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Welcome to the Whole You Health Blog

You will find information and ideas here to help you maintain your healthiest possible body, mind, and spirit. This page is for everyone, with special attention to subjects of interest to overeaters. Anything useful may turn up here, including book recommendations, reference to relevant web or magazine articles, new research findings, specific health management tips, inspirational quotes, and thought-provoking ideas. Material and commentary not otherwise identified has been written by yours truly, but there will be periodic essays by guest authors, who will be identified as such.
 
Contributions of material are always welcomed and are considered a valuable part of this blog. Private individuals will be credited by first name if desired, while professionals will be identified along with links provided to their websites. The more people we have contributing, the more valuable a resource these pages will become.  The goal is to provide you with new bits of information and motivation on a fairly regular basis, as well as creating an archive of this information to which you can return in the future as needed. 
 
I hope that each time you visit, you find something that gives you a bit more strength and focus to make the best of your day. If you like what you see here, you can find this and much more on my Facebook page.
 

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December 14, 2017

There are many good points in this article. Thank you to the friend of this blog who contributed it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/loving-your-food-is-surprise-good-for-you/2017/11/20/2ef9322a-ce32-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html?hpid=hp_weekend-chain_wellness-features1-1125%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.491a901dc8d2

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November 27, 2017

Here’s a brilliantly concise synopsis of what self-care is, why it matters, and how to do more of it.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/self-care-4-ways-nourish-body-soul-2017111612736?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20171124-LivingBetter&utm_id=718899&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=718899

 

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November 17, 2017

Despite what you might think sometimes, your body is on your side and is always deserving of your appreciation and protection. Click here to see a brief reminder of why that’s true.

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November 1, 2017

Simple things any parent can do to help kids develop a healthier relationship with food:

https://www.consumerreports.org/healthy-eating/ways-to-raise-a-healthy-eater/

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October 18, 2017

As little as one hour of exercise per week reduces your risk of depression. To those of us who work in mental health, this comes as no surprise at all.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319607.php 

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October 9, 2017

Proper hydration is such a simple thing, yet most of us don’t maintain it very well. Here’s a good summary of why it’s important—really important—and some simple suggestions for managing it better. In addition to the suggestions in the article, I advocate keeping bottles and cups of water everywhere you might spend any time: at your desk, by your armchair or couch, in your car, where you exercise, etc. It can’t hurt to always have it within easy arm’s reach. Any time it occurs to you (like now, for example), just take a few swigs. 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20160916-PosPsych&utm_id=253272&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=253272

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September 28, 2017

If you’re going to use a full spectrum light to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, this is the time of year to start doing it. Whether you need/want a full spectrum light or not, increasing light in your home is uplifting for anyone’s mood and Consumer Reports has some good ideas about how to do that.

https://www.consumerreports.org/lightbulbs/enhance-indoor-lighting-at-home/

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September 17, 2017

According to the most recent CDC study, nearly 13% of all Americans age 12 or older reported having taken an antidepressant medication during the study, which ran from 2011 to 2014. It cannot be that 13% of humans require psychotropic drugs in order to survive, but it might well be true of 13% of us who are living a sedentary lifestyle and consuming a poor diet. The answer is healthier living, not more drugs.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db283.htm 

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September 7, 2017

Want to make your walks both more interesting and more beneficial? Try incorporating some light interval work. This is one of those changes that are easy to make, yet highly effective.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/put-some-pep-in-your-step?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GB20170823-Walking&utm_id=606882&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=606882

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August 16, 2017

If you know anyone who smokes and might want to quit, this book is highly recommended by a long-term smoker in my family who had tried everything, to no avail.  It helped him to see smoking in an entirely different light, which made it quite easy to stop; once I read the book myself, I could understand why it was so effective.  Because of this book, I am likely to enjoy the companionship of a cherished loved one for many more years into the future. I hope it can do the same for you.

The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr

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July 30, 2017

Strokes: What You Need to Know

A stroke is the sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, which can result in temporary disability, permanent disability, or death.  Symptoms that suggest the possibility of a stroke include:

1. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

2. Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg.

3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance and confusion.

5. Sudden and severe headache with no known cause.

According to the American Stroke Association, there are three things that any of us can do to briefly assess whether a person may be having a stroke:

1. Ask the person to “SMILE.”

2. Ask the person to “RAISE BOTH ARMS.”

3. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently).  For example, “It is sunny out today.”

If the individual has trouble with any of these tasks, it indicates neurological impairment that requires immediate medical care; you should call 911 immediately and describe all symptoms to the dispatcher.  When in doubt, call 911 anyway.  If a stroke victim can get help within three hours of the onset of symptoms, it may be possible to completely reverse the effects of the event.

Additional discussion is available at this link:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/recognizing-the-most-common-warning-signs-of-a-stroke?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20170602-Stroke&utm_id=517102&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=517102

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July 19, 2017

You know that a lousy diet is harmful to your body, but did you know that it is incredibly damaging to your precious brain? Thank you to the friend of this page who shared the article.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/diagnosis-diet/201609/preventing-alzheimer-s-disease-is-easier-you-think?amp      

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July 5, 2017

Look at how these women move: their flexibility, their mobility, their quick reaction time, their coordination. Look at their physical energy. Notice their emotional energy and their attitude. If staying active can do this for people in their 80s and 90s, imagine what it can do for everyone else!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-eiekA6Cq4 

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June 26, 2017

This TED Talk from 2012 offers a fascinating perspective on how the American way of life—and therefore, Americans—has changed in recent decades. It's a detailed reality check on the consequences of these changes, along with some clear, simple ideas about how we can get back to living with better health, quality, and enjoyment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWN13pKVp9s

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June 16, 2017

Physical pain is tiring and discouraging, especially if it drags on for a long time. Because of how our brains work, pain makes us want to seek relief and reward in any way we can to offset the drain to our systems. For many of us, this results in cravings for especially yummy foods, mostly of the simple carb variety based on refined sugar and flour. 

We crave these things because they give us a nice, quick hit to the reward center of the brain when we’re desperate to feel better in any way that we can. However, these foods are highly inflammatory in nature—they add to any inflammation already present in your body, thus exacerbating the physical pain that drove you to them in the first place. They make you feel better for minutes but will exacerbate your physical pain for hours. 

Your best bet is to seek comfort and reward in other pleasant experiences that have no negative impact on your physiology. In terms of actual pain management, consider massage, mindful acceptance, and productive distractions in addition to any necessary medical care. And keep an eye out for the possible development of depression if the pain is with you for a long time. Aside from its other charms, depression affects physiology in ways that may intensify physical pain, so you don’t want to leave depression untreated if that enters the mix. 

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June 5, 2017

If you are in or near your senior years or know someone who is—so, yes, everybody—Get What’s Yours for Medicare is a resource you need to know about. Our senior citizens depend on Medicare for their health care needs, but it’s a very complicated system. Most of us will experience at least some degree of cognitive decline as we age so just as we begin to need this system the most, we’re becoming less capable of the mental contortions necessary to understand it. The information and resources provided by this book will help you and yours to maximize access to care while minimizing the risk of unnecessary financial expense caused by uninformed decision-making.

https://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Yours-Medicare-Maximize/dp/1501124005/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496662587&sr=8-1&keywords=get+what%27s+yours+medicare

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June 1, 2017

Emotional abuse is heartbreaking, almost literally. The following article lists a number of behaviors and experiences that people in abusive relationships repeatedly feel. These things don’t happen all the time, but can happen enough to slowly destroy the partnership connection.

The better times in-between often fuel false hope for a better future (or return to a happier past) that never actually quite happens. It might be useful to know that in healthy relationships, these behaviors and experiences either don’t happen at all or happen only rarely, quickly followed by efforts by the transgressor to repair the partner’s trust. 

Abusers, on the other hand, repeatedly violate trust and leave their target to attempt repair and healing alone. Abusers repeatedly rock the relational boat while their targets spend lots of energy trying to keep the boat from sinking. If this describes your relationship, you are well-advised to start educating yourself on control and abuse issues, and to seek outside help if necessary.       

http://iheartintelligence.com/2017/05/25/signs-emotional-abuse/?c=hp

See this article for additional information and resources.

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May 28, 2017

Back pain plagues many of us, so you might be interested in the findings of a recent Consumer Reports survey as to the level of satisfaction back pain sufferers had with the various professionals from whom they sought help. We’ve learned the hard way that medication and rest are not usually the best route to relief. Here’s what the survey revealed.

89% satisfaction for those who tried yoga or tai chi

84% satisfaction for those who tried massage therapy

83% for those who tried a chiropractor

75% for those who tried physical therapy

67% of those who consulted with a neurosurgeon

66% for those who tried acupuncture

65% for those who consulted an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon

64% who consulted their PCP

61% who consulted a rheumatologist 

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May 15, 2017

Mindfulness is a lot easier and more convenient than you might think. You don’t even have to carve out special time for it!

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/mindfulness-techniques-can-be-more-than-quiet-contemplation?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20170512-Stress&utm_id=494660&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=494660 

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May 7, 2017

What foods do nutritionists favor for themselves and their families? Here’s a nice list of ideas, along with simple ways to put them to good and enjoyable use.

https://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/slideshow/foods-nutritionists-always-have-their-fridge?cmpid=sc-et-em-00-up-04282017&eid=1100043623&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

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April 28, 2017

Here’s a nice summation of the various ways you can exercise, and what to consider as you figure out what works best for you: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/find-your-exercise-style-2017033011472?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20170403-Yoga&utm_id=449222&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=449222

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April 17, 2017

NutritionFacts.org is a non-profit site founded by Dr. Michael Greger, a physician who has spent years speaking and writing about nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. It is loaded with tons of articles and videos on almost any food or health-related topic you can imagine and is a credible source for this kind of information. Highly recommended. 

https://nutritionfacts.org/ 

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April 3, 2017

Better living through using your brain more effectively:

http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/4-things-you-can-do-to-cheer-up-according-to-neuroscience?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1488300646

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March 18, 2017

Being alone can be a wonderful thing, but feeling lonely hurts. As it turns out, it hurts us physiologically as well as emotionally, creating negative health effects and even shortening lifespan. 

While the scientists continue to explore exactly why loneliness is so devastating, it behooves us all to create connections (face-to-face ones) whenever we can, especially as we get older. 

http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/the-powerful-medical-impact-of-loneliness?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1489674888

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March 10, 2017

Stress can be more than unpleasant; it can be downright dangerous if you don't take steps to manage it proactively. You’ll see in the link below that stress management isn’t a luxury for when you have time on your hands—it’s an essential health practice.

https://www.sharecare.com/health/heart-attack/article/can-stress-really-cause-a-heart-attack?partnerid=HCA-WEST-SJ&cmpid=sc-ra-em-00-up-03082017&eid=1100040824&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1  

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March 2, 2017

Diet is by far the most powerful intervention to delay aging and age-related diseases. If you look at all the interventions that have ever been tried, diet has proven superior to anything else. - Dr. Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute. 

If we would just live in a manner that makes sense to our physiology in the first place, we would rarely have our time, energy, and resources hijacked by health concerns because we would simply be healthy.

Eat real food. Drink lots of water. Move every day. Sleep enough. Do things for stress management on purpose, and do so regularly.

Spend as much of your time and energy on life-generating relationships and activities as possible. Reduce your involvement in toxic relationships and activities as much as you can. 

It’s simple stuff, but it’s amazing how much better life can be when you take care of the basics.

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February 27, 2017

It seems we’re all more scattered and forgetful than ever, at least in part because life is moving so fast and there are so many overlapping demands on our attention. Here are a few simple things you can do to improve your focus and retention. 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/4-ways-to-improve-focus-and-memory 

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February 18, 2017

The relaxation response (shared with the kind permission of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine) is a physical state of deep rest that changes your physical and emotional responses to stress. It is a state you can generate whenever you wish and when you do, it has the following beneficial effects:

• Your metabolism slows.

• Your heart rate slows.

• Your blood pressure is lowered.

• Your breathing slows.

• Your muscles loosen and relax.

• Your thought process slows and becomes more focused.

• Your anxiety is noticeably reduced.

Producing the relaxation response is actually quite easy. There are two essential steps:

1. Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity.

2. Passive disregard of everyday thoughts that inevitably come to mind and the return to your repetition.

The following is the generic technique taught at the Benson-Henry Institute:

1. Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer that is firmly rooted in your belief system, such as "one," "peace," "The Lord is my shepherd," "Hail Mary full of grace," or "shalom."

2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

3. Close your eyes.

4. Relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, head, and neck.

5. Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, say your focus word, sound, phrase, or prayer silently to yourself as you exhale.

6. Assume a passive attitude. Don't worry about how well you're doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, "Oh well," and gently return to your repetition.

7. Continue for ten to 20 minutes.

8. Do not stand immediately. Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.

9. Practice the technique once or twice daily. Good times to do so are before breakfast and before dinner.

Regular practice of the relaxation response has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders. In fact, to the extent that any disease is caused or made worse by stress, the relaxation response can help.

Other techniques for evoking the relaxation response are:

• Imagery

• Progressive muscle relaxation

• Repetitive prayer

• Mindfulness meditation

• Repetitive physical exercises

• Breath focus 

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February 10, 2017

Here’s a decent summation of the benefits of getting adequate sleep, which implies the costs to be paid if you don’t. Don’t skimp on sleep if you can possibly help it, because it’s your body’s time to do all kinds of vital self-maintenance work, and your quality of life and health will suffer badly if you don’t get enough of it. 

https://www.sharecare.com/health/live-to-one-hundred/article/one-simple-thing-to-slow-aging?cmpid=sc-et-em-00-up-01162017&eid=1100038502&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

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February 1, 2017

If you don’t feel like your usual, cheerier self during the winter, you’re not alone. Many people experience lower moods when the days are both shorter and grayer, not to mention colder. Whether you simply feel out of sorts, experience full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, or land somewhere in-between, this information will help you to make the best of it. 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/let-the-sun-shine-mind-your-mental-health-this-winter-2017012311058?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20170130-Depression&utm_id=380993&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=380993

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January 17, 2017

Stretching is something many of us blow off as something that’s probably a good idea, but perhaps not worth the time. I know—I used to be one of those people. The older you get, however, the more benefit you get from stretching. Would you like your joints to hurt less? Stretching will help because tight muscles tug on joints, interfering with their optimal movement and alignment. Would you like to be able to move more easily and with greater range of motion? Stretching will do that for you, too. Read more below… 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/stretching-the-new-mobility-protection?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20161216-Stretching&utm_id=337351&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=337351 

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January 8, 2017

Just one paragraph to read for some priceless information on how walking can help to build and preserve the life you most want: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/walking-program-linked-to-reduced-disability?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20170106-Walking&utm_id=356213&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=356213

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December 27, 2016

Breathing for relaxation may be the simplest single thing we can do to help ourselves feel calmer and more centered. Here’s a neat little tutorial on how to do it effectively: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/breathing-techniques-to-help-you-relax

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December 11, 2016

Here's an excellent article on sleep which addresses many of the questions we have about it. How much of it do we need? Can we train ourselves to need less of it? Can you cheat with supplements? The answers are here: 

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/01/how-to-sleep/508781/#article-comments 

This article is highly relevant because sleep is where a lot of us cut corners in an effort to make other parts of our life work. We also have more and more personal practices, it seems, that interfere with getting a good night's sleep. You’ll see that this works against you in numerous ways, two of which actually aren’t mentioned in the article: Inadequate or poor quality sleep will increase your cravings for junk food, and also increase your body's tendency to store/hoard fat. If you’re working to keep your eating under control, sleep deprivation is something you want to avoid at all costs. 

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November 29, 2016

Want to keep your brain in top shape? Keeping your body healthy is a very effective way to do that:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-can-boost-your-memory-and-thinking-skills?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20160429-Memory&mid=11074123&ml=135256

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November 19, 2016

Cutting back on added sugar, and some considerations when it comes to artificial sweeteners:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/cutting-back-on-added-sugar

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October 30, 2016

Walking may be the simplest single thing you can do to help yourself feel better, both physically and emotionally. Here are four simple ways to make it work ever better for you: 

https://www.sharecare.com/health/walking/article/4-secrets-to-walking-off-weight?cmpid=sc-et-em-00-up-05132016&eid=1100018936&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

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October 19, 2016

Before you pop a pill (or pills) for pain, consider these natural methods which can be quite effective, and with absolutely no harmful side effects:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/6-ways-to-use-your-mind-to-control-pain?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GB201601005-Pain&utm_id=268237&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=268237

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October 8, 2016

Proper hydration is such a simple thing, yet most of us don’t maintain it very well. Here’s a good summary of why it’s important—really important—and some simple suggestions for managing it better. In addition to the suggestions in the article, I advocate keeping bottles and cups of water everywhere you might spend any time: at your desk, by your armchair or couch, in your car, where you exercise, etc. It can’t hurt to always have it within easy arm’s reach. Any time it occurs to you (like now, for example), just take a few swigs.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20160916-PosPsych&utm_id=253272&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=253272

 

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September 28, 2016

Here’s a nice summary of simple things you can consider to protect and preserve your mental functioning as you age: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/a-workout-for-your-brain?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GB20160921-Memory&utm_id=257346&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=257346

 

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September 9, 2016

Six foods that contain a lot more sugar than you might guess: 

https://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/slideshow/surprising-foods-that-are-loaded-with-added-sugar 

While the ideal solution would be to avoid these foods, a worthy next-best solution is to be aware of them and use them less. Any change in that direction is worth doing. 

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August 31, 2016

Everyone needs to use alcohol with care if they drink at all, but it’s even more important for women than for men, for some reasons that might surprise you:

https://www.sharecare.com/health/alcohol-and-health/article/how-alcohol-affects-women?cmpid=sc-et-em-00-up-08012016&eid=1100026937&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

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August 23, 2016

Evidence continues to mount that, whether or not you exercise, it's vitally important that you spend less time just sitting. It doesn't take much to fix this. Just get up and stretch, take a short walk, or even walk in place for a moment, a couple times an hour throughout the day.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/get-stand-health-little-movement-offsets-lot-sitting-2016081810215?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20160822-Walking&utm_id=231002&dlv-ga-memberid=11074123&mid=11074123&ml=231002 

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August 18, 2016

If you like being able to think more clearly, have better moods, and enjoy more things in life, consider eating higher quality food: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

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August 10, 2016

Stress management does far more than help you to feel better and happier. It’s also really good for cardiac health:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/managing-emotions-can-save-heart-201605099541?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20160509-Anxiety&mid=11074123&ml=144210

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August 1, 2016

It is common to think of exercise in terms of its physical benefits, but its mental and emotional benefits are substantial as well. It is excellent for reducing anxiety, reducing or preventing depression, increasing mental clarity, and improving sense of self.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20160328-Walking&mid=11074123&ml=111445 

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July 4, 2016

Here’s a nice set of suggestions for how to be physically active by enjoying yourself outside rather than staying inside at the gym on a nice day:

https://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/slideshow/ditch-the-gym-and-lose-weight-this-summer

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June 19, 2016

Good article on why we find our favorite treat foods so irresistible. It’s all very much by design:

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/health/food-cravings-engineered-by-industry-1.1395225

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June 12, 2016

Here’s a realistic and helpful article on how to approach exercising, which you know would help your depression, when you’re too depressed to think about exercising:

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/05/05/depression-busting-exercise-tips-for-people-too-depressed-to-exercise/

 

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June 3, 2016 

Nice article from Weight Watchers, with 75 good, easy ideas for getting more movement into your days without having to try very hard.  https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/m/cms/article/75-ways-fit-fitness

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May 31, 2016

Interesting article on what drives us toward comfort foods and whether/how they help: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/04/why-comfort-food-comforts/389613/?utm_source=SFFB

 

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May 12, 2016

As the hazards of sitting too much become more and more apparent, you might be interested in this structured, 28-day program. It will help you to gradually develop the habit of remembering to get up and move around more often. It’s easy and well worth doing:

https://www.sharecare.com/teams/sharecare-fitness/challenges/get-moving-challenge?cmpid=sc-ra-mk-00-up-05102016&eid=1100018729&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

 * * * * * 

May 8, 2016

Physical pain is tiring and discouraging, especially if it drags on for a long time. Because of how our brains work, pain makes us want to seek relief and reward in any way we can to offset the drain to our systems. For many of us, this results in cravings for especially yummy foods, mostly of the simple carb variety involving much use of refined sugar and flour. 

We crave these things because they give us a nice, quick hit to the reward center of the brain when we’re desperate to feel better in any way that we can. However, these foods are highly inflammatory in nature: they add to any inflammation already present in your body, thus exacerbating the physical pain that drove you to them in the first place. They make you feel better for minutes, but will exacerbate your physical pain for hours.  

Your best bet is to seek comfort and reward in other pleasant experiences that have no negative impact on your physiology. In terms of actual pain management, consider massage, mindful acceptance, and productive distractions in addition to any necessary medical care. And keep an eye out for the possible development of depression if the pain is with you for a long time. Aside from its other charms (being totally facetious here), the actions of depression also exacerbate pain itself, so you don’t want to leave depression untreated if that enters the mix.

* * * * *

May 6, 2016

Walking is such a simple thing. It’s free, you can do it in lots of places, it requires no special equipment or clothing, and its benefits are astounding. Here is a quick summation of just five of those benefits, from Harvard Medical School: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/walking--the-closest-thing-to-a-wonder-drug 

* * * * *

April 27, 2016

The way you live has a dramatic impact on brain health. Here are a few good points to keep in mind so that you can keep your brain in tip-top shape:  

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/5-ways-to-keep-your-memory-sharp 

* * * * *

April 16, 2016

Compelling information about how easily we are tricked or influenced into eating differently than we intend: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/how-your-brain-lies-to-you-about-health/360900/?utm_source=SFFB 

* * * * * 

April 3, 2016

The older you get, the greater your chances of falling unexpectedly, and the greater your risk for injuries that matter. While this is especially true for senior citizens, it applies as well to those in middle age, especially those who are out of shape and carrying extra weight. The first line of defense is to get fitter and more in tune with your body in order to reduce your risk of physical loss of control. The second line of defense is to develop the habit of paying closer attention to your footing and your surroundings, to reduce your chance of losing your balance in the first place. Additional information can be found in this article: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/my-fall-last-fall-201603149311?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20160314-Balance&mid=11074123&ml=103466

* * * * * 

March 22, 2016 

As we struggle with the reality and meaning of global terrorism, one basic truth stands out with great clarity: 

We each have enormous power in this world. In each moment of our lives, we have three choices about what to do with that power. We can use it to make our corner of the world either better or worse, or we can choose to not use it at all. 

Some people use their power to create agony, torment, terror, grief, insecurity, and every conceivable kind of pain. 

Many people actually leave their power unused. Their lives go on barely lived, while the many ways they could contribute to their world are left undiscovered. 

The remaining option is open to everyone, always. We all have the power in every moment of our lives to make ourselves and the world around us better. We can pay that extra compliment, grant that extra forgiveness, offer that extra smile, or make that extra effort. It takes only a decision and a bit of energy to act to make the world better, in any of countless little ways. We each have the power at any moment to make someone’s day, to be the one friendly face they really needed to see at the moment when they needed it the most. 

Thankfully the power to destroy, while enormous, does have practical limits. The power to build, grow, and love is infinite, and we all hold it. You hold it. You hold the power to make the world better in ways that know no bounds. 

What will you do with your power this week? This month? For the remainder of your life? 

* * * * *

March 20, 2016

What You Might Not Know About Depression, Part Two:

One of your earliest signs of advancing depression is likely to be subtle loss of interest in those choices that normally keep you happy and healthy, particularly including good nutrition and regular activity.

The challenge of even early depression is not only that you feel less motivation for the choices that would help you better. The problem is that you feel actively attracted to the choices (junk food, getting more sedentary) that will reliably deepen the depression. Similarly, you might start feeling like avoiding your loved ones just when you need them the most, and have less interest in things that you normally enjoy, at a time when you need more positive energy in your life.

 

It's vital that you remember you'll want to do the things that make it worse, and will feel averse to the things that will make it better. The only choice is to push yourself as much as you can in the direction that makes sense, even though it won't feel like what you want. Go through the motions if you have to, because it will help you more than if you just get still and let your world shrink. It's the only way back to the higher emotional ground you seek.

* * * * *

March 13, 2016

The most important thing you might not know about depression is that much of it is lifestyle-induced. You are at far greater risk for it if you eat a lot of food that lacks nutritional value and if you are generally sedentary, which unfortunately describes the American way of life.

The next most important thing you might not know about depression is that you can often sidestep a bout of it by maximizing your self-care when you notice that you're starting down the emotional hole. Get diligent about nutritious diet and daily physical activity, and you just might pull yourself back out before it gets too bad.

If it's too late for all of that and you've already now been quite depressed for some time, don't just get medication and wait for it to fix you. Get the medication if you need to, but help it work much more effectively for you by doing your part with nutrition and activity.

Depression doesn’t have to come as often, feel as intense, or last as long as you might think. Do your best with the variables that are under your control and at the very least, you can minimize the damage. Best case, you might simply become someone who never experiences depression any more.

Imagine that. 

 * * * * *

March 5, 2016

From the January/February 2016 issue of MONEY magazine (page 44), also available at http://time.com/money/4161035/baby-boomers-70-birthday/: 

A 2014 study of 229 healthy seniors linked better cardio health to lower costs for medication. And after studying 51,000 adults of all ages, researchers at Emory University and the CDC reported that annual health care costs for inactive people averaged 30% more than for those engaging in 2½ hours of moderate physical activity per week. 

“It doesn’t take a lot,” says Jacksonville physician and financial planner Carolyn McClanahan. “Lifting weights for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning and just staying active is enough.”

* * * * * 

February 25, 2016

In case you’ve ever wondered whether you should consider doing a gastrointestinal cleanse, Consumer Reports (March 2016, page 19) recently investigated the issue. Their findings: 

You don’t need a cleanse to remove toxins because your body already has a liver and kidneys for doing that. If you want to detoxify, just stop introducing new toxins and let your body take care of the rest. 

You don’t need a cleanse to rest your digestive system unless you have an issue like inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease, because normal, healthy digestive systems do not require rest. The additional point made is that many cleanses are low in fiber, when fiber is what your digestive system needs in order to run most smoothly. 

Cleanses do not promote weight loss. They result in temporary weight change due to losses in water weight and the weight of your gut contents at the time you begin. Both will quickly return once the cleanse is complete.   

Cleanses do nothing to reduce dependence on processed foods. Several days—the duration of most cleanses—is not nearly enough to put a dent in any addiction. 

* * * * *

February 14, 2016

Fascinating interview with a personal trainer who purposely gained and then lost 60# in order to better empathize with his clients. It's impressive to see what the experience did to him not only physically but emotionally, and what he learned about how hard it is to get away from triggering foods once you've started:

https://www.yahoo.com/health/what-it-s-really-like-1337536779706422.html 

* * * * *

February 5, 2016

I have long observed that most of the people who seek help with overeating also have a history of recurrent depression. When I say "most," I'm talking upwards of 90%. The correlation is incredibly strong.

For the longest time, I noticed this and wondered about the connection, because it never seemed to be just that people were depressed because they couldn't get their eating or their weight under control. In recent years, more and more evidence has pointed to inflammation as being an underlying problem in numerous disease processes, and that is true of depression as well.

The article linked below spells it out in greater detail for anyone who is interested, but the take-home point is that poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity contribute greatly to inflammation, which drives depression.

If you can't get motivated toward healthier living for any other reason, maybe you can get more interested in it on account of how great it would be to be less depressed, less often.

http://www.drperlmutter.com/study/depression-inflammatory-disease-inflammation-come/

* * * * *

January 26, 2016

You’ve seen much mention here of the hazards of sitting too much, and how simple it is to break up longer bouts of sitting with brief bits of physical movement. It helps to get up and walk anywhere at all for a few minutes, but when you don’t have the time or inclination for that, here are a few simple moves you can do right in your work area, which happen to be good for core strength as well:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/a-strong-core-the-simple-flexible-and-portable-workout

 * * * * * 

January 10, 2016

Scientific American has recently published an important article, “How Sugar and Fat Trick the Brain into Wanting More Food,” which is well worth a read:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-sugar-and-fat-trick-the-brain-into-wanting-more-food/

One key passage from the article: “The traditional idea is that we can teach overweight people to improve their self-control,” Lowe says. “The new idea is that the foods themselves are more the problem.” For some people, palatable foods invoke such a strong response in the brain's reward circuit—and so dramatically alter their biology—that willpower will rarely, if ever, be sufficient to resist eating those foods once they are around. Instead, Lowe says, “we have to reengineer the food environment.”  

 * * * * *

December 29, 2015 

Excellent, illustrated summary of the various health hazards of sitting too much of the time:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/ 

On the bright side, all you have to do to avoid all this grief is get up and move around frequently throughout the day. Seldom in life will you encounter such a serious problem which has such a simple and easily doable solution. 

 * * * * *

December 11, 2015

Here's a nice summation of the benefits of increasing your physical activity, from Harvard Medical School:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/exercise-an-effective-prescription-for-joint-pain

If you like being stronger, having more flexibility, being in a better mood, having less pain and being able to have fun in more ways, you'll want to make a habit of moving around more. 


* * * * *

November 28, 2015

Powerful yet simple words of wisdom from Diabetes Support:

* * * * *

November 14, 2015

With Thanksgiving and other holiday meal events fast approaching, here’s an interesting summary of the various immediate consequences to having a big, rich meal. When it comes to holiday meals in particular, a little less means a lot more enjoyment and comfort:

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/health/holiday-eating/

 

* * * * *

October 29, 2015 

This article was directed toward those who sit all day at work, but contains information relevant to any of us who sit quite a bit: 

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/career-workplace/2015/10/04/WorkZone-Even-short-walks-can-help-fight-effects-of-sedentary-work/stories/201510040077 

Being sedentary creates a lot of medical damage we're still struggling to understand. The point to remember is that any amount of physical activity goes a surprisingly long way toward reducing or reversing the damage. From the article: 

The bottom line is if you can get up from your desk for a walk, no matter how short, go for it. 

“If you can get up once an hour and do a short walk, that’s great,” said Derek Thompson, the medical school’s media coordinator. “Any walking is better than none.”

 

 * * * * *

October 1, 2015

 “5 Ways Exercise Improves Your Quality of Life” is a quick, easy read, yet a powerful reminder of how much more enjoyable life is when we keep moving. It’s also a nice reminder that it doesn’t take a huge time commitment to reap substantial rewards:

 http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/exercise-advice-for-people-with-heart-problems

 

 * * * * *

September 12, 2015 

Here is an excellent article about how to raise kids with habits and expectations that will support their better health for life:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20950170_01,00.html 

A summary of the points that are expanded with helpful detail in the article:

1. Don't tell them to clean their plates.

2. Make exercise fun.

3. Don't let them eat in front of the TV.

4. Better yet, set a screen limit.

5. Expose them to different foods, but be patient.

6. Stash the cell phones for the night.

7. Give them healthy snacks.

8. Don't make it all about calories.

9. Don't reward good behavior with candy.

10. Get the whole family involved.

11. Don't go crazy with the "no junk food" rule.

12. Lead by example.

You will likely note that the suggestions here stand in contrast to how you were raised. The reality is that we’re seeing the wisdom of the points in this article based on what has failed in our own generation. There’s still time to help things turn out better for the kids we’re raising today, and to improve our own quality of life in the process.

* * * * * 

 August 30, 2015 

Here’s a good reminder of a few common foods which may harbor far more sugar than you’d think:

https://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/slideshow/surprising-foods-that-are-loaded-with-added-sugar?cmpid=sc-ra-em-00-up-08122015&eid=1010734580&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

 The moral of the story may be that if you didn’t make it yourself, you just have to read the label to know for sure. Assume nothing.  

 * * * * *

August 10, 2015 

Here’s an idea for improving your life that may sound counterintuitive at first -- work at failing faster.  

This idea has been articulated by OSI CEO Elizabeth Smith, a highly motivated and successful businesswoman.  What it means is simply this: Acknowledge your mistakes as quickly as you can, which is usually hard to do.  Learn the lessons in the experience, fix what you can, and then focus on moving forward.  Do this all in the shortest time frame in which you can produce effective results, and your life will improve as a result. 

Henry Ford noted, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” 

Failing faster could be one of the keys to the life you really want. 

 * * * * *

July 28, 2015 

What is the right amount of exercise? The answer is highly individual, of course, but we can make some helpful generalizations based on recent research: 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2015/04/15/the-right-dose-of-exercise-for-a-longer-life/?WT.mc_id=2015-KWP-AUD_DEV&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=AUDDEVREMARK&kwp_0=18141&_r=0&referrer

 This excerpt is particularly interesting:

Then they compared 14 years’ worth of death records for the group.

They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. Those few individuals engaging in 10 times or more the recommended exercise dose gained about the same reduction in mortality risk as people who simply met the guidelines. They did not gain significantly more health bang for all of those additional hours spent sweating. But they also did not increase their risk of dying young.

I have long observed that most people who are in thriving good health seem to be exercising 30-60 minutes, most days of the week. It is fascinating to see how strongly this is validated by this new research.

 * * * * * 

July 12, 2015

Great physical health does you little good if you don’t have a healthy brain to enjoy the ride. As it turns out, volunteering is particularly good for brain health, not to mention your social life and the health of your community:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/brain/article/what-do-gooding-does-for-your-brain?cmpid=sc-et-em-00-up-07102015&eid=1010732319&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1 

* * * * *

July 2, 2015

Fun summer activities to keep you moving, but with less chance of getting overheated on warm days: 

http://www.sharecare.com/video/sharecare-experts/mike-clark/5-fun-summer-workouts?cmpid=sc-ra-em-00-up-07022015&eid=1010731543&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1

 * * * * * 

June 21, 2015

Be fearless about outcomes, because even bad news still shows you what you need to know. Armed with this knowledge, you can work to create the best life possible with what is really available to you, rather than building on wishful thinking and hope.  

There is no bad news actually – it’s all just objective information that you can use to effectively build your life and navigate your world, accepting it for what it is. 

* * * * *

June 7, 2015 

The article linked below is a nice, concise review of the problems created by sitting too much, which our current way of life seems to demand. There are some suggested guidelines for how to balance the requirements of your life with the requirements of your health: 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/02/health-experts-have-figured-out-how-much-time-you-should-sit-each-day/ 

A couple of interesting excerpts: 

“… Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent. Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again. These things are so simple they’re almost stupid …”

 … James Levine, an obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic and author of the book, “Stand Up,” though not involved in the guidelines, said they were a good start. In his work, he found that the reason why some people seem to eat a lot, never work out, yet never put on weight, is because they’re standing, walking and moving more throughout the day, rather than sitting for hours on end ...

* * * * * 

May 27, 2015 

Most of the people who come to me for help with their overeating also note some clutter in their lives which adds to their stress. By increasing stress, clutter subtly and relentlessly adds to the need for relief. This increases the risk of urges to eat in ways that will be a source of regret later on. 

Here’s a quick, easy, and surprisingly energizing way to lose some clutter, lift your spirits, and make your life a little better.  This will be most effective if you get up and do it immediately (it’s not like your computer won’t be here when you get back). 

1.    Set a timer for ten minutes.  See if you can complete this task before the timer runs out.

2.    In any part of your residence, start looking for items that no longer contribute anything to your quality of life.

3.    Pick out five things to either throw away right now or give away to a specific person or organization in the next two days.  No cheating!  If you get stuck, consider these:

a.     Articles of clothing you no longer wear.  If you haven’t worn it in a year, put it on the watch list.  If you haven’t worn it in five years, don’t even think about keeping it.

b.    Magazines or books that you’re not looking forward to reading.  If you’re not looking forward to them, you’re not likely to ever get to them.

c.     Books that you’ve read in the past, which lack sentimental value, and which you are unlikely to ever revisit.

d.    Boxes for consumer products that are no longer under warranty.

e.    Food items that are out of date.  If you let it sit long enough to go out of date in the first place, how excited will you ever get about eating it now that it’s old?

f.      Broken items that you mean to repair “someday.”  If the item’s been sitting for more than a month, and you don’t care about it enough to get it done this week, throw it out now.

g.    Old medications.  They’re probably ineffective now anyway.

Bonus points if you get this done in five minutes. Double bonus points if you do it periodically until your living space becomes comfortable and relaxing for you.

* * * * *

May 12, 2015 

Getting your physical activity done indoors is infinitely superior to missing it altogether, but you’re liable to enjoy it and benefit from it more whenever you have an opportunity to do it outdoors: 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/why-outdoor-workouts-work-better?eid=1010729432&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

* * * * *

May 2, 2015  

Bruce Bradley is a former Big Food executive who is now on a mission to educate the public about the realities of processed foods. In this blog post, he offers an interesting analysis of bottled salad dressings, including the reason it can be a bad thing that there’s so much water in them. You’d probably never guess it, but it’s obvious once he explains it and serves as a fine example of the problems with processed foods in general. The post is well worth your time:

http://brucebradley.com/food/whats-in-your-salad-dressing/ 

* * * * * 

April 22, 2015 

 If you want to keep your brain healthy and effective as you age, physical activity is one of the best ways to support it. You may be surprised at how little it takes to make a difference that matters: 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/power-walking-stymies-brain-atrophy?eid=1010727832&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

* * * * * 

April 13, 2015

When the same wisdom comes in two different forms from two very different sources, it's generally one of those life truths that is always worth a moment's contemplation:

A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt.  He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.  One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one.  The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.”

The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?”

The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.” 

-- As told in Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

§ § §

 “Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.” -- Eckhart Tolle 

* * * * * 

March 31, 2015

Today and all days, you have the power to…

* Spend time only with people whose company makes your life better.

* Choose only activities which are satisfying and make you stronger.

* Choose only thoughts which move you forward. 

* Choose to let go of the past, knowing that your energy is wasted there. 

* Choose to make something better, in your life or that of someone else. 

* Choose to keep growing yourself up, no matter how hard it sometimes seems.

* Choose to handle yourself with dignity and treat others with kindness.  

* Remember that there are people in the world who will appreciate you as the precious being you are, and that time spent with anyone less is time wasted.  

* * * * *

March 14, 2015

Here’s another helpful bit from Harvard Medical School with a few very simple strategies to improve the quality of your eating:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/six-simple-ways-to-smarter-healthier-eating

Of these, I suggest special attention to their suggestion for reducing your sodium intake: 

For two days, don’t put any salt on your food at all. A short break can help reset your taste buds. Then, leave the salt shaker in the cabinet, so it becomes a bit of an effort to reach for it. Make a ritual out of truly tasting your food before you decide if it needs tweaking.

You might despair of the idea of unsalted food for two days, but you’re virtually guaranteed to find it more palatable than you expect by the end of the trial period as your taste buds begin to recover their ability to detect more subtle flavors. They have probably been overstimulated by hyperpalatable foods for a long time such that only unnaturally intense flavors taste like anything at all, but they can recover their sensitivity if you give them a chance. It’s one more important step toward building a calmer and more successful relationship with food. 

 * * * * *

March 8, 2015 

Good article from Harvard Medical School about basic considerations for a safe and effective strength-training program (brief summary below the link):

 http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/7-tips-for-a-safe-and-successful-strength-training-program 

1.    Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. 

2.    Focus on form, not weight. 

3.    Work at the right tempo. 

4.    Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. 

5.    Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. 

6.    Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. 

7.    Give muscles time off. 

 * * * * *

February 22, 2015 

When you have important decisions to make, here are some questions that will help you determine your best choice:

·         Which option will make you stronger, healthier, and/or more energized?

·         Which option is likely to have the most positive effect on your life?

·         Which option will move you closer to being the person you want to be? 

·         Which option, after it’s all past, are you likely to wish you had chosen?

 

* * * * *

February 8, 2015 

Good article from the Harvard Medical School about Alzheimer’s disease and what you can do to reduce your risk.  The article is short and well worth the couple minutes of your time it will take, but I’ve also included a brief cheat sheet below the link, just in case: 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/can-you-sidestep-alzheimers-disease  

1. Maintain a healthy weight. 

2. Check your waistline (max of 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men). 

3. Eat mindfully. 

4. Exercise regularly. 

5. Keep an eye on important health numbers (blood tests).  

* * * * * 

January 18, 2015 

Take a moment and think of some small task that is entirely doable, but which you’ve been putting off.  It may be a household chore, an errand that needs to be run, a favor that needs to be asked, an apology that needs to be made, or even an act of self-care for which you keep telling yourself you have no time. 

You think of this task repeatedly, about how you should make a point of getting around to it, and how much better you’ll feel once it’s done.  You have, by now, spent far more time thinking about it than it would take to actually do it, and your baseline stress level has been over-so-slightly higher every day since you started putting this off. 

By going and taking care of it now – right this minute – you will immediately lower your stress, reduce your to-do list, and feel incredibly free because this self-imposed burden will be a thing of the past.  Do this now because now is the perfect time, and do it for you, because you are worth the effort. 

 * * * * *

January 5, 2015

Recent study findings confirm and begin to quantify the impact of fast food on the academic progress of our children.  A brief review of the results was recently published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2014/12/28/Is-fast-food-dumbing-children/stories/201412280162

A telling quote from the above article:

What they found is that even small increases in the frequency with which the students ate fast food were associated with poorer academic test results. Habitual fast food eaters—those who ate fast food daily—saw “test score gains that were up to about 20 percent lower than those who didn’t eat any fast food.”

A longer article on the same study, if you’re interested in more detail: 

http://blog.foodfacts.com/tag/is-fast-food-dumbing-down-our-kids

* * * * *

December 21, 2014

It’s hard to control your sugar intake when you don’t realize you’re taking it in to start with.  Many of your favorite products – like flavored yogurt, tomato-based products and even some crackers – have sugar hidden away in them at levels that will shock you when you start looking.  It’s probably safest to assume that sugar is in every processed product you buy until you have studied the label to verify otherwise. 

Until you get that ambitious, here’s a good article for increasing your awareness of hidden sugars and simple strategies for steering clear of at least some of them:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/mens-health/article/young-men-biggest-consumers-of-added-sugar?cbr=cial_tip&eid=1010722526&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

Be sure and have a look at sodium levels while you’re at it, as well.  You’ll probably be amazed at what you find, especially given the information from the CDC that all our bodies need is 180-500 mg daily.  Government recommendations are to limit it to 1500 mg/day and absolutely don’t let it go over 2300 mg/day in order to minimize health consequences -- tough to do in a diet based on processed foods.  

The average American’s current sodium intake is 3436 mg/day. 

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December 14, 2014

If you’re not sure what a plank is (hint: we’re not talking about lumber), whether you know how to do it correctly, or need a structured schedule for building up your ability to hold one, here are all of your answers:

http://www.fabfittraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/30-day-plank-challenge-.pdf

If you’re off-track on exercise, this may be a simple way to get in the game.  It requires no special clothing or preparation, is a very simple exercise to execute, starts out with just 20 seconds a day, and activates muscles throughout your body. 

As with all exercise, be sure to check with your doctor first if you have any medical issues that may be adversely affected by this activity. 

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December 8, 2014

The most enduring life lessons seem to come to us repeatedly, from different places and in different forms.  The following quotes come from widely varying times and circumstances, yet all speak to the same essential truth.  If you have not yet embraced this truth in your own life, perhaps now can be the time. 

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.” -- The Buddha (c. 566-480 BCE) 

“Harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die! Unforgiveness poisons anyone who holds it, causing him to become bitter. And it is impossible to be bitter and get better at the same time!” -- Joyce Meyer, Beauty for Ashes, published in 1994 by Time Warner Book Group. 

“Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business.”  -- Robin Casarjian 

“The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are for loving in the present.” - Barbara de Angelis  

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November 28, 2014

This article shares some interesting ideas for incorporating workout-type exercise moves into everyday activities.  While the ideas suggested here are useful in any event, it raises the intriguing bigger-picture idea of how you can incorporate real exercise into more of your day in general. 

Small changes made throughout the day will make a big difference in keeping your body tuned and strong.  These will be changes that don’t require more than a few moments at a time, won’t require a change of clothes, and won’t result in you needing to shower any sooner than you were going to anyway: 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/double-duty-exercise-opportunities?eid=1010721892&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

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November 16, 2014

If you want to preserve your cognitive abilities to the greatest degree possible for the rest of your life, physical exercise is essential to maintaining maximum brain health.  The science on this is now incredibly clear.  Here’s one short article on how walking improves brain health:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/anti-aging-skin-care/article/increase-brain-power-by-walking?eid=1010718138&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

If you’re hoping that sitting at home doing puzzles and reading will be enough to keep you sharp as you age, that is unfortunately just not going to do it.  Don’t take my word for it though – do some searching on your own and see for yourself.  Then go for a walk. J

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November 2, 2014

The benefits of eating real food go far beyond natural weight control – if you like feeling good, being effective, and enjoying your life more, real food is the only way to go: 

http://news.health.com/2014/09/02/5-reasons-to-eat-healthier-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-your-weight/

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October 19, 2014

Here’s a handy little exercise routine that gives you a little cardio, a bit of strength work, and a brief full-body workout that can be done practically anywhere, any time in 25 minutes or so, the “No-Shower-No-Change-of-Clothes-Workout”:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/no-excuse-full-body-workout-routine?eid=1010716787&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

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October 11, 2014

A simple primer on “sitting disease,” along with clear, simple strategies for avoiding it.  A must-read for everyone: 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/ten-ways-to-stand-up-to-sitting-disease?eid=1010718138&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

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September 27, 2014

I recently viewed Fed Up, a 2014 documentary on obesity -- especially childhood obesity -- with a special focus on the role of added sugar in our foods.  The video is a good overview of what is wrong with our current food supply and why.  It also explores what is wrong with our historic approaches to weight management and why.  I hope you will take the time for the video, and I offer these thoughts for your immediate consideration: 

Food addiction is increasingly recognized in the medical field as a problem with processed foods.  Added sugars, fats, sodium and various chemicals create sensory stimulation that hijacks the brain, creating overwhelming cravings.  Most people cannot overcome these cravings with logic, no matter how much they know better.  Processed foods also corrupt our metabolic functioning in a variety of ways, all of them detrimental to long-term health and quality of life.  No one is hurt more by these trends than our children, who are exposed to these foods as early as they are able to ingest them.  Our kids are developing habits, expectations and addictions that will handicap them for life as they struggle to maintain a workable level of health. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal agency that we turn to for guidance on food recommendations, but it was originally created to further the success and interests of agriculture.  How can the USDA work to support agriculture which produces so much sugar and corn (federally subsidized, by the way), while also protecting public health by urging us to consume less of the products containing those items and their derivatives?  The answer is that they can’t.  Time and again, Big Food has been able to exert enough financial and political pressure to force the USDA to compromise on public health recommendations.  Big Food has the resources to exert this pressure on our lawmakers – we, the consumers, have no way to compete with that. 

Big Food has made a show of creating “healthier” versions of many of their products.  To that, there is this memorable quote from the video:  “Junk is still junk even if it’s less junky.”  If you want healthy food, the only answer is to eat food, not products. 

I often hear clients complain, “But some people can eat any way they want and they never gain weight!”  There actually are some people like that, though fewer over time as our obesity rate continues to increase.  In any case, it is important to know that such people, even if they have a reasonable weight, are still building their bodies with sugar, fat, sodium and chemicals.  They may look okay on the outside, but internally, they are slowly paying the price.  We just aren’t built to live on the kinds of things most of us now eat.  Getting away with it without weight gain does not mean you’ve gotten away with it.  You can look great on the outside and still be sick on the inside. 

According to this video, all of this is not lost on the health insurance industry which is said to be investing in the fast food industry (!).  There’s an ironic cruelty to this, of course, but it’s just corporate decision-making in the name of maximizing investment returns.  Fast food is only an attractive investment opportunity if we keep buying lots of it.  

The bottom line is that we as a population group are in a bad situation when it comes to supporting health and therefore, quality of life.  Because population-wide issues shift so slowly, it is up to each of us as individuals to be honest with ourselves about our reality and to work it to our best and healthiest advantage, right now.   This can certainly be done, but you will have to go against the flow to do it, and you can’t afford to waste any more time.

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September 21, 2014

The following excerpt is from Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, by Gordon Livingston, M.D. It is very relevant to those who struggle to adopt healthier habits and too often abandon those new patterns before they can become a lasting part of who you are and how you live.  This passage, interestingly, comes from a chapter titled, Only Bad Things Happen Quickly:

To imagine that such traits can be changed overnight or as soon as we become aware of them is to discount the well-established strength of habit and the slowness with which we translate new knowledge into behavior.

When we think about the things that alter our lives in a moment, nearly all of them are bad: phone calls in the night, accidents, loss of jobs or loved ones, conversation with doctors bearing awful news.  In fact, apart from a last-second touchdown, unexpected inheritance, winning the lottery, or a visitation from God, it is hard to imagine sudden good news.  Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: learning new things, changing old behavior, building satisfying relationships, raising children.  This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues.

The passage above can be found on pages 82 and 83 of the book.  Later, on page 134, there is this which addresses why your knowledge of health risk is not usually enough to keep you moving consistently toward healthier behavior.  But it also identifies what the truly lasting motivators are: 

Fear, while effective in the short term, is not useful in producing lasting change.  The use of it as a motivator for behavior ignores the fact that there are no more powerful desires than the pursuit of happiness and the struggle for self-respect.

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September 7, 2014

This is the time of year when it behooves you to start positioning yourself for your best possible winter.  This means being dedicated to quality nutrition and exercise throughout the season (especially the holidays), while setting up plans and goals that will keep the coming season energizing and satisfying for you, despite the weather which most people in the northern United States find a bit wearing. 

If you have a tendency towards Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it is even more important for you to take a proactive approach.  In addition to the ways you plan your winter, you might consider beginning your use of a full spectrum light sometime in September.  This will keep your brain supplied with the greater exposure to light that it may need to keep functioning at its best as the natural light available each day gets shorter.  

These are excellent strategies for making winter just another season in which you can fully enjoy your life, rather than something to merely survive until spring returns.  Now is the time to get started so you can comfortably roll into winter as it comes, rather than scrambling to get your bearings once it’s here. 

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August 31, 2014

Strength training is highly beneficial for everyone and the older you are, the bigger difference strength training can make in your quality of life.  There are many helpful books available on the subject, and limited consultation with a personal trainer can be invaluable in assuring that you work out safely and effectively.

Here’s a nice, concise list of tips to keep in mind for quality workouts:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/six-tips-for-better-strength-training

And a reminder that if you are a woman anywhere near or past menopause, your physical activity level is more important than ever:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/womens-health/health-guide/womens-health-guide/menopause-and-weight-gain 

 

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August 15, 2014

Here's a reasonably thorough article about water -- why we need it, how much of it to get, and unwanted consequences when we don't get enough of it:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/surprising-facts-water/story?id=24978499#

Dehydration has immediate health and quality-of-life impacts, including constipation, headaches, and muscle cramping (the signs you're most likely to readily notice).  It is incredibly easy to prevent or correct, yet it is a normal fixture of the lifestyle most of us lead. 

Of all the things you can do to make your body an easier place in which to live, adequate hydration is probably the simplest and may also have the highest payback for the effort made. 

 

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August 3, 2014

Today’s concept is inspired by the writings of Sharon Eakes.  She wrote a wonderful piece on the idea that when you say yes to one thing in life, you automatically say no to something else.  This is a powerful concept when applied specifically to protecting your health and maximizing your quality of life.  Some examples:

Say yes to exercise, and you say no to sluggishness, weakness, depression, and greater susceptibility to illness.

Conversely, if you say no to exercise, you are not just saying no to exercise.  You are saying yes to sluggishness, weakness, depression, and greater susceptibility to illness.

Say yes to quality food, and you say no to… well the previous list, actually.  Say no to quality food and you say yes to that same list.

Every choice you make invites something into your life.  What are you inviting in with your yeses, and what are you pushing away by saying no?  What life do you want to have?  What yeses would create that life?

To get what you really, really want, you may have to give up what you really want.

—Coach Cheryl Richardson

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July 23, 2014 

Great ideas for how to make exercise more accessible and truly enjoyable for yourself: 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/secret-for-loving-exercise-pleasure-not-pain?eid=1010714566&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

If you can build exercise into your life and keep it there, you will feel better both physically and emotionally for the rest of your days.  Remember the last time in your life when you were active on a regular basis?  How did that feel?  How was your quality of life affected?  If you could snap your fingers and be magically transported back into the frame of mind that made those choices possible, would you do it?  If there was anything about it you didn't like, what would have made that better?  How do you think your life today would be affected if you were more physically active? 

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July 12, 2014 

Here is a formula for daily living that will help you get the most fulfillment out of your good days, as well as the most possible healing and recovery from your painful ones: 

  1. Stay occupied in any way that is meaningful, enjoyable or productive.
  2. Create opportunities for the things that you want in life to be able to get to you.
  3. Live mindfully in each moment as it comes. 

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July 3, 2014 

If you hate exercising, that means your negative feelings are either keeping you from doing it, or are causing you to receive far less physical benefit from it than you could.  Thanks to network member Sally for this link to some very intriguing information:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/WBL02407/Why-Exercise-May-Not-Be-Working.html#one

The key is to keep looking for ways to exercise that you can feel better about, or ways to change what you’re already doing (such as adding music) so that it can be a more positive experience.  When you feel better about it, you’ll be more likely to do it, keep at it, and will receive much greater benefit for your efforts. 

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June 18, 2014

A Weekly Day of Personal Renewal

Numerous authors have written persuasively of the need to take regular time out from the rush of daily life.  The purpose of this time is to regroup, renew and recharge so that you can re-enter your life with more energy, better focus and more enthusiasm for the days to come.

Most people know this is a good idea and long for the opportunity to do it, but many feel like there just isn’t time available.  Stephen Covey probably described it best when he described life without such breaks as “like reading a run-on sentence that goes on for pages without a comma or period.”  It’s true.  A life without breaks is a more difficult, less fulfilling, less effective life.

What to do?  Two things:

First, consider your priorities.  If there is truly no time available in your life for a periodic bit of renewal, it may be that you’ve allowed your life to become too cluttered with things that keep you busy but which don’t necessarily add quality.  An unflinchingly honest self-evaluation will likely turn up some ideas for time-wasters you could trade for the chance to truly recharge.

Second, if you just can’t take a break, perhaps you can organize your time so that on one day per week or even a half-day per week, you focus only on those tasks or activities which you can do without resentment or any sense that your energy is being drained.  Look for tasks that are both productive and enjoyable or tasks that alleviate some genuine burden from your consciousness: tasks that leave you feeling lifted and more energetic in some way for having done them.  For example, maybe you actually kind of enjoy mowing the lawn, or meditatively folding clothes, or just listening to music while you chop vegetables for an hour.  Whatever it is, put it in your schedule at a point where you can benefit from the mental break, and enjoy it as mindfully as possible when you do it.

Once you’ve discovered the magical lift you get from doing this, the challenge will be to commit to keeping it in place each week going forward.  Life challenges will tempt you to forget about it or delay it at times, and it’s a short step from there to losing track of doing it at all.  Blocking out the time in your schedule -- just like you do for other important things -- is the most reliable way to assure that you can keep this important source of energy and balance in your life. 

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June 6, 2014

Thanks to network member Sally, for passing along this wonderful bit of simple wisdom about how easy it is to move around more without feeling like you’re working at it:

http://community.weightwatchers.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?threadID=1887398

 

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May 18, 2014 

The wisdom below applies to every level of health-related decision-making, as well as most every other choice we encounter in life.  May it serve you well:

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.” -- Zig Ziglar 

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May 7, 2014

When you smile…

·          You are at your most attractive; for most people, their smile is their very best look.

·          You make yourself feel better, even if just a little.

·          You make others feel better and more comfortable in your company.

·          Others tend to smile back, creating a brief exchange of warmth and acknowledgement that lifts you both just a bit, even if no words are spoken. 

Sometimes, the person with whom you share your smile is in the midst of a life crisis or tragedy you couldn’t begin to guess.  The smile or other minor kindness you offer may be just the lifeline that person needs to get through the next hour.  You could turn someone’s day around and never even know it, but you will know that your own life is a bit brighter in that moment.  It’s amazing to have the power to create that kind of positive energy at any time.

 

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April 26, 2014

One of the best things you can do to keep your brain at maximum performance is to walk regularly:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/anti-aging-skin-care/article/increase-brain-power-by-walking?eid=1010708519&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

It’s easy, it’s free, and you can fit it into your schedule any number of ways: one long walk, several short ones, etc. – it’s all good.

 

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April 12, 2014 

These are hectic, fast-paced times, and many people are coping with the demands of their lives by choosing to sleep less in order to create more waking hours to work with.  This may seem like a benign enough trade: for a bit of fatigue and yawning, you get more time to live – what could be better than that? 

Well, it turns out that getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis could be better than that.  Your body and brain are very busy with maintenance and rebuilding functions during sleep; this is when healing, growing, memory consolidation, and immune system recharging occur.  Basically, all kinds of things happen in your system while you’re asleep that make for a more satisfying, productive, and healthy experience during your waking hours.  Trade away your sleep and you will get sick more often, have more trouble remembering new information, be more vulnerable to depression, and be more prone to accidents and mistakes.  You will also experience higher appetite and more cravings for junk food, so you will likely gain and maintain more weight.  Maybe sleeping less isn’t such a great trade after all.  

If you need more information about the importance of sleep and how to sleep better when you do make time for it, you might find it helpful to read Sleep Well: Self-Help for Insomnia.  You can also contact me for additional help if needed.

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April 2, 2014

Today’s blog entry is by guest author, Sharon Eakes.   Sharon is a personal and professional coach who can be reached at (412) 741-1709.  She has co-authored an amazing book which I highly recommend, and which you can learn more about at www.LiberatingGreatness.com...

 

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.
Cicero

Thanksgiving may come once a year, but gratitude is such a powerful phenomenon it’s worth cultivating for everyday use!  Gratitude is many things:  a feeling, an attitude, a practice, a way of life.

A Feeling

Amazing things happen in the brain and body when we experience the feeling of gratitude.  Gratitude opens our hearts. Research has shown that feeling grateful can literally shift our hearts into a healthy heart frequency. 

When we feel grateful, our brains flood with chemicals — endorphins — that make us feel good. It’s also true that we can’t feel grateful and have a negative emotion such as anger or fear at the same time.  That’s worth remembering!

An Attitude

When we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, it expands our world and attracts people to us.  (Blaming, complaining, and judging contract our world, making us less attractive and more isolated.)  We can “act as if” in developing this attitude.  We can love even when we don’t feel loving and be kind even when we’d rather be surly.  In a neat twist, an attitude of gratitude often shifts our feelings.

A Practice

Pessimists are people who have exercised their muscles of negativity and lack until those muscles are very strong.  Optimists are people who have developed their gratitude muscles.  The real gift is when, through practice, gratitude becomes a way of life.

It strikes me that experiencing gratitude for small things may be the only way to thrive and remain cheerful in the long haul, through the big difficulties of our individual and collective lives. Often gratitude for small things brings us right to the present moment. The past may be painful, the future murky, but here, now, right this minute, I might be having an absolutely delicious cup of coffee. Or a neighbor brings me a cartoon, and I’m tickled and laugh, grateful for the small and precious moment of sharing.

Coaching Tips

I encourage you to develop your gratitude muscles until they are strong and automatic, making gratitude a way of life.  Here are some things that will help: 

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March 19, 2014

Sit less.   A lot less.  Here’s why:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/too-much-sitting-linked-to-an-early-death-201401297004

One excerpt:

The more hours women in the study spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.

And here’s the kicker: Even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones. 

“Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors, and chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Each of these behaviors is important and has an independent effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

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March 8, 2014 

Yet another reason to get yourself outside for a walk or other enjoyable activity: vitamin supplementation to ward off the flu! 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/cold-and-flu/article/flu-season-immune-system-vitamins?eid=1010705277&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00 

 

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February 21, 2014 

Great advice from Harvard Medical School (see excerpts below link).  You may think of this kind of eating as related to dealing with health problems like diabetes but the reality is, this kind of eating helps you prevent those problems in the first place.  This is just a great way to eat, period, and need not be reserved specifically for medical intervention.  If you try it, you will probably be amazed at how much better you feel within just a few weeks. 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/8-principles-of-low-glycemic-eating 

Eight principles of low-glycemic eating 

1.    Eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables, beans, and fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and berries. Even tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and papayas tend to have a lower glycemic index than typical desserts.

2.    Eat grains in the least-processed state possible: “unbroken,” such as whole-kernel bread, brown rice, and whole barley, millet, and wheat berries; or traditionally processed, such as stone-ground bread, steel-cut oats, and natural granola or muesli breakfast cereals.

3.    Limit white potatoes and refined-grain products, such as white breads and white pasta, to small side dishes.

4.    Limit concentrated sweets—including high-calorie foods with a low glycemic index, such as ice cream—to occasional treats. Reduce fruit juice to no more than one-half cup a day. Completely eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks.

5.    Eat a healthful type of protein, such as beans, fish, or skinless chicken, at most meals.

6.    Choose foods with healthful fats, such as olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), and avocados, but stick to moderate amounts. Limit saturated fats from dairy and other animal products. Completely eliminate partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats), which are in fast food and many packaged foods.

7.    Have three meals and one or two snacks each day, and don’t skip breakfast.

8.    Eat slowly and stop when full.

Adapted from Ending the Food Fight, by David Ludwig with Suzanne Rostler (Houghton Mifflin, 2008). 

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February 14, 2014 

The article linked below addresses concerns related to information overload, an issue that more and more of us experience these days.  I hope you will consider this information as it relates to your life in general, not just the workplace (which is the focus of the article).  

Our amazing mobile devices put the world at our fingertips but too often, they are also the reason our world is becoming more fragmented and sometimes, less meaningful and rewarding.  For many of us, these devices mean we are now seldom if ever fully disconnected – there are some for whom this is not working out well.  

I invite you to assess how your use of your mobile devices is affecting your life.  Do they give you more of the life you most want, or less?  Your answer may go either way, but I believe it’s important that you occasionally revisit the question. 

I have added some excerpts below the link for those who may not feel inclined to read the whole article.  Please consider the concept of each excerpt as it relates to your personal time and life, not just your work life:

http://gazette.com/employers-step-in-to-prevent-worker-burnout/article/feed/67337

 …After years in which the ease of instant communication via email and smartphones allowed bosses to place greater and greater demands on white-collar workers, some companies are beginning to set limits, recognizing that successful employees must be able to escape from work… 

…the imperative to be constantly reachable by iPhone or tablet is taking a toll on the work delivered at the office. "Employees are turning up, but they're not delivering anything…"

 …People also have more data than ever to process — whether they ask for it or not. Information overload cost American businesses just under $1 trillion in employee time lost to needless emails and other distractions in 2010…

 …Technology, for example, is eliminating the downtime or slack that used to be built into the day — such as the time one took going to the library to do research that can now be completed online, says Edward Tenner, author of "Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences." Those minutes used to act as a buffer that prevented people from working constantly…

 …Information overload has decreased people's ability to manage thoughts and ideas… 

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February 5, 2014 

All of the information we have available to us – all of it – confirms that quality of life and health are dramatically enhanced if you lead a life of moderate physical activity.  Many of us remain stuck and sedentary, however, feeling like being more active would be too hard, too time-consuming, too burdensome, or otherwise out of reach.  This article does a great job of reviewing the most common perceived obstacles to a life of more movement, and offers very practical work-arounds: 

http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/body-size-or-exercise-which-matters-most?eid=1010700142&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00

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January 22, 2014 

What you think and say to yourself helps to create who you are, each and every day.  Here’s an article contributed by network member Sally that shows how important it is to choose your thoughts more purposefully and in a manner that makes you stronger rather than tearing you down: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/may-benatar-phd-lcsw/neuroplasticity_b_1729070.html 

 

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December 28, 2013
 
Many of my clients report feeling addicted to diet soda and have to make a focused effort to reduce or discontinue their use of it. If you want to get it out of your life, this one-minute video presents compelling information to help boost your motivation. Diet soda not only fails to support weight loss, but increases your risk for other serious health problems:
 
http://www.sharecare.com/videos/video/Diabetes-Health-Smarts/Kick-Your-Diet-Soda-Habit-1833055642001-1813358241001?eid=1010699635&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00
 
 
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December 11, 2013
 
It seems there we always learn more about how exercise makes for a happier and more comfortable life. Now there is information showing that regular exercise heightens the activity of genes that protect us, and suppresses the activity of those associated with disease. You can learn more in this 90 second video:
 
http://www.sharecare.com/videos/How-Exercise-Turns-On-Good-Genes-1833055622001-1950814425001/?eid=1010694651&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00
 
* * * * *
 
November 29, 2013
 
Doug Lisle, PhD, author of The Pleasure Trap, quoted in Forks Over Knives, page 86:

What we often hear is that people have become too sedentary, or too overly indulgent. But those explanations don't stand up to scientific scrutiny -- after all, there's no reason why we would suddenly be more indulgent, a lot more indulgent, than we were just twenty or thirty years ago. So it must be something else.

That ‘something else’ is what I call the pleasure trap. It's what happens when our natural psychology-- built for an ancient world where getting enough to eat was a struggle -- collides with the modern environment, which is filled to the brim with excess.

All complex animals have within them what we call the motivational triad: a three-part motivational guidance system that directs them to (1) seek out pleasure, (2) avoid pain, and (3) conserve energy. In the natural world, that meant finding the ripest foods, avoiding predators, and taking every available shortcut to save precious calories.

This system is inside every creature from a grasshopper to a gazelle, and it moves human behavior as well. The problem is that if you are smart enough, you can trick the system -- that is, you can create materials and experiences that short-circuit this machinery, so that a choice feels right, but it isn't. Today we see the effects of these tricks everywhere, from using drugs to smoking cigarettes to drinking alcohol, but the most widely used trick of all is eating highly processed foods.

The method is the same in each case. Drugs, alcohol, processed foods -- they overstimulate the pleasure mechanism, and the result is behavior that is tipped out of balance and out of control. This is the pleasure trap, where the ancient message of pleasure tells us that we are doing the right thing. But we're not.

The material in the last paragraph of the passage is discussed in great detail in the Kessler book, The End of Overeating, when the author explains how processed foods trip up brain function to lead us to desperately want to do things we know are not good ideas. I have read The End of Overeating and recommend it highly. I have not read The Pleasure Trap yet, but it looks promising. This is why it’s so important to set up your life to have fewer of these decisions to make – it’s because they are so hard to make well in our current environment.

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November 9, 2013
 
The healthier sounding options on a restaurant’s menu are sometimes only that: healthier sounding. I once analyzed the salads at a local chain restaurant and was so shocked by what I found that I looked up the information on their cheeseburger just for fun. I found that most of the salads actually made the burger look healthy by comparison! 
 
You truly don’t know what you’re eating unless you check a restaurant’s nutritional information and do the research yourself. Here’s a 90-second video on this topic that may help to drive the point home, as well as offering a helpful reminder about restaurant portions:
 
http://www.sharecare.com/videos/How-Accurate-Is-Healthy-Menu-Info-1876663737001-1878240072001/?eid=1010695973&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00
 
* * * * *
 
November 1, 2013
 
How much physical activity is enough? The article linked below gives you some guidelines to consider, and those guidelines are an excellent place to start. For many of us, these guidelines will be accurate and useful as they stand.
 
http://www.sharecare.com/health/fitness-exercise/article/do-you-need-to-step-up?eid=1010695072&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00
 
You may ask the question, "How much physical activity is enough?" and then find yourself asking, "Enough for what?"  Here are some additional questions to help you begin sorting it out.  You will be able to answer them by trying different types and levels of activity and seeing what effect they have for you:
* How much physical activity maximizes your physical mobility?
* How much minimizes your aches and pains?
* How much increases your mental clarity and lifts your mood?
* How much maximizes your strength and endurance, so you can do more fun things with your time and also remain independent far longer into your old age?
* How much maximizes your balance and ability to reduce accident-proneness?
* How much makes you feel like you've made an honest effort for yourself each day, so you can end each day feeling peaceful with yourself?
 
 * * * * *
October 20, 2013
 
Why should you make some time each week for strength training? Here’s a nice, concise explanation:
 
http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/want-to-live-longer-and-better-strength-train
 
Strength training is not only beneficial to your body in ways that aerobic exercise is not, there are psychological advantages to it as well:
 
·          It doesn’t require the sustained effort of aerobic exercise, so it’s a good choice for those days when you don’t feel as energetic. Even though you may be tired or depressed, you can still give your body some of the maintenance it needs and know that you didn’t miss a day of physical activity.   
·          You may not even break a sweat, so you don’t have to make extra time for a shower when you’re done
·          It doesn’t have to be done all at once, so you can fit in a few reps here and there through your day and eventually do a whole workout without ever having specifically made time for it.
·          It’s a day off from the rigors of aerobic exercise without being a day away from exercise. 
 
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October 16, 2013
 
Thanks to network member, Melissa, for this helpful video link. In less than two minutes, Michael Pollan offers a nice summary of how grocery stores are set up to trigger you into impulse buying of highly processed foods. The more aware you are of the setups, the more you can maintain control of what you buy and why.
 
http://www.realfarmacy.com/what-everyone-should-know-about-grocery-stores/
 
 
* * * * *
October 1, 2013
 
Nice, concise reminder of the mechanics of slowing down your eating so you can enjoy your food more, while being less likely to eat an amount that you later regret:
 
http://www.sharecare.com/health/weight-loss/article/a-simple-way-to-lose-weight?eid=1010692887&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00 
 

* * * * *

September 22, 2013
 
Here’s a helpful piece that recently aired on ABC News, featuring some of the newest work by Brian Wansink, who has been so instrumental in helping us to understand environmental factors and cues that stimulate unconscious overeating. He shows here that how you think about your portion size makes a big difference in how much you will feel inclined to eat. As usual from Wansink, brilliant stuff.
 
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2013/09/when-it-comes-to-food-portions-yes-size-does-matter/
 
* * * * *
 
September 13, 2013
 
Finally, someone is writing about how the average workplace has come to reflect our food-centric culture, contributing to the challenges of maintaining good health:
 
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/personal/balancing-act-is-your-office-making-you-fat-702430/
 
Change in workplace food patterns does not come easily, but people are happier and healthier when it does happen. If you would like to attempt some change in your workplace, you will probably encounter resistance, but you are also likely to find some kindred spirits who are relieved to find they are not the only ones wishing for a saner food environment where they spend so many hours of each day. Good luck!
 
* * * * * 
 
September 8, 2013
 
Speaking of creating our own experience, it turns out that even the body posture and positions we choose both reveal and shape who we are. You can use something as simple as position and body language to begin to sculpt the level of wellbeing you wish to have, from the inside out. Amazing and worth the 20 minutes of your time that it will take to watch this video which explains it all:
 
http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html
 
 
* * * * * 
 
August 25, 2013
 
Exercise does far more than burn calories and tone/sculpt muscles, it turns out. There is now information available to show that exercise changes how we are built and how we function at the cellular and genetic levels:
 
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/how-exercise-changes-fat-and-muscle-cells/?_r=0
 
We have long understood that who we become emotionally and spiritually is determined by the thoughts and feelings that we choose and support. We have tremendous power over the creation and quality of our psychological selves. 
 
Information such as that presented in the article linked above shows that at the most fundamental levels, our behavioral choices literally create who we are physically, along with the quality of physical life which is available for our enjoyment.
 
We each have tremendous power to create our own experience. How well have you been using this power of yours lately? If you were to create a little more quality for yourself in this week to come than you did in the week just passed, what is one small thing you could adjust to accomplish it? 
What if you did that every week? The possibilities are amazing. Your life is waiting for you...
 
 
* * * * *
 
August 19, 2013
 
Here’s a nice little article from the YOU docs, about easy ways to tweak your walks so that they are even more beneficial. Simple, useful ideas:
 
http://www.sharecare.com/health/walking/article/burn-fat-walking?eid=1010689925&memberid=28626518&_sid=bc7e4a2f-ee81-4536-b3cf-b60c131440e1&#cmpid=sceml00
 
 
* * * * *
August 10, 2013
 
Can you sidestep Alzheimer’s Disease? Maybe at least some, and here’s a good post to show you that – as always – generally healthy living is the best defense:
 
http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/can-you-sidestep-alzheimers-disease
 
* * * * *
 
July 26, 2013
 
Thanks to network member Becky for the link to this helpful article on healthy ways to cope with urges to snack at night. Simple, sensible ideas that work:
 
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9993/ditch-your-nighttime-eating-habit-for-good.html
 
 
* * * * * 
July 13, 2013
 
It is well-documented that one of the best things you can do for your own health and emotional wellbeing is to do something for others. The information below appeared in the July 1, 2013 issue of TIME magazine, on page 32. These sites make it easier than it has ever been not only to help others, but to do so in ways that are uniquely fitted to you.
 
http://www.allforgood.org
The community-service search engine offers a mobile app to link volunteers to local nonprofits and grassroots organizations.
 
http://servenet.org
Dedicated to promoting service among children and teens, the site grants $1 million each year to youth-led projects.
 
http://www.volunteermatch.org
More than 93,000 nonprofits recruit millions of volunteers through this outfit.
 
http://www.catchafire.org
Catchafire matches professionals’ skills with what volunteer organizations need most.
 
  
* * * * *
 
July 7, 2013
 
“Life is never static. Everything is either growing or dying. When you delay your diet until tomorrow or wait to quit smoking until your next birthday, you are choosing, in a day-to-day way, to follow the route of the dying.” -- Dr. Mehmet Oz
 
This is true about so many things from the way you spend your money to the company you keep, and every choice in between.  Every decision is making your life either better or worse, always.
 
I hope you choose to live today.  I hope you do it again tomorrow.  And so on. 
 
* * * * *
 
June 28, 2013
 
Here is a useful article from Harvard Health Publications. It shares several good points about the benefits of purposefully noting and appreciating the gifts and advantages of your life. We all have these gifts and advantages even during the worst, most difficult times. When we organize our energy around the assets rather than around the disappointments, it makes us stronger both physically and emotionally, in addition to positioning us to make the best of whatever our circumstances are.
 
 http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/3-ways-to-harness-positive-psychology-for-a-more-resilient-you
 
 * * * * *
 
June 24, 2013
 
“To keep the body in good health is a duty. Otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” -- Buddha 
 

* * * * * 

June 2, 2013
 
Constipation is a very common and difficult side effect of the American way of life. We move too little, most of us don't drink nearly enough water, and we eat too many things that our system just can't properly process. Combine these lifestyle choices and it's frankly shocking if you're not frequently constipated. This is definitely one of those health issues that people are shy about discussing, however, so the most common coping strategy is to suffer in silence while hoping that over-the-counter medications will save the day.
 
Here is an informative article that will help you evaluate what choices you're making that may be aggravating the problem, and what changes you can make to get back to more comfortable and healthy GI functioning:
 
http://www.sharecare.com/health/crohns-disease/article/the-facts-on-constipation
 
 
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May 31, 2013
 
Strokes: What You Need to Know
 
A stroke is the sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, which can result in temporary disability, permanent disability, or death. Symptoms that suggest the possibility of a stroke include:
 
1. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
2. Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg.
3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance and confusion.
5. Sudden and severe headache with no known cause.
 
According to the American Stroke Association, there are three things that any of us can do to briefly assess whether a person may be having a stroke:
 
1. Ask the person to “SMILE.”
2. Ask the person to “RAISE BOTH ARMS.”
3. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently). For example, “It is sunny out today.” 

If the individual has trouble with any of these tasks, it indicates neurological impairment that requires immediate medical care; you should call 911 immediately and describe all symptoms to the dispatcher.

* * * * * 

May 19, 2013
 
The experience of immigrants in this country is quite instructive as to the longer term effects of living what is now the American way of life. I invite you to read the article linked at the end of this post and consider what lessons you can take from it. Some excerpts appear immediately below:
 
...Why does life in the United States -- despite its sophisticated health care system and high per capita wages -- lead to worse health? New research is showing that the immigrant advantage wears off with the adoption of American behaviors -- smoking, drinking, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles...
 
 
...For the recently arrived, the quantity and accessibility of food speaks to the boundless promise of the United States. Esther Angeles remembers being amazed at the size of hamburgers -- as big as dinner plates -- when she first came to the United States from Mexico 15 years ago.
 
"I thought, this is really a country of opportunity," she said. "Look at the size of the food!"
 
Fast-food fare not only tasted good, but was also a sign of success, a family treat that new earnings put in reach.
 
"The crispiness was delicious," said Juan Muniz, 62, recalling his first visit to Church's Chicken with his family in the late 1970s. "I was proud and excited to eat out. I'd tell them: 'Let's go eat. We can afford it now..."
 
 
..."In Mexico, we ate healthily and didn't even know it," said Ms. Angeles, who has since developed diabetes. "Here, we know the food we eat is bad for us. We feel guilty. But we eat it anyway..."
 
 
..."And health habits in Mexico are starting to look a lot like those in the United States. Researchers are beginning to wonder how long better numbers for the foreign-born will last. Up to 40 percent of the diet of rural Mexicans now comes from packaged foods, according to Robert O. Valdez, a professor of family and community medicine and economics at the University of New Mexico
 
 
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/us/being-an-immigrant-in-us-can-be-unhealthy-688201/#ixzz2TlA626jP
 
 
* * * * * 
 
May 11, 2013
 
People often, as they begin therapy, make a joke of looking for a pill that will cure all of their emotional ills. Of course, there is no such thing, but there is something amazingly close: strenuous physical activity.
 
Physical exertion calms the central nervous system upset that is typical of anxiety, even as it stabilizes the neurotransmitters that are essential for preventing or reducing depression. It increases clarity of thinking and impulse control, while providing remarkably effective stress management.
 
Based on what we can observe and what has been verified by research, regular physical exertion has a positive impact on the vast majority of concerns that prompt people to seek out counseling and for some, would be enough to remove the need for therapy altogether. No matter what – whether you pursue therapy or not -- exercise will greatly improve your emotional position and your ability to effectively tackle the issues that trouble you.
 
If you doubt this, go out for a good, brisk walk the next time you are feeling troubled, and see how it affects you. You are likely to note that, while the problem of concern has not been solved, you feel stronger, more centered, and have a better perspective from which to begin generating solutions. Exercise may not fix everything, but it is almost guaranteed to give you some improvement. And it’s free!
 
* * * * *
 
May 4, 2013
 
Thanks to network member Janis for this contribution. Some encouraging thoughts on what really works in long-term success with your health:
 
…it’s unnecessary to overload yourself with a laundry list of changes to your routine. That’s the principle behind the “keystone” approach: you don’t need to upend your life or turn yourself inside out working toward change. You just need to be strategic about what to shift. Ultimately, it’s about letting these few changes build momentum in your life and then fueling that momentum with the energy of celebrating each small win. It’s the snowball effect at its multidimensional best.  The end result can be achieving that ultimate goal you set as well as successes you may have never envisioned…

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-small-wins-can-lead-to-big-success/#ixzz2SL1oqSzE
 

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April 29, 2013  

It’s nice to get unexpected return for your efforts. You might be gratified to know that the more healthily you eat in order to strengthen your body and stabilize your weight, the more you also protect your brain’s long-term functioning. Check out this link from the YOU docs to learn more:
 
http://www.realage.com/better-memory/brain-food-increase-brain-power?eid=X&memberid=28626518
  

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April 17, 2013
 
The following article just appeared in the Harvard Medical School newsletter. It is a helpful list of ways to get the most out of your strength training regimen, and how to keep it healthy and safe:
 
http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/7-tips-for-a-safe-and-successful-strength-training-program 

 

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April 10, 2013
 
Here’s a fascinating look at what can add up to 2000 calories. You may be surprised and frustrated at how little it really takes, but reality is what it is. It’s worth considering that the majority of people reading this blog probably need less than 2000 calories daily to maintain a healthy weight…
 
http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewgauthier/what-2000-calories-actually-looks-like
 
It will never be possible to eat as much as we’d really like to, and still have lives that feel good and work well for us. The sooner we accept that, the sooner this gets easier. 
 

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April 6, 2013
 
The YOU docs have posted a helpful reminder of why it is beneficial to be up, around, and moving whenever you can:
 
http://www.realage.com/fitness/sedentary-lifestyle-take-activity-breaks-for-health?eid=1010679456&memberid=28626518
 
Think about escalating your activity level whenever you can. What this means is increasing whatever you are doing by one level of exertion. For example:
 
If you are lying down (while doing a waking activity), could you be sitting instead?
 
If you are sitting, could you be standing instead?
 
If you are standing, could you be walking or pacing instead?
 
If you are walking, could you be walking more briskly? Could you be adding some arm movement?
 
Every little bit helps. More is generally better. Light to moderate activity that happens periodically throughout your day is the best. It’s not just about calorie burn, it’s about keeping your body’s systems up and running in the best ways that they can so that your body is more enjoyable and useful for you. 
 

* * * * *

March 26, 2013
 
This helpful link was brought to my attention by one of our members, Janis. Management of eating is most challenging with processed foods. We know such foods to be highly triggering and addictive, and we also know this is by design, due in no small part to their enhanced levels of fructose. What the material in this article shows is that high fructose levels may not only stimulate the desire to eat, but also subdue any sense of satiety which would help us to stop.
 
http://foodidentitytheft.com/excessive-fructose-may-be-making-spoiled-appetites-a-thing-of-the-past/
 
As always, the evidence continues to consistently indicate that the only real hope is to go back to a diet of whole food, for good. That is the only answer for sustained physical health and emotional peace with food.
 

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March 14, 2013
 
This article came out a few weeks ago, and is well worth a look:
 
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
 
It’s a good reminder of why we need to choose so carefully when we select what foods we will allow into our lives. Some passages from the article:
 
What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive...
 
“sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating...
 
One of Dunn’s lieutenants, Todd Putman, who worked at Coca-Cola from 1997 to 2001, said the goal became much larger than merely beating the rival brands; Coca-Cola strove to outsell every other thing people drank, including milk and water. The marketing division’s efforts boiled down to one question, Putman said: “How can we drive more ounces into more bodies more often?”…
 
He explained how he would deploy strategic storytelling in the ad campaign for this snack, using a key phrase that had been developed with much calculation: “Eat ’Em Like Junk Food.” ...The snack that Dunn was proposing to sell: carrots. Plain, fresh carrots. No added sugar. No creamy sauce or dips. No salt. Just baby carrots, washed, bagged, then sold into the deadly dull produce aisle... “We act like a snack, not a vegetable,” he told the investors. “We exploit the rules of junk food to fuel the baby-carrot conversation. We are pro-junk-food behavior but anti-junk-food establishment.”…
 
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March 1, 2013
 
“100 Reasons You Should Work Out Today” is a great little read, well worth a moment of your time:
 
http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=100_reasons_you_should_work_out_today 
 
 

* * * * *

February 16, 2013
 
Since this is truly a health blog for the “whole” you, I am happy to share a great resource for those who desire some coaching and education in the financial realm of their lives. With apologies to any male followers of this blog, this particular resource is designed by and for women. 
 
Financial wisdom leads to financial freedom, which can be a platform for many other kinds of personal freedom. It has been my observation that most people need more financial wisdom, and women in particular tend to be somewhat behind even that curve. Fortunately for all of us, someone took notice and was passionate enough about the issue to develop this site full of free resources to help any woman strengthen her financial position in life.
 
http://www.savvyladies.org
 

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February 10, 2013
 
If you’re trying your best to make healthy food decisions but are confused by all the contradictory information out there, take a look at What to Eat, by Marion Nestle. This is a comprehensive review of every food category you encounter at the grocery store (i.e., produce, dairy, frozen foods, prepared foods, etc.). The author offers common-sense advice and objective information to help you understand what you’re seeing and make choices that support the level of health you want. 
 
I consider this book a must-have for anyone trying to make sense of today’s complicated food environment. 
 
 
* * * * *
  
January 27, 2013
 
The way we live today, with our constant connectivity and addiction to technology, creates amazing conveniences and opportunities. However, the fact is that our lives as a result are noisier, more fragmented, more stressful, more cluttered, and more detached from natural inputs than we've ever experienced before. The impact of these changes shows up in every realm of our health: emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical.
 
This article from the YOU docs nicely summarizes some simple strategies to bring the volume and speed of your life back down to something you’ll likely find more manageable and enjoyable:
 
http://www.realage.com/better-memory/improve-memory-brain-boosters?eid=1010677136&memberid=28626518
 
This is good, common sense information that would be worth considering at any time, but never more so than today.
 

* * * * *

January 13, 2013
 
Thoughtful use of your time is an important component in healthy, satisfying living. The more technology we have and the more time we spend in the digital world, the less time we have for everything else we need or want to do in life.  Apparently, the amount of time we’re spending online has been rising even more dramatically in just the last few years:
 
http://www.emarketer.com/newsroom/index.php/consumers-spending-time-mobile-growth-time-online-slows/
 
If you look carefully at the table included in the article above, you’ll see that the time the average person spends on all major media has increased by slightly over an hour per day just since 2009. That’s an hour of other living that you had available just three years ago that you no longer have. An entire hour each and every day, now gone. Online activity easily makes up the majority of that change, and use of mobile devices easily accounts for the majority of that increased time online.
 
Beware of online activity that is spent in mindless pursuits, because while you are being mindless, your life is going by without you. Part of you will always know this, and you’ll feel it in chronic background stress and unease that you may then try to soothe by making eating and spending choices that ultimately make your life more difficult rather than better.
 
 
* * * * *
January 11, 2013
 
I’ve just discovered a set of short videos by Ashley Koff, a well-known dietician who speaks about food with great sanity. Each of these videos is 1-3 minutes long. They all make a lot of sense and are well worth a few moments of your time.
 
http://www.sharecare.com/healthmakers/Ashley-Koff
 
 
* * * * *

 

January 6, 2013 
 
You are enough. Consider how your life would change if you believed this to be true. 
 
Might this bring you more confidence and serenity?
 
Would the character of your self-talk change? What does it sound like now, and what do you think it would sound like then?
 
Might you make decisions differently? Which ones and in what ways? 
 
How might others treat or respond to you differently than they do now?
 
What new challenges might you be willing to try?
 
What deferred dreams might you be willing to pursue? 
 
You are enough. Practice knowing that and the better you get at it, the more your life will blossom for you.
 
You are enough. 
 
 
* * * * *
January 2, 2013
 
The YOU docs have posted another really good article on the RealAge website, available here. If you don't feel like reading the article (it's short), here is the punchline:
 
How to lose weight? Get a walking buddy (a dog, a friend, or headphones). Start slowly. Your long-term goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day. Also make these simple diet changes:
 
1. Avoid most saturated fats.
2. Avoid all trans fats.
3. Eat only 100% whole grains.
4. Eliminate added sugar.
5. Never eat sugar syrups (high fructose corn syrup is part of this felonious grouping).
 
Seriously, that would end the problem for most people, period. If you want just a few ideas to keep in mind, this is a great list.
 
 
* * * * *
 
December 24, 2012
 
We’re all getting seriously into holiday food plans at this point. Most of them will present a serious challenge to maintaining emotional balance in the act and choices of eating. It’s hard to maintain much complex strategy in the face of so many distractions and triggers, so I’ll offer a few simple points that you might find useful:
 
1.    Keep your focus as much as possible on these opportunities to share time with people you care for. Most of us take our loved ones too much for granted, too much of the time. There will always be food, but our time with each of those we love is limited. Your mindful and appreciative presence with them is the greatest gift you can give, and will do more to nurture you (and them) than food ever can.
2.    Resist the temptation to throw self-care to the winds and pick up the pieces after the holiday. You’ll ultimately be sorry you did, plus you’re unlikely to be able to pick up all of the pieces when the parties are over.
3.    Go into each food event with something of a plan, no matter what. If your plan holds together, that is grand and makes for a happier and healthier holiday experience. If your plan folds a bit or even falls apart all together, your end results will still be far better than if you had made no effort at all.
 
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December 21, 2012
 
 
I've just found a helpful page on the RealAge website (from the YOU docs) which nicely summarizes what we currently know about fibromyalgia. This could be helpful for determining whether fibro is actually a suspect for some baffling symptoms you've had for some time. If you already know you have fibro, this material is a nice validation that it is (finally) recognized as a real medical condition, and that treatment options are improving all the time.
 
You can click on the link below for more information on fibromyalgia:
 
 
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December 8, 2012
 
I couldn’t help but think of radical dieting when I came across this quote:
 
“Crash programs fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you could get a baby in a month.” -- Werner Von Braun
 
 
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November 26, 2012
 
I’ve been in numerous discussions about the much-debated recommendation that everyone try to get in 10,000 steps per day.  The usual reaction to this is along the lines of, “Ten thousand steps??  That’s a lot,” with the implication that this may be a difficult or unreasonable goal to reach.
 
It is estimated that if we all get in 10,000 steps daily, we will more closely approximate the level of physical activity that was just a normal part of life for people a few generations ago.  Those people were generally not overweight, it should be noted.  They also didn’t eat processed foods because they didn’t have them.
 
The point is, you don’t have to go back very far to find 10,000 steps per day as a benchmark for perfectly normal daily activity; nobody at the time considered it heroic or impressive, they just did it because that was what life required.  But let’s look at it in the present, because things are different now.  Ten thousand steps is approximately five miles, give or take.  That may sound like a lot, too, but it really just amounts to walking for maybe 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours daily. 
 
That may also may sound like a lot, but it really just amounts to being in physical motion (not sitting) for 1-1/2 hours a day or less.  Just moving.  Just being upright.  For 90 minutes or less of your 18-hour day.  That’s all it is. 
 
We can do this. 
 
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November 20, 2012

 
The following information is shared with the kind permission of The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
 
The Relaxation Response
 
The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes your physical and emotional responses to stress. It is a state that you can generate when you choose, and when you do, it has the following beneficial effects:
 
·          Your metabolism slows.
·          Your heart rate slows.
·          Your blood pressure is lowered.
·          Your breathing slows.
·          Your muscles loosen and relax.
·          Your thought process slows and becomes more focused.
·          Your anxiety is noticeably reduced.
 
Producing the relaxation response is actually quite easy. There are two essential steps:
 
1.   Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity.
 
2.   Passive disregard of everyday thoughts that inevitably come to mind and the return to your repetition.
 
 
The following is the generic technique taught at the Benson-Henry Institute:
 
1.   Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer that is firmly rooted in your belief system, such as "one," "peace," "The Lord is my shepherd," "Hail Mary full of grace," or "shalom."
 
2.   Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
 
3.   Close your eyes.
 
4.   Relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, head, and neck.
 
5.   Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, say your focus word, sound, phrase, or prayer silently to yourself as you exhale.
 
6.   Assume a passive attitude. Don't worry about how well you're doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, "Oh well," and gently return to your repetition.
 
7.   Continue for ten to 20 minutes.
 
8.   Do not stand immediately. Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.
 
9.   Practice the technique once or twice daily. Good times to do so are before breakfast and before dinner.
 
Regular practice of the relaxation response has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders. In fact, to the extent that any disease is caused or made worse by stress, the relaxation response can help.
 
Other techniques for evoking the relaxation response are:
 
·          Imagery
·          Progressive muscle relaxation
·          Repetitive prayer
·          Mindfulness meditation
·          Repetitive physical exercises
·          Breath focus
  

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November 9, 2012

 
In our increasingly hectic lives, it is more important than ever to be an active, involved member on your own healthcare team. No one knows your needs better than you do, and no one has more stake in the outcome than you do. It is therefore essential that you communicate clearly and assertively with your doctor when you need medical services. Here are some simple tips from the YOU docs on how to have a purposeful, effective appointment every time.
 
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November 2, 2012

Here is an interesting thought about sleep from the Harvard Medical School Healthbeat newsletter (November 1, 2012):

"It makes sense that getting less sleep than you need might leave you feeling tired, but you may be surprised to learn that getting more sleep than you need may not leave you refreshed and energized. In fact, many people find that on days when they hit the snooze button more times than usual, they feel more lethargic and unmotivated."

"Research bears out the connection between too much sleep and too little energy. It appears that any significant deviation from normal sleep patterns can upset the body's rhythms and increase daytime fatigue. The best solution is to figure out how many hours of sleep are right for you and then stick with it — even on weekends, vacations, and holidays."

The above excerpt is from the article, Are you tired from... too much sleep?  You can click on the title to see the entire article; you'll have to scroll down a bit once you get to the page.

Quality sleep is essential for everyone, but is especially important for overeaters.  When you are overly fatigued (from either too much, too little, or poor quality sleep), you will have more urges to overeat and less motivation to move.  Your body will shift into fat-storage mode and if you are depressed, you are likely to become more so.  It all creates a vicious cycle in which many of your greatest health concerns will be exacerbated.  Protecting the quality of your sleep is one way to break the cyle.

 

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October 27, 2012

It has recently come to my attention that some of my clients have had gallbladder problems and even gallbladder removal as a result of rapid weight loss tactics they’d used in the past.  The cases that have been shared with me involved extreme dieting including the use of prepackaged foods from nationally known weight-loss programs.  I have since learned that bariatric surgery is also associated with gallbladder problems for some people.

Learning of this new (to me) threat to those with eating issues, I had to find out more, and wanted to assure that I was getting information from a highly credible source.  What I found was the Weight-control Information Network (WIN).  WIN is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which in turn is a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
 
It turns out that rapid weight loss, regardless of method, puts the gallbladder at risk.  Unfortunately, being overweight puts the gallbladder at risk, as well.  It seems to have to do with the gallbladder being unable to process as much cholesterol as is going through the system, which results in gallstones.  Gallstones may be benign and silent, or may become serious enough to necessitate surgery.  Here is an excerpt from the page I linked above (emphasis is mine):
 
"Weight-loss dieting increases the risk of developing gallstones. People who lose a large amount of weight quickly are at greater risk than those who lose weight at a slower pace. Rapid weight loss may also cause silent gallstones (painless gallstones) to become symptomatic. Studies have shown that people who lose more than 3 pounds per week may have a greater risk of developing gallstones than those who lose weight at slower rates.
 
"A very low-calorie diet (VLCD) allows a person who is obese to quickly lose a large amount of weight. VLCDs usually provide about 800 calories per day in food or liquid form, and are followed for 12 to 16 weeks under the supervision of a health care professional. Studies have shown that 10 to 25 percent of people on a VLCD developed gallstones. These gallstones were usually silent—they did not produce any symptoms. About one-third of the dieters who developed gallstones, however, did have symptoms and some of these required gallbladder surgery."
 
Rapid weight loss can induce a gallbladder attack within a matter of weeks in susceptible individuals.  Because people vary greatly, the same extreme diet that causes no trouble for one person can land another in the operating room.  The fact that some people can do it without apparent consequence does not mean it’s a good idea, but merely that some people will be able to push the odds and escape unharmed.
 
This all reinforces the notion that the body needs to be treated reasonably and with care, regardless.  Yes, you’ve got to get some excess weight off, for many compelling reasons related to health and quality of life.  Doing so by extreme means, however, is just as abusive to the body as the overeating that put the weight there in the first place.  Feed and move your body in ways that make sense, do it consistently over time, and the weight that can come off will do so safely.  Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it’s the only thing that really works for the long term, and is the only way to true peace with both body and food.

 

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October 19, 2012

No time for exercise?  Click here for some great tips from the YOU docs.

 

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October 10, 2012

Click here for important information from the YOU docs about simple strategies that are always worthwhile in holding diabetes at bay if you are at risk.
 
As always seems to be the case, these are strategies that make sense for everyone anyway and reliably result in much higher quality living.  You can’t go wrong following these recommendations.


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October 7, 2012

The simple act of walking confers medical and emotional benefits that are almost hard to believe, yet have been proven to be true.  According to an article in The Journal of Neuroscience, a brisk, daily walk (enough to boost your heart rate and make you break a sweat) will help you in the following ways:
 
General benefits:
  • Weight loss and maintenance
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Improved stamina
  • Better aerobic fitness
  • Enhanced immune system function
  • Increased volume of grey and white brain matter
 
Reduced risk of:
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Multiple cancers
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
 
Reduced severity of:
  • MS symptoms (enabling higher physical functioning)
  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Hot flashes
 
If you have any concern about how to start a safe, effective walking program, consult your family doctor, who will be thrilled to help you get started.

 

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September 29, 2012

Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink, is an excellent book which I highly recommend. 

While not tailored specifically to the needs of compulsive overeaters, the book contains a wealth of relevant information about the ways that we naturally relate to food and make food choices.  It then looks at how these natural tendencies are working against us in our current environment of easy access to excessive amounts of high-calorie food.  The unfortunate result is that as much as we know we are overeating, it turns out that we consistently underestimate our intake, so it’s actually worse than it appears.  No wonder weight management seems impossible.

Dr. Wansink clarifies the many ways that our habits and environment set us up to fail without us ever realizing it.  He then offers many easy, small adjustments that anyone can make to automatically reduce calorie intake without even feeling the difference.  As he says in the book, “The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” 

This book is a very easy, enjoyable, often humorous read, which will put in you in a much stronger position for managing your weight.

 

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September 22, 2012

We’ve all experienced muscular tension during stressful times, and usually find it frustrating to be unable to find relief.  The muscles in question are ones that we can usually control voluntarily, yet we cannot will them to relax when they are in this condition.

Well, it turns out that your brain hasn’t lost total contact with these muscles when you’re stressed, after all.  While you may be temporarily unable to command them to release, you will find that – against all logic – you can still command them to tense further.  Choosing to clench muscles that are already tight helps your brain to “find” them again.  Once you have successfully clenched a muscle harder, you will find that you can now give the “relax” command to it and actually get some response. 

It may take several clench/release cycles to work the tension out of a muscle, but it is very effective.  Repeat as necessary.


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September 14, 2012

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, by Dr. David Kessler, is a book that needs to go on your must-read list if you have eating issues.  This book is full of information that gives you the science (in readable terms) behind how our population has gotten so out of control with food.  The author also offers clear rationale for the strategies that will help you regain your balance with food.  As it happens, everything in this book validates the therapy used at my practice, but I thought the book was excellent even before I saw how perfectly it aligns with what I believe to be necessary and effective treatment.

What follows is the synopsis from the book’s cover, along with additional information on the author: 

“Most of us know what it feels like to fall under the spell of food -- when one slice of pizza turns into half a pie, or a handful of chips leads to an empty bag.  But it's harder to understand why we can't seem to stop eating -- even when we know better.  When we want so badly to say "no," why do we continue to reach for food?”

“Dr. David Kessler, the dynamic former FDA commissioner who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry, now reveals how the food industry has hijacked the brains of millions of Americans.  The result?  America's number-one public health issue.  Dr. Kessler cracks the code of overeating by explaining how our bodies and minds are changed when we consume foods that contain sugar, fat, and salt.  Food manufacturers create products by manipulating these ingredients to stimulate our appetites, setting in motion a cycle of desire and consumption that ends with a nation of overeaters.”

“The End of Overeating explains for the first time why it is exceptionally difficult to resist certain foods and why it's so easy to overindulge.  Dr. Kessler met with top scientists, physicians, and food industry insiders.  The End of Overeating uncovers the shocking facts about how we lost control over our eating habits -- and how we can get it back.  Dr. Kessler presents groundbreaking research, along with what is sure to be a controversial view inside the industry that continues to feed our nation -- from popular brand manufacturers to advertisers, chain restaurants, and fast food franchises.”

“For the millions of people struggling with weight as well as for those of us who simply don't understand why we can't seem to stop eating our favorite foods, Dr. Kessler's cutting-edge investigation offers new insights and useful tools to help us find a solution.  There has never been a more thorough, compelling, or in-depth analysis of why we eat the way we do.”

DAVID A. KESSLER, MD, served as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  He is a pediatrician and has been the dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco.  A graduate of Amherst College, the University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Kessler is the father of two and lives with his wife in California.

 

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