healthy living

A Review of a Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan

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My very informed son suggested I read this, and as I always do what my adult children tell me (because they are usually right!), I bought the book, listened to the podcast, got the T-shirt!

The book is written by an integrative psychiatrist (holistic approach to mental health issues) especially written for women who have depression and anxiety issues.  I was so blown away by it to the extent that I have been buying extra copies and giving them away.

The premise of the book is the best way to heal the mind is to heal the body.  With some serious changes to diet and lifestyle, depression and other mental health diagnoses cannot just be helped but cured.  That’s a bold statement but she has anecdotal evidence from years and years of patients successfully implementing her guidelines and resolving all their issues

Kelly states that it all begins in the gut, if the gut flora is off then there is an imbalance in the body, especially the brain affecting mood.  She recommends that you eliminate gluten and dairy (oh boy no more pizza!), drink filtered water, because the water table is full of drugs and bugs and the EPA know and are doing nothing about it (this I think is outrageous), stop taking synthetic hormones like the contraceptive pill and incorporate meditation and yoga into your schedule and stop wearing perfume - now that is going a little too far, I am really not willing to give up my Estee Lauder habit! And absolutely no alcohol.  She also recommends adding an Omega 3, Vitamin B6 and B12 and a multi vitamin. 

So as a lifelong sufferer of depression and anxiety and a spring where I unexpectedly was struggling with this I decided to give it a go.   

Week 1: I was miserable, no cheese or wine what is the point of going on!  I was not too hungry but was craving dairy and bread all week, but I valiantly soldiered on.

Week 2:  Much much better, getting in my stride, beginning to feel lighter and glowing (skin clear and bright).

Week 3:  Becoming a lifestyle.  I think adding the vitamins has been key, Omega 3 and the B6 vitamins are closely linked to mood disorders and most of us are deficient in these so no wonder we are sad.

One of the points that Kelly is quite insistent on is getting rid of all psych meds as soon as possible.  I knew this was a no-go for me as soon as I read it.  She may be right but I will never, never give up my meds, I think it could be potentially disaster for me and my family may well leave me on a top of a mountain with no supplies and no chance of escape if I did that.  It would not be a gift to me or my family.

Kelly sees patients in New York and will not even see you if you do not eat meat (meat is rich in B vitamins) so I am not going to see her anytime soon because I am quite happy being a vegetarian/vegan thank you.

She also recommends you get rid of all the chemicals in your house.  Now steady on, as a self-proclaimed OCD cleaner I would have a hard time giving up my Lysol and my Bleach, but I am willing to do in baby steps so the dishwasher cleaner just went organic as did hand soap and shampoo!

All in all, a very very interesting read. Most of all it gave me a plan to make some healthy lifestyle changes on my own which gives me some sense of destiny of a lifelong issue with depression that I can control with certain interventions.

STOP PRESS:  Just had the results of some routine blood tests.  After a month on this regime my A1C (indicator of blood sugar) dropped over a point which I have been battling for a couple of years and the doc also recommended a cut to my thyroid medicine (which has never happened) because my thyroid is beginning to function better – yeah for healthy living!

Still doing the raw diet as much as I can and pretty much vegan 90% of the time.  Does not suit everyone but my body does seem to like it so we will carry on.

Until the next time, 

Angie 

Food and Festivals

It’s been pretty quiet around here.  Hubby had a 3-week business adventure in Paris (I know, feel bad for him) and as a result, unintentionally, I stayed close to home.  But things have gotten a little more interesting since hubby got back stateside.

During the weekend, we decided to check out a Chinese Lantern Festival in Philly.  A couple of years ago we were in Seoul, Korea and their lantern festival was amazing so we were eager to get the experience again.

It was pretty cool, but a little small so I think we felt somewhat cheated for our $17 entrance fee, especially as the one in Korea was so much more elaborate. It was a nice night to be out and wander around China Town.

Shifting gears - Interesting fact, still doing the raw food thing and normally this time of year I am severely afflicted with Springtime allergies, but this year not so much as a moist eye.  The only difference I can think of is that I am eating so much raw local fruits and veggies, which is desensitizing my usual malady.

This time of year, there are so many yummy seasonal fruits and veggies it is not hard to get variety in my diet.

The rest of my life seems to be yoga, teaching yoga, teaching nurse education and if I have time, reading and cooking, not such a bad way to spend my time!

Until next time, 

Angie 

Raw Food Update

It’s been over 6 weeks since I started this 2-week Raw Food Diet experiment.  I kinda got into a groove and am enjoying it so much I just want to keep going.  I feel great, the eczema on my skin is completely cleared up and I have more energy and less brain fog than I did.

I am not being purist or rigid about being a raw foodie and do have cooked food (yes that includes cheese!) every now and again.  But when I do, I immediately feel bloated and uncomfortable and my skin gets very itchy, so that is a huge incentive not to stray.

The first 3 or so weeks as a raw foodie, I had this huge appetite, it seemed like every couple of hours my body yelled “more food please.”  However, that has calmed down now and I do not feel the need to eat a small horse to satisfy my hunger cravings.  Sometimes it is hard to get all the calories in.  On a raw food diet, for my gender, and weight I should be shooting for 2000 calories a day.  That’s an awful lot of bananas!  In addition, a lot of that intake is supposed to be leafy greens to get in all the nutrients and protein that your body needs.  I hate greens, I know silly, right?  So, I have added a daily vitamin and vegan protein shake to my daily intake to try and make up for what may be lacking in my diet.

This is what my breakfast usually looks like: 

This is what my lunch looks like: 

This is what my snacks look like: 

Also, on a recent trip to Vegas I wondered how much I would be able to eat raw food in a city where burgers and nachos are king. We actually saw a restaurant called Heart Attack Burger where people over 350 pounds ate free - there is something very wrong with that.  But it was not hard at all. The hotel had a marketplace downstairs with a cool fridge stocked with fresh watermelon, pineapple and grapes.  And of course, everywhere you go there was a famous Vegas Buffet so it really was not hard to make a beeline for the salad bar and load up.

You may be asking yourself, how much weight has she lost?  I am happy to report I have lost a whopping 4 pounds.  Let’s alert the media!  However, this whole exercise was not about weight loss but health. I have also lost almost 2 dress sizes and that makes me very happy.

So, I will keep going and I will continue to post updates.

Has anyone out there done a raw food diet?  What were your highs and lows?

May the Force Be With You

During my yoga training we were invited to do part one of a three-part training in the healing energy of Reiki.  Reiki is often used in yoga practice as it is the perfect accompaniment of Zen healing energy. A healing system that channels universal life-force energy: This system was originally developed by Mikao Usui in the early 1900s in Japan.

The word Reiki can be translated like this. Rei means spiritual wisdom, and ki means energy, so Reiki means spiritual energy.

What Reiki Is Not

It is spiritual but not religious, it has been and is used by Christians, Hindus, Buddhist, atheist and agnostics alike.

Reiki is not massage or reflexology.

What Reiki Is

Reiki is gentle, harmless and natural.  You do not need any special equipment or tools. 

Reiki is balancing relaxing and energizing.

Reiki is simple to do - anyone can do it, and anyone can receive it.  With use of channeling into this universal energy and following hand positions that can be light touch or non-touch many people have gained great benefits from this practice.

Part 1 taught me the basics, Part 2 taught me the deeper meaning and Part 3 taught me how to teach Reiki to other people.

I found the training so interesting and deeply meaningful and I know it will be a wonderful addition to my yoga practice, either with myself or with others.

So far, I have Reikied the dog! Result: very chill blissed out dog. I also tried it on the cat who just got annoyed with me and wandered off, apparently, this is not an unusual reaction.

What I do know is that the interest in Reiki is growing and I am very proud to be now known as a Reiki Master, sounds a bit like a character in Star Wars, doesn’t it?

Just another step in my yoga journey.  I cannot wait to see what is next...

Why Yoga?

  • Improves athletic performance
  • Improves quality of life
  • Improves short term memory
  • Increases muscle strength and tone
  • Helps boost immunity system
  • Increases mental concentration
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Gives you more energy
  • Better mental clarity
  • Improves skin tone
  • Improves self esteem
  • Improves posture (when I started yoga I was 5ft 6, now I like to think I am 5ft 6 ¼!)
  • Improves balance
  • Improves flexibility
  • Greater physical stamina (as noticed when hiking mountains in New Hampshire)
  • Helps to shred excess fat
  • Increases general productivity
  • Slows down the aging process
  • Improves ability to deal with stress
  • Reduces risk of memory loss, anxiety, obesity, cancer, stroke, heart disease, back pain, osteoporosis, drug dependency, depression, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, infections and thus excessive health care costs.
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And I can say yes to all of this.  I now measure my life before yoga and after yoga.

True Story: Hubby and I were in Philly and ended up in a diner for lunch.  I have a severe shell fish allergy and every time I have an exposure it gets worse, believe me it’s not pretty.  So, I am hyper-vigilant about asking lots of questions when we eat out.  But on this occasion, I forgot and within 10 minutes of eating my lunch I knew there had been cross contamination.  I immediately started feeling sick.  I sent hubby off to find a drug store to get Benadryl quicker than you can say anaphylactoid shock!  While I was waiting for him I started to meditate putting into practice all the meditation techniques I had learned in teacher training.  My symptoms slowly started to subside until I felt relatively normal.  When hubby came back I still took drugs (I like drugs!) but not sure I needed them.  Really you can’t make this stuff up and yoga and meditation has given me so many tools, well just to deal with life.

Until next time, 

Angie 

An Update: Breast Cancer Screening

A little while ago I talked about getting tested for the BRCA gene due a close family history of breast and ovarian cancer. Well the 2 weeks promised result deadline turned into a month...sigh. I was not losing sleep over it, but I did want to know.  The results came in and it was good news. Sort of. 

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First off, I do not have a positive BRCA gene, which means I do not have that 85% risk of developing breast cancer in my lifetime. However, this test does not only test the BRCA gene but several other genes too. A change was found in one of my genes that puts me in a high-risk group of developing breast cancer in the next 5 years. Oh bother, now that’s annoying. Still I did not really freak out, which is not like me. Just did some deep breathing and tried to focus on the information that was being given to me.

The recommendations are that I do lots of surveillance, breast MRI every 6 months alternating with mammogram every 6 months. Deep joy - lots of boob squishing!  But I will do this, it's mildly inconvenient, but relatively noninvasive and the regularity of the imaging gives me comfort that if any of those nasty cancer cells tries to invade my body, it will be caught early.

Also, there was a recommendation to start the drug Tamoxifen right away. This is a med used to prevent breast cancer and to treat those who already have it.  But the risks of some very nasty side effects are high.  I will not be doing this!  I just do not want to put this highly toxic drug in my body.  Now like I have said before, I am not averse to taking drugs and this is a personal decision, so if you are in a similar situation please do not be swayed by my point of view. 

If I had a diagnosis of breast cancer I would pop that tamoxifen pill in my mouth like it was an M&M, but I do not. So I think I am going to go the conservative route for now because quality of life is very important to me. 

Then part of me thinks with this whole genetic coding thing am I just watching the clock until the Big C strikes me.  I remind myself I cannot live like that, fear will keep me stuck and prevent me from enjoying the stuff that gives me deep joy in my life, of which there is an abundance of right now. I am very blessed!

So, me and my boobs are just going to soldier on, getting smooshed, prodded and poked and have a positive attitude and (try) to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Anyone out there going through something similar?  I would love to hear your stories, feel free to post in the comments below.

For the meantime, here’s to boobs, they serve us well.  

Xo

Angie 

 

 

Etiquette in Yoga

I am not always known for having good behavior in all areas of my life, but I really love that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "well behaved women rarely make history."

However, I am very persnickety about my and others etiquette in a yoga class.  Here are a few tips that I think are important:

  • Be On TimeThis is super important, especially if the teacher is starting with a quiet meditation (which they usually do). There's nothing worse than someone coming in late, tripping over everyone to find a spot, all the while muttering “Sorry, sorry, so sorry”.
  • Practice Good Personal HygieneDespite what everyone may think, yoga can be a pretty intense workout and sweating, or glowing as I like to call it, does happen. So, I always make sure I have on that clinical strength deodorant. Also, in busy classes peeps can be close to each other so strong smells of perfume or body odor are not a good idea.
  • Do Not Bring Your Phone Into ClassThis has happened to me in more than one class.  One woman answered her phone and had a conversation! The whole point of yoga is to go within and disconnect from the frenetic world for a while.  I always leave my phone in the car so I am not tempted to look at it and it's quite refreshing to be disconnected for a little while. 
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing: I once (and it was the only time...sigh) took hubby to class with me.  He was opposite a very nice yoga lady who seemed very appropriately dressed until she did downward facing dog. Then her lovely airy v-necked top revealed a full frontal.  Hubby's ability to concentrate after that was seriously diminished. So, important to think about that, classes are usually co-ed and those men creatures are so visual, so be aware.
  • Stick Around For SavasanaI know people are super busy and often are pulled in a million directions. I myself have been known to make lists in my head during a yoga class.  But that savasana at the end (aka a nap) is SO important to relax, cool down, reassess your practice and prepare for the outside world.  If you run out early, you are not only cheating yourself but interrupting everyone else’s blissed-out experience. Wars have started for less!
  • Thank The TeacherWhatever you think of the class, this teacher showed up and gave you a class.  You may think it is the greatest thing you have experienced since wine was put into boxes, or you may think it was mediocre at best.  Whatever you think, suspend your judgement and thank the teacher.
  • Put Away All Your Stuff (better than you found it)This may speak to my OCD issues of needing everything in its place and put away in the same way it was found.  It's a small irritation when I need a mat and it has not been rolled up neatly by the previous person, or I have to fight my way through a mountain of blocks to find a matching pair (must be the same size and color…. see I told you I had issues!).  It really does not take 2 minutes at the end of class to put everything away better than you found it. And crazy ladies like me will not be swearing under their breath, which really is the antithesis of a yoga class!  Please save me!

These may be little things to many, but these few simple tips can make a much more euphoric experience for everyone. 

Have...Be a great day!

Angie