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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Schererville, IN

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September 24, 2020

Pumpkins, Apples, and Pears, Oh My

Welcome to fall and an abundance of pumpkins, apples, and pears. These are just a few favorites that enjoy a big debut this time of year. The Great Pu

September 17, 2020

Creating Space…in Your Refrigerator, Freezer, Life

Lately I’ve noticed that I have the need for more space—physically, mentally, digitally, and when it comes to my schedule. And no, I do not want a

September 10, 2020

Standing in the Doorway of September

We’re standing in the doorway of September. Summer days still linger, yet autumn is inching its way into our lives—and wardrobes. It’s one more

September 3, 2020

Sometimes I Eat My Feelings

Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes I eat my feelings. How about you? We feel sad, so we eat food that soothes us. We feel like celebrating, so we

September 2, 2020

Carob Brownies

(This recipe first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Ingredients:  1/2 cup all-purpos

September 1, 2020

High-fiber, low-fat legume adds the flavor without the drawbacks of chocolate

(The following article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Online version Most pe

August 27, 2020

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready? Or are you waiting for the perfect time to…                             …learn a new skill? …write the book? …ea

August 25, 2020

Gluten Free Pie Crust

This recipe yields two 9-inch pie crusts. 2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend (Namaste and King Arthur are brands I’ve used)  1/2 teaspo

August 20, 2020

It’s Tomato Time

As I was caring for my tomato plants, I had the memory of my father teaching me about cutting off the suckers–those shoots that show up between

August 13, 2020

Enjoy a Bit of Sabbath Today

Today, take some time to lighten things up a bit and do something you really enjoy—for about an hour. Warning: this may take some discipline. Monks

The Great Pumpkin

It was quite a disturbing incident for such a small, quiet town. Everybody knew everybody in Danville. To think that my great pumpkin had been stolen was incomprehensible!

I was only ten years old. My dad had grown the biggest pumpkin I had ever seen. It weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of forty pounds. Together we had carved the scariest, most evil looking jack-o-lantern you could imagine. It glowed from our front porch on Halloween night.

At some point during the treating festivities, a trick was played and my forty-pound scariest, most evil looking jack-o-lantern, disappeared. Mom called the police, but since we didn’t have enough sound evidence for a description—of the pumpkin (which ended up as purée)—or the perpetrators (we never saw them), nothing could be done. I was devastated.

What a laugh the police department must have had that night. My family has always been one to provide entertainment. And on that note…

These days, I eat canned pumpkin and leave the carving to other brave souls. This is the perfect time to review all the good stuff about pumpkin and offer ideas to include it in your diet.

Pumpkins and their seeds rank high on the nutrition scale. Besides looking very festive, the pumpkin is full of fiber. Fiber helps us stay full longer, aids in healthy digestion and keeps us humming. A small amount of pure, canned pumpkin helps doggy digestion too.

Pumpkins contain potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B-complex, C and E. Health benefits include a boost to the immune system and reduced inflammation. Inflammation in the body can lead to a variety of chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and type-2 diabetes.

The carotenoids, which give pumpkins their bright orange color, offer protection from certain cancers and heart disease. These compounds also lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. The alpha-carotene component may slow the aging process. Now we’re talking.

Pumpkin seeds contain zinc and vitamin E. Interesting tidbit: when roasting these at home, do not do so for longer than 20 minutes, as this causes an undesirable change in the seed fats.

Ways to get more pumpkin in your diet: add pumpkin purée to soup, pasta sauce, stew or chili to increase the nutritional value (it will not significantly alter the flavor); use it in place of oil in a bread or muffin recipe; add some to a bowl of oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt; try it in your hummus recipe.

I like to add it to my protein shake. Pour it into a fancy glass, sprinkle some nutmeg on top and it may even pass for eggnog.

Gobbly Good Protein Shake
9 oz. almond milk
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 T. canned pumpkin
½ tsp. cinnamon
3-4 ice cubes

Add ingredients to blender and mix until smooth. Note: When choosing canned pumpkin purée, be sure that the only ingredient is pumpkin. Some canned pie fillings contain sugar.

Linus [writing to the Great Pumpkin]: “You must get discouraged because more people believe in Santa Claus than you. Well, let’s face it; Santa Claus has had more publicity, but being #2, perhaps you try harder.”

A Sad Truth, and Hope

I read an article last week about the obesity rate in the United States. According to the report covering 2015 and 2016: 40 percent of adults and 18.5 percent of children are obese. The numbers have not gone down since prior reports and actually, have increased ever so slightly.

The rate for children and teens had hovered around 17 percent for a decade. The 2 to 5 age group had the biggest increase in the latest study.

This news is very sad. These numbers indicate issues that are about so much more than weight and food. 

When people struggle with weight, they are typically struggling with a variety of health issues, low self-esteem, depression, insecurity, a higher risk for injuries and more. They often find themselves on medications to help combat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, and pain. If they are young, they may be dodging the prescription counter—for now.

So is there a simple solution? I wish I could wave a magic wand and improve the situation. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. My magic wand is missing. The good news is that I am clearing out the unnecessary items I keep finding in my home, so maybe it will show up. In the meantime, I have some suggestions that offer hope for those who are struggling with current habits that are not serving them.

The first secret to making adjustments in your life (when it comes to your health, or anything) is to accept that you are not going to do it perfectly. Ever. Let that go and move on. I know, this is easier said than done, and it has been a struggle for me over the years. Practice new habits that improve your quality of life. Observe what happens.

The next thing you can do that will make a difference is change your mindset. The goal is to continually improve your habits so that you are eating, moving, living a little bit better than before. Do not completely turn your world upside down or follow some fad diet or cleanse or intense training that will cause you to hate your life. This behavior might make you feel better in the short term. It will come back to bite you down the road. Living in a miserable way that deprives you of life’s goodness is not sustainable. It will feel too hard and you will cave.

Be patient and celebrate every success, no matter how small it may seem. You tried a new vegetable and even liked it—awesome! You are drinking water throughout the day and not getting that headache or tired feeling in the afternoon—splendid! You now include some lean protein 3 or 4 times a day and your energy is up—how cool is that? You’ve increased the amount of sleep you typically get, so instead of 6 hours you now get 7—nice! You walked the dog an extra block—YES! Celebrate these victories and your life daily.

Whatever your challenge may be today, there are lots of people who make it their life’s work to help; people who create a vision larger than you believe is even possible, for you to gradually step into. Life coaches, financial coaches, writing coaches, personal trainers, spiritual directors, career counselors, to name a few. If you are stuck in some area of your life, begin NOW by setting a different course on your internal GPS.

If your challenge is with food (it’s always about more than the food!), health, weight and trying to balance it in a way that makes sense for you, I may be the person to help. Together, we can turn your vision into a reality that lasts a lifetime.

“It’s amazing, how far you can go; just because someone believed in you.”

If Your Get Up and Go, Got Up and Went

For many of us who live in the Midwest, this time of year can be challenging. The colors are becoming vibrant and the nights are often cooler—which is why some of us feel a bit less energetic. How so?

In a nutshell, when daytime temperatures run in the 70’s or 80’s and dip suddenly to the 40’s or 50’s at night, it creates stress on the body. Days of needing to run the air conditioner intermingled with those when we feel the need to flip on the heat may contribute to restless sleep, lack of energy, allergy/cold symptoms, and even feeling a bit “down” with no specific reason. It’s a rollercoaster ride that goes on for weeks.

We often associate stress with those situations that involve people, work, life, loss–yet may not associate it with weather conditions. The shifts we go through in spring and fall take a physical toll on us, and show up in various ways.

When I worked in the pharmacy, the number of prescriptions for ulcer and anti-anxiety medications increased in spring and fall. Interesting.

If you are dealing with some other tough issues, this weather shift may be enough to push you over the edge. It also tends to be more difficult on women, probably due to the never-ending hormonal balancing act, possible low thyroid function, and the idea that we need to save the world. (Of course, if these troubles persist, check in with your physician.)

What to do?

  • Keep in mind that this too shall pass, when things stabilize a bit. When we consistently have cooler days and nights and less widespread temperature shifts, we will feel better. Allergies usually improve after the first frost. Not that I’m advocating the arrival of winter, I’m simply playing messenger here.
  • If you can put less pressure on yourself in another area of your life, do so. For example, I really don’t recall accomplishing much last Tuesday. I sort of drifted through the day and was okay with that—which is not typical. It’s the weather. Really. I’m not making this up.
  • Include some cold water fish in your diet. This increases your Omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation in the body, and in turn boosts your immune system. Canned tuna, sardines, cod, salmon, halibut, and whitefish are some that qualify. Always choose wild caught fish. These also provide another source of iodine, which is beneficial to your thyroid health!
  • Make a plan to allow for extra sleep.
  • Move around. My dog has gotten used to our daily walks to the park. She is spoiled. If your typical exercise routine feels like more than you can handle, do something less taxing until you get over the hump.
  • Do something nice for yourself and someone else. It will perk up your mood and improve your frame of mind. I think I had a bowl of ice cream AND gave one to my husband. Yep, that worked for me!

Now, before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, relax. I’ve been making lots of vegetables and sharing them too, which also helps everything. Try it!

RECIPE IDEA: Roast a variety of vegetables by cutting them in similar size pieces, tossing with olive oil and your favorite seasonings, (I like salt and pepper), and roasting in a 350 degree oven until they are done to your liking. EASY AND DELICIOUS!

“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.” –Unknown

Have Some Fun

Do you love your plan to get yourself moving, get in your steps, burn some calories, bump up your energy level, what have you? Or is it pure torture and drudgery? Are you in the category of folks who claim, “I don’t have time,” when asked if you get any exercise?

Here’s the deal: if you aren’t having fun -–at least to some degree— you won’t make it part of your life. Motivation and inspiration only last so long. Excuses and very convincing stories are easy to come by.

Whatever you do, it has to be convenient and enjoyable. I can feel some of you rolling your eyes; you are the ones doing killer workouts several times a week and wondering if you will survive the next one. Honesty time—you enjoy these on some level or you would not keep going back for more. There is something addictive and magical about it, whether you go out and run miles in the cold and rain or do CrossFit.

If you recall one of my recent blogs, my friend Carol has changed many of her habits so that she can keep dancing. Zumba, belly dancing, and ballet fit keep her moving and she enjoys them. If anyone suggested she start running or join a gym, she’d never get off the couch. Well, except to walk her dog.

Movement is beneficial for our overall health and well-being. You may or may not be a gym person. It doesn’t matter, as long as you figure out what works for you. Here’s a bit of news that may surprise you, however. According to various studies, exercise ALONE does not affect fat or weight loss. Exercise IN COMBINATION with nutritional adjustments is the secret formula.

Strength/resistance training is critical to prevent muscle loss as we age. It improves bone density, increases metabolism, improves self-esteem, helps balance, reduces risk of injury, and more. (Try a few push-ups today.)

If you feel stuck with your current fitness routine, the weight or fat percentage needle isn’t moving, or you’re bored, then it’s time to seek out something new. Challenge yourself to expand your horizons and see what fitness adventures await, combining movement and food that work for YOU. 

As for me, I look forward to my various group workouts. Here’s a surprise: I love the social aspect of group activities. I do a Total Body Conditioning class once a week that pushes me to the place of “I hope I survive this.” The energy in the room is through the roof and we would all be disappointed and feel cheated with anything less than extreme. Thank you, Estelle! We keep coming back.

Perhaps you have your meals down when it comes to the nutritional component of the fitness puzzle, yet you struggle with snacks. Who doesn’t love snacks that taste great, provide good energy and don’t mess up your fitness goals? Oh, and did I mention EASY? If snacking is a challenge for you, join me for my upcoming Kitchen Coaching session: Let’s Do Snacks. We’ll have some fun!