Quiz for you: Who among us is the most authentic and innocent of all?
These are two little girls we came across this past month, that are sisters. Big sis is taking care of the little one:
They haven’t yet learned to be anything but real with their responses, even if sometimes it really hurts us! They don’t know how to play that “little white lie” human game yet! The other side of that authentic response though, is realism. Pretense is like a foreign language to them! Soooo, the old adage “what you see, is what you get” with their response is actually really refreshing in this sometimes jaded world of ours!
So what can we learn about improving our health from our authentic little people?
This observation comes on the heels of my uncommon activity this past month. Usually in February, I hunker down and get my taxes prepared but instead, fate had me doing other things. At the beginning of the month I travelled with my husband for a Washington D.C rural hospital advocacy trip then I was off to Fort Leonard Wood to babysit our grandchild Evie for 5 days, while my daughter and son-in-law went on a much needed vacation and finally I ended up with my husband in Tampa, Florida at his Capstone conference for Executive Leadership.
The D.C. rural hospital advocacy trip outlined the many tough challenges rural communities and hospitals now face:
And American Coronovirus concerns were front and center on our Tampa trip:
The trip I absolutely enjoyed the most, was my sojourn to Fort Leonard Wood to take care of our granddaughter Evie! Here’s Randy spending some time just being Grandpa!:
Of course you could say I’m a little bit bias, and you’d be right!
HOWEVER, there’s more to it than that!!
I uncovered some pearls of health wisdom that Evie unwittingly taught me and I’d like to share them with you…
I. “No Mam” boundaries that don’t turn into “baggage”-Evie, now at the age of 13 months:
understands when she’s doing something that is not okay. Her mom corrects her and says, “No Mam”, and surprisingly, she backs off the bad behavior (as of now, that might change in the future (LOL)! So when I was watching Evie and she was on the verge of touching some of her Mommy’s pretty things that were a no-no, I said, “No Mam”, and she complied! What was telling to me was the behavior right after my correction, she simply went on to another activity, seemingly forgetting she ever wanted her Mom’s forbidden treasures. But also note, there weren’t many no-no items around to choose from. They’d been eliminated from Evie’s grip, so having to say no wasn’t a constant process.
What we can learn–How many of us set up so many boundaries, a/k/a restrictions for ourselves that we can’t possibly follow through with them and have this terrible feeling of guilt or remorse if we don’t? We have so many “no’s” we’ve independently erected for ourselves, we can’t possibly rebound quickly and move on and forgive ourselves! Today, I’m talking specifically about our expectation to follow a restrictive health program that is totally unrealistic FOR US! A program that we can’t possibly follow-through in the long run, thus setting us up for more failure.
I’ve related to you my eating struggles since I was a little girl and later how I tried to compensate with exercising too much, just to stay relatively thin. That didn’t work too well physically for me though, my flat feet were not meant for hours of running, and I paid the price with two major foot surgeries!
I’ve also let you know what has worked for me: a nutritionally balanced approach to eating through macro tracking, coupled with the duo of aerobic and weight resistance movements that I can do at home (I brought my weights when I babysat Evie. I think she believes she’s getting her exercise in by sitting on the weights (lol),
or the gym for a minimal amount of my day along with an accountability factor (see SammiGregoryFitness). However, I’m well aware everyone has individual tastes and preferences for programs that will work for them.
Action-I’d like to nudge you to get on board with a health program you can follow and feel good about, ASAP, that fits YOUR needs! What’s really mind-blowing is having those little “health” successes in one part of our lives really has a positive domino effect on your entire life!
II. Allow yourself to be a kid, a/k/a don’t take yourself too seriously!- Our granddaughter has an absolutely wicked sense of humor. She finds playful poses in the most unexpected of places and she gleefully always catches me off-guard:
What we can learn–Yes, the world is a serious place, bad things do really happen as I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this blog, so I’m not trying to minimize that. What I am saying is we all can learn so much from our younger generation, in this case, responding with a dose of levity and frivolity:
to mitigate all the toughness life has to sometime offer, helping us socially and medically! The playful innocence kids have to offer:
is happily contagious!:
And there’s science behind that social aspect! The late Robert Provine, author of Laughter, a neuroscientist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland notes the innate social aspect of laughter that brings us together:
Most people think of laughter as a simple response to comedy, or a cathartic mood-lifter. Instead, after 10 years of research on this little-studied topic, I concluded that laughter is primarily a social vocalization that binds people together. It is a hidden language that we all speak. It is not a learned group reaction but an instinctive behavior programmed by our genes. Laughter bonds us through humor and play. Nothing to joke about. Playfulness, being in a group, and positive emotional tone mark the social settings of most laughs.
And from the Mayo Clinic, just the short-term health benefits of laughter are amazing: tension soother, stress response extinguisher and brain stimulus for the manufacture of those prized feel-good endorphins. And we’d be remiss to forget the long-term benefits of immune boosting, pain relief and, one of the best, a non-prescription mood lifter!
Action-Laugh, be playful and be positive like a child as often as possible as your non-prescription, prescription for a happy, healthy life!
III. Eat for all the right reasons– Evie absolutely loves certain foods and eggs is one of them. I made Evie some mini egg muffins and she grabbed both of them at once and started chowing down!
She also tried some of the other courses on her plate that night. Then I offered her additional helpings of her favorite food, but, she put her hand in front of her and (politely) declined the next offering. She was done with dinner and she wanted to get down and play!
What we can learn- When do we learn in our adult or early adolescent life that too often food isn’t just for nourishment, it can also (errantly) be used as an emotional balm for what ails us? I can’t tell you how many times in my past unhealthy life I’ve grabbed bounteous quantities of my favorite foods and eaten way past the point of satiety, usually in answer to an emotional void! When I was a young Mom, my way of relaxing after having all the relatives over for our kid’s birthdays was to eat the entire icing layer left over on my kid’s birthday cake with a glass of wine, not to mention downing numerous slices of leftover cold pizza! So my bad was relating relaxing with eating, not hunger.
Action-One primary antidote to emotional eating is to adopt a nutritionally sound regimen that allows you to have a relatively balanced amount of carbohydrates, fats and protein with a calorie load that fits your metabolism, making you less prone to emotional eating from a lack of macros/nutrients. This is a picture of my dinner yesterday, along with my total calorie count per day of 1,525.
My macro balance everyday is 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 30% protein. Honestly, I don’t have those cravings anymore the way I used to when I starved myself in calories and/or favored one macro more than the other two! In the end, over-favoring just one macro, say protein in your diet leads to not only a level of boredom and feeling of deprivation but our bodies were created to access the balanced triple macro (fat, protein and carbohydrate) fuel for our body’s optimum performance!
Another is to choose and prepare foods that not only are nutritionally sound, but are pleasing to the eye, making us less likely to feel deprived and again be prone to emotional eating. This is my absolute favorite sport, making healthy food look tasty! This is a simple meal of baked chicken tenders, a tomato salad and baked chips made of lavosh bread with salsa:
This entire meal was 702 calories, 52 g. carbs, 33 g. fat, 54 g. protein, with ½ the calories and fat of the fried version and a big boost in balanced macros!
Finally, being aware of our emotions before heading toward the fridge and asking ourselves if we truly are hungry in a strictly physiological sense, and not an emotional one!
IV. Sleep Heals All-Evie sometimes fights her afternoon nap and nighttime bedtime, but most of the time, she looks forward to it, enjoying that restful slumber, like she is here with her dog Tony:
What We Can Learn–Sleep boosts your immune system, and in the brain allows a garbage truck-like action, hauling away your brain cell’s toxins. Since our brains aren’t as active during sleep, blood flows out and cerebrospinal fluid rushes in, emptying out those toxins that have built up during the day.
In addition, sleep serves as a file clerk for your brain to preserve your short-term memories. Think of the constant stimuli your brain is bombarded with everyday as files. Because of the constant stimuli of the brain during our waking hours, those “files” do not get put away during the day, lying around in an unorganized, hot mess. Sleep acts as your file clerk for those stimuli and organizes your “files” for later retrieval, strengthening important neural connections, getting rid of unneeded ones and shoring up the new memories. So it make sense that the culprit for the loss of our short-term memories is a malfunction by our brain’s file clerk, and lack of sleep is one of factors!
Are your needlessly hungry? Lack of slumber might be the source! Sleep also serves a hormone balancing function, specifically leptin and ghrelin. Think of leptin as the hormone that puts on the brakes, telling us we’re full and ghrelin is the accelerator hormone, letting us know we’re hungry. You need a balance of both for a healthy life, however, lack of sleep stimulates the production of the accelerator hormone ghrelin, needlessly amping up hunger cues.
And a hot new study identifies deep sleep as a natural anxiety inhibitor. Anxiety is a disorder some 40 million adults suffer from, with increasing amounts for teens and children. The November 4, 2019 study in Nature Human Behaviour made a series of sleep studies on adults, measuring their anxiety either through brainwaves both with and without sleep with an emotional stimulus and later a questionnaire where participants’ anxiety were again measured with and without sleep:
“Our study strongly suggests that insufficient sleep amplifies levels of anxiety and, conversely, that deep sleep helps reduce such stress,” said study lead author Eti Ben Simon, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley.
Action–Stay with the same sleep routine every night (I know, life sometimes happens and you can’t, but MOST of the time is what we’re aiming for), getting to bed and getting up at about the same time. And, winding down with a good book in favor of your technology device for the night, in a dimly lit room! The amount of needed sleep does vary from person to person, but usually 7-8 hours is a good target. Don’t get in the habit of thinking you can slight yourself on the slumber factor to maybe get a little more work done (I’ve also played this sleep-deprivation game in the past), for in the end, your health will suffer for it!
So have you come to the same conclusion I’ve come to? Our little ones are an absolute treasure to us from our Lord above! That is a fact! But they also offer us (unknowing) wisdom with their innocent actions and words that can help us boost our health!
RECAP OF Taking Clues From Our Little Ones For Our Health:
I. “No Mam” boundaries that don’t turn into “baggage”.
II. Allow yourself to be a kid, a/k/a don’t take yourself too seriously!
III. Eat for all the right reasons.
IV. Sleep Heals All!
If you’re serious about your Nachos, craving all the south-of-the-border flavors that come with it, this is your dish! Not only will you be surprised at the eye appeal of this dish, you’ll also love the volume of this terrific tasting meal that is sure to hit your satiety button! Randy and I love this simple dish, for any occasion!
CAULIFLOWER CHICKEN NACHOS
Nacho Ingredients for 4 Portions:
2.5 Tablespoons olive oil
¾ tsp. chili powder
¾ tsp. cumin
¾ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. salt, divided
8 cups (933 g) large cauliflower florets, cut into 1/2inch thick slices
1 cup (200 g.) chopped tomato
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 T. pickled jalapeno peppers
4 stalks green onions, cut in ¼ inch slices
½ cup black beans
2 cups (463 g.) shredded diced cooked chicken (I used cooked chicken thighs for this)
¾ cup (69 g.) shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
16 black olives, sliced
Directions for Nachos:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Combine oil, chili powder, cumin, onion powder and 1/8 tsp. salt in large bowl. Add cauliflower and gently toss to coat. Spread cauliflower in single layer on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake until tender and starting to brown, 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare fresh veggie mix buy combining tomato, avocado, cilantro, green onion, cabbage and the remaining 1/8 tsp. salt in a small bowl.
- Top the cauliflower with beans, chicken and cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
- Serve the “nachos” topped with the fresh veggie mix. Scoop up the nachos with the lavosh chips and dip in salsa of choice!
Lavash Bread “Chips” & Salsa-Ingredients for One Portion:
1 Lavash Bread (I use Joseph’s, you can buy it at Walmart)
Salt seasoning of choice
½ cup (200 ml.) salsa
Directions for Lavash “Chips”-
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Set the lavash bread on a cutting board and using a pizza cutter, cut the bread into 1 ½ inch strips and if you’d like smaller chips, cut the entire lavash in half.
- Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Gently place (so as not to tear the strips) each strip of bread on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Lightly spray the lavash strips with cooking sprays and lightly sprinkle the seasoning of your choice on the strips (I use Weber’s Maple Bacon seasoning).
- Place sheet in oven for 6-8 minutes or until strips are golden brown.
- Serve with salsa of choice.
Per Serving of “Nachos”: 551 calories, 37.2 g. carbs, 33.9 g. fat, 29.3 g. protein
Per Serving of “Nachos” With Lavosh Chips and Salsa: 739 calories, 66.7 g. carbs, 36.9 g. fat, 41.3 g. protein
*Recipe adapted from 2/20 EatingWell Magazine