Tag Archives: Perspective

Motivational Monday: Live-Love Healthful

Life’s subtle reminders to include love…

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The ‘Real’ Spring Clean

How do you define clean?

I hope to challenge your definition and for those in which I’m “speaking to the choir”, let’s sing!

Toxins are a result of man-made chemicals as well as naturally occurring.  Repetitive low-dose exposure to these compounds over time, such as phthalates, is what we refer with the terms “toxic load” or “burden”.  Collective dose has been a subjective topic within the scientific community.  However, there is a supportive body of evidence for associations between toxic exposures and the onset of a whole host of chronic diseases from autoimmune to cancers.  Children, pregnant women, and older aged adults are significantly more sensitive and vulnerable to toxin exposure such as those from pesticides.  Substrates with toxicity can be found in consumer products, food, and the environment in which we engage.

Do I have your attention?

O.k., now “what the heck can you do about it?“…

I cordially invite you to redefine your spring clean.  Conduct an intervention for yourself by focusing on ridding yourself of the ugly (cleanse) and shifting to more healthful alternatives.  The easiest changes will be in your home.  Pick a room to start with and get going.  (Hint, this will likely be your kitchen and/or bathroom).

Primary areas in which you can easily make shifts;

  1. Personal Care – Color, fragrance, additives, synthetic chemicals that few would accurately pronounce… you name it.  Each of these are areas to become keen on when assessing potential toxic load.
  2. Cleaning Products – Besides data on unintentional poisoning leading to adverse outcomes including death, the average US household cleaner contributes to indoor air pollution.  These products carry rather harsh hazard warnings, such as “Danger”, “Warning”, or “Caution”, for a reason.  Yet, natural alternatives do not need any of this.  Consider the alternatives.
  3. Food –
    • How many ingredients are in a piece of produce?  No, this is not a trick question.  Answer:  ONE!  A follow up question, do you know how that piece of produce was grown, ripened, and shipped?
    • How many ingredients are in the average processed food item?  To be honest, I could not find this data, but I’m certain the average number is over 5!  Whole-food recipes, ie products of resulting in multiples of one, are not what I’m referring to here.  I’m calling out additives, derivatives, isolations, etc.  Many nutritionists suggest to shop by “Five or Fewer”. By this, we mean if it has more than five ingredients, don’t buy it.
    • Finally, pesticide resin, which can also be systemic, and potential harmful exposures picked up during shipping and transit are also variables to take into account.  The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists provide preliminary guidance (see below).
    • BONUS – don’t forget to check out your food storage, packaging, and cookware options, especially those used for heated items and/or those holding fat based items.

A special note on fragrances – In some cases, natural derivatives can contribute to the scent of an item, however, often the term on a product label is code for chemical concoction and full disclosure is not legally required.

Changes in each of the areas can parallel each other.  We often think of health as diet and fitness and the term “clean living” has been coined to food.  However, our health is impacted by many more variables each of which can be addressed in a “Spring Clean”.  Healthful shifts will incorporate reasonable reduction and realistic transitions.

What about communal spaces?

On a public health landscape, we certainly have work to do.  However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does incorporate this area into their healthy workplace initiatives and can be leveraged as a resource for change within communal spaces.

Other Resources;

Clean 15-Dirty Dozen

Motivational Monday: Marathons & Life’s Journeys

Yesterday was the Chicago marathon.  Since moving to Chicago in 2011, it has become an annual tradition to cheer the thousands of runners and wheel chair racers.

The event is quite motivational to observe and many people come out to watch one of Chicago’s best “parades”.  For many spectators, it turns into quite the social affair with outrageous signs, creative outfits, various noise makers, and planned brunches at places along the course.  The positive energy can be infectious!

Each year has demonstrated its own sense of character.  One year, I had three out of town friends who traveled in order to run it and my cell phone was signed up for the tracking notifications..  (Talk about an added boost to the exhilaration from watching the event!)  This year, one sign that became the hit of social media for the day read “I complete Netflix marathons”.

As the sign implies, the theme of “marathon” can take on multiple meanings and purpose.  It can indicate a literal showing of athletic sportsmanship or it can be a figurative representation for various journeys throughout life; each with time committed and a respective end goal.  I have come to hold particular appreciation for the term marathon used as an analogy for one’s health journey.  This can be significantly relatable for one who is working very hard to send a chronic condition into remission.

Training for a marathon requires intent, commitment, and following a plan.  However, it also requires key aspects of resilience.  Beyond having the ability to get back up when one falls, it is the self-awareness to know when to take slower steps toward the end goal.  As the photo below reveals, there may be a few storm clouds along the way, but further down the path, the sun will shine.

For this week’s Motivational Monday, it is only suiting to focus on life’s journeys and many accomplishments.  Whether they are health related or not, each deserves its own form of “hurrah” for completion.

Congratulations Chicago Marathon entries and for all of you completing your own versions of marathons throughout your daily lives!

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Running is in the Air

Fall is in the air… 

For many Americans, the Fall season is a time to think about pumpkins, hot chocolate, changing color of the leaves, and, without further ado, football.  I, however, don’t care much for watching football and hold an even greater apprehension towards the less than healthy food options that go along with spectatorship.  Stadium concessions and sports bars aren’t exactly targeting the “clean eating” crowd and most spectating involves extra hours of sitting, something I do enough of during the work week.

Without disrespect to those that love this way of life as one of American’s greatest past times, I have come to accept that with football season, I will lose 50% or more of my social circle on “game days”.  Therefore,

…I must find delightful diversions for myself.

Summer’s heat and humidity, as well as the strong temptation to make a beach day, typically wreak havoc on my running game plan.  Yet, the Fall season is a great time to reverse this pattern and up my game at the practice of running.  Cooling temperatures and generally clear mornings create an ideal outdoor environment for hitting the trail, city streets, or neighborhood path.

Although not for everyone, running has been a great activity for weight loss and maintenance, physical endurance, and overall peace of mind for me.  Often, I have found greater mental clarity on or after a run.  However, I wasn’t always a runner.  Running laps or short distances for conditioning was a regular component of my training protocol in high school and college sports, but the “fever” that many people experience from running was something I never caught.

Embrace and gain focus.

Alas, I learned to get over it.  Through trials and tribulations with progress here, setbacks there, I eventually became a runner in my early 30’s.  The biggest hurdle was to quit making excuses.  In order to gain this mental clarity, I had to get over myself in many ways.  Part of this strategy included overcoming a perfectionist mentality while accepting that less active times were o.k. and not reason to throw in the bag.  In fact, as I learned from a collection of seasoned experts, taking rest periods in running can be beneficial to the body and more helpful than hurtful for long term athleticism.  After several years of taking a stab, then giving up, I finally paced myself to a reasonable running protocol.

The iconic slogan of Nike, “Just Do It”®, is a pretty good one for running motivation.  It also embodies the classic “K.I.S.S.” principle; keep it simple stupid (or silly as I prefer to use).  Finding the subtle joys in it versus focusing on any negatives has been the easiest way for me to let go and embrace running.  Now, about 8 years of greater focus to include running in my physical activity protocol and approximately 5 years of taking the practice more seriously in terms of setting goals and entering timed races, I jump for joy for Autumn weather.  After all,

…Fall, is now running season in my play book of life!