Tag Archives: Personal balance plan

This year is ‘the year’ that I am going to….

Happy 2014 to all of our wonderful readers and followers. Candace and I have been blogging together for 2 years and this is the year that we are hoping to take a synopsis of our book, with several chapters written  up in the format we think will be the most readable and visually lovely, to a perspective publisher and see what happens. We realize that there are scores of books written on the top of hormone balance but we think we have a unique perspective and style that is not only accessible, but that resonates with our readers. We have punted around many ideas(you have no idea how many!!) from publishing an e-book, to self-publishing, to throwing in the towel(gasp) ….But we keep coming back to the idea of a real, hold in your hand, prop on your shelf, cuddle up in your bed, kind of book as that is what WE like and what most of our friends/family members/patients/colleagues/acquaintance turn to for the kind of content we are offering. So we would like to hear from YOU: what do you like about our blog, what have been some of your favorite topics, what haven’t we covered that you want to know more about?? Of course we value your honesty as that will help us write a better book so please give us your ‘from the heart’ feedback. We will keep you posted as to our progress, but that is MP’s overriding goal for this year.

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one's goals….)

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one’s goals….)

What have YOU been saying that you hope to do, to change, to re-invent, to re-consider, to move towards or perhaps away from, in this coming year?  Every newspaper and magazine that I have opened this past week had something about weight loss, exercising more, eating cleaner, etc but one thing I did notice that was different this year was the wording of the articles. Almost every one alluded to the concept that our goals should be towards making sustainable changes, not radical ones. To do that , it helps to make small changes, ones that you can stick to (like our 10 day ‘consciousness cleanses’, something anyone can do and benefit from): not saying , “I will NEVER eat potato chips and sour cream again after work(one of my personal favorite guilty pleasures…)” because that is just never going to happen. It is so much more realistic to write down what you hope to accomplish and then identify the obstacles, your strengths, a timeline and then formulate a plan. We will keep coming back to this topic in the upcoming weeks and months but I just want to leave you with a few simple thoughts as you think about the year ahead.

1. It DOES matter what you eat. This is probably the single most important thing that you do each day in terms of supporting or hurting your body. You can exercise until the cows come home, but if you are eating a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, calorie dense/nutrient poor foods(most of these come in a box/can/or a wrapper, by the way), you will gain weight in all the wrong places and you will not achieve optimal fitness….or fit into those favorite pair of jeans.

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

2.Follow the wise words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food(WHOLE food), not too much, mostly plants”. Do this and you will see results, sustainable ones.

3. Spend a few minutes each day being grateful for the wonders of your body. Focus more on how your body feels and how it does whatever you ask it to do day after day, a miracle in and of itself.  Take care of your body: feed it whole foods, clean water, take it out for a walk, a jog, a hike, expose it to natural vitamin D and the elements like the wind, the rain, the snow. Take note of how alive you feel when you have spent some time outside or just being active. Your body will thank you by continuing to do what you ask of it and by sticking around for awhile.

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

4. Take time to sleep, to rest and to restore yourself. You need this more than you know(see Candace’s last post).

5. Make time for play, for love, for friendship, for prayer and meditation, for doing the things you love to do, for visiting someone who needs you to be there. Life often goes by in a blur so paying attention each day to the moments that matter and making time for the things that matter to you is crucial for living a life that has meaning.

Our conversation will continue. We look forward to writing to you and hearing from you in the upcoming year. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We so appreciate all of you.

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy

4 days til our “Fall Consciousness Cleanse” starts : are you ready???

As many of our faithful readers know, I have been trying to set aside two separate times each year during which I turn my attention more fully to the things that I eat and drink for 10 days.  I have called these time periods  ‘ a consciousness cleanse’ as opposed to a true cleanse (or a detox), which is usually quite a bit more entailed and rigorous.  The goal of setting aside 10 days each fall and spring for cleaner eating and drinking is more aimed towards increasing our awareness of what we consume,  in hopes that by doing so, we can slowly change our habits in the long term.

The rules for OUR cleanse are simple: eat whole foods, avoid alcohol, the whites(see end of post for link to specifics), and caffeine for 10 days. Benefits? Decreased belly fat, improved sleep, increased energy,clearer thinking, balanced mood and the satisfaction of doing something absolutely incredible for your body!! One more thing: there is something so satisfying of sticking to a wellness program for the entire duration, just knowing that you CAN.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

This fall the kick-off begins Sunday , November 17th and runs through Tuesday, November 26th and is designed to increase our consciousness right before the superbowl of holiday feasting(Thanksgiving day) arrives, with all of the subsequent festivities that occur between that day and the coming of the new year. Did you know that the average American gains up to 12 # during said famed holiday season? That is an alarming thought indeed, as anyone watching the news knows how the epidemic of obesity is causing a plethora of chronic health problems in our country(see some of our previous blogposts on this subject).

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

The best part of doing the ‘cleanse’ at this time of year is that you will have some excellent company. This year both Candace and I will be doing it together, along with at least 10 others.  It really is so much easier(and fun) to take on a challenge like this with some support. As an extra added incentive, if you sign up as a follower AND post at least 2 comments during the 10 days about YOUR experience on the cleanse, we will enter your name into a drawing for a copy of the wonderful book, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  She offers some wonderful ways to take inventory of your life and make changes, all designed to bring more happiness and balance to your life.

Here are some more specifics about the cleanse from a previous post that I wrote:

http://menopausibilities.com/2013/01/05/preparations-for-our-cleanse/

Please refer back to that post and the several that follow it as you get ready to join us. And don’t forget to sign up as a follower(if you haven’t already done so) and comment along the way: you might just win that book for some terrific fall and winter reading. Plus we love to hear from you….

2 Comments

Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Spring is in the air(get ready for a new challenge)

It is hard to believe but February is almost over, which only means one thing: March is on its way and in the Pacific NW, spring is definitely in the air. Daffodils are poking up their stems, daphne odora blossoms are about to burst open, I waken to birds singing every morning….an incredible transition from the quiet waiting time of winter. Already days are lengthening and the moods of those around me reflect that in their brightness. Soon we will all be spending more time outdoors, perhaps digging in the soil getting the garden ready for a new round of vegetables and flowers(maybe even some fruits if your climate is conducive to them).Image

There was a short but insightful article in today’s NY Sunday Times Magazine extolling the virtues of exercising outdoors. The author compares the amount of energy it takes to walk/run on a treadmill or spin on an indoor bike to doing the same activities outside. Although you do benefit from indoor cardio workouts, doing the same activities outdoors actually burns more calories and require more effort, due to such factors as varying terrain, wind energy, temperature variations and surface changes. Plus being outside is more stimulating to your senses and has a greater effect on your mood! Feeling the sun(or even the wind, for that matter) , hearing the birds chirping, smelling freshly mowed  grass, seeing children playing a game, all contribute to a sense of being a part of something bigger than oneself and is ultimately more satisfying. Obviously. there are days when working out in the gym is more appealing(pouring rain, dark hours, frigid temperatures, icy ground) but whenever you have a choice, do try to get outside and be active as well.

Walking my first leg of Portland to Coast: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

Walking my first leg of Portland to Coast: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

I am about to fly to NYC in the morning for my third IFM(Integrative Functional Medicine Conference) . I love attending this particular event as the rooms are full of all types of providers, from cardiologists to naturopaths, anesthesiologists, gastroinestinal specialists and nurse practioners and more. The energy is incredible, the information” cutting edge” and I always walk away with a renewed sense of how to live a more balanced life and how to share that knowledge with my many patients.

For those of you who have spent time in NYC, you know that finding organic, fresh food is a bit more challenging than it is here in Portland. And being a native New Yorker, I have to indulge a bit by having several slices of NY pizza and chowing down on some chewy and flavorful NY bagels.  So when I get back, I will be ready to start our next series of ‘cleanses’: this time I would like to offer you all a few options. ALthough at least 40 people were able to complete the full 10 cleanse last time, many of you stopped at 5 days, so this is what I would like to propose:

The overall cleanse will last for a total of 10 days and must be completed between March 1 and March 23rd. You can choose to do it all at once or break it up into 2 5 day blocks. I am choosing to do 2 separate blocks this time, as I have a family wedding in Dallas in mid-March.  The dates I will be ‘spring cleansing’ are Monday, March 4th- Friday March 8th and then starting up again on Monday, March 18th- Friday March 22nd. Every 5 days that you complete(and let us know this) , your name will be entered into our contest(more info on Pearl Women’s Center Facebook page) .

Here is a quick review:

During the ‘spring cleanse’, you will avoid whites(flour, potatoes, rice, sugar), caffeine, alcohol and sugar. For a more complete list, please go back to my posts from October 2012 and January 2013.

I will be posting some ideas for meals this week and a shopping list to help you get started. I will be very ready to start when I return from NYC and I hope that you will join me. The benefits are amazing and it is much more fun(and easy) to do this with the support of others.

Happy almost spring!

Final rose of 2012

Anticipating the first roses of spring

2 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Almost halfway there!!

Congrats to all of you who have made it this far on our cleanse. Hopefully you have noticed some positive changes and these are enough to keep you going! I have heard from quite a few of you and this is what you have told me so far:

“My pants are looser and I have lost belly fat.”  “I have lost 3 # already!” ” My skin looks amazing and my sleep has been wonderful.” 

” I miss sugar but I am craving it less and less.”   ” I miss my evening wine: I am getting a little grumpy but I am determined to hang in there because this is my second time and I remember how great I felt afterwards.”    ” This feels so empowering: I love it!”

I promised to share a few recipes to keep things fun and interesting(hopefully you have discovered some of your own: don’t forget to share!!)

In Whole Living magazine, Jan/Feb issue, they had an article, “Start Fresh” , which I just received yesterday. Great minds think alike, yes? They are launching  a 3 week cleanse which is quite a bit stricter than ours but full of terrific information and recipes. I tried one of the beverage ones last night and I loved it, so here goes:

“Golden Elixir” (great name): Boil up water, fill up your mug with hot water, add 1 Tblsp of fresh lemon juice, 1/8 tsp each of turmeric and ground ginger(you can always use fresh of course), a smidge of cayenne(or more if you like it spicy) and honey. I also added some truvia to make it a little sweeter. Drink a cup of this in the morning and at night. This is a powerful drink, loaded with anti-inflammatories and immune boosters, great for your liver and your adrenals. And I found it incredibly satisfying at the end of the day, when I often pour myself a glass of lovely red wine; this was a perfect substitute.

For lunches and dinners, try roasting up a bunch of vegetables in advance so that they are ready when your appetite strikes. Simply heat your oven up to 425 degrees. Cut up some veggies of your choosing(cauliflower, beets,broccoli, carrots, Brussel sprouts, turnips, parsnips, green/red/yellow peppers): toss them lightly in some olive oil and a dusting of salt( I use Kosher or a  gourmet type of salt like pink Himalayan), place in large roasting pan and cook for 35-40 minutes, tossing and turning them every 10-15 minutes . Cook until they turn a nice golden brown or to your liking. Serve alone or with quinoa(pronounced keen-wah), brown rice, whole grain pasta and a protein of your choice. Last night I had them with quinoa and a chicken skewer. I also love them cold for a snack(but I love vegetables). Try a bunch of different veggies: eggplant and onions are also tasty so experiment! You will probably find that this is your new favorite way to eat vegetables. I know my family did!

Remember to let us know how you are feeling, what you are trying and share those recipes and ideas. Your comments have been great and we are inspired by all of you and your commitment to your health and life balance.

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

12 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating

Last minute shopping and ‘to do list’

Okay everyone, tomorrow is the big day for those of you who are joining us on our second ‘consciousness cleanse’ so here are some tips and suggestions to make it more enjoyable, beneficial and to help you measure your own progress and results.

1. Load up on fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains: bread/crackers/pasta/brown rice/quinoa and whatever else that intrigues you. Here are a few examples of the things that I tend to eat, but trust me, there are endless choices of all of these!

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

2. Stock up on a variety of healthy protein choices: beans, hummus, yogurt(high protein, no sugar), nuts, eggs, cheeses, tofu, tempeh, meats(hormone and antibiotic free whenever possible), chicken(free range organic is preferable), nut butters(without sugar, of course). These are all loaded with amino acids which are essential for brain health and mood stabilization, as well as for sustained energy and maintenance of muscles and bodily tissues.

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

3. Have an assortment of beverages that you can choose from: herbal teas(see my post from yesterday), juices, kombucha, sparkling water and cider and for those of you who will be weaning slowly off of caffeine, decaf coffee and black teas.  In lieu of ‘cocktail hour’, try drinking a ‘VIrgin Mary and reap the benefits of the vegetable juices while savoring the taste of your drink or try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or orange.

4. Be sure to get in some physical exercise each day. Walking is great plus whatever else you enjoy. Drink plenty of water as well throughout the day.

5. If you are already taking a multivitamin, continue to do so. Other things to take: drink some Yogi De Tox tea, 1-2 cups /day, if it is available to you. Take Ashwaganda and Milk thistle: good for adrenal and liver support. We will make more suggestions later on.

5. Take some baseline measurements of your physical self, as well as some of the indicators that measure how well you sleep, your mood, energy level etc.

Today, weigh yourself, measure your waist at the smallest point, again around the umbilicus, your hips and thighs at their widest point: write these down in a place that you can easily locate in 11 days.

Also write down the answers to these questions: what time do you go to bed, awaken, how many times do you awaken throughout the night, are you rested upon arising, is it hard to fall asleep? What is your energy level like throughout the day: when are your peaks and valleys, how is your energy affected by eating/work/exercise/stress? What are your elimination patterns like: easy, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gassy? What is your mood like throughout the day: anxious, depressed, irritable, happy, content, variable? Be sure to write all of this down as well!

On day 11, I will ask you to remeasure and re-answer those questions so that you can get a more objective assessment of how your body responds to cleaner, more conscious eating.

Okay, bon appetit to all.  We look forward to hearing your comments and we will keep you posted as well on our progress throughout the next 10 days.

18 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Preparations for our ‘cleanse’

Many of you have decided to join Candace and me on January 7th as we embark on our second ‘Menopausibilities consciousness cleanse’ so this is very exciting! Just a reminder that we are also running a mini-contest(in partnership with Pearl Women’s Center) for those of you who have decided to participate. In order to be eligible, please sign up as a follower on our blog(top right on the page) and/or become a friend of PWC on Facebook.  For every 5 days of the cleanse that you complete and make some comments either on the blog or the Facebook page, your name will be entered into the contest and at the completion of the 10 days, several lucky folks will receive some gifts: either gift certificates or books that support the message of our blog.

I have received quite a few questions about how the ‘cleanse’ works so just a quick review(Also, please go to my blog posts dated October 14-25, 2012 for more details and recipes):

During the 10 days starting on Monday, January 7th, you will eliminate the following from your daily diet:

1. Sugar: This is going to require you to look at labels of the things that you do eat. If you are someone who makes most of your food from scratch, this is pretty easy to eliminate. If not, this will be a great education in reading labels and learning how much hidden sugar is in prepared/processed foods. This is the consciousness portion of the cleanse! You can use stevia or Truvia as a sugar stand-in but you should avoid artificial sweeteners, even Splenda, as they are exactly that: artificial and therefore not good for you. You may also use coconut sugar/nectar ( I will be writing more about this at a later time) or limited amounts of honey and agave, but the goal is to try to avoid eating added sugars. Fruits and whole juices are fine and a wonderful treat would be a 100% fruit juice frozen bar; again read your labels!

2. Alcohol: Avoid any alcoholic beverages during the 10 days. In lieu of cocktail hour(if you are so inclined), pour some sparkling water over ice and add some fresh lemon/mint/slices of citrus fruit/be creative or have some nice hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick. I also love to drink herbal teas: go to your local grocery or ‘whole foods-type’ store and peruse the tea aisle. You will be amazed at the wide variety available to you.

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

3. Caffeine: This seems to be the most difficult substance for most to try to eliminate. Don’t let this one be your stumbling block to success. If you are used to consuming caffeinated beverages(or foods) on a daily basis, eliminating them cold-turkey might be rough, as caffeine-withdrawal headaches are extremely painful. So be smart: cut down on your intake gradually so that by the 10th day you are caffeine-free. Instead of reaching for coffee first thing upon awakening, try one of these first to get you doing: hot water with fresh slice of lemon( a terrific treat for your liver), a cup of your new favorite herbal tea, or perhaps some black or green tea: both of these contain some caffeine but also some valuable health benefits. Try to delay drinking that first cup of coffee a little bit longer each day and if you can, try to stay away from decaf coffee as well. Tea is preferable but do what works for you. This is YOUR cleanse and we want you to feel that you have some control over what you put into your body, but we all start from different points and we all will end up feeling better just by making some small changes in our own lives.

4. ‘The Whites’: this includes white flour, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar. I actually think this is the easiest one to eliminate and has forced me to more creative in my recipe choices and food selections. Thankfully we live in a time when we have endless choices of whole grain breads/crackers/pastas/rice/grains as well as access to yams and sweet potatoes. This is a great time of year to dust off those cookbooks or pull out those old magazines that you have saved for the recipes and try something new. If you don’t feel like delving into a new recipe every day, cook up a pot of some quinoa and another of brown rice early in the week and have it ready to go for your weekday meals.

Throughout the 10 days, Candace and I will be writing our observations about how we feel, some of the challenges that come up, offer some recipes and tips to help keep all of us on track. We would love to hear what you are doing during this time to help you make these changes. We are so happy that you have decided to join us(some of you for the second time!) and we will be in touch. Please feel free to ask us questions along the way: no question is too basic, by the way.
“Eat food(whole foods), not too much, mostly plants”. Michael Pollan

Amen!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Seeking balance in the new year(again!)

Let me first wish you all a happy new year. I don’t know about all of you, but New Year’s Day is truly one of my favorite days of the ‘holiday season’. Although I love the festivities, the decorations, the gatherings of family and friends, playing Secret Santa at work, the yummy holiday treats and special beverages, the magic of the season, the reflection of why we celebrate these sacred and traditional holidays, watching classic Christmas movies, singing Christmas carols, giving and getting presents, catching up with old and new friends, and ringing in the new year(this year we made it til midnight!!), I love waking up on January 1st and reflecting back on the previous year and thinking forward to the year at hand.

This is a particularly clear and gorgeous day 1 of 2013 in Oregon: the sun is shining brightly, the air is crisp and cold and there is a peaceful sense of silence outside, as most of us have the day off from work, from school, from our daily routines and the pace has slowed permitting more time for reflection.  So often we get caught up in the ‘busy-ness’ of our lives and we don’t take the time to pause and plan for more balanced living.

A pausable moment: essential to maintain balance

A pausable moment: essential to maintain balance

What does it mean to have balance anyway? According to dictionary.reference.com , the type of balance I am referring to is defined as “mental steadiness or emotional stability, habit of calm behavior, judgement, etc”…also defined as “a state of equilibrium or equipoise”.  We at Menopausibilities often talk about hormone balance and how important it is to have one’s hormones tested, in order to take an objective look at our hormones within, so that we can work towards balancing these remarkable chemicals in our bodies. Achieving hormonal equilibrium helps us to feel balanced from the inside out and greatly improves the quality of our lives.

It's all about balance...

It’s all about balance…

But there are so many other aspects that we need to consider to keep us from falling back into imbalance or disequilibrium. It is important to take a critical look at the things we eat and drink every day, our exercise habits, the ways in which we balance our stress, supplements to consider to enhance our health, maintaining healthy relationships, our spiritual, emotional and intellectual well being…..it really does take a ‘village approach’ to achieve and maintain a balanced life.

Back in early October, I challenged our readers to join me on  a ‘consciousness cleanse’. Many of you did and we all reaped similar benefits from this 10 day mini-program: renewed energy, better sleep, clearer thinking, loss of belly fat and even a few pounds, and a renewed awareness of how important it is to be conscious of what we put into our mouths. I am inviting you all to join me again in January  as we support one another in making small but important changes towards achieving balance in our daily lives.  This is a perfect time of year to take this on: the festivities are over, many of us have overindulged and are making resolutions for the new year, and we have a renewed sense of optimism that we can succeed. 

A quick refresher about the guidelines: I will be eliminating caffeine, white sugar, alcohol and ‘the whites’: white flour, sugar, pasta, potatoes and rice. I plan to start on Monday, January 7th and will end on the evening of Wednesday, January 16th. Please go back to the post that I wrote on October 14th for more specifics, as I know many people have strong reactions to the no-caffeine portion, but don’t worry: this can be done slowly to avoid those terrible caffeine withdrawal headaches.

In conjunction with this January cleanse, I have some additional goals during this 10 day period. I always find my house to feel extra-cluttered after the holidays, particularly with some of the new possessions that have magically appeared, coupled with the tendency to be more house-bound, due to the colder weather and shorter days(and I know that my ability to feel a sense of balance is greatly impacted if my home feels cluttered).  So I plan to tackle my closets and cupboards, perhaps even my garage if I get an extra burst of energy, so I will be ‘cleansing’ out my home environment as well: a winter cleaning if you will. Then I will take all of these superfluous items and bring them to the appropriate agencies so that others might benefit from their use.

One more thing that you should know. We will be posting daily updates on how we are feeling through the cleanse . You can follow us through our blog and by becoming a friend of the Pearl Women’s Center facebook page. They will be offering several small ‘prizes’ for those of you who complete the 10 day cleanse but you must be signed up in order to be eligible to win. And we would love to hear from you about how YOU are doing : you can do it both on the blog(you will need to sign up as a follower first) and/or on the facebook page. It will be fun to see how many of you join us this time and how making these 4 small changes impact your lives.

As we look back at our blog over the past 15 months,  we are excited to see that we have touched many of your lives with some of our blog posts. We received an update from wordpress(our blog server) and we have had 6,546 views since we first launched our blog. A big thank you to all of our readers! Wow!! We are looking forward to a renewed commitment to our blog and will be rolling out some new features in the upcoming weeks. I am also due to post my list of favorite books so watch for that as well.  We love touching your lives and as always, would love to hear from you if you have any particular topics you would like us to discuss.

Wishing you a safe, healthy, joyful and balanced new year.

Another way to find balance: laughing with a dear friend

Another way to find balance: laughing with a dear friend

6 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance