Genre: Wellness

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9 Lessons from The Whole Health Life

January 29, 2017 Book Review, Life Well Lived, reviews 7

9 Lessons from The Whole Health LifeThe Whole Health Life by Shannon Harvey
Published by The Whole Health Life Publishing on November 17th 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 320
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and is in no way influenced by the company.

At the beginning of January I shared my nutrition experiment of giving up sugar.  I’m now through an entire month of little to no sugar and still no migraine! I’ve had a couple of days of a low-grade headache that didn’t want to go away, but nothing like the daily migraines that were crippling me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Goodness knows going from being a sugar-aholic to no sugar has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The trick is in telling myself this is an experiment – an experiment to see if all those health and nutrition books I’ve read are right, or just a fad.

The latest book I’ve read, and probably the best overall with regards to health, nutrition, and exercise, is The Whole Health Life.  Written by Australian journalist, Shannon Harvey, The Whole Health Life is an in-depth look at the scientifically-proven connection between mind, body, and health. The book covers a range of possibilities affecting our health, from stress and emotions to food, environment, and even our sleep patterns. The more I read about health and wellness, the more I realize how interrelated/interconnected everything is.

9 Lessons from The Whole Health Life

  1.   We must find healthy outlets to relieve stress. It is literally taking years off our lives. A few recommended stress-relieving activities include listening to music, dancing, walking through nature, even wood-working – whatever helps you to get out of your head and into the moment.
  1. We can invoke a “relaxation response” to counteract the bad stress by simply including prayer and/or meditation in our lives. The rituals of most major religions incorporate the meditative mindset we need to counteract cortisol damage or the flight or fight response.
  1. A surprising finding is that women who perceived themselves to have a great deal of stress in their lives had a greater rate of cellular aging. In fact, women who perceived themselves to have high stress had aged the equivalent of 9-17 additional years.
  1. Meditation makes our brains stronger, fitter, younger. “Meditating for only 20 minutes a day over three days results in a significant decrease in sensitivity to pain.” I’m on day 15 of a daily meditation regimen. I’ve only worked up to 10 minutes/day but I can tell a difference in my overall wellbeing.
  1. The power of the placebo is scientifically proven to be valid! Did I mention worrying makes us sick? Literally! Our minds are powerful tools.
  1. Consider a mindset reset. “ Thinking things like ‘This task is exciting,’ rather than ‘this task is scary’ can help change how you perceive the situation.
  1. Exercise in spite of obstacles. Something my MS doctor has been telling me for years. The more I can exercise my muscles the more I will be able to use my muscles.
  1. Not only is exercise important but a variety of movement is also critical. For example, if running is your jam, add some yoga and strength training into the mix.

9. Make technology work for you rather than against you. Set hourly reminders to stand up and move, roll your shoulders, stretch. Your body will thank you.

 

Sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour. Zen Proverb

 

Final Thoughts

As I was reading the book a second time, I was amazed again at the wealth of information covered in The Whole Health Life. Not only that, but the scientific papers the author had to read (and decipher) were numerous. I kept thinking why have we not been told this stuff before?

At the end of each chapter the key takeaways are noted, but more importantly, tips on how to get started making the small changes in your life based on the science and information shared in the respective chapter. AND, for a bookworm this is probably the best – each chapter ends with additional recommended books to read!

As an additional resource, the author created a documentary making this information even more accessible. Plus, there are in-depth interviews with many of the scientists who have made breakthroughs with their mind, body and health studies. The information Shannon Harvey has made available through the book, the documentary and her blog, broken down into bite-sized chunks in non-scientific speak, is resourceful and invaluable. If you are looking to improve your overall health, The Whole Health Life is the book for you. I know I will continue to work through the recommended changes to see if I can not only knock out the migraines but also throw the MS into a permanent remission!

To view the first fifteen minutes of the documentary, visit The Connection here. Purchase The Whole Health Life from Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound.

To learn more about Shannon Harvey or to follow her blog and podcast, visit The Whole Health Life. You can also connect with Shannon Harvey on Twitter | Facebook.

 

four-half-stars

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CookBook Review: 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous

October 24, 2016 Book Review, reviews 4

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

CookBook Review: 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous: The Easy and Delicious Way to Cut Out Processed Food by Lisa Leake
Published by William Morrow Cookbooks on October 25th 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 320
Source: complimentary review copy, purchased
Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

 

It was a blustery December afternoon on my grandparent’s farm in Tennessee. The cows had to be herded into the barn and the never-ending farm chores had to be done before the snow set in.  Herding slow-moving cows in freezing temperatures is not the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Especially if you’re nine years old and have the latest Trixie Belden waiting for you. Let’s just say I was not my happiest.

Trudging back to the farmhouse after falling in the creek, all I could think of was standing by the wood stove to thaw out, a hot shower, and something warm to fill my belly. My mom told me we were having chili for supper, and I’m sure she could tell by my expression I was not thrilled at the prospect. At least it wasn’t greens ~ my Granny made me sit at the kitchen table til I finished a giant helping of greens. I’m still traumatized by that event!

Once I had my shower and found a spot amongst all the relatives in the living room, my mom brought me a small bowl of my uncle’s famous chili. Whenever we had a major holiday, like Christmas, relatives came out of the woodwork to hunt and help on the farm.

I took my first hesitant bite after blowing and blowing to be sure the chili was cool enough. Then I took a second bite. Nine bowls later I became a family legend. Guess what my favorite food is, still, to this day?

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When I found out Lisa Leake, of 100 Days of Real Food blog fame, had a new cookbook coming out focused on meals 30 minutes or less, I pre-ordered immediately. Then my food idol put a call out for cookbook ambassadors, and I was over-the-moon ecstatic to be selected. The day I opened the package with the book I went through every mouth-watering recipe making lists. My goal was to spend a week cooking out of the one cookbook – both as a healthy challenge and as a way to see if I really like the recipes.

The first recipe I made was the sausage and mushroom frittata. I planned to pair it with the hash brown casserole but changed my mind at the last minute. It’s only me eating this week, my sweetheart is out of town, so making a big huge meal just didn’t make sense. As this was my first frittata ever I think I did pretty darn good….or maybe it was the recipe was so good? Either way, it didn’t feel like I was denying myself anything by having a home-made/non-processed meal. In fact, I didn’t feel weighted down or bloated after eating. Oh, and the frittata? Scrumptious! I ate it for dinner and then again for breakfast two mornings in a row.

My next recipe to try was the black bean protein bowl. Oh my goodness y’all! There’s a southwest restaurant near our apartment in Scottsdale that makes the most delicious protein bowl. One week, between lunch and supper, I had that bowl five times! Now before you go thinking me an absolute pig – three of those times was the leftovers. Suffice it to say, I am a glutton for protein bowls. So when I saw the recipe for my favorite bowl in the 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous it was meal number 2 to attempt. Yes. It was also fantastic. The only thing missing was the chipotle ranch dressing that Locos Patron doles out with their protein bowls. I haven’t had a chance to scan the 100 Days of Real Food website to see if Lisa has a dressing to experiment with but regardless, her recipe was pretty darn close to the real thing {and probably a lot less on processed food}!

[Tweet “‘Fast and Fabulous’ is understatement for new cookbook by @100daysofrealfood blogger/author!”]

Remember how I shared that chili is my favorite food ever? That’s any kind of chili – including white bean chicken chili. If you could have smelled the combination of spices with the onion and jalapeno as I cooked – absolutely divine. I cheated just a little and used a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken breasts. Lisa’s definition of real food is either whole food like fruit or vegetables, dairy products and packaged food ‘with no more than five unrefined ingredients.’  I used jalapenos out of a jar – six ingredients – all were real food except the calcium chloride.  Aargh! Aside from that, this ‘real food’ chili was delicious. Not quite spicy enough to set my mouth on fire but savory enough to have all my taste buds singing. Definitely a new favorite recipe! I’m so glad Lisa suggested we make a double-batch to freeze!

A few extras that make the cookbook even better

  • The real-food supermarket product lists: a top 10 list of real food to buy from Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, even Walmart!
  • The Look For/Avoid charts: Includes what to look for in added sweeteners, cooking fats, meats and more.
  • The seasonal 7-day meal plans + shopping lists
  • Recommendations for work-week/school-week meals

What I like even better about the second cookbook

In the first cookbook Lisa goes in-depth explaining how and why the 100 Days of Real Food blog and subsequent cookbook came about. I think there’s about the same number of recipes in the 1st cookbook as there are in the second one, but I feel somewhat overwhelmed by the first cookbook. Maybe just adding ‘fast and fabulous’ to the title made it more doable for me, less intimidating. All I know is as much as I liked the first cookbook, this second one is my new favorite.

While this is not my uncle’s famous chili recipe, it’s pretty darn close to 9-bowls-worthy! Try it and let me know if it’s your new favorite chicken chili!

white bean chicken chili
5 from 1 vote
white bean chicken chili
Print
White Chicken Chili
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

GLUTEN-FREE

NUT-FREE

FREEZER-FRIENDLY

Servings: 4 people
Author: Lisa Leake
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño minced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels no need to thaw
  • 2 15 oz cans of white beans, (such as Great Northern or cannellini) drained and rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened, 2 to 3 minutes. 

  2. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside (add more olive oil if the pot starts to dry out), 4 to 5 minutes.

  3. Toss the minced garlic and spices into the pot and turn a few times to coat the chicken evenly. Add the corn, beans, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 20 minutes.

  4. Break up some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon to help thicken the chili. Stir in the cream, garnish with the desired toppings, and serve! 

Recipe Notes
TOPPINGS: Chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, and/or corn tortilla strips
 
LISA'S TIP: This dish is also great with leftover cooked chicken. Just skip
step 2 and add the cooked chicken with the garlic and spices in step 3
 
 

[Tweet “Best white chicken chili recipe ever!”]

five-stars

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Book Review: Rising Strong

September 3, 2015 Book Review 4

Book Review: Rising StrongRising Strong by Brené Brown
Published by Spiegel & Grau on August 25th 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
Goodreads

 

To say that I am awed by Brene Brown would be an understatement.  Her compassion, knowledge and sheer storytelling ability have me captivated.  I’ve seen her TED talks on shame and vulnerability at least a dozen times; taken her online wholeheartedness workshop; and read all of her books, most recently, Rising Strong.  

The genius of Brene’s book is her ability to weave stories through the teaching of critical new information.  She has her ‘writing voice’ down and it’s so relatable, so humble and at times so raw.  The personal stories she shares in Rising Strong to illustrate the process of becoming wholehearted are the epitome of vulnerability.  She practices what she preaches.

Having read The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, I knew Rising Strong would be filled with valuable insight. Although I learn best by reading, the new concepts have taken lots and lots of practice to implement.  I still have to go back and re-read sections to be sure I truly understand.  I’m big on lists and steps so having the steps written out for me would have made learning the rising strong concept much easier {I think}.

Reckoning is HOW we walk into our story.

Rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge and reality-check these narratives as we dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness. Rumbling with these topics and moving from our first responses to a deeper understanding of our thoughts and feelings, and behaviors gives birth to key learning about who we are and how we engage with others. The rumble is where wholeheartedness is cultivated and change begins.

Brene uses the quote below as an analogy throughout Rising Strong.  If we allow ourselves that moment when we are face down in the ring to rumble, to get real with the stories we tell ourselves; to silence the self-talk we inflict upon ourselves then we shall be on our way to becoming wholehearted.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

Wow.  Reading those words out loud to yourself is like a pep talk from the greatest coach of all time!  Makes me want to dare greatly more!

As the self-proclaimed queen of disengaging and blocking things out practicing this process has been quite eye-opening to me.  Below is the list I made to satisfy my list-making craze:

Rising Strong Steps
1.  Recognize that something is going on within ~ I’m feeling wonky ~ sad, angry, resentful, etc.
2.  What story am I making up about the situation? What conspiracy or confabulation have I invented about the situation? {isn’t that the best word ever? confabulation!}
3.  Figure out what my key learnings are by analyzing the story I make up.
4.  Moving from process to practice = revolution.

I can see Rising Strong becoming an integral course for psychology, sociology and social work majors. It truly would be revolutionary if as individuals, families, employees and leaders we would internalize the process and change the stories we tell ourselves to what is actually true and real. I may be telling myself that you are angry because you’re being quiet and withdrawn when in actuality you are thinking in your head about building a deck. If I had acted on the story in my head and gotten angry or upset because I thought you were angry or upset then the day would have been ruined. may or may not be based on an actual recent occurrence 😉

This book, in fact, all three books should be required reading.
Do yourself a favor and read it. and share it. and do it. revolutionize your life.

[Tweet “Read it. Share it. Do it. #risingstrong”]

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Book Review: Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps

July 14, 2015 Book Review, Life Well Lived 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Conquer Your Pain in 9 StepsConquer Your Pain in 9 Steps by Carole Staveley
Published by Influence Publishing on May 1st 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 220
Format: Paperback
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

 

Chronic Pain.  Everything from chronic back pain to chronic toe fungus is like a debilitating descent into Hell.  When first approached about reviewing Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps I knew I had to get on the blog tour {even though I really try to stay away from tours because of my crazy schedule}.  But, I knew this was a book I needed to read.

At age 18 I was in an auto accident that left me in ICU for three weeks, hospital for three months with a traumatic brain injury,  my entire face reconstructed with titanium plates; I needed a new cornea and eye socket and subsequently required cataract surgery; my left hand and wrist were crushed and had to be re-built and 5 thoracic vertebra were crushed as well as 2 cranial vertebra {I went from 5’2 to 5’1 in an instant – talk about fast un-growth!}.  Although the doctors were incredible miracle workers, there was nothing they could do to prevent the lifetime of chronic pain I was now prescribed.  It’s just something I’ve dealt with.

Fast forward 10 years and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.  The simple explanation of what is MS?  Multiple scarring of the myelin sheath of the brain which leads to a host of problems, including, but oh so not limited to, chronic pain.

Finally, one of the effects from the accident that I talk about here is chronic migraines.  Did I mention chronic pain is a debilitating descent into Hell?

With all that depressing gunk out of the way, on to the hope-full stuff!  I wanted to summarize how I know what I’m talking about when I talk about chronic pain.

So, there was nothing Carole Staveley could have thrown at me that I didn’t already know.  For the most part, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I”m a relatively positive, easy-going kind-of gal.  I have to be in order to keep those pesky triggers away, like stress and pessimism and depression and frustration and anger and, well, you get the picture, right?

[Tweet “Positive Thinking + Daily Dosage of Belly Laughs = Good Healing Energy”]

It was refreshing to read a real account of overcoming chronic pain.  Her struggles with diagnosis, treatments and doctors were all completely relatable, especially “it must be in your head.”  Well for me, yeah, it literally is!  I’ve had fun making a joke out of it for years ~ yeah, my brain has been bounced around in my skull and it has a few scars so yes Dr., it IS in my head. 😉

Beginning with “discovering your why,” we learn that developing our ultimate life purpose helps to focus our efforts externally rather than internally.  And on to the chapter to “Never, Ever Give Up” that reminds us it is in overcoming adversity where we find our strength.  The quotes included along with the action steps are both motivating and encouraging.

In my thirties I came to the realization that self-worth is at the heart of so many human behaviors, particularly those behaviors affecting our health and wellness.  If you don’t value yourself, then why would you take on behaviors that are good for your health and self-esteem? (p. 19)

A couple of issues I have with the book is that not everyone has a history of physical activity to fall back on as did Staveley.  She talks about growing up participating in sports and of playing tennis through her twenties.  While it is partially an excuse and partially a handicap, it is difficult to put that first foot forward.  Also, her tips on healthcare professionals to engage with is, while fantastic in that it encourages natural methods as well as western medicine, there’s really no magic wand of how in the world one can afford an acupuncturist, massage therapist, yoga teacher, nutritionist, etc.  The recommendation is to make healthy living a priority and weighing the value of missed work versus the value of a service.

For the most part, Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps is filled with positive actions to take in order to move from feeling sorry for yourself to making the most of the life you have been given. Staveley has an engaging voice, the book is easy-to-read and broken up into bite-sized pieces.  And there really are great action steps for chronic pain-ers to incorporate into their lives.  I’m not certain the IronMan is for me, but a 5k is in my sights!  Recommended for anyone who suffers from chronic pain.

[Tweet “Recommended reading for sufferers of chronic pain by @carolestaveley”]

To learn more about Carole Staveley visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Many thanks to iRead Book Tours for inclusion in this Book Tour!

For additional thoughts on Conquer Pain please visit the blogs on the Tour Schedule.

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[Tweet “”What does it mean to be as healthy as can be?” by @CaroleStaveley #HealthChampion”]

 

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From No Excuses to “Get Pumped Up” or My Top 5 Excuses & The Tips I Use to Overcome

March 11, 2015 Book Review 9

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

From No Excuses to “Get Pumped Up” or My Top 5 Excuses & The Tips I Use to OvercomeThe No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang
Published by Harmony Books on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 224
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

Excuses validate our choices.  They let us off the hook and give us permission to fail.  While psychologically soothing, excuses limit our ability to create opportunities to progress toward personal health.  ~Maria Kang

Somehow I have ended up with a couple of books this month that are all about motivation, habits and the dreaded {by me at least} exercise!  The first one of the month is with the From Left to Write virtual book club.  Not a typical review – more my thought process while reading the book!  Do share your tips in the comments cause I need all the help I can get!

My top 5 exercise excuses of the moment

1.  I don’t have time. . .or like what happened tonight: I’m going to be late to yoga class, and I don’t want to disturb the others.  Then I tell myself I’m being considerate which validates my justification for turning the car around to head home!

2.  I’m too tired. {but why am I tired? is it tired from the day or is it from the multiple sclerosis?  With the first, I should push through; with the second, only legitimate rest helps – which leads back to the question of why am I tired?  It’s an awful loop!}

3.  I’m too sore. {same as above.  Am I sore from the previous day’s walk or is it the multiple sclerosis?}  notice how I snuck in there that it was “from the previous day’s walk” meaning that yes, yes I did get my exercise {hopefully}  it could also be that I’ve told myself the next one ~

4.  There’s always tomorrow. . . .also known as the Scarlett O’Hara syndrome.  A very bad bad syndrome to get caught up in and one that has a habit of drawing me into its’ clutches!

5.  Play the justification game ~ “well, everything I read says it’s 30% exercise and 70% nutrition…I’ll just eat {insert either less or better depending on the moment!}

Now, my top 5 get pumped up resources

1.  Loud music.  Typically the first few songs on the Pink channel of Pandora are enough to get me moving.  Once I turn the music up it’s impossible to not move.

2.  Listen to motivational podcasts.  Michael Hyatt and Chalene Johnson are my current go-to’s for motivation.  In fact, Chalene Johnson has one podcast just for me that gets my behind in gear!  {I’m happy to share it with you though if you’re in need of a motivation boost as well}

3.  Five minute rule.  I can do anything for 5 minutes.  Typically once I start {usually it’s walking} then by the time 5 minutes is over I tell myself I can at least walk 1 mile; hopefully once I reach 1 mile I’ve talked myself into going for that full 30 minutes . .my short-term goal is to get in 30 minutes of exercise daily.  I’m only focusing on the short-term goal at the moment and not that long, far away goal of total health!

Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net

Photo Credit: David Niblack

4.  Pay attention to my self-talk ~ it usually goes something like “why didn’t you. . .” Once I recognize that I’m in a negative loop I change my self-talk.  This month’s mantra is “I am enough.”  Believe me, I’ve said those three words a hundred million times and we are only on Day 11 for March!

5.  To keep myself motivated, I’m following several fitness experts and fitness junkies on social media ~ I’ve always told my children that who surround yourself with is what will motivate your actions – it’s no different for adults.  Seeing certain fitness folks who are also motivating is incredibly helpful to me.  I’ve also unfollowed some because their feeds were counter-productive.

What is your go-to resource or idea that gets you pumped up to exercise {or tackle any task you’ve been procrastinating?}

 

This post was inspired by The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang who shares her no-excuses philosophy that motivated her to become more fit. Join From Left to Write on March 12th as we discuss The No More Excuses Diet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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