Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happiness and Calcium

Are you scratching your heads at that title?  It makes sense over here...Let me start at the beginning.

I first heard about this book, The Happiness Project, over at Salt and Chocolate.  Thanks to my awesome library, I picked it up last week.  It was a quick read, very entertaining and it gave me lots to think about.  The author spent one year working on ways to be happy.  Each month she focused on a different aspect of her life (i.e. vitality, marriage, work, parenthood). 

So it got me to thinking.  I mean, I'm pretty happy and content.  I am very blessed--I have a family I love and who loves me back, I don't really want for anything, but, much like the author felt, I feel like I could be actively doing more to promote my own happiness.  Perhaps a Happiness Project of my own is in order?  I brainstormed yesterday.  I used Gretchen's categories as a starting point, and I identified six of her categories that I want to work on in my own life.  If I start in May, I will be wrapping up my project in November--when I turn 40.  This seems to be a perfect way to conclude my thirties, and a wonderful beginning to the next decade of my life.

We're getting to the calcium, I promise!

In the first month of her happiness project, Gretchen focused on vitality--her goal was to boost energy.  She observed that it's easier to feel happier when she feels good; when she was tired, it was all too easy to become cranky and negative.  I wholeheartedly agree with this observation. 

I decided that boosting energy and feeling good would be a great place for me to start my own project, but I felt strongly that some parts of this should be started right away--why wait another eight days?  One of my goals for May (and now) is to find ways to bring my PMS symptoms under control.  I feel like my PMS has gotten more severe over the last few years.  It's no longer craving some chocolate and feeling a little snippy.  I spend at least one day a month--and very often two or three--unable to tolerate anyone.  I just blow up at everyone--husband, kids, it doesn't matter.  I start my days on edge and every tiny thing pushes me over.  I feel awful on the inside; I know that I shouldn't be so nasty--I even hear the little voice in my head telling me that I'm being irrational--and yet I can't stop the tide of nastiness.  And then I feel guilty on top of it.  It's not pretty.  It's time to take action.

I learned a while back that calcium and magnesium are supposed to help with PMS symptoms.  I even bought a giant bottle of calcium supplements last year.  And occasionally, when I'm in the throes of hormonal misery, I will take one.  I mentioned this to my doctor at my last visit, and she told me that the key to the calcium is to take it throughout your cycle--you need it before you need it, so to speak.  And then she mentioned something about mega-doses being effective.  And I went home and continued to sporadically take the calcium.

Yesterday, I went in search of the latest news on this issue.  According to the articles I read, I'm not even close to getting enough calcium and vitamin D.  My supplement contains 600mg of calcium and 400 I.U. of vitamin D.   One article recommends 1000mg of calcium and 1000-2000 I.U. of vitamin D!

One study dating back to 2005 gave women 1200mg of calcium per day, and they reported some symptom relief.  Now, I'm not really a pill-happy person.  I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals through the food I eat, but I don't think there are enough hours in the day for me to drink all the milk and eat all the cheese and ice cream I 'd have to to achieve the numbers I need to achieve.  Plus, I have this gigantic bottle of pills that is going to expire this summer, and I don't want them to go to waste.  If I take two supplements per day, I will be taking in 1200 mg of calcium and 800 I.U. of Vitamin D.  So, the first resolution of my happiness project is to take two calcium supplements per day. 

In the 2005 study, the women took the supplements for three months, and I believe it took a couple of months before they reported any relief, so I'm not going into this expecting to be all sunshine right from the start.  But, just knowing that I can take some action to try to feel better does make me feel better.  And now, when my Dad asks me whether I'm lifting weights or taking calcium to stave off osteoporosis (really, it's a conversation we've had!), I can tell him that I am taking my calcium.

So there you have it, the unofficial beginning to my Happiness Project.  If the calcium works, we're all going to be happier!


Kristyn Knits said...

sounds like a wonderful celebration for the end of the 30's and the beginning of the 40's! good for you doing the research and talking to your doctor. thanks for sharing your journey with us!! here's to a happier you!

Amy said...

Get out of my head! I have been thinking about that whole pms-ing thing lately (as in today!!!). This whole calcium thing is going to give me something to think about. Mother Nature reared her ugly head yesterday and it made me think "oh-that was why I snapped at my mother!!!" I get to be in such a huge funck each month- it sucks!!!

Meredith said...

I need to do this too. I even have it in my cabinet but I cannot make myself take supplements...forget it and then I never remember to do it. I should to it too.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

Very interesting food for thought. I get pretty nasty too at certain times -- and I know it, but can't stop myself. I definitely don't get enough calcium -- so maybe I'll give this a try too.

We can have strong bones and be happier together :)

Larissa said...

oh i need to get this book. i have made so many changes to my life (and days) this past year in order to achieve more happiness too but a girl can never be too happy - right? the change that has lessened the stress the most for me has been to be both physically and mentally present with my kiddos once they get home from school. i eliminated all computer, phone, tv, errands, and most chores from our evenings - i try to be done by 3pm and i blog after everyone's in bed. I have been so much happier because i choose not to think about all that didn't get done or any phone calls that were not made - i just focus on my kiddos and what they have to say and do and we just play together til bedtime. before this i wasn't always as mentally present as i wanted to be because i was always thinking about the laundry that needed folding or the weeding that i hadn't gotten too - now i just tell myself i'll get to it the next day - or not.

As for the calcium, i need to look into that but i really dislike swallowing large supplements and these guys are super big. Be sure to keep us updated - i'd love to hear how the calcium works for you. Have a wonderful weekend!

ps. i turn 40 in december

Julia said...

I am ALL OVER this book. I have to get myself a copy.

And the calcium, I have been trying to eat more of it.

PS, I can't believe you are going to be 40, you look amazing.

stitching under oaks said...

sounds like wonderful stuff that you're implementing. I take calcium and magnesium to help fight off migraines. I've been taking Oil of Evening Primrose to help with those lovely mood swings! It's so good to hear what other people are doing...please keep us posted!

Imene said...

I loved this book!! I read it in december and embarked on my own happiness projects. It was such a nice read and a wake up call. If you want to be happy, the answer is in you.
Thank you for all the information about calcium. You made me think about my own intake of calcium

mikealley said...

your brother takes loads of Vitamin D. Glad to hear you are taking charge of your physical well being Margaret. I want to mention a couple of other books I've really enjoyed that you may find interesting: Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Cszikmenthaly. Cheers!