The Heart of Wellness
Wellness isn’t just about a healthy heart, low cholesterol, low blood pressure and living at an ideal weight in a disciplined exercise program. It’s more than avoiding cancer or staying safe. It is so much more than that. And, yes, it involves your heart, but your soul heart. And, yes, when your soul heart is healthy, your body often follows. But it is important to note that if your body does get sick, it may be the perfect time to accept your humanness and get in touch with your soul.
Your life just works better when your heart is open.
How do you measure this depth of wellness? There are no biometric measures, or blood tests for spiritual health. You can’t get on a scale and see how much your soul weighs. But you can go inside and see how you feel. What’s churning? What’s getting in the way of your happiness and peace of mind? What do you need right now-physically, emotionally, spiritually?
Do whatever it takes, a walk in the park, reading a good book, helping a friend, giving to a charitable cause, or sitting in a quiet space with your own kind of prayer or meditation.
Health and Well-Being begin with a healthy mind and heart. Here are some of my favorite books for physical and emotional heart health.
BOOKS THAT HEAL THE HEART
You Can Heal Your Heart by Loise Hay and David Kessler
This book is about finding peace after loss from a breakup, divorce, or death. David Kessler was mentored by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and Louise Hay. I attended one of his all day workshops on grief, and learned so much about to work with grief in a way that promotes growth and finding peace of mind. Sharing real life stories that open the heart and comfort the soul, this book is a journey well taken for anyone suffering loss.
When The Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd
I love Sue Monk Kidd. The author of The Secret Life of Bees, goes on a journey into her own soul, to find her authentic spiritual self. Her heart waits as she dives deep into her own dark night of the soul by contemplative self direction and direction from others as she finds some answers to the sacred questions that guide her life.
Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth
I have used Geneen Roth’s work on emotions and eating with coaching clients. I love how she writes about her own journey and shares stories of those she has worked with in her own practice. Eating was meant to be both to feed our bodies, but also in joy to nurture our souls, and when the heart is starving, we look for fulfillment in unhealthy overeating leaving us empty instead of satisfied.
Journey of the Heart by John Welwood
John Welwood is a psychologist who teaches the path of conscious love and deep spirituality as a way to nurture our relationships with ourselves and others. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. said it perfectly “ A profound and wonderful book. It is a spiritual text on intimate relationship that is grounded in real life.”
There are so many other books that help us with that journey from the head to the heart, and books about healing. These are just a few.
If you are interested in exploring your own heart’s journey, I’d love to chat with you to see if I can help.
My coaching doors are open. To schedule a free consultation with me, use my calendar link.
I love walking
I hear this often -“I’m having a hard time getting exercise-I’m bored, get interrupted, it’s too cold and just don’t like it. What can I do to get my exercise and stay motivated?”
I always ask, “What is an activity you enjoy? Walking? Dancing? Ballet/Bar? Yoga? Tai Chi? Meditative movement? And then what is the best time for you to take 30 minutes to dedicate to a workout of some sort?” For me it’s walking and dancing. I love to walk.
30 minutes 5 days a week gives you the recommended 150 minutes for promoting and maintaining health and wellness. Add two days in your week to do resistance exercises using weights, bands or even your own body. Make the 30 minutes your sacred half hour and find something you like to do. Walking can be boring. I usually listen to podcasts or make phone calls. Some people love to listen to music and walk to the beat.
When it’s cold outside, walk in place or turn on a You Tube Walking Workout video. You Tube has just about any kind of workout you’re in the mood for.
Here are the links to a couple of my favorite indoor walking workouts:
FAST Walking in 30 minute
30 Minute Boosted Fitness Walk
10 STEPS To Help You Stay Motivated
- Make this your time to feel good. The best motivation is what comes from you internally instead of trying to please someone else or because you feel guilty. Call it movement instead of exercise or workout if that makes you feel better.
- Get a pedometer and track your steps-go for 10,000 but start from whereever you are and make 10,000 your goal. (More below)
- Make it fun. Put on some cardio dancing music and dance for 30 minutes. Or add variety. You can do some cardio and whole body work.
- Walk around your house when you are making phone calls or listening to podcasts.
- Put on a You Tube video.
- Join a Zoom exercise class.
- Buy a new exercise outfit that makes you feel comfortable with your movement. And don’t forget good shoes.
- If you can, create a special place in your basement or home just for exercise. You can put mats on the floor and posters on the walls that motivate you and help you to visualize your success at feeling and staying fit.
- Forgive yourself if you a miss a day or two and just get back to it. It’s not all or nothing, it’s something – whatever you will do.
- Reward yourself. After you are done, you can take a soothing bath, read magazines, play a game on your phone, or make a relaxing phone call.
More on 10,000 Steps
If you want to begin with lifestyle changes and exercise is your top priority, go out and buy a pedometer and work up to 10,000 STEPS PER DAY. I love my pedometer. I put it on in the morning and track every step. You would be surprised how little walking you get in if you sit at the computer all day. On the other hand if you have steps in your house and you vacuum daily, run errands, do the gardening, and walk to the mailbox, you may find that by mid afternoon you have over 5, 000 steps. Now all you have to do is go out and take a brisk walk for less than an hour and you will have your 10,000 steps. You can sneak steps into your day by parking your car farther away, walking up and down every aisle in the supermarket, window shopping at the mall, or simply walking around while chatting on the telephone. I wish I had invented the concept of 10,000 steps. 10,000 Steps is equal to about 5 miles of walking. In the beginning don’t worry if you are getting sufficient aerobic exercise at your target heart rate, just WALK. Once 10,000 steps is a habit increase your intensity and frequency, but for now just clip on your pedometer and get walking, and of course, if you are not used to exercise, check with your doctor to make sure you are ready to begin.
I found a great web site using this concept.
Yes!! Change is in the air and all around us. I have changed my website.Take a look and tell me what you think, and give me any feedback for clarity or improvements.
I want to thank you all for reading my writing and for your feedback as I go forward. I want to write more frequently and while I will continue to write articles on health and wellness and life, I want to write more articles on spiritual wellness and share some of my story. So stay tuned and feel free to write to me and let me know what you enjoy about my writing and what you would like more of or less of. What are your biggest health, wellness and spirituality questions. Have a cup of tea and join me in this transition and in the meantime enjoy this article on CHANGE.
LIKE IT OR NOT CHANGE IS IN THE AIR
The most successful people are those who adapt to change, go with the flow, and use their creativity to become an active part of a changing world. Rigidity, a tight fist crossed arms have no place in a changing world.
Physically you can stand still and not move, but the universe is changing all around you. How you adapt to those changes will determine how you handle stress, loss, and adversity. Those who adapt to change and enjoy variety in life, do best when faced with a major shift in their routine. However, those who like to stay with a familiar routine, avoid risk, and like the security of staying where they are, can be quite frazzled when faced with an interruption in their routine that comes with change. And that means that those people will be frazzled a lot, since change happens all the time.
You may be stuck in your ways, but the world does not stay stuck. There are climate changes, technological changes, economical changes, changes in politics and changes in health care, AND WHO KNEW THERE WOULD BE A PANDEMIC?! Change occurs when we suffer a loss. This could be the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one, or the loss of something as simple as the familiar way you watch TV now that we are in the digital age. Change also occurs when good things happen. It’s not all bad news.
There are people who change jobs every three years and there are those who stay in the same job for years or until they get laid off. If you can’t handle change a job loss can be devastating. I once lost a job and in my pocket was a message that read, “The universe is supporting your dreams and goals.” And that is exactly what happened. It was time to move on, create new avenues and grow. This is a time for contemplation more than strict planning or visioning.
If you are someone who finds comfort in keeping things the same, and has remained rigid about moving in a different direction, the world will pass you by as you stay in the rut that will feed your extinction. We like the familiar. It makes us feel safe. Venturing into new territory can be scary and trying new things does not come natural for many of us. However, like it or not change is in the air.
Here is an exercise I do with clients who are faced with change:
1. Take a deep breath close your eyes and then open them and look at your world.
2. Look around you and ask what you can do to make one change in your life.
3. If you could imagine yourself doing something different, what would you do? You might really enjoy this exercise. Nothing has to change yet. Just imagine.
4. You may have kept your creative juices frozen but now you need to thaw them out, get out the crayons and color your world.
5. What does it look like? Who are you? What do you need to do today to go with the flow?
Whether you like it or not something around you is going to change and the sooner you get excited about it, adapt to it, and become responsible in it, the sooner the world will spin in an ever changing, ever growing direction that can be delightful, freeing, and exciting.
“Guilt feelings, regimentation, and deprivation have no place in our method. We will show you how permanent weight loss can take place in an atmosphere of freedom.” Dr. Leonard Pearson and Lilian Pearson The Psychologist’s Eat-Anything Diet
The Diet Book That Changed My Life
By the time I entered nursing school I had been on every popular diet and counted every calorie, blossoming to a heaping 138 pounds by the end of freshman year. For a 5 foot 2 inch frame this was not a healthy weight. Exercise and sports were not appealing as a teenager, so once I stopped the childhood play—-climbing trees, playing tag or kick the can, or just walking to friend’s houses and school, my body typified the chubby teen. I also smoked cigarettes when I was 16 and generally was clueless about taking care of myself. Often I felt like I was on survival mode, living from one day to the next, getting through school with a plan to become a nurse and support myself.
I remember feeling depressed when I felt fat and feeling elated when I saw the pounds come off, but generally, this was a yo-yo routine without lasting results.
It was when I met my future husband that things began to change. First of all, he was into exercise, so I started jogging. Adding exercise in my life did allow me to lose some weight and enjoy food more. Then, one day I found the book that changed my life. The Psychologist’s Eat-Anything Diet–Wow! This was intriguing. Up to this point I had counted every calorie ,and felt like my mind went from craving or rejecting food and cigarettes. I had no idea what it would be like to really enjoy eating without feeling guilt or deprivation.
This book promised that when you finished reading it, you would be able to:
- Eat your favorite foods.
- Realize there are no taboo or forbidden foods.
- Free yourself from the tyranny of food.
- Get rid of your scales and daily weighing routine.
- Quit counting calories and stop dieting.
- Forget about proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and other old diet standbys.
Dr. Leonard Pearson, a clinical psychologist and his wife, Lillian Pearson, a social worker, applied their knowledge and practice of humanistic psychology and their work with Dr. Carl Rogers, to develop a weight loss program that would not only change how one looks but also what one thinks when it comes to diet and weight management.
They felt that “overeating is complex with many causes.” One of the basic principles of the book is that people do not eat what their body is calling them to eat. Often a weight loss program cuts out foods that you love. Calorie counting becomes regimented, and there is little pleasure or satisfaction at mealtimes.
For me, my mind was always thinking about what I was going to eat and how many calories I was going to consume. These thoughts would often control my mind, and I felt like I almost needed a brain overhaul to get rid of this awful way of thinking and living.
This book offered a set of exercises to increase food awareness and develop more intuitive approaches to choosing what you were going to eat from one meal to the next.
I learned to get in touch with what my favorite foods were and why I enjoyed them. I also learned that when we crave something we have to eat it. The Pearsons also defined beckoning as those foods that call you after seeing them in a window or smelling the aroma of the food from a store, home or restaurant.
Part II of the book offered “Exercises for Food and Drink Awareness and Sensuous Eating.” This would be fun!
I remember the “chip eating exercise” and sitting on our bathroom vanity with a bag of cheese covered Doritos and watching myself eat them. The idea was to chew the chip and watch your mouth chew, while also experiencing the taste of the chip and getting a feel for what it is about the chip that you like—is it the crunch? The salt? The cheese flavor? And in that case, the recommendation was to lick the cheese off the chip and throw the chip away and see if the craving was satisfied. I found that was the case for me. What I liked about the cheese flavored Doritos was the topping. So I would sit on the vanity watching myself eat the chip and lick off the cheese and throw the chip in the wastebasket. Of course, my roommates thought this was nuts, but hey—it was nursing school, and we all had our idiosyncrasies.
The purpose of the exercises was to become aware of why we eat, what we crave, what our body really wants, what is truly satisfying in the eating experience and essentially renew our joy of food.
Chocolate chip cookies were another experience. What is it about the cookie I liked? It was partially the crunch, definitely the chocolate, and a bit about the sugar. What I found with chocolate chip cookies is that I was satisfied if I simply picked the chocolate chip out of the cookie. With chocolate walnut brownies, what I loved was the walnut covered with brownie so I would pick the walnut out of the brownie and throw the rest away or give the crumbs to someone who liked the taste of plain brownie without the chocolate chips.
You see, when you crave food, you definitely are wanting a taste, a texture or an experience. You must satisfy that craving, or you will eat everything in sight until you get what it is you really want.
I used the principles of these books in my later years in my wellness presentations about diet and exercise. Let’s say you crave a Graeter’s turtle sundae — think about it— scoops of pure vanilla ice-cream topped with caramel sauce, chocolate, and pecans. Graeter’s chocolate sundae has about 1200 calories-that’s almost a whole day’s allotment of calories, but, if you must have it you must have it- make that your breakfast and lunch for the day or lunch and dinner and eat well the rest of the day. Truly your body will not suffer if the one day you crave a turtle sundae you indulge.
On the other hand, let’s say you wouldn’t dare. So you have the craving, and you deny yourself the experience. Instead, you have a chocolate cookie. If you want that taste or texture or flavor or experience, you will probably eat several chocolate cookies just trying to do the same thing. Or let’s say you eat the carrot sticks you have in the refrigerator for when you have to eat something but don’t want to ruin your diet, and you want to “be good.” You’ll eat every carrot you have just to satisfy some sort of sweet tooth, or in frustration, keep noshing or grazing only to realize that you are trying to meet your body’s need for a turtle sundae in an impossible way.
The better and lower calorie way would be to buy a turtle chocolate candy or two. If you need the taste of the ice cream, get some frozen low-fat yogurt. Now at least you get the chocolate, the caramel, the pecans, and the feeling of cold vanilla flavored creamy dessert cooling your mouth and flowing down the esophagus to a more satisfied stomach. Here you probably ate about 300 calories tops, but you satisfied the craving.
Do you get it? You can’t ignore your cravings, or you will not feel satisfied physically or emotionally.
So I learned what foods were calling me. What was I really in the mood for? What taste was I dreaming of? What would I really enjoy? I learned to close my eyes and get in touch with my true needs nutritionally and mindfully. Before opening a menu, I would get in touch with what I had a taste for and look for that item or a combination of items that would satisfy my craving. Most of the time I ate less because I knew that I could have whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it as long as I was clear and honest about what I needed.
During my learning and experimental days with this new way of not dieting, I did have a negative experience it is only fair to share with you. Before classes in nursing school, we would sometimes meet in the cafeteria for breakfast. On this new not diet, I would go through the line and look at the food and only take what was really calling me to eat. One morning I had such a craving for the big gooey pecan roll. Instead of just getting one with maybe some yogurt or milk to balance it off, I decided to take two pecan rolls, with the idea that at lunch I would choose something lighter because I would be satisfied and full from this breakfast. Well as I got up from our table, fully satisfied and content with my consumption of this gooey treat, I fainted right there and fell on the floor of the cafeteria. I was quickly rushed next door to the emergency department where I was diagnosed with severe hypoglycemia. My blood sugar had dropped to 40 (normal being 80-100). I was quickly given an IV solution of glucagon, the glucose substance used for diabetics who have an insulin reaction.
Well — this too was a good experience, because what I learned is that we cannot live by bread or carbohydrates alone. We do need to balance our food and have some protein at every meal. I would have been okay had I eaten one pecan roll and some yogurt or even a small glass of milk.
But this was all part of the experiment. I learned how to eat in a way that was fun, guilt-free, and allowed me to experience life and food in a whole new way. For the first time in my life, I was free of the diet mindset. I thought about food, but without having to imagine depriving myself of my favorite foods. Nothing was off-limits anymore. Also, I only ate when I was actually hungry, and stopped eating when I felt satisfied. I knew that I could eat anything I wanted whenever I craved it, and I did not have to raid the refrigerator and eat everything in sight to get there.
I truly learned to enjoy my food, and I do believe that since food is so essential and eating is such an integral part of daily life-not just to nourish the body, but also to nourish the soul and meet social needs, we must not just eat to live but live to eat.
If more people enjoyed the eating experience and the vast array of wonderful food without the guilt associated with indulgence, we would have less obesity in this world.
To this day, I truly eat what I am in the mood for and what calls me. Gradually I did give up my taste for red meat and most high-fat foods. I have grown to savor fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, fish and nuts. I allow myself to eat dessert or candy to satisfy my sweet tooth, but my body has learned to enjoy fresh and healthy food.
I offer coaching on weight loss, smoking cessation, and lifestyle change. Contact me for a free introductory session.
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