Want to be a supermom? Take good care of yourself!

Want to be a supermom? Take good care of yourself!

In my last blog I talked about how to assess your life to see if you are trying to be a Supermom, but burning yourself out at the same time.  

Here’s a little metaphor to help you understand why you need to take care of yourself before you can be a supermom ☺

The metaphor of the oxygen mask

Many years ago I was attending a Mothers of Preschoolers group. This particular group was a small group that was just forming.

There were only 8 or 9 of us at any given meeting, and because we had limited time and budget we shared the duties of organizing what we would do at each meeting. At one of these gatherings, a woman who has become one of my closest friends started her presentation by reading out of a book on women’s spirituality.  

The piece she read spoke about how important it is for moms to take care of themselves. The author used the metaphor of the oxygen mask on an airplane to explain her point:

Think back to the last time you took a flight.

Remember that introductory part that a flight attendant does before you take-off? The flight safety instructions?

 After demonstrating how, in the case of an emergency the oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling above the passengers head, the flight attendants will instruct the passengers to put the oxygen masks on themselves before helping others who cannot do so themselves – even children!

Why in the world would they want you to ignore your children in order to take care of your own needs first???

Simple – Because if you pass out due to a lack of oxygen you cannot help your child.

So let’s apply this to life in general…

Are you running your children around so much that you do not have any time left to take care of yourself?

Are you working in a job that you can’t stand so that your children can have expensive lessons or go to an expensive private school when there are perfectly good public schools nearby?

Are you volunteering for every school committee, baseball board, girl scout troop, etc. because it’s important for your children to have a fulfilled life?

NEWSFLASH ☺

Your children need you to be relaxed and not exhausted more than they need you to lead their scout troop and serve as the PTA board president.  

Your children need you to feel fulfilled and peaceful more than they need those expensive lessons or that expensive sports gear. If your children see you as a happy person, they will be happy people!

So, put the oxygen mask on yourself first

What things can you cut back on to make more time for self-care?

What can you then add to your life for your own fun and relaxation?

Are you trying to buy your kids happiness instead of showing them how to achieve happiness through easy (often free) relaxation and self-nurture?

Comment below and don’t miss my vlog on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacefullivingwellness to share how you are going to put the oxygen mask on yourself first!

Love & Light,

Jen

 

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

In last week’s blog about resiliency, my last tip for improving your resiliency was to breathe.

Deep breathing elicits the relaxation response and facilitates an even exchange of oxygen to carbon dioxide (source).

In turn, these phenomena both reduce the heart rate and stabilize blood pressure. They also will bring about a deep sense of relaxation of both mind and body.

Try these breathing techniques & see how you feel:

Graduated Breath: 3 – 5 breaths each round.

Round 1

Inhale into your front rib cage.

Allow your heart-center to shine upwards. Feel the front of your ribcage expand and open.

Feel your heart opening as you breath in oxygen.

If you would like to set an intention or start an affirming mantra, this is a good time to do so.

Round 2

Inhale into your full ribcage.

Allow your entire ribcage to expand with the inhalation and gently contract with the exhalation.

Feel a sense of relaxation coming into your body. Bring your attention to your shoulders and allow them to soften on each exhalation.

Round 3

This time, inhale all the way into your diaphragm.

The ribcage still expands and fills with air.

But now, the diaphragm, that belt of muscle that runs all the way around your body right under the ribcage also expands with the inhalation and gently contracts with the exhalation.

Continue with your affirming mantra.

Continue to mentally coax your shoulders and now your back to soften and relax.

Round 4

Draw your inhalations all the way down into the belly. The ribcage is still expanding and contracting.

The diaphragm is still expanding and contracting.

Allow your belly to shine. The ancient yogis say that the belly is the center of our life force.

Allow your life force to open with the breath.

Round 5

Finally, allow your breath to fill your entire torso.

Your ribs expand.

Your diaphragm expands.

Your belly expands and your lower back expands.

Concentrate on the slow expansion and contraction of your muscles and bones. Feel the sense of calm that comes with each breath.

Connect your mind and your body and feel your entire torso, neck, hips and maybe even your entire body relax and let go of lingering tensions.

Continue with your mantra if you are using one with this practice.

Graduated Breath with Counting: 3 to 5 breaths each round.

Start with inhalations all the way into your belly. They need to be shallow at first.

Round 1

Inhale counting to 3; Exhale counting to 4.

Round 2

Inhale counting to 4; Exhale counting to 5

Round 3

Inhale counting to 5; Exhale counting to 6.

At this point either reverse the count back to inhale 4 and then 3 OR continue on until you are inhaling to 9 and exhaling to 10.

Opposite Nostril Breathing: As many rounds as you like.

Preparation

Take your index finger and thumb of your non-dominant hand and make a “U.”

Step 1

Place your index finger lightly on the outside of your nostril along the side of your nose. Close off the air.

Inhale through the open nostril.

Step 2

Place your thumb gently over the open nostril, along the side of your nose, closing it off.

Release the index finger, opening the nostril that was closed.

Exhale through the open nostril.

Step 3

Inhale on that same side.

Step 4

Close off that side of the nose with the index finger; Open the thumb from the other nostril and exhale.

Step 5

Inhale on that same side that you just opened. Repeat the pattern at least 5 times.

Try it out!

These are just three of many different deep breathing techniques to try.

Tune in to future blogs and vlogs for more!

Remember, in yoga, we call it “Breath Work” because it’s a practice.

If you don’t elicit a relaxation response your first couple of times using a technique, keep practicing and keep trying different techniques.

The more you practice Breath Work, the deeper your mind-body connection and the deeper your relaxation will be.

Let me know how these work for you!

If you have other techniques that you love, share them in the comments for others to try out!

We’re a Peaceful Living Community filled with Love and Compassion. So please, share on…

With Love & Gratitude!

Jen

Stressing over being fat is unhealthier than being fat

Stressing over being fat is unhealthier than being fat

The stress of fat shaming is more toxic than actually being fat.

The only way to make weight stop being a problem, is to stop making weight a problem–stop judging ourselves and others by our size. Linda Bacon, PhD in Nutrition Science

According to the American Psychological Association stress is linked to SIX of the leading causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver cirrhosis, and SUICIDE. [source] But, did you know that it’s also one of the leading causes of diabetes? [source]

What does this have to do with fat shaming, you ask?   

Fat shaming is one of the leading causes of stress in American society. Not only is it a cause of stress for people who are overweight, but it’s also a major source of stress for people of normal weight!   People in our nation are so worried about being fat shamed that they are worrying themselves sick about it. Why is fat shaming so pervasive in our society?  First and foremost, because it’s tolerated.

  • We see magazine covers touting celebrities, “ASTONISHING WEIGHT GAIN!”  As if it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to them.
  • We have extremely popular TV shows – The Biggest Loser – that chronical the extreme exercise and dieting of contestants to lose big weight, only to gain it back again after the show. [source

Biggest loser contestants must brutally exercise to keep the weight off, study shows. The Los Angeles Times

  • We see supposedly legitimate news sources discussing whatever the latest fad diet is. Watch Good Morning America or The Today Show almost any week and they will be talking about ways to lose weight
  • We have an American Diet Industrial Complex worth over $60 BILLION annually! They are heavily invested in telling us that being fat is bad, to keep us spending that $60 billion so that we can be healthy, look good and, according to them, feel good! [source– “The Heavy Price of Losing Weight”]
  • We have a medical community that largely ignores many of the underlying causes of weight gain–stress being one of the most prominent–and cashes in on diabetes & weight loss pharmaceuticals, bariatric surgeries, and research that is funded by the pharmaceutical and diet industrial complex.

The Obesity Paradox

Obese patients with disease live longer than those of normal weight. Slate.com

  • And, of course more recently, we have a president who fat shames indiscriminately.  

If I were running the view, I’d fire Rosie [O’Donnell]. I’d look her right in that fat, ugly, face of hers and say, ‘Rosie, you’re fired.'” Donald Trump to Entertainment Tonight

So there’s the catch…

Common knowledge says that if we just eat less and exercise more we will lose weight!   And this is true, to a certain extent for VERY FEW PEOPLE! Most people either can’t lose the weight without starving themselves and/or over-exercising.  97% of those who do lose weight, gain it back and then some!

 

My Insulin Story

 

I was a skinny kid. And I was actually a skinny teenager and a skinny college girl. What’s so funny though, is that I thought I was fat! When I was in college I went on Jenny Craig even though I was a women’s size 0! I thought I was fat because I couldn’t fit into the juniors/ misses sizes around my hips very well anymore (it was really just that my body was maturing around the hips as women’s bodies do…)    I didn’t know that because I paid attention to what popular culture was telling me about my body.  Anybody remember Tamilee Webb and Buns of Steel?

 

Except, here’s what was going on behind the scenes in my body:

 

I wasn’t processing the stress of my upbringing or the stress of my current situation well. I was drinking too much alcohol, sleeping too little, and worrying all the time.

 

 

The stress was starting to have an effect on my brain chemistry.

 

I was cycling through episodes of severe anxiety and depression. Much of the time I felt fine, but as time went on the anxiety and depression came around more often and the “feeling fine” time was harder to achieve.  

 

 

Little did I know, the stress was starting to affect my pancreas and my insulin levels were starting to ratchet up.

 

When I graduated from college and decided to go to graduate school, the pace and workload (on top the fact that I still was not coping with my stress appropriately) led to bouts of months-long insomnia, occasional panic attacks and the dreaded weight gain! During my master’s program I gained 20 pounds – in only a year-and-a-half! During the first year of my doctoral program I gained another whopping 20 pounds!!!

 

 

Then, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for two months.

 

 I climbed to the top of every cathedral I could find. I walked and walked and walked… and I ate the amazing fresh food that Europeans are lucky enough to eat every day! I lost 20 pounds!

 

 

It was great! Or so I thought…

 

The problem was that it was the beginning of a cycle of stress-induced weight gain and physical activity + a more relaxed lifestyle weight loss. I wasn’t yoyo dieting – I was yoyo stressing!

 

Fast Forward to 2016

 

I just turned 46 and was feeling horrible! I was at my highest weight yet, but I also was in a constant brain fog. I couldn’t remember words, I would show-up for appointments at the wrong time, I was lethargic and constantly battling depression.

 

 

“But, I’M A STRESS MANAGEMENT COACH!!!”

 

I would say to myself with exasperation! What’s going on… why are my awesome mindfulness techniques not working to help me feel better???

 

 

I sought out medical reasons for why I felt so bad.

 

Low-and- behold, after a year of seeing different doctors and having A LOT of blood drawn, it turned out that my pancreas was producing so much insulin that if it kept going at that pace it would likely shut down very soon. When the endocrinology nurse practitioner told me this news the first thing out of my mouth was,

 

but, I’ve tried so hard to lose weight! I only eat an average of 1600 calories a day, I power walk 3 to 4 days-a-week and I do yoga 3 times a week!

 

Her response was to look at me seriously and state, “

 

This is not your fault. You are not insulin resistant because of your weight; you are having trouble losing weight because you are insulin resistant.

 

It turns out that, according to Allison the NP, the only connections that research has found between causes and insulin resistance are heredity and STRESS.

 

Here are some facts:

 

  1. People with overproduction of insulin may be genetically prone to the condition. There is a hereditary effect, but it’s not necessarily the case for everyone. There is a high correlation.
  2. People with insulin overproduction do not usually have what is normally considered to be high blood sugar. For example, my A1C (fasting blood sugar average) ranges between 5.5 and 5.8 – that is well within normal range. In other words, they are not on the typical path toward Type 2 Diabetes which can be detected through rising blood sugar levels.
  3. People with insulin overproduction may be overweight in spite of diet and exercise efforts that would produce weight loss in other people. This is true of children as well, many of whom have been put on calorie restrictive diets by pediatricians who don’t bother to check their insulin.
  4. People who have insulin overproduction are often overweight because of their insulin – NOT the other way around!
  5. A history of high stress is strongly correlated with insulin overproduction.

 

My endocrine NP’s exact words were:

 

This is not your fault.  This is not about our weight. Your insulin is so high that it seems like it has been climbing for decades. You may be able to control this to a certain extent through diet–A Low Glycemic Diet. But, most likely you will not be able to fully control it through diet.

 

Here’s the long-and-the-short of it…  

 

  • My lack of knowledge about how to control my stress early on most likely led to this condition.
  • Was some of my stress due to my socially constructed ideas about my weight and body proportion? Absolutely!
  • Have I been fat shamed? Absolutely!
  • Do I let it stress me out now? Absolutely NOT!

 

What’s the Take-Home here?

 

First, don’t fat shame, or even judge the bodies of, others. You have no idea what is going on with their weight.   Insulin resistance is only one of many underlying medical conditions that affect weight. The stress you cause by judging others size is more harmful than their size actually is. AND don’t fat shame yourself! Accept yourself for who you are and what your body looks like! Definitely get yourself to the doctor if you have unexplained weight gain. Be kind, loving, and accepting of yourself. There is a lot of medical and epidemiological research on your side if you are overweight. That is, there is a lot of medical and epidemiological research that says that if you are “overweight” you are perfectly healthy and thus not “over” anything!

 

 

Aaannndddd… Let the comments begin!

 

Namaste Y’all!, Jen

Resilience and the healing power of music.

Resilience and the healing power of music.

It’s been a tough couple of months. My peaceful living has really been put to the test. I’ve had to make sure that I take extra-special care of myself in order to stay strong under the pressure of stressful times!

In recent Vlogs & Blogs I talked about how to stay strong in the face of bullying and how to bounce back after a particularly hectic time.

Both of those topics underlay this week’s topic of resiliency.

For today, I want to just give a little lead-up to Wednesday’s “Wellness Wednesday” Facebook Live VLOG by talking about MUSIC!

So when my going gets tough & I need to build my resiliency, I turn on some empowerment music and dance and sing!

Here are my Top 20 “Girl Power” songs! (in no particular order, I love them all!)

My Most Recent Favs:

1. Taylor Swift – Shake it Off!
2. Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
3. Kelly Clarkson – Whole Lotta Woman
4. Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass
5. Meghan Trainor – Better When I’m Dancing
6. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

The Classics:

7. Helen Reddy – I am Woman
8. Gloria Gaynor – I will Survive

The Country Girls:

9. Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces
10. Dixie Chicks – Not Ready To Make Nice
11. Kaycee Musgraves – Follow Your Arrow
12. Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

All Time Favs:

13. Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
14. Katy Perry – Firework
15. P!nk – So What!
16. P!nk – F***ing Perfect
17. Demi Lovato – Confident
18. Beyonce – Run The World (Girls)
19. David Guetta & Sia – Titanium
20. Sheryl Crow – Winding Road

What are your FAV pick-me- up & make me STRONG songs? Let’s keep adding to the play list!

Hugs,
Jen

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