Monthly Archives: February 2012

Whitney Has Found Peace at Last

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Today I watched the homegoing service (funeral) for Whitney Houston.  It was the most beautiful and touching funeral that I have ever seen for a celebrity.  The church choir, speakers, and other singers were phenomenal. It had an intimate feel and I felt like I was a part of it, even though I was at home watching it on my televison.  The people who spoke who about her included Tyler Perry, Kevin Costner, Bebe and Cece Winans, and Clive Davis who shared funny and heart-warming stories about her that only a friend or someone who really cared about you could tell. I learned things about her that I never knew, such as her generosity, sensitive, and how In spite of her tragic death, it was not somber. It uplifted me and left me with a warm feeling inside knowing that Whitney had finally found peace at last.  As her life shows, the things we desire or covet the most, such as beauty, fame, and fortune cannot make you happy if  it is not already there.  You can have  as much plastic surgery as money can buy but if you don’t beautify and take care of  your inside, then  it is all for naught.  Beauty does come from within and if you don’t feel it on the inside, it doesn’t matter what the world says.  Whitney was physically beautiful  but insecure  about her looks.  Kevin Costner talked about this during an interview about the film, The Bodyguard. He talked about her apprehensiveness and reluctance to take the part of Rachel Marron.  At that time, she  had the world at her feet and numerous Grammy Awards  and accolades under her belt but still wondered if she was good enough to play the role of a woman who was much like herself. The woman who was  known as the “Voice,” and who was the first black woman to grace the cover of Seventeen magazine wondered this!

It was those insecurities that may have ultimately led her down the path to self-destruction, and made her take that first toke, pill, or sip, or surround herself with people who didn’t always have her best interest at heart.  We can all blame Bobby Brown and others, but as I thought about her during this past week, in the end it was ultimately her choice.  In the end the choices we make are our own doing or undoing.  I heard critics say that hers was a wasted life and much of the media touted the negative aspects of her life.  And let’s face it, in a media obsessed society such as this,  stories about death, scandal, and destruction are front page news  and ratings boosters.  This past week seven of Whitney’s albums dominated the first seven slots of iTunes.  In the past week alone, she probably sold more albums in death, than her last album, 2009’s, I Look to You, which I thought was pretty good.  I disagree with the critics, because her life was a testament to many things and an inspiration.  She brought joy  and love to millions with her music.  She showed us how to be graceful and elegant and later in life showed us the harmful effects substance abuse.  She shared her vulnerabilities with us and her love for God.  She showed us how to be down-to-earth in spite of the fame.  But I think the most important lesson she taught us was to get back up no matter how many times you fall down.

Just like all of us, I’m sure if Whitney had the opportunity, she would have gone back and changed some things.   But remember, each new day we’re given is a chance to make things right or start anew.  She no longer has that opportunity but we do.  Losing Whitney felt like losing a sister.  I felt a closeness to her, because she went through a lot of things that we  all of go through.  So,  I decided not to mourn her life but celebrate it and honor her spirit by taking care of myself and creating my own happiness and starting from within.  It’s a struggle, but I’m determined to see it through to the end.

Goodnight Whitney Elizabeth Houston aka Nippy.  Now you’re apart of a heavenly choir that will sing for all time, in a place where you will never grow old.  God gifted us with your beautiful voice for a little while, but now you have been called back home.

My  beautiful sister in the spirit, how I grieve for you on Earth

Because I will never hear that beautiful voice or laugh live again

Only immortalized in video now, forever encased in celluloid

My sister in the spirit, how I rejoice that you no longer will suffer in a world to cruel for the sweetness in your soul.

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My Dairy-Free Challenge

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Last Monday, I decided I would go dairy-free for one week.  I think giving up sweets would have been easier, because as I looked through my refrigerator and in my cupboards, practically everything contained some form of dairy (e.g. milk, eggs), and some of them were very surprising.  Other than the obvious eggs, butter,  yogurt, and milk,  I found many unsuspecting food products  that also contained some form of dairy .  They included:

  • Morning Star Italian Herb Chik Patty
  • Morning Star Black Bean Burger
  • Morning Star Grillers Crumbles
  • Progresso  Vegetable Classics Minestrone Soup
  • Progress0 High Fiber Homestyle Minestrone Soup
  • 100 Calorie Chocalate Chips Baked Crisps
  • Krusteaz Honey Wheat Pancake Mix
  • All Ranch Salad Dressing
  • Brownberry Healthy Oat Bread

Up until then, I considered those foods to be relatively healthy and I think they still are compared to other foods, but they proved things aren’t always what they appear to be, and for some there may be hidden dangers. Recently, I have been checking labels a lot to see what the foods I eat most contain, and boy was  I surprised!  They are so many extra ingredients in everyday foods that I can’t pronounce and have never heard of, but that will be another entry.

Dairy has become such a part of our lives.  We put it in our coffee , and don’t we love those  thick and creamy milkshakes from McDonald’s, Steak n Shake,  Baskin Robbins and Dairy Queen.  And what is breakfast without a scrambled egg or milk with cereal?  When we need comfort don’t we turn to mac and cheese,  pizza, chocolate chip cookies, or our favorite ice cream? And how the heck can you make a decent cake, pie, cookie, muffin, or cornbread without butter and milk? Believe it or not, it can be done.  There are numerous people living healthy lives without animal based products and they are called Vegans.  And this week I decided to become one…temporarily.

This is all started last year when my physician advised me to cut down and eventually try to eliminate dairy products, especially cheese from my diet, because among other things,  it is high in cholesterol and saturated fats, and clogs the arteries.  That was disheartening because I ate  low-fat mozzarella cheese just about everyday. I felt like, “Why are you telling me this? I don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.”  My blood pressure was normal and my last cholesterol reading had been well under  200mg/dl (see link on post What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean), but I was overweight and in my 40’s and that worried him enough to mention it to me.  We  also discussed heart disease which unfortunately is prevalent in women  in my age group and especially African-American women.  I left there thinking about the things he said, but still not willing to give up my cheese.  Gradually, I started thinking about my diet, and then I saw  a documentary, Food Inc., that changed my life and set me on a path to better health.  It discusses how a few corporations pretty much control the food industry and how our food is processed and distributed to us.  The graphic depiction of how cows and chickens were treated caused me to give up eating them as meat.  I also gave up cow’s milk. Although, I must confess, I haven’t given up fish and fowl yet.  I still eat turkey, eggs, and  seafood, sometimes.

The reasons why I decided to go dairy-free for a week are:

  1. I wanted to see if I can do it.
  2. I wanted to see if I felt any different (e.g. more energy, less fatigued).
  3. I wanted to see if  I could have a food allergy.
  4. I wanted to see if I could regain my sense of smell.

Well, a week has passed and I managed to make it each day without eggs, yogurt, cheese,or butter, and I’m proud of that!  But I did run into snags that with bread, bakery products, and frozen dinners, for instance. Many of them contained some milk or some derivative. During the past week,  I didn’t ‘t feel as tired as I normally do and  my sense of smell seemed sharper.  For the past few years, my sense of smell has gone in and out and no one can tell me why. I visited an otolaryngologist   (ear, nose, and throat doctor) but she found nothing abnormal.   I read awhile back that zinc and  dairy products from the cow or goat can possibly affect your sense of smell over time. Dairy products  supposedly produce mucous that clog  sinus and nasal passages, and  other orifices, such as a woman’s womb.

I don’t want to bash dairy, meat, or  poultry, but I no longer feel that they are  healthy due to the use of  growth hormones and other additives that animals ingest or are fed, and even the soil that they tread upon.  And this is our fault, because we are supposed to be the caretakers of the Earth and everything in it, and we  have not done a very good job!

What is the next step?  Go organic? Switch to dairy alternative products?  Cut down on dairy?  Cut out dairy completely?  Honestly, I don’t know yet but I do plan to start by cutting down and using alternative /dairy free products.  Monday, I went to my neighborhood health food store and bought Galaxy Nutritional Foods Rice Shreds, an alternative to  shredded mozzarella cheese, and it was  pretty good and actually melted.   I also purchased some yogurt made from almond milk,  and it was okay.  I think I could get used to it though.  More and more medical experts on health and nutrition such as Joel Furhrman,  Mehmet Oz,  and  Mark Hyman are advocating cutting down or eliminating dairy and switching to a plant-based diet.  I would highly recommend reading Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live. He really talks about the havoc that the current American diet is wreaking on our health and also lays out the benefits of a plant-based diet, particularly with weight loss. He really  goes in-depth to describe the correlation between meat and dairy products and their relation to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.  His book filled with so much insight on eating healthy and he takes the time to explain everything in layman’s term.

This challenge has helped  me to be more mindful of  my dairy intake and  it is another stepping stone on the path to good health. There is a lot to  blogging.  I  have to figure out how to embed links and insert pictures!  But bear with me.  As with anything, the more you do it, the better you get.   Well, as usual, I would like to leave you with something to think about.  You are what you eat. What are you eating?  Something live, colorful, and fresh, or something processed, unpronounceable, and bland?

One last thing from writer/naturalist, Joseph Wood Crutch, “If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either.” Let’s keep producing beauty and joy, not only for ourselves, but for Mother Earth as well. I wish you simosihle and much more!

In Case Your Curious about Simosihle

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The name of my blog is Healthy Soul Simosihle .  Simosihle (pronounced see-moh-see-leh) is a Zulu name for beautiful feeling, and that is definitely something you experience  when you take care of yourself.  Feeling good about yourself inspires you to do so many things, such as exercising, eating right, or stepping outside your comfort zone to try something new.

Yesterday, I went for a walk.  There is something about walking that is so therapeutic.  It  clears the mind and decreases anger, at least for me.  There has been many days when I went for a walk at lunch and felt twice as better afterwards.  When you walk, do you ever  take the time to notice your surroundings?   I think most  people don’t. They look straight ahead as if they have blinders on the sides of their faces.  Everyday, I walk about five blocks from the train to my job and  I’m always greeted by a group of birds flying in perfect formation over Stroger Hospital.  It amazes me that with so many people walking up and down the street that no one seems to take the time to enjoy the view and splendor of creation.

Did you know that there are many mental and physical benefits to walking that can benefit all age groups?  According to arthritistoday.com:

Walking slows mental decline. A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of Cali­fornia, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17-percent decline in memory, as opposed to a 25-percent decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.

Walking lowers Alzheimer’s risk. A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who walked less.

Walking improves sleep. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk.

Walking lightens mood. Research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking 30 minutes a day boosted the moods in depressed patients faster than antidepressants. Why? Walking releases natural pain­killing end­or­phins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. A California State Uni­ver­sity, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were.

Besides these mental benefits of walking, it also serves as a form of meditation. An outdoor stroll can help erase a bad day as you instead start to focus on the surrounding environment. Carolyn S. Kortge began walking in the ’80s and entered her first race-walking competition in the ’90s, eventually becoming a USA Track and Field Association bronze and silver race-walking medalist. Carolyn, who lives in Eugene, Ore., was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2004, but continues to keep her mind off the pain in her knees and hands by walking daily.

http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/walking/tips-and-strategies/mental-benefits-of-walking.php

In addition to  that, there are also numerous physical benefits.  Consider these I found on mayoclinic.com:

Benefits of walking

Walking, like other exercise, can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. Walking can help you:

  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Manage your weight
  • Improve your mood
  • Stay strong and fit

All it takes to reap these benefits is a routine of brisk walking. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. And you can forget the “no pain, no gain” talk. Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612

And if that wasn’t enough incentive, there are no membership fees to walk, it’s FREE!  That should certainly inspire simosihle!

Finally, before I sign off for the night,  let me suggest checking out an essay when you have some free time (it’s lengthy), Walking, by Henry David Thoreau.

http://www.transcendentalists.com/walking.htm

And if you’re thinking about starting a walking routine , grab a pedometer, shoot for 10,000 steps a day, and remember this old Chinese proverb, “One step at a time is good walking.”