Monthly Archives: June 2011

4 Ways to Unclutter Your Home and Mind!

How does your house look right now? And maybe I don’t mean your whole house but do you ever have a room, a closet, or a pile that you mean to get to, sort through and organize but one day leads to another and another and nothing gets done?

I’ve done this so many times myself, and it drives me nuts. I will procrastinate and find a zillion other things to do rather then focus on the actual thing that’s bugging me.

Maybe you’ve done this too. You even chide yourself, and remind yourself that you can take control of the uncontrollable but the visual reminder gets bigger and bigger until you shut down - physically and emotionally. It’s almost like you tell yourself if you don’t fuss about it, and don’t acknowledge the mess, no one else will and it won‘t matter.

But it doesn’t always work that way. When our “visual space” gets cluttered it can have a profound effect on how we function, and even how we feel about ourselves.

Usually what happens is there becomes so much “stuff” that you don’t know where to begin, and so the mess stays there - mocking you about your inability to get your life together.  It can feel downright depressing to individuals and a messy space can be overwhelming and frustrating to a point that you do nothing.

Seems ridiculous - doesn’t it!

Let me tell you though, those feelings are perfectly normal.  Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is move forward because that requires action on your part and NO ONE ELSE CAN DO IT FOR YOU. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would!!

Here are some good reminders about how you can start to get your life organized:

#1: Make a plan. Do not tell yourself you’re going to clean the whole house….because the reality is, you’re just not going to. Be very literal about what you will do. For example - “I will start Tuesday after work on the kitchen table, and by the weekend I will have everything on the table organized, thrown away, given away, or put-away in it’s proper place.”

Tackle one area of clutter at a time. Give yourself a time limit and work within those constraints.

#2: Sometimes it's really, really helpful to get someone else to work along side of you when you want to tackle a spot in your home.  When something gets so overwhelming you literally don’t know where to begin and working with someone else can keep you on task.  Some people just don’t know how to get their things organized but a friend, family member, (or professional organizer) can be a godsend. Use them!

#3: If you haven’t seen it, touched it, or used it in the last year, will you really miss it? Consider saying good-bye to some of your stuff.  Give it to Goodwill or some other organization and let someone else enjoy it.

#4: Have a space or place for everything and every time you use it - put it back.  After years of doing this, I finally "get it" and besides, it's easier to find things that way too! It's amazing how family members will follow your lead. Yes, it might take a few reminders when they forget, but it is SO WORTH IT.

The end result - surprisingly - is that you feel more in control, and somehow end up feeling better about yourself and really good about your clean, organized space!!

Recipe for Starting Day Off Right!

Combine the following to start your day off right:
5 mile stretch of road with very little cars and a lot of hills
1 gorgeous cloud-less 70 degree day
30 rock-n-roll songs from the 70’s (did we really listen to that - oh well, had a beat, kept me walkin’)
2 beautiful butterflies fluttering away in front of me
2 healthy legs
1 dose of healthy humor when garden snake crosses your path in front of you

So I had some time this morning and took a walk. Got me thinking, wishing, that every day could be like this.  It was just one of those splendid days in West Michigan where you think it can’t get any better.

If you don’t have the day off, take the time to “move along” in whatever capacity you can. I happen to work in a building with long hallways, and some days I have to consciously and purposely make myself take a walk.  Granted, it’s not as exciting as walking outside but if it’s too hot, humid, rainy, or you’re just stuck inside, take advantage of any little thing you can to get moving.

And then after work, get outside for 15, 30, 60 or however many minutes you can squeeze out and just enjoy THIS DAY.

Struggling with Depression and Dieting

The value of working through a situation, problem, or issue with someone else sometimes is critical to kick-starting a weight-loss goal, or continuing with a weight loss goal - especially if you feel like you're struggling!

The following highlights what researchers discovered about combining your weight-loss efforts with the support of someone else:

If you're depressed, getting your mood up may help you move the needle on your scale DOWN!

Researchers divided 203 heavy women into two groups; half focused only on dropping pounds, while the other half combined counseling with weight -loss efforts.

After six months, all slimmed down, but those whose spirits lifted lost nine pounds, compared with only four or two, respectively, for those whose mood remained unchanged or worsened.  (Source: Group Health Research Institute, Seattle. Good Housekeeping July 2011)

Are You Addicted to Caffeine?

Okay, bare with me, I know today's post is long but it's on the heels of yesterdays post of what research studies are finding out about what is in our diet drinks.  This got me thinking about the addictive properties of caffeine in our brains and how the chemicals we ingest effect us psychologically and physiologically.   Betty Kovacs (who is a Registered Dietitian) contributes on and I thought you might find part of her article helpful  - read on.

Have you ever said that you can't function until you r morning cup of coffee? Do you find yourself reaching for caffeinated coffee, tea, or soda when you are feeling lethargic? Could it be that you are addicted to caffeine? That all depends on whom you ask.

Whether we consume caffeine for pleasure or purpose is a controversial topic. Those opposed to caffeine being addictive claim that we consume it for the pleasure of the product, while those who believe that it is addictive claim that we consume it for the purpose of satisfying our craving for it.

Psychiatric diagnoses are categorized by a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). This manual covers all mental-health disorders for both children and adults. The DSM-IV does not classify substances as addictive but instead sets the criteria for substance dependence, including: (1) tolerance; (2) substance-specific withdrawal syndrome; (3) substance often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than expected; (4) persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use; (5) a great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of the substance; (6) important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of the substance; and/or (7) use continued despite knowledge of a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.

In order for a user of a substance to be considered dependent upon it, the substance needs to meet at least three of the above criteria. It is clear that people can be dependent on caffeine based on these criteria.

Those who disagree with the idea that people can be dependent on caffeine point to the fact that studies do not show that 100% of people who consume caffeine experience symptoms of withdrawal or dependence. They also argue that people can often tell when caffeine is present by taste difference, so results of the studies are altered by that awareness. Instead of the addiction aspect they believe that the pleasurable aroma, taste, and social aspects of coffee are the reasons for consumption.

I don't know if we need to classify caffeine as addictive or something that you can be dependent on. I think that we need to be educated about the pros and cons of it in our diets and be aware of how our own body reacts to it. There is no doubt that there are withdrawal symptoms that you can experience. These symptoms include headache, tiredness/fatigue,   decreased energy/activeness, decreased alertness/attentiveness, drowsiness/sleepiness, decreased contentedness/well-being, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and felling muzzy/foggy/not clearheaded. The onset of withdrawal symptoms typically begins 12-24 hours after abstinence, with the peak intensity occurring at 20-51 hours. The withdrawal symptoms last for a range of two to nine days. This is a considerable amount of time that makes it easy to understand why people would have a hard time cutting caffeine from their diet.

There is no disputing the fact that caffeine "addiction" is not as intense or dangerous as drug addictions. You may feel "addicted" or dependent on it and it can be dangerous to overdo it. You can experiment and see how you feel with and without low to moderate amounts of caffeine. Some people do not feel anything when they consume caffeine and others don't feel anything when they stop consuming it.

For those who do feel the withdrawal symptoms it is best to slowly decrease your intake. Just as your body got used to the amount that you are consuming it will get used to less or none at all. All of this information is based on research done on adults. We can't say for sure that caffeine will have the same effect on children and adolescents without the proper research.

Dangers of Diet Pop

Wow - you've got to see this. Take 4:12 minutes of your day today and check this out. I understand the psychology behind the concept of losing weight (and keeping it off), and how food can be a psychological addiction. But sometimes we're fighting other "battles" that we're not aware of - like what's IN our foods and drinks and how that affects our brain chemistry. This has good research information about diet drinks and how they can make us GAIN WEIGHT - what the heck is that about!! So much to think about.....but this is very eye-opening for me, hope it is for you too!

Weekly Weight Loss Wisdom

I can always see a powerful message in some quotes, and especially a powerful message as it relates to the on-going, daily struggle of watching your weight. So I give you the following quote from Wayne Dyer, who said.....

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice.

Weight Loss Humor

I got the following from one of my readers (thanks Brenda)....hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I finally figured out why I am so full-figured!  As I was conditioning my hair in the shower this morning, I took time to read my shampoo bottle.  I am in shock!  The shampoo I use in the shower -- that runs down my entire body – says  "for extra volume and body"!  Seriously, why have I not noticed this before?
Tomorrow I am going to start using dish soap! It says right on the bottle, "dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove".   It pays to read the labels girlfriends!

3 Cheers for Vacations!

I’m one of those lucky ones that typically come back from vacations a few pounds lighter.  My delicate stomach tends to act up even more while traveling so we have a tendency to NOT hit the fancy restaurants or “eat along the way” as the food smells hit your senses.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t kill me not to partake, but in the end it’s not worth it to me to look for restrooms all along the way - and my husband saves a boatload of money by not splurging on meals for me. Although, let me make this clear, he does a good job in splurging me with other things! He’s a good guy, I must say. So good for me, I’m coming back a few pounds lighter - I’ll take that.

I am still amazed however that we averaged walking 8 miles a day, and I thought that once I got home (which I am now) that there would be no excuse for at least walking 5 miles - after all, it’s 3 miles less and I could certainly do that!

But the day started out with a million things to do and while I was active it was nothing near the activity I had for this past week. And then to my amusement I went out to water the flowers and thought to myself it’s way too hot and I hurried to get done so I could get back inside to the coolness.

That was two excuses - too hot and a million things to do. Isn’t it amazing how we can find excuses to NOT exercise.  My husband keeps telling me that even though it’s the same temperature here as it was in our vacation spot, the humidity is the killer.  Yeah, I thought, it’s too humid. Excuse number three.  Then daughter called and wondered if I wanted to play tennis, and off I went, with a million things to do on a hot, humid day and had a rousing game of tennis.

In spite of the hassles of vacations (those hassles are few and far between for me) they are rewarding in that they break the monotony of every day life. I was definitely in a rut before I left and I feel better, refreshed now.  I do realize a lot of people can’t go thousand of miles to get rejuvenated but you can take a day or two off to do whatever you want with whomever you want - or do absolutely nothing with just yourself.

The point is (that sometimes) in order to value and reinvigorate your mental, spiritual, and physical health, you have to shake it up every now and then.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes – Please!

What is it about vacations that you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do at home. As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, my husband and I set off for Nevada and Arizona to explore all that this country has to offer - and boy, are we taking advantage of that.  I’ve been wearing my pedometer all week and am AMAZED at how many miles we are walking per day.

We found this beautiful area North of Las Vegas called Mt. Charleston. The elevation was high and the temperatures were low and we went all over that mountain. In fact, we walked 8 miles! How does that happen?!? My husband and I were laughing about the thought of us being at home and saying to each other “…let’s take a walk, in fact, let’s walk 8 miles…”  - it would never happen, and yet walking has come so easy this week. Back home you have your little ol’ route all planned out, a timeframe to stick to, and you don’t detour too far from the schedule. On vacation however the sites and sounds are sensory overload and your routine-of-life is thrown off, so you find yourself doing….things you wouldn’t normally do.

With some health and work issues this winter it was easy to find myself being down, slightly depressed, and quite frankly just going through “life’s motion’s”.  Then to top it off, Michigan hasn’t quite had the stellar Spring we were all looking forward to get us out of the dark days of Winter.  But with the beginning of June it seems I have found my strength this week, along with the sunshine. Have I ever mentioned how ‘healing’ the sun can be for you physically, mentally and spiritually - it’s like free medication. Oh yes…I do believe I’ve mentioned the benefits of Vitamin D and the gorgeous sunshine a time or two before.  (After 10-15 minutes though put on your sunscreen - can’t forget to mention that).

We have more days ahead of us with lots of walking planned - after all, we are in Vegas - so I hope to log in many more miles on my pedometer.

Physical activity, sunshine, and a week with husband is just what the doctor ordered. Oh, and a good pedometer!!