Tea is so good for you! Not only is it 0 calories, but it has been shown to boost immunity, slow cognitive decline, rev your metabolism, help relieve stress, decrease your cardiovascular risk and more!
A few weeks ago I went with some friends to visit Sensibiliteas, an ‘everything tea’ store located in the Shirt Factory building in downtown Glens Falls. The hundreds of teas lining the wall of the store was impressive as the picture above shows. We spent quite some time listening to Ben talk to us about tea in general, and their store in particular. What an eye opener! Here are a few things I learned during our visit:
All tea comes from the tea leaf, or camellia sinensis. The differences in tea quality are directly related to how the leaves are processed. There is no such thing as decaf tea leaf tea. Decaf tea is simply processed tea, and the actual processing of the tea removes some of the valuable antioxidants (called catechins). Same goes for powdered forms of tea.
Many bagged teas are low quality. This is partly due to the fact that producers use machines to harvest the leaves. The highest quality teas are hand picked.
A simple way to take the a significant amount of caffeine from your tea is to seep it for 30 seconds, toss that water and then seep fresh hot water.
If you seep your tea for too long, tannins are released and your tea might taste bitter. I learned that the hard way just the other day. Yuk! For best results, steep your tea for at least three minutes and squeeze the bag at the end. Try to avoid adding milk or cream, which can bind tea’s beneficial compounds and make them less effective. On the other hand, if you add lemon or lime, you can enhance absorption of catechins.
Teas do expire over time and lose some of their beneficial nutrients, especially when exposed to light or moisture. Store your tea in a dry, dark place. Tins or ball jars are simple and effective storage containers.
Many popular loose leaf tea companies have artificial flavors and colors in their teas and/or added sugar. No wonder my family always thought that Teavana tea tasted so good!
Three types of tea:
White: the least processed and therefore has the highest levels of antioxidants.
Green: less caffeine than black tea and about 50 percent as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Matcha is green tea ground into a powder. Be careful as the caffeine is more concentrated!
Black: has 75 percent as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
When preparing tea, for best results, steep it for at least 3 minutes. Be wary of adding milk or cream as studies have shown that these liquids bind to tea’s beneficial compounds and diminish their antioxidant effect. Adding a twist of lemon or lime, however, is beneficial as the vitamin C in citrus can increase the absorption of catechins up to three fold!
Here are a few things I learned about Sensibiliteas in the Shirt Factory building in downtown Glens Falls:
They have over 500 teas to choose from! Most of their teas are $3 for one ounce. One ounce makes about 10 cups of tea. The more you buy the more you save with their discount incentive.
Some of their teas have a designated charity, so when you purchase it you are also giving to a local cause such as the South High Marathon, WAIT house, etc.
You can bring your own container to them to have it filled.
They sell tea supplies, tins and so much more.
If you bring a bagged tea from home to them, they can try to match the ingredients for you.
They are open from 11 – 5 Tuesday through Thursday and on Saturdays from 10-5.
Have you ever woken up after what you feel was an adequate number of hours of sleep, but didn’t feel rested?
My husband and I have had discussions about this over recent months, and it’s a question well worth diving into.
Sleep is so important – for energy, learning, focus, efficiency, growth, healing, efficient fat burning, muscle retention, cancer prevention, and so much more. Shawn Stevenson, author of “Sleep Smarter”, in an interview as part of the Focus Productivity Summit, stated that he believes sleep is more important for your overall health than nutrition and exercise combined. I believe it. He stated three facts about sleep that are worth noting:
Our brains will lose information if we do not get enough sleep,.
Lack of sleep makes it easier for us to lose focus.
A good night of sleep will make us noticeably more efficient.
So many of us simply don’t get enough. Or, we do get enough, but it’s, as Stevenson termed it, ‘twinkie’ sleep. That term just stuck with me. What does he mean by ‘twinkie?’. When it comes to eating, we have learned over time that it’s not simply about the balance between the number of calories in and calories out. We have to consider the quality of the calories or our health will suffer tremendously. Same goes for sleep. It is not simply about the number of hours of sleep we get each night. It’s also importantly about the quality of the sleep we get. 8 hours of poor quality sleep is like eating a certain number of calories of a toxic twinkie – both have a negative impact on our health.
I’m realizing that, though I get enough sleep when I count up the hours, it is most definitely twinkie sleep, and here is a major reason why:
The big ‘no no’ that my husband told me I was guilty of is looking at a blue light screen before bed. The artificial blue light emitted by screens actually tricks our bodies into thinking it’s daytime and not only does this trigger an increase in daytime hormones like cortisol but it suppresses melatonin. Stevenson, in his book, “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success,” cites a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that found that the use of light-emitting electronic devices in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness and the circadian clock that synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep. In the study, iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night, secreted less melatonin and had shorter REM sleep compared to test subjects who were assigned to read regular printed books. AND, the iPad readers were more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full 8 hours of sleep. No wonder I was feeling so tired some days after getting ‘enough’ sleep!
Obviously sleep is a huge topic and I’ve only addressed a small but relevant portion of it as it has impacted my life and my health. I know I’m not alone in the ‘blue light’ struggle. All I need to do is look around me to know that it is an issue in many homes. In light of this information, what are some good next steps? Shawn Stevenson says that the best decision is to turn off all screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime in order to allow melatonin and cortisol levels to normalize. I’m working on that, for both myself and my kids. My next best step after I learned all of this was to adjust the settings on my iphone and my ipad so that the blue light is turned off at a designated time. I was discouraged to find that my phone, an apple 5C, doesn’t have this capability. So I made the decision to keep it away from my bedside at night. Then it broke, and my new phone is set to turn the blue light off at 8 PM every night. Love it! http://www.imore.com/night-shift If you have a Mac, there is a free application called f.lux that automatically eliminates the problematic blue light from your computer screen at a certain time each day. You can get similar things for your smartphone and other devices too. I encourage you to think more about your sleep and your screen habits before bed. And if you have kids, set the night shift on their devices immediately. If you can’t figure it out, as your 5 year old and he/she will probably be able to show you 🙂 It will only take a minute and will reap huge health benefits immediately!!
If you are interested in learning more about sleep, here are some helpful links:
A few weeks ago my 11 year old daughter, Haven, and I were talking about this blog and she asked if I could post something that she wrote. When I asked her if she had anything in mind, she told me that she wanted to share what she has written about worry. So, here it is, a post from my beautiful, real, courageous daughter, on a topic that is close to the hearts of so many children and adults.
My Worry by Haven
I struggle with worry. When you worry a lot it’s hard to look at yourself and say, “You’re worth it, you’re loved and your beautiful.” It’s easier to say, You’re stupid, you are dumb, you are ugly.” Sometimes I feel as if I need to give up on myself.
I’ve worried ever since I was six or seven. It’s hard to manage all the negative thoughts in your head. My mom and dad have been the parents to have through this situation. My mom has always given me sayings and verses to memorize. This is an example of a verse: I prayed to the Lord and he answered me he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4). An example of a saying is: faith not fear, hope not worry. My dad also supports me in all of this because when I’m sad he makes me laugh or tickle me. Both my parents comfort me in the night when I wake up in the middle of the night scared or with a big headache. The reason I wake up with a big headache is because I get scared in the night and it overwhelms me with bad thoughts. I’m always afraid of everything. I can make something that is not dangerous, dangerous in my head.
I still have trouble with anxiety but my mom told me something to remember. She told me fear is…
When my mom told me that it helped me a lot.
I went to a concert on November 14th, 2016. It was awesome. At the end me and my mom were going around to all the singers for autographs. Once we got Darren from We Are Messengers we asked him to sign a CD for a friend. Right as we asked him he turned to me and said, “Let go of your worries and fears because you are God’s daughter and He made you beautiful.” We hadn’t told him that I struggle with worry. It was just God sending a message to me through him. This helped me a lot because I feel as if God sent that message through him and that I am BEAUTIFUL!
I still struggle with worry but know I know God is with me and I am loved!!!!!!
A long time ago I was listening to David Jeremiah preach on the topic of fear. He asked what the opposite of fear is. Immediately I thought of the word trust. His response was not trust but LOVE. I’m going to have to paraphrase here the notes I wrote in my Bible that day because they had such an impact on my soul: “Just as a child with a nightmare will run to someone that loves him/her, God wants us to throw ourselves into his arms because He is our father. When we understand how much God loves us, when we grab hold of that truth, we will not be afraid.” David Jeremiah spoke this truth to me. Darren spoke this truth to Haven and she received it and responded to it in such a beautiful way.
My prayer for my daughter, and for anyone reading this that struggles with worry or anxiety, is this: Lord, you tell us in your Word that there is no fear in love and that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Thank you for loving us with your perfect love. Help us to not just have a head knowledge of that love, but to understand exactly what that means as we get to know you more and more. Transform our hearts and her minds with your love. Teach us to answer with prayer whenever worries come knocking on the door of our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
LIVE LIKE YOU’RE LOVED! HIS LOVE HAS MADE YOU MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!!
You might say I’m on a wellness kick of sorts. With 2017 right around the corner, now is a great time to both look back in reflection and to look forward in hopeful anticipation of new growth and change in our hearts and lives. I developed a foundations worksheet last year and have been using it as I guide as I think through my personal and wellness goals for 2017. I think it’s important to take time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are right now and where we want to be. Here’s a link to the worksheet.
I deliberately decided to name it 2017 Foundations rather than 2017 Resolutions. 🙂 As I am working through it I am prayerfully thinking about my long term goals in the important areas of my life to give me direction, but choosing to really focus on my short term goals and, more specifically, my very next steps. I hope you find it helpful.
As we head into the new year I’m hoping to begin a 12 week series that focuses on wellness – soul, spirit and body. I’ll be sharing resources from time to time, both here and on Facebook. For now, I just want to encourage you to check out an amazing ministry that has encouraged me in my wellness journey. It’s called Faithful Workouts. http://www.faithfulworkouts.com/ Michelle Spadafora, the founder and heart of this ministry, has written a book that I will be using as a foundation when we dive into our wellness series in Jan or Feb. It’s called, “Reignite – Glow With Physical and Spiritual Health.” You can purchase it from her web site or from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/ReIgnite-Physical-Spiritual-Health-study/dp/1329988515/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482863266&sr=8-1&keywords=reignite+spadafora and follow along with us, whether or not you will be able to meet with us in person here in the Lake George area.
I heard the dreaded thump on the window mid morning and turned to see a small bird laying face down on the deck. My heart sunk. I called my son to the door and immediately began to think about a plan for saving it. After grabbing a broom, dustpan and cardboard box I picked up my phone to do some quick research. As I frantically googled, “How to rescue an injured bird”, and started planning out loud our next steps, Cole walked out the door and approached the bird. It flipped onto it’s back and looked as though it was about to die. I kept googling. Cole then crouched down and gently picked up the bird in his hands. He carried it to the door and held it in his hand. All we could do at that point was stare in amazement at the beautiful bird. It looked peaceful as it simply rested in Cole’s hands for quite some time.
And then it flew away.
The next thought I had was about my striving in contrast to what Cole instinctively knew to do – lift it up and hold it in his hand until it had the strength to fly again.
It has been close to a month since Cole held that bird in his hand, but the image has come to my mind more and more these days. As Christmas approaches, the struggles of life don’t get put on hold. For some, they are magnified. And I want fix. And God reminds me that though I can’t fix, I can reach out my hands to others in kindness, love and support and point them to the hope that is found in Christ.
Lord, thank you for this powerful reminder. This Christmas, and always, give us hands that hold, hands that serve, and hands that love. Amen.
Christmas is one of the most anticipated times of the year, a season in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior, take time to bless others, enjoy Christmas traditions, spend time with friends and loved ones, and so much more.
Let’s be real, though. Often the peace, the joy, and all that we long for as we anticipate Christ’s birth get lost in the shuffle of, well, the shuffle. Christmas joy can easily be replaced with Christmas stress as we try to pack into our already busy lives decorating, shopping, baking, caroling, wrapping, cookie making, card writing, traveling, fighting traffic, church services, work parties, family parties, school parties, etc. Add to that other stressors such as the financial stress that comes with gift giving, relationship stress within families, and sickness that doesn’t get put on hold for the holidays and suddenly the joy of Christmas is replaced with STRESS. And this stress can have a long-lasting impact on our bodies, our souls, our spirits and our relationships.
It probably won’t surprise you that…
A study published in Circulation shows that cardiac deaths are highest on Dec. 25, followed by Dec. 26 and New Year’s day.
Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season, have a harder time relaxing during the holidays, are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.
During the holidays people in the United States are much more likely to say they behave in sedentary ways, like watching TV, sleeping, eating and drinking to manage their stress. Many individuals engage in comfort eating and other unhealthy behaviors to cope with their stress levels.
On a positive note, the APA survey also found that for most people in our country the New Year offers hope and a reminder that there is always opportunity for change and self-improvement. In the New Year, most individuals would like to improve their health or lose weight, get their finances in order, or improve their relationships with family or a significant other. I believe with all of my heart that our hope is not in the New Year. How long do our resolutions really last anyway? Our hope is in Christ, who loves us and desires us to be well- soul, spirit and body- right now in the midst of it all. The easiest thing to do over the holidays is to ignore our health, telling ourselves, “ It’s the holiday season. I’ll start over in January.” Believe me, I’ve been there one too many times.
The thought of adding wellness to the list of holiday ‘to dos’ can feel so overwhelming, unrealistic and impossible, so much so that the temptation might be to give up before even starting. But what if we decide to focus on a just a few decisions that we can make, or even just one, that will move us in the direction of the wellness we so desire. Like a snowball effect, our many small decisions over time will, over time, build upon themselves, leading to big changes in our lives.
Listed below are some ideas, some places to start, that I hope you will find helpful. Each begins with the letter P, for peace, which is the opposite of the stress that we don’t need or desire. I will be reminding myself of these Ps each day, and inviting God to direct my steps in the midst of my Christmas busyness.
Ps for peace, not stress this Christmas season
Focus on what really matters. Make Christ your first priority. To help organize your other priorities, take time to identify six areas of your life that demand your attention during the holidays. Then, list them in order of priority. Keep a visual image of your priorities in an area you will see often as a reminder for you as you think, pray and plan.
Invite the Lord into your days.
My prayer: Lord, we desire to have a joyful Christmas and we want to stay well through the hustle and bustle of this season. Help us to identify the things that threaten to steal our joy this Christmas and do what needs to be done to prevent this from happening. Remind us of what’s truly important when we begin to feel caught up in the materialism and the pressure to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Help us to slow down enough to think and to plan now, before the whirlwind begins. We know that a little planning goes a long way and will help us to keep stress levels down. Help us each day to seek you first, trusting that you will give us everything we need. Infuse us with your love and grace, Lord, and show us who we can bless this season with a touch of Christmas love. Amen.
A little preparation goes a long way. A great place to start is by making a holiday dump list. Simply take a piece of paper and spend a good chunk of time dumping all of your Christmas thoughts – your to dos, to gets, to gos, to gives, etc. onto it. Getting it all out can actually help to bring focus to your cluttered mind. Once you’ve done this, you can use this big picture as a starting point as you prioritize and plan each item into your days and weeks. Keep your list of priorities in mind as you plan, and remember Matthew 6:33, which reminds you to seek first the Kingdom of God above all else trusting that He will give you everything you need.
Press the pause button each day by taking the time for short breathers. They are so important. Also, it’s extremely important to decide from the start not to burn the candle from both ends by getting up earlier and staying up later in the name of getting it all done. Choosing not to sleep will backfire on you! Studies have shown that lack of sleep negatively impacts your mood and state of mind, leads to decreased focus and motivation, makes you less inclined to exercise, more inclined to eat more and drink more, and makes you less focused and efficient during the day. Who wants all that??!!!
PLAY OUT THE TAPE
Before making decisions, play out the tape in your mind and ask yourself, if I do this/eat this/say yes to this then ____________. If I don’t do this/eat this/say yes to this then _____________. Challenge yourself to say yes to healthy decisions and no to unhealthy ones, not perfectly, but more often than not.
Psalm 92:1-2 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.
I love what Ann Voskamp says about thanks:
“If gratitude is an antidote for anxiety…
and giving thanks is a real cure for stress —
why relegate thanksgiving to a holiday when giving thanks can revolutionize our whole lives?”
I encourage you to read her entire blog post on the topic of thanksgiving in the midst of stress, called, “Because Thanksgiving is more than a holiday.”
As for praising through song, simply let Christmas music fill your home and your mind. Think about what the lyrics of each song mean. Find a Christmas playlist on YouTube and listen to it while you do your daily tasks. I’ve linked a few Christmas songs throughout this post for you to enjoy.
Have fun, laugh, and enjoy family. This one’s admittedly the hardest one for me to do in the midst of my daily to dos, and it’s high on my list of priorities this month. You can be praying for me in this area 🙂
In the spirit of fun, here’s a fun version of Joy to the World by Pentatonix.
PAY IT FORWARD
What a gift we celebrate this Christmas- the gift of Christ. For God so loved us all that he gave us his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16). God loves us so much and this season, may you receive that love and, in turn, share the love and light of Christ with others. Little things mean so much. A letter. A phone call. A kind gesture. Reaching out to someone that God puts on your heart.
I wish you all a happy, healthy and blessed Christmas season.
My first local business spotlight is on my friend Kristin Hull’s brand new salon that she has named Grace Salon. About one year ago, as she cut my hair, she shared with me her dreams to open a salon that not only tends to the outside of women (and men too 🙂 ) but also is a welcoming place, a place that reflects God’s love. Now, one year later, she has taken an amazing step of faith and is walking out the vision that God put in her heart so long ago. I love what she said when I asked her the meaning behind the name she chose. She said, “God’s grace is enough for me and I want to share that grace with others.” Grace Salon and Bridal Boutique has opened it’s doors in Queensbury (959 State Route 9). Join them at their Grand Opening on Saturday, November 26th. Visit her Facebook page (Grace Salon) for more information or call (518)761-9000.
This recipe is a winner in my household and it’s so simple, healthy and loaded with nutrients. It came from a cookbook my mother gave to me years ago called Mom’s Updated Quick Meals Recipe Box – 250 Family Favorites in Thirty Minutes or Less by Donna L. Weihofen, RD. The secret ingredient is pumpkin. You can easily add meat to this recipe.
1 T oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 T ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken broth
3 cans (15 oz each) black beans, drained
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
2 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a large soup pot, heat oil. Add onion and cook over medium heat until lightly brown. Add garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Add all remaining ingredients except cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until ready to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated Parmesan if desired.
I am writing in honor of my mother, who celebrates her birthday today.
I’ve been thinking a lot about her and the role she has played in my life. She is a beautiful, generous, humble, quiet woman with great love for her family, a passion for wellness and more knowledge about nutrition than I will ever have. Over the years, all she has learned she has given away. I have been the recipient of countless emails, magazine articles, web site links, cookbooks, books, words of wisdom, hand-written and hand-typed summaries of topics I have expressed interest in, and so much more. I have always willingly received her health and nutrition wisdom, as long as it didn’t feel ‘alternative’ to my traditional medical training, but balked at her attempts to talk to me about supplementation. It’s easy for me to understand why I balked. Not only did I get very little focused training in nutrition during medical school, but I also believed that I, along with everyone else, could, and should, get the nutrients that we need from the foods we eat.
About a year ago I dove head first into wellness, learning all that I could about the faith and health connection, stress, nutrition, supplementation, and, most recently, brain health. The other day I remarked to a friend that I feel as though, in the area of nutrition and wellness, my blinders have been ripped off and that now I see so much differently. But the truth is, my blinders were never ripped off. I can look back and clearly trace the pattern of the many seeds planted over time, mostly by my mother, that had been growing little by little and were finally starting to bear fruit.
My transformation has been more like the milkweed plant pictured here, which grows slowly over time and then bursts forth with hundreds of tiny seeds that are carried away with the wind.
So, mom, I want to thank you for speaking into my life. So many of your seeds took root and now look what you’ve started! I have used the information you have given to me as I have reached out to others, and those ‘others’ that have been impacted by it are passing it on in their own way and in their own time as they grow. If any of my friends are reading this and have a copy of Dr. Ann’s Eat Well for Life or Eat Right for Life – The Family Plan, know that the recommendation for this transformational book came first from my mother. http://drannwellness.com/product/eat-right-for-life/
On a separate, and yet more important note, I am so thankful for the seeds of faith that you have planted in my heart over all of these years. When it comes to harvesting, one never reaps in the same season that he or she plants. The seeds of faith that you planted, and your prayers for the harvest in my life, did not begin to come to fruition until I became a mom myself. This gives me great encouragement to keep on planting seeds in the lives of others and praying for the God of the harvest to grow them in His time, not mine.
“Fruit bearing is a beautiful process. First there are leaves; then the flowers; then the fruit. God provides the water from beneath and the sun from above. Day by day the branches develop; day by day the fruit is produced. If you are looking for instant fruitfulness, you will be disappointed. Fruit must be cultivated.” – Warren Wiersbe in his book, “The 5 Secrets of Living”
I have a print of poppys that was given to me by my best friend after her mother died of breast cancer. It has traveled from home to home with our family as one of my treasured possessions. I treasure it because Peggy’s mom, Beverly, painted it and her mom has a special place in my heart. When we moved to Vermont, we bought a home with flowers galore. As spring arrived and plants and flowers started to bloom for the first time I was so thankful for the beautiful flowers that kept appearing, and also frustrated with the many weeds that grew alongside of them. One of the struggles I have always had in weeding is knowing what to pull and what not to pull. Someone once told me that if I don’t like it, just pull it. One day, as I worked in a small bed on the side of our deck I noticed a prickly ? weed. Though unsightly, perhaps because it was ‘different’ to me, I left it alone and forgot about it. I’m not really sure how much time passed after that, but it was long enough that when I walked past this same flower bed some time later I was shocked to find this, my one and only poppy. The others never had a chance to bloom because I pulled them, thinking they were weeds.
My other story is about a pineapple. When we lived in Guam, my neighbor was a master gardener. She told me that I could take the top of a pineapple, put it in the ground and grow a new pineapple. I took her advice one day and there the pineapple sat in the dirt for what seemed like forever. When our house flooded and we had to move I went back to my old garden to see what I wanted to transplant to our new home. The pineapple wasn’t on my list, but my friend, Cindy, later took it and planted it at her house. A loooong time later I was visiting her home and this is what she was so excited to show me:
I guess my point is this: Growth takes time, and it takes patience. It is so easy to desire so much of ourselves and then to place expectations on ourselves to, in our own strength, make change happen overnight. Whether our desire is to eat better, exercise consistently, stop raising our voices at our children, start praying every day, stop eating junk, or whatever change or desire is pressing on our hearts, if we are looking for instant fruit we will be disappointed. Most of the time (there are exceptions, praise God!) change doesn’t happen overnight, but rather one step at a time and one decision at a time. If we tell ourselves that we’re going to change overnight, and then we don’t, or if we don’t like the ugly in ourselves that is revealed to us along the way, we’ll be tempted to give up on ourselves and the growth process that WILL yield fruit in time. There is beauty in change and beauty through change. Rather than setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, let’s expect great things from God in time as we grow in relationship with Him, ask Him to show us our next step and, in faith, take it.
I want to share a little known children’s song with an amazing message. After you click the link, play song number 3, “Little By Little.” It’s a message not just for our children and about our children, but for us and about us as well.