Monday, January 2, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 2

I received a great question by email about day 1 that I wanted to answer here so everyone was in the loop. The question was “why weren’t the exercises for day 1 specific to diet and/or exercise?” As soon as I read this I realized that I had not adequately explained what was in my head when I developed the 31 days.

I believe that in order to be physically healthy we need emotional and mental healthy first. There is probably not a person reading this who hasn’t tried and failed to make lifestyle changes in the past. The most popular resolution every year is to lose weight and/or get healthy. This is why all the gyms fill up in January and you see so many frozen diet dinners in the office cafeteria right after the New Year. However anyone who goes to the gym year round also knows that by February the gym is back to the regular exercisers. Also by February the frozen diet meals have been replaced by burgers and fries or salad covered in fatty dressing and cheese and everyone seems to be back to their pre-resolution routine. The important thing isn’t that this happens year after year but why it happens.

When any of us decide to make healthy changes that is wonderful thing. However in order to be successful we need to be committed to those changes for the long term and preferably a lifetime. It has been my experience that temporary changes lead to temporary results. That was why I wrote the post about are you interested or committed. Additionally we need to know what food means to us, it is more than just something to satisfy our hunger, hence that is why I wrote this post. However once you understand that food is serving more than one purpose it becomes easier to identify what is causing you to overeat. There are so many facets to getting healthy that require more than changing our food and exercise habits. I believe that if we don’t deal with the mental and emotional issues we will continue to fight a losing battle for our health.

The exercises this month are meant to get you to think about what is going on for you specifically. Some people may be eating because they are sad or lonely. For them the answer would be to add more social engagements to their life and improve their lifestyle gradually as their mood improved. Other people may be eating the wrong foods because they don’t know much about nutrition. For those people the answer could be getting a book on nutrition at the library or hire a nutritionist. I meet so many people who have an unhealthy relationship with food, which I probably notice because I was one of those people for most of my life. Unless you are a chef food should be not something that is constantly on your mind, and if it is there is a problem. Hopefully the exercises I have set up in the month of January will help you to start to understand what it going on for you with food.

Returning to the exercises from day 1 depending on how you answered the questions this month may or may not be all about food and exercise for you or it may not. My answers were not about food because I am content with my food pattern as it is now. In time I may be tweaking what we eat, but there won’t be any major shifts unless science uncovers something dramatically different which I do not anticipate will occur.

I hope that helps you to understand what I am trying to do with the exercises this month. If it doesn’t or you have a different question you can either comment here or send me an email at

What are Your Purpose and Your Passion?:

Hopefully day 1 wasn’t so tough that you aren’t willing to stick with me for at least day two of the month to better health. *fingers crossed* ;-) If you are still playing along please go back and reread your responses to how do you define success. Is there anything that jumps out at you in terms of an overarching theme? When I looked back at my responses clearly health was what kept coming up. Here is how I came up with that based on my answers above:

a) a happy, healthy and fulfilling marriage possible – without a happy marriage it would be very difficult to be healthy emotionally and I believe true health requires both physical and emotional health
b) doing something I love for a career – given that all I ever think about is health that I should be in a wellness focused is obvious…even to me ;-)
c) being the healthiest that I can be at my age – there is that health word again
d) helping others to be as healthy as they can be – here is health again
e) being an inspiration – and finally the inspiration part of this is also about health and that we can do at any age if we set our mind to it

Is there a theme like this that reoccurs in your list? If so great! If not you may have to dig a little deeper to see the connection. You could ask a good friend or your spouse to look over your list and see if they spot a theme you missed. It took me a long time to figure out that my purpose was health. It appears that there is nothing like a good crisis to shake things up and make you see what is important. In case you don’t have a crisis handy and you have no idea what you purpose I have a few questions for you.

a) Is there something that you love to do, that you do for free? - In my case it was researching health so it was easy for me to see once I opened my eyes. But I also love photography and that could have been my answer as well.
b) Do you have something that comes very easily to you? - For me this was learning and researching about health. We all have something that comes easily which we usually take for granted but we can take advantage of here.

If those questions didn’t help and you still don’t know what your purpose is you can also send me your list (by email or by posting a comment below) and I will be happy to let you know what I see.

Now let’s look at passion. You might be wondering how purpose and passion are different because they are related. Purpose is what lights you up and passion is the motivation behind your purpose. Passion is what brings purpose alive. However if you have a purpose but you don’t have passion then you aren’t going to be able to live your purpose. Now you need to figure out if you have passion. For those of us that have it passion it tends to be very obvious that we have it. Those of us with passion are driven to pursue things that are important to us. However all of us can lose our passion due to the stress of life.

How does passion show up in your life now?

This is an easy one for me. Passion shows up for me in my cooking, food choices, my daily decisions to walk to place others would drive, what I write on the blog and in the many conversations that I have with friends. Everyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about improving health not just the health of my family but the health of as many people as I can possibly touch.  If you aren't sure if you have passion ask your friends, they will know.  ;-)

Ask yourself, could you be more passionate? Is it possible, or are already firing on all cylinders?

If I got any more passionate I would definitely chase people away. Don’t worry guys I am not intending to dial it up, I know many of you couldn’t stand it if I did. LOL

Does passion scare you?

Passion doesn’t scare me now but it used to.

If you are afraid of expressing your passion please write down what specifically you are concerned will happen if you do.

I am going to answer this question as I would have in the past to give you an idea of what I am asking. Passion used to scare me because I was afraid of what people would say, how they would react to me. Being aware that my interests weren’t exactly mainstream and they definitely weren’t what most people would expect from someone with a graduate degree in finance made me hesitant to share them with others. People seem to think that my education and career background should result in someone much more in line with mainstream ideas. However given all my research into health and nutrition I believe that my “radical ideas” are also the best chance for “radical results”. Once I realized that it was more important to be true to my inner self (the health obsessed hippie chick you see today) it became much easier to express my passion as it applies to health.

Looking at this from the other viewpoint what positive things could happen in your life as a result of expressing your passion?

This is the fun part, who wouldn't like thinking of the benefits of making positive changes? Nothing makes me happier than when I get communication from someone who has changed their diet either as a result of reading my blog, or found that with my recipes they could stick with a health whole food plant-based diet when they were starting to lose interest in the food. I love to imagine all the people who have unknowingly reversed undiagnosed health problems by committing to a healthy whole food plant-based diet. Isn’t that a wonderfully radical idea? *huge smile* My passion might just result in a national platform on which I could discuss the benefits of a whole food plant-based diet. Maybe there could be a book, a wellness company, who knows. All of us are only limited by our imagination and determination after all. What could happen in your life as a result of expressing your passion to pursue your purpose? Think big; don’t hold yourself back by not reaching for the stars.

To give you a sneak peek into tomorrow. Now that we have defined success, looked at what is holding us back, determined our purpose and sparked our passion, tomorrow we are going to set specific attainable goals for the end of the month. If you want to start thinking about that now to get a jump start on tomorrow’s assignment please do.

You guys have been a little quiet on me so far and I am curious why. Have the first two posts been helpful for you so far? Are they what you expected? Did I explain them in a way that made sense? Any feedback you could share would be warmly appreciated. If you have any suggestions for changes I can make to this series which would make it more useful to you I would love to know. Thanks!

Sunday (New Year’s Day):

Given how late we returned home last night no one was up early at our house except the fur children who woke me up before 9am. Our fuzzies only bother mommy when both Dan and I are sleeping. My husband is very good at playing possum and I am not. The fur children have learned that mommy is the only one who will get out of bed and pay attention to them when they dance around in our bed in the morning. Who is in charge at this house? Oh yeah, it is definitely the cats, or should I say it is not me. LOL

While I waited for Dan to get out of bed I worked on the post for the first day of January. Even though I had written the health section I had to write about Saturday and work on my pictures. I also took the time to do my morning meditation and reading to set the right mood for the day.

Once Dan was up we had a double mug of green and white tea with fresh grapefruit and cinnamon. This has become our favorite tea flavor. If you are thinking of trying it and take prescription medication please check with your pharmacist to make certain that nothing you are on interacts with grapefruit juice. Fresh orange, lemon and/or lime are also good in the tea and they also enhance the absorption of the EGCG and don’t have the same problems that grapefruit does.

After we had our morning tea it was time for me to confess the after effects of consuming gin the prior night. How could one little gin and tonic cause me to feel “off”? There is definitely a down side to this whole healthy lifestyle thing. Okay, that was a bad attempt at humor…sort of.

Since I have not done any serious grocery shopping in weeks the cupboard was bare this morning. Well, not really bare but not as well stocked as I am accustomed to having at my disposal. This meant that I had to get creative with breakfast. While this isn’t a problem for me, Dan really doesn’t like unorthodox things for breakfast. I opted to go with Asian inspired savory oatmeal for our breakfast. I simmered the oatmeal with freshly grated garlic and ginger. When it was almost finished cooking I added a little white miso which I thinned with some water so that no one ended up with lumps of salty miso in any mouthful of the oats. Next I shredded kale and Chinese broccoli and stirred than in after the oatmeal was finished leaving some for the top of the dish. I finished it with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It was quite tasty I thought and even Dan said it was good. He did remind me that this was two days in a row for savory oatmeal which means that he gets 6 sweet oatmeal breakfast in a row for now. Men! LOL

While I finished working on my first post for January Dan and Binky were “busy” curled up together in their favorite chair and fuzzy throw watching a Twilight Zone marathon on the sci fi channel. Doesn’t that sound exactly what you would expect from men? The guys in my house (both two and four footed ones) are definitely all boy. ;-)

By the time lunch rolled around I had that same cupboard is bare problem. I really need to get to the store tomorrow so we have some fresh food in this house. I opted to use my pressure cooker to make a quick pot of bean soup. This one contained mixed beans which I pressure cooked with water and dried mushrooms only. I rinsed the dried mushrooms in a colander and that was enough to get off and surface dirt and to make them pliable enough to cut into bite sized pieces. While the beans and mushrooms cooked I minced garlic, chopped an onion and opened a jar of diced tomatoes. I added those to the cooked beans along with Italian seasoning, no-salt seasoning, black pepper and a little bit of miso that I had softened with water. I decided to try adding miso after getting the idea from Ian last night. Just be careful not to add too much and check the sodium content on the package before you buy. The sodium levels vary a lot by brand. Last I added the shredded kale and served the soup over cooked quinoa and finished it with raw sunflower seeds from the freezer. Not bad for having a “practically” bare cupboard I thought. :-)

By the time we left for the marina it was after dark. *sigh* I really don’t like to start things that late in the day but Dan is much more an evening person than I am. It was raining off and on all day and was still drizzling when we got to the marina. I used my steam cleaner to defrost the boat refrigerator. For those of you would don’t know marine refrigerators they tend not to be frost free. In fact I haven’t ever seen one that was frost free on a sailboat. I should have taken a picture of the frost for you to show you want happens. I was a little surprised that that much frost could build up in a refrigerator was not opened at all in the last 30 days. But Dan and I worked as a team and we got the frost removed fairly quickly. Since the boat had been winterized I had to bring the dirty containers (from the refrigerator) and cups (from last night) home to be cleaned. Fortunately I had planned well so we had an adequate number of bags to carry things home. All totaled we were probably on the boat about an hour. That was pretty good timing considering that we had to wait for the steamer to heat up and cool down.

It was too soon to have dinner by the time we were finished at the marina. Since it doesn’t make any sense to eat when you aren’t hungry we opted to head straight home. Dan was kind enough to start brewing hot green and white tea for us while I cleaned up the items we brought back from the boat. We were easily able to consume 10 cups of green and/or white tea today. Making our tea double strength to up our consumption of EGCG without increasing our fluid intake has worked like a charm. Love that! :-)

Dinner this evening was a simple salad made from what we had on hand, which wasn’t a heck of a lot I might add. I shredded the last head of romaine and some kale, tossed in leftover quinoa, artichokes, salsa, roasted red peppers and raw pumpkin seeds. In spite of the lack of food in the house I did manage to pull something together that was both nutritious and tasty and did so in less than 5 minutes. Who said healthy food has to be complicated or time consuming?

Happy thoughts:

• The first day of 2012 started off well. Dan and I had a nice day together and actually got a few things accomplished which is uncharacteristic for us on national holidays. We enjoyed our warmer than average temperatures. Overall New Year’s was a very good day for us.

• I am very happy with how my new camera lens has behaved lately. The more I use the lens the more I like it. Dan did a wonderful job picking out the lens for me for Christmas particularly when you understand that he does not take pictures with my camera or any other. Good job sweetie.

• It has been wonderful having my hubby home for another long holiday weekend. I never get too much face time with my hubby. We aren’t right; I know that before you point it out. ;-)

• Today Dan and I are going grocery shopping! *woo hoo* Okay this isn’t typically thrilling but I am looking forward to have more fresh food in the house. Sometimes it is the little things in life that make me happy. I can’t wait to have a big salad for dinner.

• The traffic on my blog picked up yesterday for the first day of the 31 Days to Better Health series. I am hopeful that this means that what I wrote is having an impact. *fingers crossed* Writing can be a very solitary activity since you have no way of knowing how people are reacting to what you wrote unless they tell you. However I choose to believe the increase in traffic is a positive sign. ;-)

• Yesterday when we didn’t stop for dinner (because it was dinner time) since we weren’t hungry was a good feeling. For so many years we ate because it was time to eat (it was lunch time or dinner time). It is a good feeling knowing that we now listen to our bodies instead of the clock when it coming to eating.

• I am enjoying the book I bought on Public Health and have almost finished it. However I will say the underlying theme is a bit disturbing. I had no idea there were so many potential dangers waiting for us in life. Once we finish the 31 days to Better Health I will tell you about the book and some of the things I have learned from it.

Signing Out:

I have spent enough time on the computer today and now it is time for me to take care of the remaining items on my life administration list.

I hope you are benefiting from the series on improving health. Tomorrow will be a pivotal day in the series so sharpen your pencils and get to define your short term goals. Talk with you again tomorrow.


  1. Great post! I'm definitely excited about your 31 days to better health. I'm very healthy right now, especially compared to the SAD and other teenagers. But, in the past month, I've drastically reduced, eliminated on most days, my oil and salt consumption (which was already moderate) and I've lost weight without even trying. I love love love your blog, it's so helpful for nutrition info and great recipes. I think your first two posts are really great, a good way to start off the month. I'm excited about the coming month, because I need to up my level of fitness (which has drastically decreased due to a really stressful senior year of high school), especially with tennis season coming up.

    I was also wondering, have you ever posted your recipes for your marinated artichokes or mushrooms? I always see them and they look so delicious, but I haven't located anything you've posted. I've recently discovered I like artichokes, and I'm interested in your recipe.

  2. Hi Emily,

    Thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it. Congratulations on focusing on health so early in life. You are definitely doing better than I did. We have something in common though, I played tennis in high school too and still love the game.

    I have not posted those recipes yet because I just wing them together. But I will measure when I make them next so that I can post them. I bought mushrooms today to make more marinated mushrooms so I should have that recipe up very soon, hopefully this week. I do not have any fresh artichokes in the house and those are more trouble than most people want to go to. I frequetly just use frozen or jarred artichokes. However when I get some fresh artichokes I will post that as well. Being Italian I love artichokes too, which I am sure you noticed. LOL

    thanks again for the feedback and keep it coming, ;-)

  3. Ali I totally totally agree that the emotional and mental wellness need to come first. I'll add spiritual wellness to that as well (in whatever form works for each individual). At least that is what I've learned along the way! Great post!!:-)

  4. Dr. Cat,

    Spirituality/religion tend to be VERY personal so I try to skirt that issue, but I agree with you. It is important to feel connected to the community and something bigger however that works for everyone. ;-)

    thanks for stopping by and talk with you later,


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