Tag Archives: health

Change

By Raina Dawn Lutz

I’m a holistic nutritionist and I know that changing the way you eat is hard. One thing I’ve learned consulting with people about their eating patterns and choices is that as we change our diet, we need to allow for space to grow. As we evolve, things fall away and new things enter our horizons. This is one of the emotional challenges around making change. It’s not just about the thing we are removing, there’s a lot of emotional processing around it that’s not necessarily nice to do. As we make changes in our life and diet, some things have to fall away before new things can be properly integrated. Some things get shifted, re-arranged or they transition.

For example, 10 years ago when I went vegetarian, I loved it. But when I started craving meat almost a year later, I could have stuck it out. I could have held on tightly to my vegetarian label and not allowed my body to get what it was asking for. I had to let go of the belief that vegetarian was still working for me at that time. I had to let go of the thought that I was “bad” for changing and no longer following my plan of vegetarianism. I had to let go of fear of change and let go of judgement on myself for ‘failing’ at something. (It wasn’t a failure at all and in fact it taught me to more quickly adapt.)

Moving through food phases, be it foods we love now or diets we are following is a lot like, well, life. Between the ages of 18 and 27, I had moved 17 times. That is a lot of upheaval and “unsettle.” Moving on average twice a year for almost a decade. I got very used to change, even though it was uncomfortable. It wasn’t easy. It was frustrating at times and I would question my decisions and feel anxiety about where my life was and why I couldn’t settle. I was so used to moving regularly that this kind of lifestyle became almost like a game.

When I was 28, I got rid of 80% of my material possessions to live as a “digital nomad.” I’ll play the game. I applied this mentality to other areas of life. I also started to classify my diet as “flexitarian.” It was one great big metaphor that I was living. I was flexible, my diet was flexible, my living situation was flexible. My life became fluid in momentum and so did my nutrition. I embraced change

I used this life/food metaphor to start working with my clients on a level where they could stop dieting and learn to find their power, their sense of choice and freedom.We may think we need a fixed diet label or a meal plan regime to feel secure with our food choices when really we just need a basic understanding of what foods are healthy as well as the freedom and fluidity to allow ourselves to discover what works innately for our body. This is the “Consciousness Over Calories” method that uses mindfulness as the base to success. It’s also letting our attachment to diets die – letting our thoughts on a “certain way” of being, having things or having things look – die.

But once we hit that great plateau of freedom and flexibility in our transitions – then what?

Our minds crave a challenge.

What are the positives of allowing death, death of thoughts, beliefs, etc., about our diet? It makes room for growth, for personal development using food as a platform.
·-Every day we can make decisions to vote with our fork and support slow food, a powerful shift.
·-We can take care of our planet by making conscious decisions.
·-We have the power to choose how our body feels based on decisions we make.
·-We can support local farmers (when our lifestyles and budgets allow).
-We can choose the food that works for us and not feel bound by strict rules.

If healing is a return to wholeness, then healing from trauma by allowing parts of us to die is remembering that we can trust ourselves, we can trust our failures and successes in food and we can trust life as it changes. It is the reintegration into easiness, calmness, and the willingness to allow things to be as they are, rather than trying to control everything.

As you’re making changes in life or feeling that you need to, just remember there is always a new perspective just around the corner. The simplicity, change and freedom you crave is just one new thought away. It’s allowing that transition and questioning it, getting curious about it, welcoming it instead of fighting it, that’s where we’ll find both success and balance.

Raina is a holistic nutritionist based in BC, Canada.
http://www.lutznutrition.ca

Love by Any Definition in the Age of a Pandemic Lockdown

By Susan Birkenshaw

February 2021 is upon us. and while this, traditionally, is a romantic time of year it may take on a new twist of meaning for many of us this year. Valentine’s Day has so many ideas behind its concept. It could mean anything to any of us – from horrific murders, to the loss of a Saint or even love – long-enduring or love at first sight! For me, it is a time to consider and strengthen relationships of any kind – romantic, friend, family or even with your furry four-legged friend!

This has been a long and weird year of lockdowns, health fears, personal loss, and even worldwide turmoil and political unrest, which has brought me to considering how the relationships that are most important to us can survive and thrive. So, I have been on a quest to find out how my pals – close and worldwide – have created success in the relationships they hold most dear. In mid-December 2020, I sent a 5-question survey to 40 of my friends and connections around the world – representing a cross-section of singles and couples, with responses from both men and women aged 45 to 78. Much to my surprise, I received almost 60% back.

My questions were simple to write but when I started to write my own answers, it was much more difficult than I anticipated. The questions I asked all related to the lockdowns in 2020 and included the respondent’s top three critical relationships, what was most important to keep these relationships moving forward, what gets in the way, what is next in keeping relationship success going in the near future and how are we feeling about the coming year 2021 – specifically and in general?

Here are the respondents’ common themes. First, friends old and new are critical – my sense is that by year’s end everyone is craving connections and a wider variety of conversations, especially if they are living alone. I know that my mom who is 94 years old – spry, savvy, and with-it – wants desperately to be able to meet new people in her seniors’ residence, not because she doesn’t like those whom she knows but because a variety of connections give her energy!

Second, the absolutely most important connection was family – the definition here changes often from a single person (spouse, mother, brother, one person from the family at large) to a broader focus, say with a weekly family group ZOOM meeting. I find it fascinating that these definitions were not surprising when I spoke to my respondents – for example, I spoke to one person who has a large and widely spread family and the most important connection he has is his sister. On pondering this, he found this realization curious, but then his comment was “Well, my kids are busy, and I shouldn’t bother them!” I’d say this is something to think about.

Another critical insight that came up regularly was the friends who were long-term pals, the ones people have known for as long as 70 years. These come in the form of college or university friends, friends from first jobs, spouses of 50+ years, siblings who are close and supportive, and of course kids and grandkids.

In reviewing all the answers that I received, I found the most common themes of what worked and keeps the connections ongoing is a shared history, using technology (many learned new tech) – playing bridge online, fitness classes via ZOOM, simple phone calls. People develop new mantras that become important to them, often quotations: “It will be fine in the end and if it’s not fine, it’s not the end.” And my New Year’s Resolution, which I can’t claim to have written myself, but it works for me: “Think with honesty, speak with sincerity and act with integrity!”

Most of my respondents were grateful for two or three common things – laughter was first, honest conversations and a friends’ network that remains optimistic/supportive/challenging. Those who have pets of any kind were grateful for a different type of responsibility and sounding board: “Lucy (my pug-dog) doesn’t talk back but she does listen to my ideas as I talk them through, and she really does hear my sad tones when I need a cuddle!” “No matter what, I have to walk the dog!” “Sure, I can’t travel but it’s not as difficult to have a dog who I love when I have none of that choice.”

What I found deeply saddening was when I asked what gets in the way or makes it difficult to keep these important connections going in the times of lockdowns, there were many responses that were self-critical (“it’s my fault that …”) or less than positive when reviewing personal successes during 2020.

There were detractors or negatives common throughout the responses, such as fear of so many unknowns – COVID, economy, lack of personal value; perceived personal laziness; anxiety was a big issue along with self-doubt; lack of personal purpose; really poor time management with no personal schedule and if there is one, it is often tipped by a well-meaning spouse; no energy and becoming complacent.

The whole impact of COVID fatigue eats away at our personal foundations and the lack of clarity from each other and from any government agency is getting to us. Many of us are suffering My fear is that self-sabotage might become a habit and excuses are easy; since 2021 may continue to be stressful and fear-ridden, we all need to find ways to avoid these horrid habits. They get harder and harder to break!

Now, thinking about this new year we find ourselves in – what will we do better, how do we feel about the short-term future, is there any reason to be optimistic? My survey folks all had a similar responses – their goals and commitments to themselves and to their relationships all had a similar flavour. We all want to use our time better – more personal development that may be on our own or include our close connections, protecting the good health we have so that we could if absolutely necessary ward off any disease or virus. Increasing family connections came up surprisingly often – more regular Skype or ZOOM with siblings and more honest asking for support, simple help, or ideas for problem-solving – either personal or business-related.

My last question was one that I asked to test the waters of where our lives might be going in 2021; of the two dozen or so responses I received back, an overwhelming number of people are quite optimistic about what this year will bring. Without a doubt, there is some pessimism, which seems to stem from the anger so many feel about the things the news media spit out every day (many of us have turned off the news). This pessimism also stems from fear of the disease – especially in those who have vulnerable family members.

Most were looking forward to the vaccine process; most are quite proud of what they have learned in the lockdown months, and many had a clearer plan about how they will handle the isolation of lockdown better. People definitely see things that sit at the end of the vaccine rainbow – hugs without fear, shoe shopping, a meal with nice menus instead of QR codes and certainly live entertainment, including concerts and galleries and sports with a real audience.

Finally, focusing on Valentine’s Day 2021, I believe that it is a perfect time to rekindle the fun in self-care, relationship nurturing and the romance in our one-on-one relationships. So here is a simple list of ideas of things to put energy back into your most critical connections. Of course, all of these ideas can be done purely as self-care, over ZOOM or Skype with your closest folks or in person with your live-in partner.

  1. Find some sunshine, outdoors play or simply sit on the balcony. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is truly a thing – commit to getting enough Vitamin D.
  2. Have breakfast in bed.
  3. Recreate a special event – go on a date, attend a concert (Spotify), take an art class.
  4. Create a scavenger hunt within your lockdown boundaries – around your condo, in your back yard – like an Easter egg hunt for kids or adults!
  5. Take a class on a subject new to you – mixology, wine appreciation, Van Gogh painting night, singing (yes, to yourself works!).
  6. Game night – cards, Monopoly, gin, JENGA – dig out the old cottage board games – checkers, chess, even Chutes and Ladders.
  7. Movie binge night – yes, you can do this on the net! Each one of your “safe” group gets to choose a title.
  8. Write a love letter – romantic, grateful or expressing things others may not know about you or how you feel about them. You don’t need to hit the send button – this is for you and those you choose.
  9. Plan out series walk routes – for yourself alone or with your partner and another series of routes for your connections in their neighbourhoods. Take the time to make it interesting for them – Google Maps is incredible for this. Please stay safe here – walk in the daylight.
  10. Plan an incredibly special meal for yourself, get your group to do the same, choose a common time and then cook and eat with them at a ZOOMed table – there is something about breaking bread with those who mean the most to you.
  11. Stargazing – take a long moment to look up when walking the dog just before bed.

Here’s what I have learned from this exercise. Any relationship or connection will benefit from some simple reminders.

  1. “Pay It Forward” works when you find yourself grateful for some amazing thing in this time of lockdown.
  2. Be strong!
  3. Share a smile!
  4. Be kind – to yourself and others!
  5. Wear a mask – safety for you and others, and purely simple respect for those around you!

Thank you to my “survey pals” – I deeply appreciate your thoughts and time and willingness to share.

Talking about the Pandemic: New Daily Words for 2020

By Michelle Vanderbyl

Covid. Coronavirus. Masks. Face shields, Social distancing. Hand sanitizer. Quarantine. Self-isolation. Social bubble. Cohort. The curve. New normal. New traditions. Virtual hugs. Virtual classes. Virtual chats. Zoom meetings. Covid hot spot. Covid fatigue.

Suddenly, at the end of March, all of us had to learn some new words. It did not take long before these words became part of our everyday vocabulary. That was all we heard on the TV and radio. And now most of us are using them just as we do any other words.

It has been quite the experience for all of us. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would live through a period of unknown territory like this. A pandemic.

I found it very stressful the first time I went grocery shopping back in Ontario. Wearing a mask was not a pleasant experience. Follow the arrows! It always seemed that what I was looking for was the wrong way of the arrows, so I had to go around the other aisle and come back to get what I needed. Next aisle … OOPS! Again, wrong way! I will admit, I have been seen walking backwards down the aisle instead of going around again!

Now, I think I have everything on my list. On to the cashier to pay. No cash please! The virus could live on plastic money! Don’t forget to use the hand sanitizer before, during and after!

At the beginning of April, when everyone was doing renovations and/or a major spring cleanup, we could phone the local hardware store, order what we needed and collect it outside. That was handy! What you ordered is what you got, so we saved some money. There was no impulse shopping – walking down the aisle, seeing something you need, putting it in your cart, paying for it. Leaving the store with five things when you only went in there to buy two!

I was always hesitant about shopping online. Entering my credit card number on my computer was a bit out of my comfort zone. When only the essential stores were open, most people started shopping online. And so did I. The delivery person’s white van soon became a regular sight on our country road. Many neighbours ordered online too and kept this person very busy!

Going out for dinner is always a treat. Since March, we have ordered take-out a few times and also enjoyed eating on a patio. But I must say, I have never cooked so many home-made meals as I have in the last few months. The recipe books I have bought over the years have proven very useful!

There were no annual trips or annual visitors this summer. Thank goodness for the phone and Zoom meetings, so we could keep in touch with family members and friends. It’s just not the same, though. Virtual hugs? Can’t wait to give a real one!

During Thanksgiving weekend, we realized how fortunate we are to live in the country where we can walk breathing in fresh air, without a mask! There is lots of room to exercise and do some gardening. We didn’t have a family Thanksgiving dinner this year. To the people in our bubble, I served apple pie, cake and cookies in the middle of the afternoon on the picnic table. My mother-in-law used to call this “tea time.” It’s a lot less work than preparing a whole meal! A new tradition for us?

Now back in Huatulco, we are learning new Spanish words: el cubreboca (face mask), una sana distancia (safe distance), lava tus manos (wash your hands). To protect ourselves, our Mexican friends, and our community, we are practicing social distancing, wearing our masks and hand washing and sanitizing just as we did back home in Canada. Stay safe and stay healthy.