Tuesday, December 29, 2009
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?
Monday, December 28, 2009
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.
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.
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!
Thursday, November 05, 2009
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.
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