This past week, I had the unfortunate experience to watch some fellow co-workers get bent out of shape because of their perceptions about one another. Specifically, how one or the other treated each other. Granted, I will say that there was some stressors that influenced these, but they were outlying and did not directly play a role in the conflict. In other words, they related to perceptions of time limitations, schooling, other jobs, and so forth.

 

I have made a point of trying to stay out of conflicts that are not my own. For one, I detest drama. It’s ridiculous, and there’s far too much of it going on these days. One only has to turn on the television to see what I’m talking about.

 

However, I did try to point out one very important fact that I have learned through my own experiences. No matter who you are, you cannot control another person’s choices, actions, and reactions to outcomes. Period.

 

The one thing we have control over in our lives is how we choose to think, act, and react. The one thing we can control is ourselves. In a work environment, especially a high-stress one like fitness (or, in my husband’s case, the military; but there are many more), it is of the utmost importance to conduct oneself with professionalism. If a problem arises, instead of sulking and crying and making a scene before patrons (which I unfortunately had to witness), it behooves us to go to someone we can trust and talk about the situation. Oftentimes, those in higher positions see things differently and can give us a better understanding and perspective of what’s really going on.

 

But, to me, that is only if one cannot go to the person who is causing our discomfort and discuss it with them in a business-like manner ourselves. I have had one of those instances several years ago, when I thought the person in charge of me was not going to take my complaints reasonably. I discussed it with a superior but remained open to the possibility that all of this was merely my own perceptions and not the reality of the situation; then I let it go. It is quite possible that our own feelings can get in the way of us seeing things for what they are.

 

More often, however, I’ve had the good fortune of being able to directly discuss whatever issues come up with the person whom I feel is offending me. And, more often than not, I find that not everything is the way I see it. That there is more to the situation–including extenuating circumstances–that compound the “offender’s” behavior.

 

I can make allowances when I understand better what is happening. I can also let things roll off my shoulders when I remember the most important fact of any job. We can only control ourselves. We have to learn to let slights and offenses go because, if we don’t, we are only hurting ourselves.

 

I wish that more people took the time to think about this simple fact. As adults, we ought to be able to handle hard situations in a reasonable fashion. That is, instead of gossiping or sulking or in some other way tearing down the cohesive fabric of the workplace so that is vital to the operation of a business, we ought to reflect upon our own moods and behaviors. Are they contributing to the problem instead of the solution? Are we allowing them to swing out of control?

 

In general, it has been my experience that those with a more positive outlook tend to do their best to bring others up when they are down. Yet again, we cannot control their decisions with regards to moods and behaviors. Just as I was unable to convince the one who created the scene to let whatever bothered them about the other person go.

 

Things to ponder. I reflect upon my own moods and behaviors often, because in the end, when we’re at work, the job must get done…and it can be done with a dark mood hanging over everyone’s heads, as is often the case when poor choices exert their influence, or with a cheerful smile. It is not that negative moods should not be recognized nor taken into account as coming up with a solution. Rather, they should be controlled, redirected when possible, and dealt with in an appropriate manner. And when dealt with in the best way possible (for let’s face it, sometimes you have to get ugly to be heard), not only will you feel better but the negative mood that dragged down the workplace will be lifted. In letting go of the negativity holding you down, you free yourself from the bitter control of another person’s bad mood, and there truly is nothing more liberating or healing.

“Fibro Fog”

February 21, 2013

You might have heard of fibromyalgia, but what exactly is it? According to Wikipedia, fibromyalgia is “a medical disorder characterized by widespread pain and allodynia (a heightened and painful response to pressure)…[but is] not restricted to pain, leading to the use of the alternative term fibromyalgia syndrome.” Among the symptoms are debilitating fatigue, sleep disruption, joint stiffness, and may include difficulty with swallowing, abnormalities with the bowel and bladder, numbness and tingling, and cognitive dysfunction. FMS is often comorbid with anxiety and depression and stress-related disorders. Although it only affects 2-4% of the population, women are nine times more likely to have it than men.

 

Historically, it has been thought to be a musculoskeletal disease or neuropsychiatric condition. While the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology have stated that it’s a central nervous system disorder, many doctors remain skeptical about calling it a disease due to a lack of abnormalities on physical examination and an absence of objective diagnostic tests. There is no current cure for fibromyalgia.

 

Be that as it may, it is a real problem, one which has afflicted my own mother for at least the past 20 years. This post is for her. (Hi mom!) She’s asked about a specific aspect of FMS, called by those who suffer from it “Fibro Fog.”

 

Fibro Fog is basically described as cognitive confusion. During “flare-ups” of FMS, the fog might last hours, days, weeks, or its entire length. People who experience a fog might be unable to count, find their vehicle in the parking lot, forgetfulness of words, or–a true story from my own mother–put the sugar in the microwave instead of the cupboard. Here’s another great article on Fibro Fog for more information and tips to help deal with episodes.

 

There are a few suggestions by the National Fibromyalgia Research Association for those who experience fogs during flare-ups:

 

  • Stick lists of reminders and to-do items in places where you’ll often look (the refrigerator, the computer, etc.) so that you’ll stay on top of deadlines
  • Ask a family member or friend to drive during extreme episodes
  • Keep the house clutter-free to avoid extra confusion

 

It is important to note, however, that there is a continuous stream of research coming out in both the medical community and fitness industry saying that exercise is the best way to help deal with the effects of FMS. Yoga may be one of the best ways to reduce symptoms and pain. Consistency is the key!

 

It is important to note that once someone has FMS, it is unlikely that it will ever go away. I suppose that is what’s so puzzling about the disorder to the medical community. It can appear at any time in one’s life, without rhyme or reason and without any evidence to suggest it can be reversed or cured. FMS patients are not without hope, however. As more research comes out, more is understood about the disease that no doctor seemed to know about when I was a child, which wasn’t all that long ago. It is heartening to see that the medical community is striving toward understanding FMS, and I hope that one day, combined with diet an exercise, there will be a way to treat the disorder in order to improve patients’s quality of life.

Today, as it is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post a few delicious desserts taken from 1000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster. They are, as the title suggests, all gluten-free, and easily alterable to vegan recipes if one chooses.

 

For an egg substitute, try flaxseed meal: 1 Tbs per 3 Tbs water. For buttermilk substitutes, use 1 Tbs. cider vinegar/lemon juice and an alternative milk (nut, soy, etc.) to fill a 1 c. measuring cup. For reduced fat alternatives, substitute applesauce for butter, preferably unsweetened applesauce.

 

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

Legend says that this cake originated in the 1950s at a restaurant in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Others think it originated during the Civil War. Regardless of the source, this cake’s deep red color makes it perfect for the holidays, topped with white fluffy frosting…Be careful with the red food coloring–it will stain anything it touches, including your hands.

 

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter or buttery spread, such as Earth Balance, or 1/3 c. canola oil

1.5 c. sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

3 c. gluten-free flour/Carol’s sorghum blend (see below)

2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process or alkali)

1.5 tsp. xanthan gum (or whatever it calls for with your preferred GF flour)

1 tsp. salt

1 c. buttermilk, well-shaken, or homemade buttermilk

1  bottle (1 ox.) or 3 Tbs. red food coloring

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 Tbs. cider vinegar

1. tsp. baking soda

 

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350-degrees F. Generously grease a 10-cup nonstick (gray, not black) Bundt pan.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Thoroughly beat in the eggs on low speed.

3. Whisk together the flour blend, cocoa, xanthan gum, and salt in a small bowl. In a small measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food coloring, and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the sorghum mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the sorghum mixture. Whisk together the vinegar and soda and stir it into the batter. Spread the batter in the pan.

4. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 10 servings

**Carol’s Sorgham Blend: 1.5 c. sorghum flour, 1.5 c. potato starch or cornstarch, 1 c. tapioca flour

 

Raspberry-White Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust:

1 pkg. (9 cookies) gluten-free vanilla or lemon-flavored cookies, such as Pamela’s Lemon Shortbread

1/2 c. macadamia nuts (or nuts of choice)

1 Tbs. sugar

2 Tbs. unsalted butter or buttery spread, such as Earth Balance, or canola oil

 

Filling:

3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese or cream cheese alternative, such as Tofutti, cut into 1-inch cubes and softened

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. sour cream or alternative, such as Tofutti, at room temperature

3.5 oz. gluten-free white chocolate, such as Organica, melted

1.5 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 c. raspberry preserves

2 pkg (6 oz. each) fresh raspberries, washed

 

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees F. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inche nonstick (gray, not black) springform pan; set aside.

2. Make the crust: Place the cookies, nuts, and sugar in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly. Pat the crust onto the bottom of the pan and 1-inch up the sides. bake 8-10 minutes or just until the crust is fragrant. Cool the crust while preparing the filling, but leave the oven on.

3. Make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, sour cream, white chocolate, vanilla extract, and salt and beat 1 minute until smooth, scraping the side of the bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Pour the filling over the crust and smooth with a spatula.

4. Bake 1 hour or until the top is firm. Cool the cheesecake 15 minutes on a wire rack. Run a sharp knife around the outer edge of the cake to loosen the edges and remove the sides of the pan. Wrap the cheesecake in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Slide a thin, metal knife between the cheesecake and the pan and slide the cheesecake to a serving plate.

5. In a small saucepan, melt the raspberry preserves over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in fresh raspberries. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature and then slice with a knife dipped in hot water, then dried. Spoon raspberry sauce on each slice. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 12 servings.

 

Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzle

1 pkg. (14 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut

1 c. powdered sugar, divided

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 c. gluten-free chocolate chips, such as Tropical Source

 

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven, Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Line a 13″ x 9″ baking sheet (not nonstick) with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut, 3/4 c. of the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and xanthan gum; set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until the whites are foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 c. of the powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat just to the stiff peak stage. Stir in the vanilla. Fold the coconut flake mixture into the egg whites. The dough will be somewhat stiff.

4. With wet hands, form 16 balls, each 1.5-inches in diameter, on a baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between the cookies.

5. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the cookies start to brown around the edges and the coconut looks toasted. Cool the macaroons 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, transfer to a serving platter.

6. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on low. With a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate back and forth across the cookies. Cool completely until chocolate is set. Store, tightly covered, for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes 16 servings.

February 2013 Articles

February 7, 2013

It’s February, and if I may say so, I thought January seemed to drag on forever. Perhaps this is because there were a lot of Mondays. I’m not sure. But we’re into month two of the year, the coldest month of the year. Stay warm and dry and safe with all that sudden snow!

 

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis

Preadolescents, Obesity and Exercise (includes practical tips for increasing your “tween’s” activity levels)

Let Whole Foods Power You in the New Year

Men Also Struggle with Binge Eating

Mushrooms: Fun with Fungi

Culinary Trend Mapping Report (some great news for vegetarians/vegans in this one!)

4 Fitness Myths that Need to Go Away For Good

Pilates for Runners