Clear Change Program: day 7 Just Do It

Today I learned about…

Headspace-it’s a meditation app. Meditation is such an important part of an overall wellness plan. And why not use an app with guided meditation? I just did ten minutes today, but it definitely helped me unwind at the end of the day.

I didn’t get to the gym today like I usually do on Saturdays because I didn’t want to leave my daughter alone. So today was a stay inside and get stuff done kind of day. Toward the middle of the afternoon, I started feeling aches and pains from sitting at the computer for a while. So tonight, I took an epsom salt bath, did ten minutes of meditation, and some gentle stretching. I’ve been so sore recently I can’t seem to do much more. My body is telling me to slow down, so I’m listening. The detox program guide does advise slowing down. Although I could benefit from a bit more movement/exercise, I’m having trouble getting it in this week due to everything going on and my annoying aches and pains.

One week into the detox, and I’m starting to get used to it. My craving for wine is gone. I went to the grocery store and just got fish and produce for myself and didn’t feel tempted to get anything off the restricted diet. I did get other stuff for my kids of course, and I ended up making three dinners: one for me, something different for my son, and another dinner for my daughter who just had a tonsil/adenoidectomy. It’s tiring keeping up with the shopping and the cooking! But my dinner was actually quite tasty, and I managed to get in all the shakes and supplements as instructed today.

I notice the mornings get away from me in terms of eating. I have a shake and a cup of coffee and then I don’t have much else for a while. I have to work on having a morning snack more consistently and eating lunch at a decent time. During the week while I’m working I’m better about it than the weekends.

I just can’t seem to go without any coffee at all. I am SO tired in the morning. This morning especially because I had to set my alarm to wake every couple of hours to give my daughter medicine.

Breakfast: smoothie with apple, ultraclear renew, GI replenish, probiomax, and water. One cup of coffee with half and half and agave.

Morning snack: apple and celery

Lunch: ultraclear renew drink

Afternoon snack: ultraclear renew drink

Dinner: baked cod with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, peppers, and scallions. Garlic braised broccoli. Salad with romaine, cucumbers, and radishes.

Night time snack: ultraclear renew drink with GI replenish and probiomax.


I am looking forward to eating more of a variety of food again starting tomorrow! And I’m proud of myself for making it seven days so far on this program.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 3: Rise & Shine! #yogagirlchallenge

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For today’s challenge, Rachel challenged us to set the alarm an hour early, get up and use the time in a healing way of some kind. Incorporating yoga and meditation from days one and two were great ways to use the time. I just happened to need to get up at 5:00am that day, so it was perfect timing for me. I am not a morning person at all but have been working on going to bed earlier and getting up earlier for a few months now. I got up early, drank lemon water then coffee and had a quiet time at my house. After a little while when the sun was going to rise, I took my two dogs out for a walk in the neighborhood. The picture above is from that sunrise walk. It was refreshing to see the sunrise for a change. I usually savor sunsets here in Texas, in fact that day I got to see both the sunrise and the sunset. They were both beautiful.

When I returned home, I did pilates and sat in meditation for a while. It was a wonderful feeling to start the day that way. I was so tired during the day though! I had to take two naps. I don’t think I’ve caught up yet from all the travelling and all the late nights recently. After a week of doing yoga twice a day, I have been craving it in the morning and at night, so I like this idea of getting up a little early so you can get some things done before the day starts.

My kids are on vacation with their dad this week, so it’s an excellent time for me to catch up on my sleep. I keep setting my alarm early with the intention of taking this challenge from day to day, but so far I only did it that one day! Whenever I turn off my alarm and go back to sleep I get another couple hours, so I think my body needs it. I will try to incorporate this idea more in the future when I actually have to get up to get somewhere.

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 5: Get Rid of a Bad Habit #yogagirlchallenge

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I’m working on being early instead of running late. It was the perfect kind of morning for staying in bed and staying at home. It rained all night, and thunder woke me up in the morning. Heavy, loud thunder every few minutes with rain pouring on the house and down the street and flash flood warnings indicated it was not a great day to go outside and do anything. But, I love my yin yoga class on Sunday mornings, and since I’m doing Rachel Brathen’s challenge, I’m committed to doing yoga every day and incorporating as many of the daily challenges into my life. Yin yoga is mostly meditative, so it was a great mix of days one and two of the challenge. While I didn’t exactly wake up early (day three) I did get to class early.

Yoga classes at my gym, Lifetime Fitness, are not on island time. Class starts on time, and the door closes. If there is room in the class, they will open the door again after meditation at the beginning of class, but most of the time classes are full. Being late means missing the class. In fact, they advise getting there ten minutes early. Yogis line up at the door and wait to get a spot. Getting there early means extra meditation time at the beginning of class for me. I like to lie down on my mat, put a small towel over my eyes, and relax while I wait for class to start.

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 2: Meditate #yogagirlchallenge

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Elements of Meditation:
1. Closed eyes
2. Nostril breathing
3. Observation of bodily sensations
4. Letting go of thoughts

I first learned about meditation when I took a Buddhism class in college in 1988. We met for group meditation and tea in addition to classes. It was a little awkward and uncomfortable at first. It was hard to sit still with my eyes shut without feeling self-conscious.

Since then, I’ve mainly meditated during yoga classes. I also try to incorporate it into my life by doing lying down meditation before bed and taking advantage of the peace and quiet in the sauna and steam room at the gym to find some meditative moments.

Going along with this challenge and my experience at the yoga retreat in Aruba last week, I am working on keeping my morning yoga habit and ending it with seated meditation. It’s a peaceful, calming way to start the day.

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Buddha sat under a bodhi tree until he reached enlightenment.

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To do seated meditation, cross the legs and put the hands on the knees. Hands can be in an upward position for receiving or in a downward position for grounding. Or the hands can make a mudra or shape of some kind. Quiet the mind. Let go of thoughts without judgement. Bring attention to the breath. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Repeat a mantra, count breaths, or think of nothing like still water. As thoughts enter the mind, let them go like ripples in the water until the water is still again. Or let thoughts go like clouds drifting across the sky. No judgements, just acknowledgement and detachment. Stay silent and still for a few minutes to start then increase over time.

There are many benefits of meditation. It calms the nervous system and helps develop a sense of inner peace. It helps balance our active lives and allows us to be present in the moment, not in the past, not worry about what’s happening next, fully present in the moment. Meditation connects us to the energy in the universe and allows us to open up chakras, energy centers, in our bodies.

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Thinking about not thinking is a paradoxical practice that leads to a healthy, happy , calm, zen mindset. Meditation helps us find our center and be grounded. It’s a useful exercise every day and prepares us to handle stress in our lives.

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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#handstand365 days 45-113 What I’ve Learned from Doing 113 Handstands

I started doing handstands in May 2013.  That was ten months ago.  I started doing them as another way to challenge myself.  Since then, friends ask, “What’s with the handstands? Is this like the new planking?”  I didn’t know how to do yoga handstands when I started or that I would learn some life lessons along the way…

1.  Have fun every day.

2.  I am strong enough. I can do it.

3.  Mind over matter.  My body won’t do anything my mind doesn’t tell it to.

4.  Even if it’s hard, try again.

5.  Be at peace with yourself.  Let things be the way they are.  You can’t change other people anyway.

6.  When people walk away, let them go.  It’s their issue, not mine.

7.  Meditation is like a bubble bath for the mind. It’s so soothing and so good for our brains to enjoy silence.

8.  Breathe. No matter what.  If things are stressful, breathe even more deeply and slowly.

9. Accept new challenges.

10.  Believe in myself.

11.  Give as much energy to my dreams as I do to my fears.

12.  Pay attention to form, find center, and balance.

13.  Who cares what other people think?

14.  Who made up the rules anyway?

15.  Find inner peace and things start to fall into place.

16.  Don’t let anyone else take away my inner peace. I can remain calm despite the circumstances.

17. Practice self-love. Do something to take care of myself every day. Be kind to myself.

18. Worrying about things doesn’t help so why bother?

19. Do what makes me happy!

20. It’s ok to take breaks and rest whenever tired. I don’t always have to be doing something. If I get more sleep I feel better anyway.

21.  It’s helpful to look at things from a different perspective sometimes.

Looking forward to the next couple hundred handstands! So thankful for the experience so far.

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Self Care Sunday: Swimming

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I love swimming. This is a picture of the indoor lap pool at my gym, where I swim frequently. I’ve mentioned swimming before in a Self Care Sunday entry. It’s one of the ways I take care of myself because it’s a whole body, low-impact sport.   It’s easy on the joints because the water makes our bodies more buoyant. Yet, it’s strengthening and challenging to move ourselves through the water for a sustained period of time.

As a child, I took swimming lessons in elementary school I think. I do remember learning all four of the strokes and how to complete a flip-turn. I was on the diving team for one summer but never on the swim team. I mainly swam for fun at the neighborhood pool.

As an adult, I rediscovered swimming when I became interested in triathlons. To train for a sprint distance triathlon in 1998, I started swimming laps at the gym pool. I learned from a friend to do a set of sixteen laps, take a short rest, then a set of twelve, eight, and four laps and sprint the final two laps of every set. It took about 45 minutes.

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We spend family time together in this pool (indoors) all year. There’s another pool with water slides outdoors that’s open for an extended season depending on outdoor temperatures.  Spending time together as a family swimming, sliding, playing basketball, and throwing the football is a fun way to relax and enjoy weekends.

I spend a lot of time going back and forth from the pool to the jacuzzi.  It’s good for circulation to go back and forth between heat and cold.  Plus, I love the jets! They feel like getting a massage.  There is also a sauna (coed) and steam room (female only) for the ultimate spa type experience.  Feels so good.

 

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!20131203-214112.jpg

Happiness Survey

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1.  Are you happy when you wake up in the morning? Why or why not?  Usually no, I am not happy when I wake up in the morning because I need a lot of sleep and rarely get it.  I am usually grumpy because I am still tired and my joints are stiff and achy in the mornings.  I found out I had sleep apnea and had the UPPP surgery to carve out the back of my throat and make it easier to breathe at night. After retesting, I still have mild sleep apnea, although I was much worse before the surgery.  Regardless, I still need around ten hours of sleep to feel good.

2.  If you could transport to the happiest place in the world, where would you be?  Hawaii, specifically Kaui or Maui.  They are both beautiful islands with beautiful beaches, and I am at my best when I’m at the beach.  I went to Hawaii twice in 1999 and 2000 and visited Hawaii, Maui, and Kaui.  Loved the tropical beaches, snorkeling, and swimming.

3.  What activity or hobby do you feel the happiest doing?  Probably yoga. It’s a close call with swimming, but I’m going to go with yoga.  It is relaxing and helps manage my pain, and it’s also strengthening. Yoga teaches me to slow down and pay attention to my breath and the present moment. It teaches me how to be calm and peaceful.  I do a little yoga every single day, and I go to yoga classes a few times a week.

4.  Is your happiness dependent on other people or yourself?  I am learning to depend on myself for happiness. Depending on other people for happiness is a recipe for disappointment.  Happiness is really a mindset of positivity and gratefulness.  No matter how bad things get, it helps to look at the world through humble, grateful eyes.

5.  Do you think happiness is luck or is it a practiced mindset?  I think happiness is a practiced mindset. Maybe when we are children, happiness might be based on luck, but when we are adults with a conscious choice over our attitudes, happiness becomes a mindset.  Without practice, it doesn’t work.  We don’t have to be happy all the time, but knowing HOW to be happy regardless of circumstances is a skill that needs practice.  Every day, we have a choice of how we will look at the world and our lives.  I think to choose a happy mindset means to wake up each day humble and grateful for everything we have.  I think choosing a happy mindset is something that takes work.

6.  What is something small that always makes you happy?  Snuggling.  I love hugging. I love affection.  Snuggling with my husband or kids always makes me happy, even though it’s a little thing.

7.  What is something about you that has never changed since you were little?  My eyes have never changed since I was little.  I’m half Korean and used to get teased about being asian when I was a kid.  I even asked my mom if I could have the surgery to change my eyes.  Thankfully, she said no.  Today, I am proud of my asian heritage and love that all three of my kids got my asian eyes.

8.  What would your younger self tell your current self to do today?  Play. Climb trees. Ride bikes. Swim.  Have fun.  Hang out with your friends. It will all be ok.

9. Is fear of failure holding you back from a certain goal?  Possibly, yes. I want to take Calculus since I never had to take it in college.  I took College Algebra in 2007 and still need to take Trigonometry and Precalculus before I can take Calculus.  I met a friend when I took College Algebra, and he died in a tragic accident.  It made me not want to go back to community college. I don’t want to be out of my peer group again and risk making those relationships.  It just hurts too much.  I’ve studied Trigonometry online at khanacademy.org , but I haven’t completed the class for credit yet.

10.  At age 100, what would be one thing you would regret not doing/trying?  I think I would regret it if I never went to Korea to try to find my family there.  My dad was born and raised there, and his parents died before I ever met them.  My father took my brother there without me when I was in my 20s and I was so hurt by that. I wonder if I will ever meet my Korean family.  I’d like to try, but I don’t know if it will ever happen.

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions!  Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out.

Sunset on Kauai

Sunset on Kauai (Photo credit: Robert Gourley)

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 21 Calm

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This is a picture of a meditation spot in my room. I love this Buddha holding a lotus flower, and there are several bamboo plants like that one around my house. The unscented white candle represents pure light, and it makes me feel calm to sit and meditate, clearing my mind of thoughts and worries and inviting light into my being. I try to meditate every day in some shape or form, and I love the calm feeling I get afterwards. I first learned about meditation when I took a Buddhism course in college. It’s harder than it sounds to clear your mind of all thoughts and just be!

 

Self-Care Sunday: sleep, exercise, and self-talk

I’m declaring it Self-Care Sunday. How do you take care of yourself? Do you take care of yourself? As a busy wife and mom, I find that I have to remind myself to take care of myself too. It’s too easy to let life get in the way. But it’s like with the oxygen masks on airplanes, if we adults don’t put on our masks first, we are not going to be able to adequately take care of our children.

I’ve been trying to lower my overall stress level to help with chronic pain. I’ve been trying to focus on one day at a time instead of being stuck in the past or anxious worrying about the future. Meditation and yoga help me relax and open up to the moment at hand. Mental stress causes physical stress.

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It’s hard to find a balance with time, but my husband and I like going to the gym on the weekends so we can take care of ourselves physically. The kids complain, although it is a resort like facility. We go anyway. It’s something we do as a family, and generally we all leave feeling better than we did when we arrived. Exercise allows chemicals that improve moods to flow freely in our bodies. We spend all week working and taking kids around to all their activities (son takes Taekwondo, baseball, and cub scouts; daughter dances sixteen hours a week). They both had friends over for sleepovers this weekend too. It only seems fair that mommy and daddy get to pick the gym for an activity. Today, I did light weights, core work, rode the bike, swam some laps and sat in the hot tub. It helps me to both strengthen and relax my body. I also hope that modeling healthy behavior has a positive influence in our kids so when they are older exercise will part of their lives.

Sleep is also so important to me. I seriously can’t function right without enough sleep. I used to have sleep apnea pretty badly and got the uppp surgery in 2006 to carve out the back of my throat so I could breathe better at night. I got retested and found out I still have mild sleep apnea, but it is much better than it used to be. We get up early with the kids Monday through Friday, and I always sleep in on Saturdays an Sundays. If nobody wakes me up I usually sleep until ten or eleven in the morning. Luckily my kids sleep late too.

I’m also working on being nice to myself. I learned to listen to myself and I was hearing a whole lot of negative self talk. For some reason I was programmed like that and found out I was constantly criticizing myself and putting undue pressure on myself. I’m learning to be grateful for all my positive qualities and to accept those that are negative. I’m learning to fill my self-esteem bucket on my own and to be happy just the way I am (instead of always trying to be better and do more).

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Pain is a Pain

I suffer from chronic pain and have seen all kinds of practitioners over the years without much relief. I am addressing the problem from every possible angle including alternative medicine. I go to PT and workout at the gym on a regular basis, but over the years my gym activities have changed to accommodate my need for low impact, low resistance exercises. I’m trying to find that fine line between resting and strengthening without injury.

Physically, my body has been through a lot. Sixteen surgeries, including five on my abdomen and seven on my right leg have resulted in weakness and dysfunction in many areas. I’ve had three children and am turning forty-five this year. I know I have a lot to be grateful for including the fact that my body has produced three kids, and I can walk, swim and do yoga. I do miss the old days when I was strong enough to hike, mountain bike, rock climb, ski, run, and jump. Those days seem like forever ago. But I appreciate the memories of many adventures.

Working out can cause pain flare ups. Rest causes weakness and stiffness. Every day, I work on stretching and some kind of light activity. All I can do is take things one at a time.

I’ve always been a fan of massages and get them at least monthly to decrease muscle spasms. I discovered a place in town that provides Chinese foot reflexology and full body massages. The therapist told me my channels are blocked and that I think/worry too much. The idea is that if the brain is over active, it overloads the nervous system, and the body breaks down on many levels.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in alternative medicine like acupuncture. I first tried it in 1989 for pelvic pain. It didn’t help because I had a dermoid tumor the size of a grapefruit. I had surgery to have it removed.

My new acupuncturist told me my chi (energy) was blocked too. She opened up some chakras (energy centers) and has been using both needles and cupping to help increase circulation and remove toxins. I’ve never tried cupping before, but I thought it was interesting how my left shoulder area left lots of dark marks, and the right didn’t. The dark marks indicate where there are more toxins, and my left shoulder area has been flared up for weeks now after hurting it somehow doing side planks at PT.

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I first started seeing the acupuncturist more than a year ago on a referral from my ankle surgeon. I had two ankle surgeries, and there is a lot of scar tissue. I saw her for a while and then returned this month to follow up on back pain. She’s awesome! Check her out at… http://www.points4health.com

In Chinese medicine, they study the tongue. Check out this picture and see what tongue matches yours.

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Last year, I had the Yin deficiency tongue. I’ve focused on adding more yin to my life since then. I go to yin yoga class at the gym every week and love the inward focus and calming effects. This year, I have the Qi deficiency tongue (teeth marks and everything). It goes with being tired all the time and not having a good chi flow.

And by the way, can I say that tongues are weird?! Have you ever stopped to examine your tongue? They are weird. And they are always in motion. Just try to make yours hold still.

Anyway, at PT this week, my therapist asked if I have ever had my hormones checked. I didn’t know hormones could affect pain. I had hormone testing once in 2000 when I had spinal fractures and was diagnosed with osteopenia (low bone density). All my hormone levels were fine then. But I’m a lot older now, so it’s something to consider I guess.

I saw a chiropractor today and failed his applied kinesiology tests for adrenal function. I did a little Internet research and fit the description pretty well. Apparently the adrenal glands are what our bodies use to respond to stress. And he said I need cortisol testing. Cortisol is a hormone that’s produced in excess when we are stressed. And it causes widespread inflammation. So, I made an appointment for hormone testing including cortisol. He also told me to take these supplements.

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Vitamin B-12
Adrenacalm
Fish oil
Bamboo powder (to calm down my reactions to food sensitivities).

Check out these beads he put on my ears too.

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My right eat has two sets of beads; one for my back and one for my knee. And my left ear has one set of beads for my shoulder. They are accu-beads placed on acupuncture spots with clear tape on top. I’m supposed to leave them there until they fall off (1-2 weeks). They are a bit tender, but they said if they are tender they are working and to leave them there!

I’ve also been focusing more on meditation and calming my energy. After getting feedback that I think and worry too much, I learned I need to spend less time thinking about the past and worrying about the future. I strive to find calm energy and live in the moment. It helps.

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Thanks for reading. Peace out.