Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good eats

This winter I have really struggled with illness. My sinuses and allergies have been giving me chronic headaches and I've lost my voice for many days. I think this is primarily due to the last of a hard freeze here this winter, but it's prompted me to do a lot of research into homeopathic remedies.

I have a great primary care physician. I appreciate doctors who don't want to just throw antibiotics at everything. I realize they're necessary sometimes, but he has coached me to be faithful to neti-potting and menthol cough drops. They do help.

One of the worst parts of all this was the chronic headaches I mentioned earlier. They've been really miserable. So I started looking into more natural remedies that may help.

I admit that I am a pretty typical American eater. I don't eat fast food daily, but a couple of times a week. I drank soda not daily, but sporadically. I generally have coffee or tea in the mornings. I like chocolate. You know I love to bake, so I eat plenty of refined white flour.

Over Christmas I fell into the trap of SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR. You saw that I baked a ton, I ate super-well, I put yummy creamers in my coffee... it was everywhere. So about a month ago I decided I needed to break my "new normal" level of sugar intake, and get it back down to a place where it was in much greater moderation. I did a 3 day "detox" of no natural or artificial sweeteners. I definitely felt the withdrawals, but I wasn't deprived in any way. I felt better and immediately lost a pound or two of bloat.

Also, I didn't get any headaches....!!!!!!!!

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
So I happened to watch the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (also on Netflix). The premise is a middle aged man who has a typical body type and suffers from many typical ailments that go along with it decides to do a 60 day fresh juice fast. I highly recommend it. I have no interest in doing a complete juice fast (my sensitive gastrointestinal system can't handle any shocks), but I took away two major points.

1- You are not destined to have bad health. There are some disease that happen by chance, but with our knowledge, you don't have to have type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a slew of other problems. Chance is tricky enough, so you should take care of the aspects of health you can control.

2- Your body craves nutrients. Put good food in it. I went and got a juicer because I was convinced that I needed more nutrients, and that would be a good way to do it. I hate eating salad. Drinking it is much better to me. And there is something so refreshing after you drink a glass of fresh juice.

Since I got the juicer, I've had at least one glass of juice a day. In the mornings I typically drink carrot-apple-ginger-orange juice. It is delish. At some point during the day I try to drink a glass of "green" juice, usually kale-cucumber-celery-tomato-carrot. Not as "delicious", but it tastes green and fresh. I can tell my skin is brighter and I feel better. My iron level is great (I am pretty severely anemic), my skin is brighter, and I don't crave sugar the way I used to.

Forks Over Knives
After this, I decided to watch the other nutritional documentary I'd heard good things about, Forks Over Knives. The premise of this documentary is two physicians and researchers who dedicated their lives to research in preventing heart disease and cancer through a vegan diet. Based on world-wide research in where cancer/heart disease is most prevalent, they have seen clinical results in reversing these conditions through nutritional treatment.

I'm a stone cold Texan and not planning to be a bonafide vegan, but it highlights the importance of moderation. One of the focuses of this documentary is the effect that inflammation has on your body. Even if you have a mild irritation to foods (like I do to dairy), it can wear on your health if you are constantly bombarding your body with it.

The thing about living in a land of abundance like we have is that we don't have to practice moderation. It must be done through discipline. To me, it seems like the act of simply paying attention to what your body is telling you is so important. For me, that means that I know that sugar gives me headaches. Lactose slugs down my digestive system. Fruit sugars make my stomach hurt if I eat too much. And I'm sure I'll learn more as I pay more attention.

All of this to say that for maybe the first time in my life, I feel like I'm caring about my body not in just an attempt to be the "right size", but to feel good and have a full life. 

I'm kind of a hippie. But if you'd been through the medical experiences I have, you probably would be, too. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The art of being happy

It's big a big few weeks. Or months. Lots of good news. Every time I turn around someone is engaged or getting married or having a baby. But such is this time of my life! I guess better than funerals when I get old.

Some single people hate Valentine's day. And make a public display of that hatred. Maybe at some point I felt like that, but I think that if you can't be happy for other people that are happy, you need to check yo'self (before you wreck yo'self). But in seriousness, I do believe that. I think it's a sign of maturity.

But I will admit something you, my close personal friend base. That's a joke; I don't even know who reads my blog anymore. But here it is- I feel like I'm mastering the art of happiness for other people. I'm ready to be happy for myself. Whenever I run into old friends, I feel like my "catching up" consists of updating what is going on in other peoples' lives and not my own. My life has stayed substantially the same for the past 5 years.

Don't get me wrong; life is good. But it's hard sometimes. And it's very easy to fall into the vortex of self-pity.

But the bigger truth is that I don't have one ounce of resentment for any of my friends and their exciting changes. I have seen that like the Grinch, my heart has grown (at least) three sizes. I mean look at this girl:
Me with Eden Grace Blackwell
This sweetie is the perfect example of how my heart's found new measures of joy. My good friends Blake and Kacee welcomed their daughter into the world, and I have claimed her as my niece. I can't wait to see her grow up and learn and have all kinds of fun and mischief. Get ready to hear lots more about her.

So while it is sometimes easy to feel like the world is passing me by, it is also filling my heart up. So keep the good news coming, friends!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Thoughts from the past 7 days

I am clumsy.

What separates humans from the beasts is thumbs.

Life with 1 thumb is difficult. These things are difficult to do without a thumb:
  • button pants
  • hook bra straps
  • open ziplock bags
  • wash dishes
  • put on makeup
When you do things for people you love, it's not a burden.

Bringing food to grieving families may seem superficial, but it is deeply meaningful when you are blessed by it.

Sometimes in life you will have to demonstrate your priorities by acting on them.

Family always come before work.

I'd rather learn what you believe by watching your life than listening to you tell me what you believe.

Politics is crazy.

Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

OC is a special place.

So is southwestern Arkansas.

Friday, February 03, 2012

On George Clooney and Kindness

St. FrancisThe other night I was watching Inside the Actor's Studio, featuring George Clooney. One thing that came up several times in the two hour interview is the high priority he places on kindness. He said that he'd rather make his income doing coffee commercials overseas and make movies he enjoys with people he enjoys. He chooses movies based on how fun and kind the actors and other set members are because "if you're going to spend 4 months of your life with people, you should enjoy it."

This resonated with me because it's something I've thought about more and more over the past few years. Kindness is a rare virtue. You can find people who are smart, entertaining, funny, talented... but if they aren't kind, those characteristics can wear thin pretty quickly.

I want to be kind. I want to be around people who are kind. I want to work with kind people, date kind guys, marry a kind man, and have kind kids one day.

It's not the most glamorous of virtues, but it's a foundational one.