breathing

Stroke the Cat, and Breathe…

I rushed to get to the doctor this morning and he was late. He is only there for a half an hour in this little village. My heart rate was much higher than normal when he finally arrived because I had allowed myself to become stressed. In retrospect, while waiting, I could have taken the time to still my mind. I could have taken a breathing break.

 

We rush through life when I believe we shouldn’t need to. Living in a big city is not natural for my psyche, for sure. I’m still in a cave in my mind. I have lived and worked in London and Johannesburg, LA, Nashville and other European cities while performing and recording. I have spent time visiting in New York, marvelling at the traffic and the pace. I was so glad I was a musician and not a secretary, although I did once work for a few months as a receptionist for a newspaper while waiting for my showbiz life to unfold. As a performer I got to sleep late most days, party or visit at night after shows until all hours. Crazy, mad, fun, intense times. And sometimes I needed to rush. Through traffic, through scripts, through airports, through filming, through PR tours, through life.

 

Over the years life has changed somewhat. And I am older now. Now I stroke the cat, hug the dog, smile with my eyes closed and breeeeeaaaathe.

 

While life does continue to rush for many, here’s a way to cope. Simple breathing. Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, is said to take three mindful breaths ever hour, no matter if he is in the middle of a lecture or elsewhere. It seems so easy when you read or hear it. In the beginning, some years ago, I would find myself having done two breaths and then losing focus, forgetting the third. Now I am better at it. Here, sitting at my desk, my fingers still, like a very mini meditation, I breathe and be in the moment, noticing sounds around me, letting thoughts go, noticing my breathing, in and out. “Just recognition, mere recognition, simple recognition of the presence of the in-breath and out-breath”. There. Three done.]

 

If you are stressed today, stroke the cat, hug the dog, and breeeaaathe.

 

Carpe Diem

 

 

Diets make you stress, stress makes us fat…

On Atkins I gorged myself on meat and did not pay much attention to vegetables and alkalinity. On the Beverly Hills diet I nearly made myself sick on fruit – and did not pay much attention to the insulin spiking with all the fruit sugar. On Fit for Life I thought I was going to fart my life away with all the beans. On Paleo I craved dairy so much until I found Peter d’Adamo’s Eat Right for Your Type and cheered loudly because a type B could eat cheese, cream, butter and all the good things that I loved. Did it last? No. Again, too many can’t haves for me.

 

Then came Rosemary Conley’s Amazing Inch Loss Plan and I lost a stone in a month, and put it all back on again and then some. Zoe Harcombe’s diet suggests you don’t mix fats with carbs (no butter on my toast!), Pierre Dukan says little to no fat and leans towards a low carb diet, Ornish suggests vegetables and more vegetables, and there are more…loads more. You try them all and the weight keeps piling on after every failed attempt.

 

That’s the whole point. You lose, you put on, you try another diet, you lose, you put on even more again…and so it continues until eventually you are so far from the weight you were when you started all the dieting that you are desperate, feeling helpless and depressed. At least that is where I got to, wondering if anything would ever work. So I have been reading, and reading…and then some more. Nutrition books, internet information by the bushel, detoxes and fasting, gall bladder and kidney stone cleanses, master cleanse, zapping, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Candida diets, raw food only diets, juice diets, anything that would give me a clue as to how I could handle my own personal obesity ogre.

 

My thought was that if I could get the food thing right for myself, I do believe it would help someone else as well. This billion dollar diet industry just wasn’t getting it right for me, and for so many others too. A paltry number get it right, but so very few. Where was it going wrong for me? How could I work this out for myself in a way that it would be helpful to others, and that didn’t cost an arm and a leg with products, pills, therapists, expensive food ingredients along with a time consuming effort to make special foods? There is so much more to being fat than I could ever really know, but I think we all have the potential to know ourselves, and we can work with that knowledge.

 

Want to is important. So far I have come across quite a bit of good reading with some great suggestions. Good habits which I think I can maintain for longer than a week! Everywhere you read you come across the suggestion to keep a food journal. That’s pretty doable. Computers make good journals, and blogging is our journal. Especially if you can type properly. It goes really fast.

 

Next is water- the main component in our body – and it keeps our system flushed as well. (Scary to think that in our future, wars will be fought over water. Certainly if we keep on ignoring its value on our little planet and abuse it.) I cannot think of a better drink…well, a good champagne or a smooth red wine does appeal!

 

Flylady says it takes 27 days to form a new habit and I can think of no better ones to instill than journalling and drinking water. The first keeps us honest and the second keeps us hydrated.

 

F. Batmanghelidj, M.D wrote a book entitled Your Body’s Many Cries for Water which made me sit up and take notice. Since I read it some years ago I have kept glass bottles of filtered water on my kitchen shelf, next to my bed, on the kitchen table, in my studio and in the TV room ready for drinking. Empty wine bottles with screw tops are most useful for this purpose.

 

A further good habit is to hold loving intention towards the water; this was gleaned from Dr. Masaru Emoto’s The Hidden Messages in Water. Our bodies are made of a large percentage of water – apparently close to 80%. That’s pretty high. There’s a lot of water in this body too large for its frame. Imagine if you held good, loving intention towards everything with water in it? I like the idea. You know that saying… “Now ain’t you a long drink of water!” (this said appreciatively by a handsome man looking at a pretty girl, in the movies:)) Maybe if we saw people as a refreshing drink of water on a hot day, and were maybe a bit more refreshing ourselves…you know, like “Be your own sunshine”? Be a cool drink of water. Say to yourself “Ain’t I a cool, delicious, long drink of water!” Oh go on…

 

Seriously? Clean water is our finest friend.

 

Then there is deep breathing, a highly alkaline activity, especially when done with a calm mind. Not just breathing, mind you; d-e-e-e-e-e-p breathing, down into the bottom of the lungs, filling out the sides and back as well. And then a long, soft, slow, out- breath, giving the lungs chance to send all that oxygen to the heart. This apparently really helps to keep the heart strong, and it is a great practice for asthmatics. In fact, for everyone.

 

Attitude while doing the breathing bears mentioning, because if we note our breathing, in and out, and let the thoughts drift by, we will more than likely be in a meditative state, and that can only do good. Great for reducing stress and thereby reducing our cortisol levels. (That stuff that can make us fat. Ask Aunty G (Google/Google Scholar) about cortisol and weight gain.)

 

If someone told you that nothing was forbidden and everything is allowed on a diet, you would cheer wouldn’t you? Mainly because none of us like feeling deprived or being told NOT to have or do something. Yes? Do you feel the same? So how does that work on a diet? It mostly doesn’t, not on the diets I have been on for the last 30 or 40 years! There is always something, always restrictions, always a reason to pout. Can’t have that…stamp your foot:(  Stressed out, again. Cortisol levels rising.

 

Yoga is a great way to de-stress too by the way. If we keep our spines supple and our core toned, we may just live longer and with fewer aches and pains. Yoga Journal is a cool website and has all the yoga positions and many good articles, however, if you can find a yoga instructor, all the better.

 

Meditation/prayer, deep breathing, stretching and toning: these all work to de-stress and alkalise your body. Anger, irritation, fear; these all increases acid levels (just think what road rage does!) so it would be a good idea for us to curb our tempers (b-r-e-a-t-h-e) and smile a lot more. What a wonderful world that would be! Have you ever smiled at yourself in the mirror and actually sent loving thoughts to yourself and not criticism? Another cool tool for the How to Cope box. Try it…

 

Note: Intermittent fasting going well again today. I think my tum is just so grateful not to feel so bloated and full like an overstuffed sausage. Had a smoothie with mango, banana, whey protein powder, a small tub of plain yogurt, iced water and 2 teaspoons of flaxseed all blended together until smooth. I took at least 15 minutes to drink/eat it and I have lasted to just over four hours. (Ayurvedic medicine suggests no less than four hours between meals/snacks.) Now is the time for my raw celery and carrot in water in a mug in the fridge. Today with no hummus, just a good chew. Savouring the taste of each mouthful, eating slowly and mindfully. At least try…

Supper is to be stir-fried fish (hake) and vegetables: If it proves to be a hit, I will post the recipe tomorrow.

(Re flaxseed: I read about the phytoestrogen thingy but I am past ovulation and all that stuff so I take the flaxseed occasionally and psyllium husk now and then, especially if I have had too much protein. My fibre mostly comes from fruit and vegetables. I am loath to have too many grains at the moment, but will not say no to hummus:) This is, after all, M O D…

 

 

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