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I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Where Have I Been (yet again)

If you're a regular reader, you've noticed I haven't been writing nearly as much the past few months.  It's partly due to the fact that so many things I've written come across a little angry or sarcastic and I really think the world has enough anger in it.  I also was gone for a few days at a wellness seminar.

So about this wellness thing-- throughout the past few years I've tried to lose weight. I've done Weight Watchers, the Whole 30, CrossFit- nothing crazy.  Aside from the Whole 30 nothing else made a dent.  I rarely eat fast food.  I don't drink soda.  I drink my coffee and tea black.  If I cut back fat too much, I get horribly dry skin.  As in crack & bleed skin.  Most of those "easy ways to lose weight" by cutting out simple things, didn't work very well.  I tracked my points, my calories-- everything.  The interesting part of the Whole 30 was that I lost weight by actually eating more- not less calories.

The entire time I was told my bloodwork was fine.  I needed to lower my cholesterol.  I needed to lose weight.  Obviously nothing was wrong that I couldn't control.

Except I felt horrible.  Physically tired. Everything that I did that was traditional didn't work.

Since the Whole 30 worked the best, I thought that maybe I had a food allergy.

Fortunately, I also know one of the top allergists in my town.  When I went in to see him, he came in and was shocked.  He asked me what was up.  Then he cut me off.  He's known me for years.  He's watched me struggle.  He said "It's metabolic syndrome."  Basically, my entire system was slowing down. It would eventually lead to diabetes and heart disease.

He went through every step I had taken- asked if I had increased my exercise initially.  Yes.  Then I cut calories.  Yes.  Then I had my thyroid test.  Then this... then I did that... and then he said "You probably went to Weight Watchers, watched everyone else around you lose weight and thought 'Fuck this.'"

That part made me laugh.  Because that was EXACTLY what happened.  I almost punched the guy who talked about how he cut his 7-8 daily  Mountain Dews and the weight magically fell off.

He gave me some links to studies at Stanford.  It went through what I had experienced.  A lot of doctors think it's BS to begin with.  They don't.  I read through a lot of information and came up with the following conclusion:

My cortisol levels were higher due to stress.  In fact, some of the weight lifting I had done actually made this worse.  The cortisol, when out of balance, causes belly fat.  Which creates more ghrelin and more cortisol.... a vicious cycle. 

At this point, I would like to state that I am not a physician and I am not scientist.  I am also still fat.  These are just some ideas from a bunch of studies I've read. I'm a fairly sharp cookie and I actually read the studies that were footnoted in articles-- not just the blurbs- but please, this is not advice.  It's where I'm at now.

On a business trip on the plane , as a I read through one that I had downloaded, I happened to see what the man next to me was reading-- he was giving a presentation on diabetes.  He was an endocrinologist from UCLA.  We chatted for about two hours on the topic.  Once he realized I wasn't a lunatic, he started to give me ideas and he was very excited to have met me.  Genuinely.  He also reiterated what nearly every single one of my friends who is a physician has said - what I was considering was lifestyle and patients don't want to hear from their doctors that they need to change their lifestyle.  They want a quick fix.

In my research, I kept coming up on Dr. Weil- the hippie looking doctor that's always on PBS-- and Dr. Deepak Chopra.  They have slightly different approaches, but they are both very much into holistic medicine.  Dr. Weil focuses more on the nutritional components.  Dr. Chopra's research focused on the mind-body connection.

And wow- look at that, they were doing a joint conference in March in San Diego.

So I went.  About a third of the attendees were physicians and nurses.  There were a number of cardiologists and oncologists from some pretty impressive institutions.  Probably a third were from outside of the US.  In fact, aside from the very wonderful women I met from Fresno, I was the person that lived the closest.

I had thought it would be more middle aged fat women.  Nope.  We were there, but we were, by far, the minority.

In the seminar, the single most important thing that they emphasized was meditation.

Single most.

Sitting still for 30 minutes, twice a day had the greatest impact on one's health.

Over diet.

Over exercise.


And I would like to point out that this referenced health, not weight.  Hold on to that for a moment.

Then, they discussed yoga.  Real yoga.  Not yoga fit.  Not Super Yoga.  Real, breath focused yoga.  I blogged on how happy I was to have found a real yoga studio-- so I got what they were saying.

Stretching, breathing, focusing, balance.

That was the second most important thing for health.

Then they encouraged Aryuvedic diet and nutrition.  They promoted a vegetarian diet, but did not go crazy with it.  They said if you eat natural, unprocessed foods, you will feel better and be healthier.

Not shocking.

They also talked about incorporating all the senses in your food- color, texture, taste.  Being more connected to where your food comes from.

I garden.  I get it.  If you've ever had one of my salads, I take the whole balance thing seriously.  My salads always have salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy, spicy, astringent flavors.  I hadn't really taken it to all my cooking though-- every meal should have that.  It makes sense.  It's why I like salads.

They also discussed eating 70% of what you think you want.

For exercise, you should go for a walk every night for 30 minutes.

Sports and other exercise are for the sake of sport.  But for health and wellness, walking is adequate.

Meditate, yoga, eat a plant based diet, and light, consistent exercise.

To lose weight if that's your goal, eat less, move more.  That didn't change.  But first, relax.  When you are relaxed, you probably won't overeat.  And you'll want to move.


For the past 2 weeks, I've been trying.  It's harder than you think, but it's also easier than I would have thought.  I've missed one day- and I could tell.  I go into my closet (it's big), sit on a pillow and use their techniques.  Some days I just can't.  Too many things are flying through my head- it will never be silent in my mind, but I'm too focused on everything I need to do.  But I'm working on it.

Once it's habit- hopefully in a month, I'll add more yoga.  The yoga classes almost stress me out- one more thing to add to the to do list.  I'll probably start doing it at home with broadcasts on my Kindle or YouTube.  But every day. 

I'm trying very hard to incorporate more mindful eating.  I'm doing a green smoothie for breakfast with some nuts.  Homemade soup or a salad for lunch.  I'm trying to make it my biggest meal as tey suggest.  Dinner I'm trying to balance more and make it less.  That parts hard- I'm used to a bigger dinner.

I have not done the walking thing.  First steps, first.

So in lieu of blogging or other things, I've been sitting in the dark in my closet.

And the verdict- I feel so much better.  I'm calmer. 

When I'm calmer, things go better.

When things go better, I don't want to shove food in my piehole.

We'll see.

But for now, I think I'm on the right track.

No pressure.  No goals.

Just feeling better.

And I am.

And yes, there were the patchouli smelling folks, too.

It wasn't what I thought I was going to, but it was exactly what I needed.

Because my life absolutely, positively always works like that. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Expansive World of Nothingness

A few years ago at dinner, my husband was telling me how the kids in his class would text under their desks.  He said they had this annoying ringtone that adults can't hear.  He downloaded the ringtone and our children laughed because they heard it clearly.  It irritated the dogs as well.  Neither of us heard a sound. 

(If you don't believe me, try this test with someone 10 years younger than you:  -Hearing Test)

In other words, there is an entire world of noise happening that I can't hear.  Dog whistles are a great example.  My dogs live in a much noisier, more vibrant world than in which I live.

But it's the same world, right?  Maybe.  Sorta.

In 6th grade, I remember asking the question how do we know that what I see as blue is what you see as blue?  We had a class discussion on it.  I think it started with people selecting their favorite color for a project and I was fascinated that people liked orange.  So it got me thinking and fortunately, I had a teacher who encouraged that type of thinking. 

The real answer is that no one really knows for sure.

Every image that we see is nothing more than a projection in our brain.

I've never seen my own face.

I've seen mirror images of it.  I've see photographs of it.  But aside from the very end of my nose, I've only seen images-- not my actual face.

So does it exist?

I've never seen it.

It must.

I can feel it.

Plus, you see it.

I think.

Maybe in your brain I'm actually blond?

I know in my husband's brain, I'm far more beautiful than the image I see in my mirror.  And the image I see in the mirror bears no resemblance to the photo on my driver's license.

It's perception.

Or is it reality?

As humans, we don't even see every color on the spectrum.  In fact, we see a very small portion of the spectrum-- or should I say, our brains process only a very small portion of what we "see"-- what surrounds us.  To a bat, I have a halo of radiating heat.  That is part of "me" to a bat.  You can't see that.  I certainly can't see it-- remember, I can't even see my face.

We look to the sky and see vastness of space.  But within that space are particles we can't see.   Colors we can't process.

It's not nothing.

We just can't perceive it.

We only see what it is that we need to see.

I find this fascinating.

Not only is it human nature to only find our view on topics and subjects-- we usually surround ourselves with likeminded people-- but biologically we are programmed to filter out much of the universe. 

As in 99.09% of it.

We cannot see 99.09% of the universe.

Think about that for a minute.

There are things going on all around us that we can't perceive.

Because sight is simply perception in our minds, translated by our brains into "stuff."

Our experiences are based on a tiny slice of the all that there is.

Different species have different eyes-- they see an entirely different array of colors.  They hear entirely different sounds.  They have a completely different experience.  Right next to us.

Plus, as humans we have the amazing ability to hone in on situations.  We can magically find our loved ones amidst large groups.   Everyone else blurs as if they are an extra on a movie set.

We are constantly filtering.

Can you feel your clothes?

If you were holding them, I'm sure you could.

But can you feel your shirt against your skin?  (Unless you're reading this naked... and then I think you're probably just disappointed that this was not what you meant to find when you googled "Mamas with Nothing")

Back to the topic... you probably can't feel your clothing.  Your mind has the amazing capacity to filter out the need to "feel" your clothing while it's on-- not a tag or zipper poking you-- but just wearing clothing is a dulled sense.

When my friend Kim came back to the US after being gone for awhile, I warned her that it would sound very loud for a few days, so be prepared for headaches.  When you don't understand a language you tend to filter out background noise well and focus on one speaker.  When I moved back to the US, it took a week before my brain stopped listening to every single conversation-- it would tune into "English" and then try to take it all in. She thanked me because at least she was was prepared for it.

I used to live by McCarran airport.  A plane lands every 8 minutes.  After a few days, I didn't notice.  Now I drive by my old neighborhood and wonder how I ever lived there.

What a cool system the human body is that it can do this.

That it can filter out 99.09% of the universe.

But I don't know about you, that other 99.09% will always intrigue me.  It's the magic door that begs to be opened. 

It is mind boggling to me that I exist in a world that is perceived entirely differently by a fly.  That most of the universe is off limits to my brain and my capacity to comprehend it. Why?  Is it because it's not important?  Is it like the magic show where I'm being distracted to look one way while the cool stuff is happening in another direction?  I want to know.

Even on a smaller note, my husband is color blind.  I am intrigued as to what everything must look like to him.  When I bug him about it (which is often) he simply says "It's exactly how I see it."  I will never know.

Then again, maybe that's why he thinks I'm so pretty....

Anyhow, I spent this past week at a retreat at the Chopra Center and Dr. Chopra spoke brilliantly on the topic that has always had me fascinated.  These are simply my thoughts, further inspired, by his lecture.

So if you see me starting off into the distance and you ask what I'm thinking about, when I say "nothing" and smile, now you'll know.