What’s Lurking in Your Canned Goods? Probably BPA.

can with non BPA label

Curious to know what’s lurking in your pantry?

Probably some BPA.

Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used for decades to make plastics and resins, and it’s commonly used in the manufacturing process of canned goods, primarily to prevent bacterial contamination and metal corrosion. Just scratch your fingernail or a fork against the inside surface of most empty canned goods and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

The trouble is that BPA acts a bit like synthetic estrogen, which poses concerns around reproductive and developmental health. In fact, many states are beginning to set limits on BPA use, especially for infant formulas and baby bottles.

In 2010, an article published by the National Workgroup for Safe Markets found high levels of BPA in a large percentage of canned goods. Around the same time, the FDA announced “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children” (FDA 2010). Even so, a ban was never pursued. Instead, the industry was asked to look for alternatives. (You can read the FDA’s official perspective of BPA in Food Contact Applications here, but basically they’re still looking into it.)

My Take

To me, there are some pretty convincing reasons to choose BPA-free products – not just for canned goods, but for all products. (Receipt paper contains BPA, for example.) That said, I’m not planning to toss out the items in my pantry that aren’t BPA-free. I don’t use canned goods every single day, but do like having them around for when I’m in a pinch for time and in case of emergencies.

So how can we avoid BPA?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), the group that also publishes The Dirty Dozen, a list of fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of pesticides, recently compiled a database of 16,000 processed foods that may contain BPA. They’ve also posted a list of brands that are BPA-free: Muir Glen, Annie’s Homegrown, Sprouts Farmers Market, among others. I took a quick peek at some of the canned goods in my own pantry, and noticed a “non BPA” label prominently displayed on the front of a can of Simple Truth Organic tomato sauce, as well as a can of Rotel. But the label was missing from a can of Kroger Brand whole beets and an S&W can of diced tomatoes.

And there’s another alternative: Glass. Are you wondering about the lids? Yep, the lids on many products do contain BPA, but there’s less contact with the food itself compared to metal cans. And if you happen to be a home-canning pro, you’ll be happy to know that Ball and Kerr (the two most popular brands), are now manufacturing BPA-free lids as well.

Designing an eating style that focuses more on whole foods and less on packaged foods is an even simpler solution. Food choices are personal, and as a consumer I like knowing what’s in my food.

Despite the controversies, people who frequently consume canned foods have diets that are more nutrient-dense, especially for 17 essential nutrients including the shortfall nutrients (potassium, calcium and fiber), compared to those who don’t eat canned foods.

What are your thoughts on BPA? Please share in the comments below.

Transitioning to Self-Care

a road that runs between two small hills

Ten years ago today I started a private practice as a nutrition therapist in Austin, TX. I remember the excitement I felt just thinking about the lives I would help shape, the confidence I would help my clients build as they made better choices about nourishing their bodies.

But before I could even focus on my real work, I had to first traverse the reality that all health care providers face: navigating the system. Applying to be a Medicare provider, signing contracts with insurance companies, obtaining malpractice insurance, and complying with the ambiguous laws and regulations that relate to protecting personal health information–that’s what consumed most of my time.

To say the process was easy would be laughable; to say the process was simple, even more hilarious.

At one point, after many unsuccessful attempts at finding an answer to a question about the provider enrollment application with one of the major insurers, and after being unable to connect with anyone by phone, I drove to the regional office and waited at the entrance for an employee to arrive at work. Little did I know, the office wasn’t open to the general public, and although she was a bit surprised by my presence, one kind employee did answer my question.

And then there was the time I had a claim denied because I had forgotten to include the “plus 4” zip code on the form, something that wasted another 30 minutes of my work day.

And another time, I remember receiving a phone call from a man who sounded very concerned about his family’s health. He explained he’d been gaining weight, and that his wife and son had too. He was ready to make a change. He didn’t want to continue down the path he was on, and he didn’t want that for his loved ones either. But after completing the hour-long process of contacting his insurance company to determine his coverage details, and after discovering that his visits would only be covered for a diagnosis of diabetes (which he did not yet have), his response was that he would have to wait to schedule an appointment until he or one of his family members had a qualifying diagnosis.

Sure, you could make the case that each of us should value our health enough to find the means to care for ourselves properly. But the reality is, we pay a lot for health care already. And unless we get really, really sick, we rarely see a return on investment. The high cost of insurance and non-covered medical expenses make paying out-of-pocket for preventive services nearly impossible for most Americans.

And being a Medicare provider meant that I was legally bound to charge all of my clients the same fee, which also meant I couldn’t offer a discounted rate to cash paying clients. For obvious reasons, this didn’t sit right with me, and I eventually found other ways to reach those who weren’t able to access my services via the conventional health care system.

But I quickly began to see that a single provider practice, especially as an allied health care professional, in a system that doesn’t recognize the value of preventive care, was anything but viable as a business model–at least, not for the kind of provider I wanted to be.

And after realizing that many of the people who needed my help the most weren’t able to access my services, I began to consider new possibilities.

At the time, there was a new buzz word swirling around: coaching. A local organization that focused on helping individuals manage diabetes had begun using this approach successfully, and I started seeing more peer-reviewed studies reference things like “motivational interviewing” and “health behavior change.”

I began reading more about Martin Seligman’s work in the field of positive psychology, and the next thing I knew I was working for WebMD as a corporate health coach at Dell, working with employees at the company’s onsite clinic and fitness center.

I’m so thankful that I listened to my inner wisdom and transitioned to a path that is more aligned with my heart. It’s my mission to remove the stigma that’s often associated with self-care, and help more people see and feel the power that comes from taking ownership of our health and well-being.

When we remain open, we provide the space for amazing things to happen.

I’m currently in the process of developing a training program that’s designed to guide clients through the process of creating a personalized self-care plan, and my heart is absolutely overflowing with joy.

Are you transitioning to a lifestyle that includes more self-care?

Would you like to?

To learn more about this upcoming program that will be launching in early May, and to stay connected to Living Upp’s news and events, sign up to receive our periodic Warm Upp.

Keep Me Posted

Mushrooms, Health and Self-Care

paul stamets with a giant mushroom

Before I dive too far into this post, I want to point out that plucking up random mushrooms from your backyard and eating them is a really dumb idea. There are a growing number of known health benefits associated with our fungal friends, but there are plenty of reasons to exercise caution, the most obvious of which being death.

This evening I attended a talk given by Paul Stamets, a world renowned mushroom expert (and famed astromycologist in the upcoming Star Trek movie), at the Moore Theater in Seattle. The program was entitled “Mushrooms and the Mycology of Consciousness,” and it did indeed blow my mind.

I’ve been fascinated recently by research pointing to mushrooms being a significant source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms use sunlight to manufacture the fat-soluble vitamin, and since there are few natural food sources for this essential nutrient, it’s quite intriguing.

But while this particular talk didn’t cover that aspect of mushrooms, the fact that it didn’t simply points to the enormous impact fungi has on human health, and we’re only just beginning to understand its synergistic roles.

Before Paul took the stage wearing a hat made of Amadou mushroom fiber, it was hard not to notice the small table next to the podium, on top of which was a bulging mass hidden beneath a dark cloth.

We all knew what it was, though.

It was a giant Agarikon mushroom, a variety that has fascinated Stamets for decades, and one that he often poses with in photos.

“How can you not spend your entire life studying this?” he said of it as he held it high above his head.

But it isn’t the largest by a long shot.

To date, the biggest known mushroom spans roughly 2,200 acres atop the Blue Mountains in Oregon. The Honey mushroom’s expansive mycelial network lives mostly below ground (there’s approximately one mile of mycelium per cubic inch…say what?), and Paul hypothesizes that its role is one of a “meadow maker,” since the ground above the network contains almost no trees. To get an aerial photograph, Stamets chartered a plane, which had to climb to 14,000 feet (roughly the elevation of Mt. Rainier) in order to capture the entire site.

It’s jaw-dropping when you consider the fact that this is a single organism.

The amount of information that was covered in just a couple of hours could have easily consumed two full days, and I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for Stamets, who has devoted his entire life to this subject so that we may have a deeper understanding of the world around us.

So, what does a mushroom expert’s personal collection look like? His culture library includes no less than 700 strains. (I had no idea until today so many even existed.)

From eyebrow-raising topics such as LSD microdosing to stimulate creativity, to mushrooms playing a role in treating cancer, it was hard not to look at fungi in a new way. (And I certainly had no idea that mycelium could break down rocks!)

The real focus of the evenings’s discussion, though, was around the relationship between fungi and bees. And if you’re not concerned about the disturbing reality that we’re losing significant populations of bees (and, incidentally, the cause is pointing directly to our irresponsible use of pesticides), then you should be:

No bees = no food.

As it turns out, the powerful immune boosting properties of mushrooms play a significant role in bee health, and it’s clear we’ll be hearing a lot more about this as time goes on.

But I left the talk feeling a mixture of hope and concern–not just for the plight of the bees, but also for what will likely follow these new research findings: an upturn in the manufacture of single-substance products.

This ongoing obsession with the distillation of nature into single ingredients and compounds is alarming to me. It’s clear that our relationship with the natural world isn’t linear. There aren’t single cause-and-effect outcomes that can be fully understood, yet we continue to extract and distill and reduce our food into substances that later get itemized in food journals. We dissect food and then reassemble it into a nutrient slurry that we deem more suitable.

And we’ve been seeing more and more of this kind of thinking within the supplement industry, which, in my opinion, has become as problematic as big pharma…but that’s a topic for another time.

Our interconnectedness with nature is complex, to say the least. But what if we were meant to nourish our bodies with foods as they exist in the natural world? In all of its complexity? With its thousands of phytochemicals and nutrients (some known, some still unknown)? And with all of its synergistic properties?

Nature is our greatest teacher when it comes to self-care.

But as the clock ticks toward midnight, I’ll have to contemplate all of this later. For now, I think it’s time for a slightly different state of consciousness…sleep.

Focusing on Solutions

small red mini dachshund

My dog almost died today.

And it would have been my fault.

In the hustle and bustle of the morning’s flurry of activities, I inadvertently gave my 10-pound miniature dachshund, Zoey, a dose of medication that was intended for our 90-pound German Shepherd.

The moment I realized what I’d done, I felt sick.

Frantically, I pulled up a web page and began searching for the signs, symptoms, dosage calculations and treatments associated with the medication. And, after finding a handful of conflicting answers, I darted out the door with my purse under one arm and my pooch under the other.

Thankfully, she’s fine now. The emergency vet administered an emetic after discovering the dosage was 7 times the level that was appropriate for her body weight. We got there in time. And fortunately, Zoey accepts apologies in the form of treats.

But moments like this are a reminder that we all goof up sometimes. Despite our best efforts to sail through life smoothly, developing habits and routines that put us on auto-pilot, we still make mistakes.

And when our mistakes have a negative impact on others, it’s a bit more difficult to accept. So, as I sat in the waiting room this morning, some unkind thoughts starting swirling through my head. “Stacy, how could you be so stupid?!?” “Was getting to the gym really so important that you couldn’t spend that extra minute to make sure your animals were taken care of?” “What were you thinking?!?”

You know the thoughts I’m talking about. The ones that are accompanied by guilt and sadness and negativity.

But when I remembered that my 3-pound brain was causing me to have those useless thoughts, I managed to turn my attention to the more important thing: to solve the problem by focusing on the solution. 

Do you find it hard to forgive yourself when you make mistakes? Are you unnecessarily hard on yourself when you goof up? Do you continue to punish yourself long after you’ve learned from your experiences? By focusing on solutions rather than problems, we can work through life’s difficult moments faster and enjoy more of life’s beautiful moments. That’s what self-care is all about.

Tonight, rather than beating myself up for making a mistake, I’m going to spend the evening in gratitude, cuddling with sweet little Zoey.

Stop Using Your Body As a Trash Can with Cynthia Lair

bright leafy greens

Cynthia Lair, nutrition and culinary arts professor at Bastyr University, and author of Feeding the Whole Family, reminds us just how important mindfulness is when it comes to nourishing our bodies. (After all, we’re not goats, people!)

Cynthia’s lighthearted thoughts on the benefits of developing a personal relationship with food is a breath of fresh air in a culture of convenience and special diets. And, as a woman who talks to chickens, I especially love that both of her sourdough starters have names: Dottie and Fizz.

I hope you find this podcast nurturing and fun!

Are you filling your body with nourishing foods, or are you using it as a landfill?

Maybe it’s time to add some new self-care practices.

 

Showing Up With Intention: An Interview with Wardrobe Stylist Lisa Fischer

Lisa Fischer Styling headshot

Do you have a personal brand? Are you “showing up” in a way that enbales you to project your unique inner truth? In this podcast, Lisa Fischer of Lisa Fischer Styling shines some light on how the process of establishing a personal brand is a courageous act of self-care.

I’ve always believed that how we look on the outside reflects how we feel on the inside (and vice versa). But I must admit, as an introvert I sometimes like to hide behind neutral colors. Sometimes I kind of like feeling feel invisible.

But on the other hand, I’m not my best self when I’m invisible. And hiding certainly doesn’t put me in a position to use my strengths to bring something of value to the world.

In her consulting practice, Lisa uses style words to help guide her clients toward developing a personal brand. “Wardrobe is a tool,” she explains. “We use it to bring our best self forward.”

A common struggle that many of her clients face in the beginning is (you probably guessed it): getting rid of the crap that no longer serves them. I, for one, have a whole lot of crap shoved in the back of my own closet.

I think you’ll find this interview both encouraging and motivating. Lisa’s wise words of wisdom urge us to stop judging one another and focus on our assets. My biggest takeaway from this interview?

“Don’t put yourself off.”

It’s so easy to do, especially for those of us who tend to get immersed in projects to the point that we forget to care for ourselves.

Lisa offers a number of packages that are designed to fit your needs wherever you happen to be in your style journey. A great place to start is to schedule a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Style Assessment.

Website: www.LisaFischerStyling.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisafischerstyling

Building an Artificial Pancreas: An Interview with Dana Lewis

pink diabetes supply kit

When most of us think about patient empowerment, we think about choosing a health care provider or researching treatment options. But Dana Lewis took patient empowerment to a whole new level in 2013, when she set out to find a solution for a small problem: the alarm on her insulin monitor wasn’t waking her up at night to alert her of severely low blood sugars.

Initially, she brought her concerns directly to the industry, but to her dismay they responded with comments like, “It’s loud enough” and “Most people wake up to it.” Fortunately for her, and for many others around the globe who are struggling to manage diabetes, she didn’t accept those answers.

I first met Dana while attending a Meetup on Health Care Design in Seattle. She was a panelist who shared her personal journey–specifically, how she co-created the DIY Artifical Pancreas System when no one was able to deliver one. As I listened to her story, I remember thinking to myself this is the most powerful example of self-care I’ve ever heard!

How exactly did she do it?

She reached out to other smart people who had the answers she needed, and with a “design and build” mindset, they promptly got to work. And after months of testing and tweaking, the OpenAPS solution was born.

The cost? About $150 USD on average.

As you might imagine there are a few risks involved with building Do-It-Yourself medical devices. There’s no FDA stamp of approval, no experts standing by to make updates or repairs, and device failures could result in complications. Still, it’s easy to see why the idea is so compelling: often, the alternative isn’t much better. For example, not awakening to a low blood sugar alarm can be fatal. Suffice it to say that managing complex medical conditions like diabetes is anything but easy, even with today’s modern technology.

Lewis admits this project has been “a gradual awakening,” or a process, rather than something she simply decided to do. It certainly didn’t go from idea to reality overnight.

“It was a realization that we don’t have to be passive recipients of care as patients.”

Indeed, we are the owners of our health just as much as we are recipients of care.

Her mantra, we’re not waiting, tells the story quite clearly. And she certainly isn’t waiting. Neither are the more than 200 others around the globe who are now using a DIYOpenAPS system to not only manage their chronic condition, but also to improve their quality of life.

For Dana, self-care involves getting enough sleep, spending time with family, and reading. Like so many of us, she understands that when she doesn’t get what she needs, it impacts everything else.

Empowerment lies at the heart of self-care. It’s taking ownership of what we need and then experimenting until we get it right.
Design thinking can be applied to an endless number of life’s challenges. If you’re feeling particularly empowered by this story, you can learn more about the Open Loop Artificial Pancreas System by contacting Dana directly or exploring these links:

Dana Lewis
dana@openAPS.org
@danamlewis #werenotwaiting #DIYPS #OpenAPS
www.OpenAPS.org
Background and details on how Dana built her OpenAPS: https://diyps.org/2016/05/12/how-i-designed-a-diy-closed-loop-artificial-pancreas/
Why DIY-ing #OpenAPS is important: https://diyps.org/2015/03/31/why-the-diy-part-of-openaps-is-important/

Please Note: The Artificial Pancreas System, like other DIY devices, is not FDA approved, which means individuals assume any and all risks associated with its use. Please talk with your doctor before undertaking a DIY project like this, and be sure to keep them informed of your progress.

Other Exciting News: This hybrid closed loop technology is the future of treatment for diabetes, and several versions of it are currently in the commercial development pipeline. It’s expected that an FDA approved product will be be available in 2017.

Self-Care Idea List: 366 Activities for a Beautiful Life

8 Dimensions of Self-Care

Having trouble coming up with fun and interesting self-care ideas?

Last year, I took on a self-care challenge. For each of the 366 days in 2016, I experimented with a new self-care activity and then blogged about it.

What would you add to the list? Be creative and come up with your own bucket list of activities that reflect your personal style, needs and priorities.

  1. Enjoy a fermented food (or learn to ferment something yourself)
  2. Set intentions for the next day, week, month or year
  3. Express gratitude
  4. Take a walk in the woods
  5. Bake whole grain bread
  6. Include strength training exercises at least 2 days each week
  7. Get a haircut
  8. Get vaccinated
  9. Give blood
  10. Buy nothing (give something instead)
  11. Use a pressure cooker
  12. Get equipped for fitness
  13. Tidy up
  14. Drink enough water
  15. Get a pedicure
  16. Travel (without stress)
  17. Enjoy a sunset
  18. Listen to the ocean
  19. Go fishing
  20. Visit a fruit stand
  21. Meet new people
  22. Enjoy the sunshine (and then apply sunscreen)
  23. Overcome a fear
  24. Give yourself a break
  25. Sleep in
  26. Get a massage
  27. Cook with garlic
  28. Journal
  29. Walk and work
  30. Pay taxes
  31. Do “The Work”
  32. Relax by a fire
  33. Peruse the bookstore
  34. Fold laundry
  35. Drink tea
  36. Write a haiku
  37. Take a road trip
  38. Play in the snow
  39. Spend time with friends
  40. Floss
  41. Join (or start) a book club
  42. Eat local
  43. Meditate
  44. Continue education
  45. Use affirmations
  46. Receive gifts
  47. Relax with aromatherapy
  48. Eat colorfully
  49. Accept what is
  50. Volunteer at the food bank
  51. Snuggle with pets
  52. Taste
  53. Shop for groceries
  54. Zentangle
  55. Learn CPR
  56. Reminisce
  57. Garden
  58. Explore new possibilities
  59. Go out for breakfast
  60. Define your “enough”
  61. Change your mind
  62. Chase good weather
  63. Love the middle seat
  64. Cool off with shave ice
  65. Explore new places
  66. Smell the roses
  67. Go to the beach
  68. See the bigger picture
  69. Be a tourist
  70. Think in traffic
  71. Get a mammogram
  72. Read scripture
  73. Make a contribution
  74. Lounge
  75. Be part of a community
  76. Cry
  77. Practice good skin care
  78. Get certified
  79. Prune what’s no longer useful
  80. Press the pause button
  81. Listen
  82. Be quiet
  83. Eat green
  84. Celebrate
  85. Meander
  86. Notice nature
  87. Make the holidays healthier
  88. Plan
  89. Go cycling
  90. Reflect
  91. Recover
  92. Try fermented dairy
  93. Walk the dog
  94. Take a nap
  95. Build a support system
  96. Write a book
  97. Calm down
  98. Be vulnerable
  99. Set boundaries
  100. Laugh
  101. Play games
  102. Dine alone
  103. Walk (in the airport or elsewhere)
  104. Plan a menu
  105. Ask for help
  106. Cook for yourself
  107. Hug a pet
  108. Give gifts of gratitude
  109. Find inspiring spaces
  110. Talk yourself into fitness
  111. Listen to an audio book
  112. Be inspired
  113. Stay in
  114. Understand your impact
  115. Set weekly goals
  116. Use an iron skillet
  117. Stay in touch with friends
  118. Do the dishes
  119. Forgive yourself
  120. Let the oven do it
  121. Go to the doctor
  122. Work in the yard
  123. Savor something
  124. Make new friends
  125. Plant some herbs
  126. Build new skills
  127. Assemble (or reassemble) a first-aid kit
  128. Make a toast to a memory
  129. Shop the farmers’ market
  130. Say thank you
  131. Give feedback
  132. Hug a tree
  133. Take a hike
  134. Read the (entire) Affordable Care Act
  135. Make broth cubes
  136. Bake a cheesecake
  137. Make a breakfast bowl
  138. Use a foam roller
  139. Change your sheets
  140. Eat 5 (to 9) servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  141. Network
  142. Entertain
  143. Sit in stillness
  144. Think positively
  145. Make chicken noodle soup
  146. Do something you don’t want to do
  147. Don’t worry (be happy)
  148. Self-direct your care
  149. Admire art
  150. Eat some cherries (or another in season fruit)
  151. Watch a game
  152. Love lentils
  153. Cultivate awareness
  154. Review your finances
  155. Fuel up for a workout
  156. Celebrate success
  157. Work to physical exhaustion
  158. Take the day off
  159. Eat a big salad
  160. Apologize
  161. Spend time with family
  162. Go sightseeing
  163. Visit a museum
  164. Marvel
  165. Color
  166. Start a bullet journal
  167. Count your blessings
  168. Bake a spaghetti squash
  169. Work in bursts
  170. Drink coffee
  171. Go to the gym
  172. Pick berries
  173. Go to the dentist
  174. Take a yoga class
  175. Track your goals
  176. Lean into discomfort
  177. Stretch
  178. Give gifts
  179. Make yourself a bouquet
  180. Take shorter showers
  181. Test your day for flow
  182. Buy new exercise clothes
  183. Get an eye exam
  184. Set boundaries
  185. Clean your yoga mat
  186. Blend a smoothie bowl
  187. Ferment pickles
  188. Volunteer at a community garden
  189. Take a home-canning class
  190. Bake zucchini bread
  191. Get (and stay) connected
  192. Learn self-defense
  193. Attend a virtual retreat
  194. Envision
  195. Care for your feet
  196. Breathe deeply
  197. Make chicken salad
  198. Go camping
  199. Listen to music
  200. Use a sugar scrub
  201. Window shop
  202. Buy yourself a gift
  203. Make a Thai salad
  204. Organize your recipes
  205. Bake blueberry muffins
  206. Make a (healthy) Waldorf salad
  207. Study
  208. Try a new recipe
  209. Organize your mind
  210. Eat lunch at the park
  211. Do some gratitude journaling
  212. Be proactive
  213. Try again
  214. Brew beer
  215. Rest
  216. Learn from others
  217. Research
  218. Get a scalp massage
  219. Stop
  220. Stargaze
  221. Go floating
  222. Take a moment
  223. Get a manicure
  224. Weigh the pros and cons
  225. Share your story
  226. Travel back in time
  227. Snack
  228. Walk with a friend
  229. Savor salmon
  230. Admire apples
  231. Enjoy a mocktail
  232. Go meatless
  233. Ask for a Box
  234. Indulge in an Acai Bowl
  235. Understand the Science of Happiness
  236. Rediscover Old Recipes
  237. Experiment with Eggplant
  238. Eat (or at least try) Sushi
  239. Carry an EpiPen (if you have been advised to)
  240. Work Outside
  241. Crack Fresh Eggs
  242. Eat Tomatoes (off the vine)
  243. Say No
  244. Buy a New Pillow
  245. Talk About Ideas
  246. Monitor Your Performance
  247. Clean Your Refrigerator
  248. Treat a Minor Injury
  249. Change the Air Filter
  250. Make Moroccan Meatballs
  251. Choose My Circles Wisely
  252. Begin Again
  253. Get Acupuncture
  254. Plan a Vacation
  255. Remember
  256. Try Matcha Tea
  257. Get New Socks
  258. Commit
  259. Speak Up
  260. Prepare a Snack Board
  261. Update Your Wardrobe
  262. Sort & Purge
  263. Tour a Food Forest
  264. Be True To Yourself
  265. Donate to Charity
  266. Coordinate a Walking Meeting
  267. Ask Questions
  268. Get Your Hands Dirty
  269. Pack a Mobile Emergency Kit
  270. Plant a Tribute
  271. Enjoy a Sweet Treat
  272. Connect Dots
  273. Sip Bubbles
  274. Eat Fresh Figs
  275. Celebrate
  276. Melt
  277. Moisturize
  278. Catch Up
  279. Evaluate Your Social Media Activity
  280. Be Negative
  281. Understand Your Personality
  282. Hire a Coach
  283. Read a Book
  284. Spend Quality Time
  285. Create a Manifestation Space
  286. Reconnect with a Friend
  287. Stay Open
  288. Prepare for Emergencies
  289. Set a Deadline
  290. Do Something for Love
  291. Make Space
  292. Cook with rosemary (or other culinary herbs)
  293. Arrive (rather than impose)
  294. Buy coffee for a stranger
  295. Make a vegan dish
  296. Learn more about your body
  297. Just be
  298. Establish a morning ritual
  299. Give a random gift
  300. Try reflexology
  301. Try new exercises
  302. Vote
  303. Experiment with a sourdough starter (or other cultured food)
  304. Organize your personal space
  305. Collaborate
  306. Write down your soul
  307. Learn bonsai
  308. Create an afternoon of self-care
  309. Island (s)hop with a friend
  310. Crochet (or create something)
  311. Rake leaves
  312. Live vicariously
  313. Sit with ambivalence
  314. Gain an understanding of politics
  315. Evaluate what’s essential
  316. Clear your calendar
  317. Ask for what you need
  318. Practice something that’s difficult for you
  319. Maintain financial harmony
  320. Have a kind disagreement
  321. Support a friend
  322. Brainstorm
  323. Learn something new
  324. Rearrange furniture
  325. Decorate
  326. See your favorite band live
  327. Try reiki
  328. Bake a pie
  329. Prepare a special meal
  330. Watch a funny movie
  331. Look up
  332. Do chores early
  333. Make a list
  334. Email yourself ideas
  335. Arrive early
  336. Warm up
  337. Learn to knit (or some other form of art)
  338. Notice the little things
  339. Watch it snow
  340. Drive slowly
  341. Choose theme words
  342. Stay open
  343. Move forward
  344. Have faith
  345. Don’t make plans
  346. Stay in your jammies
  347. Stay in touch with mentors
  348. Relax at the spa
  349. Learn about gun safety
  350. Get a fluoride treatment
  351. Call in a professional
  352. Go to the symphony
  353. Challenge yourself
  354. Listen to an inspiring audio book
  355. Read old journals
  356. Be a caregiver
  357. Have coffee with a friend
  358. Find a “plan B”
  359. Enjoy a holiday tradition
  360. Feel grateful
  361. Binge watch a series
  362. Have breakfast in bed
  363. Discover your core desired feelings
  364. Go Snowshoeing
  365. Whiten your teeth
  366. Reflect on your year

Ready to start your own challenge? Download a free self-care planning worksheet here.

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Self-Care Challenge (Day 366): Reflecting on My Year of Self-Care

blue-green lake with mountains in the distance

Yesterday, on the 366th and final day of 2016, I spent a few hours re-reading my blog entries over the past year. It’s hard to believe that this 366 Days of Self-Care Challenge has finally come to an end. To say the least, the year has been full of challenges, surprises, losses, and celebrations.

Start here to read from Day 1.

It certainly didn’t play out the way I envisioned, but that’s one of the reasons it was so rewarding.

It’s also why “openness” is one of my core desired feelings going into 2017. Surprisingly, being forced out of my comfort zone this past year has felt really good. For someone who has always been a planner (and a control freak, if you ask my close family and friends), it was liberating and exciting to sit with my curiosity, wondering what might happen next.

self-care-activity-logAt first, it was pretty easy to come up with self-care activities. I started with what I knew: manicures, pedicures, getting enough sleep, eating well. You know, the basics. But as time went on it became more challenging to come up with new things to try. And it was even more challenging to carve out time to blog consistently about it every day (not to mention snap a photo).

There were times when I wanted to quit, to move onto something else–the next shiny idea or project. But I honored my commitment to myself because I knew it was important.

Thankfully, I just made a few adjustments and pushed forward.

Early on, I started to notice some patterns emerging. Many of my activities involved books–journaling, reading, writing. And I read A LOT of books last year (67 to be exact, up from 58 in 2015). For me, it doesn’t get much better than reading in solitude, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. In fact, most of my self-care activities were solo adventures. I relish my quiet time. It’s not a luxury; it’s a requirement for my basic functioning.

I also spent a lot of time outside. I made several visits to the ocean, floated the Deschutes river, went for walks in the woods, did some snowshoeing, and spent a lot of time gardening. I explored eleven US cities and traveled to Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Looking back on the experience, I wouldn’t change a thing. There isn’t much I could have done to better prepare myself for the journey ahead anyway. Without a doubt, I learned more about myself in 2016 than any other year of my life. Now, after a year of deep self-exploration, I’m ready to enter 2017 with a clearer understanding of what truly restores me.

This journey has helped me develop a meaningful self-care practice–one that consistently refills my cup and leaves me better suited to love and care for others.

Are you ready to develop your own self-care practice?

Yes, please.

Self-Care is Multidimensional

Stacy Fisher-Gunn's article on self-care in The Costco Connection

On the final day of 2016, my heart was filled with joy when an article that I wrote several months ago stared back at me from page 63 of the January edition of The Costco Connection!

What an honor!

I am incredibly humbled and eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to share this message of self-care with millions of readers across the country. Self-care is a powerful, yet often underutilized, tool. It’s a preventive health strategy that involves actions and behaviors that improve, restore, and maintain good health.

The truth is, we must love and care for ourselves first before we can fully love and care for others. When we’re healthy, we have more to give. It’s that simple.

Self-care is multidimensional…and personal. What refills your cup may not refill mine, which means that each of us must explore a variety of activities to build a restorative self-care practice that is right for us.

The 8 Dimensions of Self-Care:8 Dimensions of Self-Care

Systemic – How we eat, move and rest
Emotive – How we express ourselves
Luminescent – How we illuminate our inner truth
Financial – How we allocate our resources
Cognitive – How we think
Aptitudinal – How we contribute to the world
Relational – How we connect with others
Environmental – How we harmonize with nature

Ready to build a self-care practice of your own?

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