Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Sleepy-Time Stress

eye twitch

Keeping one eye on the time…

I admit it – I’m a clock watcher and always need to know the time.  It’s productive during the day, so that I can get to meetings on time or meet people pretty close to the time we agreed on, but when you have insomnia, clock watching is just plain stressful.  You think you are the only one awake, in the world, and it’s a very lonely place to be.  I was reading an article in “Dr. Oz – The Good Life” and was a little disappointed.  Not because the article wasn’t well written and totally useful, but the cover tease was “Turn Off Stress So You Can Sleep-Pill Free”.  That is right up my alley – I hate taking sleeping pills, and not sleeping is a huge cause of stress.  When I eagerly flipped to the article, it was all about women who can’t get back to sleep…not my issue at all.  When I do have insomnia, it’s because I can’t fall asleep.  If I fall asleep, and wake up in the middle of the night, I can always fall back into la-la land – after I check the clock of course.

When I first started blogging, in January 2014, my first topic was all about insomnia.  In general, I do sleep better than I did a year ago.  Here are a few things that I think have helped:

-Eating more nuts – for real – I still eat two brazil nuts a day for the selenium and I eat almonds and walnuts every day.  Think I’m nuts?  It seems to work

-I’ve learned, the hard way, that as soon as I get an inkling that I’m about to fall asleep on the couch, I have to get up and go to bed – immediately.  If I fall asleep, for even 5 little minutes, my shut eye pattern is off, and I find it impossible to sleep

-A cool room helps – really, but freezing cold isn’t great.  Once I’m that cold, no matter what I do, I can’t warm up

-Dr. Oz’s sleep experts say you shouldn’t check the time, but I have to, and it helps me fall back to sleep knowing that I still have a couple of hours that I can get in

-There are times, when I just can’t sleep, that I do get out of bed and walk around, watch TV or read, just to get out of my room

Here are some new recommendations from “Dr. Oz – The Good Life: Your Fall-Back-Asleep Prescription (page 108):

1. Do some belly-breathing – I know I’ll never do this on my own, but I am doing Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s latest 21 Day Meditation Challenge, and I can always do one of the meditations to get in some deep breathing.  I still can’t do the meditating part properly, but I do deep breathe when I listen to D-OPRAH’s latest

2. Get Out of Bed – see above

3. Note and release your worries – this is a great idea – I’ll try this one.  Sometimes, I may have to type it into Outlook, so that I know that I have time set aside for the tasks, but I think knowing you have your “to-do’s” listed somewhere is comforting, at least to me

4. Take a mental stroll – you are supposed to visualize places that bring you peace – I’ll try it, not sure if I buy it, but it’s worth the effort

5. Listen to something calming – This works – I know you aren’t supposed to have iPads in your room, but I listen to podcasts and they put me to sleep and yes, I am admitting this here, Reality Steve’s (Bachelor Spoiler extraordinaire) Live Video Chats are a must listen an my own brand of Nytol – I fall asleep every Thursday listening to them.  I don’t watch unless he is talking to his dog Maddie – which is cute and priceless.  He’s never boring, but there is something soothing about the way he speaks.  Whatever works right?

6. Call in the pros – AKA see your Dr.

Today was a pretty good day with a lot to be grateful for – I’m off this week from work, I got to see my niece and I got to speak to the Shoe (not her real name, but a really close friend).  Not too bad – and no stress : )


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The Stress Questionnaire

inflammation

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ve seen this diagram before.  It’s all about inflammation.  One of the root causes of inflammation is stress.  I stumbled across a little something on doctoroz.com – it’s a stress checklist so that you can see what the major causes of stress in your life are.  There are about 40+ items – http://www.doctoroz.com/article/stress-questionnaire – try the test yourself to see what’s inflaming you!  Here are my items:

  • Change in health of an immediate family member – always stressful
  • Work more than 40+ hours in a week – some weeks it’s 60+
  • Business or work role change – my role has been changing since April of this year
  • Sleep less than 8 hours – the quality of my sleep has increased, but the quantity has stayed between 5-6 hours – somedays it’s close to 6.5 but no where near the perfection of 8 hours
  • Change in responsibilities at work
  • Vacation – I love travel, but I guess getting ready to go away can be stressful and my next vacation is coming up quickly
  • Change in personal habits (diet, exercise, etc.) – I’m always trying something a little different with this blog and I’m doing the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Plan again more to help myself feel better
  • Change in work hours or conditions
  • Presently pre-menstrual – I know TMI – but it’s a fact of life.  Yes, once a month, I like many women are aware that the whole world is out to get me

Nine out of about 44  – not terrible…but it is evident to me, that work causes the majority of my stress.  Some of the stress factors will be eliminated as time goes on.  Some, I’ll have to learn to cope with. Getting better sleep and more of it, has to continue to be a priority.  I’m not giving up travel though, just because it causes a little bit of stress.  It’s my top favourite thing!

One thing that has alleviated some stress has been my decluttering project.  This week, I began the process of Kijiji-ing/Craigslisting some of my items and I’ve sold a purse today.  So far, I’ve posted 6 items, and as I sell one, I’ll post more.  I’ve also started another pile of things to throw away.  Seeing my progress has been very satisfying, but I can’t wait to finish this little project even though I still have a lot of things left to do.

Today, I’m grateful for the stress questionnaire.  It’s a good little check list to see where your stress lives and it will help me address my own issues and for that, I’m…

Gratefully yours,

Jill


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Sleepy Head Revisited/For the Love of the Snuggie

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The sun going down used to be a bit of a stressful for me. I knew on some level, that in a few hours, I’d be tossing and turning in bed and Mr. Sandman wouldn’t be sending me a dream.  Way back in January, when my blog was still in it’s infancy, just a cute little baby blog, insomnia was a huge issue for me.  Today, a mere 8 months later, I have fewer problems getting shut eye. The seven hours, that my mentor, the good Dr. Oz recommends still isn’t happening, but falling asleep is not a huge issue for me, even during really stressful times which used to keep me wide awake.  

What do I owe this to?  Is it the two brazil nuts that I still eat daily and that some people make fun of me for, because it’s never 3 nuts, never one, exactly two?  Laugh all you want, but it’s the small changes that have helped me get at least 5 hours a night – often more.  Could it be the fact that I’m eating magnesium rich foods every day because Dr. Oz said that it was better to get magnesium through food rather than a supplement?  Maybe.  Here is a reminder from a past entry in case you want to see a list of the foods that are good sources of the mineral https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/01/ Ithink the answer is the fact that I’ve been more MINDFUL.  I’ve used that word quite a bit in the last 8 months.  I have to think about the changes that I’ve wanted to make in order to commit to them.  

One of the things that I do to this day:  

-Sleep in a cool room.  I used to hate it, Now, I grab my Snuggie and bundle up.  Before you haters laugh at me, I’m a proud owner of two of these miracle blankies (sorry, my inner 3 year old just came out for a visit).  They are warm, and keep me as snuggie as a buggie in a ruggie.  If you aren’t familiar with these miraculous blankets with sleeves, check out the picture below and for heaven’s sake get yourself one or two of these gems.  I recommend the deluxe Snuggie for the living room – it’s made with more plush materials so it’s more formal AND has a pocket for your remote control.  Could life get any better?  

snuggy

Image courtesy of As Seen On TV

YES it can – I didn’t know that these were options!

snuggyup

Image courtesy of mysnuggiestore.com

Life just got better!  I love the variety of Snuggies that are now available.  I may have to continue this tomorrow – I’m seriously considering the “Female Evening Gown”.  

Again laugh all you want, but today, I’m grateful for my Snuggies.  They help me bear the wintry temperature of my room and help me get a good night’s sleep.  To be continued…and until then, I am,

Gratefully (and Snuggie-ly) yours,

Jill


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New Topic – Re-Evaluation

Pondering

 

I spent some time pondering my blog today – hence the picture that I took in Norway glancing out at the water with HUGE mountains reminding me of how insignificant that I am.  It’s a long weekend in Toronto, and one of my favourite ways to end it off is to just take a day and chill out. I always have the intention of being wildly productive, but just taking the time to do exactly what I feel like doing usually wins out.  Today, I read a life-altering, quality book that should be on everyone’s reading list.  “I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends – Confessions of a Reality Show Villain” by Courtney Robertson.  It’s a semi-tell-all from the former The Bachelor Finalist and ultimate winner.  Is it literary genius?  No – but it was very entertaining and a book that I could plow through really quickly.  Thanks Reality Steve for reviewing it on your site, realitysteve.com – that’s how I discovered it.  I usually read more high-brow fare, but every now and then, a little fluff is nice.  Doing my laundry always makes me feel productive, and it allows me to sit around and read while I wait for the washer to finish or in between folding loads.  Oh, the exciting life this blogger leads – you should all be jealous, but it’s such an ugly, tawdry emotion.

Back to my pondering.  Every few minutes while reading the holy grail of all things Bachelor, I thought about what I would like to write about this month.  I was reminded that I have a habit of picking of words ending in “tion” as my topics.  Case in point:

  • January – hibernation (ok sleep, but it has to work for my point to be valid)
  • February – beautification
  • March – nutrition
  • April – meditation (well, it ended up being about meditation so close enough)
  • May – inflammation
  • June – hydration (work with me here, I know it was about getting ready for summer)
  • July – vacation

So, for this month, I’m picking a biggie – re-evaluation.  Some of you may feel that this should be my December topic – au contraire – I think it’s important, as I close in on the last quarter of my year of following Dr. Oz’s advice, to take time now to get back on track with the good changes that I’ve made that may have fallen a bit by the way-side, keep up with what is working, and re-visit some things that haven’t.  I’ll be doing Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s new 21 day meditation experience, eating Oz-ily and trying a few new things on my road to good health.

So what am I grateful for today?  Long weekends when I can see my closest friends and have a day to myself to just relax even if it means doing a few hated house-hold chores to help me not feel like a total sloth.

Gratefully yours,

Jill


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26 Weeks and Counting – What A Burn

It’s official – my journey down the yellow brick road to good health is half-way over, or at least my experiment in taking Dr. Oz’s advice. It has been an enlightening first half.  I’ve learned things that I never would have given a second thought to, I’ve made changes that have made a big difference in how I feel and I’ve tried things that I never thought I ever would be interested in.  The latest thing that I’ve tried, admittedly on the advice of my dermatologist, has been a chemical peel.  He recommended that I get three of them to help with my annoying acne problem.  I had my first last Friday.  It all starts off in a very relaxing manner.  You have a traditional facial first including a scrub, steam and extraction (which I love).  The main event was next.  A 70% glycolic acid solution was applied to my face from the forehead down.  The reason they start with the forehead is because it can tolerate the acid for the longest period of time.  The acid stays on your skin for about 2 minutes and feels like your face is getting a sunburn.  Once the two minutes were up, I had to wash my face with lots of water twice. I then had a calming cream applied, followed by sunscreen.  So what were the results?

My skin was red and blotchy and looked really oily from the cream.  I was warned that my skin would “crust” in parts and to use Polysporin or petroleum jelly on it.  I ended up breaking out, but only one zit has really had any staying power.  My skin feels softer, but I haven’t seem anything amazing – yet.  According to Dr, Oz, “You’ll see the results of a superficial chemical peel when your skin heals, generally within two to three weeks.”  I’ll wait patiently and keep you posted.  My next peel is scheduled for the end of July.  If your doctor recommends a chemical peel, follow their instructions.  This includes wearing sunscreen since your skin will be pretty sensitive for a few days.  I hope it makes some sort of a difference.

So, what is the most important thing that I’ve learned in this half year?  I’d say that I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.  I also think mindfulness is crucial.  I think more about my health when I make a decision.  I try to stick with the things that make me feel better – it isn’t always easy, but I’m doing my best and isn’t that all we can really ask ourselves for?  I could list everything that I’ve keep up – ok – I will:

  1. Probiotics every morning – I really think these have made a huge change in how my tummy feels
  2. Prebiotics where possible to super-charge my probiotics.  This includes eating at least half of a banana most mornings or no longer avoiding onions
  3. Watching what I eat to avoid inflammation and to feel better.  I’m not perfect.  I’ve lost around 18 pounds, but 80% of the time, I’m on the money and I do feel better.  I’ve starting following Dr. Oz’s 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Plan once a month, not to lose weight, but because, overall, eating that way makes me feel better.  It’s totally not sustainable, so I eat the DASH way, the other 2 weeks with occasional cheats.  
  4. Researching what I put in my mouth – this means being a bit more critical about certain pieces of Oz sanctioned advice (coconut oil ring a bell?).
  5. Eating nuts – really, they help with sleep – I’m convinced of it.
  6. Sleeping in a cool room.  I do sleep better, not perfectly, but better.
  7. Meditating – I didn’t love the actual practice – just Deepak Chopra’s teachings, and if trying more meditation means that I get to benefit from someone much wiser than me, well, practice makes perfect.
  8. No shampoo faux-hawks.  Being more careful when I wash my hair has meant fewer tangles and fewer split ends.
  9. Zinc supplements – I still take these daily – I’m not sure if they’ve helped my skin, but I have to say that my immunity is better.
  10. Getting a mammogram – this was really important for me since breast cancer runs in my family.  Yes, it wasn’t pleasant, but early detection is worth the 5 minutes of discomfort that I suffered and it literally was 5 minutes for all of you chickens out there.
  11. Dandelion tea – I hate this – it tastes like dirt.  It can’t all be good news : )

There have been many more changes that I have made – mostly small ones, but eleven seems to be a nice round number or at the very least, two straight up and down ones.  I hope the next 6 months are as beneficial as the first 6 have been.  I know that Dr. Oz has detractors, and some of this is deserved, but he also provides a lot of really beneficial advice, so today, I’m grateful for my favourite TV doctor and to all of you for following me or reading my blog.  I struggled a bit in June with a demanding work schedule, but I won’t let that stop me from completing this experiment.  I’ll be revealing a new topic in my next entry – something really fun for me.  Until then, I am…

Gratefully yours,

Jill

 


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Hitting the Books…

Blog 1

Well, one book in particular.  “You Being Beautiful” has a chapter on energy.  I promised you that I would revisit the book from time to time and it really is a good resource.  There is a very tiny little quiz – one question, that asks the first time that you feel tired during the day.  For me, it’s mid-afternoon.  I don’t feel great when I wake up, but I don’t feel overly exhausted either.  Answering the quiz with anything other than “not until after a day of working 12 hours or more” means that the energy systems in your body are slightly or completely out of wack.  I have noticed some small changes over the last few days.  Since I have been trying to add more energizing magnesium and potassium-rich foods to my diet and have added a few of the other Dr. Oz recommended energy boosters, I have noticed I feel better.  I’ll provide a list of potassium-rich foods tomorrow, and the good news is that many are also rich in magnesium as well, so you may think that I have brain fog and have been repeating myself, but I won’t be.  Today for example, I had an orange with my toast for breakfast.  I had an egg-white scramble with avocado, brocolli, zucchini, peppers, etc. for lunch.  It was my first time having egg whites – I’m just not an egg fan, and figured it was worth a try because it’s a healthy, protein-rich meal.  Honestly, it comes down to texture – it just wasn’t for me.

Back to my energy in crisis mode – the book identifies some culprits as not getting enough sleep, too much food, too much saturated fat (hello coconut oil), sugary foods, too much stress, not enough fun and passion in life or an infection or other chronic disease (see page 157).  So, what are their solution now that we know the problems?  Well here you go:

-DHA – the active form of Omega-3 – this comes from fish oils or the algae that they eat.  I’ve tried even enteric coated DHA – it’s still tastes fishy.  I may try the algae capsules if I can find them.

-Ribose – I really don’t know enough about this – the book said that this sugar is made in your body and by taking a supplement, it can really boost your energy.  I really want to study this before I even try it so that I’m not taking something that may cause more harm than good and I’d rather not take another supplement.

-Exercise – we all know that it’s good for us.  I’m slowly getting back to exercising three times a week and am making an effort to hit 10,000 steps daily.  Yesterday, I did a long walk and got up to almost 14,000.

-Sleep 8 hours – I’m not going to provide a lot of detail on this.  I am still sleeping better than I did, but I’m not at the magic number yet.  Read my January entries to see what I learned about sleep.  I’ve been keeping up with a lot of the habits that I developed that month.

-Chia seeds – they have omega-3’s (helping decrease inflammation and increasing energy) and are full of fibre.  Once I finish my flaxseeds, I may switch over to Chia.

-Maca – a Peruvian energy booster – it’s a vegetable from the mustard family.  The side effect is insomnia and it can be obtained in powder form at many health food and stores and what a suprise – at Whole Foods.  Even though it’s supposed to be a great energy boost, insomnia is just not worth it to me.

-Rhodiola rosea – these chips are supposed to be stuffed into a pint container filled with vodka and you take a tablespoon at night.  They don’t have enough data on this to recommend it to everyone (says the book) so I say skip it – again why keep taking supplements if you don’t have to?

-Get rid of infections – this can be as easy as flossing (which I do religiously), reducing sinusitis by using a neti pot to reduce symptoms.  I use a nasal rinse that is similar – it feels like you just jumped in a pool and all of the water went up your nose, but it really helps and is all natural.  They also recommend probiotics, sleep, hand washing, and making food choices that avoid all simple sugars and saturated fats (hmm…coconut oil ring a bell anyone?).

-Go B – many people don’t get enough B vitamins from our diets.  You can absorb it, so taking a supplement is what they recommend in the book. They also suggest that you get tested annually for Vitamin B12 and D levels.  These are the only vitamin supplements that I currently take.

-Go Green – drink green tea since it has the highest content of polyphenols – major antioxidents.  We all know that it is good for you, but I’m not great about drinking it all that often.  I have been trying to drink a cup for Chai for cardamon, dandelion tea for my liver and my usual black tea so it’s hard to get everything in.  The dandelion tea is ok – it has a slightly earthy, bitter flavour – it almost tastes like green tea to me.

As always, there is a lot of homework to do, but I’ll continue to try my best to fit in as much as I can in my pursuit of energy.  Today, I have a lot to be grateful for on another note.  I had brunch outside – it was really nice out!  I get to see one of my favourite people – AK tonight and it was just a nice day in general.  Until tomorrow, I remain…

Gratefully and energetically yours,

Jill


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48 Weeks To Go

Week four is now over – and so is almost a month of trying to be the ultimate sleeper.  My tally for the week was another $3.99 for kiwis and for the month of January, it was $39.43.  Much less than I thought it would be, but I also looked for sleep suggestions that didn’t include herbal supplements which really kept my costs in check.

Even though the first month is basically over, I will continue to incorporate the best tips into my daily sleeping life.  I’ve written about what’s helped – not checking the clock, keeping my room cooler and quiet, keeping a bedtime routine and nuts, becoming nuts about nuts.  I’ve also started monitoring my walking – I’m not 100% at the 10,000 steps – usually somewhere in the 8,500-9,000, but if it would warm up, I can easily get there.  I’ve got my selenium and magnesium intake covered through the foods I eat – great!  I have a clearer understanding of what dreams mean and how I can use them.  I do forget to stay in sleep position to remember them.  Speaking of sleep position – I still wind up in a face plant – but I’ll keep trying to be mindful.  I’m also better at cutting off caffeine at a more reasonable hour.

I still need to try meditation – I’ve watched the video which is a first step.  I also have to turn my lights out by 11:15 – not as easy as I thought – I’m usually closer to being lights out by 11:45.  I haven’t started a worry journal, but this is because I haven’t need to.  Since I began this process, I have had an easier time falling asleep and even though I wake up 1-2 times per night, I can fall back into la-la land quickly.  I haven’t reached the 7 hour nirvana – but I have had a better quality sleep than I have had in a long time.  Even though it is time to move onto a new topic, I’m  thankful for all of the tips and will keep using them.

Tomorrow will be a very special entry – it’s about the one test every woman over 40 should have.  February 1 will be a brand new month with a brand new topic. 

 

 


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Hakuna Matata

…Yes from “The Lion King” – meaning no worries.  It’s what I aspire to.  I worry about everything!  My mind is always going because between creating world peace (in my mind), saving the whales and dolphins (at least I sign petitions to do this – thank you Causes for making it easy), rescuing dogs (well again, in my mind, but it’s important), and oh yeah dealing with work, family and friends, I can’t turn things off.  If you read my blog about dreams, you know that I dream about forgetting things all of the time.  I guess that’s a big worry – that something will fall through the cracks.  I’ve spent the last several weeks changing minor things to help me sleep like eating every type of nut imaginable, turning my clock away and keeping my room cool, but now, I think it’s time to go after the big guns – the real thing that keeps me up at night – worry.

In this article, which is interesting, give it a read, http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/how-to-worry-less-and-sleep-more Dr. Oz’s resident sleep expert, Michael J. Breus, suggests keeping a worry journal.  Thank goodness – I’ll finally have some use for all of those notebooks that my family and friends always buy me.  Just a clue everyone – I have more than enough notebooks – tens of them in fact – very generous thank you, but even if you see an adorable Kate Spade notebook or a truly elegant journal made out of rich, corinthian leather (insert Ricardo Montalban’s voice here – if you are too young to know who he is, check out this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_HMIN0nGl0) – please leave it at the store – I am fully stocked, in fact, I have enough to last me until the day that I depart this earth.  I’ll miss you all….but don’t worry – it’s many years away at least according to deathwatch.com.  See my mind is always racing and before I get completely off track – back to the worry journal…

 It is exactly what it sounds like – a place to focus all things during the day that are causing  anxiety and stress. The idea, according to the sleep expert is  “…to take your worries from your mind to the written page, helping you to relax.”

I’m going to pull a Shia Labeouf and take the steps right out of the article – oh right, I’m actually giving Dr. Breus the credit – never mind the pop culture reference.  Here is what you do:

  • Select a notebook or notepad – You can buy one, but admit it, you have a few tucked away somewhere
  • On a blank page, draw a line down the center, creating 2 columns. Do this on three pages.
  • At the top of the first page, write: I need to remember to take care of…
  • At the top of the second page, write: I can’t forget to…I think this is almost the same as the above bullet point, so I’m going to omit this
  • At the top of the third page, write: I am so worried about…
  • In the left column of each page, finish the sentence at the top, writing down everything that occurs to you.
  • In the right column, address the concern, worry, or task, by scheduling a time to think about it or deal with it.  Smart – by making yourself accountable, you will worry less.

I’m going to state the obvious, that everyone’s worries are different and their own business.  I’m only going to keep this journal if I am having a problem sleeping on that particular night, but I will be getting the pages of my worry journal ready.


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49 Weeks to Go

Week three is now over – I can’t believe how fast it’s going.  My tally for the week was a measly $2.00 for kiwis.  Obviously not from Whole Foods.  If I bought them there, they would have been personally flown in using alternative energy sources to my non-solar powered home.  My apologies – I’ll try to quit making fun Whole Foods….for now…I do have to say, that the kiwis (they weren’t organic – sorry!!!) did give me an energy boost in the morning, just like Dr. Oz said that they would.  I really thought it was going to be hooey – yes it’s a word – but I felt better all day long.  I had to have an apple today – no more kiwis, and it worked too. 

Since we are talking about things that seem to work – here is what has been helping get to my sleep goal:

  • Not checking my clock through the night.  I never thought this would make such a difference, but it has.  I no longer stress about how much time I have to sleep because, quite simply, I don’t know.  I still have until the end of January to discover more tricks, but it has been the biggest help
  • Turning my alarm clock away from me – again, I’m learning not to be so time obsessed and it helps keep my room darker
  • Trying to keep some form of routine before I go to bed – it really does seem to work
  • I can’t tell you if the nuts are helping or not – I’d have to eliminate them and right now, I don’t want to mess with anything
  • Keeping my room cooler – as much as I hate being cold – this does seem help

Here is what I need to work on:

  • I’m supposed to be in bed, lights out by 11:15 Monday – Friday.  I’m still reading at 11:45.  I do need to work on this
  • Turning off my thoughts – my mind tends to wander and race when I turn the lights out.  Luckily there is supposed to be a solution for this – a “Worry Journal” but more on that in a different post

Dr. Oz has the “Ultimate Sleep Challenge” – I’m going to see what he has to say and report back.  I’m going to get seven hours of sleep if it’s the last thing I do…