Sheltering in Place

My job has shut down indefinitely.

As others might be sheltering in place as well I would like to take about mental health in a time of crisis.

The number-one goal as I see it in this time of staying indoors is to eat as healthfully as possible.

The second critical goal is to keep up your mental health.

You can click on my home gym category to see how you can exercise at home.

I’ve been buying a CSA box of organic produce plus a mound of cheese and carton of eggs via FreshDirect online grocer in New York City.

Type in CSA box in the search bar.

PeaPod is available elsewhere.

As long as you can keep up buying food this is what is imperative.

What matters most as I see it is protecting your mental and physical health.

Today more than every nutritious food can elevate your mood.

I would tell others to stay inside. Only go out to the bank or food shopping or the laundry center should you have to. You might think nothing could happen because you’ve been inside a long time so far. I wouldn’t risk going out.

Stay 6 feet away from others as recommended to practice social distancing.

In a coming blog entry I’ll post a message I posted to my other blog.

It bears repeating that having compassion is the way to go.

Be kind to yourself when you’re holed up in your apartment or house.

The CO-VID19 outbreak will settle down. We will return to normal.

Bruni’s Atomic Habits

About seven months ago I read the book Atomic Habits. I recommend that readers buy a copy. The author lists simple small effective ways to create new positive habits in your life.

Come to think of it this might have been round about when I changed one thing:

In April 2019 I ditched having Purely Elizabeth’s ancient grains mush for breakfast.

Pour granola in bowl; add milk; eat in three minutes. Repeat. Every morning.

That had been my strategy for breakfast for too long.

In April I paid $395 for the services of a Health Coach. She zoomed in on this breakfast choice as one possible root for my lack of energy.

It’s January 2020. And 9 months later I’m happy to report that things turned around.

That April I changed one tiny thing: buying organic ingredients for my morning meal.

Scrambling two Handsome Brook Farms organic eggs with organic diced yellow red and orange peppers, tiny organic broccoli florets, and sliced organic mushrooms.

One month after this eggs-cellent food makeover I changed something else out of the blue.

One morning in May I decided to exercise at 7:00 a.m. Since then I exercise at home in the morning and early afternoon 2x/per week.

On Labor Day I bought the self-cleaning oven. Since this splurge I’ve been cooking my own dinners on most nights.

In November I started using the treadmill 1x/per week–another goal.

This is proof that slow-and-steady wins the race. Because our lives aren’t a race to the finish line–you know where that leads.

I’m not a fan of trying to execute numerous goals all at once.

This is contrary to the fact that a magazine recently touted that new research claims making four or five changes all at once is possible and effective.

I’ll stick to the Atomic Habits guidelines and to the Changeology action plan.

You simply don’t know what’s possible until you try.

My metal Michael Jordan quote paperweight is inscribed thus:

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.

Changing one or two things at a time has worked for me.

The funny thing is, after executing these new habits, I can say that I have more energy and confidence, and my body is fitter and stronger too. Plus I lost 12 pounds without trying to : )

Not too shabby for a person who will turn 55 in the spring.

I’ll end here by telling readers not to write the ending of your story before you’ve started the first page.

Expecting the worst–that you “can’t” do something or “won’t” be able to do something is a mistake.

I had no idea the direction my life would turn when out of nowhere out of the blue on a Friday morning in May I decided I had to exercise at 7:00 a.m.

This is the reason that planning things down to every minute detail can backfire. This is why telling yourself you need to see results quickly will derail your success.

In coming blog entries I’ll give recipes for healthful snacks. I’ll talk a little about my own “food plan” which has also become a habit recently.

 

How I Cooked Up a Goal

I want to reiterate this fact of life:

On some days you just don’t have it in you.

As said, setbacks are the cost of doing business in the real world.

We need to expect that things won’t always go as planned.

This is why I have high compassion for anyone who struggles, who is going through a hard time, and for anyone who another person has harmed.

A setback can last a day, week, season, or year–or longer.

Any kind of plateau requires that we have the grace to accept what’s going on. To move forward when we’re supposed to.

Four years ago a loved one died. That’s right about when I stopped cooking my own dinners, relying on frozen boxed meals that Amy’s Organics passed off as healthful.

Hardly. They were hardly benefiting me.

Sometime after this dalliance with frozen dinners I opted to order fish and seafood with  vegetables from a restaurant. More healthful yet too costly.

In the fall things turned around after years of inactive culinary efforts. I got cooking. It had been a goal of mine to cook my own dinners again.

And voila–now I cook dinner more often than not. How did I make this change?

I was fortunate to be able to buy a self-cleaning oven at a reduced cost for a Labor Day sale.

You see I didn’t like to use toxic oven spray cans to clean inside the oven. The interior got blackened. The old model oven had a gap within the rims of the burners. Food fell inside the rims constantly.

You can use any number of “green” cleaning methods if a self-cleaning oven is not an option. Read about them in the books Green Cleaning, The Modern Organic Home, and Lemons and Lavender.

I don’t like to clean, so I was lucky to have an alternative.

I’ll end here with this thought: when you get older you could face any number of setbacks: a drop in energy, the loss of a loved one, the need to make a difficult life change, to name a few.

Anything a person can do to make their life easier in a healthy way should be applauded.

In the next blog entry I’ll go into more detail about how making one tiny change can cause a snowball roll or a cascade of other positive changes.

What happened to me is proof that things can turn around for the better.

I got my energy back, more hope, and more confidence after changing one simple habit.

Giving Yourself a Lifeline

Years ago when I was the Health Guide at a website I wrote an article there about goal-setting. Over five years ago I first advanced the idea of giving yourself a lifeline. Instead of a strict impossible-to-achieve-by deadline.

The goal of exercising 5 days a week I would say is unrealistic for most people except athletes and fitness buffs.

The goal of losing 20 or 30 or more pounds also can’t be executed quickly.

How quick is too quick? Expecting change within three weeks is not realistic. 90 days is the Changeology action plan length of time for achieving a goal. And some goals will take years and years to achieve.

The fact is that the cumulative effect of the sub-goals you’re executing week-by-week adds up over time.

You might not notice a difference until 5 months later. Five months later the change might seem to have come out of the blue. And it seems sudden and astounding.

I also know from my own experience that having a fallow period is to be expected.

This fallow period can last a year or two and not just a week or two weeks or a season.

That’s why getting hung up on achieving goals quickly is a mistake.

A fallow period or a plateau is to be expected and planned for.

A setback is the cost of doing business in the real world. It’s why I don’t like to use the word failure. Thinking you’re a failure sets you up to not want to try again when the first option didn’t work out.

When a goal doesn’t go as you planned that’s a sign that you need to adapt your strategy.

Life will tell you what to do if only you stop to listen.

Taking time to slow down is imperative. It’s called practicing mindfulness and I wrote about this in here a year ago. You can use the search bar of this blog to type in the word mindfulness to find this blog entry to read.

The fact is that rush, rush, rushing through your goals, your activities, and your life only serves to backfire.

Italians have the ethic of “piano-piano” which is doing things slowly slowly.

See if what I’ve written makes sense. Giving yourself a lifeline might just be the secret solution to achieving your goals.

Quick is often the antithesis of lasting when it comes to making changes.

Going at your goals rat-a-tat-tat and firing away at them every single minute of the day might also impede success.

Voila–extending to yourself a lifeline.

How to Start Making a Change

I want to clear up something in terms of a common mistake people make:

Acting harsh towards yourself–a form of negative reinforcement–only serves to keep you stuck in old thought patterns and behaviors that are holding you back.

Viewing yourself with a compassionate eye is the first order of business when seeking to execute a change for the better.

First, forgive yourself and have empathy. It’s possible that the current behavior manifested as a habit because it originally served a purpose that might have benefited you.

Over time, the need to change could crop up. My strategy is to change as I go along in life rather than waiting until a drastic change becomes necessary.

As regards food and fitness goals and resolutions, this is where each of us needs to be kinder and gentler on ourselves.

Making positive changes is possible when you first psych yourself up mentally to make the change. This is Step One in the Changeology book.

To motivate you to change your thinking, thus improving your ability to change your behavior, I want to quote from the book Pretty Intense. You could benefit from buying the book, which is why I quote Danica Patrick here:

“A study in the World Public Health Nutrition Association Journal found that the increase in ‘ultra-processed’ food–food that includes ingredients that aren’t, in fact, food–may be the main cause of the rise in obesity around the world.”

Isn’t it helpful and reassuring to know that a simple change in our eating habits can have dramatic health benefits?

I’m going to end here with a scenario from my own life to motivate readers to consider making this one positive change.

Exhibit A:¬† My mother’s eating habits which should hit closer to home for readers.

She snacks, snacks, snacks on cookies, chips, cake, and pastries. She has chocolate Special K for breakfast that contains artificial flavors. The food marketer for this cereal lists on the box that the cereal has “150 nourishing calories.”

I didn’t know that artificial flavors were nourishing. Please step away from this particular cereal box. Or any kind of cereal box.

My mother happens to be overweight and out of shape. I love her with all my heart. I care about her and her health.

The number-one lesson I learned from my mother by watching her is that the food we eat impacts our mental and physical health more than any other factor in our lives.

Making simple, incremental, and lasting changes that are effective is possible.

It doesn’t involve going on any kind of restrictive diet. I never went on a diet, and I lost 20 pounds in my twenties and kept the weight off.

I use my family history as an example to make this point:

It pays dividends to be kinder and gentler on yourself when you first start making changes and follow through on continuing with the new behavior.

Find the things that motivate you to make a change. For me, my family history was the alarm bell ringing in my head.

For you, you might want to change so that you can live to see your kids graduate college.

Or you might want to change so that you have the energy to get out of bed in the morning without feeling tired and cranky.

It can be as simple as this.

Find your specific why you want to change.

Lastly: we need to remove the blame that is the stigma–“a mark of shame or discredit” from the conversation.

Feeling good is the life goal that counts more than anything if you ask me.

And you can control how you feel by changing what you eat. Which is what I did “piano-piano” as we Italians say or slowly slowly.

In coming blog entries I’ll detail the methods I employed that boosted my mood, elevated my energy, and reshaped my body.

My goal is to empower readers to make your own positive changes.

Bruni’s 3-Month Challenge

I want to write about goal-setting again.

I haven’t ever had a New Year’s resolution. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Again I refer readers to the book Changeology for realizing goals and resolutions using a scientifically verified 90-day action plan.

My own 3-Month Challenge that I’ll record and document in here is to do two things:

Cook my own dinners 4x/per week. Do a walk-/run on the treadmill 1x/per week.

Owing to a two-week stretch at holiday time I hadn’t exercised. I’ve returned to lifting weights 2x/per week.

One book that is out of print that I ordered in New condition from an Amazon seller is Pretty Intense by race-car driver Danica Patrick.

This book could help any reader as you embark on setting goals in and out of the gym.

It’s a fitness book that is equally for men and women. Parts of the book cater to women. Other parts are for everyone.

After checking four fitness books out of the library I returned the other three.

Pretty Intense has a number of flaws that an ordinary reader wouldn’t pick up on.

For one, Patrick recommends canola oil as a healthy oil. No, no, no it is not–read the book How to Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman for the inside scoop on which oils are healthy and which aren’t

Even with this glaring factual error I bought the book solely to try out a few of the recipes the race-car driver lists in her book.

Her 12-week HIIT or high-intensity interval training exercise plan I have no use for either.

The allure of this book for me was the chapters on getting mentally fit.

Patrick talks about creating a WOman cave–a separate room in your home or a section of a room that’s all yours to be free to decorate any way you want and do hobbies in that give you joy.

I plan on referring to the ideas in Pretty Intense in the next three months as I wind through the winter focusing on the two goals I listed.

In fact, I have already consistently been cooking my own dinners 4x/per on most weeks.

In a coming blog entry I will quote from the Patrick book to convince readers to buy a copy of the book.

I read the Amazon reviews of Pretty Intense. A reviewer with a name that is traditionally a man’s name said that they thought Patrick was a stuck-up entitled princess.

Then this person heard Patrick talk on a radio show. After hearing her speak the reviewer said she was actually nice and feminine, he was surprised.

As if a person who identifies as having a female gender should only be feminine and not be unconventional in how she expresses her personality.

This reviewer or was it another one referred to Patrick’s body and her (in their view) lackluster ability as an athlete.

Yet again, it’s okay for a white male to be average and ordinary. It’s not okay in other people’s eyes for a woman to screw-up.

And it appears it’s not okay for a woman to have a fit body, and show off that body.

Owing to my own distaste of nearly naked woman appearing in fitness photos I decided not to insert a photo of the book cover for Pretty Intense.

On the cover Patrick appears in only a bikini top and body shorts.

I don’t care how fit and trim anyone’s body is. I’m simply dismayed at the focus on a person’s body and gender as signifying traits that identify who they are.

In a future blog entry I might insert a photo of myself at the gym wearing my gear that covers my body.

The judging of women, of anyone, that continues to go on in American society is something I don’t like. I abhor stereotyping people.

In fact, I’m an ordinary, average person. Unlike most people, I’ve made fitness the number-one priority in my life.

I’m not keen to preach to others or preen in front of others.

I simply think that the goals I’ve achieved over the years can be guideposts for others who are starting their own reinventions in life.

My 3-Month Challenge I will record here in an upbeat, cheerful voice.

A lot of what I’ve wanted to achieve has already happened. In coming blog entries I’ll talk about the specific methods I used for achieving these new goals.

I’m a fan of making positive changes at any time in your life. You’re not ever too old to reinvent yourself and go after a goal. Or two. Or three.

Won’t you join me in this journey?

 

Breakfast at Bruni’s

breakfast at brunis

Since April I’ve been having an organic food breakfast of scrambled eggs and veggies plus a navel orange.

I found out by accident by buying a regular orange that a regular orange has no taste. The organic orange is citrus-y.

For 9 months so far I’ve been having this food for breakfast.

I also started meeting with a new personal trainer at the gym for him to create routines I do on my own every week.

Since 2011–going on 9 years–I’ve had different trainers create routines that I do on my own.

This ties into the mind-body connection in numerous ways:

First, the more exercise you do, the happier you feel. Even should you not lose weight.

(I lost 12 pounds since April, yet that wasn’t my goal.)

Second, when you exercise consistently it’s easier not to stress about things that are happening in your life.

Ever since starting to follow-through on one of my fitness goals it has been easier not to give a sh*t about things I used to agonize over.

For one I’m coming up on 55 years old. I’ve stopped caring that I might not get my old 32-year old energy level back.

Yet a curious thing took place: I’ve been doing a walk/run on the treadmill. This had been a goal of mine for a couple of years.

Last month I was finally able to add this activity to my fitness repertoire.

Ever since then I’ve stopped dwelling on my energy level.

It might be that I’m getting back some of that energy.

I would like to empower readers to choose to live a healthy lifestyle.

Making positive changes is possible even when you’re older.

I can tell you without a doubt that you don’t have to be a size 4.

You don’t have to look a certain way or fit into skinny jeans the size of a garden hose.

Forget the number on the scale or how clear your skin is or how perfect your hair is.

What counts more is being active.

Being fit and active will help you achieve your goals inside and outside of the gym.

Even doing only one new thing to change for the better can improve your outlook.

I did only one new thing: hopped on the treadmill 1x per week.

This tiny change had a dramatic outcome:

I feel better – I’m happier – I think I can do what I set my mind to do.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to return to talking about goal-setting.

January is coming up and a lot of people appear to still be taken in with setting New Year’s Resolutions.

I say the New Decade calls for New Dreams.