My Take on a Book Review #8 – Emotional Agility – Susan David

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I heard about this book by listening to Lewis Howe’s podcast “The School of Greatness” (which I talked about in this blog post).  He interviewed Susan David and they talked a lot about how important it is to pay attention to your emotions and how doing so can help you succeed in work and life.  Sounded interesting…so I read her book…and it was really good!

She has a lot of similarities to Brene Brown (who you know I love!…see here, here, and here!).  They both talk a lot about being present, being vulnerable, facing difficult emotions/situations instead of bottling them up, etc.

Susan’s definition of emotional agility is that it’s “a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviours to live in ways that align with your intentions and values”.  It’s not about ignoring difficult emotions, but about holding these emotions loosely, facing them, and then moving on.

There are 4 essential movements of social agility:
1. Showing up – face your thoughts, emotions, behaviours willingly with curiosity and kindness (she talks a lot in this book about being kind to yourself…even when you’re not your best self)
2. Stepping out – detach from & observe the emotions to see them for what they are – just thoughts.
3. Walking your why – your core values will provide the compass that keeps you moving in the right direction.
4. Moving on – chasing courage over comfort, challenge yourself, no regrets.

A quote I liked about compassion  “it gives us the freedom to redefine ourselves as well as the all-important freedom to fail, which contains within it the freedom to take the risks that allow us to be truly creative”.

There have been tons of studies done that show documenting your emotions (i.e. truthfully writing down the difficult situations/emotions you’ve been in) is a tremendously helpful way to deal with stress, anxiety, & loss.  She gives many examples of these studies and the results were impressive.  I would’ve never thought this could be so powerful.
“The point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page.  You’ve begun the process of “stepping out” from your experience to gain perspective on it”.  Makes sense to me!

While you’re working on “stepping out”, she gives tips on helping you be more mindful.  If you’re like me, your mind never stops and it’s really hard to try and make it stop.  Here are some tips to help you concentrate…
– Pick an object (a flower, your toe) and focus on it for one minute.  Really look at it…as if you’re looking at it for the first time.
– Rework a routine.  Pick something you do every day and take for granted (making coffee, brushing your teeth).  Focus on each step and action.  Be fully aware.
– Really listen.  Pick a piece of music and really tune in, listen like it’s the first music you’ve ever heard.

Walking your why is about identifying your values.  Easier said than done!  Here are a few tips to help get you started in figuring out what your values are!
– Deep down, what matters to me?
– What relationships do I want to build?
– What do I want my life to be about?
– How do I feel most of the time…what kinds of situations make me feel the most vital?
– If all the stress and anxiety in my life were suddenly gone, what would my life look like? What things would I persue?

Moving on isn’t just about leaving that “stuff” in the past, but also about getting the right balance between challenge and competence.  We don’t want to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed…we need the right amount of “whelmed”.

The ultimate test for any action should be…is this going to get me where I want to be?  It may require you to choose courage over comfort.  Or have that difficult conversation.  If you don’t, you allow misery and misunderstanding to exist/thrive.  Read that again!  There’s definitely some truth there!

This was an interesting book to read.  Lots of “hmmm” moments and quotes.  Definitely one you should put on your list!

 

 

 

 

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My Take on a Book Review #2 – Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

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First, if you’ve never heard of Brene Brown you need to watch her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” and her TED talk on “Listening to Shame”.  She is just phenomenal!  She is a researcher on shame and vulnerability, which sounds awful!!  But she’s written about some pretty amazing and powerful things in her books.

I just finished reading this book for a second time…and will definitely be reading it a 3rd, 4th, 5th time too.  What a GREAT book!  You ALL need to read it.  I could write a million words about the awesomeness of this book, but you just need to read it!

Scarcity, vulnerability, and shame are the main themes of this book, something we all experience in every aspect of our lives…career, personal life, and social life.

She talks about scarcity – we’re never enough.    Think about it…your thoughts of “not enough” are always first in your mind (“I didn’t get enough sleep” or “I don’t have enough time” etc etc etc).
The opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance, it is “enough”.
Three questions to ask yourself to see if there’s scarcity in your life:
1. Shame.  Is there fear of ridicule?  Is your self worth tied to achievement?  Is blaming the norm?
2. Comparison.  Has creativity been suffocated?  Is there constant comparison?
3. Disengagement.  Are you afraid to take risks/try new things?  Is it easier to be quiet?  Is it a struggle to be heard?

Her definition of vulnerability is – uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure.  It sounds like the truth and feels like courage.  It’s where courage and fear meet.
Think about it….when someone else shows vulnerability we think they’re courageous.  When you think about being vulnerable yourself you are scared to death!  Our biggest critic is ourselves.

Shame – anytime you’ve been afraid to speak up or share an idea….that’s shame.  Being afraid of belittled or being wrong…that’s shame.   Shame is not the same at guilt… Shame = I am bad.  Guilt = I did something bad.
There’s a whole chapter on how we feel shame.  How men feel shame, how women feel shame, bullying, etc.  Read it twice.  Great chapter!

There’s a chapter on shame in the workplace…and important one for any leaders out there.  “Shame can only rise so far in a system before people disengage to protect themselves.  When we’re disengaged, we don’t show up, we don’t contribute, and we stop caring”.  NOT GOOD!

There’s also a great chapter on parenting and shame, perfectionism, belonging, modelling who we want our children to be.  READ IT!

Some of my favourite quotes from this book:
“Shame resilience is key to embracing our vulnerability.  We can’t let ourselves be seen if we’re terrified by what people might think.  Often not being good at vulnerability means that we’re damned good at shame”.

“A sense of worthiness inspires us to be vulnerable, share openly, and persevere.  Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid”.

“If you’re not in the arena with the rest of us fighting and getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in your feedback”….so if you’re not showing vulnerability but like to criticize me, I’m not interested in what you have to say.  Even more important in with all the social media critics out there!

There’s so much more in this book, but I promised myself that I’d keep these reviews short (so that you’d actually read them!).  Just go buy this book and read it.  Over and over and over!

Using Apps to improve health and fitness

It’s amazing how many apps there are for anything and everything you can think of!  It can be a little overwhelming trying to decide which one to try and also time consuming trying out a few different apps before you find the one that works for you.

I’ve tried a few apps for both nutrition and fitness, and I thought I’d share the ones that have worked well for me.  Most of them are free.  Please comment and share any apps that you have found that work for you!

Lose It!  Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 10.05.10 (Free)

This is a great food tracking app no matter what you are tracking…strictly counting your macros, wanting to watch your calories, lose weight, etc.  I found that this app easier to use than a couple other food tracking apps.  They have a good pre-made list of foods and common foods from restaurants.  You can also add your own recipes and it will calculate the nutrition information from that (for example, I’ve added the Meatza recipe that I shared with you awhile back).   It saves the foods you eat often (i.e. coffee with cream, or 6″ portion of cucumbers on a Subway sub) so they are easy for you to add.  I didn’t use the app for this, but you can also include your exercise which would probably be helpful if you were trying to lose weight.

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Map My Run (Free)  

I like this app for tracking distance.  I was recently involved in a challenge where we had to track our kilometres (can also track distance in miles) and this app worked fantastic.  You can pick your exercise…running inside/outside, biking, walking, stairs, etc.  It will show a map of your route, monitor total kms, show your pace.  You can also connect this app to tracking devices such as a FitBit.  This developer has other apps (I haven’t tried them) such as ‘Map My Fitness’ and ‘Map My Hike’.  I would assume they would be similar to this app.

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Bit Timer (Free)

This timer is very versatile but very simple to use.  There are 3 options…1) Choose your work time 2) Choose your rest time 3) Choose how many rounds.  The numbers are nice and big on your phone screen for easy viewing.  This app works best for interval training.  The ‘work time’ only goes up to 4min, but you can do up to 20 rounds.

Pinterest (Free)Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 10.45.33

I’m not sure if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard of, or used, Pinterest…but this app is great for everything!  You can search for specific recipes (i.e. gluten free meals, sugar free muffins, pork dishes, etc).  You can also search for workouts (i.e. Crossfit, yoga, leg workouts, etc).  The possibilities are endless…inspirational quotes, meal plans, meals that fit into your macro plans, on and on.

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You can follow inspirational people on Instagram, also follow nutritionists who post recipes for food, fitness enthusiasts who post workouts, etc.

 

 

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Facebook is similar to Instagram as far as how to use the app for health and fitness.  There are millions of people to follow and pages to like with so much fitness and nutrition information.  You can find lots of local fitness opportunities (most fitness pages where you live will advertise events on Facebook).

 

Again, please share some of your favourite apps…I’d like to find some new ones that can help keep me on track as well!

Meal Planning for Success

Have you ever tried to meal plan?  If you haven’t, you need to!  It makes your life so much easier, makes your grocery trips less frequent and likely cheaper, and is just waaaaaay less stress each night.

For a full time shift worker I suggest you plan out your meals for your entire rotation 2 days before you go back to work (make sure you plan for leftovers).  Even cook some in advance if it works for you (freeze or refrigerate the leftovers).  Make a grocery list while you’re planning the meals to ensure you have all ingredients you need.  Get all your groceries the day before you go back to work because I don’t know anyone who wants to spend any time in a grocery store after a 12h shift.

If you shop at a place like Costco it’s a little more work the day you shop just because of the volume of food, but it is so worth it later in the week/month.  You’ll need to freeze in portions (depending on the size of your family you’ll need to cut things up and freeze them in smaller or individual portions).  Wash and cut up ALL veggies you buy (this is the least fun part about me shopping at Costco!)…makes it way easier to choose these as a snack, and also way quicker to pack in your lunch.  If you’re making something that week that requires them to be cut up a certain way, do that on this day as well.  You’ll be so happy you did this when you get home from that 12h shift.

Look at your meal plan each day to see what is planned for tomorrow.  Take out the appropriate stuff from the freezer (usually meat) so it is thawed by tomorrow night.  If you’re energetic the day before prep some of the stuff ahead of time if you didn’t do it the day you bought groceries (chop up veggies, etc).

It’s a bit of work off the hop trying to think of meal ideas for 5-7 days at a time, but I promise it gets easier as you go.  And if you’re following a recipe or trying something new you’ll know that you have all the ingredients for it because you bought them earlier in the week!

And when you’re stuck thinking of something to eat the next week, look back on your meal plans from the weeks prior….you’ll find you rotate though meals a little bit (unless you only know how to make 7 meals HA HA!) and hopefully won’t get sick of eating the same thing all the time.

Happy meal planning!

More good recipes for work lunches!

Thanks to my readers for telling me they enjoyed my recipe post (and also for letting me know that you read my blog!).  I decided to post a few more recipes that we make at our house that are great for leftovers.

Meatza
This is a great one if you’re gluten free (no pizza crust) and is great for varying ingredients!
Start with some ground beef (amount will vary based on how big of a ‘meatza’ you want).  Add in an egg, some breadcrumbs (skip for gluten free obviously), and some pizza spices (I add garlic powder, parmesan cheese, oregano, and italian spices).  Mix all together and then spread out on something oven safe (cookie sheet or 9×13 pan work good).  This is your pizza “crust”, so make it fairly thin and flat.  It will shrink some, and be a bit greasy depending on the leanness of your beef.
Add pizza sauce or tomato paste.
Then go crazy with your toppings!  We usually put mushrooms, onions, peppers, and ham on ours.  Add whatever you like on your regular pizza.
Top with cheese….mozza is always delish, but feta is also very yummy.
Bake for 20 min at 350F.  Be sure to make a big batch so you have some extras for lunches.  One normal size package of ground beef usually makes enough for 2 extra lunches for us.

Chilli
I’m not going to post a chilli recipe as there are tons out there and I’m sure you have one you like.  We vary ours a little each time we make it anyways.  But this is a great, high protein, satisfying lunch that you can prepare and throw in the slow cooker.  Make as big of a batch as will fit in your slow cooker and freeze the extras.

Taco Chicken Bowls
Another Pinterest recipe that I love.  Here’s the link.
It’s a slow cooker recipe that takes about 5min to throw together.  Chicken breasts, salsa, a few spices and you’re done.
I’ll usually make some rice to go with it….makes it go a little further for lunches.  So yummy!

Taco Salad
Again, I don’t have a set recipe for this, but here goes…
Brown some ground beef while adding some taco spices (I just add chilli powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder to taste.  Much better for you than the prepackaged store bough stuff).
Shred some iceberg lettuce in a bowl.  Add in whatever veggies you like in taco salad….I like peppers, green onion, celery, and cilantro.  Crush up some tortilla chips, add in some cheese, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.   Stir and eat!
For your lunch the next day separate the chips so they don’t get soggy, hamburger so that you can reheat it, and wet stuff (salsa, sour cream, guac).  Basically leave only the veggies together.

Basically anything you make for supper the day before you should try to double it so that you leave yourself leftovers for work the next day, or something quick for supper that next night if you didn’t plan ahead.

Feel free to comment and share some recipes you like to have for work lunches.

So you want to be a healthier shift worker?

Of course we all want to be healthier!  Anyone who works shift work knows that we have a higher risk of almost everything (disease, earlier death, etc).  So why would anyone choose a job where shift work is the norm?!  Because we LOVE it and are passionate about it!  So, what can you do to try and minimize the risks?  I have a few ideas, some of which I’ve discussed in previous blog posts but are worth mentioning again because they are just that important!

  1. SLEEP!  Sleep is so so so important!  Not just after your day shifts and night shifts, but every single time you sleep!  You need to strive for 8 hours or as close to it as possible.  I discussed some nights shift sleep tips in this blog post.
  2. FOOD!  You need to eat real, whole foods and stay away from packaged foods that are full of sugar and other garbage!  See this blog post about sugar, and this blog post about reading food labels.
  3. WATER!  Everyone needs to drink lots and lots of water in a day.  I know you’ll need to pee lots, and that sometimes this is not a great thing on a busy shift as a Paramedic (unless you want to have to use your patient’s bathroom!).  So, just drink as much as you can!  No, Red Bull and coffee and pop don’t count!  Here’s a few tips to help you drink more water.
  4. STRETCH!  Even just for 5-10 minutes a day.  Before shift, during shift, after shift, at home, whenever!  I wrote about a few on duty stretches that are easy to do in uniform here.
  5. EXERCISE!  I don’t care what you do, just get out and move!  Run, walk, ride your bike, go to a class at a gym, sign up for a community association program (bonus…these are usually cheaper than at a gym!), anything!  Find something you enjoy doing and/or find a buddy to do it with you!  You’ll help keep each other accountable!
  6. LAUGH!  I hope you work somewhere as fun as I do and can laugh a TON with your fabulous co-workers!  Find some fun friends outside of work that you can have a blast with as well!  Go to a funny movie, anything that will make you laugh!  It truly is the best medicine!

None of these are new ideas, and I know you’ve all heard them before.  But maybe this is the one time you’ll take one of the suggestions to heart and change something in your lifestyle.

Feel free to share any tips you have to become a healthier Medic!

WATER WATER WATER!

DRINK MORE WATER!  How many times a day/week/month do you hear that?  Have you ever tried to drink as much water as “they” recommend in a day?  How did you feel (other than having to pee all the time?!)?

Dieticians of Canada recommend 3L of water for men and 2L of water for women PER DAY! That is a TON of water.  Now, they do state this can come from milk, juice, etc. but also state that water is the best choice.

How on earth can you possibly get even close to that recommended amount?  Here are a few ideas:
1. Drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning.
2. Keep a water bottle with you at all times during the day and sip on it continuously (at work, in the car, at home, at the gym).
3. Have a glass of water with each meal.
4. Make it taste good (if you don’t like the taste of plain water).  Add fresh foods like lemons, strawberries, mint, cucumber, limes, etc…the possibilities are endless.  One of my favourites is mint and cucumber, it’s so refreshing!  Try to stay away from other additions to your water (Crystal Light powders, squeezable squirter things, etc)…they add unnecessary crap (like sugar).  And it goes without saying that pop doesn’t count toward your water intake!
5.  Add (or subtract) ice!  I HATE warm water.  So I bought myself a really awesome, large, water bottle that keeps ice and my water cold all day long…even in the summer.
6.  If you are really bad at remembering to drink water….there’s an app for that!  There are actually apps out there that will set an alert to remind you to drink water.

Yes, you will have to pee more!  But I guarantee you’ll feel better!   Less headaches, less craving those not so healthy foods, better digestion, less UTIs (if you’re prone to them), the list is endless.
It should also go without saying that the more active you are, or the more you are sweating, the more water you need to consume (on top of the 2-3 L that is recommended).

Happy water drinking!

 

References:

Dieticians of Canada:
http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Water/Why-is-water-so-important-for-my-body—Know-when-.aspx