This is a slightly modified version of a status message that I put on Facebook earlier this evening:
I have mixed feelings during awareness days & months such as today's World Mental Health Awareness Day. An awareness day is good – I enjoy the decision – but you know what's better? Ongoing discussion, year-round. When I see companies using awareness hashtags it often feels disingenuous, like they're doing it for the sentiment metrics. Awareness days are good, as long as the discussion is ongoing beyond the campaign. Awareness days are a conversation starter. It's up to us to keep that discussion going.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem and by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness.
Here's how my mental health affected me today: The noisy team that I sit next to were extra noisy, with phone meetings and chatter among themselves. I have sensory issues (related to ADHD). I stayed at work an extra hour and a half to get something done and emailed by “end of day”, because my brain wasn't working in top form because SENSORY OVERLOAD. I did spend an hour in a “focus pod” until my laptop battery died (I didn't think I'd need to bring the charger in with me for a couple of hours), but even in the absence of noise, the pods are small rooms with fluorescent lighting. I get anxious and claustrophobic. I get distracted when people walk past.
By the end of the day, I felt that I was losing my shit. I left work feeling exhausted. I was mentally and emotionally spent.
And now I want to hide in bed, but laundry must be done and I want to do some writing.
(P.S. This is the writing.)
I teach (or will teach – it's in beta testing) an ADHD management tool that I created called PRIME – the PRIME ADHD Management System. Each letter stands for an element of wellness. If one if out of balance it can derail you. The more in balance you are, the more letters in PRIME describe your lifestyle, the more managed your ADHD is.
The “E” stands for environment, as in physical environment.
My sensory issues, related to ADHD, make me sensitive to light and noise and sound. The sound of boisterous laughter, while joyful and making my heart happy, can irritate me a lot.
I don't know if it's a coincidence or not that World Mental Health Awareness Day happens during ADHD Awareness Month, but both are brain health issues.
On Monday I hit DAY 50 of consecutive meditation. 50 days is a lot. My previous longest streak of consecutive days meditating was around 50 days, hit in October 2015 (Insight Timer shows milestones) and it says that my “best” consecutive days – my personal best – is the current 52. I'm quite pleased with this. When I hit 60 it will be 2 months. When I hit 90 it will be three. These are milestones I'm looking forward to.
My new current favourite guided meditation in the Insight Timer app is called, Awaken Your Inner Light and Wisdom, by Melody Litton. It clocks in at just 17:35 but it's powerful. I left the following review after the first time I did it:
A new favorite. This will go in my regular rotation. I feel lighter, taller, more creative, more optimistic, and inspired. Thank you. ❤
My previous new favourites, and still in rotation, are three Kabbalistic meditations by an LA-based teacher. I wrote about the Good Morning Soul meditations in a previous post, and then added Awaken Heart opening Meditation to the rotation. The way I choose a meditation is to ask myself what I need that day and then I go to my go-tos, I search for what I want (e.g. by style and/or time), or I search a list. Before Insight Timer I did this with YouTube but Insight Timer has nearly 4,000 guided meditation. Not all of them are in English – at least 4 other languages are represented, but most are.
The guided meditations that I've been drawn to use intuition and souls. That might not be for you, but one of the cool things about meditation – regardless of whether you're guided or not – is that there's something for everyone, whether you prefer religious or secular, science-based, psychology-based, mindfulness, focusing on breath, or spirits, angels and souls.
If you're looking for good meditation tools, I recommend Insight Timer (free), or the 5-week Master Your Mind program, or the Calm app for mobile or desktop (I sometimes use the desktop interface during the day).
(Clicking won't take you there. This is a screen shot.)
My yoga practice has been consistent too. One month ago yesterday I committed to daily yoga practice. Except for missing one day near the start, I've done every single day. My practice lasts from 10-25 minutes, although now that I'm consistent with it and my body is adjusting, I feel more comfortable starting 40-60 minute videos, which is closer to the amount of time that studio classes last (90 minutes is usual but in the past, 75 minutes was my limit). When I say that my body is “adjusting”, I just mean that I'm used to the consistency and the movement, though it's still challenging. My body is constantly sore, in a good way. Five days ago, I made the following comment on the YouTube page of Brett's Yoga for Core Strength & Flexibility | Abs & Core Workout for Women:
I did this one this morning. It made me angry because my body was having a tough time with it and my wrists were hurting, but my anger isn't necessarily a bad thing. On another day I will love it. Sometimes the workouts that make me angry are my favorite ones because I like the challenge (if I'm complaining it's hard, I'm often loving it simultaneously). Today, I sat out in child's pose a few times, just as I would in a yoga studio. Not being in a studio, I was free to whine and swear out loud. 🙂
It was hard. And the next few were hard. This core strength session reminded me of the gym classes that I used to take that were lead by a former gymnast who had long blonde hair and perky everything, who kind of looked like a Barbie doll, but healthy and in proportion. She instructed like a drill sergeant, which is a style that I respond well to, though I acknowledge that this style is not everyone's preference. She had perfect form – I remember her perfect plank – and her classes were so hard that I'd grunt and complain and she liked when I did. Even when I hated it I liked it. My continued simultaneous love and hate for a challenging workout remind me of those great workouts. My muscles are constantly sore now and I feel grateful for that because it's a sign that I'm working hard for it and getting stronger. I'm grateful for my sore muscles and to myself for working them, and for the person who instructs via YouTube – and all those who help her do it.
I realized something on the weekend: The habits and routines that I've cultivated since the beginning of the year are essential for my self care and several of them are non-negotiable. They're helpful for a variety of reasons, including…
Overall health & wellness, prevention & treatment
Many of these activities are beneficial to physical and mental health.
Many of my habits/routines/activities keep me mentally healthy. Making the bed and reading a hardcover book are at the bottom of that list, but above it is flossing and at the top are meditation and yoga. They're among the tools that keep me from losing my shit, from lying on the floor sobbing. I've got a post about my mental health issues rolling around in my head. In the meantime, I threw together this quick infographic:
Related to mental health, they give me a sense of control. I'm not a control freak, but there's only so much one CAN control. I can't control a lot of what's not working in my life, but I can take 10-20 minutes to do yoga – even if it's in bed – and I can stop and breathe and have a 10 minute meditation. I can take 5 minutes to make the bed. I can take a few minutes to floss my teeth every night when I'm way overdue for a cleaning. I can read a few pages of a book. I can (mostly) control my time.
I have 2 major priorities in my life right now. Self-care is one of them. The two depend on each other.
I also like that I'm achieving these goals and that makes me achieve other goals. It's putting life into sync. It's helping me fulfill my 2017 theme, “Perseverance”. I am persevering. I'm doing it.
I'll put together a post about mental health. I've been thinking about it since a national mental health awareness day on which mental health stories were shared, for one day. I decided that in order to keep the conversation going, wouldn't have one day of discussion because mental health shouldn't come out of the closet for one day only. It should be be taboo for 364 days of the year. It should always be okay to talk about. Right?
For years, the Paleo diet has been one of the most popular diets. However, as of December 3, 2016, more people Googled the Ketogenic diet (aka “keto”) than for the Paleo diet. The popularity of keto is only growing.
In this post, you'll read why the keto diet has become so popular and the many benefits you can get.
This post is a combination of writing by the folks over at The Keto Bundle (which you'll read about below), and my own writing.
The Basics of Keto
A ketogenic diet focuses on using “ketones” and fat as fuel for your body – rather than glucose (sugar).
Whenever your body doesn't have much glucose, it naturally produces more ketones by breaking down fats. This is how your body adapts to periods when sugary and starchy foods aren't available.
A ketogenic diet causes your body to rely more on ketones – and it does this primarily by limiting the amount of sugars and starches you eat.
The result is that your body burns fats rather than sugars (carbohydrates), you feel full more of the time, and you gain greater energy and mental clarity.
Explaining that further assuming that the words “ketones” and “ketosis” are meaningless to you:
WebMD says, “Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones….when you cut way back on your calories or carbs, your body will switch to ketosis for energy.”
Ketone bodies are produced by the liver during fasting, carb-restricted diets, prolonged periods of intense exercise and starvation.
Is a Keto Diet Effective?
The main reason why the ketogenic diet has gotten so popular is because it works for so many people.
In fact, for quick weight loss and increased energy, a keto diet is often better than any other diet. This is particularly true for folks with high blood sugar or with a lot of weight to lose.
But it's also true for anyone seeking more productivity and higher energy levels.
While keto is a great tool for fast and effective weight loss, many people like it so much, they end it doing it for years at time.
And it's not just weight loss and mental clarity that people rave about. Keto diets also tend to give you better moods as well as better sleep.
Plus, there's growing research suggesting that a ketogenic diet can help prevent (and even treat) cancer as well as neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. And historically, keto has been used with great success to treat epilepsy in children.
You can read more about the ketogenic diet on my friend Fawn's website and check out her page of epilepsy resources. Some might call the change in her daughter Jade's health “miraculous”. It didn't happen overnight, it took years, but it did happen.
What Do You Eat on a Keto diet?
For the most part, a ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate version of a Paleo diet.
You eat real foods but avoid the really starchy or sugary ones like many fruits (think pineapples and bananas), tubers (like sweet potatoes and parsnips), and sugars (like honey or maple syrup).
Instead, you eat lots of healthy fats (like coconut oil, ghee, tallow, lard, olive oil, avocado oil) and non-starchy vegetables, along with berries, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, and other seafood.
How does the ketogenic diet differ from similar diets?
Other diets don't focus on being in a state of ketosis. Keto is similar to paleo, except that paleo is based on the belief of what our ancestors ate. Really, though, “ancestors” came from all over the world, and hunters and gathers ate different food depending on where they lived. My summary of the paleo diet: Eat real food. I often say that “paleo” created an entire industry that's way more lucrative than the “just eat real food” message. The ketogenic diet addresses medical issues.
A Sweet Keto Opportunity
Perhaps you've tried many diets before and you know that it can get expensive to buy new foods, new books, and new cookbooks.
That's why I want to tell you about the 2017 Keto Diet Bundle. It's only available for 5 days this year – February 7th to 11th, 2017.
This event includes pretty much everything you need to get amazing results on a keto diet…
There are over 84+ weeks of meal plans and 11+ Keto cookbooks (from awesome experts like Maria Emmerich, Mellissa Sevigny, Martina Slajerova, Leanne Vogel, Patricia Daly, Tasteaholics, and Vivica Menegaz). That's hundreds and hundreds of delicious recipes to keep you going.
There's also a ketogenic ecourse as well as beginner keto ebooks explaining step-by-step what you'll need to focus on.
There are even discounts on various keto foods – including discounts to Fatworks, Keto Krate, Keto Kookie, and even a free 16.9 oz carton of bone broth from Kettle & Fire. And if you need help with sleep or fitness, there are ebooks to help you with those aspects too.
Plus, the first 500 US-based purchasers will get a free sample of Perfect Keto's ketone supplement (with free shipping). Not being US-based myself, I feel like I'm missing out.
If you're on a keto diet (or are thinking about trying it), then please check this event out before it's too late.
You won't regret it, and you'll save countless hours and hundreds of dollars.