Love Your Selfie - Day 30

Day-30-GRAPHIC.png

Day 30 - Social/Emotional/Spiritual/Intellectual/Physical

It’s day 30— the final post in our challenge. For days I’ve wondered what words would best seal this discovery of self. It’s quite overwhelming to select one subject that ties together topics ranging from power posing to protein, lentils to laughter and kindness with cold showers. My desire in doing this challenge was to expand our visions of “health” into the much broader and infinitely more fulfilling concept called “wellness”— to create a lasting significance and satisfaction that comes with exploration and exercise of our emotional, physical, social, intellectual and spiritual hearts.

I started this process on day one by asking you to lie down in starfish pose and have an honest assessment of what wellness meant to you. When you rose from the floor, each of you had formed a unique foundation upon which you’ve built the last 30 days. The only thing that remains is a capstone to connect and crown this freshly constructed fortress of wellness.

To place it, you must first see it. So for your final tool of construction, find a camera. You’re about to get the social go-ahead to do what many embarrassingly tease and joke about doing behind closed doors: “the selfie”. Yes, I want you to take a photo of yourself. This one won’t be on social media so don’t worry about your most attractive angle or which filter leaves you in the best light. This picture is for your purposes alone and the less doctored the better.

Go ahead. Take your picture. Now, before viewing it, let’s introduce an emotion that often eludes us as humans: gratitude. Begin by expressing gratitude to yourself for whatever level of participation you’ve put into this 30-day reformation of wellness. Next, reflect on any impressions or inspiration you’ve received while reading and recreating your own version of you. Whatever insights you’ve received, feel gratitude to a God, creator or universe that graciously gave them to you.

Now view your photo. If critical thoughts are the first to come, go ahead and allow them entrance but assess their presence by asking yourself the following 10 questions:

1. Do you love yourself enough to forgive yourself?

2. Do you love yourself enough to forgive others?

3. Do you love yourself enough to nourish your body with life-affirming nutrient-rich food the way nature intended?

4. Do you love yourself enough to exercise your body, to stretch, build and strengthen its physical abilities?

5. Do you love yourself enough to seek for eternal truth for both soul and spirit?

6. Do you love yourself enough to live in the moment — to forget the past and not worry so much about the future — to be "present" in every moment of your life?

7. Do you love yourself enough to be kind? Not only to be gentle and giving to others but also to be tender with self?

8. Do you love yourself enough to set aside essential time for sleep and rest?

9. Do you love yourself enough to consistently expand your mind by learning new things and embracing new experiences?

10. Do you love yourself enough to have fun, to laugh, to have joy, to release stress, relax and take the time to re-energize?

These 10 questions should sound familiar if you’ve followed along on this journey. They address many of the critical aspects of wellness we’ve been exploring— and most importantly they all have one common denominator: a deep and enduring love of self.

I described it on day one as the ultimate goal of this venture: love of health, love of self. Beautiful things happen, both in body and soul, when you allow your own love to envelope you. Some may say this is the first step in the remarkable God-like ability to give love to others.

As author Brendon Burchard wrote:

“At the end of our lives, we will ask… Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?”

My friends, the answer to all three questions depends on how you feel about the face smiling back at you. My hope is that this time we've spent together has increased your ability to think well of yourself because wellness begins with you.

Daily Challenge

Read the above post, follow the exercise and ask yourself the questions. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and many will be out showing their adoration for their significant others. On this special day dedicated to the celebration of love: do something you’ve likely never done before… start with yourself first.

To get these posts by email, subscribe here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan HeadshotMegan is a Doctor of Audiology, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Habit.[/jbox]

Social Parsley - Day 29

Day-29-GRAPHIC-2.png

Day 29 - Social

You’ve just finished your date, interview, business meeting or lunch with friends. What a huge success! You were on your game, saying all the right things and interacting in all the right ways. You’re mentally giving yourself a huge pat on the back… when you happen to glance in a mirror and see it. There’s something in your teeth. Is that parsley? Oh no! You’ve been flashing your pearly whites with perfect confidence, all the while being completely oblivious to the blatantly bright green thing wedged between your two front teeth. That thrilling feeling of social superiority has taken a nose-dive, crashing in a sickening feeling of supreme mortification.

If this has ever happened to you, you’ve likely wondered, “How did I not see that?” Sometimes our social faux pas are extremely obvious to others… while remaining oblivious to ourselves. Another fair question might be, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Perhaps you’ve been on the other side of the table. Someone is happily chatting away and you notice some slightly embarrassing piece of food in their teeth. You don’t want to embarrass them so you simply allow them to go on. I’ve certainly had both happen to me. I once did an entire hour-long appointment with a patient and family and upon returning to my office saw a large, black mascara streak under my eye, mimicking a football player about to hit the field. Ugh.

It’s the second to last day of our 30 Day Wellness Challenge and, don’t worry, I haven’t chosen to spend it highlighting simple hygiene. The reflection of such experiences brings up an interesting and thought-provoking question for each of us: Is there something unsightly in your daily interactions with friends, family or co-workers that you’re not seeing? Is that “social parsley” glaringly obvious to others but oblivious to yourself?

Dr. Tom Brunner, psychologist, counselor and consultant, refers to these unpleasant traits as “personality derailers”— and chew on this:

Just 2% of a person’s personality that is unpleasant can undermine the other 98% of their make-up that is positive and good.

Think about it. Have you ever said, “I really like (insert name) except they are so ______.” That one personality trait skews the potential for trust, interaction or enjoyment in your relationship with them. The sad part is, if you’ve noticed, likely so has someone else. Unfortunately, this person continues flashing their “social parsley” all over town without the slightest idea of their conspicuous being conspicious. Dr. Brunner discusses ten of these character flaws, all summarized below. As you read about each, pull out your personal mirror and take a good look— are any of these stuck in your teeth?

Enviousness: You aren’t truly happy for others’ success, and often try to match their accomplishments in an endless game of “Keeping up with the Joneses”.

Defensiveness: You are unwilling or reactive to accept corrections or criticism. As Dr. Brunner says, “Generally hypersensitive people don’t mature- they just grow old.”

Aloofness: Your cold and distant behaviors preclude others from being influenced or inspired by your positive qualities.

Volatility: You are overly emotional, thriving on attention and being unable to focus on anyone other than yourself.

Eccentricity: You may be successful at making the group laugh but your idiosyncrasies often stand in the way of progress and deeper relationships

Entitlement: An epidemic in society— you believe you deserve everything you want or receive.

Unreliability: You are unpredictable, not trustworthy and few people confide in you.

Eagerness to please: Your desire to please often drowns out your honest opinion. This suppression of true feelings can build up and spontaneously combust at times.

Moral scrupulousness: No one person or act escapes your critical eye. Your greatest example is yourself.

Deconstructive comments: A superfluous amount of sarcastic and cutting remarks cause people to avoid interactions with you and prevent meaningful relationships.

Did you feel some uncomfortable self-awareness gnawing at you as you read this? If so, did you ask yourself, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Your friends, family members, coworkers and acquaintances may tell you when you have something in your teeth but will likely hesitate when it comes to personality derailers.

It is usually embarrassing at first, for both parties, to draw attention to the unattractive. However, it is far better to know and correct the behavior than continue unknowingly deterring people and relationships. This is why this post is so important— not so you will have permission to inform everyone of their flaws but rather, that you may gather the courage to genuinely ask those most familiar to you, what character flaws you might remove with a little social cleaning.

In order to do this successfully, one very critical participant must also be present: humility. Do not, I repeat, do not ask someone for their feedback regarding your personality and character if you are not prepared to receive an honest answer. This is why I recommend you take time to consider and only ask three people that you truly care for and hold in high-esteem. These people likely have similar feelings towards you and your request for their honest feedback is more inclined to come with constructive and quality criticism cushioned between expressions of love and admiration.

I’ve purposefully saved this self-discovery post to be one of the last. Why? Because it is likely one of the most exposing, yet effective, exercises you’ve been challenged to do. This one takes a kind of courage most of us shun like the plague: vulnerability.

As Brene Brown once said, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” 

This leads to my ultimate question: Do you have the strength of character to open wide and inquire about your own “social parsley”?

Daily Challenge

Take some time to select three people whose opinions you deeply respect and who have a good understanding of who you are as a person. Once you’ve chosen them, find time to talk with each individually where neither of you are stressed and you are both without time constraints. Be genuine in your request to them regarding your desire to improve your personality and correct flaws to which you may be unaware. When this person you love provides feedback, your job is twofold: listen and learn. Do not justify your actions or become defensive— remember that you initiated this conversation. When finished, write down your feelings regarding the feedback you’ve received. Think of ways you might start removing your own “social parsley”. Make a commitment to yourself and keep it. As you do, your only future surprise in your reflection will be the strength of character smiling back at you.

To get these posts by email, subscribe here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan HeadshotMegan is a Doctor of Audiology, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Habit.[/jbox]

Love to Laugh - Day 28

Day-28-GRAPHIC-REAL.png

Day 28 - Emotional/Physical

  • [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOMqqI-kzHY[/embed]
  • “We love to laugh
  • Loud and long and clear
  • We love to laugh
  • So ev'rybody can hear
  • The more you laugh
  • The more you fill with glee
  • And the more the glee
  • The more we're a merrier we
  • The more I'm a merrier me!”

They’re popular lyrics from the beloved children’s classic, Mary Poppins. But is there truth behind this silly song? We may not be floating around the ceiling as Uncle Albert does in this particular scene, but there are several reasons why laughing makes our spirits go sky high.

We’ve all experienced a down moment or day when laughter has lightened our mood. However, “getting your guffaw on” does more than just provide temporary comic relief. A recent study completed with 60 and 70 year olds, evaluated humor’s effect on both stress and short-term memory. One group was asked to sit silently without reading, talking or using their cell phones. The other group watched funny videos. After 20 minutes, saliva samples were taken from both groups before giving a short memory test.

Those that viewed funny videos not only had lower cortisol (the stress hormone) but they were more than twice as likely (43.6%) to recall correctly compared to the group that sat silently (20.3%).

What exactly happens when we laugh? Once passing your ears, that punch line ignites the centers in the brain for higher thought, muscle function and emotion. Facial muscles suddenly begin to spontaneously contract. Your diaphragm and chest muscles tighten, forcing air out of your lungs with a big “whoosh” while your vocal cords vibrate to emit short “ha ha has”. The sudden exit of air from the lungs increases your heart rate and blood pressure, as oxygen is sent to your organs. If it’s really funny (or just about every time if your name is Michael Mansfield) your eyes may start to water. Aside from your face and stomach muscles, the rest of your body becomes weaker and more relaxed. Hormonally, endorphins are released— the same ones released when exercising— providing an over all lowering in the body’s stress response. This comedic chain reaction is shown to be contagious as well. This uncontrollable spread of snickers is thought to be an early bonding mechanism, meaning those you laugh with, you’re more likely to share a deeper emotional connection. An entire physiological reaction automatically activated with one wisecrack— no wonder that giggle feels so good!

“Laughter is the best medicine”— is it possibly more than a common phrase? We’ve already learned the short-term benefits of laughter, including organ stimulation, improved short-term memory and a reduction in stress response and tension (which can last for up to 45 minutes after the funny has finished, by the way). But if you thought a short chuckle was no more than a quick pick-me-up, you’ll want to stock up on your comics, because laughter has some remarkable long-term benefits as well.

Improved Immune System

In a 2006 research study at Loma Linda University in Califormia, it was found that two hormones—beta-endorphins (which alleviate depression) and human growth hormone (HGH, which helps with immunity) increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a funny video. Simply thinking about the chance to chuckle, boosted health-protecting hormones and chemicals! In a separate study at Arkansas Tech University, 21 fifth graders participated in a humor program resulting in a rise in immunoglobin levels increasing their ability to fight viruses and foreign cells.

Relieves Pain

If you’ve seen the movie Patch Adams, the story of a doctor with a passion for making children with chronic disease chuckle, you may wonder about the science behind such antics. Wonder no more. The credit goes again to endorphins that produce a natural “high”— similar to the effect of the drug heroin—with pain-killing and euphoria-producing effects. At Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield Center, Connecticut, post-surgical patients were told one-liners prior to administration of potentially painful medication. The patients exposed to humor perceived less pain as compared to patients who didn’t receive humor stimuli. This pain was also found to be dose-related in another study— meaning the more laughter, the less pain later. These studies are no joke and “laughter rooms” are popping up in hospitals across the country.

Today you’ve got the green light to laugh it up— but don’t do it alone— include your lover in the hilarity. According to DailyMail, laughing together is an essential ingredient for couple happiness. Couples who were married for a minimum of 45 years reported “a sense of humor” to be among the top three reasons behind their relationship success— so the greatest benefit of a good belly laugh may just be in its ability to bind two people together. Go ahead and “bahaha” and “LOL”— funny has never felt so good!

Daily Challenge

Look up the top 10 best “I Love Lucy” episodes, tell Laffy Taffy jokes, find some Family Circus comics or simply sit nose-to-nose making silly faces to see who can go the longest without breaking into snorts and snickers.

If you’re looking for some comedic inspiration, I’m sharing with you my favorite bit by the beloved comedian, Brian Reagan. This spot on going to the emergency room shows there is humor to be had in just about any situation!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP4zgb9H3Cg[/embed]

To get these posts by email, subscribe here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan HeadshotMegan is a Doctor of Audiology, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Habit.[/jbox]

Sugar Shock - Day 27

Day-27-GRAPHIC.png

Day 27 - Physical

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and with it comes mounds of chocolate-covered confections and boxes of cutely colored hearts bolded with “Be Mine” messages. These treats, occasionally accompanied by flowers and jewelry (for those extra lucky girls!) are common offerings given to those most dear on this special day to express our deepest love and devotion.

Culturally, we are a people who celebrate with food. Emotions and eating are closely tied to the experience of the holidays. Think of just about any holiday and you’ll quickly be able to name a treat that comes along with it. Much joy and happiness comes with these special indulgences…and I’d take no issue with them if they were limited to that: indulgences. However, sugar does not just make its appearance on special occasions or simply to mark birthdays and big events. It is added, mixed, chewed, baked, sipped and swallowed every day in far too much excess for our bodies to handle healthily.

The average American eats 32 teaspoons of added sugar daily— over three times the recommended amount.

We are far beyond the saying “a little sugar never hurt anyone” as 75% of Americans are overweight and almost half of those are obese. Perhaps even more alarming is these statistics aren’t limited to just adults— one third of children, ages 6 to 19, are also overweight or obese. We are a sugar-obsessed society and are quite literally sweetening ourselves to the point of sickness. You want to talk sugar shock?

One in three Americans are projected to have diabetes by 2050.

One in three! If a third of Americans were to contract some deadly disease in the next few decades, you can bet it would raise red flags, turn heads and stop people short in their tracks. Yet, sugar has been presented to be innocuous for so long that it begs the question, “Are we frogs slowly being boiled to death in our own sugar-watered pots”?

I know, I know. Who invited me to this party? I may not be patty-caking around this epidemic of an issue, but don’t distress thinking I’m only here to rain on your dessert parade. I, myself, have a sweet tooth of vampiric proportions and often crave that sugary bite. This is why I present to you the “good, better, best” concept. Do I think it would be “best” if we could eliminate 100% of refined sugars from our diets— definitely! Do I think this is realistic? Absolutely not.

Instead, the “better” is waiting below: 4 delectable desserts that will still satisfy your sweet tooth while remaining refined sugar free. As I often tell my friends when they talk about the daily difficulties of making wise eating choices, life is about balance. We can’t always make the “best” diet decisions but we can certainly celebrate in making the “better” ones!

Below you’ll find four “better” tasty alternatives to sweeten your Valentine’s Day in a much more natural way. Nothing says “I love you” quite like the commitment to care for your body for all the years of life and love to come!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

An all-time favorite of mine, don’t be deceived by the avocado, which makes this pudding thick and delicious. No green flavor or color here—simply cold and creamy chocolate! Pair with fresh raspberries for one of the most classically delicious couplings of all time.

SONY DSC

Find my favorite version of this recipe at Fearless Homemaker.

Vanilla Coconut Macaroons

An absolute coconut craze, these macaroons are melt-in-your-mouth amazing. You won’t believe they only have 5 ingredients and come together as quick as they do. No cooking-required either, making each bite even more raw-some!

DSC_0371

Find this recipe at My Whole Food Habit.

Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge

If I’m a girl that likes one thing, it’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. But with 21 grams of added sugar, I’d have almost maxed out my entire day’s worth (25 grams for women) by consuming a single serving. Thank heaven for peanut butter freezer fudge! If you like chocolate and peanut butter, you’ll go nuts for this knock-off.

DSC_0373

Find this recipe at My Whole Food Habit.

Blueberry Peach Cobbler 

Few things say “comfort” quite like cobbler. It’s hard to imagine you could make such a warm dessert without the white stuff but this dessert proves dreams do indeed come true! Not only is this baked treat free of all refined sugars, it is impressively grain-free as well for all those gluten-free lovers among you.

DSC_0341

Find this recipe at My Whole Food Habit.

**If you’re looking for an incredible documentary on sugar and its dangerous infiltration into the American diet, I encourage you to watch Fed Up for an absolutely eye-opening experience.**

Daily Challenge

This year celebrate love by loving your health! Choose one of the four tasty alternative desserts listed above to sweeten your day in a guilt-free way.

To get these posts by email, subscribe here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan HeadshotMegan is a Doctor of Audiology, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Habit.[/jbox]

On Ladders & Life - Day 26

Day-26-GRAPHIC.png

Day 26 - Intellectual/Spiritual

It was early March 2012. I remember because it was less than a year after I received my doctorate. I was 24 years old and had received quite a bit of positive reinforcement for this feat in my life. So much, in fact, that I had unwittingly planted the seeds of my self worth and life purpose in this pot called "professional pursuit".

It was likely for this reason that less than a year after graduating and working in my field, I found myself kneeling beside my bed one morning staring into the nothingness of the blue pattern on my bedspread. A fresh day with infinite possibilities lay before me…and all I felt was dread. How could this be? I’d spent eight years of energy dedicated to a degree I fully believed I desired. I was earning more money than I’d ever made in my entire life and had all the letters behind my name that the world told me meant something. So why the emptiness? I believed in my professional pursuits but there I was envying the fulfillment I'd felt as a poor and largely-uneducated senior leaving high school all those years ago.

I impulsively pulled a piece of paper from my bedside table and drew a large circle in the center. I haphazardly began slicing this pie until I was left with 24 equal pieces: 24 hours mapped out before me. They come each day this way, blank and fresh with opportunity— accumulating hour by hour, day by day to create the weeks, months and years that we call “life”. I had been struck with the desire, or more accurately a driving need, to know how I was accounting for mine.

So I began filling them in. Like a child, I furiously counted and colored how I was allocating my time. It was easier than I’d imagined, as I suddenly realized I primarily did the exact same thing every day. When I finally put down my last colored pencil, I leaned back and looked down at my project. There was something quite elementary in its conception yet extremely poignant in its message. As I stared at it, I scrawled “My Life Balance” across the top, although that’s far from what I saw before me.

My Life Balance

Areas, that had in the past, filled my life with immense meaning were suddenly slivers on my circle-- or even worse in the case of “service for others”, nonexistent. In my quest to obtain intelligence, I’d sacrificed things more dear, not the least of which was my own spirituality. I’d even allowed other areas of intellectual wellness such as creativity, passion and time management to be suffocated by my hyper focus on career and education. It was no wonder I was leaving my house every morning with the acute sensation that I was walking lopsided through life.

Time is a precious resource. Not just the investment of it in simple seconds but the purpose behind each second spent.

Stephen R. Covey talks in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People about the principle of “beginning with the end in mind”. He explains how easy it is to get caught up in the busyness of life, working hard to climb the ladder of "success", only to discover the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall. What a powerful metaphor. What ladder are you scrambling up? More importantly, do you know on which wall it leans?

Although that moment three years ago initially struck me with great sadness, it was a springboard into massive transformation. I ended up leaving my current place of employment and found a position in the same field, but focused on pediatrics— which was my underlying passion in selecting my career from the start. With this change came a move to a new state, introducing me to a variety of new individuals, some of which are among the most important people in my life today. They’ve unknowingly helped me rediscover my spirit and purpose through their questions, interests and examples. Others have introduced me to a whole new way of physical wellness that led me to be typing these words for you today. In essence, my simple exercise that day opened my eyes to an essential truth. I don’t believe I can summarize it better than Dolly Parton when she said the following:

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Daily Challenge

Today I invite you to discover which wall your ladder is leaning against.  I am providing the graphic; you provide the colored pencils.  This chart is a visual representation of the 24 hours in a day.  Your challenge is to diagram how you’re spending yours.  When the chart is complete, step back, take a look and ask yourself these questions:  If I repeat this day week after week, month after month, year after year, will I reach the place I want to be? Is this the wall I want to climb?  Be honest with yourself so your next step can be one of steadiness as you ascend the ladder leading to a more fulfilling life.

24 Hours of Life

To get these posts by email, subscribe here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan HeadshotMegan is a Doctor of Audiology, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Habit.[/jbox]