Episode #16 You can have your kale and chocolate, too!

Are you ever confused about what to eat, what not to eat, what is going to kill you long before your time, and what is going to make you live forever? Do you feel guilty that you’re not following a kale-only diet and you prefer a piece of dark chocolate every now and then? Then this episode is for you!

There is so much conflicting information regrading nutrition, and a lot of crazy fads and bizarre beliefs that can actually be harmful to our health, let alone our mental and psychological well-being. There can even be a lot of public shaming surrounding food choices. Seriously, what’s up with that?

Download this fun and informative episode that helps clear up some of the confusion, and discover why it’s possible to have your kale and chocolate, too!

Seize The Day

A few days ago I woke up feeling heavy and sluggish. Gingerly I rolled over in bed, got up, and staggered toward the enticing aroma of fresh coffee brewing. Ahhhh, coffee! I followed it into the kitchen where my husband and 3 dogs greeted me with wagging tails and a cheery “Good Morning!” Easy for them to say.

Eventually the coffee worked its magic well enough for me to give everyone a pat on the head (including my husband) before going down to my girl cave to get some work done. I also had to clean the kitchen, get dinner in the crock pot, get dressed and head out the door for ballet class. I had a lot to get done, and I was in a crappy mood. I made sure I took my bad mood with me as I made my way downstairs.

But something funny happened. All of a sudden my creative juices began to flow. There I was, writing and working, working and writing. My mood began to shift and I felt lighter, and happier as I pounded away at the keys. Here’s one of my many deep, dark secrets–I can’t type. I never learned how. I’m a writer that can’t type and a physical therapist that hates exercise and thinks that chocolate is food. I giggled at the irony.

I glanced at the clock and got a shock. It was so late I would have to scramble to get dressed in time for class. Forget about cleaning the kitchen and making dinner. I was panicked about being late for class and agitated that I would lose momentum with my work. My bad mood returned.

As I ran around like a crazy person, I stopped cold. What was I doing to myself? I was exhausted, and it was obvious that my stress (as well as my bad mood), was purely self-inflicted. I went back into the kitchen, patted everyone on the head again (including my husband), and sat down to have breakfast with him. Surprised, he asked, “No barre today?” “No,” I replied. “I’m going to stay home, relax, and get some work done.” He smiled and patted me on the head.

There are a lot of life’s lessons in this story. First, we have much more control over our mood than we think we do. All it takes is self-awareness and introspection to lower our stress levels and change the course of our day. Next, it’s important to laugh at ourselves and embrace our idiosyncrasies. Also, sometimes we need to pass on the barre, no matter how tempting it is. Finally,  everyone could use a pat on the head. And a belly rub. It’s good for the soul. Besides, it makes us laugh. Most of all, remember to seize the day, and take charge of your life.

Hot Cocoa Day

There are many benefits of chocolate. Hot cocoa has actually been shown to increase cerebral blood flow and decrease the effects of dementia. Several studies have recommended 2 cups of hot cocoa every day to keep your brain healthy and alert. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Drink to your health….Cheers!

Who Needs A Gym?

Are you one of those people (like me) who absolutely hate the thought of going to a gym but does want to be fit and healthy? The key is to keep moving, and find activities that you absolutely love to do. I personally enjoy taking classes because I enjoy the social interaction, the camaraderie, and having someone that I need to be accountable to. After all, if I were left to my own devices I would sit on the couch all day eating bon bons and wonder why my butt was so big.

However, there are so many things to choose from for physical activity. Notice I said “physical activity” rather than “exercise.” I did that on purpose, because I am a physical therapist who hates exercise and thinks that chocolate is food. Fortunately, I love to move.

Movement is life, and our bodies were made and meant to move. Keeping that in mind, you may want to experiment in a variety of different classes or movement modalities that appeal to you. A few examples are Pilates, Tai Chi, yoga, dance, and/or Feldenkrais, just to name a few. The beauty of studying any of these methods is that they are portable, meaning that you can learn the basic movement techniques and practice them in the privacy of your own home every single day.

However, don’t think that you have to do each and every movement pattern that you learn. Again, I am avoiding the “e” word to take away the pressure. Just do the ones that you enjoy or feel good to you. Just doing them for 5-15 minutes a day will do wonders to strengthen, tone, and condition your entire body. It can be even more effective than going to the gym 3 times a week, because the effects are cumulative.

If you make a habit of setting aside a few minutes every day to simply move, you might be surprised how good you feel. Keep moving, be healthy, and don’t be afraid to enjoy a bit of chocolate every now and again.

Licorice, lollipops,chocolate and health fairs….

I attended a health and wellness expo last week to promote my business and share the methods I use to help people move better, feel better and get out of pain. I don’t participate in many events, but when I do, I always place a lovely basket of high quality dark chocolate at the edge of my table.

Just the thought of chocolate brings a smile to my face. And the smell! Is there anything more comforting than the smell of rich, dark chocolate wafting over you? Especially when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. As much as I enjoy getting out in front of the public, these big health expos make me incredibly nervous. I’m always afraid of feeling inept, or out of place.

As I organized my table, I set out my basket of chocolate. The heavenly aroma combined with the pretty wrappings began to work it’s magic. A few more deep breaths and I was home free. The other exhibitors were filling the room. One of them walked past me, so I gave her a bright smile and greeted her with a chipper, “Good morning!” She looked derisively at my table, sneered, and said, “Candy…..at a health fair! That hardly seems appropriate.”

Sheesh! I wanted to educate her on the many benefits of dark chocolate, but she didn’t seem interested in friendly conversation. She breezed past me to set up her table, which was across from me. To make matters worse, the nice young lady next to me was pulling out fresh produce and setting it out just a hair’s breath away from my chocolate.

My nerves started to kick back into overdrive, and the familiar feeling that I didn’t belong there threatened to take over. To pass the time and to avoid the condescending looks from my neighbor, I walked the floor to introduce myself to the other exhibitors. After all, if I was going down, I might as well go out in style.

I saw all kinds of people representing all kinds of businesses. I also saw bags of chocolate, bowls of licorice, and even a basket of gourmet lollipops. Yes, all at a health fair! Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt it was okay to bring a few treats to the table, so to speak. Maybe I wasn’t out of place, and maybe I did belong there. My confidence started to return, along with my sense of humor and my incomparable stubbornness. I was ready for action.

It was a terrific event. I ran out of chocolate before the day was over. The gourmet lollipops were gone within a few hours, and so was the licorice. My next door neighbor never did run out of kale. And the lady across from me never ran out of opportunities to scowl as people walked past her with their licorice, lollipops and chocolate. I felt bad for her, because she didn’t seem to be having much fun, and she didn’t seem particularly happy. A small piece of chocolate might boost her spirits a bit.

Remember, everything in moderation. Including chocolate. And kale. It’s good for your health!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP