Wellness Series: Spiritual Wellness

Today we continue our journey through total wellness. As I have said before, wellness encompasses much more than having no illness. There are 5 dimensions of wellness that I will cover in this series. Last week was physical wellness. This week is spiritual wellness.

Spiritual well being is about our inner life and its relationship with the wider world. It includes our relationship with the environment, our relationships with others and our relationships with ourselves. Spiritual well being does not just reflect religious belief- although for people of a religious faith it is obviously a central feature. Each person’s spirituality is greatly impacted by the community they are a part of and their relationships. To be spiritually well will mean a positive engagement with others, self and our environment.

I have some tips for improving spiritual wellness.

  • Volunteer. Volunteer for any cause or charity that you see fit. Something that is near and dear to your heart will be even better. Volunteerism can bring about a feeling of purpose and really help to flex those spiritual muscles. When we are helping others, there is no limit to the joy we can feel.
  • Keep a journal. But not just any journal. I am not talking about the kind of diary you might see a teenage girl keeping. I am talking about a gratitude journal. Write in it every day, and each entry should only include the things you are grateful for in that day. This keeps our focus on the positive things happening in our lives. The more we focus on the good, and are truly grateful for it, the more good we will recognize. I’m not sure if more good things will happen to you, but I am sure that you will start to appreciate the good things that you never noticed.
  • Meditate. Meditation can greatly reduce stress and can serve as a time to think about and really focus on all of those good things you put in your journal the day before.

Try one of these things and see what changes it makes in your life. They may be big and bold or they may be subtle and understated. Let me know if you have any other ideas for improving spiritual wellness!

Next week: Emotional Wellness

Foodie Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookie Tip

I am a total sucker for a really good, homemade chocolate chip cookie. Who isn’t? My favorite recipe is the one that’s on the back of the chocolate chip bag (you know, the yellow one). Whatever recipe you like, I can give you one tip that could make them even better.

Are you ready?

Chill the dough for 24 hours before baking.

I know what you’re thinking. “Jessica, who is going to wait a whole 24 hours for cookies?” Definitely not me. Here is what we do in our house: Mix the dough up according to the recipe. Using a small scoop, dish out six cookies or so and bake them for right now. Chill the rest of the dough over night. Next day we bake a few more and then keep scooping until all the dough is in cookie balls. Freeze these in a single layer, or in multiple layers separated by parchment paper. Once they are frozen hard, you can place them into a zipper top bag to leave in the freezer.

With frozen cookie dough, you can have just a few fresh baked cookies anytime you want!!

Total Wellness

WELLNESSWhat do you think of when you hear or see the word “wellness?” Many people think about food, nutrition and exercise. Some people think about being sick or not being sick. While those fall under the umbrella of wellness, it’s not a complete package. Wellness -Total Wellness- has a lot more to with it than just “not being sick.” There are many facets to total wellness that can be categorized into five dimensions:

  • Physical wellness
  • Spiritual wellness
  • Emotional wellness
  • Professional wellness
  • Social wellness

I’m going to touch on each dimension of wellness, one at a time, for the next five weeks and really explore total wellness and give some practical tips and suggestions to keep my dear readers well. All 25 of you.

We will be starting with physical wellness.

Physical wellness is more than the mere absence of disease. It is living in a balanced state of mind, body and spirit. It includes lifestyle behaviors that promote health and aim to avoid future preventable diseases.

What can we do to promote our own health? One big, big lifestyle behavior that can positively affect your health is to stop using tobacco! Smoking is harmful to the smoker and also to everyone else around. It’s not only in the cigarette, it’s in the air and on the clothing, skin and hair of those who were in range of the smoke produced. It is beyond me how anyone could still be wanting to smoke in the year 2015. We have now known for several decades the detrimental outcomes of cigarettes.

The next big, obvious one is nutrition. We know that we need to eat right for our health. What’s not as obvious is what that actually means. There is so much misinformation on the internet about nutrition. There are an uncountable number of “miracle” diets that claim “If you follow this diet, you will never be sick, you will lose weight in only one week and you will live longer!” The problem is, many of these diets cannot deliver on that promise. The key to healthy eating is this: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 7-9 servings a day. If you only get 3-5, don’t beat yourself up. Choose lean meats like fish, chicken and lean beef or pork. Get about 3 servings, 3 oz each of lean meat. Cook your meat in a way that doesn’t add a lot of fat. This means, avoid breaded and fried meat. Drink lots and lots of water. Don’t drink sugary beverages. Eat whole grains when possible and try to stay in your own healthy calorie range.

Get some exercise. Try for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. I find it hard to believe that you cannot find 30 minutes in your day for this, but if you really can’t, break it up into 3 or 4  sessions per day that are 10 minutes each. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. Just move. If you like to dance, turn on some music and go after it. If you like to walk or run, do it. If you  need structure and guidance, take an exercise class or buy an exercise DVD. You really don’t even need to buy anything. Youtube is FULL of free exercise videos. You just have to look!

One that we tend to overlook or ignore is rest. The body needs adequate rest to be healthy. When we overload ourselves and do not allow any time for rest, the body cannot heal. The body cannot recover which can lead to illness, weight gain, bad moods and a whole host of other negative consequences. We need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Unlike exercise, it is not good to break up our sleep time if it can be helped. It is also important to take some waking hours just to relax and unwind. I want you to schedule at least an hour every week to do something nice for  yourself. It could be something that you spend money on, or something that is totally free. It could be getting a spa treatment, an at-home pedicure, a nice stroll through a pretty park…. just something that you enjoy!

The last tip I have for your physical wellness is preventative medical care. Make sure you are getting your teeth cleaned regularly. If you are a woman over 40, be sure to get your mammograms. Get your wellness checks! Stay up on immunizations for yourself and your children. Practice good hygiene. These are all things you can do to prevent disease or to have successful treatment of disease.

Next week, we will be discussing the spiritual dimension of wellness. What it is and how to improve that part of our lives!

Foodie Friday: MAY Menu

I have gotten ambitious and I have completely planned my dinner menu for the entire month of May! I know that everybody struggles at times to come up with new and interesting ideas for dinner. I am sharing my menu for the month. With the exception of four, all the recipes can be found on my May Menu Pinterest Board. Here are the four that are not on my Pinterest:

Pork Burgers: Just make hamburgers the way you like them, but using ground pork instead of ground beef. They’re great with barbeque sauce.

Grilled Drumsticks: I love a really simple dinner, and this fits the bill perfectly. I just take some chicken drumsticks, sprinkle them all over with garlic salt and grill until the outside is dark and the inside reaches 165 F!

Breakfast Quesadillas: Pretty self explanatory. Put whatever breakfast items you like inside a quesadilla.

Potato, pepper, and onion breakfast skillet: Start by heating oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add in some cubed potatoes- you can use whatever kind of potato you like. When the potatoes are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, add in some diced bell pepper and diced onion. Cook a few minutes until veggies are soft. Lastly, add in some beaten eggs. Scramble and top with cheese and salsa! You’ll need to adjust the amounts according to how many people you are feeding. You can add in any other ingredients you like.

Here is the menu:

UPDATE:

I was informed that the photo above may not be displaying properly. I cannot figure out why, so I am adding a text version of the menu here:

May 1: blueberry pancakes, bacon and fruit
May 2: Caprese Turkey Burgers, Hasselback potatoes and green beans
May 3: Sriracha pork tenderloin, broccoli, salad and rolls
May 4: Chinese salad with chicken and toast
May 5: Jamaican beef stew and salad
May 6: Italian beef sandwiches and tomato/cucumber salad
May 7: Bruschetta salmon, asparagus, Caesar salad
May 8-9: I’ll be out of town for my sister-in-law, Luci’s graduation from college
May 10: Lasagna roll ups, salad and fruit
May 11: Ribeye steak salad and rolls
May 12: Chicken tacos, guacamole and fiesta corn (mexi corn)
May 13: Margarita shrimp, grilled zucchini, salad and bread
May 14: Pork burgers and green beans
May 15: Breakfast burritos, yogurt and fruit
May 16: Hobo dinners and salad
May 17: Beef fajitas
May 18: Cobb salad lentil bowl
May 19: Chipotle pulled pork, broccoli, fruit and toast
May 20: Baja fish tacos with mango salsa and grilled squash
May 21: BBQ Chicken sami’s and salad
May 22: Potato, pepper and onion breakfast skillet, fruit and toast
May 23: Shish kebabs
May 24: Cajun chicken pasta and salad
May 25: Nicoise Salad and cornbread
May 26: Chicken cacciatore and salad
May 27: Grilled drumsticks, green beans and fruit salad
May 28: Homemade pizza
May 29: Breakfast quesadilla
May 30: Ranch pork chops, broccoli, cucumber/tomato salad
May 31: NOLA Gumbo and rice