Tag Archives: 21.5.800

health care reform- in your life

23 Jun

I don’t normally talk much about my day job, but I was at a seminar this morning that I thought was so well-timed and dovetails so nicely with the blog and things we talk about here from time to time, I can’t resist.

I work in Human Resources (and I’m a newly minted PHR, as of Sunday, for anyone who knows what that means!) and so Health Care Reform is a major item on the forefront of everyone’s minds. At this seminar we talked about the small amount of details that have been clarified by the government and what to expect in the next few years as this plan rolls out.

And… here comes the soap box. 🙂

I don’t want to get into politics on here, although I’m sure few of my views would come as a surprise, but what I will say is that the fact that we are in dire need of health care reform should not be any sort of radical idea at this point.

I’m not saying I’m in love with the proposed plan. But it’s a start. What we actually see in 2014 could look completely different that what we’re hearing about, but this needs to be a priority. And it needs to start with you.

How is it that the US spends so much on health care, yet we get the least for our money? Do you know someone who goes to the doctor every time they have a cough, rather than waiting it out and eating saltines and ginger ale? How about people who manuever elective surgeries by fabricating webs of lies or at least exaggerating symptoms to get their way? And the drugs- we turn to the pill bottle before we both to examine our lifestyles and eating habits. Not that you can really trust that many doctors to know about nutrition, as nutrition courses are a minimal, if at all measurable, part of most physician’s training courses in this country. I’m not trying to say that the country is full of abusers, but at the same time, these sorts of things make premiums go up, make doctors stuff more patients into less time and make people dependent on drugs that are more likely to kill them than the problem they are seeking respite from will!

One of my favorite restaurants in Portland, Proper Eats, has a motto: “You look like sh*t and you feel like sh*t because you eat sh*t. Eat Proper.” And it’s true. It’s the old addage- garbage in, garbage out. As our lives become more filled with chemicals and processed foods and we become more sedentary, so many of our ailments are of our own causing. Many things we think of as common place things, like heart disease or Type II diabetes, used to be considered diseases of affluence- meaning that only the rich could afford to eat such crap. 🙂 Now processed food is king (just look at the configuration of a grocery store, with the perishable, fresh foods forming a thin perimeter around the endless aisles of pre-packaged “food”). And we turn to pills we see on TV ads (with the most ridiculously common symptoms and terrifying side effects) to “cure” us.

We need more accountability. Things happen, and of course people need medical care and some things can’t be managed or avoided by diet and exercise alone. I’m not trying to downplay serious medical conditions, because of course they happen and can’t always be helped. But I know a good handful of people who would love to tell you their stories about battling (and winning) against disease through diet and exercise.

We have a greater influence on our own health and well-being that we give ourselves credit for- or hold ourselves accountable for. What can you do to take better care of yourself? How can you be proactive and preventative rather than falling victim to something that maybe didn’t have to happen? We’re not invincible, but we’re far more powerful than we realize. This doesn’t mean no more cookies or indulgences- it means smart choices and balance. And I think we could all use a little more of that.

So this is my challenge to you- what are you doing to bring Health Care Reform into your life?

Here’s what I’m doing:

Couch 2 5k a running program for non-runners. It gets you up and moving, builds stamina, increases heart and lung capacity and is good, solid exercise. There are tons of free podcasts on iTunes that provide music and cues to help you on your runs.

My regular yoga practice- good for my physical and mental health.

Continually cleaning up my diet. Eating more whole foods (which, contrary to popular belief, is not more expensive than junk food). More on this soon.

What will you do?


stepping into my own…

10 Jun

Today I taught my first yoga class. It was simultaneously awesome and terrifying.

We have a Wellness Program at my work that, like many, was well intentioned but has had minimal participation. I have been managing some other parts of it that run relatively well, head the committee and lead meetings, but it just hasn’t had the level of excitement and involvement in it that it deserved. Being that I love nutrition and approaching the body holistically, I was a natural fit to become its cheerleader. So when I got an overwhelming response that people were interested in yoga, I jumped on it.

At first I hoped that no one would sign up. Then, I could say that I tried, I put it out there, it failed and it wasn’t my fault. Of course, that was my cowardice talking and when I let it (too often), the cowardice wins.

So as people began to RSVP for the class, I started to progressively freak out. But then I was accountable to people, so there was no turning back, just preparation.

I have been practicing yoga for a long time now. So long it seems kind of far off and hazy. My first exposure to yoga was in “seventeen” magazine when I was in middle school. I was young and physically resilient. I easily popped up into full wheel based on that article, dug it, and was hooked. But, like many things that are good for us, I would practice of and on again for years to come until I graduated from high school and spent a bit of time in college. Then it really started to mesh, leading me to practice more often and taking us down the path to becoming vegetarian (and a year later, vegan). And when I met my teacher here in Portland, it all came together and now it’s been nearly 4 years of practicing with her and my own home practice= bliss. Over the past few years the idea of attending a teacher training has come up a couple of times, but it just didn’t seem… possible. I LOVE my practice and yoga and learning more about it and it’s many limbs, traditions and philosophies, but I just felt so humbled by my studentship. It seemed out of reach.

The more I study and learn though, the more I realize that being aware that I am still a student would actually be a benefit as a teacher. We are all students of everything in life. We’ll never be the perfect know-it-alls of anything, and that’s the brilliance of the whole thing. There is always more to be learned, deepened and built upon.

For my first class, I selected a theme. My theme was expectations. We all have expectations of what things will be a like. A date. A family event. A conversation. A big project at work. Teaching your first yoga class. And if you get so caught up in your expectations, you lose sight of what actually happens. Rather, you compare what did or didn’t happen or was said or what you thought you could do and you waste your time comparing the reality to the ideal. We sacrifice too much to what we thought should be, rather an appreciating what is.

How can you let go of your expectations to participate more fully in your life? How can you worry less about what you anticipate you can or can’t do and appreciate what you are capable of, become comfortable with where you are and enjoying that sweet spot?

I prepared for my class, developed a series of sequences and practiced them at home a couple of times. I wrote out the sequences to keep mat side so I wouldn’t have to stress out my poor brain trying to desperately recall what I’d planned next. I brought my favorite yoga pants and geared up for action.

No face-plants, ambulance calls or CPR performances were needed. We practiced and played and laughed. My sequences fell short, time-wise, and I had to think on my feet (literally) and come up with another sequence, which I did with relative ease. And at the end I was thanked by 7 happy faces and I was able to float home, having been able to actually practice what I preached and stay present in the moment.

Yoga FTW!

pulling from april’s archives…

9 Jun

Okay, so I’m not going to get 800 words in tonight. After work I had my weekly study group with a friend and then I just ran through my sequences for my yoga class tomorrow night and I need to get a good night’s sleep before an early morning meeting. Whew! The weeks just roll on by… it’s crazy how fast time goes.

So rather than bore you with blathering, here are some pictures of our nephew’s birthday cake from this year. You may remember that last year I went with a Beatles theme. This year was all about Thomas the Tank Engine.

First, we start with a naked 1/2 sheet cake, carefully cut into the number 2. This is always Jim’s favorite part. “When will there be scraps to eat?”

Naked cakes are indecent. Put some frosting on! I utilized some of the scraps (sorry Jim!) to build Mt. Rainier.

Woot, woot! Percy exits the tunnel, on his way to stop #2. My cream cheeze frosting started to get a little droopy after a day and half of hanging out, but that didn’t make it any less tasty…

“Wait a minute… this is all the cake I get?”

“I think you people are holding out on me…”

off the beaten path

8 Jun

So, 95% of this blog normally revolves around food.

Okay, 80% food. 15% cats. 5% miscellany. That 5% is going to expand a bit.

I am participating in 21.5.800, which is 21 days during which folks all over the internet will be practicing yoga 5 times a week and writing 800 words per day. About anything under the sun. Why am I doing this? For the discipline and accountability. Because I’m a sucker for projects. And because it sounds fun! 800 words a day will be a challenge, if for no other reason than setting the time aside to make it happen.

So, I have no idea what will be striking my fancy over the next 21 days, but I’m pretty sure that the food will only be part of the 800 words. You might be learning some new things about me, if you are so inclined. Perhaps this will open up a new dialogue and I’ll continue with some non-food posts after this project. I have been contemplating creating a non-food blog for awhile now, but have been uncertain if I would be able to sustain it. New and fun stuff in nom! nom! nom! land! And if you come just for the food, no worries. There will still be tons of it, just bear with me and my deviations.

So, my yoga for the day was 50 minutes of vinyasa, practicing my own talk-through, as I am teaching my first yoga class this Thursday through our Wellness program at work. Eep! I’m feeling pretty good, though. We shall see.

I recently added a “namaste” sticker to my car. Unlike most stickers, I did not apply it to my bumper or my back window. It is on the inside of my windshield, at the top of it near the visor, facing me.

For those of you whose only exposure to the phrase “namaste” has been through the show LOST, let me provide a little back story for you. Namaste is a common greeting, going back to ancient Sanskrit, which roughly means “the divine in me recognizes and respects the divine in you.”

Oh no. She’s getting a metaphysical on us. I just came for the cupcakes!

It’s okay. 🙂 I’m not here to wax poetic on the universe and yogic philosophy or my own, ever-changing, views on religion and spirituality. Let’s take namaste back to it’s most basic form: respect.

Total disclosure here- I do not like to drive. Blah. But, I don’t work close-in in Portland. I have to cross the dreaded river into Washington to get to work each day, so it’s a necessary evil.

Due to my level of displeasure with this particular activity and surrounding circumstances, I can be a not-so-nice person when driving. Like, make-your-mother-blush, (well, maybe not my mother), who-is-this-foul-mouthed-freak unpleasant.

Let’s face it, none of us want to be in traffic. And we all have moments when we are less-than-perfect drivers. We get distracted, change the radio station, space out, or rubberneck (don’t judge, we’ve all been guilty at one point or another!). Sure, there are some people who are bad drivers or are careless, certainly, but as a whole we all have the same goal. Put in a day’s work to provide for ourselves, our family, and get on to our time, our sacred off-work time to do the things that we cherish and anticipate, even if it’s as simple as going home to veg in front of the telly with the family, to go the gym, the bookstore, meeting friends for drinks, whatever.

Yet, when someone is doddling along and I can’t pass them, or they change lanes in front of me without signaling, I can have a hard time keeping my blood from boiling. I want to get home, see my husband, kiss my kitties and start dinner, dangit! My new mindset for driving is to remember the following:

1. I don’t know who this person is. I don’t know what they are going through, what their day was like or what they are going home to. Maybe they had a great day and are just being flaky. But maybe they have recently been given some bad news, lost a loved one or are experiencing some health problems. Maybe they are in a rush because they have a sick child at home. Maybe they are distracted because they are worrying about a loved one. A little compassion goes a long way.

2. While I may dislike driving, having been the victim of several car accidents, I am grateful for my ability to drive, my car, and my overall health. Those are things that can be taken for granted and are not givens for everyone.

So now when I drive and I’m ticked off, rather than mumbling a long sting of curse words that ultimately only impact me, I have my reminder to center myself looking me straight in the face and I try to send some good vibes, mojo, love, blessings, whatever, to that person and instead I whisper, “Namaste.”