Wednesday, January 18, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 18

Hi guys!  Are you having a good week?  We are both thrilled to have Dan home and to be able to lounge around and relax all day.  Doesn’t Binky look comfortable sharing a chair with his father? Those two are both very good at relaxing.  ;-)  It was marvelous to have a lazy Tuesday and we have both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves doing basically nothing.  Wednesday we may get back to being a bit more productive depending on if Dan has caught up on his rest or not.  Some days you just need to kick back and relax and that was our Tuesday.

Have you thought of any topics that you would like to me write about?  Maybe you would like me to expand on one that I have written about in the past. If you have any suggestions don’t forget to let me know what they are so that I can add it to my list of upcoming topics.

Where has the month of January gone?  It seems like I just started writing this series and we are already 18 days into the month. Time has certainly flown for me this month.  Here is the recap of what we have accomplished so far to remind us all of how much we have covered during the first 17 days of January:

Day 1 – Defined Success and What is/was Holding Us Back

Day 2 – Determined our Purpose and Looked at Passion

Day 3 – Listed Our Goals for January

Day 4 – Listed the Things We Have Needed to Work on for a While

Day 5 – Looked at Optimism vs. Pessimism and Fear vs. Intuition

Day 6 – Practiced Conscious Eating

Day 7 – Hara Hachi Bu

Day 8 – Taking the Stress Out of Meal Time

Day 9 – Acknowledgments

Day 10 – No Excuses, Do it Anyway

Day 11 – Is it True?

Day 12 – Have You Really Connected With Someone Today?

Day 13 – Motivation is a Decision

Day 14 - Successfully Navigating Dinner at an Unfamiliar Restaurant

Day 15 - What Do You Want, Have You Asked?

Day 16 – Treating Others as You Wish to be Treated

Day 17 – Food as a Budget

What did you think of yesterday’s post?  It ended up being wordier than I expected it to be when I started writing. I hope it made sense. When I get verbose I tend to lose people sometimes, including myself LOL.  If you need me to explain anything don’t be shy just ask.

Silence Your Inner Critic:

I used to think that I was the only one who beat myself up emotionally.  It was instilled in me very young that in order to “get ahead” you had to work harder than everyone else and demand perfection of yourself. You will not be surprised to hear that nothing I did was ever quite good enough in the eyes of my parents.  Mind you most parents probably would have been thrilled to have me as a child but not my parents.  I was 6th out of 692 in my graduating class, oh the shame of that one B+ in my GPA.  I know that sounds ridiculous but yes it really happened.  I can tell you many other stories like this from my childhood but the bottom line is that I grew up with expectations that few people on the planet could live up.  While this did push me to work hard it also tore apart my self-esteem.

Not all inner critics are born out of perfectionism like mine was. Some of them come from exactly the opposite.  When children are told they are worthless and that they will never amount to anything that idea gets stuck in their brain too.  They grow up believing they will never be able to better themselves.  While my upbringing was bad this one is probably worse, although I am just guessing since it was not my experience. What I am trying to say is that we all have an inner voice that tells us things that aren’t useful.  Until we recognize what is happening we can’t change it.  Do you know what harmful internal dialogue goes on in your head?

As an adult I have a very vocal inner critic. She tells me that I am never good enough, smart enough, work hard enough, pretty enough, etc.   Needless to say my little inner critic does nothing but make me feel inadequate. How are any of us supposed to do good things and make a positive change in the world if our own internal dialogue is beating us up and making us feel bad about ourselves?  

I don’t know about your life but I have enough challenges that are external that I really don’t need to add internal challenges to my list.  But how do we silence our inner critic?  This is something that I have been working on for the last few years. My toughest inner critic is the one who demands perfection. Nothing that I do is ever good enough for this “internal voice”.  However I have learned to listen to her less and it has helped me to be happier with what I accomplish and to see that I really am good enough exactly as I am in this moment. That is not to say that I am perfect because believe me I could list hundreds of things that I would like to improve about myself.  Just ask my inner critic what is wrong she can tell you in excruciating detail.  Rather being good enough in this moment is appreciating who I am now right now while still wanting to improve but knowing that it isn’t necessary for me to be worthy.  Does that make any sense to you?

What have I done to try to quiet my inner critic?  There hasn’t been one specific activity but rather a host of things that have helped me.  They are:

·         Writing daily acknowledgements

·         Daily meditation

·         Setting attainable goals and making progress on them each week

·         Daily reading from uplifting books

·         Realizing that each day I do my best and that is all that any of us can expect of ourselves

·         Doing something each day for someone else

·         Remembering the phrase:  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t  you are usually right” – Henry Ford
You all know what daily acknowledgments look like now as I have been showing you mine for at least the last week.  All you are trying to do is to put on paper the things that you have done well during the day.  It is a very simple thing to do and easier if you jot them down all day long before you forget about them, which happens to me all the time. The important thing is to give yourself credit for the good things that you do.  When you to take time to pay attention you will see that there are many things you do that you should be appreciated for each day.

Daily meditation is huge for me. I have one of those minds which constantly have thoughts racing around.  I never thought I would be able to quiet my mind to meditate. In fact I couldn’t image how anyone could shut off their mind.  Until a few years ago I used to fall asleep with the TV playing to drown out my mind so that I could get some rest. My mind really was that noisy and distracting.  Learning to meditate has been huge for me.  I am still amazed that I am able to meditate.  For those of you that haven’t tried meditation if you are like me (constantly thinking) it can be difficult at first.  However after about a week of daily practice I could see a difference.  My early attempts at meditation were very different from what I do now. Just know that you can do this, it is just like anything it takes practice. However the benefits are enormous. I am so much calmer now and I use meditation when my inner critic gets loud.  Now I can simply tell my critic that I hear her and appreciate her input but that she isn’t the final authority and that is enough to quiet my mind.  Crazy right?  I hope that you try meditation; it has been a much more powerful tool than I ever expected it to be and even my hubby is getting on board with it.  J

Setting attainable goals is how I move forward in life.  I have always been a list maker and work better and I feel better when I know what I want to accomplish. Many years ago when I was in graduate school I took a few doctoral courses in organizational psychology.  Yes I have always been a sort of nerd. One of my favorites was a class on goal setting. The concepts that I learned stuck with and I still use them today.  I find that setting goals and then working on them consistently helps me to feel good about what I am doing. The key is setting attainable goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure with goals that no one can achieve (like perfectionism) because the unattainable goals will give your inner critic something to beat you up with.  It also helps to check in with yourself at least once a week to see the progress you have made and where you need to focus your effort in the coming week.

Daily reading from uplifting books is something that is a fairly new tool in my tool box.  Years ago a good of friend of mine recommended “The Power of Now” which was recommended to him by his therapist who was helping him get over his divorce. He told it was the most useful book he ever read and recommended that I get a copy.  I can still remember the first time I tried to read the book.  All I could think was “You want me to stop thinking, is that even possible?”  Fast forward about 10 years and now I have given away more copies of that book than I can count.  I probably had to read it three times before I started to actually understand it.  However now I think I live the philosophy in that book at least 50% of the time which is huge considering I started at 0%.

There are many other books I would recommend like “The21-day Consciousness Cleanse” by Debbie Ford and “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo.  Look up any of those books on Amazon and you will see many others like them.  Each morning (unless trips to the hospital get in my way) I start my day reading from one or more of these books.  I do this for a number of reasons but the primary one is that it helps me to start my day in a positive frame of mind.  After I finished reading I sit down and make some notes in my journal of what I want to keep in mind or work on that day.  Do you have any favorite uplifting books?  If so please let us all know what they are, I am sure I am not the one who would like to know what everyone’s favorites are.  J

Realizing that each day I do my best and that is all that any of us can expect of ourselves is very important for me because my inner critic is a perfectionist.  For years when I would make a mistake I would internally berate myself which I learned from my parents. My father still does the same thing when he makes a mistake.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree apparently.  ;-)  However I am starting to actually believe that perfect isn’t possible and to be pleased with my efforts no matter what the results.  However I also realize that being perfect is a deeply ingrained belief and that I will probably have to work on this for the rest of my life.  For now I am reasonably content knowing that I try to do my best every day, and even when things don’t go my way those missteps will be learning experiences if I am open to the lesson they bring.

Doing something each day for someone else is something that makes me feel good about who and I am why I am here.  Even when Dan was in the hospital I found ways to do nice things for others.  I kept up with the blog, which I consider a good thing for others.  I shared recipes and food with Lauren.  We both talked about nutrition with Louie and Samantha.  I brought a biochem book in for Joe the dietitian.  Last but not least I was talking to Ray in environmental services and found out that he wants to get into patient accounting so I gave him a few suggestions and will be trying to locate some of my old hospital friends in the area to see if I can help him get an interview.   However doing things for others can be as simple as saying good morning with a smile or complimenting someone on their outfit or hair.  In my mind the important thing is to think of others.  The world is much brighter and happier place when you connect with people and this helps to silence my inner critic and may do the same for you.

Remembering the phrase:  Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are usually right” by Henry Ford always gets me focused on what I need to be thinking. What this means is when you convince yourself that you can’t do something (like give up meat or cheese then it isn’t going to happen).   However when you tell yourself that you can make serious dietary change then you can and you will, it is all a matter of mindset.  It sounds like the law of attraction or a self fulfilling prophecy if you prefer?   

Have you ever wanted something desperately but couldn’t make it happen? For me that something was losing weight.  I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get back to my happy college weight. However I also used to tell myself that I was destined to carry the extra weight, it was genetic since both my parents were heavy. Gee, I wonder why I had trouble. ;-)  If on one hand you want something but in the other hand you are telling yourself it won’t happen what do you expect will be your outcome?  In my experience when you think it won’t happen it doesn’t.  However when I changed my goal to becoming as healthy as I could at my age and told myself that I could do it……it started to happened.  The only thing that actually changed was my mindset.  Once I believed that it was possible and looked for every possible action I could take to reach my goal suddenly things were moving in the right direction. I will talk about mindset again in future posts (probably many more times) because I believe this is a critical component in terms of getting emotionally and physically healthy.

Does the inner critic serve any positive function in our lives?  I have struggled with this question and have come to the conclusion that in my life the only use my inner critic had was to push me to succeed but I think I could have done that without my inner critic.  I am doing my best to quiet my little inner critic, the one who demands perfection, and I am much happier when this voice isn’t talking to me.

Today’s exercises are:

1.       Pay attention to your thoughts and listen for your inner critic.  Trust me the critic is there but you hear it so often that I bet you don’t recognize it.  When something tells you can’t do something, you shouldn’t have done something try to move that thought out of your mind. This is much easier to do once you start practicing meditation.

2.       For each self defeating thought write a positive version of it. Here are few examples to give you the idea of what I mean.

a.       I don’t have the willpower to lose weight. Turn that into …. I have succeeded with many other things in my life and I can do this too.

b.      I really want to have pizza for lunch. That could easily become …. I would like to have pizza for lunch but I know the salad is better for me. Today I will have the salad and I can have the pizza some other time.
c.       I have a lot of stress in my life I don’t want to be nice to people today.  This becomes …. Everyone has stress in their life and I am no exception but stress is no excuse to be unkind.  It is just as easy to be nice as it is to be jerk so I will choose to be nice.

3.       Find a phrase that resonates with you and use it to bring yourself back to a better frame of mind.  I like the Henry Ford quote but there are many others out there to choose from. Simply type “inspirational quote” into Google and see what you can find.  If you get a good one please share with the rest of us.  We could all use more inspiration.

4.       Do a little research on Amazon to see what uplifting books you can find. Put any of the three I mentioned into Amazon and see what other suggestions pop up.  If you don’t want to commit to purchasing the book see if your library has it.  I am an extensive user of our library system and particularly like the online search, hold and renewal functions.  If you get a book that you are excited about please let the rest of us know.

5.       Do one nice thing for someone else today.  I find that I get more joy from helping strangers probably because they don’t expect it.  I also think this helps the world seem like a better place. I think of it as paying it forward. However if you are would rather do nice things for your family and friends that is how I started too.  J
I hope this post has helped you to think about how your mindset and your thoughts have an impact on everything that happens in your life. This is something that I think makes all the difference between being interested and committed, and success or failure. Willpower is great but that will only get you so far if you don’t have your mind in the right place.

What did you think about this post? Did it make you think? Is it something that you are interesting is reading more about?  Please let me know.  If you don’t tell me I have no idea which topics are resonating with you and which ones are falling flat.  Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.  J

Progress on my goals:

1.       Newsletters – Tuesday was a productive day for me.  *woo hoo* I got in over an hour on my newsletter project.  Love that!

2.       Body Bugg – I remembered to wear my bugg on Tuesday but I wasn’t very active so it didn’t have any information that I wanted to see. However information is power since we can’t change what we don’t know. I need to have both the positive and negative feedback.

3.       Date with Dan I wouldn’t call it a date but we spent a lot of time together on Tuesday talking and enjoying each other’s company.  It is very nice to have my hubby home.

4.        Measuring calorie dense food – I didn’t measure the pine nuts that I put on my dinner but I already know my fat consumption was probably little low yesterday.  I need to get back to measuring to make certain that I get enough fat. 

5.       Working on my business – I spent an hour on a webinar Tuesday night (before we went to Wegman’s) getting ideas of what other people are doing. Additionally I did some work on my business plan too.  Overall it was a good day.
It has been a week since we added a goal to the list of items to work on.  Since I don’t have the newsletter project finished yet I am not going to add another goal.  However if you are happy with the progress you have made on your goals please add another one from the list we created two weeks ago.   I hope you are making good progress on your goals and that you are happy with what you have accomplished so far this month.


Have you made any progress writing acknowledgements?  I hope are working on this exercise. I find that it helps me stay positive and recognize the things that I do every day.  Here are my acknowledgements for Tuesday:

·         I let Dan sleep in Tuesday morning because I knew how much he needed the rest. I tip toed out the bedroom and was quickly working in the family room until he woke up on his own.  This worked for two reasons: Dan got more sleep and I got some work done. It was definitely a win-win.  Love those!

·         Dan had a big beautiful bowl of super healthy oatmeal for breakfast.  With the dried cherries and goji berries and hempseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds I don’t think you could have made this oatmeal much healthier.  Not to mention he really enjoyed it while made me happy.

·         I was also pleased with my savory oatmeal with wilted kale in it.  It feels good to start the day with highly nutritious fuel.  I still can’t believe I ever ate Danish or muffins but I know I did.  No wonder I used to feel like crap all the time.  I am just thankful that I finally figured it out, better late than never.

·         We made a quick run to Wegman’s in the evening. I did some shopping while Dan walked around the store to get a little movement in.  I didn’t push him to go the gym yesterday since I thought rest and relaxation was more important. However I was glad he decided to get some movement on his own while I was shopping. 

·         I picked up a few instant (just add hot water) soups by Dr. McDougall for Dan to keep in his office just in case he needed some food. They were fairly low in sodium (360mg) and had reasonable ingredients. I wouldn’t make them an everyday part of our life but as a backup I think they are fine nutritionally. Once Dan has tried them I will let you know what he thinks.

·         Dinner included not one beans (for fiber) but mushrooms (for immunity).  It was nice to get some mushrooms back into us since neither of us had any for about week. I was definitely missing my ‘shrooms.  Isn’t it wonderful when you enjoy the taste of something that is good for you?
Random Observations:

I am not going to say they are definitely related but now that Dan is home and getting some good rest his fever is practically non-existent and he is feeling tons better.  As Dr. Cat said in her comment yesterday, isn’t it ironic that it is hard to sleep in hospitals?  Did you know that our bodies do a lot of their repair at night while we are resting?  During the day when we are running around or are eating and/or digesting our bodies are too busy to do a lot of repair work. However at night they “have more time” to get things like repair accomplished. This is not to say we do no repair during our waking hours because we, but we do more when we sleep. This is one of the reasons it is important to get adequate sleep.

If you have trouble getting or staying asleep I have a few ideas for you since I sometimes have difficulty with sleep too. Here are things you can try:

·         Stop drinking liquids and eating 3 hours before bed. This way you won’t get up in the middle of the night and you won’t be bloated when you get into bed or digesting all night.  If three hours is tough based on your schedule at least stop the drinking that soon.

·         If you do have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom don’t turn on any bright lights which may make it hard for you to get back to sleep.  We have nightlights that illuminate the way to the bathroom in our house.  I have read that red bulbs are the best to use in nightlights as they are less jarring. However I haven’t tried it and very low wattage white lights seem to work fine for me.

·         Don’t watch the news just before bed, this isn’t calming. Try listening to something soothing instead like quiet music.

·         Start to dim the lights at least 30 minutes before you want to go to bed, this will help you body to “prepare” for sleep. 

·         If you have to sleep during the day get room darkening shades or an eye mask to block out the light.  This will also help your body make melatonin.

·         Try meditation before bed to help you calm down and relax. This even helped Dan fall asleep in the hospital so we think it is a very powerful tip.  Too bad it didn’t keep the staff out of his room so he could stay asleep.  ;-)

·         Keep your bedroom a little on the cool side; this will help you to stay asleep.

·         I find that I sleep more peacefully if I have worked on my to-do for the next day an hour or so before bed.  It is though my mind knows that I won’t forget anything tomorrow. I am not sure this will work for you too if you find yourself waking up thinking of what you need to do (like I used to) give it try.
I hope these ideas of getting and staying asleep work for you.  Rest is very important to be in good health. I spent 20+ years being chronically sleep deprived and I feel so much better now that I get good rest.


Oatmeal for Dan which included: dried cherries, dried goji berries, cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, a little stevia and was topped with raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds and hemp seeds.  I snapped this before I added a little non-dairy milk (vanilla soy in this case).  My oatmeal is definitely more interesting than what my sweetie was getting at the hospital.

I decided to have savory oatmeal for my breakfast which included: Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, chickpeas and shredded kale.  This would also be good with sun-dried tomatoes and/or nutritional yeast but I was in a hurry and didn’t think of them until I had started eating.

We were both being so lazy during the day that neither of us thought about lunch until it was nearly dinner time. I made a quick meal with a few things that I had on hand which was quinoa topped with tomato mushroom sauce. The sauce included: diced tomato, sliced mushrooms, onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, fennel, crushed red peppers, black pepper, a splash of vegan Worcestershire, cooked garbanzos and I added sliced broccoli the last two minutes before serving. I finished the dish with pine nuts.  When I made something with red sauce I try to add broccoli as often as possible since the sulforaphane in the broccoli and the lycopene in the tomatoes seem to both absorb better when eaten together.

Both Dan and I like to shop at Wegman’s but it can be mob scene during the day. However if you go early in the morning (before 8am or late at night after 8pm) the store isn’t too crowded.  Since we wanted to pick up probiotics because Dan was on antibiotics at the hospital we head out for a late grocery store run. If you want a reminder about why we were buying the probiotics please reread this post. Our trip to Wegman’s for Culturelle also resulted in:  7 pounds of dried beans (you can never have too many you know), magazines, spinach (fresh and frozen), broccoli sprouts, oranges, Brazil nuts, raw cashews, cilantro, ….. you get the idea.  There is just something about being in a grocery store which means I need to buy.  I guess I am a bit of a food hoarder.  ;-)  We went to the store for Culturelle and raw cashews and came out with two grocery bags full.  However in my own defense I haven’t done much grocery shopping except for kale for smoothies in over a week, so we did need the fresh stuff. The dried beans we didn’t actually “need” but those are good to have in the pantry.

Happy thoughts:

Have you gotten into the habit of writing your happy thoughts?  I find it helpful to remind myself how often things go well and that I shouldn’t take these things for granted.  Here are my happy thoughts:

·         Dan must have really needed his sleep since he never gets more than 8 hours of it at one time.  My husband is one of those people who can do fine on 5 hours of sleep (unlike me). When he sleeps 11 hours on Monday and 10 hours on Tuesday I know he is exhausted. I was very happy that he is catching up on his rest.

·         We had a lovely lazy day at home on Tuesday. Dan was relaxing with cats to keep him company most of the day while I did some work.  He was enjoying his down time so much that I didn’t have the heart to drag him out to the gym.  I think he needs the rest more right now more than he needs exercise. 

·         It is nice to have “food” in the house.  I am glad we got out of the house long enough to stop at Wegman’s.  We seriously needed some food around here.  I can’t wait to myself a big salad later today.  It has been days since I had salad and I a seriously craving it.  Who said that?  LOL

·         I signed up for another online course last night. This one is only 300 hours and is self paced which is nice.  Dan thought it was a good idea and pushed me to do it.  He is my biggest supporter in case you hadn’t noticed.   ;-)  It is so nice of my husband to encourage me to continue learning.  Initially I wasn’t certain how this “old brain” would do going back to school but so far age has not been a problem.  I mention this for the others out there in my age range who are considering going back to school.  I say go for it!  Follow your passion and purpose, I am and so far I am glad that have.

·         Our fur children have been very happy to have mommy and daddy home the last two days.  As I am typing this Luca is sleeping on daddy’s lap and Binky (Nicco) is cuddling with mommy and making sure that I am doing a good job on this post. You know that I can’t do it without him right? 
Signing Out:

It is nice to have things returning to normal around here. Dan is still catching up on his sleep but he is definitely feeling much better being home.  I think it will be a few more days before he feels like he is completely back but he has made a ton of progress and that is wonderful to see.

The Wednesday fever update….still normal.  How weird is this that once he got out of the hospital and got one good night of sleep the mystery fever disappeared. Dan talked to the attending doc last night who joked that he must be allergic to hospitals.  I don’t know but it is odd that is all I can say.  However I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth I am just happy the fever is gone.

Last night I listened to another interesting webinar and came away with more topics to ponder.  I really do never get tired of learning. I suppose I would be fine being a lifelong college student. In retrospect I should have gone on to get my PhD so that I could have spent my entire life learning. But had I done that when I was in my 20s my PhD would have been in finance and I doubt that I would have enjoyed it as much as I expected to in college.

How was your Wednesday?  Did you do anything fun?  The week is halfway over now.  *woo hoo*  Are you starting to think about the weekend?  We haven’t made any plans for this weekend yet but we really should. I need to call Walid and/or Jackie and reschedule the dinner we had to cancel because we were at Hopkins.

Enjoy your evening and try to have some fun or at least relax. I will talk with again tomorrow. 


  1. Of all the posts this month, this one resonates the most with me.

    One thing I've worked on is knowing that if I didn't do my best one day - maybe I was tired and needed to take it easy, well, that's okay too!

    Expecting your best every day is kinda like an athlete trying to give a peak performance day after day - it gets tiring!

    1. Neca,

      Given your comment I must not have explained myself well, sorry about that. My best changes based on my day. The best that I could do while running back and forth to the hospital is very different from my best if I had the entire day to do it. In the past when I demanded perfection of myself even when I was exhausted, now I settle for doing my best with the time and energy that I have. Does that make more sense?



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