A One-Month-Old Retiree’s Perspective

Grand Beach, Manitoba

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

My official last day of “work” was on Monday, June 7, 2021. I am reflecting on my last month as a new retiree and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Most of my thoughts are good ones, so if you are into that sort of thing, you may enjoy what I have to say.

I had read in many places that it is good to retire with “a plan.” Instead of retiring FROM something, you should know what you are retiring TO. My plan for the three months following retirement was to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. One month into it, and I think I am accomplishing that. What I am going to do in the fall has not yet been determined.

Being newly retired after working in various social work positions feels like being on vacation. I felt the immediate sense of pressure, burnout, and overwhelm lift in the first couple of days of my retirement. I started feeling like “me” again. I was sleeping better (and longer), looking after myself, and enjoying the FREEDOM of not having any pressing plans or demands on my time and energy. Getting back to making myself a priority included serious and fun stuff, like:

  • colouring my hair blue, then purple
  • painting my finger nails and toe nails
  • reading/listening to books
  • started a “Diamond Art” project
  • saying “No” to some opportunities and commitments to honour my time of reflection and rest
  • shopping for new non-work clothes, shoes, and other fun things
  • getting a three-month yoga membership and doing yoga three times weekly
  • catching up with my friends and talking with them on the phone or FaceTime
  • going for walks
  • enjoying my backyard and my flower garden

The other things I have enjoyed is our camping trips with our travel trailer to two of our provincial parks. We went to Spruce Woods and Grand Beach. Although the temperature was around 30 degrees celsius, we made the beset of it!

Now that I have reconnected with myself and my husband (on our camping trips for sure!) my mind and heart are now starting to think about what I want to do with my time starting in the fall. As my energy and passion starts to return, I feel that the sky is the limit on what I can do. I am open to new opportunities, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself just yet.

I have taken my mom’s advice and have written a list of things I want to do each day. Getting a routine and building some structure to my day is helping. (And if I don’t get to it one day, I can carry it over to the next day!)

The biggest surprise so far is how fast the days fly by. I would have thought the days would drag on, but that is not the case for me! This is a reminder to make sure I am intentional with how I spend my time, for fear of “wasting” my life away. No other negatives have been experienced thus far.

I asked my doctor, “What advice would you give me, as a newly retired person?” She said, “Stay active.” I will definitely take her advice seriously.

I am still waiting on my retirement pension papers to arrive. It’s weird not having an income. Hopefully that will get sorted out soon.

No one has asked me (yet) “How’s retirement?” If someone asked me, I would say, “Great!” It still feels like a vacation to me – which is a good thing. How long will this feeling last? Only time will tell. I’ve never been retired before, so this is all new and exciting in it’s own way.

The Ten Dimensions of Wellness from an Aging Well Perspective (Podcast)

Have a listen to my interview with Dr. Andrea Wilkinson on the BrainShape Podcast, “Flourish or Fade with Angela Gentile.” Episode #121.

It was fun being a guest for the second time with Dr. Andrea. My book, Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond is available on Amazon. For more information on Dr. Andrea, please check out her website, https://www.brainshape.ca/ I hope you enjoy the interview!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond – Book Now Available

Angela Gentile’s newest book is now available for purchase from Amazon.

A perfect Mother’s Day gift for Mom (Sunday, May 9, 2021).

>>>Buy the Paperback on Amazon ($16.99 USD) 

>>>Buy the ebook (Kindle) on Amazon ($5.99 USD)

Join us at the Zoom Book Launch during National Women’s Health Week,

on Tuesday May 11, 2021 at 8:00 pm CST.

A recording on YouTube will be available if you are unable to attend the live event.

WIN PRIZES!

TAKE CHARGE OF THE WAY YOU AGE

Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond provides you with the information and tools needed to improve life satisfaction. The Flower of Wellness Method will help you devise a plan to balance your body, mind, and soul. 

You will learn how to enhance your overall well-being by exploring the ten dimensions of wellness: 

Physical, Emotional, Brain, Social, Sexual, Spiritual, Environmental, Recreational, Financial, and Occupational.

This anti-ageist, realistic, and optimistic approach to life in the middle years and beyond will provide you with inspiration and tips that will have you feeling confident, happy, and satisfied with whatever may come your way. 

The Flower of Wellness Method is a fresh and contemporary approach to finding balance.

Do you want to flourish or fade in the later years? It’s your choice. 

Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W., is a registered clinical social worker/specialist in aging with more than 25 years of experience working with older adults and their families. She was born and raised in Ontario and now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

www.AngelaGGentile.com

“Flourish or Fade” Book Launch Giveaways and Contest Details

Celebrate National Women’s Health Week with us! On May 11, 2021, at 8:00 pm CST, Angela G. Gentile will be hosting a Zoom book launch for her newest book, “Flourish or Fade.” Register on Eventbrite to attend. There are a number of awesome books, services, and products that have been donated by some amazing women to help make this book event special. Please see the list below and enter to win! (see Contest Details below).

Flourish or Fade

1. Angela G. Gentile: “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (paperback, $21.00 CAD value). Now available!

BrainShape Accountability Calls

2. Dr. Andrea Wilkinson: BrainShape Accountability Calls ($300.00 CAD value)

“Free Phase II Accountability Calls with Dr. Andrea of BrainShape” ($300 CAD value)

Accountability Appointments take place via TWO 60-minute video calls. 

CALL 1: Discuss your concerns and struggles + build a plan to help you address them (e.g., sleeping difficulties, chronically stressed, low energy, lacking mental focus, etc.) Whatever the problem, let’s talk about it & build a plan you can implement right away. 

CALL 2: Accountability Appointment to check-in on the goals you set out in Call 1.

The winner of the BrainShape Services prize will book their INITIAL CALL by visiting www.BrainShape.ca/call and book a time in Dr. Andrea’s calendar. This is a free offering of the supportive elements provided inside the Brain Vitality Blueprint, and helps people take the first step towards improving their health and well-being. 

How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life

3. Billie Best: “How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)

https://billiebest.com/

The World Came to Us

4. Molly Duncan Campbell: “The World Came to Us” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)

http://mollydcampbell.com/

The Playground of Possibilities Card Deck

5. Kay Ross: “The Playground of Possibilities” (card deck, $20.00 USD value)

This card deck is a self-help, personal-development tool with 52 questions for you to ask yourself. Every question starts with “What would be possible for me if I…?”, to prompt you to let go of your old, limiting thoughts, beliefs and stories about yourself and the world, choose more useful ones, take inspired action, and improvise more resourceful, joyful ways of being. Kay was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia, and has lived in Hong Kong for 27 years. She’s passionate about personal development and healing, and is also an improv performer. The deck costs $20 USD plus postage from Hong Kong (the full amount depends on the number of decks ordered and the destination).  

https://playgroundofpossibilities.com/card-deck/

Seize the Moment!

6. Camille Goscicki, of Vitalaging4women, “Seize the Moment! A Guide to Living in the Present” (ebook, $4.99 USD value)

Do you live with regrets from the past, and fear the unknowns of the future?

It’s time to let go of fears and regrets and live for today. Seize the Moment! is your mini-guide to grab the present moment and live for today. It includes three bonus worksheets that will help you become more mindful. (Everyday mindfulness tips, practicing mindfulness, and becoming present for peace of mind.) Note: eReader not included.

https://www.vitalaging4women.com

The Unexpected Journey of Caring

7. Donna Thomson: The Unexpected Journey of Caring (hardcover book, $39.00 CAD value).

“The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver” by Donna Thomson and Zachary White, PhD with a foreword by Judy Woodruff (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) Available at all online booksellers Hardcover – $39.00 CAD)

With a foreword by Judy Woodruff, The Unexpected Journey of Caring is a practical guide to finding personal meaning in the 21st century care experience.

Personal transformation is usually an experience we actively seek out—not one that hunts us down. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role. It’s not a role people medically train for; it’s a new type of relationship initiated by a loved one’s need for care. And it’s a role that cannot be quarantined to home because it infuses all aspects of our lives.

Caregivers today find themselves in need of a crash course in new and unfamiliar skills. They must not only care for a loved one, but also access hidden community resources, collaborate with medical professionals, craft new narratives consistent with the changing nature of their care role, coordinate care with family, seek information and peer support using a variety of digital platforms, and negotiate social support—all while attempting to manage conflicts between work, life, and relationship roles. The moments that mark us in the transition from loved one to caregiver matter because if we don’t make sense of how we are being transformed, we risk undervaluing our care experiences, denying our evolving beliefs, becoming trapped by other’s misunderstandings, and feeling underappreciated, burned out, and overwhelmed.

Informed by original caregiver research and proven advocacy strategies, this book speaks to caregiving as it unfolds, in all of its confusion, chaos, and messiness. Readers won’t find well-intentioned clichés or care stereotypes in this book. There are no promises to help caregivers return to a life they knew before caregiving. No, this book greets caregivers where they are in their journey—new or chronic—not where others expect (or want) them to be.

“Nobody grows up planning to be a caregiver, but many of us will become one and sometimes when we least expect it. Thomson and White bring powerful insights to help understand what it means to be a caregiver and how to truly support those of us who will travel this unexpected journey.” – Samir K. Sinha, director of geriatrics, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Toronto; health policy research director, National Institute on Ageing

www.donnathomson.com 

Keeping it Together

8. Eleanor Silverberg: “Keeping it Together: How to Cope as a Family Caregiver without Losing Your Sanity” (paperback, $20.00 CAD value)

https://www.eleanorsilverberg.com/kit-book

I Could Be Wrong

9. Billie Best: I Could Be Wrong (paperback, $7.99 USD value)

https://billiebest.com/

Contest Details:

  • Contest open to adults aged 18+, worldwide. No purchase necessary.
  • Identify which prize(s) you would like to win. Submit the item name/number, your name and email address to Angela at caretoage@gmail.com. (Your name and email address will not be given out to anyone else, unless it is required in order for you to obtain your prize(s)).
  • One entry per person, per item.
  • Entries accepted from Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm CST until Saturday May 15, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
  • Winners will be drawn on or before Sunday May 16, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
  • Qualified winners will be notified by email and your mailing address will be required so we can ship you your prize.
  • Every attempt will be made to get your prize to you, however, in the unfortunate event there are restrictions in your country, you will be ineligible. In that case, another draw will be made to seek a suitable winner.

Good luck!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

www.angelaggentile.com

One Day Without Caffeine – Here’s what I learned

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Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

I have been doing a lot of reading up on and learning about substance use problems and addictions and I quickly realized that I was using caffeine on a daily and habitual basis. I wondered if I was “addicted” to caffeine. Addiction in the sense that there is a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. Addictions always have negative consequences (think of those who are addicted to meth or alcohol). I have been having trouble sleeping at night so I wondered if caffeine was the culprit.

I also wondered if cutting out caffeine would cause me any withdrawal symptoms and if I was physically or psychologically dependent on it. I am not a heavy caffeine user. I have two, maybe three cups of orange pekoe tea (i.e. Red Rose) a day. Sometimes I have a special green tea drink. I rarely drink cola anymore. The chocolate I eat is also something I feel I am dependent on but that’s for another day!

I woke up as usual, around 7:00 am and boiled my hot water for tea. This time I put orange pekoe decaf tea in the cup (i.e. Typhoo). I added some milk and I realized in my mind, I was preparing for withdrawal such as headaches and fatigue. Most people are afraid of getting a headache as a caffeine-withdrawal symptom. I made sure I had my ginger tablets with me just in case. I enjoyed my cup of tea and tried to trick my brain that it had caffeine. Just to see if that helped.

By 9:30 am, while at work, I was noticing a “foggy and fuzzy” feeling on my face.

I imagined if I had had some caffeine at this point, perhaps the foggy feeling would go away. I had a glass of water to help with any dehydration/thirst symptoms.

At noon I had my lunch. I enjoyed another decaf tea with milk. I was feeling a little fuzzy in the face still. Kind of like what I feel like when I first wake up in the morning.

At 1:00 pm I was feeling some heat in my cheeks. A tired feeling was coming over me. I needed to be alert for work. I noticed I was craving sugar and carbohydrates. It’s as if my brain was telling me what to have to help perk me up if I can’t have caffeine. The second best option was sugar and carbs. So I had a couple of little candies. It helped for a short time.

By 2:30 pm I was feeling tired and was craving potato chips. I knew a cup of tea would help curb my afternoon crash, but I wanted to see if I could work through it. I had a few chips. It helped.

The need for carbs continued. At 3:45 pm I had some Nutella on a rice cake. By now I am totally convinced my body is craving sugar and carbs for a little energy boost to help keep me awake.

I can see how easy it is – and perhaps a healthier choice – to grab a cup of tea (or coffee for coffee drinkers) when you need a little “pick-me-up.”

Going for a tea (or coffee) seems a lot healthier than eating candies and potato chips. I then started to think about those who smoke and want to quit smoking. I have often heard how people gain weight when they quit. I can now understand why that is.

By 5:15 pm I was snacking before dinner. I ate a small piece of leftover garlic toast. I also had another glass of water to help me push through until dinner time.

During dinner, I told my family that I had not had any caffeine today and that I felt like I never completely woke up. 

After dinner, I felt very sluggish and tired. I had less energy and felt like having a nap on the couch. I fought it though.

When bedtime came around, I was yawning, felt tired, but unfortunately had trouble falling asleep.  My theory of  “a caffeine-free day will help me sleep at night” was disproven. The other theory of getting a “caffeine-withdrawal headache” was also disproven.

So, I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to have my cup of tea, or two, or not. I can go without it if I need to. I don’t consider myself dependent or addicted to caffeine. I see it as a comfort and habit that helps curb my appetite. It also helps me “wake up.” I have also read there are health benefits of drinking tea (and coffee) in reasonable amounts. Especially green tea. I will continue to work on my insomnia issues.

Challenge yourself to a caffeine-free day and see what you learn about yourself and your relationship to caffeine.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

The Benefits of Participating in a 24-Hour Online Group-Fast for Health and Wellness

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Image courtesy of WorldWideStock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been using the “intermittent fasting” method for health and weight management for four months now. Intermittent fasting, or IF, includes a variety of approaches to patterned eating. My typical schedule evolved from fasting for 16 hours a day to 17 – 18 hours a day. Depending on my social and family life, sometimes I change my fasting time to include longer 24-hour fasts. I have also used fasting as a health tool to help boost my immunity. My longest fast to date was 60 hours.

Due to my interest and passion for helping and supporting others in their health and wellness goals, I created and now administer a Facebook group for women called “What IF.” We help and encourage each other on our IF methods and approaches. A few weeks back I shared a great article by Benjamin Hardy called “The Number One Secret to Superhuman Willpower,” and it was all about fasting. Hardy spoke mainly about the spiritual aspects of going for long periods of time without eating, and he made a point about “getting a group of people together to fast…leads to miracles and radical breakthroughs.” He goes on to say “fast in whatever group you want – so long as the purpose for the fast is relevant to each member of the group.”

I was inspired by Hardy’s idea of fasting in a group and wanted to see if there were people online that would be interested in doing a virtual 24-hour group fast. I set up an “Event” on my Author Angela G. Gentile Facebook page and shared the link in various other groups and on my personal Facebook page. It was advertised 11 days ahead of the event.

The plan was to fast from a Wednesday evening after our supper meal, until the same time (24-hours later) on a Thursday evening. The start and stop times were going to be staggered, and it could be personalized to suit a person’s lifestyle. I chose to fast from 6:50 pm until 6:50 pm the next day. I answered questions as they came up and encouraged people to let me know when they started and ended their fast. I also made a “24-Hour Fast” chat group on Messenger.

The response was more encouraging than I expected! I ended up with “25 Went and 45 Interested.” The event was a huge success, and I decided to do a short survey on “Survey Monkey” afterward to see if I should do this again, and how I could improve on it.

I received 21 survey responses – from 19 women and two men. The responses were helpful, insightful and encouraging. See the highlights below.

1. How did you first hear about the “24-Hour Group-Fast” event?
What IF Facebook group (8), Angela G. Gentile’s personal Facebook page (7), Author Angela G. Gentile’s business Facebook page (1), Other (6) included Keto groups on Facebook

2. How many hours did you successfully fast for this 24-hour event?
Surprisingly a few went way past the 24-hour mark. It seemed to trigger something in some people. The longest fast was recorded as 61 hours! The shortest was 22. There were a few who did over 40 hours. 17 of us did between the 23.5-36 hour mark!

3. How did you feel DURING the fast?
Most people reported feeling “Fine,” “Good,” “Great!”. One person said “Amazing!!!! A new level of happy and wellbeing.” Another response was “Focused!” One person said “I felt really great! I had forgotten how fasting makes your sides feel clean, as I hadn’t done it for so long!”
For those who felt hungry, they said “I felt OK as long as I kept busy” and “Fine in the AM. Hungry around 17-20, but less hungry the last 4 hours.” One person said they were “only hungry when I had to prepare food for my daughter.”
Not everyone had a great experience though. One person said “I felt bad at first. I am out of practice. But at 20 hours I felt great.” One had a “slight headache and felt tired late in the day”; another reported my “head ached and felt jittery at the end.” One felt a “little light-headed later in the afternoon but got home from work, relaxed and felt better.”

4. How did you feel AFTER the fast?
Most people had something very positive to say about how they felt after the fast. Typical responses were: “Good,” “Great!” “Really Good!” “Excellent,” “Empowered!” “Energized” and “Energetic.” One person said, “Energized, hopeful and happy.” One person felt “Detoxed,” and another said their “bowel seemed to work better.” Two said they could have gone longer.” One person said they felt “Tired.” Another reported, “I felt my good choice after fasting wasn’t great and I felt icky after eating.” One enthusiastically stated, “I slept better than I had in a very long time! I felt so refreshed!”

5. How often would you like to do a fast?
“Once a week” received the most responses (9). “Once a month” (6), and “Once every two weeks “ (4). One person said they were “going to try to fast from Sunday night until Tuesday afternoon each week for the month of May.” One would like to do this “3-4 times a week.”

The “general” responses included lots of “Thank yous” and other kind words of appreciation for organizing the event. I enjoyed hosting this group fast and I even personally benefitted from it! I flexed my fasting muscle and willpower, and I felt in control. I enjoyed the group aspect of it and learned from others in the Messenger group and on the Facebook discussions and comments.

These final comments stand out for me and verify that deciding to run this fasting event was an excellent idea! Thank you to all who participated and took the time to answer the survey.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity! I believe fasting is good for you and it’s a lot easier when you have people doing it with you and cheering you on!”

“It helped me stay motivated knowing others were doing it too.”

“It was nice to complete as a group.”

NOTE: If you would like to be notified of the next 24-hour group fast, or if you would like more information on intermittent fasting for health and weight management, please let me know.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.

 

Intermittent Fasting Information Session

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Please join me (Angela G. Gentile) at Village Chiropractic in Winnipeg (482 River Avenue) on Friday, April 26, 2019; 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm. I will be presenting an education session on “Intermittent Fasting for Health & Weight Management.” I’ve been practicing an IF lifestyle since December 26, 2018 and I haven’t looked back. I am excited to share what I have learned and I am looking forward to answering any questions you may have.

Please register soon – it’s FREE and spots are limited!

 

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

12 Tips for Making Healthy Nutrition Choices on an Intermittent Fasting Program

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Image courtesy of kerdkanno at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nutrition is an essential aspect of our overall health and well-being, no matter what our age. What we consume can make us gain weight, lose weight, or cause (or prevent) many health problems. I had lost 30 pounds during my cancer ordeal in 2017, and the weight started to creep back up. I realized that if I didn’t change my diet, I would probably gain the weight back and some. Scientific studies show a link between obesity and medical problems like cancer, high cholesterol, and diabetes. As I age, I want to be as healthy as I can and prevent any further medical problems – or recurrence of cancer.

After talking to my doctor about my concerns, I went to a dietician she had recommended. I told her I was following an intermittent fasting lifestyle, and the dietician was good with that as long as it’s working for me. In the hour I was with Marni, she listened to my concerns and gave me some great tips. She wants to help me make healthy choices during my “eating window.” She says my dietary habits need some “tweaking.”

Following are the words of advice that stand out for me. Keep in mind that each person’s situation will be different, and dietary recommendations given here are tailored to me, my situation and my overall goals. You may find some of these tidbits helpful, or you may want to see a dietician for your own personal advice.

#1. Consider the 80/20 Rule. For 80% of the make “healthy choices.” She said it’s okay sometimes (about 20% of the time) to eat or drink what we consider “fun foods.” We all need to satisfy our indulgences or treat ourselves once in a while. “Cheat days” are not encouraged. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule and you won’t feel guilty. FYI – 20% of equals 1½ days per week or about four meals in seven days. Read more about the 80-20 Rule.

#2. The 50/25/25 Plate. When filling up your plate, half should be vegetables, one-quarter protein, and one-quarter carbohydrates/starch. For some people, the carbohydrates can be reduced or eliminated. My doctor also told me to reduce the amount of carbs. For example, if I was having a piece of bread, cut it in half. Pasta, rice and other starches should also be consumed in smaller amounts. Here’s more info on the healthy portion plate. 

#3. Focus on Healthy Choices and Lifestyle (Not Weight Loss). Psychologists, dieticians, and obesity specialists are realising that they have to stop focusing less on weight loss as this does not help people keep weight off in the end. The focus has to be more on healthy choices and lifestyle. Also, the “set point” theory states our body is going to try and get to a certain weight, no matter what we do. If we weigh less than our set point, then our body is going to do whatever it can do to get to that weight. Case in point, on the TV sensation, “The Biggest Loser,” the contestants may have lost a lot, and I mean A LOT of weight. When some of these people were followed up six years later, they had gained most of the weight back, except for one contestant. This is a testament to the set point theory, and it is related to metabolism. All we can do is focus on healthy nutrition choices and lifestyle, and go by what our body is telling us. If it feels healthier with the choices we are making, then we can say that’s a win! The dietician told me, “Things have their way of coming together.” For example, if you are a runner, you may eat differently to fulfill your caloric needs.

#4. Know Your Why for Wanting to Lose Weight. I had to think about the reason why I wanted to lose weight. Was it because society tells me I “should” weigh less? Is it societal pressures on me as a woman? Is it because I want to “look” better? Or is it because I want to be healthier? For me, I know there are many reasons why. And what I do know for sure is that I don’t want to be overweight or obese.

#5. Keep Unhealthy Junk Food Temptations Out of the House. If you don’t have those unhealthy choices around you all the time, it’s a lot easier to avoid them. Instead of opening up the cupboard to find that unhealthy snack, you would have to drive to the store to get it. That little deterrent can help a lot. Having a supportive environment can help support healthy choice goals.

#6. Listen to Your Body – Eat When Hungry, Stop When Full. Some people don’t know what hunger feels like. If you are not hungry, don’t eat. When you do it, make sure you eat until you feel full. Eating more of the “healthy choices” will help prevent you from snacking and eating things you consider unhealthy — more quality AND quantity.

#7. Eat 1-3 Servings of Fruit a Day. Fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals, and play a role in preventing vitamin C and A deficiencies. Read more about why fruit is so good for us. 

#8. Practice Mindful Eating. The first bite or sip of anything is the most satisfying and rewarding. We usually don’t need to eat much more than a bite or two to satisfy a craving. If what you desire is considered an unhealthy or “fun food” choice, try one or two bites, or a small amount. That’s probably all you need. We usually continue to eat something because we want that feeling to stay. But that’s usually not the case (e.g., potato chips and chocolate.)

#9. Follow the 2019 Canada Food Guide. There are lots of great tips and advice there. For example, water is recommended as the beverage of choice. Mindful eating is encouraged.

#10. Nuts and Legumes are Healthy Choices. These are considered good sources of protein and healthy fat.

#11. Dietary Fiber is Important. Beans, whole grains and brown rice are all good choices. Here’s the top 10 according to WebMD. 

#12. End Your Meal by Brushing Your Teeth. I like to end my meal with something sweet or fresh-tasting as I don’t like the food after-taste. I used to chew gum after, but in the evenings that cuts into my “fasting window” time. I was in the habit of eating chocolate or something else that was sweet (even marshmallows!). Options would be to brush my teeth, chew gum for a bit, or have a mint. A breath mint spray may also work.

The dietician was pleased that I have found something that works for me (intermittent fasting) and she is going to help me tweak it. She says regimens like WW (Weight Watchers) works for some people, and there are other programs that can help with making healthier choices. A good friend of mine has lost 20 pounds on WW! We are all different and it’s good to have choices on what works for us and complements our lifestyles. What works for one person may not work for the next.

I will consider all these tips and see what works for me. I know there are plenty more tips and you may want to add some of your own in the comments below. The dietician wants to see me again in April, and she has registered me for the Well 4 U exercise and education program. There is also a Fit 4 U program this fall that she recommends I attend.

By the way, she said I could have a little bit of dark chocolate every day! 1-2 squares daily is okay – even more if my body says I need it. But as it turns out, I gave up chocolate for Lent. No chocolate for me until Easter!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

The ​Long Road to Recovery

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Anyone who has had or has cancer or any other chronic illness or disease knows there is a certain amount of time when they feel they are truly on the road to recovery, recovered, or have discovered their “new normal.” I am one of those people.

I was diagnosed with anal cancer in April 2017. I finished treatment in August 2017. One and a half years later, I can say I am starting to feel “recovered” for the most part – “still recovering” in other areas –– and have discovered my new normal.

My new normal includes ongoing and long-term physical rehabilitation as a result of pelvic radiation damage. I am not complaining (radiation saved my life!), I am just sharing that although some people look great after a big ordeal like cancer, there could be ongoing battles that you may know nothing about. Invisible wounds and scars are very common for people who have experienced cancer.

Recently I attended an art show, and I received a few compliments on my appearance (the picture above was taken at the end of a Hawaiian vacation last month). I know I am feeling much better physically, and my self-image is shaping up. My hair is almost all grown back and highlighted again; I am back to yoga once weekly, and I have started back on my elliptical and doing stretches and weights. I even started wearing my FitBit again. My modest goal of 6,000 steps daily is still a ways away, but at least I am working towards it.

I have also been enjoying my new “intermittent fasting” lifestyle and my relationship with food. I am feeling in control of my life and my body. It’s taken almost two years, but I finally feel like each day I feel better and better.

I am enjoying moderating and managing support groups on Facebook. The “Anal_Cancer Support” group on Facebook is doing amazingly well and has recently achieved the 10-year milestone and the 300th member. Having cancer has expanded my social network by leaps and bounds. A profound and harrowing experience can bring more people into your life – if you want it. You just have to open up and ask for it.

The “Dementia Caregiver Solutions Support Group” is also growing and the admin team recently expanded to include two new moderators who are actual caregivers. They join three professionals to moderate and keep things on track. I find comfort in knowing I have given caregivers this safe forum to share, vent, and get advice for such a difficult time in their lives.

I am also pursuing other volunteer opportunities to help me reach more people who may benefit from my experience, passion, and support. I seem to have an infinite amount of “help” to give, and I am looking for ways to do so –– in a way that will keep me balanced and not over-taxed.

I continue to write for a company called Trualta. I am enjoying my writing projects and look forward to writing for more companies and individuals as the opportunities present themselves.

I am also helping people get married, sort out their problems, write books, develop websites and more. I am starting to consider finishing up my book on aging well (this will be my fifth book!).  Where all this will take me? Who knows. The long road to recovery takes us places that we never dreamed of. I am looking forward to continuing on this journey.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

Weaknesses Are Only As Strong As We Allow Them To Be

I saw this quote on Instagram, on the Optimal Living Daily account (@oldpodcast) — “The more willing you are to face your weaknesses, the less likely they are to remain weaknesses.” I wanted to know more about Tynan, the person who was quoted. I took his quote, put it onto a picture my husband took while on vacation in Hawaii, and wanted to share it. I hope this inspires you to face your weaknesses, too.

weaknesses

What weaknesses are you willing to face?

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW