Redwood Baths & Bulletproof Coffee Keep Me Sane…Sort Of

fphoto-sixteenHenry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Fall Creek Unit, California

photo courtesy of David Baselt

 

This post was originally four times as long, and it covered too many topics. Thankfully, I saw the literary light and I deleted most of it.

Some folks might think that writing profusely about all sorts of things sounds rather manic; if anything, I’m headed for the opposite direction. That’s due to my friend’s death. I miss her. I wish she was still around to read my post and write one of her trademark witty comments. She sure knew how to make me chuckle.

Apart from my not quite believing she’s gone, the fall is a rough time of year for many of us. I love the fall. Those who are close to me know that I consider Halloween to be the most important day of the year, but in the past I’ve become manic or depressed in October.

Although I’ve been stable for three years, I get nervous. That’s not that long a time. I use my Sunbox, which I’ll write about next week, and I’m doing something new that’s helping me ground myself, literally.

Redwood Baths

Yes, redwood baths. I’m not the only one to love these tall trees. One writer did a fair job of expressing his reverence for the “giants of the forest”. You might’ve heard of him. 

The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.

John Steinbeck

Recently I learned that the trees emanate far more than silence and awe. In Japan there’s the practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.  The term “forest bath” is misleading, but I love it. Forest baths are simply mellow walks among the trees in which one aims to be present and notice the beautiful environment.

When I first went on redwood strolls, they resembled hasty showers rather than relaxing baths. I wasn’t taking in my magnificent surroundings. Instead of gazing up at the tall redwoods to see ethereal shafts of daylight peeping through their branches, I stared at my feet plodding along the dirt trail. 

I ignored the refreshing, cool scent that was a unique combination of Fall Creek’s redwoods and the other trees. It took time for me to change my old habits, but after reading an article about the physical, spiritual and emotional significance of forest baths, I began regarding the forest in a totally different way.

Now, brace yourself for some dry statistics – they’re very convincing and cool, so that’s why I’m including them.

Studies have shown that 20-30 minute-long forest baths are enough to reap health benefits. A 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that forest bathing lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Some benefits are derived from inhaling the forest air. The trees emit organic compounds called phytoncides such as alpha-pinene and d-limonene; these are substances that are also found in some essential oils such as grapefruit. (I worked at an essential oil practitoner college in the 1990’s, so I got a big kick out of that fact!)

Check this out: these amazing phytoncide compounds not only protect the trees and plants from insects and disease  – they can benefit people. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology cited a direct link between inhaling phytoncides and an increase in the body’s natural killer, or NK cells.

NK cells, a major force in our immune systems, help identify and destroy infected, damaged, harmful Satan cells. They’re considered important in the study of cancer. Another study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that forest bathing significantly increased the activity of NK cells by an average of about 50 percent. Whoa! I like that.

If that stat wasn’t cool enough, there’s another convincing reason why forest baths can help anyone suffering from depression and anxiety:

the power of the color green

Color theory studies have shown that green triggers emotional responses including relaxation, calmness, happiness, comfort, peace, hope, and even excitement. One reason the color green is thought to generate positive responses is due to our genetics. Green environments signaled to our ancestors that there was the presence of three essential aspects of survival: food, shelter, and water. 

I found the Japanese tradition and studies fascinating. It was validating to learn my humble walks had health benefits galore. Next time I want to pass on a forest walk, I’ll remember that it’s free and it’ll make me feel better…plus I won’t be billed for it by any greedy insurance company!

Bulletproof Coffee 

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A Fun Public Scene: Avonlea wanted to try one sip of the pricey java; naturally she spit it out and entertained the Silicon Valley commuters!

After reading ketogenic articles and the bestselling book Keto Clarity, I finally bit the bullet and tried bulletproof coffee. (If you caught that pun, you’re a quick one!)

A couple weeks ago Avonlea and I went to the high-end cafe Coffee Cat in Scotts Valley. Scotts Valley is home to many Silicon Valley commuters and their multi-million dollar abodes. 

Coffee Cat has a super-cute logo that someone painted on this Fairy Door

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I was excited to learn that Coffee Cat sold their own version of bulletproof coffee they called “Ironman Coffee” to avoid being sued by Silicon Valley bulletproof founder Dave Asprey. Silicon Valley is only 30 minutes away, so it’s entirely possible he could find out about the breach and sue away.

When I tried my Ironman coffee I was disappointed.

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My cup cost $5.50 for about 10 ounces, and consisted of coffee, Kerrygold butter and MTC, which are medium chain triglyceride fatty acid – yummers  The coffee had all the right elements, but it tasted pretty gross. There went $5.50 + tip down the drain.

Last week I had the opportunity to try a homemade version of bulletproof coffee at my friend’s house. She combined about 8 oz. of Peet’s Major Dickinson’s coffee, a heaping teaspoon of organic butter, and a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. She simply mixed it together with a spoon instead of using a gold-plated $500 blender that also doubles as a kareoke machine.

I didn’t have my hopes up high that her concoction would be palatable, let alone delectable. I was pleasantly surprised to find it very yummy and had two more cups!

Inspired, I bought the same ingredients and made my own version. It was far better than Coffee Cat’s Ironman fiasco, but not quite as good as my friend’s cup, and I can’t figure out why that’s the case…it’s a mystery! If I figure it out, I’ll write about it here.

Anyway, articles such as this one and a blog post (and comments) by Dr.  Georgia Ede imply that the ketogenic diet can make a major difference in bipolar disorder symptoms. If you haven’t read any of this material before, it’s worth checking out.

I’d like to end this post on a positive note, but unfortunately that’s not happening today….

The Lose It! Update – It’s Not Going So Well For Us

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Awesome blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I are struggling with our healthy eating & exercise routine, but we aren’t going to give up. We’re still using Lose It!’s website. Nothing’s gonna stop us now.

Cheesy 80’s Rock Will Never Die…

If you’d like to join us, sign up for free at www.loseit.com. and search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

Thanks for reading, and above all else, have a great Thursday night, Friday & weekend! See you next Friday.

love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017.

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Hell Hath Frozen Over – I Meditated with My Psychiatrist!

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Over the past couple years the subject of meditation has become somewhat of a running joke with me and my psychiatrist Dr. D. 

The backstory: Dr. D. has meditated regularly for decades. Whenever we’ve discussed meditation, he has sung its praises with such sincerity that if you were in his office, I bet you’d contemplate trying meditation.

I’ve read anecdotes about how meditation can help bipolar disorder. I bought the book The Tao of Bipolar: Using Meditation and Mindfulness to Find Balance and Peace by Dr. C. Alexander Simpkins. (I got up to Chapter Two.)

I resisted meditating no matter what – even for a minute.

Why?

I just didn’t want to do it!

Waaaaah!

I’m in my head enough as it is!

Tell me to eat better. I’ll do it.

Tell me to work out? Okay.

Tell me to clean the nasty toilet? Um, alright.

Last Thursday was my regular session with Dr. D. A last-minute childcare snafu required me to bring along my youngest daughter. Knowing that Dr. D. taught his sons to meditate when they were young, I threw caution to the wind. I asked him if he could tell my girl a bit about meditation, and he happily complied. Rilla listened attentively, making me very proud. (Fortunately she didn’t say anything like, “My mom says that she would rather vomit or clean up dog poop than meditate!”)

He suggested we do a brief meditation together.

Gulp.

Using a free app called Insight Timer on his phone, Dr. D. set our meditation time for two minutes. I dimmed the office light, and he started the program. After we heard a gong sound, the three of us sat quietly, letting our thoughts go where they may – mine raced back and forth as usual. Two minutes later, his phone gonged again. 

We survived, 100% unscathed!

As much as I knew that doing meditation was good for me, I knew I wasn’t about to commit to a daily practice. Yet. (Never say never, right?)

Later Rilla told me her experience was “boring”, a totally understandable reaction from an eight-year-old. (Or a forty-six-year-old.) I praised her for giving it a go.

For a hilarious intro. to meditation, watch JP Sears’ video – if you like this one, check out his “How to Be Ultra Spiritual” video which is even funnier. 

The Groovy Ketogenic Diet Update

Yesterday I got a BP Magazine email containing the article “Bipolar, Food & Mood: My Battle of the Binge: One Woman’s Story of Taming Cravings to Keep Her Diet And Moods In Balance”

I’ve been taking a break from reading bipolar-themed emails, but for some reason instead of deleting it, I took a peek at the piece. Lo and behold, I noticed the first comment was about a reader’s experience with ketogenic diets! In all my years of reading BP I’ve never noticed anything with the word “ketogenics”. Was it a sign? 😉

Jeffrey wrote,

“In July 2015, I switched to a Ketogenic diet, at first to help me improve my athletic ability. A side benefit was a direct improvement of my mood, a clear stabilization. At that time I was unaware that I was dealing with Cyclothymia. Then in August 2015, I had a bad hypomanic episode but I was able to work with it and stay on track. 

I got on anticonvulsants, and I have Zyprexa as a breakthrough when I have a hypomanic moment. I am now extremely stable. The dietary change has helped me stay even more on course than anything else.

The science behind a Ketogenic diet has helped me understand why it balances out my mood. Going on it and staying with it has been a challenge, but now I prefer it. I have more energy, I sleep better, my athletic performance is good (I don’t “bonk” when I run!”) and it keeps me creative in the kitchen. 

A ketogenic diet isn’t for everyone, but there is some scientific evidence that it effective as an adjunct treatment for mood disorders…”

Thank you Jeffrey!

I’m still reading my Keto Clarity book. (I’m a slow reader when it comes to nutrition books!) I remain daunted by trying ketogenics, because if you want to do it correctly, it’s a lot more than simply switching to a low-carb, high-fat diet, but I’m tempted to give it a try.

I have a new friend in this area who has eaten the ketogenic way for several years. She has done a lot of research about the keto diet, and she has offered to answer any questions I have. Nice!

Lose It! Update

I’ve reached my goal of losing 30 pounds! The app that helped me achieve this weight loss is called Lose It!, a food tracking/logging device. It’s easy to use, and it woke me up as far as how I was treating myself like a human garbage can.

Want to join my Lose It! Group Wondrous Writers? I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com

That’s all the news that’s fit to blog. There’s more, there’s always more, but I’m tryingt to keep it down to a low roar.

In the meantime, sending you lots of love, & see you next week!

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Losing A Mirror Carp Feels Good

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Soaking up the sun with my John Cena-worthy 3-pounders. 😉

 

     30 lbs is the equivalent weight of this mirror carp!

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Whoa! 

 

Dear Friends,

I’ve been writing about my weight-loss journey, and I appreciate your sticking with me especially if you have zero interest in the topic. Rest assured, I’ll soon return to expoundng on other important subjects including Bigfoot and my Scoth collie Lucy’s career.

Now that I’ve reached my goal of losing a mirror carp, I’m proud of myself. I didn’t think I could lose 30 pounds, especially becuause I take lithium and tranylcypromine/Parnate, an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) for my bipolar one disorder. I took Seroquel from 2013-2015, and that med affected my metabolism, causing me to gain weight in the stomach area.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a compulsive overeater for decades. During the past year I was downing one pint of Talenti chocolate gelato every night, so I couldn’t blame all the changes in my body upon my bipolar medications.

Anyway, here I am, feeling so much better despite my black hairy tongue, hoping that I can keep up my new lifestyle, especially when the sh*t hits the fan.

Weight loss veterans know that the truly hard work comes after one’s goal is achieved.

I can’t loop too much about the future. No matter what happens, it has been awesome to take care of myself. It’s even better being a positive role model to my girls and Lucy. 

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Where’s my treat?

Little efforts add up. I bring a big bottle of water everywhere I go. When I take my kids out somewhere to eat, I don’t order a bunch of grub even when I’m not hungry the way I used to do. I’ll drink water or order a black coffee, and joke with the server that I’m a great tipper. (True.)

I haven’t returned to my 30-45 minute-long workout yet because I’m not ready, but every other day I lift my fearsome Target dumbbells for ten minutes. Bicep curls and tricep lifts – that’s it. I put on Pandora 80’s music channels which makes the ten minutes go by fast.

Yes, it’s all about baby steps. 

 

The Groovy Ketogenic Diet Update

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I’m halfway through reading Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet and while I want to try it because it allegedly helps with bipolar disorder symptoms, I find the logistics VERY daunting. 

Despite my intimidation, I found an interesting article about this diet’s affect upon bipolar. Check out Dr. Georgia Ede’s website Diagnosis: Diet – Nutrition Science Meets Common Sense: “Bipolar Disorder and Diet Part II: Low Carbohydrate Diets”. There are almost 100 comments, and I’m curious about what they say. In any case, I’ll keep you posted about what I wind up doing.

Do any of you follow the ketogenic diet? I’d love to know about your experience.

Even if you’re not ready to make a major change in your lifestyle (it took me almost two years to stop eating junk) please know you can lose weight while taking bipolar meds. I’m not claiming this credo applies to every person under the sun, but I think it’s true for many people with bipolar disorder. 

The free app that helped me achieve my goal is called Lose It! which is simply a food tracking/logging device. It’s easy to use and it woke me up.

If you want to try it, I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com 

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170 pounds and so unhappy that I couldn’t even look at the camera.

Most of what I ate back then was Talenti gelato, countless packages of the Immaculate Baking Company’s raw chocolate chip cookie dough, and Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream.

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Sorry for the blur – this pic has selfie-itis syndrome.

While I still have my Seroquel Spider belly, I can live with it because I’m feeling much healthier and happier. Three months ago I cut out 95% of the sugar I was inhaling. I began eating mostly organic food, and kept preparations as simple as possible. My husband supported me, thank goodness; he didn’t mind my doing my own thing. I stopped bingeing cold-turkey and started drinking lots of water and green tea. I also joined Scientology to follow my idol Tom Cruise. (Just kidding! Can’t get too serious about this healthy eating stuff…)

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You can do it!

 

As always, sending you lots of love, 

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Black Hairy Tongue, Earthquake Fun & Facing a Fear

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My yucky brown tongue & Avi’s healthy pink tongue

Avast, me hearties…yuckier photo ahead!

Greetings, my friends!

It has been an interesting week.

I learned something new, and you’re about to learn it too! Did you know that after one takes antibiotics (in my case, for walking pneumonia) it’s possible to get a case of Black Hairy Tongue? The answer is a resounding yes!

What on earth is Black Hairy Tongue, exactly?

WebMD explains, “The name black hairy tongue may sound scary, but the condition is harmless. Black hairy tongue is caused by bacteria or fungi in the mouth, which make the tongue appear black and hairy. It’s easily remedied by good old-fashioned oral hygiene.” (For more info. visit this WebMD link)

Thank the stars, not all cases are black-colored tongues; I got lucky with a coffee-colored brown one. I could’ve sported this look:

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I freely admit my case could’ve been much worse. The above shot is TAME compared to what else lurks out there. My advice: Don’t do a Google image search for “black hairy tongue”, ever. Yowza!

I’m grateful that my black hairy tongue isn’t black nor hairy! When my doctor looked at it she told me that I just need to wait it out for a month. It’s not contagious. There are no medications to take, but it’s a good idea to scrape my tongue after brushing my teeth daily. No problemo.

My yucky tongue experience brought me back to my childhood. I watched the following jingle a zillion times. It’s sung by the actor/singer Scatman Crothers who warns about a different kind of yuck mouth, but it’s so catchy and convincing that I wanted to share it.

Local Earthquake News:

We had a early morning jolt last weekend that freaked me out. At 3.6 on the Richter scale, it was nothing compared to the Loma Prieta quake I lived through back in 1989. (It registered a fearsome, deadly 6.9.) My entire family slept through the 3.6, except for Miss Lucy and yours truly.

There’s something about feeling this particular force of nature that cuts to the core. You’re out of control in a BIG way. It’s unnerving, to say the least. Hearing our house creak and shift wasn’t the way I preferred to spend the crack of dawn. But once again, this is another situation that could’ve been much worse. I was relieved a bigger quake didn’t follow the 3.6!

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The epicenter was less than 20 miles away from Chez Harwood

Facing My Festival Fears:

My first “grown-up” job was producing annual large-scale festivals in Silicon Valley for four years. After I left that position, I took a looooooong break from attending any festival, even the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival. I thought I went to enough festivals to last several lifetimes.

Last week I was unexpectedly gifted with tickets to the Redwood Mountain Faire, a local, family-friendly festival that attracts great musicians. It would’ve been rude not to go, so I forced myself. I planned to say hi to my generous friend on their staff, and dash away shortly after that.

Rilla said she’d join me, and I thought she’d also want to leave soon after our arrival. But as fate would have it, she ran into some of her friends, and she begged me to stay all day! (We compromised at four & 1/2 hours.)

The event was well-produced, it was in a beautiful setting, and I had to admit it was fun, especially since I didn’t need to work and deal with angry food vendors, etc. While taking a breather in the shade I chatted with some cool, friendly locals; it turned out they were the parents and grandparents of Rilla’s ballet classmate. The grandma, who used to live on our street decades ago, told me about some fascinating musical history that took place across from our house. (I was flabbergasted, but that’s for another post!) My social anxiety took a backseat for a change.

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A festival isn’t a festival without a shaved ice booth!

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Rilla caught me in a particularly relaxed moment

Ketogenic Update: I’m still very curious about ketosis because of its purported  beneficial effects upon bipolar symptoms. I sampled a few books about ketogenic nutrition on my Kindle, and Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric C. Westman impressed me the most. I couldn’t resist splurging on it, and I’ll let you know what I think about it soon!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. I appreciate your reading this blog so much! I’ll touch base late next week, and in the meantime, please take good care of yourselves. Happy Summer!

Lots of love, Dyane

 

p.s. You can still join our Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group on the website/app Lose It! Group member Bradley of Insights From A Bipolar Bear has helped me with his encouragement! I’ve lost 25 pounds of “Serouqel weight” since I began using Lose It!, and let me tell ya, it feels good to carry around less poundage.

If you join us, Bradley & I will encourage you. Why not try it out? I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com and find us under Groups

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Vlog Ramble & The Ketogenic Diet’s Bipolar Buzz

Once in a blue moon I record a vlog.

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After watching mental health advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley’s insightful vlogs yesterday I was fired up to get in front of Photo Booth and yap away.

With my canine muse Lucy by my side, I report on how I haven’t reverted to my daily pint of gelato, and I share my weight loss progress with you. (Hint: I’ve lost the equivalent weight of this massive walleye caught in Washington’s Columbia River!)

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Other points I touch upon:

• The ketogenic diet, which purportedly alleviates bipolar disorder symptoms. I ask for your take on this low-carbohydrate/high-protein style of eating.

These two brief articles about ketogenic diets and bipolar disorder are the most credible ones I’ve read so far, but I’m sure there are better ones out there.

Examiner.com’s Ketogenic Diet Fights Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Aids Weight Loss

Healthline’s Can A Ketogenic Diet Help Treat Bipolar Disorder?

And there’s more!

You get to watch me say “um” way too many times, lisp, and struggle to turn off Photo Booth.

I hope you find it worthwhile listening to my chatter. 

Thanks so much for stopping by, and take good care of yourselves!

love,

Dyane 

 

p.s. Weight Loss Memoir of the Week:

Frances Kuffel’s Eating Ice Cream With My Dog: A True Story of Food, Friendship, and Losing Weight…Again

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“A wake-up call to anyone who believes that weight management is a quick and easy feat. It’s not. And Frances Kuffel’s greatest gift is a blast of hopeful reality for any brave reader ready to take herself on and honestly face her own food and weight demons.”
-Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery Health Channel, and author of Fight Fat After Forty

I’ve only read the first few pages, but I’m intrigued. While yes, she hooked me in with the dog on the cover, I’ve read Kuffel’s acclaimed book Passing for Thin years ago, and it was good.

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p.p.s. Join my Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group on the website/app Lose It! Award-winning blogger Bradley of Insights From A Bipolar Bear is my fellow group member. Bradley’s encouragement has helped me so much!  If you join us, we’ll encourage you. I’ll send you an invite if you include your email in a comment. You can also sign up for free at www.loseit.com and find us under Groups.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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