Wednesday, 27 November 2013

November 2013

A quick post to confirm that I am still alive and kicking !!  I'm trying to get on with life rather than write about it - hence the lack of blogposts. It's also difficult to write when you have nothing of note to write about.  But for those who are interested I'd like to confirm that I am well and continue to manage my tumours / cancer. I have just had the results from my latest scan and all seems to be stable, though the tumours do move and rotate - is that scary or what !  And whilst there is an area that is apparently growing slowly, we don't know what it is. ( it has a different signal to my other tumours, so is hopefully benign ) So the decision is to wait and watch. It could be a small fatty lump, and I am hoping that is indeed what it is. So all is well and I can breathe for another 6 months.

I am not so flippant about this as I may appear. Really I'm not. But there's nothing really to do about it. Just count my lucky stars that I don't need aggressive treatment., and that despite expectations I am still here. So I'm getting back to a more restrictive diet and a steadier, stress managed lifestyle. There's no sense in continuing the slide that time and complacency has taken me on. It isn't easy living mindfully and healthfully all the time , I can tell you. But, if it buys me more life it has to be worth the effort. I am finding it hard to manage my mind at present, and that's the truth, but I am putting a lot of effort into it, so I am sure that calmness and peace of mind will eventually be my normal again. I'm experiencing a slight interruption to service - nothing more.

Updates to my attempts at fashioning a mastectomy nighty. -
                 Sadly I don't consider my efforts so far to be universally successful. I lost the muse for a while in face of the complexity of the task. Perhaps now that the days are short and the nights are long I will reclaim it and muster up the energy to try again. As the man who invented the lightbulb is reputed to have said - I've come up with a number of ways of how not to do it. I just need to keep trying so I can come up with a way that does work.

Update to Gardening -
               I have veg in the ground. But I've been feeling very tired this summer and didn't get down to my allotment so much. Now I'm mightily embarrassed to go down there ! But I do have brassicas to harvest ! Organic, fresh, living veg. They call to me !

I can't think of anything else to report. So until next time I wish anyone reading this a very healthy and happy half year till I report in again.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

March 21st 2013

I am a very sporadic blogger. I am what I am. Today I'm posting because I thought of my blog the other day and I haven't thought of it for some time. This year has been a year of new beginings for me. My daughter left home for University and I'm an empty nester now. My husband goes into semi-retirement next week and I'm just waiting to see what that brings. My scan is due and I'm on tenterhooks waiting for the hospital to contact me to arrange it. And today, for a change, the sun is shining and it looks like spring and the start of a new gardening year. To prepare my body for the continued changes in my life I am going on a cleanse. I have prepared. I have bought the produce. I have got my recipes and my schedule in order. Today I begin with a green juice. Pretty basic. Spinach, celery, and cucumber. A squeeze of lemon. Green. Dark Kelly Green. It's OK. As green juices go its very mild. I've a glass in front of me and a small bottle in the fridge for this afternoon. I'll be trying a green smoothie at mid morning and mid afternoon (kale, spinach, broccoli. tomato, lettuce, garlic, cucumber and avocado, and any extras i can think of ), and I'll have soup ( vegetable ) for lunch and supper. I've signed up for Ross's alkaline cleanse on the " Energise For Life " website, and I'm trying his recipes. My own are far from great tasting, so I'm hoping to pick up some tips for making them more delicious. I've tried a green smoothie before and I'm a little trepidatious as I didn't like it. However, I'm going to give it another go. Raw foodists call them smoothies, but having had fruit smoothies I can say that mine was a long way from being anything like what I expected. They are more chilled soups in my mind. The plan is to do this for 7 days. Hopefully that will put me on the right path to juicing again as I haven't used my juicer in some time. And for motivation I have access to some videos Ross has made for the programme. I am also going to be watching " Hungry For Change " which is having a free viewing on the internet for the next 10 days at www.hungryforchange.tv/ Strange - when I've typed web addresses in before it's shown as a link. Google it if you want to watch. I highly recommend it. Another motivational movie I stumbled upon earlier this week is " fat, sick, and nearly dead " It can be watched on youtube and is very motivational. These guys juice for 60 days and undergo a huge transformation. The movie follows them and you get the feeling that if they can do it so can you. So I'm good to go for the next 7 days. I'd say I'll blog my progress, but that's not my pattern of the past. What I will say is that I will post my scan results when they come up. Fingers crossed !!!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Update

It's months since I last posted on this blog, so I thought I should come back on and give an update.

Firstly - I've had another scan and the results show the cancer is still stable . Yippee !! Great news. Be better if it were gone, but I'll take what I can get. I'm still thriving and striving !

Secondly - there's a cancer summit going on at the minute over the internet. the address is
          
                 http://www.CancerWorldSummit.com

It's running for the next few days. The webcast is live at 8PM New York time - that's 1AM English time !  There are a series of talks over the next few days. You have 24 hours to listen to each one and then the next one is broadcast. And there is the option to purchase if you want to hear it again, or miss some. Kris Carr and Dr. Gonzalez broadcast yesterday. If you want more information follow the link. Kris Carr spoke a lot of sense, and Dr. Gonzalez referred to his enzyme protocol. While after listening to him and being reminded of things I had forgotten I wanted to sign up for the enzymes I do feel that there are many ways to skin a cat. There are common elements to all these healing regimes, and my approach is to follow those. I'm not looking for a magic bullet because I suppose I don't believe there is one. Just a healthy lifestyle. And both yesterdays speakers were talking about just that. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the speakers. I have forgotten so much of what I Iearned when I was actively researching. I think at the 6 year mark it's a good time to refresh my memory.

Thirdly - I've signed up with Ross at Energise For Health to follow an alkaline diet regime which he is doing over the internet. I've let things slip and I feel the need for some connection to help me get back on track. He's created an online community over there. It's clear that an alkaline body is a healthy body and Ross is all about alkalising. His website is full of interesting information. You can have a look for yourself at

                      www.energiseforlife.com

Fourthly - I've enrolled on a dress making course. I'm just getting back into sewing and when I feel a little more comfortable I'm going to get to work on a mastectomy nighty pattern. I am so sick and tired of my nighties and how I look in them on a morning ! There must be a better solution than no mirrors and black out curtains !!! It's really not quite as bad as that !  I'm also signed up on a course at English Couture in a fortnight to do a bra making course.  It's in Liecester, so involves staying away from home for a night, so it will be a bit intense. I'm looking forward to being able to have some pretty bra's - and I'm intending to do some matching pants too . Luxury !!! I follow a few sewing blogs and some of the unerwear that they make is just  Amazing, Darling ! I'm hoping mine will be too.

Finally - The allotment is getting ready to hibernate over the winter. I haven't sown any seeds, and the intention is to cover my weeded and dug over beds in membrane ready for an early start next year. I spent most of this year just weeding and chasing my own tail. So I plan an early start next Spring.

That's all I can think to update on.  I have no pictures. I've forgotten how to add a photo and my daughter is away at Edinburgh University so she can't help me. I'll have to write myself an instruction manual when she comes back for Christmas. Speaking of which - isn't it coming quickly !!! But that's nice since it means my girl will be home for 3 weeks. She's settled in really well, and I've adjusted to her being away, but I do miss my mothering role.  And I do miss her !

To anyone reading I wish you health, happiness and a great today !



Saturday, 4 August 2012

AN OLYMPIAN CHALLENGE

I don't post very regularly on my blog. That's largely because I don't have a lot to say. However, as my daughter is going away to University in September ( fingers crossed ) I'm going to see if I have more time for and interest in blogging again. No promises, though  !  I have a surprising number of draft posts that I never finished or thought better of making public. I will try to finish a post and hit the publish button before the perfectionist and coward in me steps forward.

I've just returned from holiday and have taken an interest in the Olympics. The coverage on tv is great. I'm getting interested in sports that would normally leave me cold. I think that's got to be put down to the commentators who are doing a great job of making it all really exciting. We listened to radio 5 all the way home from Cornwall ( 7 hours !! ) and anytime I sit down I take a peak at the tv coverage. it's so tempting to just sit down and watch it all ! But that's kind of the opposite of what the Olympics is about - sitting down and watching passively !  But really tempting !!

Steve Redgrave - Sir Steve Redgrave, rower extraordinaire and Olympic gold medalist many times over - has been on the tv. We had a gold medal for the two girl rowers and he was drawn into saying that to decide to defend your title is a very big decision. He said that the World Championships require a years full committment, but the Olympics require 4 . Four years is a huge commitment. That's 4 years of dedication and single minded hard work. It's clear that athletes make huge sacrifices for their sport. Their preperation involves diet and all the sacrifices that implies. No drunken Friday nights out with friends ! No icky sticky creamy sugary buns ! No salty, fatty, fried and crispy snacks ! No chemical laden processed and marketed foodstuffs. Their bodies need clean nutrient dense foods to build them into lean mean fighting machines. Their preperations also involve excercise to build their muscles, their reflexes, their stamina and strength, their flexibility, and their skill. We had a talk by an Olympic athlete at Boroughbridge High School 2 years ago and he was fascinating. Sadly I can't remember his name, but he was an incredibly able and motivating speaker. He was a rower and described a particularly cold, dark and rainy winters training morning when he dragged himself out of bed at the crack of dawn. It was the last thing he felt like doing.  He was the only person creeping out and down to the water at that ungodly hour. But as he eased his boat out into the river another rower was just coming in from his own mornings rowing. That lone indiviual was Steve Redgrave. This is the kind of dedication and self discipline, not to mention bloodymindedness that it takes to get to the Olympics.  There's no question that it takes character to be a sucessful athlete. Real strength of character is what it takes to achieve excellence and push your body to its limits on a regular basis. When friends are going out to party, when friends are enjoying down time and chilling out with drinks and relaxation, these athletes are in training with all that it implies. I am in awe of them. Their beautiful bodies are not just a gift given freely. They work for them constantly. They don't come free !! I am mesmerised by these athletes from all corners of the world. They are talented admitedly, but they are clearly incredibly self disciplined. I wish I could claim I had a smidgen as much as they have. As I say, I am totally in awe. And there are many athletes who just didn't make selection who I'll never see. And that's not to even mention the paralympic athletes who are to compete after this set of Olympic Games is over. I can't wait to see them and am so glad they are given so much more media coverage ( at least I hope we see as much tv coverage ! ).

Why am I talking about the Olympics ? Well, Steve Redgrave got me thinking. I have trouble maintaining motivation. It can feel very lonely to be fighting cancer with lifestyle choices ( yes, yes, also with medication it's true. ) Having just returned from holiday where someone else caters for me morning, noon, and night I can reaffirm that I march to a different drummer to the majority of the population. On the dinner menu there were 5 choices for meat dishes and one for fish. There was a special vegetarian menu at the first hotel with about 5 choices, but ALL had dairy as an intrinsic part of the dish. At the second hotel - with the same hotel chain - Brend Hotels - there was just one vegetarian option, one fish option and about 5 meat options. It can feel quite frustrating I can tell you. I am paying the same as the meat eaters, but given no real choices. Vegetarians could feel punished if they chose to take it personally. This isn't very fair of me as the restaurants all did what they could with their menus to accomodate my dairy free meat free demands. I did have something to eat and it was delicious. I just get a bit tired and find it a little stressfull when I see what everyone else eats. And don't lets get me onto desserts ! They just look so pretty and indulgent !!! I do get the bonus of coming away without gaining weight. No heavy breakfasts, no rich sauces, no excess sugar for me. But it's hard not to feel a little sorry for yourself when you compare yourself to a room full of diners and can see what everyone else is indulging in.  I know other people with dietary restrictions, so I'm not alone. We are just in the minority. But here's where the Olympics comes in. If I want a role model or two I should look to the athletes. They are on restrictive diets. They are buying into restrictive lifestyles. Time when they could be messing around with friends eating fish and chips and wasting time is spent training, and training till it hurts. I am not an athlete. If you saw me you would never associate me with them. I'm bigger and older and haven't their determination and self discipline. But they are my people - or I would like them to be. I feel they are experts at what I am attempting. So if I feel the need for an example, a role model, a motivator and a coach - someone who's blazed the trail - then I need look no further than these athletes. I've read a great deal about survival. I have a library of books on survival - how to survive, stories of survivors, and of the qualities they share. I intend to now  make a study of athletes. I have criticised having the Olympics in Britain. The expense of it. The inconvenience of it for many Londoners. The unfairness of it all being in the extreme south of the country. I believe I would still have come to this conclusion wherever the Olympics were held, but I think we have better tv coverage because it's being held in London, and that means I am exposed to more of these athletes.

Now to the point of this post. I would like to publicly commit to seeing myself as an athlete in training for the Olympics. I will not look like an athlete. I will not excercise like an athlete. But I can adopt their lifestyle choices and motivations.  I think it is a way to crystalise my visualising. I may not look like an athlete in the mirror, but I can see myself as such in my head. I also have the advantage over the athletes that I can shorten the timescale. I can commit to being in great shape for the next winter Olympics - that's 2 years time. ( 4 years is a long time ! ) Once I reach that milestone I can recommit to the next 2 years. 

I have started a food diary and will try to post this regularly. Feel free to comment if my choices could be better. It's a learning curve. I will also periodically give other details such as my meditation and visualisation schedules and experiences. I'll also keep a record of my excercise. A note here though. I started excercising more enthusiastially earlier this year only to find that my tumours moved. This had happened before, but I had forgotten. So I won't be indulging in strenuous excercise. It frightens me. It's a handicap when you want to model yourself on an athlete but I don't see it as a deal breaker. I'll just have to content myself with low impat, low stress forms such as walking. Perhaps I could train for some walking marathons - as long as my bones and joints don't complain too much ! I know that my challenge doesn't incorporate competition or stressing my body physically, but I feel I can take something from the spirit of the Olympics and the athletes who compete. I will concentrate on their superior powers of self discipline and endurance. If they can do it I can do it.

If you read this post and want to join me in my Olympian Challenge please do. Anytime ! Post a comment. I don't think there are many people who inhabit bodies  ( and who doesn't ?! ) who couldn't benefit from adopting an athlete as a role model.  Here's to the next Olympics. May we all achieve Gold Medals for achieving our goals

Friday, 6 April 2012

1st week of April


 I have started following a health and cruelty free 21 day eating protocol. It started a few days ago on April 2nd, but we've been away so I'm starting today. This one is run by PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ) and once registered you have access to many resources ( videos, tips, recipes, etc. ) and they send you an email every day for the 21 days to help you stay on track and keep motivated. It's called the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. I'll put a link below if you want to take a look.

http://www.21daykickstart.org/

So today I've had porridge for breakfast. It had fruit - blackberries and apple. It had nuts and seeds - sunflower seeds and almonds.  It was delicious  ( I know I should keep my fruit intake down - sugar ! - but I'm determined to be kind to myself for the next 21 days and to enjoy it, so I'll be having some fruit until the end. ) I'm also going to start off some sprouted seeds. I never start sprouted seeds before I go away. There's no point as I don't seem to eat them if I take them with me - everything's so different - and I don't want to come back to old ones or ones I forgot in the sprouter and then have to clean out the mess. I have no firm plan for dinner yet. The plan calls for greens, grain, and a bean. The example given is kale, couscous, and lentils, or bean chilli and kale. Whatever I have there'll be more than 50 % of the plate covered in vegetables. I should have a plan for lunch, but as I ate breakfast for a late brunch I'm not going to be hungry for any lunch. Soup was suggested in case you're interested with white bean hummus and wholegrain bread. The plan if I need a snack is firstly miso soup and wheatgrass ( a packet of miso soup and a heaped teaspoon of wheatgrass powder in hottish water. No one's ever suggested this to me , it's my own harebrained idea, so nutritional properties may be lost, but it tastes surprisingly good. The miso covers the taste of the wheatgrass powder very well ! ) and later an  avocado. Apple and carrot are suggested, but I have an avocado which is in  just perfect condition and it would be a waste to let it get over ripened. It will be a decadent treat

My allotment this year :-
I have an allotment. It's terrific. Great decision to get one.
And I have a picture !!!!! I've never had a picture on my blog before !  Huston, we have lift off !!   O.K. The picture's not that great. Not a picturesque time of year on the allotment, and I took the photo as an afterthought. But still it's a work in progress. My allotment ends where you see my neighbours shed at the back and my next door neighbours shed on the left. There's a grass path to the right and then another neighbours fence and plot. Mine is what you call a half plot but it's plenty big enough for me.



What's ready for harvest on my allotment :-  kale, beetroot, celeriac, cabbage, sprouting broccoli, some brussel sprout tops, greens, and leeks . ( You can see the kale and brussel sprouts clearly on the photo )
What I'm ready to put in this week on my allotment :- potatoes, peas, broad beans, parsnips, carrots. ( there's others, but I'm keeping it simple and manageable. ) Traditionally  Good Friday is the day to plant potatoes. So if I get down today it's potato trenches I will be digging ! The potatoes are chitted and waiting eagerly to go into the ground.
What I've planted so far this year :- Red Barron, Centurion and Snowball onions,  garlic ( can't remember the varieties ! ) and elephant garlic.
Most exciting thing this year on the allotment :- There's a base down for a shed and the shed's going to be erected about the 16th of April !!!! Can't wait. It will be so much easier when I don't have to carry all my tools - my rake, my hoe, my fork, my watering cans, my little garden fork, my chair, etc.,etc. each time I go down. My plan's to put curtains up and keep a change of clothes down there as well as the tools. That way I can pop in any time I'm passing. I find I just don't go back if I have to go home to change and get all my tools. And with the price and scarcity of petrol it'll be more economical to be able to just pop in on the spur of the moment as I'm passing by.

What I've learned today :-

First - I've learnt to put photo's on my blog. At least I hope I've learnt and that my memory will hang onto the how to of it ! This is big. I follow other blogs and they are all full of beautiful images and make the posts so easy and pleasurable to read. I'm going to have to start taking more photo's. It will be nice to have a colourful blog.
I've also recently learnt that until the year 1752 the start of the year was considered to be March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation. In 1752 we adopted the Gregorian calendar and started our year on the 1st of January. Well, I must say that March / April seems a much better time of year to make a start on things. So many things seem to spring into life in the garden. January on the other hand is quite a dormant month with the cold and dark forcing me into hibernation inside ( and I'm not alone ! ) . Bring back the March 25th New Year, I say, or better yet, how about April Fools Day ! Then we'll really feel like a new year's begun. Too much thinking was clearly going on and not enough observing and living when the !st of January was decided on and sadly, we've not looked back since.The Chinese have their own New Year in February. Let's have a rally to get our calender changed back to March ! Let's hear it for the British Isles New Year !!!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS COMRADES

It's February and my birthday is at the end of this week. It's time for a fresh start. A time to take stock, and a time to look forward.

My father-in-law sadly passed away recently. The funeral was held in Scotland last week. And my husband has started to make preparations for retirement ( in 2 years time !! ) handing in his notice this last week or so. My daughter has been offered a place at Edinburgh University in September - they're the last university on her list to reply, and up to this point I had thought she would be just a stones throw away in Leeds. ( I fully expected her to be made an offer from Edinbrugh, but didn't want to think about it and put bad luck on it.)  So it's a time of endings, and a time of beginnings.  I'm finding it a bit overwhelming if I'm honest.  I've reacted more strongly to it all than I expected,  I'm feeling as ancient as Methuselah and thinking of my own life folding inwards. But my excuse is that it's all come at once. It's not been the best Christmas - with father- in-law in hospital and going downhill - (his passing was expected, and he was 94 the day we buried him ) but we've sadly come to expect difficult Christmases. It just seems we've had a bad run of them over the last few years.  I think looking forwards I just have to say that the only way is up. Upwards and onwards.

So, on a positive note I have much to look forward to .
  • I've just paid my subs for my allotment. I've been down to survey the damage of a few months of neglect and it's not as bad as I thought. I'm planning on getting down there after half term to start tidying it up and my gardening friends have volunteered to come and help me in March. I'm now planning what to put in and will devote a post in the future to it. And as I got a camera for Christmas you can look forward to some photo's - with a little help from my daughter in figuring out how to include them !
  • I'm going to Paris !!!! With my daughter. It's a joint birthday present for us both from my husband.  I've not been properly abroad since our honeymoon so I'm a little trepidatious . It's the language that worries me a little , but my daughter has a smattering so I'm hoping we'll manage.  I'm really excited. I was forced by my family to look to the future and apply for a passport last year - I found the whole thing really stressful as the desire for travel is something I put in a box a long time ago. Coupled that with my oncologist warning me about travelling when I was diagnosed. I kissed goodbye to the hope of travel completely at that time, so opening the box was very painful, particularly as it felt like a leap of faith into the future. But I booked a 3 night break yesterday and I'm really excited about it. It would have been better to book ahead - it's ridiculously expensive !! - but we couldn't plan ahead as we've been living day to day since the end of november when my father-in-law was hospitalised. I think we'll have a great time. I'm just worried that after this I'll want to get out there and travel the world ! I think my husband is too. His idea of a holiday is definitely not a city break.
  • I've enrolled on a dressmaking and pattern cutting course. I am really excited about this. I think all the stuff that's going on in my life has led me to it. I'm feeling ancient and washed up. My husband's retiring, my father-in-law's gone before me ( and I was certain the old coot would outlive me !!) , and my daughter's off to start her life in Scotland. I'm feeling ancient and ugly. I can cover up in the day. Put on my hair and my eyes, my makeup and my boob. I can look great by day. But at night the crone cannot be denied. I'm as ugly as sin, and lopsided to boot. So I'm determined to make a nice nightie that won't make me feel like Quasimodo. And to have that I'm going to have to make it myself. If you look in the fashion magazines peplums are making an appearance this year on clothes and they can hide a multitude of sins. I've also noticed and been interested in the work of some Japanese designers over the years who are designing clothes with a very strong architectural feel. Their clothes are very structured and the fabric takes on a life of its own. I'm hoping to incorporate their ideas into a few nighties for the mastectomally challenged. This may sound a little project to you, but I can assure you it's not. I have found 2 nighties on the Internet in the five years I've been looking, and 2 in catalogues. But they've all been pocketed. In those nighties the bodice has to be tight fitting so that the prosthesis sits properly, but not only do you want something loose for night so that the lymph in that area can flow, but the bodice can still move around when you sleep. I tried pocketing a nightie, but on waking in the morning and sitting up I looked incredibly peculiar with humps and lumps where they shouldn't be -the pocket having curved around my body. So I'm on the quest of the perfect mastectomy nightie. And that fills me with more excitement than you can imagine.  There's Hope !!   Perhaps I don't have to look so bad first thing every morning when I walk past my mirrored closets, and stare in the bathroom mirror above the sink. There's just no getting away from how I look on a morning! I've been fine with this for 5 years now . Let's face it, it beats the alternative. But I've been more bothered than I can say since December. And I know that it's to do with the 5 year anniversary marking a minor miracle of survival, and also with father-in-law's , husband's, and daughters plans. I know it's about being overwhelmed because it's suddenly a really big issue for me. So I'm taking positive steps. I'm taking the bull by the horns. I'm getting off my butt and doing something about it. And I'm even considering doing a foundation degree in fashion to that end. Part-time of course, and done locally.  But I'm considering it - finances allowing. It would be nice to have a big project for when I have uninterupted time without having to run around after my daughter and before my huband stays home and dominates my life. I secretly ( is it still a secret after you post on a blog ?1? ) think I should have something which occupies my time and gets me out of the house in place before said husband retires. I've given my family my time whenever they are around in the past, but I can't maintain that. I had been hoping to enjoy the next year when Rosie goes to University to travel the country visiting galleries and cities I've not seen unencumbered by time restraints and domestic duties. Finances won't stretch to that now, so I need to think of something else. Working is out as no employer in his right mind would employ someone with my diagnosis, so perhaps this project will fit my bill. Here's hoping. But, it's one step at a time. I'm going to see how ten weeks of pattern making and construction feels. Starts next Tuesday.!!
So I'm making a fresh start in this next year. These are exciting times. I just have to keep looking forwards with optimism. Concentrating on my positive future opportunities certainly feels a lot better than thinking about past difficulties and regrets. I just need to pace myself as I have come very close to being overwhelmed. but I haven't capsized yet ! I think being positive and proactive is the only way for me right now. Off to pick up my tickets for Paris now. Will hopefully have pictures for my blog next time !! 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

MY TONGUE HAS A MIND OF ITS OWN

 It's February already. One month into the New Year. Like so many others I started the year with a number of resolutions. By and large I've kept to them. They've not all been to do with health, but one certainly was. And as resolutions are most likely to stick if you are accountable and if you constantly remind yourself of your goal I post today about my feelings about food as of one month on in my new target (Which is good health, naturally ! ).

I believe three things.
  1. Tastebuds are not necessarily your friends. Manufacturers and chemists are making large profits by entertaining our tastebuds for a few moments at a time. We are no longer using our tastebuds for pure survival, but for recreational reasons and for emotional support.
  2. Different people are born with different experiences of taste sensitivities. There are super-tasters - people with a much greater concentration of taste buds on their tongues. They taste more intensely than the majority. Did you know that within the general population there is a wide range of taste experiences. And taste includes sensations of heat, texture, and pain - such as heat from chillies. As bitter foods are avoided and sweet, salty and creamy foods are actively pursued this impacts food choices, and this in turn impacts health. So your taste buds play a role in your health.
  3. We can no longer depend on our taste buds to keep us out of trouble and to point us in the direction of where our best choices in food lie. With the advent of refrigeration, irradiation, and sell by dates, with the growing lucrative market that panders to our food taste and sensation preferences - in the form of sweetness, saltiness, oiliness and creaminess ( high energy foods that were once necessary for our survival as a species ) -,and with the development of non-biological or man-made additives to, on, or in our foods which to all intents and purposes are tasteless, odourless and nutritionally valueless, we can no longer rely on our senses to help us make optimum food choices for our health. Nature and evolution have hardwired us to seek out high energy foods to ensure that we are fit enough to reproduce. Once we have satisfied this urge nature has little more urgent use for us. Eating a high fat, high sugar, high salt diet is good for survival of the human race in general and us in particular in the shorter term  but it does us, as individuals, no good in the longer term,and leads to chronic degenerative diseases.
So, once again, our taste buds are not necessarily our friends.  Now some people say that it takes a month to break a habit. The Internet is full of 21 day challenges aimed at rebooting our minds and retraining us in our food and lifestyle choices. I personally believe that it takes a lot longer than this to retrain ourselves to make lifestyle choices, and perhaps that's why so many of us fall off the wagon , expecting things to all run smoothly by the end of the challenge. I think that with food habits we're dealing with very deep and primitive instincts, with cultural norms ( magazines and tv are full of full colour adverts for foods and beverages that really need little selling !), and with emotional memories and linkages ( Can't we all remember the treats, the desserts, the rewards, the family feasts we had in happy times.).  So it can take much longer to change a habit where eating is concerned. But we can change behaviour and intention in 30 days. We can change energy and focus. But a month is only the start. It takes determination and mindfulness and discipline to maintain lifestyle changes. I know from personal experience that lifestyle changes made more than 4 years ago are being maintained by determination , and not habit., by daily decisions, and not by reprogramming. It's just not as simple as doing a cleanse and getting on with it from there. Our bodies and minds often go into auto-pilot mode and that can be a stubborn and pernicious thing.As soon as we relax, all our bad habits of the past reappear. It might seem negative and dis-empowering to suggest that a month isn't long enough. Far from it ! A month will see a significant change in the body. A month is a good start and foundation. I'm simply suggesting that it will take continued determination and intention. I sometimes catch myself still looking for the quick fix, for a magic potion, for a silver bullet.  But the reality is that we live in the real world. A cleanse is a great start, but it won't magically change anyone's preferences. It can't change instinct, and instinct is where our tastebuds operate. Give them sweet, salty, creamy any day of the week. Now fresh fruit and veg are delicious, but they don't give quite the same feeling of comfort and nurture. We don't go out of our way to binge on broccoli. And broccoli doesn't initiate quite the same cascade of reactions in our bodies. I don't know anyone addicted to cruciferous vegetables ! Now sugar - that's a different story altogether!

But, as I say, a month can refocus us, change our energy and attention, change our motivation. So I'm looking to make some changes over the next month. The timing is not optimum - there's holidays coming up and lots of commitments where I'll not have full control of what I eat and do with my time.  But that's life. It's never going to be optimum for change. Waiting for the right time is like waiting for Godot. Pointless. So knowing that now is not a good time, I commit to refocusing myself on healthy lifestyle choices.  I started last month. As so many do. And I have made some very positive changes. I'm just committing to doing the same this next month and consolidating and building on last months. And I'll doubtless do the same thing the month after.

Awareness is knowledge, and knowledge is power. With the best of intentions I will live Today mindfully, to the best of my ability. And, I'm going to acquaint myself with my taste buds today.

 What do I hope to gain ?  Health.   Peace of Mind.   Energy.

So for the next month I will go easy on myself. I'm apt to be very critical of myself. I could have done better last month, but then I did my best in the circumstances. There is no point in regrets or recriminations. It won't change where I am.. The longest journey begins with one step. And I can only take one step at a time.  My legs won't stretch further than one span. It's one step at a time. No negotiation. No possibility of anything else. This is true for me. And as author Kathy Freston says, " Progress, not perfection "

Resources :-
There is a very interesting podcast available for download from itunes that talks about our taste buds. It's the All In The Mind podcast entitled  " Mmm...that's tasty "  (March 4th 2011) . Host Natasha Mitchell  interviews psychologist Linda Barloshuk on March 4th 2011.