Archive for the ‘Mind, Body & Soul’ Category

Introducing Breakaway Wellness Coaching

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

I am excited to let you know that I am now a certified Health and Wellness Coach (CHWC) through WellCoaches School of Coaching and I am open for business in my new practice Breakaway Wellness Coaching. I am offering individual one-on-one coaching as well as corporate health and wellness coaching programs. As with many service-based businesses, I know I cannot do this alone, and that referrals are what help start a practice.  I’d be humbled to receive your referrals, knowing that you trust in my expertise and competency. You’ll find my contact information at the end of this posting.

Do you have a client, patient, friend, coworker, family member or neighbor who is not content with their health or wellness and is ready to put in some work to make changes, but just seems unsure how to move forward? Breakaway Wellness Coaching can help get them started on a new path towards wellness. (Coaching is as effective over the phone as in person, if not more so. The phone allows for a deeper level of listening and the convenience makes it easier for clients to commit to, and keep appointments. We don’t even need to be in the same city or time zone!)

What is a Health and Wellness Coach?

We are not going to tell you what is best for you, what to do, or what to eat. Nor are we therapists or counselors. We help clients and patients to discover their own path to better well-being. Drawing on a number of techniques and theories (Motivational Interviewing, Appreciative Inquiry, NonViolent Communication, Social Cognitive Theory and Positive Psychology), a skilled Health and Wellness Coach comes from a place of non-judgment and curiosity.

There are many different things that can influence a person’s well-being. Your individual wellness coaching journey will be unique to you and could include: mindset/attitude, exercise, nutrition, sleep quality, and stress control.

The Coaching Process:

The coaching process I use is centered on a client-based wellness vision, in which you set realistic and attainable 3-month goals and design weekly goals (or action-oriented experiments) – the small steps that will help move you towards your wellness vision.

I assist clients in achieving their wellness vision by using mindful listening, reflections and inquiring questions. This helps clients to uncover what is important to them and discover their strengths, clarify their values, and identify their motivators.  We brainstorm possibilities, focus on successes (looking at what is working, or has worked, instead of focusing on what doesn’t) and harness strengths to overcome barriers to support the wellness vision. This process has proven to be highly successful in helping clients navigate from where they are now to where they want to be.  WellCoaches report that 70% of 3-month goals are achieved using this approach.

The end result of Health and Wellness Coaching can lead to increased personal responsibility, self motivation, self-confidence, the ability to self-discover, and increased self-efficacy. It leaves clients feeling they are in control, with a sense of accomplishment, and they have strategies to fall back on to help overcome future challenges.

Why there is a need for Health and Wellness Coaching:

Lifestyle behaviors affect our wellness, and today people are struggling to making changes or having a hard time making them stick, despite knowing that falling back on old habits is adversely affecting their health and wellness. Why is this?

  • Telling people that they need to change the way they are living rarely results in lasting sustainable change.
  • Information overload has never been greater.  With so many health and wellness guidelines, services and products available, it is increasingly hard to create and initiate our own wellness path. It leaves people confused and ambivalent.
  • In our everyday lives we are pulled in many directions. Many of us are losing the ability to be mindful and present, and we end up operating on autopilot.  It is hard to change a behavior if we’re not present and aware. It is easy to see obstacles, and our wellness isn’t made a priority.

Attempting to change lifelong habits amid all this information clutter and confusion can be a daunting task.  This is where Health and Wellness Coaching comes in.


Thank you for your time.  If you have a referral in mind or would like to find out more about my practice, you can contact me here:

– Julie Browning

Breakaway Wellness Coaching
Subscribe to my Health & Wellness List

US Forest Service Road 13

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

I wrote the following during a late afternoon solo ride on FS road 13 last September, 2017. At the time I didn’t know that the smoke I was smelling was from the Eagle Creek fire.


FS Road 13
One lane Forest Service Road,
Winding, narrow and steep.
Potholes, sink holes, loose gravel and darting chip monks to avoid.
Tree canopies touching, providing shade on hot summer afternoons.
Moss covered center lines with weeds encroaching, reclaiming the road.
The road splits, then splits again.
The absence of road signs. No reassurance you’re on the right path.
Occasional animal scat serves to remind that you’re the intruder.
No cars. No people. Just me, my bike, the forest and its life.
Solitary time. Soaking it in.
Then the moment is changed by the hint of forest fire smoke in the air. A reminder of the forests vulnerability.
The Ranger tells me it’s time to turn around.


Being a Mom and Becoming a Mountain Biker

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

As we get older it’s not easy to take on new challenges, especially ones that are physically demanding, are potentially dangerous and offer technical barriers.   Back in 2004, a year before our beautiful daughter was born; I thought I was quite happy running, swimming and riding my road bike. Little did I know that I was about to fall in love with riding and racing mountain bikes.

Before Indie was born I was a competitive triathlete and road cyclist. I assumed that after we’d settled into parenthood I’d gravitate back towards training and racing again. In the final weeks of my pregnancy I asked my OB/GYN doctor how soon I could get going again. She looked at me with a lot of wisdom in her eyes and said three words: “Time, energy and desire.” I rolled my eyes with a “whatever” attitude. She didn’t know me. She didn’t know how motivated I was to get back in shape and work towards an athletic goal. Post-Indie’s birth those three words came to help me much more than I ever could have expected. They were a gift. They gave me a license to have guilt-free non-exercise days and to accept the wonderful new role of being a mom.

Here’s how they helped me to transition into parenthood with much more grace than I thought was possible:

Time: how can such a little baby take up so much time? Having a productive day took on a whole new meaning. Getting the dish washer emptied was a productive day. Allowing myself to honor time made it ok to not get my usual 20 things done in the day and to not worry about getting a workout in.

Energy: how can caring for a newborn be so tiring? I have never napped in my life. I certainly did after Indie was born. And I did so without guilt by accepting that my energy level was what it was. This made it ok to nap and forego a workout.

Desire: I’ve been an athlete all my life. How could I not be motivated to go train? Love. Falling deeply in love with this tiny bundle of joy. I didn’t want to miss a thing. It made it easy to give up trying to ride my bike or go for a run.

I lived by the ‘Time, Energy, Desire’ mantra for about 18 months. However, once an athlete, always an athlete. I love physical challenges. It’s how I’m wired. After 18 months I was itching to get back at it. But I wasn’t hungry to race as a triathlete or road cyclist any more. I needed a new challenge. My husband suggested cyclo-cross.

In 2007 I raced in the masters Cross Crusade races in the Portland area. I had a blast. Previously I hadn’t ever ridden off road. No trails or gravel road riding. After a few races I realized it wasn’t my fitness that held me back, it was my bike handling skills. I was determined to figure that piece out.

The following year I started mountain biking, thinking this would help me become a better cyclo-cross racer. On an old hard tail mountain bike with V-brakes I tried to embrace riding off-road. It didn’t come easily and was not without frustration. I’m not a big risk taker in life and that held true to mountain biking. I was a cautious learner. I didn’t want to get hurt. After all I still needed to be mom. After  trail rides, the focus and concentration left me mentally exhausted, gripping the handle bars way too tight left my arms a sore mess, and not being able to figure out how to go down steep hills without feeling like I was going to die left me incredibly frustrated. But I stuck to it, and I am so glad I did.

Dirt Series clinic, Post Canyon

Family Man at Post Canyon: Having fun at the Dirt Series Clinic

I took some clinics. I got some instruction. I became a student of mountain biking. I learned about my bike. I watched videos. I read books. I rode with good riders who became my mentors. The feeling of terror slowly was replaced with a little confidence. The clinics I had taken gave me a foundation to build on. I figured out how to descend, how to get my bike around a switchback, how to use my suspension, and use my body position to manipulate the bike. I learned something new about me, the bike or the trail from every single ride. I’d come home giddy from excitement (I still do!), and over time I become more comfortable with calling myself a ‘mountain biker’.

Now I race my mountain bike; cross country, short track, and (who would have thought?) 100 mile races.  I like seeing that as I get older I don’t have to accept getting slower. Fitness is only a part of riding a mountain bike. I keep learning how to be more efficient and competent. Technique is worth so much. Forever a student.

cyclepath, short track

Racing for Cyclepath Racing Team in Portland’s Short Track Series

Best of all is, I get to ride with my now ten year old daughter and watch her figure this crazy sport out (a lot faster than I did, I might add) AND I get to help beginner mountain bikers get off on the right foot. I love to see their astonishment and sense of accomplishment when they figure something out or have the confidence to trust me when I say “You can do it. Give it a try”.

cascade locks, NWTA

With my daughter, Indie, at Cascade Locks: NWTA Take a Kid Mountain Bike Day

Last year I took a friend mountain biking. I had talked this trail up as being super fun and playful. After one lap my friend wasn’t getting it. She was frustrated. She didn’t feel confident in taking the bermed corners. I started to give her some help, a few pointers, breaking down what to focus on, how to move her body. After the second lap I saw a huge smile on her face: “I get it. I get what you mean by playful. That was so much fun”, she said.  I love that. It takes me back to my early days of figuring it all out.

I still reflect on those three words: time, energy and desire. It helps me find a healthy balance between being mom and bike racer.

Training the Mind

Monday, February 14th, 2011

There’s no doubt about it, cycling is a mentally tough sport. It can be an emotional rollercoaster: one week you can be riding high from a good bike experience and then the next week you can hit rock bottom.  The mind has the power to control so much of our experience on the bike. It can turn a miserable ride into an epic one; one that will stay with us for a long time to come, one that we can learn from and even brag about over a beer to friends. So how can we use the mind to do this? And what is mental toughness? 

An athlete who is mentally tough has the ability to stay positive, can stay focused, is confident, and is composed. Being mentally tough  is not just about getting psyched up, but also having composure. Top athletes can be under so much pressure, yet still able to perform with a lot of grace and confidence.  I believe that our level of composure is part of who we are, but it can also be trained and improved.

Training the Mind

Training the Mind

To develop as an athlete you need to go outside your comfort zone. For many riders though, as soon as they push the physical boundaries, the mind starts to wander and negative thoughts start to creep into their head. The good news is that mental skills can be developed to help control the mind. Here is what I have found to work for me and some of the riders I have worked with:

First of all you need to have clearly defined cycling goals. These need to be realistic and within the context of your life. And then second, you need to develop a sound training plan to help achieve those goals. Once these are in place and you believe in your goals and trust your plan, and have confidence to have discipline to do the work,  then you can focus on the mental side of training.

Stay positive in your thoughts, actions and words because our thinking can drive how we feel. Outcomes and scenarios we tend to focus on can tend to become our reality.  By staying positive can help overcome and erase any self doubt such as “I’m out of shape.  I’m behind in my training.” Negative thoughts like these set you up for failure.  Whereas positive thoughts can give you confidence, and it is from this confidence that can give you the ability to dig a little deeper when the going gets tough. This alone automatically helps minimize our weaknesses and maximize our strengths. Here are some techniques to help:

  • Trigger words are words to say to yourself that will help conjure up a certain feeling, emotion or visual.  Select words that are very meaningful to you (such as fluid, relaxed, control, and strong). They can also be names or images of your athletic heroes or events that just conjure up a certain positive emotional feeling for you. Or they can even be lyrics to a song. One of my trigger words is from a car commercial that had a jingle; “zoom zoom zoom”. This immediately brings to mind a feeling of relaxation, smooth efficient pedaling and speed.
    Trigger Words

    Trigger Words

    You need to practice using these words in training. So eventually when you say them they automatically trigger a feeling, emotion, or a reminder to focus and stay present.  Having trigger words as a tool can take your mind off the discomfort and wanting to stop, and instead allow you to continue working over and above what you normally might be able to do.

  • Visualization. Once a week allow yourself to have a period of quiet time.  It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time, a few focused minutes can work wonders. This may be one of the hardest things you have to do! Use this time to practice visualization techniques. This can be a powerful tool to help keep a positive attitude, to help reduce anxiety and to bring about a nice smooth pedal stroke. You want to use your mind to “guide” your ride into a success.There are several types of visualization. The most common is the one is where you watch or see yourself (like you are watching the action unfold through a video camera) train or race and you visualize an efficient, fluid technique with a positive desired outcome. Take your mind to the ride location and visualize the whole ride scene from ride preparation to ride finish. Aim to visualize many aspects and details of the ride scenario (the terrain, the weather, fellow riders, etc.)   Visualize how you hope to feel and what to expect.
    Visualizing Success

    Visualizing Success

    Bring to mind a specific workout or race that went to near perfection and was a very positive experience for you. Think about all the details of how this race or workout unfolded that made it so perfect. For some athletes it may be a benefit to write it all down (there can be a lot of details). The goal is to apply these positive memories to your upcoming ride.

Stay Focused: During at least one workout a week practice staying focused for the entire time. These workouts are good to do on a stationary trainer or rollers. The goal is to have conscious control of your thinking and not let your mind wander (don’t think about dinner, work meetings, family, etc). Instead think about the actual workout, your heart rate, your technique, body position, and breathing. It takes a lot of practice to put on the “blinders” to help tune out distractions and focus on only the relevant factors. Over time it will become easier and eventually a habit. This focus on technique and breathing can help block out the feeling of discomfort and get you through the tough spots of a ride whether it is a strong headwind, down pour, or steep hill to climb. I recommend developing a check list to go through that will help remind you what to focus on and also trigger words that help conjure up feelings, emotions and visualizations. Here are some techniques to help you stay focused:

  • Check lists are a list of teaching points pertinent to you and they are a huge help with the following:
    -to focus the mind,
    -to stay positive
    -to reinforce good habits
    -to un-do bad habits
    -to remind us to relax and not waste energy
    -to focus on technique, which in turn helps us move with more efficiency.

    Create a Check List

    Create a Check List

    How to develop Checklists:
    Checklists are personal. They should include words/terms that are meaningful and appropriate to you. The trick is to use the same words, in the same order every time. Having some sort of logical order makes it easier to remember. You can write the list down on a small card and tape it to your handle bars, or you can become creative and come up with an acronym. Here are some ideas for your checklist:

    – Head position (especially if you are practicing riding a stationary trainer, remember to keep your   head up)
    – Relax shoulders down
    – Open chest
    – Loose elbows
    – Relaxed hand grip
    – Steady breathing
    – Steady core to create a stable platform to allow your upper body to be still, and generation of power from the hips down
    – Stable hips (no rocking side-to-side)
    – Hips/knees and ankles all in alignment
    – Smooth complete pedal strokes
    – Relax toes, push down will ball of your foot, and let the heel drop slightly
    – Scrape the bottom of the pedal stroke, using your hamstrings as your foot moves slightly back in the shoe
    – Pull up, leading with the heel, feel the hip flexors working, feel the top of the shoe on the top of your foot as you think about throwing your knee up over the handlebars
    – Push over the top of the pedal stroke, feel your foot move forwards in the shoe, feel your quads and gluts working.
    – Think about pedaling back and forth (not up and down).

When to use check lists:
The value of checklists can only be realized if you use them often enough that they become second nature. During a workout use them frequently; every 15 minutes so they serve as constant reminders on what to focus on. I’ve had really good success using checklists during racing, and this is only because I have used them often enough in training. It’s like having your own personal coach standing over your shoulder giving you some good advice. It makes you feel like you have an edge on your competitors. For me, the checklists have helped in half ironman racing, stage racing and in long tough bike races (especially towards the end on a final climb when you tend to fall apart because you are so tired and you’re just waiting for the finish line). The checklists would help keep me focused, keep my technique together and remind me that everyone is suffering at this point.

Counting pedal strokes is an excellent technique some riders use to get through tough spots, especially effective for time trials. Here’s how it works:  count 3 to 5 pedal strokes on your right leg. Then count 3-5 pedal strokes with your left leg and then 5 pedal strokes without a focus on either right or left leg (this give the illusion of a rest period). Then repeat the counting sequence over and over. When you are focusing on the right leg, it gives the illusion that the left leg is resting, and vice versa. A lot of riders find that this technique not only helps to keep them focused and but they actually ride faster to.

Rhythm: Another counting technique can be used to help find a consistent pedal rhythm. Simply count up to an even number over and over again (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) or try a 2-syllable phrase such as “tick-tock, tick-tock”.  This helps you focus on the timing of your pedal strokes rather than the physical effort that is being exerted.

Finding a rhythm

Finding a rhythm

Breathing: You will be able to reach your highest level of performance when you are at your most relaxed. The best way to relax during hard efforts is to focus on your breathing.  You will need to practice this for it to be effective.  This is harder than it sounds.



The more air we can get into our lungs, then the more oxygen can get delivered to our working muscles. The end result is an athlete that is able to ride longer and stronger without becoming anaerobic in their metabolism. In addition, focusing on your breath can take your mind off the physical discomfort. Some things to practice:

  • Exhale more completely. If you exhale more completely, it is easier to take a deep breath in.
  • Widen your hand position. A 2 cm wider hand position will open up your chest and decrease the difficulty of drawing in a deep breath.
  • Synchronize your breathing. Try to synchronize your respiratory rhythm to that of your pedal cadence. Use a 3:2 ratio of exhale to inhale (exhale for the count of 3 and then inhale for the count of 2).
  • Belly breathing (also known as diaphragmic breathing). As you concentrate on deep breathing, you will push your diaphragm down this gives your lungs more room. If you are doing it correctly, your abs will expand out more than your chest.
  • Use a checklist to help remind you to relax, especially your shoulders, hands, toes, and neck.

Set-backs and low moral:
Races or workouts don’t always go to plan. Set-backs happen. The challenge is to stay positive. Use the above techniques:  visualize, stay positive, use checklists to remind yourself of efficient pedaling technique, use trigger words to conjure up feelings and emotions, focus on finding a good rhythm by using breathing and counting techniques.

Repeated set-backs can lead to low morale and a bad attitude towards training and racing. Revisit your written goals and reasons for riding. Remind yourself that whatever is happening now, will not last and that things will improve and will not remain down too long so long as you can maintain some balance in your reactions.  Expect that you will have low morale at times.  If you expect it, you can handle it better. 



In order for you to maintain good morale, you need to understand how you respond to different types of situations. For example, if you lose contact with the leaders during a ride or race; does that motivate you to try harder or to give up? There is not a right answer. Your answer gives you some insight to yourself as an athlete. And if you know yourself, you can minimize the negative self-judgments that can bring us down.

We get used to training our bodies for the physical demands of riding/racing and easily forget that there is more to riding/racing than the physical. Mental toughness can be the factor that helps us reach the next level and fortunately mental skills can be trained. Just like the physical aspect of cycling you need to practice, practice and practice some more.

Mind over Matter: keeping it on the straight and narrow!

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The Scene: August 7th, 2010 Dirt Series Women’s Mountain Bike Camp at sunny Hood River High School. First skills clinic of the whole camp was teaching the neutral position and bike body separation. “Hey road cyclist, come over here” one of the coaches yell. I sheepishly raise my head hoping she is not talking to me. After all I’ve been racing cross and riding my mountain bike for 3 years now. I hardly look at my road bike let alone ride it. My heart sank. She was talking to me…not exactly a compliment in my eyes. Was it that obvious riding dirt hasn’t been my forte?

This was the start of an awesome two day camp. There were 50 great women. About 10 amazing coaches.  And lots of skill sessions; high speed cornering, front wheel lifts, manuals, riding skinnies, switch backs, descending, etc.  All taught in a great environment with lots of demos, breaking the skills down and doing progressions, lots of encouragement, good humor and smiles too.

For the skill sessions I demo-ed  some flat pedals, lowered my seat 2 inches and wore elbow and knee pads…now I just need to get some cool baggy shorts and I’ll be set. Oh and a big heavy big travel bike!

This was an ideal setting to learn so much. Almost too much. When I got home, I just wanted to get back on my bike and practice my front wheel lifts, track stands, and bunny hops. 

Family Man, Post Canyon

Family Man, Post Canyon

Sunday afternoon my ride group rode at Family Man in Post Canyon; home of lots of man-made skinnies. Not sure what a skinny is? As the name suggests these features are narrow, and typically elevated to add to the whole fear factor. It’s scary to ride these. There could be consequences if you fall. We were told to commit to riding them, and if things didn’t go well, to commit to falling.

Family Man, Post Canyon

Family Man, Post Canyon

Most people can ride in a straight line. So then it becomes a mental exercise. You can’t think about your ride group watching you, or the Trek photographer or Dirt Series videographer off to the side, or the rock that is so badly placed as you try to get onto the narrow plank of wood, or the tree stumps 4 feet below you that you could land on, or the tree trunk that could take out your handle bars if you get too close to it, or that you are 4 feet off the ground on a 6 inch plank of wood that isn’t as straight as it looked when you first walked it.

Dirt Series: Family Man at Post Canyon

Dirt Series: Family Man at Post Canyon

Instead you think about riding smooth, you put your body in a stable position on the bike and you listen to your coach telling you to look through the line you want to travel.  Then once you have executed a great ride then your heart rate starts hammering and the hands can shake as adrenalin takes over. But for the few seconds it took me to ride the skinny I was pretty relaxed doing what my legs know how to do best: pedal smoothly.  (I ended up riding each skinny and teeter totter (sew-saw) 3 times; feeling like the first two times were pure luck). Candace was a great coach. And a great spotter!  And our ride group was awesome too. What a great day we had.

Dirt Series: Teeter Totter at Family Man

Dirt Series: Teeter Totter at Family Man

So how do you put yourself into the right frame of mind to get the job done?
Total concentration on a positive outcome and using trigger words to help bring that about (those who have ever taken my indoor cycling class know how big I am on positive affirmation trigger words).   How many times is this so true for so many things we do in life?

Here’s a little video of Family Man I found on Youtube:
Family Man, Post Canyon

Me, My Bike and the Rain

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

The recent weather in Portland OR has been a hot topic among my cycling friends.  (Not sure “hot” is the best word).  It’s been raining; a lot!  As long as I’ve lived in Portland I have never seen this much spring rain.   And it is this wet stuff that is inspiration for this blog posting. 

In the 7 years I have been coaching, I’ve worked with a wide variety of cyclists and triathletes: the full spectrum from total beginner recreational athletes to elite competitive athletes. I like to think my approach is a compassionate one: offering lots of empathy and nurturing. That is until I hear “I don’t ride in the rain”. That’s when the militant drill sergeant comes out in me.

Come on, if you don’t ride in the rain and you live in Portland, when do you ride? I’ve helped many riders overcome issues associated with riding in the rain.  It seems pretty simple on paper: get yourself a dedicated rain bike (fenders, lights, heavier tires, etc.), and the right combination of clothes (gloves, booties, jacket, etc.) and just get to pedaling.

My Rain Bike (aka as my bad bike)

My Rain Bike (aka as my bad bike)

I’ve had my rain bike for almost 8 years now. I like it. Wouldn’t go so far to say I love it. But I do like it. It’s a tank.  A heavy beast. Almost bullet proof and it needs to be to deal with the amount of rain Portland gets. My recent addition was a front disc brake to give me better stopping power when it is wet. When I was racing I did most of my long rides in the rain and often in the dark too. I was working 8-4:30pm so to get any fitness I needed to put in some pedaling time after hours. The motivation:  the upcoming races.    

It’s 2005. We’ve been blessed with our beautiful daughter, Indie. I had to take time off from riding; probably close to 10 months. Once I got riding again I started to commute to and from work. I would drive to day care, drop off Indie, leave my car, and then ride my bike from day care to work.  It was a good solution to get my riding time.

After Indie was born, I noticed that some things had changed. I was no longer racing on the road so the desire to ride in our rainy winter was…well non-existent. I didn’t need to train for anything. And riding in the dark was something no longer appealing. I was a Mom now. I felt a strong need to keep myself safe.  And in my defense there isn’t a safe way to commute to and from work, and darkness just added to the “not feeling safe” complex.  I was OK with that. I would be dedicated to commute by bike from March to October when there was daylight (and less rain…) 

That was until spring 2010!  This has been a hard one. I was waiting in anticipation for Daylight Savings so I could start my bike commute program again.  But when March arrived so did lots and lots of rain.  With all the rain, it has been hard to be motivated to ride. No doubt about it. And I have a good rain bike and all the necessary clothes to make it as comfortable as possible. 

I was starting to get cranky.  My body (and mind) are at their happiest when I ride.  This past week I decided to just suck it up and ride into work regardless of what Mother Nature was doing. I managed to get all organized the night before so I could just get up and go. I dropped Indie (and the car) off at Preschool and rode into work. There that wasn’t too bad was it?  It was dry in the moring, so being an optimist I rode my “good” bike in rather than my “bad” bike (my new name for my rain bike). 

And of course Murphy’s Law made sure  it wasn’t dry for the ride home. I got very wet. (But it was a warm rain!) Yet I had a smile on my face and I was happy to be pedaling.

One thing that I have been doing this year more than other years is mixing up my activities. I’ve been trail running more often, more yoga, some swimming and mountain biking. The mix keeps me more balanced. My body is happier and I feel better than when I just focus on one thing.  For me these days it’s about an all-round wellness. I like the word “wellness”.

Staying Healthy Plan

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Why can’t I stay healthy for more than 4 weeks? According to my doctor, it’s because I have a 4 year old daughter, Indie.  No-one ever really warned me about that.  Sleepless nights, crying, fussy eating habits maybe, but not getting sick every other week.  It’s crazy.  Pre-Indie we’d get the usual cold once a season that lasted maybe a week. But now we are exposed to these mega-germs that bring us to our knees for not one week, or two, but three.  Just last year in the space of 13 months I had my first real big sinus infection, a lung infection, bronchitis, 4 colds, and drum roll please…the dreaded H1N1 too.

Last year I committed to working on boosting our immune systems.  If we could keep Indie healthy, then maybe we could escape some of the sickness. We took probiotics, drank Echinacea tea, elderberry tablets, Kombucha tea, wellness tablets,…I have spent so much money on immune boosting medicine it is crazy. But alas, the periodic sickness continued. About germs; we tried both ends of the spectrum. First we weren’t religious about washing hands and then we became germaphobes. This winter it was time we decided to fight the war full on and we did use the anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer.   But again we lost the battle.

So my next line of defense: supplements. I’m not a big supplement taker. I don’t like to swallow the big horse-like pills. The only supplement I have taken with any regularity is B12 (the one thing that is difficult to get in a vegetarian diet). And the reason why I have stuck it out with B12 is that is a teeny tiny pill that you dissolve in your mouth.  I give Indie a daily chewable multi-vitamin. She doesn’t complain. She thinks she is getting a treat. So that got me thinking.  That’s exactly what I need. So my latest purchase had been a whole line of chewables:

My new chewables

Chewable calcium, chewable vitamin D, and a chewable multi-vitamin and mineral.  And so far I’ve been able to keep up taking them with some consistency.  Granted there is sweetener added to the chewables to make them tolerable, but hey, that small amount is OK with me if I can stay healthy for 4 weeks.  Vegetarians beware that some chewables contain gelatin.

The other thing I’m adding to my line of defense are smoothies. I have a vitamix which I love. It makes the best smoothies. I’ve been making mixed berry smoothies about 3 times a week.  Ingredients include: greek yogurt, vanilla protein powder, banana, berries, orange juice and ice.  A good source of protein, calcium, and anti-oxidants.  Next I want to experiment with  making super green veggie drinks (carrots, greens, celery, parsley, etc.). I’ll post some recipes later. 

And finally, I got over my fear of  sinus flushes. There are a couple of different methods (neti pot or flush bottle) to do this, but basically you flush warm saline water up your nose  to help clean out mucus, allergens, irritants, bacteria and viruses thereby reducing the frequency of infection. It actually feels pretty good.  As soon as I start to feel like I may be getting sick, out comes the flush bottle and so far so good. I’ve been healthy for 6  weeks and counting!

So in summary, this is what I’m currently doing:

-Daily multi vitamin and mineral
-Vitamin D 2000 IU
-Fruit Smoothies
-Super Green Drinks
-Sinus Flushes
-and over the winter I’ll add an immune boosting supplement and probiotics.

What works for you? What is your stay healthy plan?