It’s the holiday season … a time of dark, cold mornings, short days and busy nights, tending to the hustle and bustle of getting things done for various holiday celebrations, all the while gorging ourselves on delicious — but often calorie-laden — holiday foods. The average day passes quickly, and you usually find yourself collapsing into bed at the end of it feeling completely exhausted.
We live in a world that stresses convenience and instant gratification. The emphasis on protecting our health is declining as our waistbands expand. It can be difficult to lead a truly healthy life in these times of fast food and artificial sweeteners, but there are some ways we can strive to be truly healthy in the 21st century. Taking a big-picture perspective, here are the three basic elements to living a healthy life:
At first glance, crafting and exercise would seem to have little in common. One involves moving your body to improve health and fitness, the other moving your hands to create with paper, needles, paint or yarn.
Yet both activities have important, complementary effects on mood and cognitive function.
It’s raining. The tears are streaming from my glass panes and I cannot see clearly. I knew there was a forecast for difficult conditions, but I wasn’t expecting this downpour.
It’s not the unpredictable that I don’t like. Give me sun, snow, rain or wind, and I can stand tall and adjust my layers accordingly. Any element that surprises me is just another opportunity to show strength, perseverance and flexibility.
In the spring of 2007, after the birth of my second beautiful daughter, I relapsed from the eating disorder and severe depression I suffered with in college.
After six months of draining the lives of so many family and friends, I decided to receive intensive therapy once and for all. I was losing my husband, alienating friends and family members and spending days and weeks inside the house. I had two little girls to take care of and I could barely take care of myself.
Practice yoga with Chrissy Carter’s Chaturanga Vinyasa Flow video on GaiamTV.com.
It is impossible to know hope until one has experienced hopelessness — that feeling of suffocating permanence, as if you will be forever trapped in your present situation. In a place of hopelessness, all feels irrevocably lost. We harden and brace ourselves for permanent pain in the same way that we gather and store reserves in preparation for a long, hard winter. It’s as if the shutters have been closed and all the lights turned off. Lost in the darkness, we succumb to avidya (ignorance), the belief that our finite experience is all-pervasive and interminable. Helpless, hapless and hopeless, it is impossible to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel, and we start to lose sight of the big picture.
But in these times, hope can be a light in the darkness, filtering through the slats in the shutters, shifting the shadows in our dark room from ominous to promising. Suddenly and against all odds, we can find compassion for ourselves in the face of suffering.
by Jennifer Fugo
At the ripe ol’ age of 20, I wandered into my first yoga class at the Equinox gym on 19th and Broadway in New York City.
I was attending college nearby and two roommates convinced me to go with them. Although I can barely recall the teacher and the actual class, I do remember how my body felt the next day. I had sore muscles in places that I’d didn’t even know I had muscles! Aside from a more peaceful sense of being, I loved that I could finally connect with my physical body in a way I’d not known since being an avid swimmer in grade school.
Although some people may measure the ‘greatness’ of a yoga class by the amount of sweat pouring from their body or the number of times they can leap into a handstand, I have found the value of a class far exceeds these physical feats. The deeper ‘pearls’ of wisdom to be gained from yoga are available to all practitioners — not just the superhuman ones!
Last week I began a discussion about a modern epidemic, a deadly disease that one of every two Americans has, a disease that’s making us fat and sick. And 90 percent of those affected don’t even know they have it!
This disease is diabesity, the continuum of abnormal biology that ranges from mild insulin resistance to full-blown diabetes.
If you’re like most people, you have, at some point at least, tried meditation. But if you are also like most people, you’ve probably not found meditation user-friendly enough to become a regular habit.
In addition to the age-old spiritual benefits, thousands of research studies have demonstrated that meditation increases awareness, well-being and equanimity; relieves anxiety, depression and other mental health problems; increases mental clarity; and reduces the stress associated with many medical problems.
I did a Google search on what causes stress in people’s lives and I found things like unemployment, divorce, financial problems, health issues, fatigue and so on. In reflecting on how I deal with stress, let’s just say that far, far less than unemployment has caused me to eat a dozen donuts in one sitting!
Yes, I’m talking about stress eating. Most of us have had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing it at one point or another, and it is not for the faint of heart. I can down a whole can of party peanuts if Auden has a particularly bad day at school! Thankfully I have come to terms with the real me and I am now able to recognize the signs of impending stress and do a fairly good job of not eating us out of house and home when things get rough. Please allow me to share some of my tips, and I welcome any you have to share that have worked for you.