by Kathleen Belonga | Jun 9, 2022 | Journal
“I am late.” “I forgot.” “I can’t find it.” “I am lost.” “I don’t even know how I got here.”
How often have you said any of these statements? Most of use have. Probably more often than we are willing to admit.
However, when these statements are being made on a daily basis it may be an indication that you are stressed.
I have to confess, I like to send out my monthly email news and post to my blog by the first Sunday of the month. As you may have noticed, today is not the first Sunday of the month. Out of self-love for myself during the busy time of my son’s graduation and family commitments, I decided to give myself a little pause, some grace, and meditate instead.
Please know, it was not because you aren’t important, but because it was best for me to tune in to my body. My body and mind said, “no more juggling…you have reached your limit.” And so I let one task slide a little. No harm, right? How do you feel about this statement?
What is your body trying to tell you? Take time to pause and reflect. Take a few deeps breaths and assess what is going on in your life. Journal your thoughts. Reflect on what you journaled.
Are you sleeping enough? Is the quality of your sleep good? How is your nutrition? Are you stressed? All of these factors can impact your health for the good and the bad. The level of your stress can affect your eating habits, quality of sleep, and your overall health.
I was recently on the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast show where I was invited to discuss Self-Care and Osteoporosis Prevention Through Healthier Lifestyle. This is where you can listen: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/191-self-care-and-osteoporosis-prevention-through/id1479362562?i=1000564953102. I hope you enjoy listening to the episode. Let me know what you think.
Everyone has stress, it’s unavoidable. Some stress is good as it can move you when you are feeling stuck. It’s the chronic unattended to stress that I am talking about.
So what is it that is stressing you out? How is it affecting your well-being? And, how is it affecting your Bone Mineral Density?
When ignored stress can weaken the immune system, cause inflammation and hormonal imbalances which lead to bone loss, and contribute to other lifestyle diseases.
According to Functional Medicine doctors, over 80% of patients suffer from stress related illnesses. Many of which could have been prevented with healthy stress management, exercise, and proper nutrition.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how stress can impact you. You might be wondering what can you do about it?
Firstly, set aside time each day to reflect how you are feeling, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Secondly, practice establishing healthy boundaries in both your personal and professional life. Being able to say, “no” and not feel guilty is a must!
Lastly, develop a plan for health coping strategies to ensure you don’t become overwhelmed. Here are some ideas and proven strategies for managing stress in a health way:
- Daily Exercise
- Gratitude Journaling
- Yoga (particularly Restorative Yoga)
- Mindfulness Meditation
Here is a link to a Mindful Breathing practice to get you started!
by Kathleen Belonga | May 2, 2022 | Journal
May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. According to the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 Million American have Osteoporosis. You can learn more about resources and activities here.
Receiving a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis does not mean you can’t continue to live a life full of activities you enjoy. You can be epic and any age!
Hiking, running, walking, dancing, yoga, and strength training can and should be part of a healthy lifestyle. All of these activities are excellent ways to build bones and/or prevent further bone loss. However, it is important to understand how to move your body to avoid fracturing a bone or experiencing chronic pain.
Many women experience pain after yoga, as a result of osteoporosis. Following cues in a traditional yoga class, even gentle yoga, can be dangerous. Traditional yoga classes are designed for healthy hips and spines. Now you need a different kind of yoga with options. You also need to be mindful how to move in everyday life.
Using blocks and a chair in your yoga practice is essential for balancing poses, sun salutations, and assisting you in getting down onto the floor safely.
Click here for a demonstration on how to move from standing to the floor. This can also be applied to every day life. Instead of folding all the way down, risking a vertebrae fracture, use the chair to move mindfully and safely.
Be sure to follow me on IG or FB for more tips this month!
by Kathleen Belonga | Mar 29, 2022 | Journal
What is the third phase of life?
In Ayurveda the cycle of life is broken into three phases: Kapha Phase (Birth – 20 Years), Pitta (20 years – 60 years), and Vata (60 years-End of Life).
In the Western world we label things a bit differently specifically when talking about an adult woman’s life cycle. One term that identifies a big transition many of us are familiar with is called menopause.
What does menopause mean to you?
I like to think of it as a beautiful time in a woman’s life cycle when she posses so much wisdom and opportunity to reflect, learn, and evolve. After all, growing old is a privilege not everyone gets so why is there so much negativity surrounding this particular “Phase of Life”?
Because it can also be hard, sad, and traumatic for many women.
Our bodies and minds are no longer the same. Many women feel isolated. Alone. Invisible. Helpless. Frustrated as things aren’t the way they used to be. The routines and habits that worked for years (or so we thought) no longer work.
Did you know you are not alone?
Seventy-five percent of women experience complaints. According to research, the most common menopausal symptoms include mood fluctuations, low-libido, night sweats, and hot flushes.
Hormonal imbalances may be triggering these conditions along with others such as insomnia, osteopenia, or osteoporosis.
What are the Three Phases of Menopause?
The process begins typically in a women’s mid-30’s when she begins to experience hormone fluctuations. Maybe a woman will start to miss her period or experiences cycles that are heavier or lighter than the norm for her. Many women don’t realize that this is prime time to start preparing for menopause.
Some women may have osteopenia during this phase.
The journey can last as long as 5-15 years. Some may begin in mid-40’s to mid-50’s.
Typically, menopause occurs around average age of 51-55 years old, once a women has experienced at least 12 months of amenorrhea, no more menstrual cycles.
This varies by woman, no two stories are the same.
The remainder of a woman’s life cycle from the time she passes her childbearing years to end of life.
How to Enter the Third Phase of Life Gracefully
Regardless of what stage a woman is in, it is never too late to make changes to balance the endocrine and nervous system.
Let’s explore three key factors that can turn this into a more positive experience.
Factor #1: Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance is a BIG one. Accepting that your body is changing and being able to see the beauty in this change is key to changing your mindset and your experience.
Meditation helps use learn how to practice self-acceptance and self-compassion, by accepting “what is.” There is a saying “so ham”/“ham so” means, I am, That I am. This mantra fosters a sense of “acceptance.” With acceptance, we are able to embrace change.
Journaling can be a wonderful way to express thoughts. It also serves as a time of reflection. Gratitude journaling, reflection, and affirmation statements are all purposeful.
Sound Bath Therapy can help to lower stress. Enlisting the support and guidance of a Health & Wellness Coach can help you begin your journey with higher success.
Find hobbies that peak interest and foster connections help to dissolve feelings of being isolated, invisible, or alone.
Factor #2: Food Choices
A predominately plant-based whole foods diet is ideal. Avoid processed foods, added sugar, and ideally opt for gluten-free. Dark leafy greens, lots of vegetables, berries are all ideal foods that are packed full of fiber, antioxidants, and low in glycemic index.
You are what you eat. Eat clean. Eat colorful fruits and veggies.
Factor #3: Manage Your Stress
What does stress have to do with it?
Stress is one of the MOST exacerbating causes of menopause symptoms.
Stress can affect a person physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
Chronic stress is directly linked to osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, among other conditions.
Living in a state of stress is not sustainable. And, unless it is addressed it will affect a woman’s long-term health.
Increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline can cause anxiety, weight gain, and sleep issues like insomnia.
Yoga Therapy is one of the most commonly used therapies to help women cope with menopausal symptoms. Since 2008, many studies have been conducted on the ability of yoga to heal and complement other therapies.
Yoga Therapy combines:
- Breath Work – calming and energizing practices, as needed.
- Mudras – gestures used to channel the flow of energy in the body.
- Yoga Nidra, known as yogic sleep, unlike meditation which teaches single-pointed focus, Yoga Nidra scans the entire body with the goal of deeper inner awareness of how the body is feeling, with guided imagery as well. Yoga Nidra may help with overcoming insomnia, stress, and fatigue
- Hatha Yoga (slower, longer holds) help to build strength, stability, improve posture, and coordination. Add the 12 Yoga Poses to increase BMD as proven by Dr. Loren Fishman, MD.
- Restorative Yoga is helpful to rebalance the mind and body during times of stress, which makes it ideal for menopause.
Overall Benefits of Yoga:
- Manage stress = Lower cortisol. Calming the nervous system may help with sleep issues.
- Some studies have shown yoga to reduce hot flushes and mood swings.
- Can increase energy when needed at times when feeling low-energy/mood.
- Improve focus, concentration, and memory.
- Promote self-acceptance and self-love.
- Support body image and empowerment.
- Yoga helps to increase body awareness, build strength, improve posture, coordination, and balance which can help reduce the risk of falling and breaking a bone.
- When we meditate we learn to live in the present moment. Make better lifestyle and nutritional choices. Foster feelings of self-acceptance.
If you need support, I am here to help! Click here to learn more.
by Kathleen Belonga | Mar 1, 2022 | Journal
March is nutrition month. If you have not started to think about the role food plays in your life, perhaps now is an ideal time. Author Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
It is also important to eat in the season to ensure you are getting the most nutrients out of your food. Ever wonder why some things don’t last more than a few days once you get them home? That is because once food is picked it spends 5-8 days being transported and another 3-4 days on shelves at the local grocery store before you buy it.
Did you know spring is the best time for leafy greens? Leafy greens are an excellent source of fiber and provide essential vitamins for building health bones and improving overall health. The closer you can purchase your food to the source, the more nutrient dense it will be.
If you are local to SW Michigan, you can purchase from local farms such as Granor Farm, Lake Breeze Organics, or Wild Coyote Farm. Each farm has a different process for distribution, click the name to learn more. My personal favorite is Granor in Three Oaks. They pick on Thursdays and sell onsite in the farmstead Fridays from 9 am – 3 pm. You will want to get there early for the best selection.
If you are located elsewhere, check with your local community to find local farmers, co-op stores, and other locals resources for purchasing fresh food.
Here are some foods that you can look forward to during the spring growing season:
- Green Onions
- Maple Syrup
- New Potatoes
- Wild Greens
* Resource: Simply in Season, 2009
Need a little seasonal meal prep inspiration? Check out the book, Simply in Season, by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.
Want to start your 3-Day Journey to Empowerment now? Click here to get your resources to Nourish, Strengthen, and Realign your life!
by Kathleen Belonga | Jan 3, 2022 | Journal
Are you living in alignment?
You may be wondering what exactly does it mean to live in alignment?
Well, a quick google search will tell you that living in alignment can mean a lot of different things. Living in the present moment. Living with purpose. Living consciously. Living out your values.
When I think of living in alignment, I think about all of those qualities and more.
Living consciously in alignment with yourself means to me, living in alignment with the values, intentions, and a clear awareness of what you do and how you do it.
A few years ago, I set my mantra to be TRUTH. I don’t mean just telling the truth, that was something I always did. But to live in the truth about what I want. Truth about who I am. Truth about how I feel. And, to express myself authentically without concerning myself with what others think about me. Consciously living in my TRUTH, every single day was my mantra.
It was an amazing journey. As I saw pivots in my life. Breaking away from unhealthy relationships, family and friends. Making time for myself to build physical and emotional strength. Saying no to over-committing or giving myself away to those who did not appreciate me or my acts of service.
Our yoga practice can serve as an observation lab too. By observing our attitudes towards our body in how we approach our yoga practice. Not just the physical practice, but the spiritual, and energetic practices too. Intention vs. autopilot. Effort vs. force. Ease vs. tension.
We observe our intentions and values by observing how we react or respond during the practice. Are you willing to make time for centering and contemplation? How do you engage in the energetics of breath work and mudras? With ease or resistance? Are you more concerned with how you look in the poses vs. how you feel?
How do you respond to a slower pace? Do you find yourself resisting a slow practice? Sometimes we are anxious and want to move our bodies fast, even if that isn’t really what we need. Or the ego wants to take over and move us into poses that are unsafe or unproductive.
Do you find it difficult to move your body at all? Is stagnation taking over your motivation and clarity? Sometimes our minds are dull and though we need more movement, we resist.
How do you treat yourself at the end of the practice? Are you rushing off the mat to get to the next thing on your to-do list? Do you find discomfort in silence? Or are you able to accept the gifts of relaxation? Do you make time to restore your body, soul, and mind?
What about during the day when you are not on your mat? How do you take these same intentions and values for yourself and your life off the mat?
These responses are all indications of what we value. What kind of relationship we have with our body. And, how we move through life.
Now is a great time for a reset. Time to bring awareness to the habitual patterns and behaviors that serve us and those which do not. Time to set positive intentions for how we practice yoga and how we take those practices into our daily lives.
What does this new year symbolize for you? What intentions will you set? How will you live in alignment now?