Are you drinking enough water?

MB 1_20_16

Are you drinking enough water?

Hello there,

Living in Arizona for the last fifteen years has given me ample reason to pay more attention to my levels of hydration, especially in the summer!

Dehydration can occur when you use or lose more body fluids than you’re taking in. Many people believe that when they are thirsty, it’s a good indicator that they need to drink more water.

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather, when you exercise or if you’re feeling ill.

When you’re grieving you may not feel like eating or drinking, even water. But it’s imperative to keep up your fluid intake.

Throughout Larry’s illness and after his death I cried like I never cried before. I remember I was constantly thirsty. My lips were chapped, my skin was dry, my body ached, and I experienced headaches off and on. Yes, all of these are attributable to grief, yet they were also signs I needed more water.

Of course, I did!

The tears would roll down my face like a rapid river. I can’t even begin to measure how much water my body lost through my tears.

While I drank water, it seemed as though I couldn’t get enough.

As I healed, the volume of tears I shed lessened. But my awareness to my intake of water and its effects on my overall health has remained.

There are many factors that can affect our level of hydration and/or cause dehydration:

Climate: excessive heat, altitude

Excessive sweating

Exercise

Illness: fevers, vomiting, diarrhea

Excessive urination – from undiagnosed diabetes, certain medications (such as diuretics)

Why is water and staying hydrated so important?

The human body is approximately 60% water. Every cell, tissue and organ relies on adequate hydration to function properly. Below are some of the important roles of water within the body:

The brain needs water to function properly. Without it, the brain’s processing abilities are affected and short-term memory is impaired.

Water acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.

Water allows cells to grow, reproduce and survive.

The digestive tract wouldn’t function properly without water. It’s essential in the creation of saliva (to break down our food) and in the intestinal tract, where water and fiber are both needed to help eliminate waste.

Water is necessary to regulate your body temperature through perspiration and respiration.

Water is a lubricant for muscles and joints and helps keep them working properly. Anytime I feel sore muscles and/or achy joints at the end of the day I know I didn’t drink enough water that day.

What are some signs you may not be drinking enough water?

The first sign is easy enough: check your urine. Infrequent urination and the color of urine speaks volumes. With adequate hydration urine should be clear. If it’s dark yellow, you’re clearly not drinking enough water.

To my kid’s embarrassment I’ve called them out on the color of their urine quite a few times (they’re boys who “forget” to flush). If I happen to go to the bathroom after one of them and I see dark yellow, I start making the rounds asking who just used the bathroom and who isn’t drinking enough water. Oh yes, there are days I know they wish I hadn’t gone down this health path!

Below are more symptoms listed by the Mayo Clinic that can signal inadequate water intake and dehydration:

Dry, sticky mouth

Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual

Thirst

No wet diapers for three hours for infants

Few or no tears when crying

Dry skin

Headache

Constipation

Dizziness or lightheadedness

So, you might be wondering, what is an adequate amount of water to consume?

The rule of thumb is to drink one-half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you should be drinking 75 ounces of water daily.

However, you need to increase your intake if you consume caffeinated beverages (coffee and soda are the most common) and/or alcohol. In addition, some medications may lead to loss of water and you may need to drink more water to compensate for this.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking that may affect hydration.

I know that may sound like a lot of water, but there’s more than one way to increase your level of hydration.

Herbal teas can count toward your daily goal of water intake. Just remember green tea and black tea contain caffeine, which has diuretic properties and would require you to drink more water.

Juicing is a great way to increase your fluid intake.

100% fruit juices can count but I caution you to limit fruit juices if they have a high sugar content.

Soup is a great way to add liquids into your diet. A hot bowl of soup in the summer doesn’t sound appetizing, but there is always gazpacho!

Fruits and vegetables that have high content of water (oranges, grapefruit, even lettuce) can contribute to an adequate level of hydration.

Try sparkling water with fresh squeezed lemon or limes in lieu of soda.

Get a water infuser and experiment with different herbs, fruits and vegetables to flavor the water.

So, if you’re looking at a list of changes you need to make with respect to your health, I hope this one’s at the top of your list.

Bottom line: our bodies need water to function properly. With all the diet recommendations/changes you may be contemplating, this one is by far the simplest one to implement. Mostly because it’s one thing YOU have the ability to control.

No matter what steps you choose to take this year, I pray you have support from family and friends and- most importantly faith in yourself that you can do it!

Many blessings,

Pam

It’s A Beautiful Day!

7_17_19 It's MY time

It’s A Beautiful Day!

Hello,

Are you someone who jumps out of bed each morning full of gusto and ready to face the world? Or, do you automatically hit the snooze button multiple times and pull the covers over your head? I tend to be somewhere in the middle. I get out of bed with purpose, but I do need time to myself to replenish my spirit and face the day ahead of me. This helps me accept all things within and without of my control much easier. Thankfully I learned years ago just what I needed to do for myself to gear up for the day.

I have a morning routine that I’ve enjoyed since my oldest son, Henry, was born. At first it started out as a luxury. After making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I thankfully didn’t have to rush out the door each morning with my coffee in one hand and a banana in the other.

No, sir: once I switched gears and worked inside my home I could get up, stay in my cozy pajamas, grab some coffee plus the newspaper and relax quietly while I leisurely sipped at my coffee… At least until my baby woke up and made sure I heard him loud and on the baby monitor, which usually happened about two sips into my coffee!

Once I put the coffee down and picked up my son, the day no longer belonged to me. Between taking care of Henry and all the other responsibilities that came with being a parent and running a home there was always something to do.

After a few months of feeling as though I had no time for myself I decided it was up to me to make the time. So I started setting my alarm again, something I never thought I would have to do once I quit my job.

That’s right: I set my alarm so I could get up thirty minutes before my baby was scheduled to get up. I even went so far as to prepare my coffee the night before and set the timer so it would be ready when I woke up.

It’s something I still do every day and its absolute heaven for me to wake up, get out of bed and literally smell the coffee.

It makes no difference how terrible the day before may have been; when I wake up, inhale that wonderful aroma and snuggle up in my chair (or back in my bed) to read the paper all my senses come alive. Without even realizing what I’m doing, I take a deep breath, exhale and think to myself, “It’s a beautiful day!”

Back then I realized quickly that what I once thought of as a luxury was, in fact, a necessity. As most of you know, no matter how well you plan your day something can and does happen to throw you for a loop.

Giving myself time in the morning to partake in an activity that I enjoy helps reduce the levels of stress and anxiety that can build quickly throughout the day.

Never did I need this time more than after Larry died and I was completely consumed with grief. Grief was my constant companion every second of every day. I wondered many days, Will I ever feel joy, love or peace again?

Each morning when I was fully awake, the reality of what happened would hit me like a ton of bricks. But I had to get up. I had to get my kids ready for school. In auto mode, I would get out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, the paper and sit in my chair. Some days I stared at the paper, some days I read the same sentence over and over. Yet each day I carved out a little time just for ME. I gave myself an activity that had nothing to do with healing from grief, yet ironically, it gave me the ability to heal when I needed it most.

I pushed aside my grief, my worries about how I would get through the day and I just sat.

Days, months and years of carving out this time just for ME each morning has given me the ability to reclaim strength to face each day and tell myself, I CAN DO THIS!

Even today, I find I’m much more capable of handling curve balls thrown in my direction because I know I’ll always have a little piece of each day to myself. But, with a house full of kids I had to put a few ground rules in place.

Over the years my children have learned that if they wake up and I’m in my chair with a cup of coffee and reading the paper it’s “my” time and, unless it’s a pressing issue, they must respect my space.

So maybe you’re not a morning person or drink coffee or read the newspaper. My routine is what I decided was good for me. My routine works for me because it’s something I enjoy and I’ve communicated to other members of my household how important it is for me to have this time.

Of course, as a mom I struggled with the guilt of not being at the beck and call of my children 100% of the time. But it was my dear late husband, Larry, who would not only encourage me, but also at times tell me point blank: “I think you need some time alone.” Unfortunately, by the time he suggested this I was usually already pretty frazzled!

He taught me that it’s not selfish to take care of myself- quite the contrary, if I don’t it might impede my ability to be the mother I want to be. I find I’m more attentive and patient in the mornings when I’ve given myself time to replenish my spirit.

This is one wellness tool I’m happy to share – no matter what challenges you may face, find at least 30 minutes a day JUST FOR YOU.

It’s a tool I’ve been working on with my children as well. Let’s face it, these days the demands on teenagers continue to increase. Stress within this age group is increasing at rapid rates and everything from schoolwork to activities seems to be urgent.

Mind you, my kids may not drink coffee and sitting down to read the paper is not an activity they want to do. However, each one of my kids has a different activity that helps them unwind, quiet their brain and replenishes their energy so they can tackle homework or any other responsibilities they may have.

Here are some tips on creating some personal time:

Pick an activity you enjoy, for example, listening to music, walking, reading a book, meditating, journaling, drawing, taking a bath, etc. There are no hard and fast rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. My only recommendation is to find an activity that does not involve a lot of communication or interaction with others. Remember this is your time.

 

Let the members of your household know when it’s your time. Don’t be afraid to shut a door if that’s what it takes to get your space.

 

Be somewhat consistent with the time of day. Creating a routine will help to ensure that you’ll be more successful in putting aside this time that you need and using it. Be realistic: is 5:00 p.m. (when dinner and activities tend to dominate this time of day) a reasonable hour to expect personal time? Maybe it is in your home, maybe it isn’t. Only you know what your schedule looks like and the demands you face at different times of the day.

 

End with an affirmation. My affirmation- “It’s a beautiful day”- just came to me one day and I say it almost every morning. It has nothing to do with the weather outside.

 

Life is demanding and when you face grief, stress, anxiety, etc., those demands can magnify. Taking time for yourself is no longer a luxury: it’s a necessity.

I pray you find a little bit of peace each day and… Have a beautiful day!

Blessings,

Pam

 

Happy Birthday My Love

Larry's Birthday 2010

Hello,

Tomorrow, July 11th, is Larry’s birthday. He would have been 62.

This is the 9th year we haven’t been able to celebrate his birthday with him.

I wish I could tell you that I don’t cry for him anymore.

I wish I could tell you that I don’t miss his smile and big hugs.

I wish I could tell you that my heart still doesn’t ache.

What I wish most… is that he was still here.

What I have learned from grief is that time doesn’t matter. It could be ninety instead of nine years without Larry and I will still miss him. So, I pray every day for the strength to cope without my greatest love. And I do cope. And you will too.

Time doesn’t erase the memories or the love you still carry in your heart. Thank goodness! What time does is allow the pain to lessen, so as you heal, all the memories that surface are met with love instead of anger. Yes, time (and a lot of therapy) has allowed my heart to heal.

As my heart heals, I’ve learned to appreciate the struggles I’ve overcome. After facing immeasurable sadness I’ve learned to appreciate joy. After experiencing depths of anger that I didn’t know was possible, I’ve come to appreciate peace. While I still have bouts of sadness and anger that surrounds grief, I do my best to find the joy and peace that is in MY life. I try to carry that joy forward each day, including Larry’s birthday.

So even though Larry is not here physically, he is in our hearts and we WILL celebrate his birthday.

The first couple Birthday’s without him, the boys were young, and we did activities that were age appropriate. As they got older, they chose other ways to remember and honor Larry. There is no right or wrong way to remember someone. Trust your gut and trust what you feel in your heart. Below are some activities we did, and still do, to honor Larry:

  • Draw cards for him
  • Write notes to him
  • Balloon release
  • Cooked his favorite dinner
  • Share our favorite stories about him
  • Watched videos of him
  • Traveled to places he did, or places he wanted to take the boys

I pray however you choose to remember and honor your loved one, you find the peace and love you deserve.

Many Blessings,

Pam

P.S. The picture above is the last birthday we celebrated with Larry. Happy Birthday My Love!

Breathe

Breathe

 

Breathe

Hi there,

 

I’ve shared with you in previous posts that I live with mild anxiety and one of my biggest challenges is being able to capture a full, deep breath.

 

The first time I had a panic attack, I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. My chest tightened and I couldn’t catch my breath. Since my motto as a mom is, “When in doubt get it checked out”, I did go to the Emergency Room and an EKG revealed a perfectly working heart. Thank goodness!

 

In addition to the panic attacks and anxiety I experienced after Larry died, all the heavy crying I did increased my difficulty in catching a deep breath.

 

When Larry died and my whole world fell apart I cried like I never knew a person could cry. Alone in the house while the kids were at school is when the grief poured out of me. With each deep sob I would unconsciously hold my breath until I was forced to take multiple shallow breaths.

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was experiencing is called double breathing.

 

Double breathing after crying is a symptom of acute hyperventilation.

 

Basically you breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Excessive breathing (in my case the multiple shallow breaths) creates low levels of carbon dioxide in your blood. This causes many of the symptoms of hyperventilation.

 

Hyperventilation is a common side effect of crying, panic attacks or episodes of emotional stress. While double breathing after crying is normally safe if it occurs infrequently, it can be an alarming side effect for those who suffer from anxiety.

I had just suffered a great loss and my crying was daily.  Over time the constant, deep cries, taxed my body in more ways than one.

 

It was during a session with my grief counselor that I explained to her that there were moments I felt I couldn’t catch my breath.  She agreed it was common for someone to have difficulty breathing after experiencing grief. She recommended I practice deep breathing.  Together we practiced a few deep breathing techniques in her office and I went home and found more online.

 

There are many videos on the internet on how to breathe properly but after all the ones I reviewed the one I favor the most is the method practiced by Dr. Andrew Weil, world-renowned leader of integrative medicine. It’s easy and can be done anywhere and at any time you feel the need to take a deep breath. No matter if I’m at home or out I can practice this deep breathing exercise the moment I feel as though I can’t catch my breath.

 

Dr. Weil refers to this as the 4-7-8 or relaxing breath exercise.

 

Here’s how you do it:

 

  • Sit with your back straight (but not tense) and your feet on the ground.  If you’re short like me you may have to scoot to the edge of your seat to plant your feet flat.
  • Rest your arms at your side or gently on your lap.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose feeling your chest rise and mentally count to four.  Sometimes I close my eyes to really concentrate.
  • Hold your breath to a count of seven.
  • Open your mouth and exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight.

 

This is one full breath, repeat this three more times.

 

How does your body feel?  Are you calmer?  Are your breaths deeper?

 

Like my anxiety, I’m sure I’ll live with this for the rest of my life. Again, that’s ok. I’ve gained some wonderful resources along the way so it’s not something I fear will take over my life.

 

Again, if you have difficulty breathing that won’t subside or sharp pains in your chest, please seek medical attention immediately. As I mentioned in the post, Living with anxiety, your health is not something to be gambled with.

 

I pray every breath you take is a breath of fresh air.

 

Pam

Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Mexican Quinoa Bowl 2

Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Do you have any gatherings planned for this 4th of July? I guarantee if you bring this Mexican quinoa bowl everyone will be asking you for the recipe!

This is a refreshing, yet hearty dish, perfect for parties, picnics or simply to be enjoyed in the leisure of your home.

It’s packed with protein and the lime and cilantro are a refreshing change if the summer heat is weighing you down!

Chef Walt gives this hearty bowl two thumbs up!

Servings: 4-6 bowls

Ingredients:


3 cups Quinoa cooked (see cooking tips below)

1 cup cooked black beans rinsed and drained

½ cup cooked Organic corn kernels (see cooking tips below)

1 Avocado diced

¾ cup Red Onion diced

½ cup cilantro, chopped

2 limes – freshly squeezed

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Method:

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until everything is mixed well.

My kids and I have been known to eat this as soon as I make it (it tastes so good!), but I also recommend chilling it in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours to enhance all the flavors.

Cooking Tips:

When I make quinoa for this recipe I use low-sodium vegetable broth as the liquid (instead of water). It adds a little something extra to the flavor of the quinoa.

Corn is in season and using shaved kernels from fresh cooked corn on the cob in this dish really gives it a boost in flavor. Otherwise I buy frozen corn and cook it and let it cool before I add it.

Please note: Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops in the United States which is why I recommend buying organic.

ENJOY!

 

Nutritional Benefits:

Quinoa:

Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, which makes it gluten free. Botanically it’s a relative of spinach, beets and chard.

Protein-rich it has all nine essential amino acids. Contains a high amount of fiber. Contains essential minerals: magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Beans:

Beans offer the benefits of an array of vitamins and minerals, but they are mostly known as an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein.

Corn (Yellow):

Corn contains beneficial vitamins and minerals: Vitamins B1 and B5, vitamin C and E, folic acid and the minerals magnesium and phosphorus. Based on its color, corn contains beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids. Yellow corn is high in the carotenoid called lutein which can protect against heart disease and macular degeneration.

Avocado:

Avocados are a staple in my home and they are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of potassium and have an assortment of vitamins such as: B-vitamins, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. One of the key benefits the avocado provides is it contains the essential fatty acids necessary for brain function, as well as growth and development. Our body can’t make essential fatty acids so it’s imperative we get these good fats by making healthy food choices!

Onions:

There are a variety of onions to choose from. They differ in size, color and taste. Each offers a slightly different flavor. For this recipe I chose red onions for their full, robust flavor. Onions are a good source of Vitamins C and B6, are a good source of folic acid and dietary fiber.

Cilantro:

Cilantro, also known as Coriander, is an herb and a spice. In Europe and Asia cilantro has a long history of use to aide in digestion, combat inflammation and help to lower cholesterol.