Is sugar actually addictive?

Is sugar actually addictive?

I’ve been studying some new research about sugar addiction as well as a concept that is new to me known as intuitive eating.  Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional and what I’m going to share with you today is what I’ve found through my own personal research and experience.  Let’s start with some history.

In 2014, Katie Couric produced a documentary called Fed Up which is about the obesity epidemic and the food industry’s role in aggravating it.  I remember the first time I saw it, I felt like I had my eyes opened to the fact that it’s no wonder we’ve all been diet confused.  There’s been the no fat, low fat, no carb, low carb, count calories, don’t count calories, don’t eat until Noon or eat after 7, or just exercise your fat away.  Just so we’re clear, the weight loss industry is now worth a record $72 billion according to the newest market research.  They want you unhealthy.  Fed Up suggests that the main reason for the obesity epidemic is our addiction to sugar.  When they took the fat out of foods, which is where the flavor is, they had to find a way to make low-fat or fat-free foods taste good, so they poured in the sugar.

Doctors have told us that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.  However, a recent study has shown this to be a less than compelling statement.  This study, published in 2016 found little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans, and findings from the animal literature suggest that addiction-like behaviors, such as bingeing, occur only in the context of intermittent access to sugar. These behaviors likely arise from intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar. Did you catch that?  Intermittent access to sugar, meaning sugar restriction is what presents as an addictive behavior.  While I think we do consume entirely too much sugar, I also think there is more at play.

I mentioned last week that I’ve had weight and body image issues for as long as I can remember.  I grew up in a household where if you wanted dessert, you had to clean your plate.  Because of this, I used to gorge myself at dinner because what I really wanted was dessert.  This started a vicious cycle of bingeing and restricting that is still with me today.  I’ve been on and off diets since I was 14 years old.  I also use food to comfort myself in times of stress and anxiety or even just out of boredom.  And then I feel guilt and shame and promise myself that tomorrow will be better.  Sound familiar?

Fad diets go something like this, there’s this food bestowed upon us by unicorns that holds all the secrets of the universe that if you eat it you will unlock said secrets.  Then there’s a set of arbitrary rules applied to it and voila, the pounds will just melt off.  Sound familiar?  That’s because it’s the basis for nearly every “diet” under the sun.  But what if I told you that diets just don’t work?  I mean, think about it.  If diets worked, the weight loss industry wouldn’t be making money hand over fist.  Diets give too much power to food.  We tell ourselves that there are good foods and bad foods and we give ourselves cheat days where no food is off-limits.  And because we restrict ourselves in this way, we’re programming our brains to feel guilt and shame for eating the “bad” foods.  Have you ever heard of The Last Supper eating?  No, I’m not talking about eating bread and drinking wine with your disciples.  I’m talking about the Sunday night before the new diet starts on Monday.  We never know when we’re going to eat our favorite foods again, so we try and cram them all into one day because it’ll be the “last time.”  This leads to the overconsumption of food and is it any wonder we feel like total crap after we do it?

The experts say that the first step to healing is admitting you have a problem.  I’ve known for years that I’ve had an eating problem, and unfortunately, it’s taken me nearly 40 years to finally be ready to get help.  You know how I’ve been telling you that you have to advocate for yourself and your health because no one will do it for you?  Well, this is me advocating for myself.  One thing you may not know about me is I enjoy doing research.  And in my research on today’s topic, I came across a book called Intuitive Eating.  It completely blew my mind about how I think about food and my relationship with it.  Mind you, intuitive eating is not a diet.  In fact, it works to unravel everything we thought we knew about dieting and the long-term effects dieting can have on our psyche.  Author Dr. Evelyn Tribole says, “You and only you can be the expert of your body.  No diet, no person in the world can possibly know your thoughts, your feelings, how hungry you are, what satisfies you.”  The intuitive eating process takes you through 10 principles:

  1. Reject the diet mentality
  2. Honor your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Feel your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Cope with your emotions without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise – feel the difference
  10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition

The authors suggest to start looking at food as being amoral – meaning it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.  Although I’ve read the book and have been working through the workbook, I know that’s not going to be enough for me, so I hired a therapist who specializes in intuitive eating.  I am currently working on honoring my hunger.  And people, let me tell you, it’s a struggle!  Right now, I’m in the data collection phase.  I know I am an emotional eater so for me, the first step is to name the emotion that makes me head to the kitchen.  Honoring your hunger is about listening to your body and feeding it when it’s hungry – this is not dictated by the clock but literally when I feel hungry.  And, it’s about giving yourself the freedom to eat whatever foods you want with no judgment.  The only caveat is that you only eat when you’re hungry.  I’m not kidding when I say this is a struggle because some days, I feel hungry all day long and others I don’t feel hungry at all.  But my mind tells me that it’s 12:00 so it must be time for lunch.  This process is almost like being a baby again – the point is to replace old neuron paths with new ones by truly listening to what your body is trying to tell you.

I think the hardest part for me to wrap my mind around is that this process isn’t linear.  And for someone who prides herself on being highly organized, a non-linear process makes my brain freaking hurt.  I like things to be neat and tidy and simple, but neat, tidy, and simple is not what got me here in the first place.  It’s a complicated mess that is going to take a lot of work to sift through.  And it’s something that I will continue to work on the rest of my life, which scares the crap out of me.  But I know it’s going to be worth it.  I love my husband and my family, and I want to be around them for as long as possible.  I also don’t want to be a burden on them with my own crummy life choices. And, I don’t want to have to take a handful of prescription meds every day for the rest of my life either.  Take it from me, I’m already on HRT and it’s not cheap so taking the road less traveled is also going to help out the old checkbook too.

Mind you, intuitive eating is not about losing weight.  It’s about healing your body and your relationship with food.  It takes into account your whole body and helps you unleash the shackles of dieting.  It’s about getting back to your roots – trusting your body and its signals.  The authors dive into a broad philosophy that addresses the issues of cognitive distortions and emotional eating.  If losing weight is all you’re about, then you’re probably not ready for this leap.  But let me ask you this, when you think about how much money you’ve spent on dieting in the past, what could you have spent that money on instead?  Could you have gone on a fabulous trip to Hawaii?  Around the world?  To the moon and back?  And for what?  Did you keep the weight off?   Or did you rebound and gain all the weight back and then some?  My point is that if you’ve struggled with food your whole life as I have, then perhaps today is the day you decide to do something different.

I really appreciate you allowing me to be vulnerable and tell you my story and if you have a similar story to tell, I’d love to hear from you.  Remember, this is a safe space and you’ll get no judgment from me.  Next week I’m going to share with you a little about habit setting because I just can’t get enough of the mysteries of our brains.

Episode 11: Habits – What They Are and How They Work

Today we’re talking about habits – what they are, how they work, and if they are possible to change.


In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How your brain creates habits
  • The Cue-Routine-Reward Habit Loop
  • Examples of how habits work

Resources:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

Listening to YOUR body

Listening to YOUR body

In between my first and second surgeries, the doctors suspected I had a small tumor on my adrenal gland, which a CT confirmed.  However, the Endocrinologist didn’t seem too concerned about it and his recommendation was to just keep an eye on it.  Around that time, I decided to quit my job and go back to school to finish up my teaching certification, so I lost my insurance coverage and it took a while to get onto my husband’s.  And like an idiot, I never scheduled a follow-up appointment with and just kept telling myself that it was nothing to worry about and I’d get it checked out when I could.

Fast forward four years.  Four years!  I had just finished up my second year of teaching and we moved to Kansas City.  I got a new job and still, it took another year before I got established with a new primary care physician.  You know how most specialist doctors are – they require a referral from another doctor before they will see you.  On the day of my appointment, I had had a particularly eventful morning with work and when I got to the doctor’s office my blood pressure was through the roof!  It was something like 180 over 102 so my doctor and I never got around to talking about the tumor because my blood pressure was so high.  As it turns out, my heart is fine and long story short, I’m on blood pressure medication for now.  However, after running a battery of tests we found out that my cholesterol is dangerously high – GREAT!  You know me, overachiever!  What did this new doctor have to say about that…like a lot of doctors, she said I needed to focus on my diet and exercise and to join Weight Watchers and she’d recheck me in six months.  And I have to tell you, this was very disappointing to hear.  I’ll come back to that in a minute.

After getting my BP under control, I finally got in for a new CT, and the gal running the show pulled in two different doctors to look at the scans.  None of them could find an adrenal tumor so they told me they’d send the scans to my doctor and sent me home.  I have to admit, I was relieved, but still somewhat suspicious.  My doctor told me that everything looked clear but that she still wanted me to get set up with a new endocrinologist.  This was in February and I had to wait until June to get into him.  June!  This always slays me.  Why is it when you try to get in with a fancy doctor do you have to wait forever?  Anyway.  When June finally rolled around, and since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, this new doctor and I met via telehealth.  Of course, as these things tend to go, the other doctor did not send the scans over, so he walked me through some questions, and he had some concerns.  This led to more blood work, which I’m happy to report has all come back normal.  But what he said next really hit home with me.  We were talking about my hypertension and cholesterol level and his immediate response to me was that if he had been the first doctor that he would not have said, “let’s check it again in six months.”  He told me that since my cholesterol was so high that it was more than likely for genetic reasons, not due to diet and exercise and he recommended getting into a lipid specialist.  I could have hugged the man and probably would have had we been in person.  Here’s why.

I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve struggled with diet and exercise since I was 14 years old.  And all the doctors can ever say is join Weight Watchers, or here let me write you a prescription for Phentermine, or you just need to start exercising and it will solve all your problems.  They say you need to eat all the fat, or none of the fat, or only plants, or all the meat. Is it any wonder we’re all confused?  Kids, I’m here to tell you that this is all bullshit.  Sorry for the language, but it’s true!  Think about it, if dieting worked, there would not be an obesity epidemic in our country or the world for that matter!  Dieting is a billion-dollar industry.  Now, I’m not trying to turn this into an infomercial about weight loss, but I do want to tell you that I’ve had my eyes opened by new research and I’m going to tell you all about it next week so be prepared to have your mind-hole blown wide open.

You’re probably wondering if there is a point to this article, and here it is.  Sometimes, doctors can say really dumb things.  Not to completely bash the medical profession, but there are some doctors who are straight-up lazy and would rather write you a prescription rather than take whole-body measures into consideration.  I’ve not felt well for the last two years.  My sleep pattern is jacked, my anxiety level is sky-high, I’ve had bouts of depression, weight gain, and some days my body just freaking hurts.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I have a big birthday coming up in November and I do not want to go into the next decade of my life feeling this way.  And I will admit that I have sometimes struggled to take my own advice when it comes to my health.  Life has gotten busy and I haven’t made time for myself.  I’m here to tell you that denial isn’t just a river in Africa.  Sorry for the pun, but it’s true.  The biggest lie I think we tell ourselves is, “everything is fine.”  For me, everything has not been fine, and I’ve been kicking myself for wasting so much time feeling like crap.  The advice I have for you today is the same advice I’m giving to myself.  You know your body.  You know when it doesn’t feel right.  Don’t ignore it.  You have to trust that it’s going to tell you when something is off.  You must also go get wellness exams.  Ladies, you need to perform self-breast exams at least once a month.  Men, the same goes for your testicles.  Do it in the shower and call it a day.  Wear sunscreen and get your skin checked at least once a year – in fact, most hospitals hold skin checks in May so sign up for an appointment.  Have regular blood work done once a year and keep up on immunizations.  Ask questions.  Get second opinions.  Keep appointments.  I know that all of this is a lot easier said than done and dealing with insurance sucks, but it’s better than the alternative.  There are people in your lives who want and need you to be healthy.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

What’s been going on with you lately?  Have you had a crazy experience with doctors or your health?  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to email me at cj@adultingwithcj.com.  Or, you can leave any questions or comments below.

 

 

 

Episode 10: Sugar Addiction & Intuitive Eating

Today I’m sharing with you the latest research on sugar addiction and intuitive eating.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Why sugar isn’t the primary culprit for the obesity epidemic
  • What intuitive eating is
  • My story about weight and body image issues

Resources:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

Advocating for YOU

Advocating for YOU

This week I want to talk to you about how to advocate for your own health.  Here’s the thing, you must advocate for your own health because no one else will do it for you.  This is something I used to tell my patients when I worked for the American Cancer Society.  So often, I would have a patient who felt completely lost after receiving their cancer diagnosis because a) they didn’t know what questions to ask their doctor or b) their busy doctor didn’t take the time to fully explain things.  I know, doctors are very busy people and they see a lot of patients.  But sometimes, they need a reminder that their patients are human beings who may be scared and who also didn’t go to med school.  Today I want to share the journey that led to my learning this lesson the hard way.  It all starts back in 2013.  Also, disclaimer, the majority of this story is about my reproductive organs.

Never Skipped a Wellness Exam

I have always been a good girl when it comes to getting my regular wellness exams.  In fact, I have not missed one since I was 17 years old because I’ve had issues that started at a young age.  I had several pap smears come back with abnormal results that started to normalize once I ditched the birth control pills.  Now, I am not advising you to stop taking birth control pills – this is just what I did for my own health reasons.  After I got married, my issues really started to ramp up.  My periods were so heavy that for the first few days I felt like I couldn’t go out in public.  Sometimes I would go through three super tampons in an hour or so.  And sometimes, my actual vagina would ache during these first few days.  I chalked it up to just being normal for me and how my body went through the process.  As I said, I never skipped a wellness exam and for several years in a row, my results always came back normal.  Mind you, I was seeing a family practice doctor as opposed to an OB/GYN because I didn’t think I needed one at that time.  Because we moved and insurance changed, I started seeing a new doctor in 2013.  That first year, she told me that nothing was wrong even after I told her that my periods had gotten really heavy and so I trusted her.  The second year, she told me she thought my uterus might be a bit enlarged so she recommended I get in with an OB/GYN but that it was probably nothing to worry about.

Meeting the OB/GYN

At the first appointment with my OB, it took him all of 7 seconds to tell me that my uterus was HUGE.  His word.  And he thought I should have a transvaginal ultrasound.  Let me tell you, if you haven’t had one of these, it is the one time in my life I thought I was going to actually pee myself in public!  In order for them to get good pictures, you have to drink something like 32 ounces of water in an hour and you can’t go to the bathroom.  On the day of my appointment, the printers had stopped working in the clinic and there were some other things going on behind closed doors and I had to wait for nearly an hour, with this super full bladder to have this procedure done.  The way it works is like this, you go in, they have this wand that you think is going to touch your brain that they stick up in your vag, they take photos, then you get to pee and then they take more photos.  The moment I actually got to use the restroom was the most glorious pee of my life!  I got called back into my doctor’s office two days later and he informed me that I had 5.5 POUNDS of fibroid tumors that were pulling on my uterus as well as pushing on nearly all my other organs.  He told me that I was in the 95th percentile of largest tumors he’s ever seen in his 20-some years practicing medicine.  What can I say?  I’m an overachiever.  What I didn’t tell you is that I had been having symptoms I didn’t know were symptoms of growing these huge tumors.  For example, when I would lie on my left side, my heart would race for no apparent reason.  I had been having this weird tingling sensation in the tops of my legs, and I felt like I had to pee all the time.  Turns out, all of these symptoms were coming from the fact that I was growing a Voldemort baby in my body.  Most of the time, fibroid tumors are benign, and fortunately, they were in my case.  My doctor informed me that because I had so many that the only way to treat them was by removing them, meaning I had to have a hysterectomy.  Did I mention I was only 34 at the time?  Chad and I had already pretty much decided that we weren’t going to have children, but to have the decision taken away from you?  Let’s just say, there were lots of tearful discussions.  In my case, time was of the essence because if the tumors decided to rupture, I would bleed out very quickly – which if you’ve ever watched any medical show ever, you know is not a good thing.  So, I got scheduled for a hysterectomy.  The plan was to keep my ovaries so that I wouldn’t have to take HRT, or hormone replacement therapy which I thought was a good thing.

The First Bowel Prep

Jump to the day before surgery.  If you’ve ever had a big surgery, you probably know what story I’m getting ready to tell next.  If not, well, you’re about to be highly amused.  Before any type of surgery like mine, you have to do a bowel prep.  This is where you drink a GALLON of water that contains sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate.  What this does is literally clean out your bowel so that in the event that something accidentally gets nicked, you’re not going to start leaking actual crap into your body.  Here’s what I learned on that day.  Step one, get the water as cold as you can possibly get it without it freezing.  Trust me, it helps with the taste.  Step two, plan ahead what books you’ve been wanting to read because you are not leaving the bathroom.  Step three, don’t sip the solution, chug it like you’re back in college.  Nothing can really prepare you for this experience so it’s best to just take it as it comes… or leaves as it was in this case.

Day of Surgery

On the day of surgery, since mine was the first of the day, they started me out in recovery.  Now, this area is pretty nice.  The lights are dim, everyone is talking quietly and getting ready to start their days.  I, of course, was a mess.  I was terrified of being cut open, concerned about being intubated and my vocal cords being destroyed, worried the anesthesia wouldn’t work like that Leo movie, and of course, this meant no babies.  My doctor was pretty awesome, and he came in to check on me.  He told me that he could try and save my uterus if that’s what I wanted but I told him that we’d already decided to get rid of it so we should stick to the plan.  They wheeled me into the OR and the last thing I remember was a Dr. Blue Eyes prepping me for the anesthesia and the next thing I remember was waking up back in recovery with the pain equivalent to doing 10,000 crunches.  The surgery itself took 3.5 hours and my doctor later told me that he had his hands on every one of my organs except my heart because he had to move everything back into place.  I ended up with internal stitches and 23 staples from my belly button to the top of my pubic bone.

Recovery took a solid six months.  I went back to work after six weeks, but I still had healing pains for much longer after that.  Right around the time everything was feeling pretty good, I had my 9-month checkup.  I expected to hear that everything was healed nicely and that I’d be fully released.  Boy was I wrong.  After my doctor checked out my ovaries, he immediately ordered an ultrasound.  As it turned out, my ovaries decided they were feeling left out of the party and decided it was time to throw a tantrum.  After a CT, it turned out that one of my ovaries had adhered to something it shouldn’t and the other one was displaying signs of endometriosis.  Oh goodie!  What did this mean?  It meant that I needed a second surgery nine months after the first in order to remove my ovaries.  In fact, the gal who ran my CT told me that my results are pretty typical.  Most of the patients she sees who choose to keep their ovaries end up back in surgery six to nine months later having them taken out anyway.  So if you’re in the situation, talk to your doctor to see if having everything done at once is right for you.

Second Surgery

Since I’m nothing if not practical, we scheduled surgery on December 31st, and I ended up with a twofer.  I’d already met my deductible from the first surgery, so it ended up being a sort of buy one, get one situation.  Same as before, I had to do a SECOND bowel prep and all I can say is don’t let your doctor try to convince you to use the generic brand – use the real deal.  It took nearly all day to work and because it dehydrated me so badly, the PIC line people had to be called in order to get my IV in before surgery because the nurses couldn’t find a good vein.  On New Year’s Eve, I checked into the hospital fully expecting to go home that day as this surgery was supposed to be done laparoscopically.  But as luck would have it, as I was coming to, I heard a nurse on the phone scheduling a room on nine west, which I knew meant the 9th-floor surgery wing.  Evidently this completely set me off because, although I have no memory of it, my husband told me later that I was sobbing as they took me to my room.  Because I had so many adhesions, or scar tissue, that had built up from the first surgery, they weren’t able to get to my ovaries with the scope.  So, I was once again cut open from the belly button to pubic bone and this time, the surgery took 4 hours.  The good thing is that for whatever reason, my recovery time wasn’t nearly as long as I was back to work after four weeks.

I still remember the very first hot flash I had.  It was about a week into January and it was about 2 degrees outside.  I opened the back door and very nearly naked stood outside and waited for it to pass.  Soon after that, I did end up going on HRT because the benefits of taking it at my age outweigh the risks.  I have a lower chance of developing breast cancer and osteoporosis.  I do still have hot flashes once in a very great while.  And, because I have no reproductive organs, I no longer have periods which I must say is freaking amazing.

Why This Story?

At this point, you may be asking yourself why I chose to tell this story.  First, had I paid more attention to my body this whole thing might have been avoided.  But because I trusted a non-specialist doctor when she said everything was ok, I ended up having the choice to have children taken away from me.  Look, do not feel sorry for me.  My husband and I love our life together and we were headed down the path of no children anyway, but it really sucks when you don’t get to make choices for your own body.  You must listen to your body because it will tell you when something is off.  Believe me, this is a hard thing to do.  We get so busy taking care of others that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves.  Also, denial can take you a long way down the road until you get passed the point of no return.  Did anyone else just get a Phantom of the Opera flashback?  No?  Just me?

Second, I want to share this advice with you.  Don’t take everything a doctor tells you for granted.  Doctors are humans too and sometimes you need a second opinion.  And do not leave the office until you have every question answered.  Take a notebook with you that contains your list of questions and also use it to take notes.  You must be prepared for when emotions take over.  It’s very difficult to view your health pragmatically when you’ve just been delivered bad news.  This is why it’s helpful to have a notebook.  And you need to make nice with the doctor’s nurse.  More than likely, this is the person you’re going to speak to when you think of new questions once you get home.

Lastly, this story sets up next week’s story about how I am continuing to advocate for my own health so stay tuned!

Episode 9: Advocating For Your Health, Part 2

Today we’re in part 2 of Advocating For Your Health and I’m telling you all about my latest experiences with new doctors.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Doctors aren’t always right
  • Why I love my new Endocrinologist
  • How to get off the denial train and onto the feeling better platform

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

How to Cope with Burnout

How to Cope with Burnout

For several years now, the term “self-care” has generated a lot of buzz.  And with it comes a lot of mixed emotions.  The older and younger generations seem to really pick on each other when it comes to how they take care of ourselves, not only physically, but mentally as well.  I would say guilt is one of the deepest emotions we associate with self-care.  Guilt over taking time for ourselves.  We feel selfish for wanting some alone time when there are daily chores, work, and family members awaiting our attention.  I would guess that women have these feelings more often than men, but I know men have them too.  In fact, my husband and I were just talking about this very topic over the weekend and how he sometimes feels guilty for wanting to play video games all weekend.  But here’s the thing, it’s his hobby, just like singing is my hobby.  It’s his way to unwind and let his brain wander where he doesn’t have to think about work.  It’s how he recharges his batteries.  Plus, it’s not like we have kids running around and we’ve both played video games since we were kids.  So I get it.  But, what do we do about these feelings of guilt?  Step one, understand where this feeling is coming from.

I recently read an article about how Millennials have become the “burn-out” generation.  Although I am on the cusp of the Millennial generation, when I read this article it resonated so deeply inside me.  First, the author talks about how our parents are a mix of young boomers and old Gen-Xers, and we were reared in an age of relative economic and political stability.  As it was for many generations before us, there was this expectation that our generation would be better off than the previous one.  However, this has turned out to be false.  Financially, we have far less saved, crippling student loan debt, the Great Recession, and the decline of the middle class to name a few.  Schools have taught students that in order to be successful, they must go to a 4-year college and get that degree if they want to make any sort of living.  This is partially why I loved my content area so much.  Family and Consumer Sciences fall under career and technical education, which I whole-heartedly agree with.  Not everyone should go to a 4-year school.  We still need plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, electricians.  In the past, kids were allowed to be kids.  They played outside, used their imaginations, fell down and scraped their knees, and ran around the neighborhood.  Now, kids have supervised playdates, structured daycares, and highly regulated organized league play that spans the entire year.  We were raised to win, to be competitive, to get the best grades.  And, kids are still being raised in this way today.  I saw it with my students.  I had kids who could barely live with themselves if they didn’t have straight As.  Their sense of self-worth is so heavily tied to grades.  Plus, by the time they got to me, they couldn’t do work without a rubric telling them what was expected.  When I would assign projects without a rubric, I had so many students who would practically shut down because all of their imagination had been brow-beaten out of them and they had a hard time thinking for themselves.  This is why Millennials and the newest generation have gotten such a bad rap in the workforce – the ability to think on our own was taken away from us, yet the older generations’ expectations haven’t changed, nor have they embraced that it’s time for a new way of doing things.  Now, that sounds pretty doom and gloom because I have seen a lot of companies who are and have taken a step back and realized that the old way of doing work is just plain outdated.  But is it any wonder we are flat out tired and burned out?

So what can we do to overcome our feelings of guilt?  First, we must take pause and determine where this sense of guilt is coming from.  I hate it when people tell you to meditate because for so many it conjures up this image of a guru in an ashram who is chanting.  Rather, I like to think of it as a timeout.  Just take a few quiet minutes to think about why you feel guilty.  And maybe you truly don’t know why you feel guilty but keep up this practice until you do. It may not come to you right away.  Or, maybe journaling is your thing – write out what you’re feeling.  Or, perhaps you just need to go wash your hair. Random thoughts and ideas typically come to me while I’m scrubbing my head.  The key here is to be honest with yourself.  Don’t deny yourself of feeling your feelings.

Second, adopt a new mantra to help you cope.  If you can’t find one you like, you can steal mine.  “You can do anything, but not everything.”  Let that sink in.  You can do anything you put your mind to, but you cannot do everything.  And that’s ok.  We all need help and that leads me to my third step – which is to ask for help.  There is no shame in asking others for help, yet so many of us struggle with this.  For many, it’s viewed as a sign of weakness.  But truly, it’s a sign of strength.  Knowing your limits is half the battle.  Plus, your relationships will be better for it.  I’m guessing no one in your life is a mind reader, so getting angry when your significant other doesn’t pick up on how you’re feeling is unproductive.  Rather than allowing yourself to get to that boiling point, ask for help.  Do you know the old saying about “it taking a village”?  Although this is a reference for child-rearing, I also think it’s fitting for our lives as a whole.  Who do you surround yourself with?  Do they lift you up or drag you down?  Are you all willing to jump in and help each other when it’s needed?  If not, then it may be time to find yourself a new village or tribe.  If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.

Finally, take time for yourself.  Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day – that’s a start.  Go for a walk, sit quietly in your bedroom, take a NASA nap.  Do whatever you need to do.  When I start feeling anxious, I like to practice 4 count breathing – this a technique used to train the military in combat situations.  Breathe in for four counts, hold for four, and exhale for four.  This will immediately start lowering your blood pressure and slow down your heart.  Or, maybe it’s time to schedule an appointment with a professional.  You can’t take care of anything else until you take care of yourself first.  If you’ve ever flown, what’s the flight attendant tell you?  Put your mask on first before helping anyone else.  In an effort to put your own mask on first, take some time today to check in with yourself.  Ask yourself, What’s on your mind today?  Is there anything weighing you down?  What brings you joy?  What do you need more time for?  Is there something you need to do that you’ve been avoiding?  If so, why?  What is one thing you can to do take care of yourself today?  Make sure you’re treating yourself with kindness, just like you would your best friend.

Episode 8: Advocating for Your Health, Part 1

Today I share my journey on how I learned to advocate for myself and my health.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What it’s like to go through a hysterectomy and oophorectomy
  • How to survive a bowel prep
  • Being prepared for a doctor’s visit
  • and more!

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

How to Love the Skin You’re In

How to Love the Skin You’re In

Did you know that your skin is your biggest organ? And it’s the one we so often neglect.

Last week on the Adulting With CJ Podcast, I was joined by Casey Crocker, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu badass and skincare enthusiast (she’s also my sister). Casey grew up with very problematic skin starting in 3rd grade and by 7th grade, she started taking Accutane to try and get it under control.  While the Accutane did help, it was still a long journey trying to learn what was best for her skin, what was problematic, and all the dos and the don’ts.

Here are some of the questions and answers from our interview.

Why are some YouTubers great at skincare or great at makeup?

You essentially have two sides of the same coin. The first side is the group of people who love makeup for the artistry and the creative outlet it provides. So they aren’t necessarily hyper-concerned with what they are putting on their faces. They know the look they are trying to achieve and the skincare aspect is not as high a priority. And, you also have some of the high-up YouTube beauty gurus who are on so many PR lists and getting sent all these luxury items. We, as a society are trained to think ‘this is expensive so it must be good.’ Also, a lot of luxury items smell really nice. Fragrance is really not good for our skin, especially our facial skin. Then you have the other side of the coin with the skin care professionals who have learned to take care of their skin so well that they don’t need to wear makeup. Or, feel very happy wearing minimal makeup like just mascara and lipgloss because they’ve got their facial skin under control.

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what skincare advice would you give her?

WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN! I wear sunscreen, but I know that when I was in my 20s I wasn’t very proactive. I would wear it if I knew I was going to be outside for an extended period of time but I wasn’t good at reapplying it. I feel like the number one reason for skin problems be it aging, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, it all goes back to sun damage. It is so much easier to prevent those things from happening than repair what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter what your skin tone is, everyone needs to wear sunscreen. Just because you may tan instead of burn does not mean you aren’t destroying your skin. Remember, it can take ten years or more to see the effects of sun damage on your skin.

Do you feel like it’s ever too late to give up on your skin?

It is never too late to start taking care of your skin. Retinol is the scientifically proven ingredient to reverse the signs of aging. There’s no time like the present to start using it. Women in their 40s, 50s, 60s still need to wear sunscreen, steering clear of fragrance, and looking for retinol and oils that are rich, hydrating, and doesn’t clog your pores. Stay away from essential oils in your skincare because they can sensitize your skin. You should also switch from scrubs to chemical exfoliators. Chemical exfoliators clean your skin by sloughing off dead skin cells. It’s so much less abrasive and you’re going to get to the root of the problem versus trying to scrub your face really hard. You should also drink plenty of water and pay attention to foods that may trigger inflammation.

If you want to listen to the whole conversation with Casey and learn more about how to take care of your skin, check out Episode 6: All Things Skincare with Casey Crocker.

Episode 7: How to Cope With Burnout

Today I’m discussing how you can cope with burnout and the feelings of guilt associated with self-care.


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why the Millennial generation has become the burnout generation
  • How to overcome feelings of guilt
  • Adopting a mantra
  • Asking for help
  • and more!

Resources mentioned:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.