A New Way to a Familiar Destination

I was planning on writing a blogpost about boundaries this week; their importance, why we struggle with setting appropriate boundaries, tips on how to get going… but this morning I realized that one was going to have to wait.

Instead, I feel the need to write about the “baby-steps” I’m taking to rebuild my strength after a crappy experience of being very ill this past winter.

So BABY STEPS it is!

Those who follow me on social media or who receive my newsletters might remember that I came down with shingles after injuring a nerve on the top of my head last November. (If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, you have the virus that can cause shingles sleeping in your nervous system. With all my heart, I truly hope it never “wakes up” so you don’t have to experience shingles.) Anyway, I was surprised as the only people I’d known of who had shingles were all women in their 70s – I’M NOT THERE YET – and I didn’t realize a nerve injury could trigger it, although in hindsight it makes perfect sense.

So, I had shingles on my scalp, my face and in my right eye. I have never been so ill in my life. I literally laid on the couch for almost 2 full weeks. I didn’t even sleep in my own bed because I wasn’t really sleeping. The pain was incessant and unpredictable. I’m not one for taking medications if I can help it, but let me tell you I was keeping track of every painkiller I took so I knew when I could take my next dose and even then they just dulled the pain they didn’t eliminate it.

My rash didn’t clear up until 5-6 weeks later and my eye is almost completely healed. There is a small patch in my vision where it feels like I’m looking through a smudge on my glasses but it is very tiny and I can live with it!

I barely ate. I barely slept. The pain was unimaginable. I’m so fortunate to have loved ones nearby who could help me out with groceries and getting to appointments as I wasn’t able to drive for weeks.

Recovery was slow. Especially given that it had gotten into my eye. So I tried to go slow as I eased back into my “regular” life.

It took so much longer than I expected!

I should also mention that while not single, I am a Solo Mom and the past few years – even before the pandemic – had been very challenging. I went into this illness already maxed out as far as stress-levels were concerned.

The first time I really realized how hard everything had been on my body was when I went snowshoeing in early January (almost 2 months after getting ill). I have been very active during the winter for 10 years now so going snowshoeing wasn’t anything new to me. We weren’t doing anything difficult, just a nice little loop that would take us less than an hour. Well, my body did NOT enjoy that and I ended up getting extremely ill afterwards which set me back a little bit as far as getting back into the swing of things to say the least.

My nutrition was up to snuff (I have the BEST supplements and shakes which truly got me through the worst of my sick days because I honestly could barely eat anything but my body desperately needed the nutrients to fight the virus and heal), so no worries there. However, my physical stamina was nowhere to be found.

How could this be? I didn’t understand fully because I’ve never been that ill before, so I started asking questions and looking into options to help me heal to a point where I feel stronger and more capable than I had been for a few months.

WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES IN NEW SITUATIONS WE NEEDTO BE OPEN TO FINDING NEW WAYS OF APPROACHING THINGS.

I found I could not do a full yoga practice as I am used to doing. After about 25 minutes I would feel drained (and while I am a yoga teacher and have been for many years, I typically practice a slow-flow sequence so it wasn’t like I was Power-Yoga-ing and then feeling pooped, lol!) So I created mini practices for myself #babysteps. Depending on how my energy levels were, they are between 10-20 minutes which I am just now able to combine to enjoy a half hour practice. Yay!

I discovered that my cardio strength had really diminished and it was keeping me from hiking all the gorgeous trails near where I live. But the weather, my family responsibilities, work schedules, etc made it challenging as to when I could actually get outside while it was daylight. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a regular routine as it makes things so much easier to stick to!

What new way could I build my cardio and stamina from home? One that DIDN’T cost a fortune or take up a lot of room as my home is tiny… I found an old-school stationary bike! And I love it! It is compact, easy to use, and didn’t cost me a fortune. To be honest, I found it for $50 on Marketplace. Yay!

I started slow, because I had experienced what happened when I tried to push myself too far too fast. Ten minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after work. Just enough to get my heart rate up a little! The next week I did 15 minutes twice a day. Now I’m up to 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after work and I’ve been able to increase the tension for a better workout! Again, #babysteps to the rescue!!!

Do I feel bad about myself because of how I’ve had to scale back what activities I do or how long I do them? NOPE. I feel proud of myself that despite coming up against new challenges and obstacles, I’ve been able to find ways of healing and improving my health that work with how things are NOW.

Things change. We need to be able to change too.

Different isn’t bad, its just different. And sometimes as we shift into something new and different, we need to do so gently and let ourselves take Baby Steps.

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

PS – if you’re looking for some help figuring out your own best next-steps to make positive changes in your life, I’m here! I’m certified in wellness, life, and sleep science coaching and I’ve been teaching yoga for almost a decade. Give me a shout at info@breezewellnessbc.com

Just Tell Me What to Do!

Yeah, I knew…

  • I knew that I was supposed to eat well. 
  • I knew that I was supposed to drink enough water. 
  • I knew that I was supposed to rest.  
  • I knew that I was supposed to make time for play & self care. 

But even though I knew all of these things it was like being caught in a whirlwind of “supposed to’s.” I had all the information but what I really needed was for somebody to just tell me what to do! 

I was so caught up in the chaos of all of the “shoulds,” that I couldn’t do any of them at all. And I paid for it. In every area of my life…

What changed for me? I reached out for help

This wasn’t easy for me, I’ve always been very very independent. I’m still very very independent. But I got to a point where I simply couldn’t keep spinning my wheels any longer. I was feeling like I was totally missing out not only on my life with my kids, but my life in general.

What did I do? 

Continue reading “Just Tell Me What to Do!”

Level Up – the Real Benefits of Exercise

 

“Move more” has been a common mantra for health for decades. But, what does that even mean? What kind of exercise counts? How much do I need?

 

Maybe the biggest question here is: “What are the true health benefits, anyway?”

 

I want to share with you the real, proven health benefits of exercise. Because there are some; there actually are lots!

 

Plus, if you do heavy workouts and need a replenishing drink, I’ve included a delicious recipe for you too.

 

The True Health Benefits of Exercise

 

Exercise. It can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about being fitter and stronger. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.

 

Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And exercise prevents death from any cause (“all cause mortality”).

 

Convinced yet?

 

The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.

 

You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.

 

And you don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:

  • Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming, skiing, hiking)
  • Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
  • Balance (standing on one foot, Tai Chi)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)

 

Don’t forget, all exercise counts, even if it’s not doing a sport or in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.

 

Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points.

 

Exercise for heart health

 

Exercise reduced cardiac mortality by 31% in middle aged men who previously had a heart attack.

 

Regular exercise reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).

 

Exercise for brain health

 

Exercise can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. It also reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Exercise improved mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory. It also increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the “hippocampus”); this was shown mostly with aerobic exercise.

 

Exercise for muscle and bone health

Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones; this is particularly true for strength exercises. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and bone density. So, to prevent osteoporosis, exercise regularly.

 

PRO TIP: And don’t forget that balance exercises and Tai Chi can help prevent falls.

 

Exercise for diabetes

 

People with diabetes who exercise have better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of glycemic control).

 

Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re fueling them with sugar in your blood. This helps to manage blood sugar levels better than without exercise.

 

Conclusion

 

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of exercise.  By doing just 30 minutes 5 days/week, you can vastly improve your health. Since there are different benefits for different types, try mixing up what you do throughout the week. You don’t even need an “official” workout. Walking to the grocery store or doing household chores can count too.

 

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”  That’s my motto!

 

If you’re just starting, then pick something you enjoy, get some accountability (exercise tracker or a buddy), and start.

 

What’s your favorite exercise and how often do you do it?

 

Recipe (exercise recovery): Coconut Water Refresher

Serves 2

 

1 cup coconut water

2 cups watermelon

½ tsp lime juice

1 dash salt

1 cup ice

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

 

Instructions

Blend the first four ingredients until well mixed. Add ice and pulse until ice is crushed.

 

Pour into glasses or water bottle and add chia seeds. Shake/stir before drinking.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: The chia seeds add extra fiber, protein, and omega-3s.

 

 

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References:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFBBjynBpSw&t=3s

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-exercise/

 

https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent_falls_ff.asp

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercise-is-good-for-diabetes

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar/

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-movement

 

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity

Mindfulness and Meditation…Do They Really Work?

Well…yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.

Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”

“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.  I like to set aside a few moments at the end of each day for quiet meditation in addition to my end-of-yoga-practice meditation time in the morning as often as possible.

Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Continue reading “Mindfulness and Meditation…Do They Really Work?”

Finding Stability… with my blood sugar!

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

 

Oh, the words “blood sugar.”

 

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?

 

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

 

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

 

This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy Continue reading “Finding Stability… with my blood sugar!”

Burnt-Out-Mom Syndrome and Adrenal Fatigue

Let’s face it, life can get super busy more often than not.  We’ve got a lot on our plates most of the time and can end up feeling like we are barely able to balance it all.  Fatigue, cravings, inability to sleep, and mood swings are REAL!

And common.

 

Adrenal fatigue is thought to be one of the (many) health issues that can be attributed to our high-stress lifestyles.

 

However, because there is no widely accepted definitive test for adrenal fatigue, it’s still quite controversial.

 

Let’s dive into what we know about adrenal fatigue, and learn some ways to deal with it, including a non-food recipe (at the bottom). Continue reading “Burnt-Out-Mom Syndrome and Adrenal Fatigue”

Momma, Feed Your Brain!

The Gut-Brain Connection: How To Feed Your Brain

If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

gut brain.pngYes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.”

There is no denying it anymore.

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain. Continue reading “Momma, Feed Your Brain!”

Take A Moment…

Let yourself feel how you feel. Don’t let it consume you, but allow yourself to process what’s going on. After awhile, hopefully, you can gain some insight into the experience.

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. Something unexpected happened with a work project that is near & dear to my heart & in the moment I was completely blindsided by the development (although in retrospect I should’ve seen the signs).

The person who is my my sounding board, my creativity cohort, & my biggest supporter is out of town, so I felt very alone & lost. My kids did their best to help me, but what had to happen was feeling all the feelings. It was exhausting & there were about a dozen things I really wanted to get accomplished, but instead I spent the day working through my thoughts & emotions as best I could. I ate comfort food (yes… it was potatoes! Lol!), I cried, I slept, I organized stuff-whatever I needed to do in that moment.

Today, I’m still fragile, but I’m up & about and working on one of my other favourite work projects.

Life is not always smooth sailing, we do the best we can. And if that means having a day where we hide at home so we can process our challenges then so be it. No judgement. Be gentle with yourselves.

We’re in this together. ✨💛✨

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