Things I would tell my younger self…

Proverbs 19:20-21 (NIV)

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the #myyoungerself movement this month. The Child Mind Institute is raising awareness and funds, for mental health and learning disorders. Actors, business people, athletes, and “social influencers” are making videos about their own struggles and offering messages of hope and empathy.  This got me thinking about what I would tell my younger self. 🤔

With young people in my life who struggle with anxiety and depression, I find myself often talking about mental health. I would now tell my younger self that it is NORMAL! In my 20s, I had such huge expectations of myself to be PERFECT! I wanted to show my family (and myself!) that I had it all together and that I was doing exactly what I should have been doing. I wanted to prove that I was more mature than others my age, and that I was ok being married young. I was ok not going on to get my Masters. I was ok being with a man that had been married before. I was ok having a child at a young age even we struggled monetarily (who didn’t in their early 20s??) I wanted to prove that I knew what I was doing and had it all together. But I didn’t. It gave me some big anxieties- and an ulcer! I made big mistakes. I had a lot of self doubt. I dealt with anxiety about the future and depression if things didn’t seem to go my way. Then I would beat myself up for not always feeling happy and settled about the wonderful life that I did have!

Let’s be honest: it is proven that our brains don’t fully form and function til our mid-twenties on average. Then why do we expect to feel perfect or to be perfect? Twenty years later, it is easier to see the big picture. We are all human. We experience a vast array of emotions, and they aren’t always pretty. We have doubts and anxieties. We get sad and disconnected. We get depressed and take it out on those we love. We look for other things to make us happy. But eventually we learn that it is part of life. We learn where some of our mental health struggles came from. We learn that sometimes we need a little extra help, and that it is OK to get it. With age comes acceptance…I would tell my younger self to “just be”…

Aside from the mental health side of life, there are definitely some other things I’d tell my younger self! I’m sure that my mom or loved ones told me many of these things, but who really wants to listen to someone with many more years of experience and advice when you’re young?😜

Appreciate your lack of acne as a teenager – I mean really appreciate it! Because you will get it someday! Probably at the same time you’re griping about your wrinkles and sun spots! 🤣 It is a cruel world…

Don’t just put sunscreen on your face, but your neck, shoulders, and chest! Those are the areas where you will start noticing age and sun damage even more than the face sometimes. It isn’t important to be the tannest one in the room! But also don’t be scared of the sun! We need Vitamin D as human beings or we can develop health problems and diseases. Just be smart about it. Love your skin now because in your 40s, you’ll long for that youthful, plump epidermis🙄 It is all about balance…

Take care of your body in your 20s! It’ll be way easier to keep it healthy and in shape when your are in your 40s…or 80s! Trust me! Many of my clients have just started doing resistance/load bearing exercise in their 60, 70, or 80s! It was much harder for them by not already having the groundwork in place. And your bones will thank you for always caring and not taking them for granted. Someday they’ll be less dense and more susceptible to break if you don’t do something now! You WILL want the lean mass as you get older. More protection from falls, not to mention a faster metabolism! And it is SO much easier to lose the unhealthy extra weight when you are young- it only gets harder to lose. It’ll sneak up on you…

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Appreciate real sugar! Yes, I said sugar! If you are going to have it, make it REAL! My younger self did NOT need all of the scientifically derived versions of sugar. My body would’ve been ok with the real stuff if I was eating healthy the majority of the time and exercising. I’m not sure if dancing and drinking three nights a week counted??🤔

Learn how to do without every little thing that you thought you MUST HAVE, unless you have the money saved for it or you have extra in your budget. Trust me, there will be enough “emergencies” that will smack you down when you don’t have the money. You don’t need to compound the issue! Then you are forced to take extreme measures. Use credit cards the way they should be used- pay them off each and every month. And use a card with cash back (put it in savings!) or airline mileage so you can take that trip you dream of, without the extra burden of expensive flights!

And take that trip! Don’t say that you need to work more and you’ll travel when you get older. You just might be diagnosed with a disease that limits your ability to enjoy travel. And we don’t have a guarantee on our lifespans. Find the balance of work while also enjoying making memories with your loved ones and experiencing the beautiful planet we inhabit. Again, find the balance…

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There are so many things that we could all tell our younger selves. Many of the things I wouldn’t take back- they were learning lessons that molded me into the person I am now. But I also wish I would’ve listened to the wisdom of some of those who offered. What would you tell your younger self? Write it down and share with your children or a loved one of the next generation. Maybe they could learn a few things from you…

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BAIT!

PROTEIN pancakes!?! The word PROTEIN was all I needed to BAIT me into buying the mix and trying them! A girl can never miss an opportunity to get some more protein in (and not feel AS guilty when randomly wanting pancakes!) So today, I added blueberries and cinnamon, topped them with some good old peanut butter, and drizzled them with some pure maple syrup…and ate them for lunch! I knew that this combo of items (even if they are healthy) might just sit like a brick in my tummy, but I went for it anyway! And they did sit like a brick…three bricks as a matter of fact! HMMM..🤔
A few days ago… Nice sunny weather, no clouds in the sky, and lack of hurricane force winds, were BAIT to get outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery while doing something healthy for my body. It was so peaceful just being on my own, looking at Pikes Peak, and chatting with God. I had been using the crazy Spring weather and “being too busy” as excuses the past couple of weeks. By the way, this is GOOD BAIT!
That post on social media that just gets under your skin and BAITS you into engaging in a heated online argument. You might end up attacking someone personally and ultimately ending a friendship. Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me, but I know some that have experienced it! We all have triggers and some just can’t help themselves when hiding behind the safety of their screens.
The desire for more money, and the thought that making more, will make you happier and feel more satisfied in life. BAIT to focus only on work, work too many hours, disengage from your family and friends, buy that bigger house and more expensive car, only to realize your spouse and children feel ignored and unloved. Your overworked, tired, and have no deep relationships.
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A shiny new credit card with 0% interest on all purchases for 12 months. BAIT to get people to sign up, shop, and then possibly never pay it off before they can tack on a whole year’s worth of interest! Good bait for the credit card company, but bad bait for you! I personally, have never fallen into this trap in my lifetime. Ha!😝
Engaging commercial on TV stating that you can lease a brand new car for only $199 a month! BAIT to get you in the door, only to realize that the advertised price doesn’t include big money down, taxes, fees, or any model other than the base model! (It is all in that really tiny print at the bottom of the screen!) I did fall into this trap last week, but ended up making a financial decision that I feel really good about! And I have a brand new car with NO extra maintenance costs but gas🤩
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BAIT can be good or bad. I think that being diagnosed with MS was actually good BAIT for me in some ways. I needed to return my focus to living a healthier lifestyle and get rid of all the chemicals and fake sweeteners in my diet. I was more concerned about the calories than the negative side effects. This might not have been the reason for my disease, but it sure made me think about how to be as healthy a possible! Good bait is sometimes necessary in our lives, but are you keeping an eye out for the bad bait?
What kind of BAIT reels you in and gets you in a bad spot? I know that we have all been there at some point. That one little innocent thing that tempts you to just put your toe into the water. The “greatest sale ever” compelling you to go into a store, only to cause guilt, debt, or a broken budget? A casual drink with a friend, leading to an all out binger or further driving you into an addiction? An innocent online conversation with the opposite sex, leading to an inappropriate affair and broken marriage??
We need to be on the lookout for the traps. They are everywhere. Keep your eyes wide open. Protect your hearts. Be in prayer. Confide in close friends to keep you on track. Stop and think before you act. And ask, “Is it GOOD or BAD BAIT”?

Stealthy Workout (how to sneak in an effective little workout while stuck at home or work)

 

     Do you ever feel trapped behind your desk at work and think you have no time to workout? Do you find yourself sitting at home paying bills, reading, or cleaning, with no time to get some exercise? WRONG! You can sneak in a little workout. Just give me an hour. Gotcha! Not a full hour for the workout, just an hour when you know you are stuck at home or work and need a little “quickie” to get those endorphins going and blood flowing through your body. Then you’ll just need about 60 seconds every 10 minutes. Voila! You will have accumulated 45 push-ups and 45 squats! Enough to relieve some tension and stress, stimulate your nervous system, and feel a sense of accomplishment.
     Starting on the hour (your hour, not necessarily the clock’s hour) Warm up those legs by marching with knees high for 15 seconds, then do 15 squats or chair squats, based off your experience and strength. Wait about 10 minutes and wake up your upper body with 5 big arm circles in each direction, then do 15 push-ups. This can be against the wall for very beginner, a countertop, a desk, back of a couch, etc. Alternate between squats and push-ups approximately every 10 minutes, finishing the last set of push-ups at the top of the hour. Easy peasy! Nothing big or super difficult- just enough to get off that booty and do something good for your body and mind! There really are NO EXCUSES to not move your body!

Anxiety- my devious and annoying little friend!

Definition of anxiety

1a (1) : apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious
(2) medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it
b : mentally distressing concern or interest
c : a strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness

     Anxiety…I’m so glad she doesn’t visit too often, and that I didn’t get to know her until my 40s, when certain life events introduced her to me. While I can’t say I have any idea how people feel who live with a daily anxiety disorder, I now know what glimpses of anxiety feel like. It sucks actually! It is a real thing that millions of people struggle with. I have a couple of friends that have dealt with it most of their teen and adult lives and have to use medication for their anxiety just to be able to function healthily in life.

     Why are so many people afraid to talk about mental illness or mental/emotional issues? Having anxiety is no different than having a cold, yet people are embarrassed to admit they have anxiety (or any other mental health illness for that matter). For instance, is being Bi-polar really any different than having cancer? It is something one GETS, DIDN’T ask for, and sometimes CAN’T control without the help of outside sources (therapists, doctors, treatments, medicine, nutrition, exercise, etc.) As a country, and as decent human beings, we need to treat those with mental health issues the same as those with physical illnesses.

 

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     We need to not only be willing to talk to people about our emotional health issues, but also feel comfortable reaching out to those that struggle with emotional/mental issues. Sometimes people are hurting and just need one person they can trust and confide in. It is hard for me to admit, especially when I’ve been the one who has helped others through anxiety issues, even trained in techniques to help. I’ve come to realize it is often out of my own control. Full disclosure: I gave in after our car accident a year and a half ago and went to the doctor to ask for an anxiety med that I could use when needed. And I hate meds and will try anything to avoid them if possible! But, something about that accident triggered random anxiety, not only when I’d get behind the wheel, also when I was just sitting and watching TV.  Increased heart rate, adrenaline soaring, the “fight or flight” response for absolutely no reason. I even got anxiety driving to the doctor to talk to him about having anxiety! Haha! And he scrutinized me like a house wife who was seeking to add to my stash of self medicating substances! I’m happy to report that even though he only gave me 20 Ativan (and said it was to last a year!) that I still have almost half left.
      I have learned that even I, the confide-in, life coach, optimistic gal, needed to open up to those I trusted, and admit that I was dealing with some stuff that I wasn’t able to control by myself. I was always the tough one-it was hard to admit it and rely on others for advice and understanding. My husband has been absolutely amazing, even though he does call me a “ruminator” (to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly). But, there is a difference between ruminating/worrying about everyday things like your loved ones, your health, finances, and the “worry” that causes physical changes, becomes obsessive thoughts that control your free time, or that you can’t get out of your head for long periods of time.
     I usually fall asleep at night praying for comfort and wisdom, while trying to quiet my mind. I wouldn’t have gotten through any of the really tough times in my life without the Lord and my faith. My friends and family are also great resources. We all need to be able to talk about our “junk” and ask for help sometimes. Sometimes we might need to see a professional for talk therapy or some type of temporary prescription. Another very helpful tool when going through times of anxiety is to pay attention to your diet. There are things that can make our hearts race even faster, like too much caffeine! Or maybe food that you are sensitive or allergic to that can trigger similar symptoms as anxiety. Exercise becomes even MORE important during times of anxiety! It gets our endorphins going which helps increase energy and relieve stress (and makes you focus on your form and breathing instead of fixating on unnecessary thoughts!)
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If you are dealing with anxiety that is affecting your life, please reach out to just one person. You don’t have to suffer alone and there are things you can do to get relief.
“Worrying is often a way we try to predict what the future has in store- a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome.” (Helpguide.org)

Embracing aging…

     So…it’s my birthday. I am sitting on the plane for the 2 hour leg of my flights back home. I started passing the time by talking with my “neighbor” about getting older. A friendly man about my age from a nearby city. Not sure how age came up. Maybe it was his comment about falling asleep and possibly drooling on me, or maybe it was me saying that I was already motion sick from my first flight and that I hoped he wouldn’t have to see me throw up! And that I only seem to get worse motion sickness with age.
     Here I am, coming from a great and relaxing long weekend in Austin with a couple of my closest friends, and thinking about getting old. One friend had seen some hard times financially and decided to move back to Texas, and one friend sold her house, bought an RV, and has been toodling around the country the past 5 months. They are 12 years older than I am. I have always joked that I keep them around as friends just to make me look younger! Good thing they love me or they might not have put up with my verbal abuse the past 18 years!😉 All three of us lost a parent way too young. We agreed that it’s much better to get older than face the alternative! As much as I trust I will someday live an eternal life, I’m definitely not ready to leave this earth yet! Only God knows. But, now that my 40s are sliding downhill to 50, I seem to be re-examining my life quite often: where I’ve been and what is to come.
      I had an epiphany recently. I realized that I don’t mind getting older. I actually embrace it. The wisdom and experience that come with aging is immeasurable. I have noticed that my 40s have brought me so much peace about who I truly am. I have learned to be more assertive (my M.O. was usually passive-aggressive!) I have learned that some things are better left unsaid. And that some things need to be said. I have learned to embrace my quirks and accept that everyone else might not embrace them the same way. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff…most of the time!
     What I don’t like is looking older! Ugh, the “vanity”! Don’t judge me- I come by it naturally with a long line of women who care about their health and appearance🤣 and I don’t really think it’s vain to care about taking care of ourselves, inside and out. It’s ok to care about our appearances, as long as we have a healthy and realistic outlook. Not the outlook that magazines with photoshopped models, or movie stars with endless makeup artists and money, portray. But if we can take care of our bodies, inside and out, with a healthy diet and exercise, isn’t it ok to try to look and feel good while doing it? And if we have a healthy state of mind towards aging gracefully (maybe not always “naturally” for some😉) then I believe it’s ok to work on being the best self we can be.
     Being on a trip for a few days, I also realized how many people I deal with professionally and personally, really have a tough time letting themselves “live a little”.  People who won’t go a day without a rest from their intense workouts, or who won’t let themselves splurge on a dessert occasionally.
     Although we walked about 12 miles in two days, I didn’t feel the need to find a gym and workout. It is good for our bodies to take a bit of a rest. I did make sure I did a lot of stretching though! My hips and back ain’t like they used to be! And my boots weren’t made for walking!

     And yes, I ate a donut! And a cupcake! I have always liked the yummy stuff that isn’t so good for me, but as I age, I’ve had to learn how to let myself enjoy these things in moderation once in a while. And work hard and eat clean the rest of time. It doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” life as many people so often think. I paid my dues years ago and now I like to have some “fun” by eating my goodies and giving my body a break.

     “Age is cruel!” exclaimed Winston Churchill in The Crown. He didn’t like the artist’s representation of him in his commissioned painting. He struggled to admit he was aging, unhealthy, and losing his ability to lead as prime minister. Aging can often be a struggle. Especially when it takes us a little bit longer to stand up straight when we get out of bed in the morning (or when we walk around exploring a new city on a trip and our backs or feet hurt quicker than they use to).Or when we look in the mirror and see those “crows feet” or sagging necks staring back at us. Or when we notice the first gray hair pop out of nowhere. Ha, ha! Making you feel old yet?
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     Why is it so hard for so many people to accept getting older? Or even just admit their age or feel the need to lie about it? If one isn’t ready to meet their maker, then isn’t getting older the better and only choice? Maybe we need to start thinking about aging differently?
     Let me tell ya that I have three clients in their 80s! One has been with me almost 19 years, and the other two have only been around a few months. It’s NEVER too late to take control of your body and health! Remember, getting older is a blessing. Another year to be the best person you can be, inside and out. Live life to the fullest, take care of yourself, and love others to the absolute best of your ability. God’s speed…

“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen”
Margot Benary-Isbert

Just had to share this little gem, too…
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Happy Valentine’s Day…and an awesome new soup!

Happy Valentine’s Day! What? You totally spaced it? Well, you better get your butt out there and buy a little something for your sweetie! Yes, I often think it is just an overrated excuse of a holiday to spend a lot of money and line the pocketbooks of greeting card, jewelry, and chocolate companies, but it is a good opportunity to remind your loved one of how much you care and appreciate him/her (unless you are really good at doing that every single day anyway!)
Just remember, you don’t need to go crazy and spend a lot of money. I know I’m not the only one who truly appreciates the simplicity of just getting a card or handwritten love note. It is waaay better than totally forgetting or not even attempting some sort of “goodie” or effort. Ask my husband-I actually tend to get quite upset if he spends too much on me or buys expensive flowers that will just die in two days. But a card with his handwritten sentiment means the world!
If you are short of ideas, and don’t want to fight the crowds at a restaurant, just offer to make your sweetie dinner tonight. The perfect winter evening soup! Very colorful, healthy, and hearty! You might not even want to serve bread with it (save the processed carbs for some kind of yummy dessert!) I actually created this recipe myself the other night–I tend to look at a recipe for inspiration and then just start adding things of my own. This time it took on a life of its own and was a score! So I decided to type the recipe and share with you (and I took pictures like a real foodie!) Haha! If you don’t have the ingredients, or are already planning a Valentine’s dinner out this evening, save this recipe so you can try soon. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
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Buff Grandma’s Turkey sausage lentil soup

  • 1 pound turkey sausage
  •  2 large links chicken sausage, coarsely chopped – any flavor (I often buy these at the store when they’re on sale and keep on hand in the freezer to add to recipes to create a bit more flavor. They are good chopped up in an omelette as well!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  •  6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 1 tsp both salt and pepper, then season to taste
  • 1 Tbl oregano or basil
  • 1 large parsnip or 2 large carrots, peeled, then chopped  (I’m allergic to carrots, so I like to try other things to bring that texture. Now wondering if I’m allergic to parsnips as well🤔)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, then chopped into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, chopped

In a large pot, brown sausage on medium/high heat, crumbling as you cook. When sausage is almost done, add in the garlic and onion and allow to cook thoroughly. Add the rest of the ingredients, combine, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day…and an awesome soup night to you!
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New year, new you?!

This is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t necessarily believe in making them, but it does seem like perfect timing to start over and make changes, especially after the holidays. This is the time of year that many trainers call “job security”. After the month and a half  long “holiday season”, many of us are over stressed, under exercised, and overfed! We can all get out of our normal routines during November and December- the approaching new year is a great excuse to hit the reset button. But I think resolutions can sometimes be overused; people become complacent and “wait til the new year” and companies blast their marketing to take advantage of people who are feeling the “blahs”. The weight loss industry is a $60 billion a year industry (and no doubt you’ve seen the 1000s of daily commercials this past week or two!) Currently, approximately 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, with half of them being in the morbidly obese range! With obesity being one of the leading causes of PREVENTABLE death, why are people so complacent about their health?? Here are just some of the risks of being overweight: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, early onset of arthritis (due to extra weight on joints), mental illness, and unneccesary body pain and loss of movement. A healthy weight is NOT just about vanity or looking good. It’s your life.

And what about a healthy heart?? Here are some of the risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking/tobacco use, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, having an unhealthy diet, and having a family history of heart disease. All of these, but one, can be changed by you! Do you see how weight and heart health are so intertwined? Imagine!?

No matter what you want to call it, it is a new year and you can make those changes! Maybe you simply want to feel better, lose a little weight, be stronger so you can climb a 14’er this summer (it’s a Colorado thing), cut down on your sugar intake (it is the devil, but it’s so good sometimes!), getting off of tobacco, or get off of your blood pressure medication. Well, it IS up to YOU! You have the control of what you will make your body do and what you choose to fuel it with. No one can do it for you (although I wish I could have someone workout for me sometimes!) Figure out what you want to change and why you want to change it. That is usually the easy part for people. Then it is finding a way to actually do it- making yourself accountable is the most important thing. There are lots of ways to do that. Get a device that reminds you to stand up and get moving, or clocks your steps and heart rate. Get an app to log your daily movement and calorie intake. Get a hiking buddy that will commit to hiking with you twice a week. Get a trainer (I happen to know a couple of good ones!) Get a life coach or online trainer who checks in with you (or find an annoying friend who’d be happy to keep bugging you!) Set your alarm to wake up half an hour early so you can get on the treadmill and walk for 30 minutes before your day gets started. Set a goal to do a 10 minute, all over body circuit three days a week and then work your way up to longer periods of time. Join one of the diet groups if you need that structure and accountability (Oprah needs more money so she’d be happy to have you join!)

I know I could go on forever about the “why” you should be taking the best care of yourself, and “how” to achieve your goals- remember, I do get paid to listen to people give me excuses every day;) We all have excuses though, but I believe we all want to feel the best we can, lower disease risks, be alive to enjoy our loved ones as long as possible, and have a good quality of life. I admit there’s some vanity to my lifestyle, but I mostly want to keep being able to run and play with my grandchildren, and watch them grow up and have children of their own. I want to avoid further progression of my MS and decrease chances of debilitating symptoms. I’m not ready to slow down (or have someone help me up from the floor when I decide to drop it too low on the dance floor!)

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My two little motivators…

I hope I gave you something to think about, and that you can find at least one way to make a positive change to your health in 2018. Don’t put it off another year or another month- this is your only life, your only body, and your health! If you don’t do it, who will? Blessings to you and your loved ones, and may 2018 be a happy, healthy NEW YEAR!