Tag Archives: hopeful

Hope for Healthy Body Wellness

March 4, 2014

What do you hope for your body? Perhaps, you crave fitness, weight loss, better immunity or overall wellness. Nurturing hope in your life means nourishing hope through your body.

Much like a complex food strainer, our body filters and accepts what we consume based on its needs and its experiences. Yes, your body has food memory, which you may recognize as sensory reactions on your palate (mmmm or yuck), learned cravings (even addictions) and possibly resistance.

About a year ago, I wrote a post on “The Sensitivity Spiral,” if you want to know more about what chemicals, stress and allergies can do to disrupt the body’s relationship with food, as well as tips for lessening the impact, give it a read.

Today, though, I want to shine a light of hope on the complex workings of food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. My humble disclaimer is that I am not an allergist or nutritionist, both of which I recommend speaking with. However, I was tasked by an allergist to take a deep dive into food mapping, reaction logging and personal testing. I have been poked, scanned, examined, interviewed and tested more than I prefer to recall. So, I have seen firsthand what food choices (even well-intentioned ones) can do to interfere with having a hopeful outlook and healthy body.

For instance, consider if your body does not respond well to a food, it may result in behavioral problems, increased anxiety, panic attacks, digestive sluggishness or rapidity, depression, bloating, diminished energy, an inability to sleep soundly, joint aches and muscle pains, migraines, notable weight gain or loss, irrational outbursts, breathing issues, impaired immunity, food dependence, itching, tingling extremities, swelling and a general feeling that something is not right. Listen to it.

Ok, so you may know some or all of the above from increased media awareness. But did you know that seasonal allergies can cross react with foods, triggering a response 1-3 days after ingesting them?

Example: If you are allergic to grass, you may have a seasonal sensitivity to tomato, melons, orange, peanut, peas and potatoes. Don’t believe it? Access The Cross-Reactors chart to educate yourself. Oral intake of related allergens can exacerbate the sniffly, funky feeling you get when things are in bloom. The challenge is that your reaction may be delayed or recurring, so you don’t think of the food you had for lunch two days ago.

For perspective not drama, I am chart-toppingly allergic to all of these items (and most everything else). So, for my well-being, I recently took them all off my safe foods list. I don’t advise this for you nor to intend for it to be a permanent choice. But I do see noticeable improvements in my body when I am discerning about such foods. The result: I am more hopeful, upbeat and energetic.

Ok, now let’s face the dreaded topic of gluten. It has become the bad guy on the culinary scene in the last few years, much like cholesterol and carbs before it. But do you know the real enemy? It’s inflammation. Regardless of origin or trigger, digestive inflammation is especially impairing to wellness and a hopeful mindset. If your body is feeling constantly attacked, swollen, bloated and achy, it’s difficult for it to accept nutrients, to heal itself and to deliver its best for you.

Here is a summary of the three ways to identify food allergies (source: DrHyman.com):

  1. Get a blood test. Blood testing for IgG food allergens . . . can help you to identify hidden food allergies . . . work with a doctor or nutritionist trained in dealing with food allergies.
  2. Go dairy- and gluten-free for six weeks . . . allows the inflamed gut to heal. This one move may be the single most important thing most you can do to lose weight.
  3. Avoid the top food allergens . . . gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and eggplant), citrus and yeast (baker’s, brewer’s yeast and fermented products like vinegar). Try this for a full six weeks . . . When you reintroduce a top food allergen, eat it at least 2-3 times a day for 3 days to see if you notice a reaction.

Don’t even get me started on preservatives, dyes, fake sugars, binding agents and biosynthetics like GMOs. I would never drink from a beaker in chemistry class, so I’m absolutely not going to put these digestive grenades in my body.

In my case (again, I’m not saying this is for you), I am now grain-free, dairy-free, corn-free, bean-free, soy-free, mammalian meat-free, whole nut-free (too dense for my system to process right now) and a variety of other restrictions. My focus is organic green vegetables, a few select fruits, wild caught low-mercury fish, coconut oil and certain seeds. Why meat restrictions? Well, that adage, “You are what you eat,” applies to animals too. I find, funny enough, that what they eat can lead to reactions in me. Interesting how life is so connected, if we think about it.

If you are a brainiac who loves knowing all the scientific details like I do, here is something to make your head spin: “Food Allergies and Other Food Sensitivities.” It is remarkable reading and breaks down the many levels to reactions.

I am hopeful and know, with awareness, I will achieve the balance my body deserves. It may not look like anything anyone else eats and yours may not either. The key is to pay attention to your body, know what feels good, log what you eat for a while and honor its best interest above your urges. Be hopeful and be proactive, friends.

It Ain’t Always Easy

February 23, 2014

While my fifth grade grammar teacher will be displeased with this title, “ain’t” is exactly the right word to emphasize the unruly nature of life. Being hopeful, being upbeat and being productive are fabulous . . . but along the way, give yourself some slack for being human.

I honestly love how God gives me lessons wrapped in trial and frosted with “ah ha, got it.” This week was certainly a not so easy week and, no, that is not a cry for pity or outreach. It’s purely an acknowledgment that even the hopeful have frustrating days. After all, it’s these murky moments that help us appreciate the gleaming glow of the good times.

So, life humbled me. It turns out that striving for greater physical stamina, tone and balance comes with an initial oh-man-the-scale-hates-me-and-my-body-aches-in-weird-places feeling. Unexpected food intolerances, waves of stress, the usual smattering of work and life obligations, dehydration from poor planning, and pesky hormones (yes, I said the dreaded word . . . run, run screaming) all add to the mix.

I’m being honest, people. It’s rarely just one challenge that keeps us from pushing through to our greater self. Sometimes the universe likes to test our resolve on multiple levels and make us really work for it. Bingo, that’s my week. I prayed, I hoped, I reset, I muscled through, I whined, I cried, I laughed, I wrote and, finally, I accepted.

Not an acceptance of status quo, not this Scottish lass. It’s acceptance of the journey. Like muscle fiber, we have to break down our former selves to rebuild stronger and more aware. Seeing your confidence ebb away on the treadmill, check. Feeling every bit of allure and appeal dripping away, check. Wondering why the woman in the mirror feels so beaten, check. Letting go of all resistance to asking and accepting help . . . ok, still working on this one.

Then, there are the expectations of others that we dwell on. Perhaps, you long for more responsiveness, more compassion, more assistance or more of a connection. And what are you doing to foster that outcome? And are you being open with yourself and others about your needs? For instance, I have high standards of others and, likewise, have to hold myself to the same high standards. This means not being a hypocrite, not merely hinting at what you desire and not avoiding direct dialogue.

When it ain’t easy, we overanalyze, we doubt, we let the gloom linger, we beat ourselves up and we get angry at the world. Let it go. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Would you rather hold on to a smelly old sponge of bitterness or refresh your spirit with the cleansing waters of hopeful acceptance?

As a matter of fact, a warm bath sounds good right now.

Suddenly Sighted

December 8, 2013

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

Interesting, isn’t it, how being lost and being blind can feel so similar? Each of us will likely feel lost at some point. And, during this assumedly wonderful time of year, two things happen:

  1. Hearts, pocketbooks and homes open to the needs of others (yeah, amazing grace)
  2. Some of those who are in pain feel forgotten and even more lost (boo, aching grief)

Hang in there with me, as I will close on a hopeful note as always. But before I get to that, have you ever had a moment when you suddenly looked around, paused or really settled into a moment? It may have been like seeing a person, a place or the world with new sight.

Well, this is the ideal time of year (not that every day isn’t just as superb) to shift your perspective. Look around and truly see who is putting on a happy face, who is withdrawing from social events, who is physically in pain or who is spiritually adrift. Be suddenly sighted.

See without judgment or guilt. Feel without pity or frustration. For being suddenly sighted is being immediately blessed. Appreciate the plate of cookies, the lingering hug, the extra few minutes on the phone, the fact that someone opened up to you, the chance to love thy neighbor, and the moment when your child or grandchild looked at you with eyes that see how amazing you are.

Finally, I challenge you: create a Hopeful Sights Journal on December 13, 2013.

  1. You need 365 pages or sections.
  2. Each day, write down a sight that inspires hope (anything uplifting, surprising, endearing).
  3. On 12/13/14, read it back to yourself and your family.
  4. Then for the holidays, give it to someone who really needs a light of hope in their life.

Here is the one I plan to use. It was given to me by a sweet friend and is already brimming with positive energy. The quote says, “Close your eyes and dream a dream . . . and seek the courage to make it real. Reflect on the past, envision the future, and embrace today with an open heart and soul.”

Hopeful Sights JournalSo, I invite you to join me. What a way to inspire hopeful sight and share amazing grace.

Mindful. Heartful. Hopeful.

February 17, 2013

Have you ever had someone tell you, “Please be mindful of your words,” or “Mind your p’s and q’s?” In short, they were asking you to think through what you say and do. It’s a simple thing, being mindful. Yet, with the pace of this world and the rigor of our responsibilities, being mindful requires us to allow a precious few seconds to pass in reflection before words come streaming across our lips. It is possible, with a conscious pause for patience. The benefit is holding back harsh words, protecting relationships and, honestly, not looking like a babbling buffoon (personal experience speaking here) in front of others.

So, if being mindful means making time to think. What does it take to be heartful? Well, first of all, we need to recognize the difference between a thought and a feeling. People, myself included, tend to shift statements interchangeably between, “I think,” and “I feel.” However, there is a difference. For example, “I think this is the right road,” versus “I feel the impact of that conversation.” Both are valid; both are valuable. “I feel” sentiments should be a genuine reflection of your heart, passed through your unique filter of conscience. To be heartful, we must honor, consider and express ourselves in a way that respects the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s empathy in action.

Ok then, how do these two concepts contribute to your greater purpose? Ah, that’s the best part. When you are mindful of your thoughts and heartful with your feelings, you are more receptive to being hopeful and sharing that hopeful energy with the world. For instance, if I want to make the most of my spare time, I am mindful and focus thoughts on ways I might mentor or volunteer. In parallel, I am heartful and recognize the uplifted feelings that helping inspires within me, as it supports the emotional needs of others. Finally, I am hopeful my time or resources will empower others to have a restored sense of purpose and hope.

To bring it round to a deeper level, living in a mindful, heartful, hopeful way does not have to be outwardly directed at all times. Try to face individual challenges, tense situations and new endeavors with thought, feeling and hope. Work through the intentions and outcomes in a journal, or share your findings in comments below. May you discover, accept and realize your greater purpose more each day.