There are a lot of great perks that come with my job. Recently I discovered a new one that I’m particularly thankful for. We are allowed to expense subscriptions to mindfulness apps. I’ve dabbled in them in the past, signing up for trials, but never took them too seriously. Recently, however, I’ve been embracing the forced quietness and guided breathing. It’s both energizing and calming at the same time. And healing.

just breathe GIF by chescaleigh

Since hurting my back in 2018, I’ve been having increasing discomfort as I work and travel. Initially I wrote it off as sciatica, and it might be to a certain extent, but physical therapy opened my eyes to poor habits which led to more pain. I stand wrong when working. I am losing core strength. My flexibility has somehow disappeared. Stress manifests itself in physical discomfort.

With these realizations, I started stretching, focusing on my core and learning to breathe through tougher situations. I feel my body and focus on relaxing during mindfulness sessions. The more I do so, the more I’m reminded to do this throughout the day, even when I’m not in a session.

While on a recent trip, I realized I could sit for many hours without pain. Even half a year ago stabbing pain shot down my leg and two toes numbed after only an hour in the car. Not anymore.

The upper back pain I’ve felt for years is now suddenly gone as well. Or maybe not so suddenly. I just suddenly noticed it.

Now that we have the perk, I’m exploring the app choices we have so I can continue on this healing path. After narrowing it down to Calm and Headspace I am settling on Calm. They are both very cool in different ways so I might switch off in the future. The good news is that I can decide month-to-month.

One of my favorite parts of Calm is the choice of nature sounds I can listen to while falling asleep. Relaxing with a book is another option. The app also comes with bedtime stories. I’ve listened to books while falling asleep, but these are narrated by people who deliberately use soothing tones. I’m getting all relaxed just thinking about it.

One can also choose what type of meditation is best each time. When I’m cranky, I can meditate focusing on gratitude. Or I can focus on forgiveness when feeling wronged. There are even sessions for breaking habits and focusing on mindful eating. Amazing.

The time of meditation focuses me and reminds me of how marvelous the gift of life is. It reminds me of my own insignificance and of the importance of learning to become a better human. It is my goal that by taking a step back to breathe and focus I will be able to manifest a statement from the Bible.

My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart [shall be] of understanding.

Psalm 49:3 (The Message)

Highlighted Blog #27 – Strong Fit Well

It’s always good to think about health and wellness. This blog I follow shows interesting studies and methodologies that remind me on the importance of good health. Whether it’s highlighting mediation on flights or dealing with work burnout, the blog is a fascinating read with insight on how to take little steps toward big health gains.

Virgin Australia is encouraging its passengers to make time to meditate on their next flight The post Branson launches meditation in the skies appeared first on Strong Fit Well.

via Branson launches meditation in the skies — Strong Fit Well

The Keto Connection

Keto Diet Food Pyramid

A month ago I realized I had hit an unhealthy weight zone for the first time in my life. I’ve been playing on the border of my upper limit for a while, but was now 6.5 lbs over it. Super not good.

My husband always makes me feel beautiful, but I was not happy with myself and the projected path of my future health. It was frustrating. I was doing the same exercise I had done in the past (although not as much snowboarding last year), and I was always hungry, and while I averaged an 1,000-1,300 calories intake, I kept on gaining. How very depressing.

Then at our company meetup, I was listening to flash talks and learned about Keto. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that changes your body chemistry so that it burns fats rather than carbohydrates. After researching it some more, I decided to give it a try for the month of October then I would reassess.

My coworkers have a #keto channel in Slack, so I could ask questions such as “What’s the best way to start this?” (Make sure your cupboards are stocked with the right foods) and “What do I do when the family is in a restaurant with lots of fried foods and limited salad options?” (enjoy the meal and company – it won’t throw the diet off much). Then I re-started my account with, which has been great for tracking my nutrition intake and the encouraging notes from friends who see my achievements are very encouraging.

Finally, I signed up for the free version of Diet Doctor, which gave me recipe ideas. I was warned that the first week can be rough. As your body gets used to the new diet, you feel lethargic and cranky. It’s called the Keto Flu, and I did get it, but once you get through the week you start feeling great. The most surprising thing for me is that you don’t feel hungry.

It’s weird, because you are encouraged to eat lots of meat, cheese, butter and cream, yet studies show that the diet actually decreases LDL cholesterol (mine was high so this is good). The toughest part of the diet for me is that I’m completely satiated on 300-600 calories, which is not healthy. So I am consciously trying to increase my caloric intake. I also supplement with vitamins to make sure I’m getting all the basics necessary.

I dropped almost 10 lbs in October (lost 2.5 inches on my waist and .75 of an inch on my neck), and broke the diet three times in order to enjoy meals with family and friends (and sample a bit of Halloween candy). Now I’m back in my healthy zone, and it feels really good. I plan to eat all I want at my next WordCamp and on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days, and I will enjoy some eggnog, but otherwise I think I’ll stick with this for a good long time.

It’s simply not a hardship. I really enjoy the food and the way I feel (energized and alert). I plan to share some of my favorite recipes on this blog. The oddest thing is that I’m even enjoying the cooking! (Words I have never said before in my life.)

A whole new me…