diabetic or diabetic and probably undiagnosed. I watched my Mother not take care of herself with her type II diabetes and she was bed ridden for 10 years and lost her eye sight as a result before she passed away two years ago. This is not going to be my legacy. I am going to do something about it.

Won't you join me?

Mary

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FERGSGIRL2 11/10/2009 12:21PM

    I cannot thank you enough for this blog. I am African Amer. female with type II Diabetes, and was diagnosed in 2002. I was so angry that I was in denial for several years. I have always carried some weight in my stomach area, and being tall, thought it was okay since "it didn't look bad"--yea right!. I am on 2 medications and so much want off of them!

I finally made up my mind (I had done it in 2002, 2003, etc) to get healthier. This time is not so much about looks, or trying to impress anybody or please my husband; IT'S ABOUT ME THIS TIME. I feel completely different about the situation now. I am 54, and don't really feel it and have been told I certainly don't act it(?)! I have lost 18 lbs so far since 8-25-09 and I am not killing myself to do it.

Your article reminded me diabetes should always be the focus of my weight loss and eventually maintaining a healthy weight. It is a KILLER! It's a killer that I can either turn loose or put death to!
I am semi-retired, and my husband works full time; I am reminded everyday that I have to take care of me; he cannot stop working to come home and do it, and I've got too much living to give in to this disease. Thank you, I mean really, thank you--I am going to be even more pro-active about this disease with my family & friends.
Blessings to you for sharing. I realize my post was long; but I needed to get some things out.
Nancy emoticon

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ALMMOM 11/10/2009 11:47AM

    Wow. Must have been an eye openner!!!!

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I used to hate to workout until...

Friday, November 06, 2009



I used to hate to work out. I don't know what was the catalyst for change for me, or that there was a single thing that happened to change my attitude. But now I love to work out -- it's like my body craves it if I don't do it.

Some of the things I did that perhaps led to my changed attitude (which happened over several years, I didn't do these all at once) –
• Worked with a personal trainer for accountability and to gain their knowledge
• Worked out with a friend
• Got 2 labs that needed daily walks (now have 2 labradoodles)
• Took PE classes at the local junior college -- hiking, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, etc. Much more fun to work out with a group of people and the variety makes it lots of fun. (Photos are of my hiking class when we hiked near Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, MI in October 2008.)
• Became a Minister of Care for my church and made visits to nursing homes. When I saw the devastating affects of not taking care of your body, I was scared straight into getting my body more active and eating healthier!
• Watched documentaries about diabetes, heart disease, etc., (my family diseases) to see what happens to people who don't take preventative measures.

I don't know if any of these ideas will work for anyone else. Take what you like and leave the rest!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRACKRBP 11/9/2009 2:48PM

    Thank you. This really does give me a good perspective regarding my feelings towards working out. Thanks for insightful message that you left and this great blog.

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THEADMIRAL 11/6/2009 8:57PM

    Those are great ideas! Except for walking the labs ... my DH is not an animal lover (I know, I know, nobody is perfect but he IS except for this one flaw in his character) emoticon

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GABY1948 11/6/2009 6:08PM

    You are so inspirational, Nancy, and thank you for the new ideas! You are so sweet and I do so love those dogs especially Libby, for her name of course. I am leaving you one more comment about my neuroma surgery too!
Gaye

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BEAMISH7 11/6/2009 5:46PM

    What wonderful ideas. I especially like the one about the pe classes at a junior college. And I've always admired women who row in those long boats. Thank you for the inspriation.

Now, tell me more about the labradoodles. I know you love them, but do you think it is too soon in the breed to trust them yet? I'd love a goldendoodle.

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GOSPELCLOWN 11/6/2009 5:35PM

    Your story is an inspiration. I wish your attitude could be handed out in a prescription. I would run straight to the pharmacy. (There, I'd get my activity in doing that!)

Keep us informed of your variety of workouts,

Karen in BC

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DIVAGIRL655 11/6/2009 4:49PM

    Thank you for sharing with us!!!! You have raised many good ideas and thoughts. My father recently had two heart attacks. I do not want to end up making my kids worry about me and my health. I want to live long enough to see my great grandchildren.

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WALNUT5612 11/6/2009 4:40PM

    Great ideas.

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LISALOVE4EVER 11/6/2009 4:32PM

    I love your suggestions. I have been looking for different ideas. Cause my butt does not like getting off the couch. So I'm always looking for something different to try and motivate me.

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MOOSELOVE 11/6/2009 4:17PM

    Thanks for the great ideas and inspiration!

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My appetite thermostat is broken

Thursday, November 05, 2009

emoticon Due to years of emotional eating, my "appestat" (appetite thermostat) is broken. It's easy to tell when I'm hungry -- the hunger pang is there. I first try to quench it with water. I was told a long time ago that the body sends the same sensation for hunger as it does for thirst, so try to quench thirst first.

It's harder to tell when I'm full, so knowing what a "normal" portion size is helps. When I go out to eat, I always ask for a "to go" box right away. I cut my meal in half and put the other half in the box for lunch the next day. If it's not on my plate, I'm not tempted to eat it.

I have always been a fast eater. I have 8 brothers and sisters -- if you didn't eat fast, you went hungry! It supposedly takes 20 minutes for the stomach to alert the brain that it is satisfied. It never took me 20 minutes to inhale my food. I currently wear braces (for the 2nd time, had them as a teenager, too). That has slowed down my eating tremendously. Not to mention for the couple of days surrounding my orthodontist appointment, it usually hurts too much to chew, so chewing is done very gingerly. God, in His infinite wisdom, is teaching this old dog some new tricks about eating slowly and savoring the taste of food.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 11/6/2009 4:06PM

    Boy, how I can relate to the emotional eating. I can always tell when I wasn't truly hungry because after eating I still don't feel full. That tells me that what I needed wasn't food. Keep up your good work. -- Lou

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TERI99 11/5/2009 9:48PM

    I like your term "appestat!" I totally identify with the emotional eating AND eating fast. After many years of teaching, I had to stuff my lunch in my mouth in 15 minutes, a habit hard to break. Who would think that braces could help?!

I hope your day was as good as it could be!
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Teri

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TERI99 11/5/2009 9:47PM

    I like your term "appestat!" I totally identify with the emotional eating AND eating fast. After many years of teaching, I had to stuff my lunch in my mouth in 15 minutes, a habit hard to break. Who would think that braces could help?!

I hope your day was as good as it could be!
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Teri

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DIVAGIRL655 11/5/2009 2:27PM

    I saw about you mother; I am very sorry for your pain. It sounds like you were very close. My thoughts are with you.
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ROCKYCPA 11/5/2009 12:10PM

    I also had braces as an adult and boy was it hard to eat when they were tightened. I also understand what you are going thru - I was always a fast eater as well but now I am much slower. I find I enjoy the food more and I know when I am full. Good Luck - you will be successful.

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DIVAGIRL655 11/5/2009 11:51AM

    My second daughter had braces growing up and I remember the pain she seemed to be going through with them. She cried for a couple of days after she got them and now that I think about it she is very thin;) I have started doing the water thing also. It does seem to help. Even if it does not satisfy your appetite it will still help cut back on the portion size I think. Thank you for sharing this with us!!!

P.S.: Whew, I bet it was great having a large family like that!!

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BEAMISH7 11/5/2009 10:53AM

    Until I read this I don't think I ever really realized that I don't even feel full. Ever. When I stop and think it through, I can tell that I am full, but that feeling that you mention doesn't happen to me either.

I like your thoughts and ideas and appreciate your post.

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SMWALKER1210 11/5/2009 9:54AM

    I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH. SHIRLEY

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