Vitamin D – Are you getting enough of it? 3 Ways to increase your Vitamin D levels

Do you know what your Vitamin D levels are?  My guess is that if you are a female living in the northern hemisphere and don’t take a vitamin supplement, it’s probably low.  However, even if you live elsewhere, it’s very likely that you too are experiencing low levels of the vitamin.  What you may not know is that low Vitamin D levels may be a cause of fatigue as well as a whole host of problems.

 

 

Vitamin D

2017 was the Year of Me. The year that I vowed to stop feeling exhausted all the time and find the energy to do all the things I wanted and needed to do.  During my quest to feel better, our workplace clinic doctor drew my blood to test my levels.  An optimal level would be about 50, under 30 is considered a deficit.  My level was 13 which is very low.  Increasing my Vitamin D levels, according to my doctor, was an essential component of regaining my energy.

According to Web MD, low Vitamin D levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment and cancer.  Research also suggests that having an adequate supply of the vitamin could help prevent diabetes, hypertension, gluten intolerance and muscular dystrophy.

Increasing your Vitamin D levels

If your doctor diagnoses you with low Vitamin D, he or she may prescribe a short-term, high-level dosage to get you closer to the optimal level.  My doctor had me take one pill a week for eight weeks of 50,000 IUs.  Once I completed that regimen, she told me to take one pill a day of 5,000 IUs.  Of course, I’m not telling you what YOU should be doing, just what my doctor is having me do.  There is a difference of opinion as to how much is too much so do your own research and talk to your doctor before taking increased amounts of the vitamin.

There are three ways to increase your levels.

  1. Take a daily supplement.  As I said, I take 5,000 IUs a day based on my doctor’s advice.  One thing that I did read is that Vitamin D supplements should be taken in the morning as they are a melatonin suppressant.  Melatonin helps us sleep so if you are taking Vitamin D in the evening you may find that it is affecting your sleep.
  2. Increase your exposure to sunshine.  Of course, you need to balance this with too much exposure to the sun! Typically, fair-skinned people need 5 – 10 minutes out in the noon-time sun without sunscreen to get adequate exposure.  The darker your skin, the longer you will need.
  3. Eat food high in Vitamin D.  Fatty Fish are an excellent source of Vitamin D with salmon containing some of the highest levels.  Rainbow Trout, Whitefish and Mackerel are also high in Vitamin D.  If you don’t like fish, consider eating or drinking foods fortified with Vitamin D.  Milk, cereal and orange juice usually contain extra amounts of the vitamin.

Once you start increasing your daily intake, it may take a while to feel the results.  Typically, if you have a deficiency it could take a month or more to feel the benefits.  However, according to LiveStrong, it could take up to a year to feel the full effects depending upon the reason for deficiency,  type of symptoms and the aggressiveness of treatment.

So what are you waiting for?  Start increasing your Vitamin D intake and start feeling better!

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Love Language?

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Intuitively I think we all know that people “speak” the language of love differently.  As long as the relationship you are in gives and receives in the same manner everything probably seems OK.  However, what happens when your giving and receiving methods don’t mesh with your spouse?

I recently stumbled upon The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman and found it very interesting.  Mike and I are at a time in our relationship where things are going well.  We’re experiencing a closeness and peace in our relationship that wasn’t quite there when the kids were smaller and life was even more hectic.  Oh, how I wish I had seen this information back in those days.

The basic premise is that there are five different types of love languages that we need to feel loved and how we express our love.  The different languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

When taking the test you are given options to choose from.  Some of the questions are difficult because you may need to choose between two things that aren’t important to you or two things that are very important to you.  However, that’s what really drives home what you need.

My results didn’t surprise me at all.  My top three were equal across the board.  When it came time for Mike to take his test, I read him the questions.  I know him well enough that by the end I was answering the questions for him, I was telling him how I was answering them as I went so he could tell me if I had any of them wrong.  His top three matched mine but his were in a one, two, three order.

I think one of the reasons we do have peace in our relationship is that we both give and receive in the same language.  However, when the kids were little that certainly wasn’t the case.  I think Mike’s were probably pretty similar but while Acts of Service is currently low on my list (we can now afford cleaning ladies!) it would have been extremely high on my list when I was dealing with young kids, a stressful job and trying to run the household by myself.  In turn, because I wasn’t receiving the love language I needed I wasn’t giving Mike the language he needed.

Think about how many times your husband or significant other does things for you.  That may be their way of expressing love because they aren’t good with words.  If you on the other hand don’t care about acts of service but have a high words of affirmation you may not feel the love that they are trying to express.  Understanding all that can be pretty powerful stuff!

Dr. Chapman not only covers the relationship between couples but also with kids.  Any of your with teenagers out there know that we are definitely speaking a different language than our kids!

The test is free, you can click profiles and then love to get started.  There are also some free resources available if you are interested in learning more.  He also has a number of books and DVDs on sale.

If this is an area you are struggling with in your life, I’d encourage you to head over and check it out.

Give Yourself a Happiness Makeover

Image courtesy of Google Images

Image courtesy of Google Images

Ever since I started dating my husband we’d head to his grandma’s house after church for a family gathering.  Almost thirty years later we’re still continuing the tradition albeit at my mother-in-law’s house and without all the extending family.  As we’re walking out the door “the kids”, that would be us, are handed a bag full of magazines for our reading enjoyment.  Each of us get different magazines based on our reading pleasures.  My bag usually contains a People, AARP, Money & Travel.  Before you ask, no I am not old enough to qualify for AARP.  Even though I take a lot of ribbing from my sisters-in-law, I LOVE that magazine.  There is so much information that can be applied no matter what your age.

One of the articles that I really felt the need to share was entitled “Give Yourself a Happiness Makeover”.  The article listed 10 steps you can take to make your life happier.  Now, some of these steps are easier than others but they were certainly thought provoking.

1.  Nestle in the Right Neighborhood.

The article states that choosing where to live is one of the most important determinants to your happiness.  I can buy into that theory.  We’ve lived in our house for 20 years (I really don’t know where time goes) and love our neighborhood.  Our house is small and we can certainly afford a much nicer house, but we really don’t need it.  This house and location fits our needs and we’re quite happy here.  On the flip side, if we had terrible neighbors and safety was concern I could see our level of happiness being significantly lowers.

2.  Stop Shopping; Start Saving.

According to AARP, research shows that financial security brings much more happiness over time than buying things does.  That’s another theory I can buy into.  As we’ve gotten more financially secure a lot of stress has disappeared.  We no longer fight about money, I’m not worried how we’re going to pay the bills and if we have an unexpected expense I know we usually can come up with the money to pay for it.  The article recommends paying down your mortgage, investing in adequate insurance, saving money for a rainy day and start paying cash for purchases.

3.  Make the Most of Your Morning

There’s been a lot of chatter about this one lately on the internet.   I do agree that getting up early and getting stuff done in theory is a good idea.  Certainly a lot harder to do when you’re exhausted all the time.  Last week I needed to get up early because I had 7:30am meetings every day and I have a 45 minute commute.  If you can this certainly wouldn’t be a bad goal to shoot for.

4.  Trim Your TV Time

According to National Geographic, the happiest people watch less than one hour of television per day.  The science behind this is two fold.  1) you get more true enjoyment from being with family and friends, ready or engaging in a hobby. 2)TV is designed to make us want more things so we feel less satisfied with what we have (see number 2).  I do agree with this but sometimes after being “on” all day at work and with the family I really do need to just veg in front of the TV.  I guess the trick is to make sure that you aren’t spending hours in front of the TV at the expense of family and hobbies.  The other trick would be to monitor what you watch.

5.  Get a Daily Dose of Friends

According to Jim Harter, Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup, the happiest people purposefully plan for social times and get at least six hours a day of interaction with friends and family.  Well, those people obviously don’t work full time jobs!  Social interaction is important but I personally think the quality if more important than the quantity.  The article goes on to suggest that you find people you like (and preferably are happy) and commit to routines that put you in regular contact with them.

6.  Find Your Soul Mate

This is certainly easier said than done.  I also think that there are times when people need to be by themselves instead of  rushing into a relationship because they are afraid to be alone.  The gist of this point was that people in long-term committed relationships suffer less stress and live longer with fewer diseases.

7.  Meet, Pray, Love

According to research, people who belong to a faith-based community (regardless of their religious affiliation) tend to be happier.  I personally think the key word here is community.  Sharing a common belief with people who may also act as a support system gives people a sense of security which in turn is going to make you happier.  If you’re looking for a community I would recommend visiting some churches.  Just keep in mind that all churches are not created equal.  If you have a bad experience with one don’t quit, just keep searching until you find a church that meets your needs.

8.  Create a Sunny Sanctuary

The article suggests decorating a high-traffic area in your house with your favorite things.  I actually have a book case in our family room that I pass every day filled with mementos from our vacations.  One of the items is a digital picture frame filled with vacation photos.  Every time I pass by I smile thinking about the fun memories.  Creating a room that fills you with please can be a real mood enhancer.

9.  Get a Pet

We’ve heard this over and over.  Pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure and few stress hormones.  Of course, that is if their pets are well-behaved and don’t run away 🙂

10.  Ignite Your Passion for Compassion

Studies show that givers tend to be happier people.  According to Jorge Moll, MD, Ph.D., his research shows that altruism stimulates the same pleasure centers in the brain as sugar and cocaine.  Hmmm, probably doesn’t have all the negative side effects either!  I think that volunteering also allows you to see that there are always people with worse problems than your own.  Knowing that your problems really aren’t that bad in the scheme of things can help put things in perspective.

What do you think, do you agree with AARP’s 10 steps for a happiness makeover?

Dealing With The Loss of a Pregnancy

I’m going to veer into some different waters today.  Typically I try to keep things lighthearted here but some recent discussions with other women have got me thinking about the subject and I felt a calling to write this post.

This is a warning to all male readers – you may want to close out of this post as we’re going to talk some nitty gritty, graphic details today.

The topic I want to cover is miscarriages.  Everything that goes along with losing a pregnancy.  Those messy emotions, the physical discomfort, nothing is off limits today.

Tis the Season……Flu Season That Is

Clorox Bottle

It was bound to happen.  Someone in the WWIN household was going to come down with the flu.  Usually that someone would be me.  Mike and the kids have super immune systems while I seem to have gotten the short end of that genetic stick.

How the mighty do fall.  I received a call Wednesday morning from Mike letting me know that he was coming home sick from work.  OK, let me be clear (because I guess there is a big difference).  I got a call from Mike letting me know he was taking a VACATION day because he was ill.  Huh?  In the 27 years I’ve known my husband I can count on one hand (he keeps interrupting me to tell me it’s one finger so I’m going to throw that in here) how many times he’s stayed home from work because he was sick.

Taking Care of Ourselves

Today was my first day back at yoga since school started. I do have to say that as we were waving our arms in the air for five minutes I thought that I may had made a mistake in coming back. However, after I was done torturing myself for the hour I was really glad that I forced myself to go.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I tend to put taking care of myself last on the priority list. A lot of the women that I talk to also put themselves last. I continually ask myself why but I haven’t come up with a good answer yet. My husband certainly doesn’t have this problem, going to the gym is something that he does every day. When we go away for the day he either goes to the gym early or we leave late. I, in the meantime am making sure everything is ready to go and the house is taken care of! I do realize that I’m the only one who can change that and I have been trying.

Last year wasn’t a good year for us, my husband found out in December of 07 that he was losing his job. We were fortunate that he received a very good severance package and he was able to find a new job before the package ran out. While I didn’t feel like I was stressed and over whelmed, my body told me differently. I had all kinds of symptoms that resulted in A LOT of tests and medical bills before I realized what the problem was. I resolved this year to take better care of myself and from March – August I did a really good job. With the start of school I have slipped but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. I have found the following tips to be helpful in my search for a more healthy lifestyle.

1 – Let people know what you’re doing. In the past whenever I wanted to diet and exercise I kept it to myself for fear of embarrassing myself. This last time I let everyone know! This way I felt more accountable about everything I put in my mouth for fear of what everybody was thinking.

2 – Do it with a friend. One of my co-workers would let me blab about what I was doing all the time and one day he decided to join me. Now we encourage each other to get to the gym. He’s forcing me to get on the treadmill and do cardio while tomorrow he will be joining me for yoga (the last time he tried it he was VERY uncomfortable, at least now he knows what to expect). Encouragement from a friend goes a long way.

3 – It’s not about the numbers. I do try to weigh myself everyday on Wii because I found this helpful for me. However, I don’t let myself get worked up about the number because it’s really about being healthy and feeling good about yourself. The number is a side benefit.

4 – Do what works for you. Some people can be really rigid and strict with their diet, I can’t. I’m not always disciplined enough to make my lunch. I have found that completely cutting out soda and eating salads when I go out to eat is something I can live with. I don’t beat myself up when I splurge, as long as it’s occassionally.

5 – Be kind to yourself. So you didn’t make it to the gym today, do better tomorrow. Beating yourself up about what you didn’t do isn’t going to make it better. Just make sure that you do it tomorrow!

6 – Know that the world will not fall apart without you. This is the one that I struggle with the most. I feel like I can’t take a lunch because of all the work waiting for me. Yoga class makes me feel guilty because I get home later than I’d like to. I try to tell myself that I will be a better employee, wife and mother if I take the time to do this for myself.

I know this is all common sense stuff, but sometimes it helps to hear the message repeated over and over. It helps me just writing it, I’ll try better tomorrow and won’t beat myself up. I’ll let you know over time how my revitalized self improvement plan is going. I’d love to hear from you as to what you are doing and if it’s working for you.