10 Anxiety Antidotes

It’s easy to become overwhelmed and/or blocked as we ruminate about past events or worry about the future. To improve the quality of our lives, we need to find and implement appropriate anxiety antidotes.

Here are ten anxiety antidotes that work for me:

1. Breathe. Whenever you are anxious, deeply and calmly breathe in and out. As you draw your next breath, focus on the rise of your abdomen on the in-breath and feel the sensation of the air as it fills your lungs and leaves through your nostrils.

Continue reading on Nancy Badger’s blog.

On Growing More Brain

The daughter of parents with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, I am always on the lookout for new ways of improving brainpower.

But I am not prepared to fork out enormous sums of money for supplements and other products that make dubious claims. Instead, I read columns and books written by health experts such as Daniel Amen, Tony Buzan, David Snowdon, Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, and Mehmet Oz and take careful note of any low-cost and no-cost suggestions for improving brainpower.

Continue reading on Sue James’ blog.


My Yoga Practice…Then and Now

In late June of 2009, the following newspaper advertisement caught my attention:

Unlimited yoga during the months of July and August for $160

I planned to attend three classes a week and see how I felt by the end of the summer.

I was hooked after the first week.

The classes were small, and the instructors were able to work with me on an individual basis. I test-drove all the instructors and then zeroed in on my favorites: Amy, the social worker from Newfoundland who had completed her training in India; Claudia, the young mother who offered a structured class that appealed to my left-brain tendencies; and Lisa, the quintessential willow.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


2 Fitness Alternatives on YouTube

Since retiring in 2008, I have adopted a healthy regimen that includes a daily visit to the exercise room in my condo building. All that changed last Tuesday when I received a notice informing me that the exercise room would now be locked.

Determined not to fall back on bad habits, I started to search for fitness alternatives. Within days, I discovered two of Holly Dolke‘s YouTube videos. Shorter and less intense than my usual regimen, the workouts–especially the toning segments–are challenging enough.

Enjoy!

Any other YouTube finds…Please share in the comments.


Chia Seed Power!

From the start, I loved the sound of the Mayan word “chia” and its meaning: strength. Originally grown in Mexico, these seeds were valued for their nutritional and medicinal properties. Runners and warriors used chia seeds as fuel while running long distances or during battles. Aztec warriors claimed that one spoonful of chia seeds could sustain them for 24 hours.

Recent research has found even more benefits. An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and antioxidants, chia seeds support the heart and digestive system, build stronger bones and muscles, promote healthy skin, and can help reverse diabetes.

Definitely a superfood and one that can be easily incorporated into our daily diets. A reassuring fact for non-foodies who don’t like to cook.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


Weighing In

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Winona Kent. Today, Winona shares her wellness journey and new release, Notes on a Missing G-String.

Here’s Winona!

I’ve just turned 65. And in a few weeks, when I retire from my job, I’m looking forward to finally being a full-time writer, instead of juggling 12-hour workdays with my lifelong creative passion. I’ve got a clever countdown app on my phone that displays the months, weeks, days, minutes and seconds to that glorious moment. I am sooo ready for this massive change in my life!

But it’s not the only change I’ve been dealing with recently!

Two years ago I was encouraged to switch to a different writing genre by a very kind agent in New York, and also by my alpha reader, Brian, in England. Brian suggested that I think about having Jason Davey, my main character from Cold Play, as the hero of my next story.

The last time we’d seen Jason, he was a musician aboard a cruise ship in Alaska. What if he came ashore and got a gig playing guitar at a jazz club in London? What if he was now into solving mysteries?

I loved the idea. Jason Davey, professional guitarist and amateur sleuth, is asked to track down a missing musician, and all of the clues lead to northern Canada. The result was Disturbing the Peace, a novella that I published at the end of 2017.

Then, last year, I wrote Notes on a Missing G-String, a full-length novel in which Jason’s asked to investigate the theft of £10,000 from a dancer’s locker at a Soho gentlemen’s club. He initially considers the case unsolvable. But the victim, Holly Medford, owes a lot of money to London crime boss Arthur Braskey and, fearing for her life, has gone into hiding at a posh London hotel.

Jason’s investigation takes him from Cha-Cha’s and Satin & Silk (two Soho lapdancing clubs) to Moonlight Desires (an agency featuring high class escorts) and finally to a charity firewalking event, where he comes face to face with Braskey and discovers not everything Holly’s been telling him is the complete truth.

As he becomes increasingly drawn into the seamy underside of Soho, Jason tries to save Gracie, his band-mate’s 14-year-old runaway daughter, from Holly’s brother Radu, a ruthless pimp, while at the same time protecting Holly herself from a vengeful Braskey—nearly losing his life, and Gracie’s—in the process.

The outline for the novel literally burst out of me – and it provided enough of a boost to my confidence that I decided to tackle something else – losing weight.

I’m a Type 2 diabetic – I was diagnosed in 2009, around the same time that I was hitting menopause. My version of the disease turned out to be particularly aggressive and within a couple of years I was on four different diabetes meds, including 55 units of insulin nightly.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of insulin is weight gain, which works against you when prevailing medical knowledge suggests that if you modify your lifestyle, get regular exercise, adjust your eating habits and, most importantly, lose some weight, you’ll go a long way towards improving your blood glucose levels and, in some cases, partially or fully reversing your diabetes.

By the time I asked my endocrinologist for a referral to a medically-supervised weight loss program, I was about 80 pounds overweight. I was referred to the Medical Weight Management Program in Coquitlam, BC. The program considers the full impact your excess weight has on your health, your psychological well being and your mobility and involves intensive lifestyle modification where the bulk of the visits take the form of in-person group interactive medical visits. The main philosophy is that your best weight is the weight you can realistically and healthfully sustain and be comfortable with.

I’ve been with the MWM program for a year and a half now and I’ve lost 34 pounds. I’m still dropping. It’s a slow process, but it’s meant to be. The lifestyle changes I’m working on are meant to be lifelong and permanent.

I faithfully use a food journal. I never feel deprived – for instance, I haven’t given up chocolate at all. I’ve learned to treat myself and to be aware of how much of that treat I’m having.

I’ve learned some other great tricks – for instance I adore the savoury scones at JJ Bean but one entire scone is worth more than 400 calories. So I buy three at a time and take them home and chop them into quarters and freeze them. Then I have one of those quarters as part of my afternoon snack every day. Yes, it takes a certain amount of willpower. But if you know you’re going to have a tasty treat at 3pm every afternoon, it’s a lot easier to tell yourself that you don’t have to eat the entire thing right now.

I’ve learned to plan in advance. I have breakfast at home but I take three small meals to work with me every day: a morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack. The snacks include things like cubed cheese, spicy roasted chickpeas, exotic Japanese and Chinese pickles, chopped celery, sliced orange peppers, wasabe peas…anything that satisfies that need for something tasty and satisfying to put into my mouth. I weigh it all out and stick to my eating plan.

And I’ve learned to be a “mindful” eater. My food used to disappear so quickly I didn’t even realize I‘d eaten it. Now, I stop to actually taste and enjoy what I’m putting in my mouth instead of mindlessly chucking it down.

Aside from being 34 pounds lighter – which has had a positive influence on nearly everything in my life, from dropping a couple of clothing sizes to just feeling better physically and having more energy – I’ve managed to reduce my nightly insulin dose to just 5 units. The plan is that, after I’ve lost a few more pounds, I should be able to stop using it altogether.

I love my newfound hero, Jason Davey, and I can’t wait to see how Notes on a Missing G-String is received.

And I’m still counting the days ‘til my retirement. Now that I only have 21 days, 9 hours, 17 minutes and 52 seconds left, I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter in my life (and the next chapter in Jason Davey’s sleuthing career)!

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

I read this book in two sittings and had trouble putting it down. Ms. Kent has a way of drawing me into her stories and keeping me hooked until the end. It helps to have an intriguing protagonist like Jason Davey, who has a knack for stumbling into high-stakes crime scenarios. Like the first installment—Disturbing the Peace—Notes on a Missing G-String is a fast-paced novel filled with plot twists, exotic and ruthless characters, a teenage runaway, and a love child…all set against the seamy underside of Soho.

Next, please!

Where to find Winona

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Becoming Pretty Healthy

I highly recommend Live a Little: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health by Dr. Susan Love and Alice Domar.

Having spent ten months reading Dr. Love’s Breast Bible during my cancer journey, I was more than ready to follow her advice and that of her co-author, a psychologist with expertise in stress and women’s health.

I found it refreshing to learn that Dr. Love didn’t start a fitness program until age 50. She had no regrets about this late start; she spent her younger days doing research, working with breast cancer patients, writing books, and raising a family.

The authors take on the health police (TV experts, magazine writers, trainers, well-meaning friends and neighbors) and provide us with a realistic view of what’s healthy and what is mostly hype. In short, they show us how to be healthy without driving ourselves crazy.

They recommend we trade in the illusion of becoming perfectly healthy for something more fun and doable: becoming pretty healthy. How reassuring to read that self-care doesn’t require large outlays of money and time. All we have to do is find something—anything—that makes us feel better about ourselves and make it part of our daily regimens. Effective self-care is all about developing and maintaining positive habits.

In the last chapter, Dr. Love and Ms. Domar provide general guidelines for living a pretty healthy life that includes laughter, relaxation, and common sense.

Long overdue advice.

Dr. Love designed the following quiz to assess a woman’s fitness level:

1. Are you able to walk for one mile in twenty minutes or less?

2. Can you jog a mile without stopping?

3. Can you stand on one foot and maintain your balance for thirty seconds?

4. Sit in a chair. Can you stand up without using your arms?

5. Can you lift and carry two grocery bags–one in each hand?

Anyone who is able to answer yes to every question demonstrates a basic level of cardiovascular fitness, strength, and balance. YOU ARE PRETTY HEALTHY!!

On a personal note…

I was able to answer yes to four of the above questions. I need to work on #2.


In Praise of Fruits and Vegetables

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, a month set aside to remind us that fruits and vegetables are essential components of a healthy lifestyle.

As a cancer survivor with a family history of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, I am always on the lookout for any dietary changes that can help support a healthy heart, mind, and immune system.

A few years ago, I took special note of the following research conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research in 2004. If every American consumed 15 to 30 ounces of fruits and vegetables every day, the incidence of cancer could be reduced by at least 20 percent.

The Institute suggests we aim for nine servings or 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. This may sound daunting, but it is doable. With careful planning and a few doses of creativity, we can increase our daily intake of fruits and vegetables and stay within our budgets.

Here are 10 tips:

• Learn about serving size. In his book “Anticancer,” David Servan-Schreiber provides the following helpful guide: One serving equals ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables, 1 medium fruit, ½ cup cooked fruit, ¼ cup dried fruit, or 6 ounces of fruit juice.

• Start small. At breakfast, top your oatmeal or cereal with sliced bananas, fresh berries, raisins, or apricots. Add one cup of fresh or frozen berries to pancake batter. Mix eggs and vegetables for a healthy and hearty breakfast or lunch. Adding minced broccoli or finely grated cauliflower will not change the texture of the eggs. At lunch or dinner, add strawberries, mandarin orange sections, and raisins to green salads.

• Use a spiralizer to create zucchini, squash, asparagus, or cucumber noodles. Top with your favorite sauce and enjoy! You won’t miss the carb-laden pasta dishes.

• Hide the vegetables if your children ignore or push away anything green. Instead, try incorporating vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach into your favorite pasta sauce, chili, lasagna, or stew recipes. As you stretch the recipe, you will obtain more servings and also cut back on the meat content.

• Pinch pennies on produce. Buy whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. Apples, oranges, grapefruit, and bananas are always available and usually last for a week. The cheapest vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, celery and onions.

• Consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables. These foods are flash frozen at their peak and contain the same amount of nutrients as their fresh counterparts. Frozen vegetables can save dinner preparation time since washing and cutting are not required. Frozen fruit can be used in smoothies, low-fat muffins, yogurts and salads.

• Sneak in extra fruit servings with the right juice. Stick with the top four—orange, grapefruit, prune, pineapple—and check the sugar content on each label. Whenever possible, buy in bulk. This will cut down your costs and help avoid the excessive packaging associated with single-serving bottles and juice boxes.

• Create quick, no-cook meals using fruits and vegetables. Fill a cantaloupe or honeydew melon with low-fat cottage cheese. Combine fresh or frozen berries, a banana, whey or soy protein, water, and ice to make a delicious smoothie. Mix a bowl of low-fat yogurt with fruit.

• Create more fruit-based desserts and snacks. Cut up some plums into chunks and roast them in the oven. Serve warm over a small scoop of frozen yogurt. Mix blackberries or blueberries with a few chocolate chips to create a quick trail mix. Freeze individual grapes on a cookie sheet and serve later as cool, healthy treats.

• Plan ahead and add convenience to your day. Stock your glove compartment and desk drawer with apples, pears, and bananas. Cut up your favorite vegetables into snack-size pieces and store them in clear plastic containers at home and at work. This will cut down on visits to the vending machine and coffee shop.

Any other tips to share?


Stepping Out of Time

A non-athlete, it took me a while to find a preferred physical activity, but once I discovered yoga, I was hooked.

That was ten years ago.

Since then, I’ve gone off the “yoga wagon” several times—interestingly enough right before prolonged writer’s blocks—but have now settled into a practice that both center and challenges me.

Continue reading on Brenda Whiteside’s post.


Watch Yourself

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

While the following is not technically a Zen story, it is said to have been told by the Buddha himself. Its message of self-care is one that will resonate, especially with women.

There was once a pair of acrobats. The teacher was a poor widower and the student was a young girl by the name of Meda. These acrobats performed each day on the streets in order to earn enough to eat.

Their act consisted of the teacher balancing a tall bamboo pole on his head while the little girl climbed slowly to the top. Once to the top, she remained there while the teacher walked along the ground.

Both performers had to maintain complete focus and balance in order to prevent any injury from occurring and to complete the performance. One day, the teacher said to the pupil:

‘Listen Meda, I will watch you and you watch me, so that we can help each other maintain concentration and balance and prevent an accident. Then we’ll surely earn enough to eat.’

But the little girl was wise. She answered, ‘Dear Master, I think it would be better for each of us to watch ourself. To look after oneself means to look after both of us. That way I am sure we will avoid any accidents and earn enough to eat.’