Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happiness from Jill Scott


I love music. I especially love songs that make me HAPPY. Songs that (within seconds) make me smile, laugh, dance, and/or sing/yell in my car. Here is one classic example.

One of my favorite songs of ALL TIME is by the lovely Jill Scott: Slide (featuring Jeff Bradshaw). I won't go into details - it is simply an awesome, feel good song.


"Who that girl and how she get so funky?" Swinging her hips from side to side..."

Spend sometime this week making a Playlist just for YOU. Throw in at least 10 songs that pump you up and bring out the best in you. Listen to it anytime you need a pick me up. It works!

WebMD: The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep (9-12)


The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep (continued)

9.
Cut the Caffeine

Web MD says: "As soon as the clock strikes noon, avoid caffeine in foods and drinks."

This is a tough one, but I find it to be very true.

10. Exercise Right, Time It Right

Web MD says: "Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, as long as you don’t work out too close to bedtime. A post-workout burst of energy can keep you awake. Aim to finish any vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you hit the hay."

11. Eat Right at Night

Web MD says: "Avoid heavy foods and big meals late in the day; they tax the digestive system and make it hard to get high-quality sleep."

Good to know!

12. Rethink Your Drink

Web MD explains: "Although the tranquilizing effects of alcohol may make you sleepy at bedtime, beware -- after the initial effects wear off, alcohol actually causes more frequent awakenings at night and less restful sleep."

I'd definitely agree!

Article & Photo Source

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pocket Park Prayers


Some mornings before work, I take Lucy for a walk around the neighborhood. My favorite part of my regular loop is on 6th Ave NW, where I pass The 6th Avenue Pocket Park (yes, that's literally what it's called). It's a small, well kept .21 acre city park in the middle of east Ballard.

This park is the perfect place for a picnic and hanging out with friends - there is an authentic community/neighborhood feel. There's also a human sized chess game and a big sandbox for kids (or adults!). They have tables, benches, and great sitting areas. The park also makes a great date night, according to this very cute Seattle couple :).

When I walk past this park, I sometimes sit down for 2 minutes to stop, pray, listen, and enjoy a moment of silence. I continue my walk feeling more at peace, and more appreciative of my day. If you haven't already, find a place outside near your home that can be your "place of silence" that you visit once or twice a month. It's a great way to start the day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guinness is Good for You


By now, you've probably heard the quote: "Guinness is Good for You" (let's hope you have).

I love Guinness. It is simply fantastic. Sadly, I didn't start drinking it until a few years ago. So many people see the dark color and think that Guinness is a rich, heavy, bold, and calorie-rich beer. As far as I'm concerned, all of those adjectives are FALSE.

Guinness is a smooth, easy-drinking beer. There are 126 calories per 12 ounces, as opposed to a Blue Moon (171) or a Deschutes Porter (185) -Source. In addition, studies have hinted at several health benefits. So - the next time you're at the bar, ask for a Guinness. Cheers!

Guinness could really be good for you

The old advertising slogan "Guinness is Good for You" may be true after all, according to researchers.

A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as a low dose aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks.

Drinking lager does not yield the same benefits, experts from University of Wisconsin told a conference in the US.

Guinness was told to stop using the slogan decades ago - and the firm still makes no health claims for the drink.

The Wisconsin team tested the health-giving properties of stout against lager by giving it to dogs who had narrowed arteries similar to those in heart disease.

They found that those given the Guinness had reduced clotting activity in their blood, but not those given lager.

Heart trigger

Clotting is important for patients who are at risk of a heart attack because they have hardened arteries.

A heart attack is triggered when a clot lodges in one of these arteries supplying the heart.

Many patients are prescribed low-dose aspirin as this cuts the ability of the blood to form these dangerous clots.

The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that the most benefit they saw was from 24 fluid ounces of Guinness - just over a pint - taken at mealtimes.

We already know that most of the clotting effects are due to the alcohol itself, rather than any other ingredients ” Spokesman, Brewing Research International

They believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.

However, Diageo, the company that now manufactures Guinness, said: "We never make any medical claims for our drinks."

The company now runs advertisements that call for "responsible drinking".

A spokesman for Brewing Research International, which conducts research for the industry, said she would be "wary" of placing the health benefits of any alcohol brand above another.

She said: "We already know that most of the clotting effects are due to the alcohol itself, rather than any other ingredients.

"It is possible that there is an extra effect due to the antioxidants in Guinness - but I would like to see this research repeated."

She said that reviving the old adverts for Guinness might be problematic - at least in the EU.

Draft legislation could outlaw any health claims in adverts for alcohol in Europe, she said.

Feelgood factor

The original campaign in the 1920s stemmed from market research - when people told the company that they felt good after their pint, the slogan was born.

In England, post-operative patients used to be given Guinness, as were blood donors, based on the belief that it was high in iron.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers were at one stage advised to drink Guinness - the present advice is against this.

The UK is still the largest market in the world for Guinness, although the drink does not feature in the UK's top ten beer brands according to the latest research.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/3266819.stm

Published: 2003/11/13 11:20:10 GMT

© BBC 2011

Life that is perfect for who you are

This morning, I came across a quote that my friend Anna (one of my favorite readers :) shared on Facebook:

"So I tell people, the life that I have now is not the life I thought I would have — but it's the life that is perfect for who I am. And I never would have thought that when I was younger." -Lillie Love

I did a little research about Lillie Love, and came across an article on NPR (Ms. Love has an incredible story, to say the least - see story below). I love Lillie's words (above) because they remind us that while life may not go exactly as planned, knowing that it's going as it should be (a life that is perfect for who you are) brings us peace in the present.

...

Article: A Life Goes Against The Plan, And That's Fine

Lillie Love spoke about her lifetime goals in a conversation with Anthony Knight in Atlanta.
Photo & Article Source

Lillie Love spoke about her lifetime goals in a conversation with Anthony Knight at StoryCorps in Atlanta.

July 2, 2010

Lillie Love, a StoryCorps facilitator who helped dozens of people record conversations with their loved ones, died last week in Atlanta. She was 53. When she began working with StoryCorps, Love recorded her thoughts about how her life had turned out. It had not gone according to plan, she said.

"When I was 13, I mapped out my life and made some critical decisions about what kind of life I was going to have," she told Anthony Knight, a fellow facilitator in Atlanta.

"I thought that at 52, I would be married with children, and hopefully grandchildren. But instead, very little of that actually happened. I did get married; it didn't last. I was pregnant several times, and I had miscarriages. And so — it's like designing a dress while you're wearing it. You know, you can't really fashion a life for yourself at 13 and think that that's going to fit you for the rest of your life."

Love said that at a certain point, she had to take stock of things and see what else life might offer her. "And what there was for me is to be a terrific sister; to be a wonderful friend; to be a great aunt," she said.

"So I tell people, the life that I have now is not the life I thought I would have — but it's the life that is perfect for who I am. And I never would have thought that when I was younger."

In her work for StoryCorps, Love was known for having one simple rule for people who came to record with her — she had to hug you at the end of the session. And she kept an optimistic outlook on life.

"I don't make things bigger than what they are. I don't borrow trouble," she said. And when she heard people complain about being bored — or hoping for Friday, Love would disagree. "You don't hear me saying that," she said. "I thank God for ordinary Tuesdays. Because the ordinary days means that nothing really great happened — but nothing really bad happened, either.

When Knight suggested that more people should live with that in mind, Love said, "Yeah! Thank God for an ordinary boring Tuesday, where you're thinking, 'Life is in a rut.' I love ruts — because it's predictable."

"Well, let's project into the future," Knight said.

"I don't do that anymore," Love answered. "I learned my lesson about creating clothing for 20 years down the road. You don't know what size you're going to be, you don't know what's going to fit you. I have learned to just let the universe give me what it is that I need.

"So, if I can keep it simple, and I can keep it real, and my family's OK — I'm OK."

Produced for Morning Edition by Vanara Taing. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WABE.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

WebMD: The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep (5-8)

The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep (continued)

5. Put Your Neck in Neutral

Web MD says: "If you wake tired with a stiff neck, blame your pillow...Your pillow should be just the right size to support your neck in a neutral position."

6. Seal the Mattress

Web MD says: "[Your mattress] can fill with mold, dust mite droppings, and other allergy triggers. Avoid these sleep wreckers by sealing your mattress, box springs, and pillow."

7. Reserve the Bed for Sleep and Sex

No explanation needed!

Web MD also says: "The best sleep temperature for most people is between 68-72 degrees."

8. Set Your Body Clock

Web MD says: "Go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day" and "Get out in bright light for 5 to 30 minutes as soon as you rise. Light is the most powerful regulator of the biological clock."

Article & Photo Source

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Journey insights from "Eat Pray Love"


Today I watched the movie, Eat, Pray, Love, for the second time. At the end of the movie, Liz Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts), shares a concluding observation about her "truth-seeking" journey in life (note - this isn't necessarily a spoiler, but skip reading this if you'd rather read the book or watch the movie first)...


"In the end, I've come to believe in something I call "The Physics of the Quest." A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you."-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love


I can think of countless times that I have gone on an "internal" or "external" journey in my life. It can be scary and overwhelming at times. In the end, forgiveness and acceptance is always key to our growth (yes, cheesy - but true).

If you are on a journey right now (whether it be spiritual, career, health, or relationship related) and are questioning your progress, take some time to think about your levels of acceptance and forgiveness (both with yourself and others), and openness to knowledge from others along the way. Once we are able to address those areas, it's so much easier to move forward.

Cheers to some good food for thought on a Saturday afternoon! Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert.

Perfect start to a Saturday (Golden Gardens)

Rise and shine, Margie!

This morning I woke up at 8:00 am to the sounds of hundreds of Seattle vintage car owners revving their engines for the Annual Greenwood Car Show. Knowing that my dream to sleep in and have a quiet morning at home had come to an end, I decided to pursue a change in scenery.

Lucy and I headed to Golden Gardens in Ballard. I parked the car a couple miles away from the park to provide a solid power walk opportunity. When we arrived at the beach, no one was in site. It was a quiet, overcast day, and I just stood in silence, soaking in the ocean breeze on my face while Lucy ran in and out of the water and in circles around the sand.

Removing myself from the (admittedly happy) chaos on Greenwood Avenue this morning to go for a long walk on the water was truly revitalizing. Now I am at home watching "Eat, Pray, Love" while doing laundry and cleaning. I also have the benefit of top notch people watching. I am grateful for this day!

"Do we really have to leave?"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WebMD: The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep (First 4 Pointers)

Today I came across a great article on WebMD.com with 20 ways to sleep better. Today I'll be starting a series of posts, each sharing four recommendations. The first one puts my addiction to watching The Office on Netflix Instant Viewer to shame...

ENJOY!

20 Tips for Better Sleep (1-4)

1. Ban Blue Light in the Bedroom

Web MD says :"Turn off TVs, computers, and other blue light producers an hour before sleep. Cover any blue displays you can't shut off."

2. Avoid Naps

Web MD says: "if you must nap, keep it brief, 20 minutes or less -- and do it early in the day."

3. Block the Clock

Web MD says: "When you glance at the clock in the wee hours of the night, your sleep will suffer."

4. Try a Leg Pillow for Back Pain

Web MD says: "Mild low back pain may not wake you, but it can disrupt the deep, restful stages of sleep. A cushy solution is to place a pillow between the legs for better alignment of the hips and reduced stress on the low back."

More to come! Happy sleeping!

Photo & Article Source

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wellness Diva #7: Lulu (The Runner)

"Going for a run resets my physical, emotional and thinking body."

Introducing our 7th Wellness Diva: Louisa (Lulu) Hays.

I love when people ask me how I know my friend, Lulu - my response is the following: "I met her playing in the sand naked at age 3." Lulu often says "we conversed while eating sand naked." Both are stellar responses in my book.

It's true. Lulu and I met at Laurelhurst Beach Club in Seattle at the ripe age of 3 years old, after my family moved from Dallas to Seattle. We quickly became best friends, and
have remained close ever since.

Lulu has always been family to me. Her parents are my brother's godparents. When we see each other, we pick up where we left off, and have a great time.
We are both close with our moms, and since our moms are great friends as well, it always is pure entertainment when we hang out as a group (just ask about the time my mom experienced "hot yoga" for the first time with "Instructor Fabio," or the "special D&G purse" we gave Lulu's sister for graduation).

Lulu and her wonderful family (yes, good looks fall real short in this family...p.s. look at those hot pink shoes)

For as long as I can remember, Lulu's passion (amongst many other things, including dairy, baking, cooking, and food science) is RUNNING. Lulu is an incredible runner, and has been an awesome source of support in motivating me to run, and giving me guidance on safe and healthy training strategies. In 2007, Lulu and I went to Vancouver, where she finished 2nd in her entire age group in the Vancouver International Half Marathon!

Lulu during college with her teammates from the UC Davis XC Team!

Enough details - let's hear from Lu...


1. When did you first start running (competitively)? How did you develop your interest in running?

I started running my freshman year of high school. I wanted to try running competitively because many of my family members (on both sides) had careers as track athletes. So, I thought I might enjoy it and be good at it.

2. Why do you enjoy running, on both a competitive and personal level?

This might sound a little corny, but, I really think I was born to run. My body just craves that motion! Oftentimes the run itself feels amazing. Sometimes, though, it feels tough to get my legs moving. Regardless, I always feel refreshed afterwards.

I've never been a terribly competitive person. When I was competing at the college level, my motivation stemmed mostly from my love for the euphoric feeling of running fast and the total exhaustion and satisfaction that I felt after knowing I gave everything I physically had to a race.

3. How do you feel running contributes to your overall wellness (mental, emotional, physical, etc)?

I think that running has provided a great amount of structure and clarity in my life. Going for a run resets my physical, emotional and thinking body. Often, I feel more capable in other areas in my life after completing a run. Running also gives me good alone-time to think about things. Sometimes a great idea will just pop into my head during a run!

4. Do you have any advice for people who are interested in taking up running but don't know where to start?

If you are really starting from scratch, Begin with running a half mile, 3 days a week, at an easy pace. Most people have a little running experience, in that case, you could start out with 1 or 2 miles for your first runs and build up from there.

After a week or so, add a 1/2 mile to your runs. Every week increase the length of your run by 1/2 mile. Once you're up to 5 miles a day you can play with distance a little more, running anywhere from 3-6 miles a day. If you want to run longer just keep building up your mileage slowly, week by week.

If your goal is to run 3 days/wk, commit to that from the beginning. Even if you feel low on time or energy, run at least a mile that day so you can stay consistent with your goal.

As for playing with speed, once you feel you have a solid base (5 mile runs are easy) you could start throwing in some speed work such as farleks, tempo work, and strides.

And, one more thing, try to run on soft surfaces as much as possible! Running on the grass or dirt rather than pavement when you can find it. In Seattle, the outside trail at Greenlake is a good option, or any other park trails you can find. The Arboretum has great, soft trails and it is a beautiful place to run.

5. Do you do any other (fitness) activities to enhance your running or help you stay injury free? Do you recommend complimenting running with another practice?

I don't know how I ever existed before I started doing yoga. It's a great balance to running! Practicing yoga has complemented my running on both physical and metal levels. I think it has helped me avoid injury as well. Running can be very tough on the body. Muscles get tight and pounding the pavement can be really hard on the joints. Yoga counteracts those issues beautifully. Practicing yoga has also definitely improved my mental clarity and focus and has given me a more positive self-image.

6. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for being interested in running and my experience!

...

Lulu - you are a superstar!

(L to R, T to B): David (my brother), Me, Franny (Lulu's sister) and Lulu having a ball at a housewarming party years ago (yes, we look like we're 10).

Wednesday Pick me up!

Hello I am cute! (Photo Source)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Small efforts CAN pay off!


This week I've been short on energy and motivation - to say the least. I haven't been able to do anything productive outside of work - especially exercise. Last night I got home and was completely exhausted, feeling like I had very little to give. After a few minutes, I decided that I should at least TRY - so I put on my walking shoes and headed outside. I ended up walking to the dog park and back (bonus point: huge hill on the way home) and enjoying the first day of Summer in Seattle (which was a gorgeous day, I'll add).

Looking back, while I was only able to muster up a 2 mile power walk, it was worth it in the end. I got out of the house, destressed, spent time outside, exercised my dog, got some color on my face (note: while wearing SPF!) and got my metabolism going. Not insignificant when you think about it...

During the weeks that you feel like you have only a little to give - don't feel bad that you "only" went for one run, or "only" cooked 2 healthy meals. While your efforts may not be optimal, little things DO add up and can make an impact on your overall wellness!

EXAMPLE

Did you know that 3,500 calories equals about 1 lb (0.45 kilogram) of fat, so you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So, if you're looking to slim down this Summer, just cut 500 calories per day and you could lose a pound of week (if not more, with exercise)! This could mean skipping that second beer at happy hour, and the bag of chips at lunch! (Mayo Clinic)

Make this week a great week for you with small, healthy changes!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sleep health: the battle of sleep debt



If there is one Wellness component that I will admit to having failed at (the most) over the years, it is GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP. I think I have racked up what feels like WEEKS of "sleep debt" over the years. It sometimes amazes me that I haven't managed to overcome this battle, knowing how important sleep is, and how run down I feel when I don't get enough sleep.

There are a LOT of factors that contribute to me not getting enough sleep, but the primary one relates to my "evening procrastination methods." Classic Margie scenario: "Oh, it's 9:30 and I have a big day tomorrow - I should head to bed now and take advantage of extra sleep time. But wait - I really want to stay up for just 30 more minutes to watch this crappy reality show and then go to bed." 30 minutes becomes one hour - if not, 1.5 hrs, and sooner than later, I'm sitting in bed, wondering why I'm wide awake at 11:30 pm. I end up getting 6.5 hrs of sleep, and the next day I feel moody, fatigued, stressed, and sluggish. I'm unproductive at work, too. Way to go Margie.

Here's the really pathetic part: the next day, I manage to do this again. WHY?!

I took some time to search the topic of "sleep debt" and I was lucky to find a great article. It has some helpful suggestions on the recovery piece. This month, I will be doing a series of "sleep health" articles. Hopefully we will all be inspired to get more sleep, one snooze at a time.

...

ARTICLE

Can you Catch Up on Lost Sleep?

You've given up your fair share of sleep—will you ever feel rested again?

Let's do some sleep math. You lost two hours of sleep every night last week because of a big project due on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, you slept in, getting four extra hours. Come Monday morning, you were feeling so bright-eyed, you only had one cup of coffee, instead of your usual two. But don't be duped by your apparent vim and vigor: You're still carrying around a heavy load of sleepiness, or what experts call "sleep debt"—in this case something like six hours, almost a full nights' sleep.

Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. It's a deficit that grows every time we skim some extra minutes off our nightly slumber. "People accumulate sleep debt surreptitiously," says psychiatrist William C. Dement, founder of the Stanford University Sleep Clinic. Studies show that such short-term sleep deprivation leads to a foggy brain, worsened vision, impaired driving, and trouble remembering. Long-term effects include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease. And most Americans suffer from chronic deprivation.

A 2005 survey by the National Sleep Foundation reports that, on average, Americans sleep 6.9 hours per night—6.8 hours during the week and 7.4 hours on the weekends. Generally, experts recommend eight hours of sleep per night, although some people may require only six hours of sleep while others need ten. That means on average, we’re losing one hour of sleep each night—more than two full weeks of slumber every year.

The good news is that, like all debt, with some work, sleep debt can be repaid—though it won't happen in one extended snooze marathon. Tacking on an extra hour or two of sleep a night is the way to catch up. For the chronically sleep deprived, take it easy for a few months to get back into a natural sleep pattern, says Lawrence J. Epstein, medical director of the Harvard-affiliated Sleep HealthCenters.

Go to bed when you are tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clock allowed). You may find yourself catatonic in the beginning of the recovery cycle: Expect to bank upward of ten hours shut-eye per night. As the days pass, however, the amount of time sleeping will gradually decrease.

For recovery sleep, both the hours slept and the intensity of the sleep are important. Some of your most refreshing sleep occurs during deep sleep. Although such sleep's true effects are still being studied, it is generally considered a restorative period for the brain. And when you sleep more hours, you allow your brain to spend more time in this rejuvenating period.

As you erase sleep debt, your body will come to rest at a sleep pattern that is specifically right for you. Sleep researchers believe that genes—although the precise ones have yet to be discovered—determine our individual sleeping patterns. That more than likely means you can't train yourself to be a "short sleeper"—and you're fooling yourself if you think you've done it. A 2003 study in the journal Sleep found that the more tired we get, the less tired we feel.

So earn back that lost sleep—and follow the dictates of your innate sleep needs. You’ll feel better. "When you put away sleep debt, you become superhuman," says Stanford's Dement, talking about the improved mental and physical capabilities that come with being well rested. Finally, a scientific reason to sleep in on Saturday.

Article Source

2nd run of the week: Accomplished!


Today I went running again (yes, the outer loop) around Greenlake, and it was awesome. I was not feeling the best when I woke up this morning, but decided to push through.

On my drive home, I thought about all the benefits of running this morning. The one that always resonates with me the most (besides getting great exercise and exercising my dog) is that I started my day doing something healthy for myself before anything else.

Tomorrow, I'd encourage you to start your morning doing something for yourself first before anything else (especially work related), whether it be meditating, stretching, prayer, a walk, or sitting down with a book and a cup of coffee or tea.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I love beer: Twilight Summer Ale


Today I went to Ken's Market, and discovered that one of my favorite Summer Ales was finally available: Twilight Summer Ale (another variety from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR).

I discovered Twilight (note: NOT the movie or book) a few summers ago at Duke's Chowder House on tap. It is refreshing, yummy, and a great cold treat on a hot Summer day. Unfortunately today is not one of those days (feels like the Winter, to be honest), but at least I know that I have a cold beverage to look forward to later this week.

Cheers!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Starting the running journey


This morning I went on a run around Greenlake (note: the outer loop - watch out) with my friend Em. After a week of being sick, I was very impressed that I a) made it around the lake, and b) went for a run on a Monday morning.

Today's run was the first of about eight runs I've done over the past three weeks. After two years of saying "I want to start running again" and NOT running again, my recent success is rather exciting for me. I also have a furry companion for added motivation :).

This Summer, I've decided to take up running as one of my weekly exercises. I am excited to see how things go and what progress I make. My next step is to spend a little time goal setting and deciding on some bench marks (ex: sign up for a 5K? Ultimate mile time? Weekly schedule?). Conveniently, my best childhood friend, Lulu, is an incredible runner who ran for UC Davis XC in college. Recently Lulu gave me some awesome "running for beginners" (for lack of better words) tips that I'll be sharing in upcoming posts for this series. Also - Lulu will be my next Wellness Diva! I am very excited to share about this incredible, beautiful gal.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Massage - makes the ick go away?


I've been getting massages on a monthly basis (on and off) for about four years. It is my monthly treat to myself, and I firmly believe that massage is one of the best things we can do to take care of ourselves, because it provides comprehensive benefits to our health:

Mentally: it allows me to decompress and quit thinking for one full hour (which, if you know me, is close to impossible).

Physically: I've seen amazing benefits while I am exercising or training, for relieving sore muscles and providing injury prevention.

Emotionally: it destresses me big time. I am able to let go of negative energy, and when I leave, I feel much calmer and at peace with myself and life in general.

...

Sick day turned better?

For the past 5 days, I have felt like crap. Today at 3pm I realized that I had a massage scheduled at 5pm and I panicked. Normally, I look forward to a massage more than anything else during the weekend. However, today I was worried that it would be a bad idea to go under my crappy circumstances.

After learning about the $25 (under 24 hrs) cancellation fee, I decided that I should just suck it up and go. Since sleeping for hours and drinking buckets of water hadn't seemed to help (so annoying) I figured - what do I have to lose?

When I arrived, my massage therapist, Maria (at Elements Massage in Greenlake), said "You made the right decision. After this massage, you will feel so much better." Maria explained that when you are sick, getting a massage is ideal because your body releases heat and and the icky toxins from your body, guiding the healing process.

Boy was Maria right. During the massage, I (physically and mentally) felt the icks leaving my body. The massage was awesome too - she used a heating pad and peppermint oils on my back for the first 20-30 minutes and it felt like Vick's Vapor Rub to the extreme (in a great way).

I would highly encourage anyone who has not had a massage to give it a go. If it's not your thing, that's okay - but at least you'll know you did something nice for yourself and tried it out...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When NOT taking care of yourself catches up with you

This sums up how I felt when I woke up this morning (Photo Source)

Last night, I knew that I would hit a wall after an extremely tiring weekend. Looking back, I only remember one occasion in the past three days when I took care of MYSELF. Don't get me wrong - it was a fun weekend and I was thankful to spend time with great friends - but I'll admit, it was a bit too much in the end...

Translation: limited sleep + drinks every night + hosting 2 parties + 2 night outs in a row + work + volunteering ALL in 3 days = you will feel like CRAP afterward.

This morning, I woke up feeling horrible. I made a cup of tea and sat on my couch, watching the Today Show (and contemplating whether or going to work would be a possibility). Ironically, there was this feature story on working women & moms, and how women tend to take care of everyone - but themselves. We spread ourselves so thin that eventually, our habit of not taking care of ourselves catches up with us - and our health.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

After getting a dose of reality this morning (thank you headache, stomach ache, and runny nose) it made me stop and think about my lifestyle and my (continued) tendency to spread myself too thin. I realized that if I want to avoid these situations in the future, I will need to be really proactive about taking care of myself on a DAILY basis.

This means: getting 8 hrs of sleep instead of 7, going to bed early instead of meeting a friend for a drink or farting around on Facebook, not always signing up to volunteer, not going out 2 nights in a row, and cleaning my home instead of shopping or meeting up with a friend.

Focus points for this week:

1. SLEEP - make it my first priority (8 hrs minimum per night)
2. NO ALCOHOL (at least until I feel better)
3. NO CAFFEINE
4. No making plans

I hope to turn the corner this afternoon, but if I don't - at least I will have learned my lesson!

Time at the Bailey-Boushay House: what love is all about

This morning, I watched a video from King 5 News that my friend Kaitlyn, shared with me. The story highlights a service project that Kaitlyn's younger sister and two friends completed this Spring. The 8th grade students decided to make routine visits to see a man named Tim at the Bailey-Boushay House though Virginia Mason Hospital.

After watching the video, I'll admit I was totally brought to tears (I'm apparently good at crying these days). It is incredible to see how the simplest acts of kindness can truly change a person's life. Thank you to Brittany, Allison, and Stephanie for being an inspiration and showing others exactly what love is about.

"The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing." -Larry Dossey

ABOUT The Bailey-Boushay House:
The Bailey Boushay House is a nationally recognized facility in Seattle offering Residential Care and Chronic Care Management programs for people living with AIDS. The Residential Care program also provides care to those suffering from other life-threatening illnesses.