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Nutrition and wellness is tasteful

  • Exercise

    Exercise is a benefit to every part of the body--mind included.

    Exercise makes you look better, lose weight, and lowers your risk of many chronic diseases, and slows down aging.

  • Healthy children, healthy life

    "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces--just good food from fresh ingredients."
    --Julia Child

    "If we're not willing to settle for 'junk living,' we shouldn't settle for junk food."
    --Sally Edwards

  • Food is medicine

    "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine."

    "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
    --Michael Pollen

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Stages of Change: Break a Habit, Achieve a Goal, Transform Your Life

The human condition leads people to be in constant flux. One can look back on his or her life and see the changes that have been made along the way from how we handle tough situations with friends or family to how we have resolved to live healthier lives by eating right and exercising.

Hence, we come to the stages of change -- otherwise known as the Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM) -- which involve a multistage process embraced by many behavior-change experts. This model which came about in the early 1980s has led many people to reevaluate their expectations and find ways to best support themselves to reaching the goals they intend to keep. 

The creator of the TTM process, James O. Prochaska, PhD, brings to light the fact that when it comes to making big changes in our lives that just doing it is definitely not easy and can certainly lead to discouragement and even quitting the attempt for change all together. How many times have you heard of people wanting to lose 10, 15, 20 or more pounds as a New Year's Resolution? How many have actually done it? It's not easy for sure!

As the six-stage model discussed in the article explores, one needs to be not only prepared, but emotionally ready to just do it. As we all know, good behavior change does not happen over night but instead goes from taking two steps backwards to taking one step forward then back again. These stages of change can easily apply to everything from wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle to targeting goals at work to even improving relationships within your inner circle of friends and family.

Start the stages with:

1)Precontemplation: In this first stage people simply undervalue the benefit of changing and see more cons than pros. It's good to at least get them to start seeing the benefits of making a change. At this stage, you just don't want to do it (i.e., eating healthier, exercising more, spending less time watching TV) -- even if your doctor or family member highly recommends it.

2) Contemplation: In this stage, at least there has been some serious thought to making change and there is even more serious consideration to making a change. The tricky part in the process is moving from a place of not wanting to change at all to beginning to see the benefits to changing. 

3) Preparation: In preparation, there is more of a decisive action to finding ways to change and by doing so the encouragement of others is helpful. 

4) Action: At this stage, the person is pretty much on board with going forth to make a full commitment to change. Having support is absolutely important to solidify good plans for action success. It is helpful to have a buddy be a support system and even hold the person accountable.

5) Maintenance: In this stage, the person who has attempted to make the change has succeeded for at least 6 months. Once again, this is a great time to seek out good personal reinforcements to stay on target with the action plan. 

6) Termination: This is the last and final stage and one that is long lasting. At this point, the particular habit or behavior to change has been done for at least 2 years. Here the change is fully implemented and there is no going back to how things were!

These stages are good reference points to look upon and determine where you are in the behavior change process. Regardless, no matter what stage you are in, its a good reminder to keep up with reaching positive life-changing goals. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

We NEED a healthy dose of lifestyle medicine

Numerous attempts of attaining, keeping and maintaining good health and wellbeing is at the top of many people's minds. How could it not when there is so much information in the media with regard to the right diet to follow or the correct cholesterol level that we should have or what the right blood pressure is for you....the list is endless. 

According to Asseem Malhotra, a cardiologist at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, "governments have issued 'low fat' dietary advice, while consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates has soared. The result has been twin epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity". Along with all of that, don't forget that there will be a hefty-sized bill attached to that elusive medical finding.

Furthermore, he believes that a myth exists regarding the dangers of saturated fat which "should" be removed in order to minimize cardiovascular disease. Once again, a myth. He also believes that millions of people have been wrongly overmedicated with statins for lowering cholesterol levels. Instead, he looks at how sugar has caused such problems in the role of diabetes.

On the topic of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, it seems that its management has been counterintuitive for quite a long time. The current understanding of this disease is that it is both a chronic and irreversible condition. This can be seen as quite debatable and even incorrect. The recent findings about diabetes is that it is treated with drugs that are expensive. Additionally, these drugs may work only slightly to reduce complications from kidney, eye and nerve disease as well a bring a host of side effects that can tack on about 100,000 emergency room visits a year in the United States alone.

Another finding and more meaningful conclusion with regard to medical research was made by John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and health policy at Stanford University, stating that the most published medical research is likely to be incorrect. "The greater the financial interests in a given field, the less likely the research findings are to be true".

There is no doubt -- and it has been proven by recognizable, reliable sources -- that combining a nutritious diet with the right type of exercise and stress reduction is compelling enough evidence to ward off chronic disease and even slow the aging process. To learn more about why a healthy dose of lifestyle medicine is the best medicine, refer to documentary film, The Big Fat Fix, with the co-producer being the author of this article, Asseem Malhotra. Another great resource is found in the Blue Zones, a study on longevity which was begun in 2004 by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author. Eat well, be well.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Persuasively Making Human Behavior Change

Our society today has become more and more dependent upon the use of our phones, computers, iPads and the latest application to simplify our lives. The challenge to meeting the needs of all of these systems is to make sense on utilizing them to our best advantage. How can we use our iPhones and our computing systems to influence and change human behavior?  
Through the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, the design of mobile phone software could be used to persuasively change the instilled behaviors of people! The thought of these computing machines being designed to inform and influence human behavior can sound intimidating, but in looking at the outcomes of what a positive behavior change can lead to -- a healthier and more productive life -- it seems quite worth it, don't you think?

As mentioned in the website, the study of persuasive technology started in the 1990s at Stanford University and the lab was founded in 1998. BJ Fogg began his work with various psychology methods to display how computers can actually change people's behaviors and thoughts in foreseeable ways. 

Today some of the projects that have been developed work with behavior design and how behavior change is influenced. Other projects include behavior wizard, mobile health, the psychology of Facebook and Peace Innovation. These are some good tools to invest in with regard to our everyday technology use and ways to create healthier lifestyle opportunities.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Being Overweight Ages People's Brains

There is so much to know and learn yet about the complexities of obesity and what it does to our bodies and our minds. This particular article hits on some remarkable information with regard to how a person's brain actually ages more rapidly if they are overweight as opposed to being of a healthier weight.

"The brains of overweight people look "10 years older" than those of leaner peers, a study has found". Isn't that simply another excellent reason to make every attempt to lead a healthier lifestyles by maintaining a healthy weight?

Apparently as we age it is a natural process that our brains lose white matter. This white matter is a crucial part of the brain that allows for important information to be transmitted and processed which ultimately leads to our having a better understanding of a concept for example.

Another finding published in the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging found great differences in the brain's white matter in overweight versus leaner candidates, particularly as people reach middle-age.

In short, more research still needs to be conducted to provide a better understanding of how obesity interacts with the aging process of the brain. Can changes be reversed by simply losing weight? After all, there is evidence that telomeres (compound structures at the end of a chromosome) naturally shorten as we age, but how do our lifestyle factors play into our health and longevity? Is there a correlation between the brain's white matter and telomeres that better determines our brain health and overall health?

Some food for thought....

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Body, New Mind, New Medicine

In this fascinating article by physician Deepak Chopra, the relationship of mind and body can and should be seen as having definite overlapping ties. The mind-body connection is one that takes some serious thought and commitment to attempt to understand, but it is clear that we are most definitely intricate beings.

It does seem amazing that at a time in our current complex world, more and more discoveries are being uncovered as to why and how our environment plays a significant role in the way we live, how we think and how we carry on with our lives in general. The health of our physical bodies only is a fraction of what we strive for and what we need in the quest for wellness -- there is so much more.

The following principles outlined in this article are so important for our wellbeing, but somehow they really don't make an impact on the way a physician leads his/her practice. Here are a few examples:
  • All the cells in our body are meant to communicate with our brain in one way or another. These  messages or signals are activated by how we think, feel, our moods, what our expectations are and what we believe.
  • Our own life experiences get processed in the same way that our bodies process/metabolize foods, air, water and physical toxins. Isn't it true that we have better days than others? What makes that so? It is in paying attention to what our daily experiences are and applying that to how it was different from yesterday as an example.
  • The cells in our bodies have a purpose and a particular design that makes them functional and dynamic. Hence, it's clear that by taking care of our bodies, we take care of our cells.
  • There is no doubt that our lifestyle choices are paramount in the way we live our lives. Most of the time, our lifestyle choices can determine how healthy or ill we will be in the future. There are always exceptions to the rule, but by in large, the "cleaner" you live, the better off you will be.
  • Our genes are in a constant change to what we experience everyday and how well we live. So, the better our habits are -- the better off we will be. If we eat at McDonald's everyday (as seen in the movie, Supersize Me) as opposed to eating more organic, plant-based foods, we will feel different and even look and perform differently. If we exercise daily as opposed to being completely sedentary, our bodies will respond appropriately.
  • Yes, and if we only knew at what point it is in our living that we saw and felt more positive and "alive", that can make an enormous difference in how we live! But, how do we get to that point if there aren't enough positive experiences in our lives?
  • Lastly, so much of how we lead our days is how we see ourselves and how we feed our bodies and brains. By starting our day off with positive mental practices, we have more opportunity to make a success of our day!
So much of how we lead our lives has to do with the quality by which we live our lives on a daily basis. So how can we transform our bodies and our minds to have better quality experiences? The way our minds and bodies work together is meant to be of the highest quality. The quest for living our healthiest lives is within our reach -- it really is a matter of a mix of the best ingredients which consists of psychology, research studies, wisdom and willingness to understand. A work in progress....

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The difference between health coach and dietitian

A health coach in a sense can be seen as a health educator and promoter and helps to shape an individual to reach their best self by involving them in their own journey of life. A registered dietitian is a trained nutrition professional with knowledge gained through strict educational standards. They can counsel and support their clients to make suitable changes to their eating habits and advocate health and assist with chronic illness prevention. A health coach can add much needed value to that process through well-grounded lifestyle and weight management processes along with effectively building trust and rapport with the client. A long-term goal, such as leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, but it is a continuous process that needs to be nourished and supported by making good choices. Who doesn’t need support to do the right thing as much as possible, right?

So much of what a health coach does involves not only coaching, but providing guidance to their clients by helping them to set appropriate goals. By motivating, educating, supporting and progressing them to the next level of a well-balanced lifestyle, clients can attain their personal goals. There is an abundance of lifestyle factors that make up a healthy individual after all.

A health coach is not meant to replace a nutritionist or dietitian, but works to enhance and support these nutritional professionals with a healthy knowledge of exercise, behavior and nutrition sciences. A current and astoundingly large number of diabetes and pre-diabetes (along with a host of other chronic diseases) should be enough to lead a collaborative effort for the empowerment of healthy lifestyle change, wouldn't you say?

Check out the following article written by a holistic health & nutrition coach, accredited exercise physiologist & clinical pilates teacher that further explains some of the differences between health coaches, dietitians and nutritionists.

11 Science-backed Ways to Build Permanent Habits

Do you ever stop and think about why we do the things we do? It seems that most of us have routines that we follow simply to keep us on track and moving. Moving to get to work, moving to get the kids to school, moving to get the house cleaned or cook a meal -- these habits have become so ingrained in us that we really don't stop and think about them.
But what if we wanted to change something about the way we complete a task or not do something that will lead us down a rabbit hole that we don't really want to go down at all! It doesn't necessarily have to be a food item that throws us off track so much as how we got to that temptation in the first place. If we typically run out of time at the end of the day to make dinner for instance and this is something that happens frequently, how can we change that from happening? 
Regardless, after a long day most of us are tired from not only work, but other things that need to get done as well. How about prepping meals ahead of time? Having a variety of fruits and vegetables at hand when we get home? Instead of heading to the cookie jar, why not grab an apple instead?
1) Let people in on what you are up to and be accountable. Yes, there is an app for that!
2) Start using an app that keeps you on track with your tasks, intentions, goals...Track your goals with the Strides app.
3) See yourself already doing a habit -- visualization is important.
4) If you've got a "lofty goal" like losing 20 pounds by the time the holidays roll around, break it down into manageable small habits. 
5) Be consistent and track what you do. If it's more fruits and veggies to add to your diet, track the different varieties you add to your daily diet.
6) Incentivize yourself! If you want to plan on running 3 x's a week, treat yourself to a massage or a movie after the first month of completing your goal.
7) Have an affirmation that you practice daily. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you can and you will!
8) Write down the progress you've made. It's like someone saying that they can quit smoking or drinking on their own? What is to say that a difficult time in that person's life won't throw them off track! 
9) Try to get rid of negative habits/triggers. If you know that someone brings donuts to work on Fridays and you just can't resist, try brushing your teeth first. Brushing your teeth is a good preventative measure.
10) Make a bet with someone that will keep you honest. If you want to form a good habit, let someone know and make a bet on keeping your goal, otherwise prepare to lose a few bucks! It has been said that it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, so why not place a wager on that by using the 21 day habit app.
11) Avoid emotional triggers. If something or someone sets you off your course, take a deep breath and remember your much-anticipated new healthy habit with an affirmation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Evidence that Sugar Calories are worse than other calories

Sugar is one of those ingredients that simply draws us to it and this can be readily seen by the foods we crave. We are even born to have a taste for it, but as most of us know (or should know) it can be quite deadly for our health. Sugar just "kills" us off little by little and that can be seen in chronic metabolic diseases.

There is new evidence though that sugar indeed is worse than other calories. Just read about this new evidence here...