Month: August 2015

A Whole30 days of clean eating: It’s a gut feeling

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Whole30QuoteA year ago I was off sugar and grains, and I felt better than I had felt in a long time.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve read so much about inflammation and the things that cause it – sugar being one of the main culprits – that it didn’t take much convincing for me to start following the No Sugar No Grains philosophy. I read a book and listened to a podcast explaining the benefits of following the guidelines: avoid simple sugars, limit natural sugars (don’t overdo the fruit juice, for example); don’t consume grains, including corn, rice and wheat; and stick to complex carbs in limited quantities.

That plan made sense after some of the books I read (I’ve read a lot of them) and the dietitian I follow, and I kept up with it and the NSNG creator, Vinnie, on his podcast – until I just couldn’t stomach the vulgarity on his podcast for one more day.

By the time I quit listening to the podcast, I had already fallen off the wagon, and now I’m a carb addict again. (One little slip can send you down a slippery slope if you’re not careful.) I do order Vinnie’s multivitamin online, though, because I trust him when he says it’s pure: no fillers, no artificial ingredients, all that stuff. And the price is great.

So when a blogger friend posted a few days ago that she was about to start the Whole30, I was skeptical, but because I trust her judgment I decided to check it out. I had never heard of Whole30, but I visited the website and really liked what I saw.

It was No Sugar No Grains with one addition (or subtraction, if you will): no dairy.

Gulp.

I come from a long line of milk drinkers. In fact, I liked the No Sugar No Grains plan because I could have milk. The Taylors LOVE milk with a passion that is so strong I can hardly explain it to you. Like the sun’s gravitational pull on the earth. That strong.

So, even though the NSNG proponents cautioned that I might do better without dairy, I just wasn’t willing to give up milk.

That was then; this is now.

Many of the Taylors are overweight and, worse, unhealthy. That gravitational pull is enough to get me to rethink my milk obsession.

Starting today, I’m giving Whole30 a whole 30 days to see if milk contributes to some of my problems: seasonal allergies (“seasonal” for me meaning 365 days a year), eczema, my self-diagnosed “silent reflux,” trouble controlling my weight, and any number of other things that might be improved with a cleaned-up diet.

I don’t like “diets” in general, for various reasons, but this one is really just an elimination plan that the creators consider a “reset” for your gut and your body. Get all the junk out and see how your body responds. See how well you sleep, whether your diabetes or your blood pressure or your hormone function improves, whether mood and mental clarity take a positive leap.

You can read the testimonials on the Whole 30 website, and, let me tell you, friends, this is the best “diet” website I’ve ever seen. The founders of this plan are transparent, forthright and not “sales-y,” as far as I’ve seen. They lay out exactly what to expect, and they include a printable PDF that boils it down to four pages. I also started reading their book It Starts With Food ($9.99 on Kindle; audio version also available) on my lunch break today, and I like their approach.

One more thing: When I’ve “dieted” in the past, I regret that I’ve never journaled what was happening to my mind and my body before, during and after. Remembering to sit down and write in a notebook is just hard.

My solution: My journal will be public, and it will be part of this blog. No way can I forget to post it here. 🙂

Don’t worry – I plan to keep it short and simple, just the broad strokes. I want to be able to say things like:

Thursday, the day before I started, I ate too much trail mix and drank too much diet Coke because I looked at it as my “last hurrah” before starting the plan.

It’s kinda silly now that I see it on paper.

If you look over the Whole30 site and decide you want to join me, leave a comment or email me at suzy@suzyoakley.com. We’ll take the journey together.

I’ve been through this before, and I can almost guarantee you’ll thank me at the end of your 30-day experiment. You’ll learn things, and you’ll feel better.

Let’s do this!

(Note: In case you were wondering, no one paid me, urged me or even asked me to mention any of the products I wrote about today.)

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 08/10/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

RECREATION/LEISURE

The first Craftsy class I took was a sewing course a couple of years ago. The online instructor guided me every step of the way in making a particular garment (printable pattern included in the price). I’ve taken a couple of other Craftsy classes online that helped me with particular sewing techniques, but I recently discovered that Craftsy features other kinds of “crafts” — you don’t have to be a girly girl or a homemaker to enjoy them. There’s a category that includes drawing, painting and photography, and another that features woodworking.

As a premium through another blog, I earned a free Craftsy class called “Basics of Digital Photography” and was so happy to finally start learning (with a knowledgeable teacher, not just my camera’s user manual) what all the buttons and menus mean on my digital SLR.

Craftsy’s prices range from “$14.99 and under” (some are FREE) to $39.99. You go at your own pace (pause, rewind, replay), and once you purchase a course, you have lifetime access.

If you’d like to learn a new skill, consider starting with a Craftsy course.

Check it out: Craftsy


SethGodinQuoteLazinessEMOTIONAL WELLBEING

I get a daily email from Seth Godin. He’s known as a marketing genius, but he’s so much more than that. He’s a critical thinker and is not afraid to challenge the status quo. In this post, he talks about the various kinds of laziness that hold us back and cause damage.

Check it out: The other kinds of laziness


BEING HUMAN

I’ve added a new category this week: Being Human. I almost called it Race Relations, but that term is too narrow, just as is the idea that our race or skin color should define who we are in the world or set boundaries on what we can and should do. God doesn’t see skin color when He looks at us; He sees individuals created in His image who are flawed and in need of grace every day.

Here are two examples where color is invisible — a video (less than 3 minutes) from a major corporation …

Check it out: See without labels

… and a conversation from some local friends’ children:

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Do you get it?

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …
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How to stay true to your mission when you’re tired or weary

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GandhiQuoteWhen you purport to be a coach, a teacher or a mentor (of anything), it’s tempting to let everyone believe you’re a strong, infallible and powerful superhero, no chinks in the armor, ever.

I used to be that person. No, not strong, infallible and powerful, but someone who wished she could come across that way to the world (remember, recovering perfectionist here).

But if I were trying to advise you in how to do something (or stop doing something), wouldn’t it be better if I could relate to the challenges you face, and better still if I had gone through those challenges (or similar ones), myself? Whether I had succeeded the first time or failed 1,000 times and finally figured it out, you’d be more likely to come to me for advice … or at least for empathy, right?

Sometimes a “superhero” needs to just be real.

Sunday, we had a visiting missionary in our church services. He has written before on his blog about how missionaries are expected (by some) to be perfect saints, and, in fact, some missionaries try to perpetuate that myth. The tendency is to think you can’t show vulnerability or you’ll turn people off to Christianity. After all, isn’t following Jesus supposed to make our lives rosy and perfect?

Well, no.

In John 16:33 (NLT), Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He never said life would be perfect; He said he’d never leave us to face life alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Our missionary friend knows this truth. In fact, his wife and daughter couldn’t be with us Sunday because they were with his wife’s family, grieving the unexpected loss of his father-in-law a week earlier. And Sunday evening, he told us that he had just gotten a call from his mother; she and his dad were meeting with hospice the next day because his dad is dying of cancer and the end is that close.

IT IS WELL

There is plenty to be weary about, but this missionary friend told us, “It is well.” He knows where his source of strength comes from, and it is not from striving and trying and wearing himself out in an effort to attain perfection. As he told us Sunday morning, Jesus didn’t come to heal the well, but the sick.

The missionary’s wife has written beautifully, too, about the struggles they face on the mission field and, heck, just as human beings living in a broken world.

I use the word beautifully a lot when I share others’ words, and the common denominator – the thing that causes it to be beautiful to me – is that the speaker is letting herself or himself be vulnerable.

Authentic.

Imperfect.

Real.

I’m writing about being real today because I’m tired and I want to let you know about it. I know my mission, but lately the path to fulfilling it has seemed to take a lot out of me. I’m learning a lot, but some weeks I feel as though I take two steps forward and one step back. I’m working on learning how to discern the essential from the nonessential, but figuring that out is not easy or simple.

The one below – picking out a birthday card for my mom last week – was an essential. Waiting until the day of … not the wisest decision. But I allowed hubby to help, and he picked out a beautiful card for her. (I think I’ll keep him.)

TextMsgScreenShot073115HOW TO STAY ON MISSION

Here are 10 things you (and I) can do to stay on mission when you’re tired or weary – or when life is just plain hard:

  1. Be honest. Don’t try to hide the fact that you’re hurting. Talk to a trusted mentor. Ask for prayer from your circle of friends. You don’t have to go into all the gory details, but share what’s on your heart. We were made for community. Reach out.
  2. Take a break. If you can’t take a full-blown vacation, escape for just a day, or even an hour. This will help refresh your mind and your body. If you can do this on a small scale every day or week, even better.
  3. Spend some time examining the things that got you to this point. Don’t think about it for five minutes and quit; really reflect on what’s going on in your life.
  4. Remember your “why” (aka “look at the Big Picture”). Have you figured out your mission – your purpose? If not, get in touch with me or a trusted mentor to help you through the process. Remembering your why is probably the most important thing on this list. I have it as a reminder on my idea board, in notebooks, on my bathroom mirror and as a hashtag when I post a workout to my running app. Remembering my “why” carries me a long way when I’m tired or wondering why I’m doing this.
  5. Decide what’s important. Figure out what is essential for you to fulfill your purpose and what is not.
  6. After thinking through what’s important, focus on the No. 1 thing on the list. Get rid of what isn’t essential to your mission, with the realization that you cannot do everything. (I’ll be writing a review of the book Essentialism as soon as I finish reading it – so much great advice.) Last weekend, our missionary friend’s wife and daughter stayed behind in their home state to grieve with their family before they return to the mission field. This was their No. 1 priority at that time. (If family is not near the top of your list, it should be.)
  7. Pray. Some of you who read this blog might not pray to God, so substitute the word meditate. I pray to God for peace, comfort and guidance. If you don’t pray, at least take some time for peace and calm so that you can gain clarity.
  8. Ask for help. I’m not talking about divine help, notwithstanding Item 7. If you have a task that’s overwhelming, ask someone to help you accomplish it. As wise King Solomon said, you get a better return for your labor; a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
  9. Celebrate what you’ve already accomplished; recall the progress you’ve made – even the small stuff – and take time to appreciate it. If you have trouble remembering any of the good, ask a friend! (See Item 8.)
  10. Let go of “perfect.”

This isn’t a comprehensive list. What have I left off? (See, I’m asking for help! Leave a comment above with some of the things on your list.)

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 08/03/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

RELATIONSHIPS

Early in our marriage, every time I expressed disagreement with Bruce, he interpreted our conversation as an argument and would back off, when I viewed it as merely a difference of opinion and wanted to continue the “conversation.” Funny how two people can interpret the same situation so differently.

My friend Lois has written a beautifully insightful – and instructive – piece, using her role as a mom for examples, on how to overcome differences in communication styles and preferences. (It’s almost redundant to say “Lois” and “beautifully insightful” in the same breath, because Lois always speaks wisdom and insight to me through her writing.)

I hope her post will speak to you as beautifully as it has spoken to me.

Check it out: When ‘Screaming’ Isn’t Really Screaming


 

MichaelHyattQuotePRIORITIES

As you may have noticed, I’m a huge fan of Michael Hyatt’s. In the few months I’ve been following him, he has taught me much about productivity, creating good content and just being a better person. This week he wrote a message to business owners and leaders about taking care of their employees, going as far as to prioritize them over customers. I’ll let him explain.

Check it out: Why You Need to Take Care of the People Who Take Care of You


LIVING IN COMMUNITY

I read this in my daily devotional on the Bible App, and it was taken from the Couples’ Devotional Bible, but the story is quoted widely on the Internet, too:

“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones. But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed.

“Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.

“A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said.”

Think about your role in community or family life. Have you given or received such care – in big or even small ways? I’ve been on the receiving end of this blessing many times over. I hope others can say the same of me.

Check it out: Day 212 of ‘The NIV 365-Day Devotional Reading Plan’

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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