This Past Year and Stress Management Dos and Don’ts

Did you know stress can build up over time? Like plaque on teeth???? *gasp*

Yeah, well, this past year has taught me the dangers of not sticking to a regular stress management routine, much like not brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can lead to some pain-filled moments. Oh, like after two months of non-stop road trips back and forth to my parents, to yoga continuing ed workshops, certification classes, and the daily running around of family life I collapsed in a heap last February with the dreaded flu.

I’d run over my de-stressing routine and left it on the side of the highway like roadkill.

While I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself, I got angry. What the fudge??? Why meeeee? Wah wah wah. Pffft. So pathetic. But when I was done being a baby, it became clear what I had done…or to be more accurate what I wasn’t doing: taking care of myself.

According to WebMD, 75 to 90 percent of doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. And while stress won’t directly cause you to come down with the flu, it will weaken your immune system response, which will, in turn, make it easier for the flu virus to take hold.

Basically, I’d let years of a regular routine get derailed when the unthinkable happened: my mom was diagnosed out of the clear blue sky with Stage IV breast cancer. Stage IV. Out of the blue! That’s a big deal and I’m not beating myself up over getting derailed, really. What I am doing is pointing out that no matter how solid you think you’re healthy routines are, there are waves big enough to knock you off your feet.

We’re not tsunami-proof, no matter what.

After years of healthy eating, exercise, yoga, and meditation, my built-in routines were waylaid by the big C word. 15 years of steady growth and work, weight loss and maintenance–wiped out. Bottom line: healthy habits are not immune to the dreaded stressors of life.

While they do tend to make you more resilient, be careful about thinking you’ve got it all figured out. I’m here to tell you that is not your best defense.

What I learned is this: I’m human. Even though I knew exactly how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I succumbed to the baser human desire for comfort. I dined on comfort foods I hadn’t turned to in years. I ignored the urge for my regular bedtime routine in favor of staying up late watching movies and zoning out. Don’t do that. At least, not for as long as I did.

I ran around like crazy trying to keep up with my commitments even though that little voice inside my head was crying “Mercy!”. I should have canceled some things. I should have, but I didn’t. Don’t do that.

And it took a raging case of the flu to pull my head out of my arse. But did I learn my lesson then? OH no.

It wasn’t until June at my regular checkup when I discovered I’d gained 15 lbs and my cholesterol was high that I really woke up. Mother bleeper! What the hell????? What had I done to myself?

So I’ve learned what not to do: don’t let one night of pizza and wine and Ho-hos turn into a long, dark pig-out fest of the soul. Don’t run yourself ragged; don’t skip healthy meals; and don’t stay up all night, or at least don’t make it any harder for yourself to get the rest you need.

 Do allow yourself treats once in awhile, but reinforce healthy eating habits by keeping herbal teas, and other healthy but comforting treats around for those times when you need something comforting but don’t want to overindulge. But don’t beat yourself up if nothing but warm chocolate chip cookies will do. It’s okay.

Don’t rely on caffeine and energy drinks to keep you going. You’re living on borrowed time, my dear. Have a cup of coffee in the morning, but not a pot. Those energy drinks and too much coffee have a way of depleting your reserves while making you think they’re refueling you.

Do take breaks throughout the day. No matter how busy you are, there’s time for a few minutes sitting still drinking a glass of cold water, maybe with a drop of Wild Orange or Peppermint essential oil for that pick me up effect.

Do cancel plans. Seriously, when there’s a crisis in your life, people will understand. Or not. But it doesn’t matter. What matters most is your health and sanity. Clear your calendar and make more time for the much-needed rest and recuperation you need.

Do keep healthy ingredients on hand for quick meals and nourishing drinks like a frozen fruit and protein powder smoothie or the Trim Healthy Mama’s Good Girl Moonshine. These are my favorites, but it doesn’t matter what recipes they are as long as you love them and they are good for you.

Do use aromatherapy. Diffuse some Frankincense, lavender, lemon, or any peaceful blend to help your mind and body settle down. Essential oils, when used aromatically, have a direct link to the amygdala, the place where emotions are processed, especially fear. This is where the fight or flight response originates. And what is stress? You guessed it: the triggering of the flight or fight response.

Do maintain a healthy bedtime routine. Diffuse Cedarwood and Vetiver in your bedroom to prime your body for rest. Whether you actually fall asleep or not, helping your mind calm down will help.

My bedtime diffuser blend:

  • 1 drop Cedarwood
  • 1 drop Wild Orange
  • 1 drop Vetiver
  • 2 drops Breathe

Some people use Lavender as well to help promote a restful night’s sleep.

Some other destressing activities I’ve gotten back into: exercise, daily short yoga routines (as short as 5 minutes), going for walks, knitting, reading, daily mediation (even 60 seconds in a pinch helps), and downtime with friends and family. Much downtown with friends and family.

I feel better AND I’ve lost 10 lbs.

And a few words on wine or any alcohol as a way to de-stress: use it sparingly and time it right. Now, if you follow me on Facebook, you know I love me some wine. I will have a glass a couple nights a week, but I have learned some valuable things like don’t drink it right before you go to bed. Best case scenario: be done drinking your wine 3-4 hours before bedtime.

Why? Because if you drink it too close to bedtime, you may fall asleep quicker, but you will wake up around 3 am feeling pretty crappy, maybe even anxious like me. Which kind of puts the kabash on the whole relaxing and detressing thing, right? Why does that happen? Blood sugar crash. Alcohol is a sugar, and one that is quickly abosorbed into the bloodstream. And it can also be processed just as quickly, leaving you suddenly very low on blood sugar.

Your body respons to low blood sugar by cranking up the adrenals. Not exaclty what we want when we want to destress.

Most importantly, I’m taking a few minutes every day to something fun, healthy, comforting, and/or soothing. It’s taken me months, but I’m finally on track, again.

And wiser than I was before all this happened.

Life is meant to be enjoyed.

And it doesn’t matter how bad the situation is, a little fun and relaxation is always, always a good idea.

Like brushing your teeth.

Much love and light!

 

 

What I’ve Been Up To and THM (E) Banana Bread

Good morning from My Road! And yes, it is my road. That’s the name the previous owner gave our long driveway, at any rate, and the county sanctioned it with a private road sign. My Road. And yes, it’s been stolen a couple of times.

You may have noticed I’ve been MIA and mostly it’s been because of family health issues and needing to focus on that. But it’s also been because I’ve been digesting my successes and failures over the last 5 years. I’m not as scared of failure as I once was, but it still takes me some time to acknowledge when I’ve not done so well and even longer to figure out how to take that lesson and use it to my advantage going forward.

Which is why I’ve been away for so long: deciding what to focus on and what to do next. And I’ve come up with some interesting ideas on the matter.

So first off, I’ve decided to consolidate all my blogging and interests onto my website, instead of having everything spread around. It’ll be easier to keep up with and you’ll get a better picture of who I am and what I have to offer, why I blog, and all that jazz. You know I’m an author, but did you also know I’m a reformed fitness professional, healthy eating nerd, and an essential oil user?

Or that I’m a registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, an Emotions Mentor, and that I read the Tarot? Did you know I hike the Appalachian Trail with my hubs? And that I believe the Universe conspires to help adventurers? Well, I am, I do, I did, and I do.

I’ve decided to consolidate all these aspects of myself and what I am passionate about and see how it all goes. I’m pretty confident you’re going to enjoy what develops over the next few months. So make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter HERE and you won’t miss a single post. I promise. 🙂

And now for the promised banana bread recipe. One of the things I’m really in to is creative cooking and baking. Someitmes, I make super healthy, super good for you stuff, and sometimes I make just really yummy fun food. Everythign in moderation, including moderation.

Soooo…I experimented in the kitchen with a new, Trim Healthy Mama friendly banana bread recipe. It turned out exceptionally well and I wanted to share. We discovered an oozie banana in the fruit bowl last night and I decided that the remaining three bananas needed to be made into banana bread asap. But, as some of you may know, I have been avoiding sugar the last few months and didn’t want to load this one up with the sweet stuff. Thus, I turned to the Trim Healthy Mama groupies on Pinterest.

I found a lot of recipes, but none of them were exactly what I had in mind or I was missing too many ingredients or I knew from past experiences I wouldn’t like the outcome. For example, if I see a recipe with lots of egg whites and very little flour, I know I”m going to get something very eggy and soufle-like. Not my thing. So I decided to take a stab at creating my own recipe.

My family is almost fully converted and accustomed to my sugar alternatives: honey, coconut palm sugar, Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol. Almost. They’re fine with the first two, but have things to say about the last three. I don’t blame them. It takes awhile to adjust the taste buds, and sometimes Stevia tastes bitter if you’re not careful about which brand you buy and how much you use. I learned from the Trim Healthy Mamas that when it comes to Stevia, a little “doonk” will do you.

A few of things before I give you the recipe:

  1. I used a peeled and cored apple instead of applesauce. This may have affected the moistness BUT I don’t think so. It seems plenty moist to me. Just wanted you to know before you try this recipe. (for my friend Amanda, who hates the word moist)
  2. Many of the recipes I came across used all oat flour, but I wanted to incorporate some coconut flour for the fiber content. Did you know oat flour has 2.5 g of fiber per 1/3 cup while coconut flour has 7 g per 2 tablespoons? That’s pretty impressive.
  3. I use a diy version of the Trim Healthy Mama’s Gentle Sweet. The recipe can be found at Taryn’s Joy Filled Eats blog HERE. If you’d rather use white table sugar, go for it, but you’ll need to adjust the amount. HERE is a handy dandy conversion chart.
  4. Okay, so keep in mind I use a Ninja blender/food processor set–the one with the motor that sits on top–to mix up the ingredients. Why? It’s super easy and fast, and with my Ninja blender the clean up is stupid simple. And I need stupid simple when it comes to cleaning up.
  5. If you have no idea who this Trim Healthy Mama is, go check out their website HERE. And for those of you who are already familiar, this recipe is an E or Energizing. I know the Mamas warn about bananas spiking your blood sugar, but I think the fiber is high enough and if you’re wise about your portion size, you should be fine.
  6. If you don’t have oat flour on hand, grind up some rolled oats. Same thing, basically. And if you want this recipe to be 100% gluten free, make sure your oats are designated gluten-free. Even if they’re not, the gluten in oats is not all that much.
  7. I use Himalayan salt for its mineral content, but probably any salt would do in a pinch. 😉

Enough with all that, let’s get on with the goodies…

Melissa’s THM Friendly Banana Bread (E)

Ingredients:

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup egg whites or 3 egg whites
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 Greek yogurt, 0% fat
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour or grinded oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3 Tbs Chia seeds
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Himlayan salt
  • Coconut oil (to grease the bread pan)
  • or Parchment paper (for easy bread removal)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Break up the peeled bananas into the blender. Add the apple chunks, egg whites, yogurt, and vanilla extra. Blend just long enough to mix ingredients. Don’t worry if the apples are chunky at this point. By the time you’re done mixing everything they should be fine.

Add the dry ingredients and blend just long enough to incorporate all ingredients. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender a couple times. Grease the bread pan or line with parchment paper before pouring the batter into the band.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown.

Transfer from pan to cooling rack.

1/6 of a loaf is one serving.

I’m having a slice right now with my tea as I type this up. Sooooo good.

That’s about all for now, my friends.

Much love and light until next time! <3

Spring Into Books 2016 Giveaway

It’s giveaway time again and this one is a doozy! A grand prize of $180 PayPal cash, as well as tons of ebooks, audio books, gift cards, swag, and paperbacks.

There’s only 17 days left to enter so click click click away and enter as many times as you like. Grab a glass of wine while you’re at it and take your time browsing through the entries to check out new-to-you authors and maybe some old favorites.

Good luck and happy clicking!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome to my new website!

People dancingIt’s been a long time in the making, but I finally have my new website up and running! Woot! Please take a moment to poke around and see what’s new. My old site was actually a blog site that had reached its capacity. It still exists as www.melissalummis.blogspot.com for the time being, if you want to see any old posts. I will be updating it in the future to a whole new blog for a whole new purpose. I’ll post more on that later.

In the meantime, take a stroll around my new website and let me know what you think.

Peace out.