Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 Resolutions - Take 2!


Here we are, staring back at nearly half of 2017 in the rear view mirror already...so how did you do on your 2017 New Year's Resolutions? For those of you playing along with me, you know I changed things up this year with my 20-1-7 Challenge, trying ONE new healthy habit each week. What stuck? What dropped off? What was the biggest surprise?

Looking back, I'm happy to share that the vast majority of challenges "stuck" and are part of my life routine. Which challenges became permanent changes for me?

  • HIDING MY PHONE in the car (putting in my purse or backpack) is likely the major new habit that is helping the community as much as myself. 
  • NUKING (microwaving) the dish sponge before and after use seems normal now.
  • USING a weekly medication dispenser dramatically improved my consistency.
  • FLOSSING (my biggest victory) is finally routine with my visual reminder from "future Jill"
  • WATER four times per day is back to being habit, rather than forced

What did not stick, but I will keep trying?
  • Playing the piano...I was out of town for several weeks, so no piano
  • YOGA- still WANT this, but haven't found the right method yet
  • Vegetable spiral tool- honestly, now my grocery store sells prepackaged bags of spiraled veggies, so I've been grabbing those rather than DIY
What worked, but not needed long-term?
  • ZZZ- I used a sleep monitoring app for four months, which really helped me prioritize both the quantity and quality of my sleep. 

The biggest SURPRISE?
  • Week #4 Brain Recharge with Kirtan Kriya meditation. This has become my go-to tool for insomnia or situational anxiety (like fear of flying). With or without the recording, I can use this "chant" to calm my mind, brain and body. 
BOTTOM LINE: July marks the start of the second half of 2017, so treat yourself to a do-over or create your next batch of resolutions to improve your health and happiness!







Monday, May 15, 2017

Positive Twist: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #20: The Final Challenge!



Dr. Grimes' 20-1-7 CHALLENGE: 
  • For the first TWENTY weeks of this year,
  • Pick ONE healthy change every Sunday, and
  • Commit to that change for SEVEN days.
Positive Twist: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #20

A couple years ago, I heard a motivational speaker issue a challenge- every time that you find yourself saying or thinking something NEGATIVE, add a comma and a "but..."and finish the sentence with a positive twist. (I wish I could remember her name, to give credit- my apologies.) For my last weekly challenge, rather than focusing on a physical change, I thought it would be great to focus on attitude.

Negative thoughts drag down our energy, feeding a cycle that can adversely affect not only our own mood, but those around us. Especially when life hands you a bunch of challenges at once- and really, that's how it seems to happen, right? Your family member is ill or has an accident, someone else loses a job or ends a relationship, AND your computer crashes...etc. Take a day and really "listen" to your self-talk. How often is your glass half-full, or the majority of your energy focused on what's WRONG, rather than what is working?

Recently, I've found myself spewing anger, frustration and disappointment over a situation that has consumed my thoughts the past few months. For my final 20-1-7 challenge, I'm ready to pro-actively change this negative whirlpool.  This week, I will focus on what is coming out of my brain and mouth, and will use this positive twist technique to reverse gears.

BOTTOM LINE: Every time you have a negative thought or comment, add "BUT..."with a concluding positive twist!

20-1-7 Challenge Week #1: COLOR

20-1-7 Challenge Week #2: Veggie Spiralizer


20-1-7 Challenge Week #3: Medication Dispenser


20-1-7 Challenge Week #4: Meditation


20-1-7 Challenge Week #5: WATER


20-1-7 Challenge Week #6: Exercise BOOST


20-1-7 Challenge Week #7: FLOSS

20-1-7 Challenge Week #8: ZZZ 


20-1-7 Challenge Week #9: RESIST


20-1-7 Challenge Week #10: No W(h)ining

20-1-7 Challenge Week #11: YOGA 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #12: CLUTTER CONTROL




20-1-7 Challenge Week #14: Hide It 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #15: Nuke It   


20-1-7 Challenge Week #16: Old School Keyboarding 


20-1-7 Challenge Week #17: Candy Day 


20-1-7 Challenge Week #18: Eye "Floss" 


20-1-7 Challenge Week#19: Travel Snacks: Not only did this improve our diet along the drive, but also shortened our travel time (since we eliminated several fast food stops!) Definitely a Win-Win!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Travel Snacks: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #19


Dr. Grimes' 20-1-7 CHALLENGE: 
  • For the first TWENTY weeks of this year,
  • Pick ONE healthy change every Sunday, and
  • Commit to that change for SEVEN days.
Travel Snacks: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #19

At home and work, I have a well-established routine for bringing healthy snacks. I always take a thinly sliced apple and a single serving-size of peanut butter or a handful of nuts. However, when I travel...the lure of french fries and Coke will create a force field that sucks my car right in to that drive through (with a long list of rationalizations why I "deserve" this treat.) And honestly, I have no problem with the occasional fast food, but our family tends to have LONG driving trips, and relying on fast food for multiple feedings over several days does our bodies/brains/stomachs no favors.

So- this week, I fly across the country to help our college daughter drive the 1200+ miles back home. My challenge is to make our FIRST food stop be a grocery store- where I stock our car with some nutritious body fuel and bottled water. Yes, we will still enjoy some Culver's delicacies on the drive, but my challenge is to make that the exception, not the default.  

Side note- this summer, especially if you are headed out on a family driving vacation, start your trip with handy healthy snacks in single serving sizes. Our favorites include baby carrots (& single serving hummus),  apples, raisins, nuts*, Luna bars and pretzels. Nothing that melts, nothing that can be "squished"...and we try to limit choking hazards.

BOTTOM LINE: Traveling or not, try taking healthy snacks WITH you to reduce the siren call of fast food!

20-1-7 Challenge Week #1: COLOR

20-1-7 Challenge Week #2: Veggie Spiralizer

20-1-7 Challenge Week #3: Medication Dispenser

20-1-7 Challenge Week #4: Meditation

20-1-7 Challenge Week #5: WATER

20-1-7 Challenge Week #6: Exercise BOOST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #7: FLOSS

20-1-7 Challenge Week #8: ZZZ 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #9: RESIST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #10: No W(h)ining

20-1-7 Challenge Week #11: YOGA 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #12: CLUTTER CONTROL



20-1-7 Challenge Week #14: Hide It 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #15: Nuke It   

20-1-7 Challenge Week #16: Old School Keyboarding 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #17: Candy Day 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #18: Eye "Floss" Feedback: Lid scrubs are so simple to add to your shower routine! Not sure if I can credit the lid scrubs or a change in pollen, but my eyes have been less irritated every day. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Eye "FLOSS": 20-1-7 Challenge Week #18


Dr. Grimes' 20-1-7 CHALLENGE: 
  • For the first TWENTY weeks of this year,
  • Pick ONE healthy change every Sunday, and
  • Commit to that change for SEVEN days.
Eye "Floss": 20-1-7 Challenge Week #18

We all know flossing our teeth is a good idea, right? Certainly our future 70 year old selves would engrave that in our bathroom mirrors if they could. Every dentist that I know is quite faithful about flossing daily. Interestingly, most eye doctors that I know have a similar but lesser known ritual for their eyes. Not actually eye "floss" as my title teased, but eye LID SCRUBS.

The base of our eyelashes are well suited to collect debris, especially if you fall in the mascara, eyeliner or eyeshadow-wearing cohort. While we dutifully wash our faces and possibly use a makeup removal cloth, most can attest from the smears under their eyelashes in the morning that this is not the most thorough of processes. 

"BLEPHARITIS" is the medical name for inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include red, itchy eyes, often with some crusting or flaking alongside the inflamed edge. Contact lens wearers often blame their lens for this irritation, only to discover that it is the lash area causing the problem. If you suffer from this issue, then a simple routine of "lid scrubs" may significantly improve your ocular health. 

Lid scrub products are sold commercially as wipes, or you can DIY with non-irritating baby shampoo. Simply keep a small bottle in your shower, and when you've finished your normal shower/shampoo routine, squeeze out a drop of baby shampoo on to the tips of your fingers, rub them together, and then gently massage the base of your eyelashes (with eyes closed, obviously) for about ten seconds, then put your face back into the spray of the shower and rinse thoroughly. That's it! 

My own eyes have been itchy and mildly irritated for the past few weeks, which I have attributed to the oak pollen that blankets central Texas in the spring, but this is a great time for me to return to the hygiene habit of lid scrubs. 

BOTTOM LINE: This week, add lid scrubs to your daily shower routine- all it takes is a small bottle of no-tears baby shampoo and less than a minute of your time

20-1-7 Challenge Week #1: COLOR

20-1-7 Challenge Week #2: Veggie Spiralizer

20-1-7 Challenge Week #3: Medication Dispenser

20-1-7 Challenge Week #4: Meditation

20-1-7 Challenge Week #5: WATER

20-1-7 Challenge Week #6: Exercise BOOST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #7: FLOSS

20-1-7 Challenge Week #8: ZZZ 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #9: RESIST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #10: No W(h)ining

20-1-7 Challenge Week #11: YOGA 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #12: CLUTTER CONTROL



20-1-7 Challenge Week #14: Hide It 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #15: Nuke It   

20-1-7 Challenge Week #16: Old School Keyboarding 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #17: Candy Day Feedback: The candy habit was more ingrained in my routine than I would have thought, so rather than simply giving up my candy "rewards" during a work day, I substituted a new sweet treat- dried fruit (strawberries or bananas). 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Candy Day: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #17



Dr. Grimes' 20-1-7 CHALLENGE: 
  • For the first TWENTY weeks of this year,
  • Pick ONE healthy change every Sunday, and
  • Commit to that change for SEVEN days.
Candy Day: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #17

Growing up, Sunday was "Candy Day".  Mom lined up her brightly colored glass jars and bowls filled with assorted hard candies and fun-sized Snickers and Milky Way chocolate bars along the counter, while my siblings and I impatiently lined up to fill our little sandwich bag with treats. We were never allowed to eat candy during the week, but on Sunday afternoons we indulged. This tradition worked on many levels, including providing a great incentive for kids to behave well in church, since Candy Day participation was limited to family members in good standing. The truth is that our family dentist suggested this rule after one unnamed family member ended up with a mouthful of cavities in his or her baby teeth. 

Fast forward to my first private practice. Although by this time I certainly no longer rigidly restricted candy to Sundays, I was surprised to see that it was a social norm for most of the staff in our building to keep candy on or in their desk. In fact, I confess to enabling this habit by replenishing the communal chocolate stash in the break room fridge. However, having candy within easy reach can lead to an unhealthy mindless habit- grab a mini-Reeses cup between patients, or "reward" myself with another handful of peanut M&M's when I finish each chart...and the list goes on, as do the empty calories (not to mention the assault on my teeth). 

In the United States, grocery stores happily provide a revolving season of candy...Halloween candy shows up as soon as school starts in late August, then December Candy Canes, Valentine's chocolates, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps and more. Summer doesn't seem to have a designated candy yet- which our bikini bodies might appreciate. None-the-less, my point is that candy seems to be far too available and visually promoted.

So- going back to my wise parents' idea- this week's challenge is to remove candy from your daily routine. Either replace the candy with a nutritious snack (apple slices or a small handful of raw nuts) or skip it all together, whatever works for you. 

BOTTOM LINE: Eliminate candy as a mindless habit or convenient reward, starting with removing candy completely for one week.

20-1-7 Challenge Week #1: COLOR

20-1-7 Challenge Week #2: Veggie Spiralizer

20-1-7 Challenge Week #3: Medication Dispenser

20-1-7 Challenge Week #4: Meditation

20-1-7 Challenge Week #5: WATER

20-1-7 Challenge Week #6: Exercise BOOST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #7: FLOSS

20-1-7 Challenge Week #8: ZZZ 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #9: RESIST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #10: No W(h)ining

20-1-7 Challenge Week #11: YOGA 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #12: CLUTTER CONTROL



20-1-7 Challenge Week #14: Hide It 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #15: Nuke It   

20-1-7 Challenge Week #16: Old School Keyboarding Feedback: Loved the stress relief of playing the piano again. Whether it's "muscle memory" or finely tuned neural pathways (yes, pun intended!) my hands seem to take on a life of their own when I jumped back to playing my favorite songs, and without a doubt, even playing two or three songs on the piano proved to be a wonderful way to clear my brain and eliminate all other thoughts for a few precious minutes.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Old School Keyboarding: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #16


Dr. Grimes' 20-1-7 CHALLENGE: 
  • For the first TWENTY weeks of this year,
  • Pick ONE healthy change every Sunday, and
  • Commit to that change for SEVEN days.
Old School Keyboarding: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #16

When my Mom's Alzheimer disease prevented her from recognizing me as her daughter, the only way I could consistently engage with her was through music. Christmas carols, children's songs and Broadway show tunes would almost always bring a smile to her face, and her eyes would often brighten as she nodded and sang along. My most cherished memory from those last challenging years was sparked by this connection. After singing Christmas carols nonstop for nearly an hour, my mom spontaneously grasped my hands, made full eye contact with me, and in a fleeting moment of clarity, announced, "Jill, you know I love you." What a gift! 

As such, my eyes quickly zoom in on articles such as the "Effects of Music Learning and Piano Practice on Cognitive Function, Mood, and Quality of Life in Older Adults" . I'm always encouraged to see more evidence that playing the piano positively affects the brain, and yet at the same time,  I have walked past MY piano without touching the keys for longer than I care to admit (think years, not months).

So- this week's challenge is to bring back PIANO playing into my life's routine, if only for a few songs per day. I will be VERY rusty, but I believe at least a few songs are so deeply imprinted in my neural pathways and fingers that they will jumpstart my musical engine (Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag is a must.)

For those of you "playing along" with my 20-1-7 challenge who do NOT play piano but own one...now is a great time to start lessons! If you neither own nor know how to play, feel free to choose a different instrument or simply sing out loud a few songs.

BOTTOM LINE: This week's challenge is to play the piano for at least 10 minutes per day.

20-1-7 Challenge Week #1: COLOR

20-1-7 Challenge Week #2: Veggie Spiralizer

20-1-7 Challenge Week #3: Medication Dispenser

20-1-7 Challenge Week #4: Meditation

20-1-7 Challenge Week #5: WATER

20-1-7 Challenge Week #6: Exercise BOOST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #7: FLOSS

20-1-7 Challenge Week #8: ZZZ 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #9: RESIST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #10: No W(h)ining

20-1-7 Challenge Week #11: YOGA 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #12: CLUTTER CONTROL



20-1-7 Challenge Week #14: Hide It 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #15: Nuke It   Feedback: Microwaving the kitchen sponge before and after use was a simple habit quickly adopted by our whole family. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nuke It: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #15

Dr. Grimes' 20-1-7 CHALLENGE: 
  • For the first TWENTY weeks of this year,
  • Pick ONE healthy change every Sunday, and
  • Commit to that change for SEVEN days.
NUKE IT: 20-1-7 Challenge Week #15


How do you clean/sanitize the sponge that you use to clean your family's dishes, pots & pans? Like sneakers, kitchen sponges are replaced far less frequently than recommended. When researchers check bacteria counts on kitchen sponges, the numbers are are impressive- both in restaurants and in homes. (Oct 2016, International Journal of Food Science, Microbiological Safety of Kitchen Sponges Used in Food Establishments)

It makes sense that a sponge is the ideal culture ground for bacteria, as moisture combines with tiny food particles from scrubbing. However, I'll be the first to confess that I only recently began "nuking" our sponges, which I find to be easier to remember than tossing the sponge in the dishwasher. Interestingly, microwaving your damp sponge for 30 seconds or tossing your sponge in the dishwasher with your dishes are both more effective than using chemical sterilizers, such as bleach. 

How much does sterilizing your kitchen reduce the spread of measurable disease? I wish that I had an evidence-based answer, but I do not. What I know is that the vast majority of Americans consume the highest proportion of food in their own home, and food-borne illness is extremely common. For me, cleaning the sponge (and replacing the kitchen sponge at least every other week) is a simple healthy habit, like using only dishwasher-safe cutting boards that you wash after every use.

BOTTOM LINE: This week's challenge is to make it a daily habit to microwave your kitchen sponge for 30 seconds to reduce bacterial counts in your own kitchen.

20-1-7 Challenge Week #1: COLOR

20-1-7 Challenge Week #2: Veggie Spiralizer

20-1-7 Challenge Week #3: Medication Dispenser

20-1-7 Challenge Week #4: Meditation

20-1-7 Challenge Week #5: WATER

20-1-7 Challenge Week #6: Exercise BOOST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #7: FLOSS

20-1-7 Challenge Week #8: ZZZ 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #9: RESIST

20-1-7 Challenge Week #10: No W(h)ining

20-1-7 Challenge Week #11: YOGA 

20-1-7 Challenge Week #12: CLUTTER CONTROL




20-1-7 Challenge Week #14: Hide It FEEDBACK: For me, placing my phone in my purse is a simple, easily sustainable, safety habit. Your car should be a texting-free zone, and driving without visible access to your own phone will make you frighteningly aware of how many drivers sharing the road with you are more interested in THEIR phones than traffic.