Shares information about a common cause of high blood pressure that often gets ignored but which can be addressed using a natural approach. More »
I’ve recently received many questions about whether or not Green Coffee Extract and Raspberry Ketones actually work. These questions multiplied after a well-known MD with a nationally-syndicated television show promoted these supplements. More »
The CDC estimates that 29% of adults (one in three) in the US have high blood pressure.1 Unfortunately, many people who have high blood pressure are not aware of it. The National Institutes of Health defines high blood pressure as any pressure above 149/90, and prehypertension as any pressure above 120/80. It is common for doctors to put their patients on medications while they are in the prehypertension phase without encouraging any lifestyle changes, even though multiple studies proved lifestyle changes can be as effective as medication for lowering blood pressure.2
I want to be very clear that high blood pressure must be treated. Period. Allowing chronic blood pressure to remain elevated and untreated can lead to permanent physical damage and may result in death. The potential dangers of high blood pressure means it can be dangerous to refuse high blood pressure medication when a physician prescribes it. My encouragement is to use the medication while making lifestyle changes, and to then work with your physician to determine whether or not you can reduce the dose. Consider the medication a potentially temporary necessity. Reversing high blood pressure requires a commitment to making multiple lifestyle and eating style changes, but many people are able to work with their physician to reduce or sometimes eliminate their blood pressure medication after making the changes.
High blood pressure always has a cause. Mainstream medicine often addresses the symptom without taking time to determine its cause. My personal philosophy is that it is imperative to figure out WHY a symptom developed in order to correctly address it. Potential causes of high blood pressure vary, but may include (among other things) food allergies, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, cardiac disease, high blood sugar, insufficient cellular oxygen, and many others. If diagnosed with high blood pressure, accept the prescription and then work with your physician to determine why your body raised blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t just happen. The body always has a specific reason for raising blood pressure. Take time to figure out the cause.
Sadly, medical literature rarely mentions the most common root cause of hyptertension: Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells stop absorbing insulin the way they should. This may occur due to chronic high blood sugars, excess consumption of sugars and high-glycemic carbohydrates, or other metabolic imbalances. When the body produces high amounts of insulin over a long period of time, the body’s cells can become “overwhelmed” by all the insulin and stop absorbing insulin in the quantities the body needs. Insulin is an inflammatory chemical, so the cell’s reduced absorption of insulin is a protective measure, but Insulin Resistance can have devastating results including elevated blood sugars, magnesium deficiency, vision problems, and more. For more information on the potentially negative effects of insulin, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin.
Insulin resistance may cause the following situations, each of which can cause high blood pressure:
- The cell’s refusal to absorb the insulin in the blood stream means the blood stream contains excess insulin. Insulin is extremely inflammatory, so the excess insulin in the blood stream may cause blood vessels to become inflamed. It is harder for the heart to pump blood through inflamed blood vessels, so this situation can quickly increase the pressure inside the vessels and may lead to measurable high blood pressure.
- When insulin is not adequately utilized, the blood stream may also become filled with excess sugar. Sugar is highly acidic and causes inflammation. In the presence of high blood sugar, the body will elevate blood pressure to help it more efficiently attempt to lower the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Raising blood pressure also helps the body more efficiently carry oxygen to the tissues.
- One of insulin’s primary functions is to carry magnesium into the cells. If the body reduces the amount of insulin it absorbs, the body’s cells therefore cannot absorb the amount of magnesium they require. magnesium’s most important job is to relax the blood vessels to maintain normal blood pressure. When a person is deficient in magnesium, it is likely the person will develop high blood pressure. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes usually have insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. They therefore have a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure. Some doctors automatically prescribe blood pressure medication to their diabetic patients. These physicians assume there is no way to avoid high blood pressure in the presence of any form of diabetes. They are wrong. As someone who has had Type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years, I know high blood pressure can be avoided and/or reversed because I’ve done both.
- Excess insulin can cause water retention. When water is retained in the tissues, it is more difficult for the heart to push blood through the vessels. The body therefore raises blood pressure to pump the blood more efficiently through tissues experiencing water retention..
Many people who have hypertension also have Insulin Resistance. I believe there is no such thing as “hereditary” high blood pressure. As the old adage states: Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. (Anonymous.)
So what lifestyle changes can potentially benefit insulin sensitivity and high blood pressure? Here are my top three starting recommendations:
- Exercise! Even ten minutes of exercise (three to five times weekly) is known to improve insulin sensitivity for four or more hours.
- Eliminate most grains and sugars (including natural ones) for one to three months. Grains are metabolized into simple sugars that can make insulin resistance worse. Eliminating grains and sugars can help the body re-set its insulin sensitivity. This dietary change, combined with other lifestyle changes, can help the body lower blood pressure.
- Discuss with your physician the possibility of taking daily magnesium and/or potassium. (Take a form of magnesium other than oxide, as it cannot be absorbed by the body and is worthless as anything except a laxative.) Magnesium and potassium are known to help relax the blood vessels and may help reduce blood pressure. For more information on the importance of magnesium, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
The above steps are merely a starting point. There are other options that may help. If you have high blood pressure and wish to lower it using natural methods, please find a natural practitioner who can assist you. Until then, please keep taking your blood pressure medication and make sure your blood pressure stays within normal limits.
1: Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V, Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the US: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 133. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2013.
Most of us find it easy to make good choices when we’re at home and only have healthy options to choose from. Since never leaving the house is not a reasonable option, we need to find easy ways to make positive choices when eating out. Questions about eating out are one of the most common questions I receive. I have many suggestions that can help. and have shared them below. Please note that these suggestions are not directly related to those with food allergies, but all of the suggestions can fit within pre-existing restrictions due to food allergies and other health issues.
Top Ten Suggestions for Making Healthy Choices When Eating Out:
- Order a side salad with dressing on the side as an appetizer and eat it before ordering: The salad will fill you up and keep your hands busy, allowing you to leisurely peruse the menu and enjoy time spent with friends. Many people overeat simply because they feel they need to “keep busy” in a social setting. Eating a salad therefore meets a variety of needs. The salad will also make it easier to not gorge yourself once dinner arrives, or to share a single entree with a friend.
- Ask the server to skip the before-dinner bread (or chips): No one needs that much bread or chips prior to dinner. Ask your server to not deliver the bread, or to only bring one slice of bread per person. You’ll wind up being able to enjoy your entree more as a result. Not eating the bread will also greatly reduce your carbohydrate consumption for the evening.
- Ask the server to bring real butter instead of margarine: Most restaurants have real butter available, but serve margarine due to the common myth that margarine is “healthier.” Real butter is far healthier than the hydrogenated oils in margarine. Go for it! (For more information about myths related to fat consumption, read: Why You Need to Eat More Fat.)
- Stick to the basics: Opt for a salad, steak and vegetable; fish and rice; etc. Try to avoid veggies covered in cheese or other sauce. Keep it simple. Whole food is delicious!
- Ask to have all sauces and dressings served on the side,and request a side of olive oil: Sauces are delicious, but often contain MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial additives and more. Asking to have sauces served on the side allows you to use less, especially if you blend half of the sauce with a portion of the olive oil. If you want to skip the high fructose corn syrup and soy oil used in most commercial salad dressings, use olive oil as your dressing and squeeze a lemon over it to add more flavor and a bit of zing.
- When meals include two or more choices from a list of side dishes, choose veggies and salad as your sides: You’ll benefit from the added nutrition from the veggies and from not eating as many carbohydrates and artificial additives. If guacamole is an option and the restaurant makes it instead of using a commercial product, choosing the guac is a great way to load up on healthy fats and nutrients. Guacamole is also very filling, so it can help prevent overeating.
- Ask the server to bring a “to go” box as soon as the meal is served: Since most restaurant meals are huge, you should be able to box up half your meal before taking the first bite and still wind up feeling full and satisfied. The bonus is that you wind up having tomorrow’s lunch ready to go!
- If ordering cocktails, drink a distilled liquor with soda water instead of beer or wine: Beer and wine have high amounts of sugars, carbohydrates and yeasts, all of which can wreak havoc with blood sugars, digestion and more. A single shot of distilled liquor (vodka, tequila, rum, etc.) served in soda water with a wedge of lemon or lime will have fewer negative effects. Sticking to a single cocktail will help diminish the negative effects of the alcohol. Better yet, skip the alcohol completely and order water!
- Choose broth-based soups instead of cream soups: You’ll save on calories, sugars and artificial additives. You may find your digestion also improves.
- Cut yourself some slack: Assuming you don’t eat out five days a week, give yourself permission to splurge once in a while. When you splurge, enjoy every bite to the fullest and move on without looking back. Sometimes it’s ok to splurge. If you make great choices 90% of the time, a few splurges won’t do irreparable harm. Give yourself permission to splurge and don’t beat yourself up about it!
What suggestions do you have for making healthier choices in restaurants?
For more information about Dr. Pamela Reilly and her innovative approach to wellness and chronic disease, please visit her Facebook page.
The word “exercise” has many negative connotations for many people. My preference is to stop using the dreaded “E” word and replace it with “fun, sweaty activity.” Getting over our emotional hangups related to exercise can be the first step toward creating a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. If we learn to look forward to movement instead of dreading it, we are much more likely to continue having fun, sweaty activity.
We also need to give up our rigid ideas about what types of activities can be considered “exercise.” In the simplest sense, any form of movement is exercise. We should all engage in some form of movement on a daily basis, with an effort to engage in higher levels of fun, sweaty activity at least three times a week. If going to the gym bores you, but you feel alive when you dance, then dance! Activities such as gardening, chasing our children or grandchildren, playing fetch with the dog, dancing, shopping (at a rapid pace), riding a motorcycle, having sex, and more can all be considered valid forms of exercise. (I’m sure you’ll agree some of those are a lot more fun than others!)
We all know we need to exercise, yet many of us have a hard time committing fitting exercise into our daily routine.
My advice for starting and sticking to scheduled exercise is to:
- Find something you enjoy doing.
- Schedule exercise in your calendar just as you do other commitments.
- Exercise with a friend to increase the fun and hold you accountable.
Surprising Benefits of Exercise
We are all aware of the basic benefits of exercise. There are other benefits which deserve attention but are rarely mentioned. The following list includes ten measurable benefits of exercise which often get ignored:
- Insulin Sensitivity: Exercise is an effective way to make the body’s cells more receptive to insulin. Even ten minutes of exercise can improve insulin sensitivity for eight hours or more. Insulin resistance, also known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X, is a leading cause of obesity in the US and other developed countries. Getting even a small amount of exercise is the first step toward improving your body’s metabolic health. For more information about this topic, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin or Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance.
- “Feel Good” Hormones: Have you heard of a “runner’s high?” It occurs because physical activity increases levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Those chemicals are mood boosters that greatly improve mental outlook. In other words, they are “feel good” chemicals. The natural rush of feel good hormones that occurs during exercise is a benefit of exercise that is often overlooked. It is also a great motivator. Exercise is a wonderful way of improving the health of body, mind and spirit. Scientists at Harvard University found regular exercise to be more effective than antidepressant medications for the treatment of depression in some people. (Some forms of depression are due to imbalances which require medication. Please work with a physician to find the best combination of therapies for your personal situation.)
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Even tiny amounts of non-strenuous exercise and movement have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One more reason to start scheduling weekly times of movement!
- Bone Density: Weight-bearing and muscle-building exercise has an effect on bone density and is known to strengthen bones. Whether you run on a treadmill or wear two-pound wrist weights for a few hours, those activities are known to improve bone density.
- Detoxification and Cleansing: Sweat is one of the body’s best cleansers and detoxifiers. As we exercise, the blood flow to internal organs supports the body’s own efforts to eliminate toxins. For more information about detoxification and cleansing, please read How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis, How to Tell You Need to Detoxify, How Does the Body Detoxify Itself, and How to Tell You Need to Detoxify.
- Memory: Regular exercise is known to improve neurotransmitter function in the brain and to improve memory. It is a simple truth that those who exercise have a better memory than those who do not.
- Maintaining Heathy Skin: Exercise improves blood flow to the skin’s surface, which has been shown to improve the skin’s overall health and appearance. Exercise’s detoxifying effects also benefit the skin.
- Digestion: Many people do not realize that a few minutes of exercise can improve digestion for several days. It does so by building abdominal muscles and increasing the quantities of digestive enzymes secreted while eating. Good digestion requires strong contractions of the muscles surrounding the stomach. Strengthening those muscles directly improves digestion by making the contractions more efficient and more effective. For some people, engaging in regular movement also reduces constipation.
- Increase Metabolism: Your body’s metabolic rate is dependent upon your muscle mass. Doing muscle-building exercise increases the body’s resting metabolic rate, which increases your metabolism. People who have a high amount of muscle mass also have a high metabolic rate. This means they burn more calories while lying still than other people do. Doing small amounts of muscle building activities each week can greatly improve your body’s metabolic rate.
- Hormones: For both men and women, regular movement and exercise has a balancing effect on hormones. Men who regularly exercise tend to have fewer symptoms of “Low T,” and women who exercise usually have fewer symptoms of PMS and pass through menopause with fewer negative side effects.
Are you feeling more motivated to start engaging in fun, sweaty activity? Go for it!
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
I’m always hesitant to write about weight loss, as it’s a topic that has been overdone and which seems to attract many wacky, over-the-edge perceptions that have no foundation in science. It is also a topic I receive many questions about. My goal in this article is to share facts that will surprise anyone who believes calories are the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight.
Let me state very clearly that weight loss is not a healthy goal. I recommend setting goals that focus on improving your health and feeling better. Steps taken to achieve those goals typically lead to the desired loss of inches. Weight is a very finicky goal, so I also encourage my clients to take measurements before making changes to their lifestyle and eating habits. That way they have more than one metric to use to gauge how their body is responding to the changes they make. Aim for health and forget about weight. Improving lifestyle and eating habits will have the result you want.
I’ve shared a few surprising facts about metabolism and weight loss in the paragraphs that follow:
- If you are eating healthy foods, eating less and moving more, but still can’t lose weight, chances are you have a metabolic imbalance. Metabolic imbalances may be caused by one or more of the following: excess toxicity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, insomnia, a thyroid imbalance, adrenal fatigue (often caused by excess stress), one or more prescription medications, malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a reproductive hormonal imbalance, etc. It is imperative to find a practitioner who will take steps and use assessments to identify the true cause of weight gain and who will then work with you to address that cause. For more information on this topic, please read: The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight.
- Your body does not metabolize all calories the same. It is a myth that weight loss is a simple equation involving calories consumed vs. calories burned. That myth ignores scientific facts about metabolism and digestion. Our body reacts to different types of foods in different ways. Foods with different chemical structures, pesticide residues, etc. will affect our hormones and metabolism differently.
- Short term diets can cause harm. Healthy, long-term weight loss requires a lifestyle change and may require emotional work related to how we view food. Fad diets may cause a temporary loss of weight, but the long-term consequences of an extreme eating style involving a lack of nutrition and calories can negatively affect metabolism and may cause long-term health problems. The long-term effects are not worth anything perceived as a short-term benefit.
- Eating too few calories causes our metabolism to slow down. Subsisting on 500-1,000 daily calories will literally cause your body to go into a status where it slows metabolism to a halt and refuses to burn fat. Some would call this “starvation mode.” Fasting for a few days or doing a crazy fad diet may cause rapid weight loss for a few days, but extending it beyond a few days is dangerous. The prolonged lack of nutrition and calories will negatively affect every body system and will cause your metabolism to dramatically slow down. The end result is that extremely rapid weight gain will occur once a normal eating style is resumed.
- It is impossible to achieve a weight loss goal using only eating changes (diet) or only exercise. Weight loss requires a change in eating habits and an increase in movement. It is a simple fact that long-term weight loss and improvements in health require long-term lifestyle changes. Programs designed to sell supplements may promise fast results, but those results will not last very long. Exercise is essential, as it encourages the body to burn fat, improves insulin and leptin sensitivity, assists with toxin elimination, improves cellular oxygenation and builds muscle. Exercise requires “fuel” in the form of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates, so it is essential to combine a healthy eating style with gradual increases in exercise and muscle-building activities to lose weight and maintain the loss. Building muscle is important because muscle mass is a determining factor in metabolic rate. The more muscle we create through exercise, the faster our metabolic rate will become. Good nutrition is essential to maintaining the metabolic boost, so increasing movement and adopting a healthy eating style are both essential to weight loss. Please note that some eating styles designed to eliminate a medical problem may result in temporary weight loss, but that exercise is still necessary to continue improving health.
- There are no “quick fix” options for healthy weight loss and health improvement. There are a few supplements that may assist the body with balancing metabolic imbalances, but the supplements cannot be used by themselves. They only work when combined with better eating habits, exercise, and an increase in healthy lifestyle habits. For more information on two popular supplements, please read: Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones: Truth or Hype?
- You are not a cookie, so please don’t rely on cookie-cutter diets. We are each wonderfully unique with very unique personal needs related to nutrition, lifestyle and exercise. There is no such thing as a single style of eating or exercising that is perfect for everyone. What worked for one person may not work for us. That’s ok. It is unrealistic to expect changes someone else made to affect us exactly the same way. Our metabolic and nutritional needs are unique and should be celebrated.
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
If you need to lose weight and want to improve your health without joining a program, please find a practitioner who will work with you and who will help you identify and address potential metabolic imbalances. One of the best approaches to losing weight and improving health is to reduce consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates and to engage in a combination of aerobic and muscle-building exercise each week. Set small goals and celebrate every milestone you reach. You deserve it!
Some of the most common questions I receive focus on what a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is and what we do. I am also frequently asked what Naturopathy is. Those questions can be somewhat difficult to answer, as every ND uses a wide variety of different approaches, each of which is well within the legal parameters and each of which has a solid scientific foundation. Following is a general overview of how most Naturopathic Doctors view their practice. Please note this post refers to Naturopathic Doctors, not Naturopathic Medical Doctors. For more information on my personal philosophies, please read A Unique Approach to Wellness and Meet Dr. Pamela.
Naturopathic Doctors Focus on Finding the Root Cause of Physical Challenges
Most NDs have a primary goal of identifying the true root cause of physical challenges. In the midst of finding the cause they will also make recommendations to alleviate symptoms, but NDs firmly believe in addressing the cause of an issue instead of alleviating symptoms without finding what’s causing them. Root causes may include nutritional deficiencies, systemic weaknesses, emotional blockages, physiological or chemical imbalances, excess toxicity, or other basic imbalances that can cause the body to perform poorly. The assessment techniques used to identify needs can vary widely, but may include laboratory testing of saliva or urine; a review of current eating habits; Biologic Ionization testing; energetic assessments; Iridology readings; muscle response testing; tongue and fingernail analysis; pulse analysis; measurement of metabolic factors; and others.
Naturopathic Doctors Address the Whole Person, Not Just a Symptom
Naturopathic Doctors recognize that the body requires balance in body, mind and spirit in order to restore balance and reverse challenges. Our emotional and spiritual health directly impacts our physical health. It is therefore imperative to ensure steps are being taken to achieve the maximum level of balance and health in all three areas. Naturopathic Doctors may address emotional stressors by measuring physiological factors such as neurotransmitter levels to ensure ho physiological imbalances are causing the stress. They may also refer their clients to a counselor or psychiatrist depending on the severity of the challenge. In my practice, I often quickly recognize that a client is consumed with bitterness, anger, fear or other negative emotion. For that reason, every care plan I create includes specific steps the client should take to help improve emotional and spiritual balance. I often refer clients to other professionals. I am also trained in several simple techniques used to clear emotional blockages and often train my clients how to use them at home. My primary focus is on restoring physical health, but I know from personal experience that emotions can prevent health improvements.
Naturopathic Doctors Believe the Body was Created to Heal Itself
Our bodies were designed to reverse minor health challenges on their own. Few of us rush to the emergency room when we get a paper cut because we know our bodies will heal the cut as long as we take necessary steps to assist the body’s own healing abilities. Naturopathic Doctors believe the body is capable of reversing many health challenges, but that simple factors often prevent the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Those factors may include physiological deficiencies or excesses; structural abnormalities; nutritional imbalances; excess toxicity; overactive autoimmune systems; a lack of belief wellness is possible or an excess of negativity; etc. Let me also say that I am a Naturopathic Doctor who is not opposed to mainstream medical intervention when needed. We are blessed to have an amazing wealth of knowledge and resources at our disposal. Naturopathy is very effective for many conditions, but should not be used as a substitute for medical intervention when it is needed. I am blessed to work very closely with many of my clients’ physicians. The blend of natural and conventional approaches often helps achieve wellness very quickly.
Naturopathic Doctors are Firmly Committed to Doing No Harm
An ND’s goal is to improve your health in every way possible and to never cause more harm. I am very careful about what I recommend, and am very thorough in explaining why the recommendations will benefit your health. My goal is to educate and empower my clients to improve their health. The client calls the shots, not me. I operate in a team environment where every decision is discussed with the client in detail. Natural recommendations made by NDs may include dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements (herbs, homeopathy, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, etc.), Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, detoxification assistance, weight loss counseling, programs to improve digestive health, programs designed to balance hormones and/or neurotransmitters, etc.
Naturopathic Doctors Can Assist with Chronic and Acute Challenges
Many people assume NDs can only assist with chronic health issues, but that is simply not true. One of the most frequent calls I receive is from people who have a cold or the flu and need advice about how to alleviate their suffering and boost their immunity. I’ve also consulted with more than one ER physician about what would best benefit one of my clients who had an acute need. Although Naturopathy can definitely help find ways to assist with controlling chronic conditions using natural methods, it can also be used to assist with short-term challenges. I have worked with and assisted people who had a wide variety of physical ailments including broken bones, pleurisy, bursitis, obesity, infertility and more. In each case, I worked with their physicians and made recommendations that nicely complemented the mainstream treatments they were receiving. I also have a wide variety of clients who are in good health and simply wish to remain so. I work with them to help establish better lifestyle habits and to quickly spot and reverse any signs of impending struggles.
There you have it. Did any of this surprise you? What questions do you have?
It’s never too early or too late to begin planning ways you can implement simple changes to improve your health and wellness in the new year. I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I am a believer in careful planning. (For more information on making successful resolutions, see Ten Reasons Resolutions Fail and Ways to Succeed.) The following tips can be applied any time of year, but seem particularly appropriate right now. I also want to thank multiple members of one of my networking groups who suggested and requested this post.
Following are my tips for creating a plan for positive change:
- Figure out your priorities: What do you want to accomplish by making positive changes? I often hear people say they want to “eat healthier.” If I ask them WHY they want to create healthier eating habits, they can’t come up with an answer. Attaching a specific outcome to a change we wish to create will greatly increase the likelihood of success.
Take time to sit down and make a list of specific health improvements you wish to create. Don’t think about what you’re writing down, just brainstorm. Your list may have a few items or may cover several pages. After you create the list, look at it very carefully and ask yourself why you wish to accomplish these changes. Dig down deep and make sure the changes you wish to see are your personal desires and are not intended to impress other people or cater to someone else’s wishes. Eliminate any items you wrote down that are more for others than for you. After that, prioritize your list. Write each item down on another piece of paper (or move the items around if you made your list electronically) in order of most important to least important. When creating goals, focus on your top three priorities. If your top three priorities are huge, you may want to focus on one at a time.
- Ease Your Way Into Each Change: If your goal is to run 25 miles a week but you rarely leave the couch right now, it is very unlikely you will accomplish that goal without causing yourself serious harm. Whether the goal you’re focusing on involves changing your eating style, changing your thought patterns, or moving more, start very gradually. Set a specific goal each week and then increase the goal for the following week. Break large goals into ‘stages.” For example: If your goal is to lose 100 pounds, set a goal of losing five pounds each month. That is a very “do-able” goal that is not overwhelming. Breaking your goals into bite-size chunks help prevent becoming overwhelmed and also helps you regularly celebrate successes. (Celebrating success and rewarding yourself with non-food rewards is important. Don’t skip that part!)
Depending on the magnitude of the changes you make, easing into things also helps your body gradually adjust to the changes. The changes we make affect our body chemistry. Making drastic changes too rapidly can overwhelm our body’s ability to adapt and may cause negative health results. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember that every change you make counts. Changes you consider “tiny” eventually add up to large rewards.
- Be Specific: It’s easy to become overwhelmed when trying to create a list of healthy changes. Many of the lists i see include items such as “eat healthier, lose 100 pounds, run 50 miles a week, drink more water, stop smoking, and only think positive thoughts.” Although those may be valid goals, each of them is far too large and very non-specific. After identifying your priorities in Step 1, create very specific, measurable changes (goals) to associate with them. For example, instead of making your goal to “workout,” create a goal that says you will “walk ten minutes two days a week and do a light hand-weight routine for ten minutes two days each week.” That goal is very specific, eases you into things, and is very measurable.
Instead of listing a goal of “eating healthier,” consider making it your goal to “eat one serving of vegetables with every meal and two daily servings of fruit as snacks or dessert.” Again, this goal is very specific, very measurable, and relatively easy. If eating five servings of fruits and veggies each day is overwhelming, start with something as simple as, “eat one salad everyday.” You know yourself and know what’s realistic for you. Create goals that are realistic and achievable, not ones that will require superhuman effort.
- Jump start your success with a detoxification program: A great way of preparing your body for positive change is by doing a 3-10 day detoxification program. A gentle detox program serves to rejuvenate the body and helps eliminate toxins which may impede your success in reaching goals. Most people who do a detoxification program lose 10 pounds during the following year even if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. Detoxification program typically require a bit of added discipline, which is a great way to start the process of creating positive change.
Your detox program could be as simply as giving up coffee and alcohol for ten days, or could be much broader. Click here for more information about my upcoming Detoxification and Cleansing Program, or here to purchase Detoxification and Cleansing Kits.
- Find an accountability partner: Making changes by yourself can be tough. Making them with a friend is easier. You can encourage each other and hold each other accountable along the way. Find someone you like and by whom you’re comfortable being held accountable. Share your goals with each other, work together to set goals and create plans to meet them, and then meet weekly or chat on the phone frequently to share your successes and discuss your challenges. Before you begin, pick specific non-food ways to celebrate your successes and attach dates to those celebrations. Rewarding success is an important part of accountability that is overlooked far too often.
- Track your progress: As you begin making changes, it’s important to track the changes you make, your successes and challenges, and the results you see from the changes. I recommend starting a journal. On the first page, list your goals and any measurements associated with those goals. Potential measurements to list include weight, cholesterol, blood sugar or A1C, measurements of specific body parts, blood pressure, muscle mass, etc. Pick measurements that make sense to you and which you hope your changes will positively impact.
On a daily basis, log information pertinent to your goal. You may wish to log what you eat, how long you work out, the positive affirmation you chose for the day, etc. In the midst of tracking specifics related to the day’s activities, also list items such as how you felt that day, what your emotional status was, any challenges you faced, etc. Make a point of sharing your journal entries with your accountability partner and reading his or hers.
- Stay positive: You’re human. Accept it. One of the fun things about making changes is that you get to learn a lot about yourself and about successful ways to achieve success in spite of challenges. If you have a day (or ten) when you completely blow it and don’t follow your plan, that’s ok. Learn from it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but don’t give yourself permission to continue. Record your challenge in your journal, noting what you learned about yourself and how you deal with challenges of that type. Use that knowledge and experience to achieve success next time.
- Use meal planning, but keep it real: Most health changes involve changing our eating style. Planning menus and meals can be a huge help in sticking to a new eating style. Basic meal planning includes selecting meals for the week, creating a shopping list based on those meals, and then sticking to it. Some people view meal planning as pure drudgery, so I recommend using the following guidelines:
- Stay flexible: If you planned to make lamb chops but the store is out of them, be flexible. This also applies if you notice something not on your meal plan for the week is on sale at a deep discount. Stay flexible and be willing to use other meals based on what the store has on sale and in stock. Keep a list of ten “go to” meals you can easily substitute if you’re unable to make something you planned for the week.
- Don’t be rigid about scheduling: Some people schedule specific meals for specific days, while others pick 5-7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week and fit them in as their schedule allows. Do what works best for you, but be flexible and be willing to change your plan if your schedule changes.
- Make enough to create leftovers: Cooking more than can be eaten at one meal is fine. Leftovers can be used for lunches, frozen in individual servings for nights when things are crazy, or even eaten as breakfast.
- Stick to real food: Meal plans should include whole, real foods, not processed food that comes in a box. It doesn’t take significantly more time to cook simple meals from scratch – I promise – and the health benefits are huge.
- Stay flexible: If you planned to make lamb chops but the store is out of them, be flexible. This also applies if you notice something not on your meal plan for the week is on sale at a deep discount. Stay flexible and be willing to use other meals based on what the store has on sale and in stock. Keep a list of ten “go to” meals you can easily substitute if you’re unable to make something you planned for the week.
Being flexible and not overly rigid in scheduling can also easily be applied to exercise planning.
What changes are you planning ot make in 2015?
One of my favorite aids to use during cold and flu season is my formula for “Super Tonic.” Super Tonic is a combination of herbs and vegetables known to have properties that include being antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, cleansing, immune-boosting and more. The beauty of Super Tonic is that it can easily be made at home by anyone. You can make a batch in the fall and it will keep well until spring. If you need more, you can whip up a new batch in no time at all, or simply add a bit of each ingredient to the existing jar and top with more organic apple cider vinegar. This formula is gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, and is free of the top eight allergens.
There are a wide variety of ways to use Super Tonic. Some people take between a teaspoon and a tablespoon daily, while others only use it while fighting a cold or flu. People who take it while battling a virus take anywhere from one teaspoon every four hours to one tablespoon every two hours. Some people make the mixture and then use the liquid as a spiced vinegar in salads, salad dressings and more. Others use it as a meat marinade. There are obviously a wide variety of ways Super Tonic can be used, many of which fall far outside the realm of using it to boost immunity and increase wellness.
My formula for Super Tonic follows. The beauty of this formula is that it’s very forgiving. You can use more or less of every ingredient and still have great results. The only requirement is that the organic apple cider vinegar completely cover all the veggies.
Good Works Super Tonic Ingredients (All ingredients are organic)
3 inches of ginger root
3 inches of horseradish (Look for at farmer’s markets if you cannot find it in your local grocery)
1 full head of garlic, all cloves peeled
1 small red onion
2-4 cayenne peppers (other hot peppers may be substituted if needed; vary quantity to adjust taste)
1 quart of organic, apple cider vinegar with the mother
3 inches of turmeric root
3 tablespoons whole cloves
3 tablespoons Manuka honey
- Chop all ingredients into small pieces
- Place in a food processor and cover at least half way with organic apple cider vinegar
- Pulse until ingredients are uniform in size, then process for at least 60 seconds. Transfer to a quart Mason jar.
- Completely cover ingredients with organic apple cider vinegar.
- Can be used immediately, but will have stronger effects if mixture is allowed to meld 2-3 weeks.
That’s it! If the flavor of the straight Super Tonic is too strong, feel free to make a tea out of it by adding 1-2 tablespoons to a cup of hot water. People rave about its ability to slow coughing and clear stuffy heads.
Do you make your own Super Tonic? What’s your favorite way to use it?
I am thrilled to announce I now include Reams Theory of Biologic Ionization testing (RTBI) in all my consultations or as a single service. RTBI provides insight into the metabolic issues that may be preventing maximum health. It combines seven simple tests of urine and saliva to show potential ionic and metabolic imbalances that may be impacting health. The beauty of RTBI is that it condenses human health into a simple mathematical equation. As with any equation, it can be balanced – brought into the healing range – by simply raising or lowering specific numbers in the equation. That’s an overly simplified explanation, but it is the truth. RTBI reveals metabolic and physiological imbalances that negatively impact the body’s ability to function correctly. When the numbers are brought into the ideal range, or the “healing” range, the body is typically able to begin functioning closer to how it should.
RTBI was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Carey Reams. Dr. Reams believed every question had a mathematically provable answer. He refused to believe anything until it could be proven mathematically. I love this approach, as it eliminates “gray” areas and brings everything into a clearer focus. We are each wonderfully unique. RTBI testing acknowledges that and assesses each set of test results on an individual basis. This means each person’s results are individually analyzed and used to create an individualized plan to rebalance the system. The RTBI levels are compared to levels which are mathematically proven to create the best health. This is in direct opposition to, but makes much more sense than, the mainstream plan which insists blood test results should match everyone else’s in order to achieve maximum health. We each have our own perfect metabolic pattern. Expecting everyone’s body to perform the best when everyone’s test results agree with everyone else’s is illogical.
Dr. Reams spent years studying the ionic composition and charges of individual atoms. His research led him draw unique conclusions that directly disagreed with the established theories. When he taught in medical and chiropractic schools, his first task was to help his students “unlearn” what Dr. Reams considered incorrect information. He focused on mathematical truths that agreed with biology and physiology, not on what was the most convenient, the most financially rewarding, or what agreed with current beliefs. One MD who attended Dr. Reams’ seminars commented: “I came as a skeptic to these Courses, and I was going to prove you a charlatan and wrong, so I wrote down everything you said that was contrary to what I was taught and what I believe, and for a whole month I’ve been trying to prove you wrong and I found you right 100% of the time. I now
come to you and want to ask you to forgive me for thinking that I was a doubting Thomas.”
I can understand that physician’s quote. After more than 25 years in the natural health industry, I confess that learning the details and scientific foundation for RTBI was a shocking eye opener. The RTBI training I received revealed I had not truly been addressing the cause of health concerns, but had merely been addressing underlying symptoms. This was a humbling shock, as I have always focused on root cause analysis and on addressing the true cause of health challenges instead of merely hiding teh symptoms. Being given the ability to dig deeper was very freeing and exciting. RTBI allows me to dig deeper and to identify true metabolic imbalances that may be contributing to illness.
Reams Testing (RTBI) includes assessments of the following:
- pH of Urine and Saliva: Ideal pH is NOT alkaline. Read The Alkalinity Myth for more information.)
- Ureas: Used to assess protein consumption and waste products from protein metabolism. Numbers are used from two different tests.
- Sugars: Used to identify the amount of energy available to the body
- Salts: Used to assess the body’s conductivity, ability to send and receive signals from the nervous system, and electrolyte balance
- Cell Debris: Used to assess the body’s toxicity
These seven numbers are evaluated together to identify simple changes in lifestyle and eating habits that can positively impact health. When compared with current symptoms, these numbers can be used to identify lifestyle changes and supplements that may provide the best relief by creating the best balance.
Before testing, people receiving Biologic Ionization testing should not eat or drink anything but water for two hours prior to the test. During the test, clients provide a urine sample, a small saliva sample, and then sit back and relax while I perform the assessments. It typically takes less than ten minutes to conduct the assessments. Once the numbers are compiled, I share them one by one with the client, sharing what the numbers indicate and the lifestyle and dietary habits I recommend to help restore balance. I use RTBI testing in conjunction with Zyto scans to get a thorough understanding of body composition and potential systemic challenges.
RTBI testing often reveals mineral deficiencies, issues in inadequate or excessive protein and carbohydrate consumption and metabolism, a need to drink more water, and many other issues that can affect every body system. Most of these imbalances can be address using simple lifestyle changes. I recommend supplements only if needed.
I typically like to perform retesting after two weeks initially, and monthly or bimonthly after that. I also train my clients to test and assess their urine and saliva at home so they can monitor some of the numbers on their own.
I perform RTBI testing in my office and in house calls. I am also happy to bring my test kit and Zyto unit to your location if you can schedule a minimum of ten clients during my trip. Please feel free to contact me to make arrangements to do so.
Ask someone what their most annoying health challenge is, and there’s a good chance they’ll answer “heartburn and GERD.” Heartburn and GERD are uncomfortable and potentially damaging conditions which are one of the most common issues experienced by people in the US. There are currently 285.3 million people on prescription medications for heartburn and GERD. That equates to one in ten people! This number doesn’t even include the large number of people taking self-prescribed over-the-counter medications for heartburn and GERD. Many people (including mainstream medicine) assume heartburn and GERD are caused by excess acid. This means the common approach is to prescribe proton pump inhibitors (such as Nexium and Prilosec) without determining the true root cause of the problem.
One problem caused by the prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) is they interfere the absorption of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, B12, etc. Long-term use has been linked to malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies. PPI use has also been connected to frequent headaches, constipation and diarrhea, fatigue, increased incidence of pneumonia, higher rates of bone fractures (due to inhibited calcium absorption), bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract, higher incidence of C Dificile infections, magnesium deficiency, increase in coronary disease, and other serious health problems.
The primary reason it is so imperative to assess the cause of heartburn and GERD is that many people’s heartburn and GERD is actually caused by a lack of stomach acid, not by an excess. Although PPIs may bring relief by further decreasing already faulty levels of stomach acid, they ultimately lead to poor digestion and absorption.
As I stated previously, it is absolutely imperative to determine the root cause of heartburn and GERD before taking any medication. It does’t make sense to take a medication designed to decrease the production of stomach acid when heartburn and GERD are actually caused by a deficit in stomach acid. Most people assume the acidic burning in their stomach is caused by excess stomach acid, but the truth is that many forms of heartburn and GERD are actually caused by a deficiency in stomach acid.
Stomach acid is essential for digestive enzymes to work. A deficiency in stomach acid causes the body’s digestive enzymes to not work effectively, which leads to indigestion, poorly digested food, heartburn and GERD. Stomach acid does not digest food but instead creates an acidic environment that allows digestive enzymes to work at their peak efficiency. Decreasing stomach acid weakens digestive enzymes, which ultimately means the nutrients in foods cannot be absorbed. Stomach acid is also essential for the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc.
Heartburn is a typically burning sensation limited to the stomach. Heartburn my cause burping, bloating, and/or nausea, too. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the contents of the stomach rise into the esophagus. (Which should never happen.) GERD can create a burning in the chest and throat, a gagging sensation, or a feeling something is stuck in the throat. GERD can also cause muscles in the esophagus to spasm, which sometimes creates intense pain that may be confused with a heart attack. (A single nerve communicates pain from both the heart and esophagus, so pain in the esophagus often feels like pain in or near the heart. This pain may be severe.)
If you are having chest pain, seek medical attention immediately even if you suspect the cause of the pain is heartburn. The root cause of GERD is that the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) that should separate the esophagus from the stomach (and prevent food from traveling up) doesn’t close when it should or does not close completely. Some studies found increasing the stomach’s acidity actually improves the LES’s function. This means PPIs may eliminate symptoms but actually worsen the root cause of heartburn and GERD. Since GERD causes stomach acid to enter the esophagus and damage it, use of PPIs may cause worse damage to the esophageal tissues while hiding the symptoms – for a while.
My perspective on PPIs is that they may be valuable as a short-term means of restoring quality of life, but that steps need to be taken to identify and address the true cause of the problem. The goal should always be to shorten the use of PPIs. Heartburn and GERD are miserable conditions. If left untreated, it may cause a lack of sleep, inability to work, and may lead to vomiting multiple times per day. Restoring quality of life needs to be a priority.
The most common causes of heartburn and GERD include, but are not limited to:
- Food allergies: This is the THE most common cause of heartburn and GERD, but is a factor that is often ignored. I have many clients who were told their symptoms couldn’t possibly be caused by food allergies. When we identified their food allergies using a simple blood test and eliminated allergenic foods, those clients experienced complete relief and no longer needed medication. Food allergies can produce over 200 different symptoms from head to toe, so it is important to identify them and eliminate the offending foods. I’m a firm believer that anyone with chronic heartburn or GERD should have a food allergy panel run.
I spent two years vomiting three or four times daily and feeling horrible due to digestive distress and extreme GERD. My gastroenterologist laughed at me when I asked about food allergies. (I’ve forgiven him and am now thankful to have had that experience because it enables me to help more people today.) I ignored my gastroenterologist and sought help in other places, including having food allergy testing done. Identifying and eliminating the food allergies I had completely eliminated my digestive issues. I often find identifying food allergies and eliminating the culprits quickly restores health in many ways. Sadly, some people aren’t wiling to give up “comfort” foods and prefer to remain on medication. Food allergy testing can be conducted by a single blood test that can identify over 700 allergens.
- Lack of stomach acid: Our bodies produce less stomach acid as we age, which can cause heartburn. Using herbal remedies known to increase the production of stomach acid is my preferred approach when a lack of stomach acid is the cause of heartburn. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to take HCl in capsule form with meals. (Organic Apple Cider Vinegar may also help.) I try to avoid the use of HCl, as taking an external form of HCl may cause the body to stop producing it.
- Excess consumption of liquids with meals: It sounds simple, but drinking less than 6 ounces of liquid with meals often eliminates heartburn and reflux. When we drink too much liquid with meals, the stomach’s agitating action tends to force stomach contents and liquids up into the esophagus instead of down into the small intestine. This leads to pain and potential damage to the esophagus.
- Ulcers: Active ulcers don’t always show up on stool tests designed to find blood. It is important to test for H Pylori or use other assessment techniques to identify ulcers. There are natural approaches that can be used to address an ulcer, but they should only be begun under the supervision and direction of a trained practitioner.
- Extreme dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance): Digestion and absorption can be harmed if the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive tract is skewed. This typically results in an overgrowth of fungus that can lead to leaky gut, diarrhea or constipation, anal itching, constant nasal stuffiness, and other challenges. (See Candida Basics: Important Info for more information on this condition.) Re-establishing ample beneficial bacteria greatly improves digestion and absorption. This can sometimes be accomplished simply by taking a probiotic or eating fermented vegetables.
- Gallbladder imbalance: Removal of the gallbladder or stagnation in the gallbladder (including sludge and stones) may lead to heartburn and indigestion when fatty foods are eaten. Restoring gallbladder function using natural methods often eliminates this problem very quickly. I do not believe the gallbladder should ever be removed, as it performs a vital function. The body will reverse gallbladder disease when proper support protocols are used.
- Structural abnormalities: Sometimes heartburn is caused by physical abnormalities. This cause is the toughest to treat and may sometimes require surgical intervention.
Have you eliminated GERD or heartburn? What solutions did you use? Please share!
Several of you recently asked me to continue doing more reviews of foods and supplements. I am happy to oblige! I often recommend “green powders” to people who are looking to detoxify, improve energy levels, alkalize and more. The problem with green powders is that they taste like grass. I was therefore thrilled to find one that has a crisp apple taste but which is still loaded with nutritional power. This review is for Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Powder – Apple Flavor. (You can click the link to view it on Amazon.)
I received a canister of this powder last December from Garden of Life. I owe them a huge apology for not posting this review sooner. Other topics seemed to be more pressing, life got in the way, and the powder tasted so good my husband and I consumed it in less than two weeks. Please note that although I did receive free product in exchange for this review, I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. The information shared in this post is purely my opinion, based on my experience with similar products and on my years of training. Since I use the product myself, I feel qualified to share my opinion of both its positive and its negative qualities.
Here are the qualities I love about this product:
- It’s ORGANIC!!!
- It contains no fillers or artificial ingredients
- It contains an unusual blend of nutrient-dense powders from grasses, fruits and vegetables
- It’s sweetened with Stevia and contains no harmful artificial sweeteners
- It tastes amazing – nothing like most green powders
- The grass, fruit and vegetable powders are obtained at low temperatures so their enzymes remain viable
- It’s dairy and gluten-free
- It contains no herbal additives that could interfere with prescription medications
- It’s low glycemic, with only 3 net carbs per serving
- It contains sprout powders and probiotics
- If apple isn’t your thing, Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW is also available in Plain and Chocolate flavors
As we used this powder, we found it blended easily into smoothies and other drinks. (I shared a recipe below.) It tastes good enough to blend into plain water. We enjoyed adding cinnamon and nutmeg to it for an added kick. The bottom line is that this product is an excellent source of trace minerals, enzymes, probiotics, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, all provided in a great tasting powder.
It’s price point is under $30 for a 30-day supply, another factor that makes it a winner in my opinion. You can view the product on Amazon here: Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Apple.
The only negative comment I can make about this green drink is that it absorbed moisture out of the air and solidified in the container after being opened. I recommend storing it in a sealed container of some sort.
Here’s a copy of the nutritional information so you can see how truly loaded this product is:
Please note that people with gluten sensitivity CAN consume wheat and barley grasses. The grasses do not contain the proteins that are problematic for people with Celiac and/or a wheat or barley allergy.
Here’s a recipe using this product:
Good Works Wellness Perfect Food Apple Spice Smoothie
- 1 scoop Garden of Life Perfect Food Apple Powder per serving (recipe makes 2-4 servings)
- 1 diced avocado
- 2 cups coconut water (may use milk alternative, purified water or aloe vera juice if preferred)
- 1 diced organic cucumber (use half a cucumber for a single serving)
- 1 handful organic spinach
- 1 diced organic Honey Crisp apple (use half an apple for a single serving)
- 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon organic nutmeg powder
- Optional: Stevia to taste
Blend all ingredients well in a high-speed blender. This recipe makes enough for 2-4 servings. This smoothie is delicious and is loaded with healthy fat, trace minerals, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants and a great blend of vitamins and minerals. It’s very energizing but is extremely low glycemic.
Have you tried Garden of Life’s Perfect Food Raw Apple Powder? What did you think?
I’m often amazed to read recipes labeled “healthy” that include ingredients that are either nutritionally void (such as egg whites) or which contain harmful toxins (such as fat-free sour cream). The reason I’m amazed to see these potentially harmful ingredients labeled “healthy” is because fat-free foods have finally been proven to be harmful to health instead of being helpful. This article explains how this myth became perpetuated and what the truth is. The bottom line is that your body requires fat for the health of every cell. The type and quantity of fat is what determines whether or not the fat you consume improves your health of harms it.
And – YES – you have my permission to eat organic, nitrate-free bacon in moderation. Here’s why: Health Benefits of Bacon.
It is an absolute myth that fat causes heart disease and weight gain. There is no scientific proof to support claims a low-fat diet is healthier. So why is this myth so prevalent? Simply because a single, flawed study was conducted whose results were twisted. The study drew conclusions which could not be supported by the study’s design. Multiple other studies conducted since then confirmed that fat is essential to the health of body, mind and spirit.
A recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the results of over twenty different studies. The reviewers tracked tracked the health of study participants over a span of 5-23 years. Their final conclusion was there is NO connection between consumption of saturated fat (or any fat, for that matter) and coronary disease. Other studies found people with the highest consumption of natural fat (either saturated or unsaturated) had lower death rates from any cause. We’ve obviously been lied to. Living to a ripe old age requires the fat myth to be busted and laid to rest.
I’ll save my rant about the “Cholesterol Myth” for another day, but you can learn more about cholesterol in the article: Six Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.
The truth is that the body requires fat and finds it essential for:
- Proper nerve function
- Production of hormones
- Building and maintaining healthy blood vessels
- Maintaining body temperature
- Cushioning and protecting internal organs
- Maintaining healthy skin
- Normal, efficient cognitive function
Based on that list, it is obvious that not eating enough healthy fat can create a myriad of health problems.
So what’s the difference between a healthy fat and an unhealthy fat? It’s very simple:
- Fats made by God and found in nature are safe and have health benefits.
- Fat made in a lab (such as hydrogenated oils) are unsafe and can have negative health effects.
It truly is that simple. The fat in dairy, meats, fish, eggs, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and everything else found in nature is healthy. Hydrogenated oils made in a laboratory are not. Hydrogenation uses chemical modification to turn oils that are liquid at room temperature into oils that are solid at room temperature. Oils are hydrogenated to simplify their shipping and to simplify the emulsification process of some products. Oils are not hydrogenated for your benefit. The hydrogenation process creates foreign chemicals our bodies do not recognize or know how to metabolize. Consumption of hydrogenated oils can lead to high levels of arterial plaque that can definitely interfere with coronary function.
The one caveat to natural oils being healthy is that some vegetable oils are extremely high in Omega 6 fatty acids that are known to be highly inflammatory. Those oils include corn, soy, canola, etc. Those oils also have fatty acid bonds which are very easily broken by high heat, which means they tend to deteriorate when used for cooking. (Olive oil also deteriorates at high heat, but is not inflammatory.) For best results, use olive oil for cold foods such as salad dressings, and use extra virgin olive oil for cooking. (If you’ve never tried popcorn cooked in organic, extra virgin olive oil, you are missing out on quite a treat!)
There you have it. You now have my permission to eat more fat. Don’t go crazy, but feel free to enjoy one more piece of bacon!
Many parents are concerned about the dangers of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) due to how the media is covering the virus.
Enterovirus D68 is a virus that has not been widespread in the past. This year it is spreading more rapidly. I felt compelled to share the facts about this virus because I keep seeing information shared that is not 100% factual. Let’s separate the fact from the fiction and hopefully set some parents’ minds at ease.
Important Facts About Enterovirus D68
Here are important facts about Enterovirus D68:
- EV-D68 was originally identified in 1962. Since then, there have only been small outbreaks, most of which rarely spread across state lines. This year’s outbreak has spread rapidly, possibly because very few children have developed immunity to Entervirus D68 due to never having been exposed. Most adults are not affected, as they have developed resistance (from exposure to other viruses) that provides protection. Enteroviruses are usually most active between July – October, so the current spread is in line with normal occurrences.
- The CDC confirmed cases of EV-D68 in 22 states as of September 19. It is important to note that the number of confirmed cases (160) is small because most children infected with EV-D68 do not need medical attention and are therefore not tested. Hospitals only recently began testing for this specific virus since the likelihood of it being the cause of breathing problems was almost nonexistent until recently.
- No deaths have occurred from the virus so far.
- Most children who become ill have nothing more than typical cold and flu symptoms. Few children wind up being hospitalized, and most don’t even need to see a doctor.
- The virus is closely related to hand, foot and mouth disease. It shares some of the same symptoms, although EV-D68 may have a stronger effect on the lungs and usually does not cause a fever. Children who have had hand, foot and mouth disease seem to have less likelihood of contracting EV-D68 or from having serious symptoms.
- Ninety percent of the children hospitalized had pre-existing asthma or other upper-respiratory diseases or conditions that weakened their immunity.
- Enterovirus D68 is a virus. Antibiotics are ineffective against it, and there is no known cure. Mainstream treatments focus on lessening the symptoms. Those with serious symptoms are put on supplemental oxygen, given breathing treatments, or – in extreme cases – put on a respirator to aid breathing until the virus runs its course.
Typical Symptoms of Enterovirus D68
The typical indicators of Enterovirus D68 include, but may not be limited to:
- Runny nose, cough, sneezing, etc.
- Body aches
- Mouth sores or blisters (do not occur in every case, but are possible)
- Fever (unusual in this season’s outbreak)
Extreme cases may include the following symptoms, each of which requires immediate medical intervention:
- Fever above 103 degrees F.
- Difficulty in breathing: Difficult breathing is not always easy to recognize. Look for extremely rapid, shallow breathing, with breaths occurring more frequently than one per second. Watch your child’s ribs. If you can visibly see the skin being “sucked in” between the ribs with each breath, that is an indicator medical intervention is needed immediately.
- Continuous coughing
- If you notice any of the above symptoms, please call your physician or take your child to the emergency room immediately. Call 911 if your child is unconscious, has blue lips, or other severe symptoms.
Protective Measures Against Enterovirus D68
Enteroviruses are all relatively hardy and can live for quite a while on surfaces. The virus is carried in body fluids, mucus, snot, etc. Potential ways to lessen the likelihood of the virus include:
- You know the drill – frequent hand washing, teaching children to sneeze and cough into their elbows, etc. There is no need to use antibacterial soaps. ALL soap is antibacterial. The chemicals in antibacterial products are known to be dangerous and should be avoided.
- Making a spray using 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of alcohol, 40 drops of tea tree oil, 40 drops of lavender essential oil and 40 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil. Blend well and keep in a glass spray bottle. Spray on counters, door knobs, faucets, etc. to help kill viral cells.
- Give your children Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the most powerful immunity boosters known. Most children over age two need a minimum of 1000 IUs per day for maximum immunity. This is especially true if you live in a climate that prevents daily sun exposure. There is no need to worry about toxicity at this dose. For more information about Vitamin D, read: Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
- Taking Vitamin C throughout the virus and flu season is known to reduce infection rates. Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosage, but know it’s safe to double the recommended dose at the first sign of a cold or flu. I recommend continuing the double dose until symptoms abate.
- Use Elderberry Syrup if you suspect your child has caught a virus. Elderberry is an extremely powerful antiviral that is known to be effective against the enterovirus. It can also be taken as an immunity booster prior to illness, but I would definitely use it at the first sign of a cold or virus. It tastes great, so getting children to take it is nice and easy.
- If your child has asthma or any other chronic illness, discuss and create a care plan with your physician prior to illness. Keep the plan handy and be ready to implement it immediately when illness occurs.
- If your child catches what appears to be a cold but symptoms rapidly worsen or your mother’s instinct insists something is wrong, call your physician. Take your child to the emergency room or call 911 if symptoms become severe.
The good news about the virus is that we are hopefully nearing the end of its “season.” Higher number of cases also mean we now have higher immunity throughout the country.
Has your child dealt with Enterovirus D68? What were your experiences?
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a viral illness that is spreading like wildfire this year. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is rarely serious, but it is extremely unpleasant and highly contagious. (HFMD is not related to Hoof and Mouth Disease, an illness that only affects animals.) Caused by the Coxsackie A virus, HFMD usually only affects children under the age of five. Many children are exposed but never have any symptoms because their body naturally vanquishes the virus. Those who become ill may experience a wide variety of different symptoms. The virus is extremely contagious, typically spread by mucus, liquid from sores and feces.
The typical case of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease may include:
- A fever, usually below 102 degrees F
- Fatigue and generally feeling unwell
- Loss of appetite
- Sore throat
- Diarrhea (not always)
- Sores in the mouth and throat (usually appear two to three days after the initial symptoms.) Sores may also be visible on the tonsils.
- Red bumps that do not itch but may be sore. The bumps usually turn into blisters that weep fluid. HFMD is often confused with Chicken Pox due to these bumps. The bumps usually appear first on the hands and feet, but can appear anywhere on the body.
It is important to note that Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is caused by a virus. Antibiotics will not help. The mainstream approach is to soothe the symptoms and let the virus run its course. There are natural approaches that will bring relief and which are said to shorten the duration of the virus. My favorites include:
- Clove Tea: Cloves have a numbing effect. A tea made from one tablespoon of cloves and one cup or more of purified water will be very soothing to sores in the mouth. An added benefit is that cloves are also mildly antibacterial and antiviral. The tea may be drunk warm or cold. Add a bit of stevia or honey to sweeten if needed. Several of my clients have said clove tea was a lifesaver while their child had HFMD.
- Elderberry Syrup: Elderberry syrup is one of the most potent antiviral agents known. An added benefit is that it tastes good, so getting kids to take it is not difficult. Follow the instructions on the bottle to determine how much to give your child. If you have more than one child but only one is sick, the other children can be given Elderberry Syrup as an immunity booster even if they are not visibly ill.
- Homeopathic Mercurius Solubis: This remedy is known to help reduce the pain of the mouth sores and to be especially good to help children sleep at night. Homeopathics are a nice option because they have no side effects and do not interact with any prescription medications. They are very potent and very easy to take. Follow the dosage recommended on the bottle. (Dosage should be cut in half for children under 1 year of age, but the tiny tablets can be dissolved in water if needed.) To maintain their effectiveness, homeopathic remedies should not be administered within 10 minutes of eating or drinking anything other than water, and should not be given within an hour of brushing the teeth if a toothpaste with mint is used. (The mint blocks the body’s ability to absorb the homeopathic remedy.) You have my permission to stop brushing teeth while the child has mouth sores, as the experience may be extremely traumatic and painful.
- Potent Broths: Some children are unwilling to eat and drink while they have HFMD due to the sores in their mouth. Giving them nutrient-rich broths is an easy way to boost immunity while providing nutrients and keeping the child hydrated. Since salt will sting, try to make your own salt-free broths using organic bones, organic veggies, garlic and onions, rosemary, turmeric, thyme, etc. (Each of those ingredients is known to help boost immunity.) Adding some organic coconut oil will help coat the sores and be soothing. Coconut oil is known to be mildly antiviral, so it’s a win-win.
- Good Ol’ Vitamin C: Vitamin is known to help the body heal tissues and is known to boost immunity. If using a liquid Vitamin C, you may need to dilute it to help the liquid not sting. If only one of your children has HFMD, it makes sense to give your other children Vitamin C while the sick child is contagious.
- Soothing Baths: A soothing bath that is warm but not overly hot may help children calm down before bed and is known to help the body eliminate toxins. Helpful additives during HFMD include Lavender Essential Oil (5-10 drops), 1/2-1 cup Epsom Salts, 1/2 cup coconu oil, 1 cup of Bentonite Clay, 1 cup of Baking Soda, 1 cup of Chamomile and/or Calendula petals, etc.
Stopping the Spread
Unfortunately, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is most contagious 3-5 days before any symptoms appear. After the symptoms appear, the virus may be spread for up to two weeks. Families with multiple children obviously want to take care to avoid having the entire family wind up sick. The following options are good for helping prevent the spread of HFMD:
- If possible, dress the sick child in long sleeves and pants to help prevent exposing others to the liquid in the sores. Try to find soft-soled flannel slippers or booties to cover the feet.
- Blend 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of Vodka. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Tea Tree Oil and 1/2 teaspoon Lavender Essential Oil. Place the blend in a spray bottle and spray everywhere! Spray on toys, counters, doorknobs, etc.
- Make children wash hands frequently. (See Hand Sanitizer Alternatives for recipes to make your own toxin-free hand sanitizer.)
- Don’t allow children to share utensils, water bottles, etc. (I know this is obvious, but figured it was worth mentioning.)
- Wash bedding as soon as you realize your child has HFMD. Wash bedding again after HFMD has run its course.
- Throw your child’s toothbrush away and replace it with a new one after HFMD is gone.
- Contact your child’s school or daycare center to find out what their policy is on when the child can return.
Has your family dealt with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease? What approaches did you find to be the most effective?
Digestion has been called the foundation of health. It is important to improve digestion using simple techniques. This is because our body uses the nutrients absorbed during digestion as “building blocks” to maintain every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Poor digestion and absorption can cause many problems and often creates higher levels of disease and dysfunction.
Digestive issues are rising at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, the symptoms of poor digestion are not always limited to the digestive tract. When poor digestion leads to nutrient deficiencies, symptoms may manifest in any body system. This means vague symptoms may be indirectly related to poor digestion and absorption. As always, determining the root cause of physical challenges is imperative. It is almost impossible to improve digestion without knowing the root cause of the challenge.
There are a few very simple steps you can take to improve digestion. As always, discuss these with your physician and/or practitioner before making any changes to your current lifestyle habits.
Practices that can improve digestion include:
- Chewing Better: Grandma knew what she was talking about when she encouraged you to chew every bite 20 times. We live in a world where people inhale their food. Chewing it thoroughly creates a “slurry” the stomach and intestines can digest and absorb much more easily. Chewing well is the first step you can use to improve digestion.
- Not Drinking More than 6 Ounces of Liquid With Meals: Your stomach performs poorly when overfilled. Diluting the digestive enzymes puts a strain on the small colon, as it may cause undigested food to pass from the stomach into the small colon. Making sure food is adequately digested before passing out of the stomach is an important step to improve digestion. Drinking too much liquid while eating dilutes digestive enzymes and also overfills the stomach. Overfilling the stomach can lead to heartburn when food and liquid are forced up into the esophagus during the digestive churning that is normal for the stomach.
- Exercising Regularly: All forms of exercise positively impact the muscles of the digestive tract, enabling them to do their job more efficiently. Exercise also stimulates the muscles of the colon, allowing wastes to move more easily. Many people notice a need to have a bowel movement immediately following a workout. There’s a good reason for that!
- Standing Up Straight: It’s such a simple change, but standing up straight and maintaining good posture – especially immediately following a meal – can have a strongly improve digestion. When we slump, the digestive organs get squished together and may not be able to function efficiently. Standing or sitting erect takes the pressure off and allows the digestive tract to work better. You may also notice you have less back pain and have more energy, as good posture makes it easier to breathe deeply and reduces strain off the neck and back.
- Eating Purposefully: In other words, taking time to sit down and eat in a relaxed environment and state of mind. Easier said than done in this crazy world, but taking time to enjoy a relaxed meal has a positive impact on digestion and absorption. Stress negatively impacts the stomach’s production of stomach acid and the digestive tract’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Purposefully taking time to eat slowly and to enjoy every bite is a powerful way to improve digestion.
- Staying Hydrated: In a perfect world, we would each drink half our body weight in ounces of water every day. One of the results of staying hydrated is that our digestive tract works more smoothly and is able to more efficiently eliminate waste. Staying hydrated allows the body to keep waste moistened so it moves through the digestive tract more easily.
- Eating Real Food, Not Processed Chemicals: It’s a simple truth that our digestive systems were not designed to recognize and digest food additives such as artificial colorants, chemical preservatives, etc. Switching from a diet of processed foods to natural food often has a dramatically positive effect on digestion and absorption. Our body most easily digests and absorbs real food that it easily recognizes.
- Getting Help When Needed: The factors mentioned above can improve digestion but are usually not enough to restore normal digestion when the digestive tract is not working properly. If your digestion is not what it should be, please seek the guidance of a trained professional. Restoring digestion is often the first step to restoring wellness in other areas of the body.
You’ll notice I did not list any supplements. There are a wide variety of supplements that can benefit digestion, especially for someone with digestive challenges, but I chose to stick to lifestyle changes in this article.
Have you ever dealt with digestive challenges? What helped you improve your issues?
The CDC recently announced it estimates 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported each year in the US. That is a ten-fold increase over their estimates of just a few years back. Advocacy work by patients and Lyme Disease support groups is one reason for the increase, as more and more people affected by Lyme Disease are insisting its devastating effects be recognized.
In my practice, I see a wide number of people with Lyme Disease. I never imagined needing to know much about Lyme Disease, but over 10% of my clients have a definitive diagnosis of Lyme Disease, and another 10% suspect they have it but remain undiagnosed. My own research through the years opened my eyes to some shocking facts about Lyme Disease. My goal is to use this post provide education about Lyme Disease that will empower others to make wise choices and seek the correct type of testing and care.
If you suspect you have Lyme Disease, please seek care from a Lyme Literate physician immediately. You can find a list of physicians with special training in Lyme Disease at the Lyme Disease Association Doctor Referral Center.
Here are ten surprising facts about Lyme Disease:
- Lyme Disease does NOT always cause a “bull’s eye” rash: The presence of a “bull’s eye” rash always means medical care should be sought immediately. Unfortunately, many people infected with Lyme Disease never develop the classic rash. Some have no skin reaction whatsoever, while others develop lesions or other skin issues which are often not recognized as Lyme Disease. In cases where no bull’s eye rash develops, diagnosis must be confirmed via testing (more on that below) and symptoms. If you become symptomatic, please don’t assume you do not have Lyme Disease simply because you never developed (or saw) a bull’s eye rash. Seek medical care.
- Deer ticks are not the only animal/insect capable of transmitting Lyme Disease: Multiple other species of insects and even mammals have been identified as carriers capable of transmitting Lyme Disease. Other organisms capable of transmitting Lyme Disease include other species of ticks, some varieties of fleas and flies, and even a few mammals. The belief that only one type of tick can transmit Lyme Disease is comforting, but false.
- Lyme Disease is not limited to a few parts of the US, it’s everywhere: The CDC insists that people who live in or travel to the northeast region of the US are the only ones at risk for Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease diagnoses exist in every US state, including Hawaii. Most people diagnosed with Lyme Disease who live outside of the northeast region have not traveled to the northeast when they contract Lyme Disease. Geographical location is not a limiting factor in contracting Lyme Disease, although the odds of becoming infected are higher in the northeast region of the US. Lyme Disease exists on every continent except Antarctica.
- The best tests for Lyme Disease are often wrong: Unfortunately, the best tests we have for the Lyme Disease bacterium are not always correct. Some experts estimate the tests are wrong 50% of the time. This makes it difficult to know for certain if someone should be treated. The common tests include the Western Blot and the ELISA (IgG/IgA) tests. These tests check for antibodies the body creates to fight the Lyme bacterium. Unfortunately, some people’s bodies do not produce many antibodies (due to weak immune systems), causing a negative result even if they are very ill and have high levels of Lyme bacteria in their system.
Other tests often used to test for Lyme Disease include the CD-57, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Immunofluorescent Assay (IFA), and a relatively new test deveoped by Dr. Joseph Burrascano that cultures Lyme bacteria and measures their growth. A major drawback to all of these tests is that it can take 4-6 weeks before results are available. That’s a long time to wait when someone is miserably ill. (Most Lyme Literate MDs start treatment based on symptoms and wait on test results merely to confirm.) For best accuracy, Lyme Literate MDs will usually run a combination of Lyme Disease tests instead of only running a single test. The IGeneX Profile, which consists of 4-6 different tests, is considered the best option. It is an accurate and viable panel.
- The average patient with untreated Lyme Disease suffers more than three years before getting a correct diagnosis: This is because the symptoms of Lyme Disease vary greatly, testing is inaccurate and unreliable, and most doctors have not received adequate training on how to spot Lyme Disease and how to treat it. Change is occurring, but it’s a slow process. In the meantime, many Lyme patients wind up on disability because their physical symptoms are so severe. It is also very common for people infected with undiagnosed Lyme Disease to be referred for psychological treatment because the medical community believes their illness is imagined. As more doctors become aware of Lyme Disease, hopefully the time required for diagnosis will dramatically decrease. Many patient advocacy groups are working to create greater awareness in the public and the medical community.
- Symptoms of Lyme Disease are incredibly varied: The symptoms of Lyme Disease are so varied Lyme is often misdiagnosed as other illnesses, including Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and even Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to: neck stiffness or pain; fatigue; skin lesions – with or without the classic bull’s eye rash; joint aches that sometimes worsen to the point of causing disability; jaw discomfort; cognitive impairment; swollen glands; vision problems; tremors – some severe; headaches; blood pressure fluctuations; digestive issues; and more. The Lyme bacteria customize their attack to the person’s weaknesses, so symptoms manifest many different ways.
- If caught early, Lyme Disease is relatively easy to eliminate, but may still require long-term antibiotic treatment: I am strongly opposed to the over-use of antibiotics, but feel very strongly that antibiotics are a necessity in the treatment of Lyme Disease. The traditional treatment of two weeks of Doxycycline is rarely enough. Physicians who are familiar with Lyme Disease will typically recommend a regimen of low-dose, long-term antibiotics which are rotated every few months to prevent the Lyme bacteria from developing resistance. Treatment may last anywhere from six months to two years. Yes, that’s a long time to be on antibiotics, but the benefits of launching an early and prolonged attack on the Lyme bacteria is worth any temporary effects from antibiotics. (Ongoing countermeasures are usually used alongside the antibiotics to prevent negative consequences.) There are also natural techniques which can be used to combat the Lyme bacteria, which can be used alongside antibiotics if desired.
- If allowed to continue untreated, Lyme Disease can be very difficult to eliminate: If Lyme Disease is allowed to proliferate without any form of restraint, the bacteria will multiply rapidly and will potentially invade every body system. They increase in number and strength, making treatment more difficult. During this time, the person with Lyme suffers increasingly worse symptoms. The Lyme bacteria have a tendency to protect themselves with a complex wall of protection called a “biofilm,” so approaches to addressing Lyme Disease also need to include a protocol used to eliminate biofilms.
- Tick-borne Lyme Disease requires a tick to be attached for a minimum of 24 hours, but other forms of Lyme Disease can be transmitted in a much shorter time span: The CDC insists a tick must be attached for 36 hours before Lyme Disease can be transmitted, but multiple studies proved this belief is false. It often takes far less time for the bacteria to be transmitted. Some of the bacteria associated with Lyme Disease are known to be transmitted in less than a minute by infected fleas or flies. This doesn’t mean we all need to be fearful of Lyme Disease, it simply means we need to remain aware and to act quickly if we suspect an infection.
- Although true Lyme Disease is one bacteria, there are multiple others associated with Lyme Disease: Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria associated with true Lyme Disease. There are multiple others often transmitted by infected ticks (and other insects) which are also now thought to be part of Lyme Disease. When discussing Lyme Disease, you’ll often hear a reference to the “3 B’s” of Lyme. This references the three most common bacteria found in Lyme infections. The bacteria include Borrelia, Babesia and Bartonella. These bacteria frequently occur together instead of individually. Treatment for each is very similar.
If you suspect Lyme Disease may be the cause of your health concerns, please contact a Lyme Literate MD immediately. Education is key!
Have you been affected by Lyme Disease? Please share your story in the comments as an encouragement and inspiration to others!
Ten Facts About Lyme Disease, LymeLight Foundation
People often look at me as if I’m crazy when I share that riding a motorcycle has taught me a lot about wellness, and that wellness and motorcycle riding have many similarities. To prove that point, I’ve created a list of my favorite health-related motorcycle posts. These posts share a little bit of everything, including a nice combination of science and satire. I hope they bless, inspire and encourage you to live life more abundantly!
How Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health: My compilation of why riding a motorcycle (or any two-wheeled vehicle with a motor) provides a wide variety of benefits to physical health.
Eight Reasons Why Motorcycles are the Best Drug: A satirical look at why motorcycles make better drugs than ones you can only buy in not-so-safe parts of town.
Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding: A great look at why it’s perfectly fine for people with diabetes to ride motorcycles, along with tips and tricks for ensuring blood sugars remain stable while riding.
Can Riding a Motorcycle Strengthen Old Bones? A scientific perspective on how the effects of riding a motorcycle improve bone density.
Healing Truths I Learned Riding My Motorcycle: A look at the similarities between riding a motorcycle and the steps the body uses to reverse illness. I promise there’s more wisdom and similarities between the two than you realize!
Riding a Motorcycle Makes You Smarter, Not Just Sexier: Interesting look at research done in Tokyo that proved the minds of motorcycle riders function at a higher cognitive level. (We knew that, but it’s nice to see it proven scientifically.) For the record, I hate the picture they used to illustrate this post, but there’s nothing I can do about that.
Two Weeks from a Broken Foot to Dancing in Heels: A true story about how a motorcycle rider used natural methods to enhance her body’s ability to restore a broken bone.
As always, ride safely, wear full protective gear and don’t push your limits!
Working out has gone from being a chore to being something I love and look forward to. Those close to me recognize what a water-into-wine miracle that is! Being the science geek I am, when I committed to get serious about my workouts, I did extensive research about various forms of workouts and exercise methods. From that research, I selected the niche workouts that are best for my lifestyle, body type and attitude. In the midst of that, I also came across a variety of mathematical formulas that can be used to monitor progress, create workout goals, and/or help you focus on your greatest strengths or improve areas of lesser strength.
The most important aspect of working out is that you do it. Not how you do it (as long as you’re being safe), not whether or not you use a “method,” and not how or if you’re tracking your progress. The fact you’re moving more is all that matters. Don’t let anyone talk you out of enjoying your favorite workout by saying it’s ineffective or won’t deliver the return on investment that person thinks it should. Exercise always provides benefits. Don’t get overly hung up on following someone else’s guidelines. Just do it.
Please don’t consider any of these formulas to be an absolute that must be adhered to religiously. These formulas are general guidelines, not “rules.” Use them as sideline helps, not as rigid requirements. Working out should be fun. Forcing workouts to fit within rigid guidelines based on a random formula won’t work and will quickly suck all the fun out of it. These formulas are tools to improve your workout, not laws to put you in bondage.
As always, please use common sense and listen to the signals your body is sending. Don’t start any exercise regimen without consulting your physician, and never push yourself beyond your personal limits. It is not good to be in pain after working out, nor is it beneficial to be exhausted. Fatigue after a workout should be temporary and should not last several days. The “no pain, no gain” mantra is a lie straight from the pits of Hell. Don’t believe it and don’t push yourself so hard you wind up being sore for days. Pain is a sign of distress and means your body is trying to tell you to slow down. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, an extreme headache or chest pain during a workout, ask someone to call 911.
When you first start working out, commit to gently working out 10 minutes a day, three days a week. Increase the duration and intensity of your workouts and muscle-building activities very slowly and gradually from there. You are not competing, you are improving. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t try to go from being a couch potato to being an American Ninja Warrior overnight.
Here are my favorite workout formulas. I hope they help and encourage you:
Heart Rate Formulas
I’m not a fan of heart rate formulas, because the truth is that everyone has their own personal “ideal” heart rate. Each person’s ideal maximum and target heart rate is influenced by what type of workout they’re doing, their current weight, their age, their body fat percentage and muscle mass, their bone density, their pre-existing conditions, their intracellular and extracellular water levels, etc., etc. As you can see from that long list of influencers, there’s really no such thing as an ideal heart rate. I’m sharing the following formula because it provides a guideline that can help you recognize whether or not your cardio routine is too intense.
For those who use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), your heart rate will be significantly higher than that of people doing longer, less intense cardio regimens. The key is to be able to slow your heart rate down by at least 20% within two minutes. If you cannot sufficiently slow your heart rate down during a two-minute “cool down,” it may be wise to ease up a bit during the high intensity portions of your workout.
Note: Being dehydrated will raise your heart rate significantly. If you find your heart rate is extremely high, stop working out, drink at least 16 ounces of water and wait 20 minutes before resuming your workout. If your heart rate continues to be extremely high, please stop working out and call your doctor.
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): This number represents the highest your rate should get during a workout. For people doing HIIT, your heart rate during the high intensity intervals should be 80-90% of your MHR.
220 – Age = MHR
Example: Jane is 34, so her MHR = 220-34 = 186
When Jane does HIIT workouts, her maximum heart rate during the high intensity phases should stay between 149-167.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body would burn if you did absolutely nothing but lie in bed for 24 hours. It is helpful to know your BMR in order to gauge how many calories per day are necessary. As you increase your body’s muscle mass, your BMR will increase. People who are obese are at an “advantage,” as their BMR will be higher than other people’s. That will change as they lose weight.
BMR for Males = 66.47 + (6.24 x weight in pounds) + (12.71 x height in inches) – (6.76 x age in years )
BMR for Females = 655.1 + (4.34 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.68 x age in years)
Example: John is 50 year old male who weighs 300 pounds and is 6’2″, or 74 inches tall. He does not work out.
John’s BMR = 66.47 + (6.24 x 300) + (12,71 x 74) – (6.76 x 50) = 66.47 + 1872 + 940.54 – 338 = 2541.01
If the person works out 2-5 times per week, you can multiply their BMR times 1.5.
One Rep Max (1RM)
The One Rep Max (1RM) is the ultimate ego booster. It calculates the maximum weight you could lift/push in a single rep. 1RM is calculated using the weight you’ve been lifting/pressing and the number of reps you’ve been doing. Although it can be a huge boost to do the calculation and figure out what your muscles are potentially capable of, your 1RM is NOT an indicator of the maximum weight you can safely lift or push. For example, my current 1RM on leg presses is 475. I’m happy with that, but wouldn’t dream of trying to press that weight, as i know that would put extreme stress on my muscles and ligaments and could result in injury. In weight lifting, it’s imperative to maintain proper form to prevent injury. Lifting or pushing a weight that exceeds your comfort level could cause you to break form and injure itself. It is not safe.
In general, 75% of the 1RM is a good number to use to continue building strength. For example, if you’re doing bicep curls and know your 1RM is 50 pounds, you can multiply 50 x .75 to determine that doing reps of 37.5 pounds would be a good way of building muscle and boosting your 1RM. (If you can’t find dumbbells at that weight, use 30-35 pounders.) If you discover that weight is a bit much, switch to 50% of your 1RM (25 pounds, in this case) and do an increased number of reps to build strength. Work up very gradually and don’t extend yourself beyond what’s comfortable.
One Rep Max (!RM)
1RM = (Weight lifted x Number of Reps x 0.033) + Weight Lifted
Example: John hit a new record yesterday by doing 12 reps of leg presses of 250 pounds. He is focused on increasing his strength quickly, so he wants to know what his 1RM is for leg presses. His 1RM would be:
(250 x 12 x 0.033) + 250 = 349
Using his 1RM, John decides to increase his current leg press weight to 260 (349 x 75%) and to build his strength slowly but surely.
Do you use formulas when you work out? Which are your favorite?
I’ve recently seen a lot of “bacon bashing” by people claiming bacon is bad for health. That is untrue. This article explains why bacon is a very healthy food and which types of bacon are best. Let me state up front that saying bacon is healthy does not mean it’s healthy to eat it in huge quantities, nor does it mean it’s healthy to eat large amounts seven days a week. “Moderation in all things” applies to bacon and every other healthy food or beverage. Recognizing the health benefits of bacon is not permission to go hog wild. (Pun intended.)
Even the healthiest bacon is still a processed meat and is not your best option. Please enjoy it in normal serving sizes (3-4 slices), preferably no more than once or twice a week. People who do not have a gall bladder or who have gall bladder disorders would be wise to avoid bacon or to use a strong digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lipase when eating it.
When I say, “bacon,” please note I am referring to ethically raised, grass fed, organic bacon made without nitrates and/or nitrites. Buying from a small, local farm is the best option for finding this type of bacon. Ask a lot of questions to ensure you are getting what you want.
Why nitrate/nitrite free? Because nitrates and nitrites may lower the amount of oxygen in the blood stream and may lead to coronary issues when eaten frequently. Bacon processors have changed how they make bacon. They now add Vitamin C to counteract the potential negative effect of nitrates, but my preference is still to avoid them. If that’s not possible, an occasional dose shouldn’t be harmful. Baking your bacon instead of pan frying it will help prevent the nitrates/nitrites from forming potentially harmful nitrosamines.
Here are the health benefits of bacon:
- Bacon is loaded with healthy fat: Yes, healthy!! The belief saturated fats cause heart disease was based on one small, poorly designed study in the 60’s which drew conclusions its design did not make valid. The commercial oil industry jumped on board and began quoting the study, trying to convince the public that heavily processed vegetable oils were healthier than animal oils. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Over the next 50 years, the American public was slowly but surely duped into thinking saturated fat caused heart disease. That is simply not true. Multiple studies proved saturated fat does NOT cause coronary problems. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently compiled and reviewed 21 different studies including over 350,000 people. They concluded saturated fat has no connection to heart disease. The truth is that saturated fat helps maintain the integrity of cell walls, boosts immunity, helps the body absorb calcium, and actually improves heart health.
Three slices of bacon contain a good combination of monounsaturated and saturated fats. (Please note that bacon in a limp, almost raw state increases the amount of fat it contains and may fail to kill parasites in the pork. Crispy bacon is a better option.) Three slices contain 2.1 grams of saturated fats, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fats, 140 grams Omega 3 fatty acids, and approximately 1200 grams of Omega 6 fatty acids. Eating grass-fed bacon will increase the amount of Omega fatty acids and greatly decrease the amount of inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids. The numbers shown here are from grain and corn fed bacon, which I recommend avoiding if you can. Bacon also contains high levels of heart-healthy oleic acid, the same acid found in extra virgin olive oil.
- Bacon literally makes you happy: It’s true! Bacon contains high amounts of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate affects brain chemistry in a way that boosts mood and increases happiness levels. There’s a chemical reason eating bacon makes us feel so good! (Monosodium glutamate is not a valid source of glutamate, so don’t try to boost your mood by eating that.)
- Bacon is nutritious: Bacon is loaded with far more healthy nutrition than most people realize. Three slices of crispy bacon contain beneficial amounts of selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, Vitamin D and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12. Bacon also contains enough protein to count as a serving, along with less than a gram of carbohydrates. Three slices of bacon contain 7-9 grams of protein, a single serving. The belief bacon contains nothing but fat is false. Bacon does indeed contain high amounts of sodium, so look for a processor who uses mineral-rich sea salt instead of using overly processed table salt. I’m not a fan of turkey bacon, as it generally contains much higher amounts of artificial sodium than regular (pork) bacon does. For more information on the nutrients mentioned here, read Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12, Why You Need More Magnesium, and Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia.
- Bacon is a hefty source of energy: Since bacon is 68% healthy fat and fat is the best source of energy there is, eating bacon is a delicious way to boost energy levels without raising blood sugars. Healthy fats boost energy levels 80% percent than carbohydrates. Smart long distance runners “fat load” before a race instead of carb loading because they know it’s more effective and does not lead to blood sugar imbalances.
- Bacon can boost brain function: Bacon contains high amounts of the chemical choline, which is known to improve memory and learning capacity. There is some evidence choline may be beneficial for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Tourette’s syndrome, seizures, schizophrenia, etc. (Please note that choline should never be substituted for medications used to treat these diseases.) Evidence also exists that regular consumption of choline may reduce the incidence of dementia as we age.
There you have it. When enjoyed in moderation, oven-baked, organic, grass-fed, nitrate-free bacon is a healthy addition to most eating styles. Go for it!
Is Bacon Bad for You, or Good?, Authority Nutrition
Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link, New York Times
Nutritional Data for Bacon, Nutrition Data
A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.
~ Groucho Marx
Is laughter truly the best medicine? We all know we feel better after a good laugh, but is there any scientific proof to explain why? There is! Laughter has so many health benefits – both physical and emotional – there are several healing and therapy programs based on laughter. These programs are each based on studies supporting the therapeutic use of humor and laughter:
- Laughter Yoga: Uses laughter, breathing techniques and more to help alleviate a wide array of different challenges.
- Rx Laughter: A national organization that helps children’s hospitals incorporate humor and laughter into the lives of children with terminal illness. The program was created after a study proved healing rates were higher for children who laughed more.
- Humor or Laughter Therapy: A therapy program that uses humor and laughter to alleviate pain and stress. This therapy is endorsed by the American Cancer Society and is used in many cancer centers across the US. The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor is a not-for-profit organization that promotes humor therapy and provides training in its use.
Laughter benefits physical and emotional health in a variety of ways. A few of the benefits of laughter include:
- Reduces Stress Hormones: Laughter has been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline in our blood. All of these hormones may negatively affect other hormone levels and are associated with increased muscle tension, elevated glucose levels, higher blood pressure and more.
- Increases Feel Good Hormones: Laughter increases the production of serotonin, endorphins and other neurotransmitters known to improve mood and make us feel more optimistic.
- Boosts Immunity: Laughter has been found to increase the production of a variety of cells the bodies uses to fight viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. In the mouth, laughter increases the production of Salivary Immunoglobulin A, a chemical that helps protect against respiratory infections. Laughter also increases the production of “killer” T Cells, Gamma Interferon, and various types of white blood cells called “lymphocytes.” The body uses all of those cells to kill or defend against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
- Boosts Circulation and Increases Cellular Oxygenation: A five-year study conducted by the University of Leeds School of Healthcare found patients with leg ulcers experienced more rapid healing from daily laughter sessions than from more expensive mainstream treatments. Although there is a wide variety of reasons why patients who laugh frequently heal more rapidly, the researchers concluded laughter increased the amount of oxygen in the blood stream and healing was faster as a result. Laughter is actually a mild form of exercise. It gets muscles moving in the abdomen, face and neck and temporarily increases heart rate. These effects all increase the amount of oxygen in the blood stream.
- Strengthens the Diaphragm: Laughing is especially good for the diaphragm, a muscle through which the esophagus, aorta, vena cava, vagus nerve and other major organs and vessels pass. The diaphragm also plays an important role in breathing. Stimulating the diaphragm and keeping it well exercised are key to maintaining overall health and wellness.
- Relaxes Muscles: Because laughter reduces stress hormones and increases feel good hormones, it relaxes muscles from head to toe. A good, hearty laugh may be the best remedy for tension.
- Lowers Pain Levels: Laughing stimulates the body to release endorphins and other chemicals which are natural pain relievers. Endorphins affect and diminish our perception of pain, providing pain relief that is as effective as morphine or codeine.
- Improves Digestion: Laughing while eating causes the releases of digestive enzymes that improve digestion and absorption. This is one reason eating with friends who make you laugh can directly improve your digestion.
- Improves Cognitive Function: Studies found that students who were able to laugh while learning remembered the material longer and had higher test scores than those who did not. Teachers could improve student performance by incorporating humor into their lesson plans.
- Helps the Body Detoxify: The act of laughing constricts a wide variety of muscles. The movement of those muscles stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid in the body, which in turn helps the body eliminate toxins. For more information on the lymphatic system, please read Important Information About the Lymphatic System.
- Releases Emotional Stress: Laughter is the ultimate reset button. It releases negativity and provides a break in the midst of stressful situations. The fact laughter also stimulates the production of “feel good” hormones strengthens its effectiveness as a stress reliever.
The bottom line is that taking time to laugh every day can dramatically improve health and wellness. I encourage you to surround yourself with people who make you laugh, make an effort to make others laugh, maintain a list of funny videos and books that crack you up, and take advantage of every opportunity you have to laugh. In other words, go giggle!