About re-discovering intuition and using it for better health and nutrition.

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Our body is amazing and can do so much! If only we would take care of it and nourish it. The body is constantly trying to tell us what it needs to feel nourished and be a better vessel for our souls. The thing is, we don’t really listen. Our head gets in the way.

Yes, our head gets in the way with all its knowledge and experience, with its shoulds and shouldn’t’s, with its predictions and calculations. But wait, for over and above there is also intuition, that immediate gut feeling frequently silenced by our head.

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Intuition in the sense of listening to our body’s wisdom, is the ability to understand something without the need for conscious reasoning.

When we connect with our body, listen to our body, and follow our intuition to discover what is truly needed to feel nourished, then both our nutrition and health begin to morph into an optimal state. This optimal health state (different for everybody) is often forgotten while we listen to what our head tell us instead of our body wisdom.

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Intuitive nutrition is an amazing way to seek our very own perfect nutrition, balance, and health. Simply because each body is unique and there is no a perfect way for everybody. Also, there is not a way to nutrition that will work forever because we, as human beings, are constantly changing.

Re-discover intuition: Ask yourself what your body needs now. If you are craving, what’s missing? And if you are hungry, what’s needed: food, a walk, rest, or hydration?

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web.

Grateful by Practice.

We all go through times when we are living in darkness and feeling the brutality of intense pain either physical or emotional. We usually receive sympathy (not good), if we are lucky we get empathy (so much better), sometimes we receive nothing. It is indeed during these dark times when we may hate zen advise the most. We may get to hear things like: “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”; “What doesn´t kill you makes you stronger”; “Someone else is happy with less than you have”, etc. Yes, we know these phrases to be true but we are not up for it when in the middle of a storm.

Nevertheless, there are phrases that do help, because they are practical. I particularly like: “I will practice gratitude to access joy” (Brené Brown).

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It is my opinion that being optimistic about the benefits of a new habit while also being realistic about how difficult building the habit may be, is the key to success. Being able to recognize the obstacles (mainly the pain and darkness felt at the moment, amongst others) that may get in the way is absolutely necessary.

In this case, we must accept there is no other way to get to be grateful (even if we definitely don’t feel like it) than to practice. People who are grateful even in the most difficult situations, weren’t born that way, they worked hard to be so and even they failed many times.

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Always reach out for help and support during times of hardship, darkness and pain.

It’s easier to be grateful during good times. I am still practicing being grateful during the hard ones. Would you?

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

(Images from the internet)

 

 

 

 

A not so simple opinion on forgiveness.

This was one of my first blog posts. I wanted to share it with you again. I would love to hear your opinion on forgiveness…

We all get hurt one way or the other. Such is life. It is the way we react that counts, or so I’ve heard. The truth is we need to forgive constantly in order to move on. In fact, we tend to forgive small things on a daily basis without even noticing. But when a major offense (or group of accumulated offenses) like abuse, serious lies, betrayal or any action resulting in a major loss comes crashing our way, the reaction is different. It may be immediate or it may take some time but we feel hurt, confused, vulnerable and  sadness, resentment and anger explodes within us.

 

 

 

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We have a problem now, besides the offensive act commited againts us I mean. We click into survival mode and find that pain and resentment are so uncomfortable that we try with all our might to put those feelings and emotions away, bury them and forget about them. This process may last hours, days, months or years. The subsequent effort in denying what we feel may create health consequences. Now, this may not be true for some people, but for some people it is. It happens that our heart knows, our soul knows and every cell in our body knows that we are in pain and that we are unable to forgive at the moment, and our whole being acts accordingly, even if our mind says otherwise.

Permanent unforgiveness causes chronic stress. Our feelings and emotions are alive and if buried, they will try to find a way out. This chronic stress response causes our body to release cortisol and excess insulin, to say the least, which results in short term or long term health issues that may include: low immune defense system, indigestion, weight gain, inability to loose weight, excess weight loss because of malnutrition or malnourishment, headaches and even depression.

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It is important to notice that forgiveness of a major offense will not take away the pain and resentment right away. Forgiveness is the switch that turns the power of healing on. Healing is a process, a slow one sometimes, which would be easier to undestand with an example of physical injury. Such may be the case of a person  riding a motorcycle when, suddenly, a newly licensed texting and driving teenager hits this person. They rush him/her to the ER and after a month in intensive care, this teen comes to see this person looking for forgiveness. This is a nice person, so compassion fills his/her heart and he/she forgives the kid. Did this person got out of the hospital the minute he/she forgave? Did the pain go away? Did the broken bones heal instantly? No. Healing will be a process of months, maybe a year or more. He/she will have scars, maybe for life and will need therapy, probably. But this person will go on and life will be good again someday because he/she is strong and just helped the recovery proccess by forgiving the kid for everything.

When a person is devastaded on the inside, the healing process may be slower than a physical one. It may take an hour, a day, a week, months even years but forgiveness always starts the healing process.

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Time doesn’t heal everything, it can make it worse actually, specially if we don’t forgive. So we have to choose either to forgive, let go and start healing or to resent, hold, bury and start affecting our health. So, forgiveness becomes a self care decision. We don’t forgive for the offender, we mainly forgive for our own self. Because we should love ourselves enough to care for our own well being. Because we live once and do not want to waste away life. Because we want to help our body, soul and heart to let go and relax in order to have a good working metabolism, better health and live in the best way possible.

It is so important to take our unresolved emotional and psychological issues into account when there is a physical health problem and viceversa. Forgiveness is key, it is within our reach and it is so worth it.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Images from the internet

The time to change is now.

That thing you would like to experience someday, why not do it now?

The person you want to be someday, why not start working on being that person now?

The way of life you are putting on hold for when you are older, richer, healthier, less busy, prettier, thinner, why not start living it now?

It is a mistake of gigantic proportions when we think that putting life on hold, shielding ourselves from evolving via fear and excuses, is in any way justified. It is a terrible waste of life and life’s opportunities to grow.

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Sometimes we need to acknowledge our circumstances. Life is complicated, and therefore caring for a child, an elderly person, or a sick one may prevent us from doing or being where we would like. Nevertheless, these circumstances have the amazing potential to become selfless acts of love which, even if we resist, may bring evolution, change and growth if we let them. No, these circumstances are not the same as shielding or staying within a fence unable to explore beyond.

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It is an interesting process to self-discover and analyze the way we may cast ourselves down, the effects of toxic self-talk and negative thinking. I particularly worry about the number of women (for example), that would not wear a swimsuit, that think they cannot be in a relationship or deserved to be loved because they don’t look as they “should” or are somehow overweight. So many persons think themselves too old to start anew or to study new things, to learn a new sport, profession, or skill. Others will think that they need only have a certain job or status in order to thrive and live a happy life.

Maybe some will read what I’m writing now and will be glad not to be in such a situation as described here, but experience tells me they are a minority. In the end, we only have one life, so the time to start healing and living is today. The time to change is now.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

Defense mechanisms: Destroyers or growth opportunities?

Life is challenging. Everybody, yes everybody, uses defense mechanisms to survive. This is not a conscious choice but by becoming aware of the defense mechanism(s) we tend to use the most, we might handle life in a more positive way.
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As we discover those places in our life where we feel no control, let’s focus on progress, not perfection. So let’s review the mechanisms in order to identify them and work on being more conscious of our reactions, and instead of labeling our experiences and reactions as negative, be able to generate a personal transformation. Instead of using them as destroyers, turn them into growth opportunities.
Displacement: This one is used by everybody when we are tired, low on energy, or not nourished enough. We transfer our feelings to someone else. This is usually the case after having a hard day at work and then we snap at our children or partner. It’s important to know that treating ourselves poorly by negative self-talk or by using (any) toxic substances (even food) is displacement in its most damaging form, a true destroyer.
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Rationalization: It’s hard to accept that sometimes even good people do something bad. Rationalization is making an excuse for a behavior by blaming circumstances where we believe ourselves to be innocent bystanders. This prevents us from being able to handle the truth. It’s ok to fail, be embarrassed, and feel scared sometimes.
Repression: Events we think we forget but create negative automatic thoughts at a subconscious level which in turn make us feel bad. This is the case with all irrational beliefs.
Projection: When we attribute to others what we think are unacceptable impulses or behaviors. What we don’t like in others usually we don’t like in ourselves. This is the case when we are always in the right and that person is always in the wrong; or when we hate something in ourselves, therefore we hate it in others.
Denial: Simply put, denial means not accepting reality. Denying helps with negative impulses that otherwise might fill us with anxiety. The problem is that by being in denial, we are not able to learn from an experience, accept advice and grow. It’s understandable, some truths are too painful to be accepted in full but are better digested in small doses.
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Regression: We use this defense mechanism when stressed and go back to an earlier stage where we felt more happy and safe. This is the case of childish behaviors or the abuse of comfort food.
Reaction Formation: This one turns an unacceptable impulse into the enemy, demonizing something we are attracted to, or trying to feel repulsed by our deep down desires. As a result, instead of defending ourselves we destroy using feelings of failure and guilt. It’s a polarization. This is the case with certain foods (like sugar is the enemy) or sexual impulses.
Intellectualization: This one serves better instead of rationalization. It’s coming up with a reason to explain an event without using a story around it.
Sublimation: Love this one! We take our troubles and turn them into something good. We take unacceptable behavior and let it out in a positive way by using healthy outlets. This is the case in painting, playing a musical instrument, a sport or any hobby that makes us feel better after a stressful day or experience. So we might lose interest in such activity that unconsciously served to let out frustration once we don’t need the outlet anymore.
Defense mechanisms are neither bad nor good, they just are, but we need to discard the ones that may be preventing us from evolving, living a full life and achieving good health. Therefore, if we practice taking responsibility and developing positive interpretations of our experiences then we will not needlessly punish ourselves for imagined failures or losses using self-criticism or negative self-talk, victimizing ourselves or looking to others to save us from ourselves or even make us happy. We will also be more conscious of why others behave the way they do and be more understanding.
Choose to be kind and grateful.
Images from the web

The Sun and your health.

I woke up this morning feeling completely drained. Even though I take care of myself, this sometimes happens. As I collapsed in bed after the traditional morning routine (greeting everybody, lunchbox, breakfast, etc.) I could see a glimpse of sun behind the curtains: A blessing. Too tired to think about exercising, I decided on a bit of sun and gardening instead and soon felt better.

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Sunlight has many  beneficial effects: Lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, increases blood oxygenation, it even helps you shed weight and helps with depression; but the main benefit is vitamin D production, which is so important for calcium and phosphorous absorption, facilitates  normal immune system function as well as the growth and development of bones. Today many are deficient in vitamin D.

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Exposure to the sun should be done slowly and carefully to avoid sunburn. If you are not used to the sun, then your skin will be more sensitive to it. Nevertheless, a daily dose of sun really contributes to your overall health and wellbeing.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

Are you a highly sensitive person?

“The highly sensitive person has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” (Elaine Aron, Ph.D.).  I would like to add that a HSP’s inner world is very rich.

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If you think you have this amazing trait please do not try to fix it, do not feel broken, do not feel like a victim. Honor your sensitivity and take into account that all events happening around you affect you more than they will affect everybody else; you might be more prone to emotional eating as a way of protection, more prone to overthinking and self-judgment, might have a hard time with change and letting go.

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I really recommend Dr. Elaine Aron’s book: The Highly Sensitive Person, How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You where you will find a fresh perspective on this trait and great techniques to take care of yourself.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

Healing…

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“Healing is not a burden but a privilege we should be thankful for.”

I kept asking myself what else could I add to this phrase but couldn’t find anything… It  recently affected my perspective profoundly so I had to share.

 

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

Changing an obsolete behavior pattern.

It’s been a while since my last post. I have been otherwise engaged and, in trying to follow my own advice, decided not to stress about being unable to write for a while. The fact that I decided upon not stressing doesn´t mean I was completely successful at it; therefore, I needed to find a solution… From now on, in order to be able to blog, I will have to write shorter versions of the ideas I want to share. So there!

Now, about changing an obsolete behavior pattern… It’s not an easy thing to unlearn patterns which run back for generations, but in choosing to acknowledge that a pattern no longer works and needs a tune up for our own wellbeing and for those around us, we take a very important step towards health and happiness. Each one of us can find something that no longer works and search for the tools and the courage needed to change it out of love for ourselves and others. What would you like to change?

 

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Image from the internet

About Frankl, Sherlock and a mind palace.

I was 17 years old when I had the privilege of attending a convention where Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, gave a wonderful lecture. There were many important people speaking that day and the one afterwards, but I only remember Frankl. He influenced not only my choice of profession but also introduced me to the idea that no matter what is happening around me, no matter where I am or what I’m going through, I am responsible for my attitude. The only thing I’m in control of is myself, my thoughts and my perspective in life.

In his book “A Man’s Search for Meaning” he wrote: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

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On the other hand, a couple of years ago my oldest daughter urged me to watch this new TV version of Sherlock. I refused at first, arguing that I thought of Benedict Cumberbatch as being too young a Sherlock for my taste. Later, when I gave it a try, I was instantly hooked, completely “Sherlocked” (fans will understand). This show, in my opinion, has been the best representation of the famous detective in years and I consider it a masterpiece with excellent cinematography, story adaptation and performances.

I don’t have the memory I wish I had. I read and read and forget most of it but this show made me remember what an amazing work of literature Sherlock’s stories are. Now, after my fandom outburst, I should confess I only mentioned Sherlock mainly to redirect towards the “mind palace” or memory palace term. This technique for memory appears to be a very ancient one which I could certainly use and practice. Instead, I choose for my mind palace to be a healing experience where I work daily upon recalling good memories and discarding the bad. After all, bad memories are but weeds in a garden and, if I don’t pluck them, they will end suffocating the beauty of it all.

In the end, both these events (one from long ago and a recent one), intertwine among other life experiences to enrich my daily living. I choose my way, on a daily basis, to be a positive one filled with hope and good memories (not easy by the way). I choose to have a healing mind palace, the place where my dearest memories are kept alive and contribute to my health and vitality. What do you choose every day?

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet