Category Archives: positive outlook
The holidays should be a time of joy. Unfortunately, many people get so caught up in holiday ”shoulds and musts” that their season becomes a time of stress instead of a time of joy. Following are my recommended top ten ways to reduce holiday stress so you can enjoy your celebration.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations: Unrealistic expectations are the primary cause of disappointment and sadness during the holidays. Although it may be difficult, take time to consider which of your expectations are unrealistic and to accept the truth. Making the best of reality is a quick way to de-stress. Acceptance leads to joy!
- Recognize that you are the source of your stress: It is tough to admit, but the stress you feel is genuinely all in your head. When you feel holiday stress, stop and ask yourself WHY you are stressed. If you can change the situation, do. If not, accept it, make the best of it, and stop stressing! (Refer back to point one if needed.)
- Get creative: Sometimes a little creativity is all it takes to eliminate holiday stress. Think outside of the box and come up with simpler ways of doing things. (Hint: It’s fine to have dinner catered or to buy the sides. I swear no one cares you bought the cheese ball instead of making it yourself. It’s fine to change the family meal to a pitch-in or go to a restaurant. Giving an occasional gift card is also acceptable. I promise.)
- Keep a sense of humor and realize none of the fluff matters: When all’s said and done, none of the holiday fluff really matters. If things don’t go the way you planned, be flexible, laugh it off, and move on.
- Just say NO: Most holiday stress is caused by overcommitment. Existing in a constant state of exhaustion is no fun and leads to illness. Instead of saying “yes” to every invitation, prioritize your commitments and say no to those which do not bring joy or which are too difficult to fit into your busy schedule.
- Schedule time to do nothing: Take a day during the holiday season and dedicate it to doing absolutely nothing. Commit to spending the day with your family doing peaceful, stress-free activities. You owe it to yourself to take a day to recharge and refresh! If it’s impossible to commit an entire day to doing nothing, schedule a few hours each week and firmly devote them to being good to yourself.
- Discuss changing traditions with your family: As families grow and mature, their needs and dynamics change. Take time each year to evaluate traditions and to openly discuss how traditions can be modified to better meet everyone’s needs. Things to discuss include drawing names instead of buying for each individual, meeting on a date other than Christmas day, making a communal donation to a charity instead of exchanging gifts, volunteering at a shelter instead of having a family meal, etc.. Consider meeting in January to completely eliminate holiday stress. If some family members are not willing to change, try to find a compromise that is not offensive to those who take comfort in tradition.
- Use technology: Take advantage of time savers offered by technology. A few options include shopping online, sending an email card or newsletter, or getting together via a Google+ Hangout. The Hangout feature lets you connect “in person” with people all over the world.
- Look outside of yourself: Proverbs 11:25 says it best: “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Take the focus off of receiving and concentrate on giving. Giving your time and compassion has far more value than any material gift. Teaching your children to bless others and to appreciate the joy of giving is a gift that will multiply through the years.
- Ditch the materialism: Gifts and food have no lasting value. Concentrate on the spiritual side of the holidays. In my family, we take special effort to focus on the fact we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. We blend all the other activities into this focus to give them higher meaning. Your celebration does not have to contain a religious focus in order to more enriching. Focus on gratitude, family and blessing others instead of gifts and food.
How do you avoid holiday stress? Please share a comment and let us know! Your ideas will help others de-stress and have more fun.
I guarantee you have been touched by Thyroid Hell at least once during your lifetime. If you do not personally have thyroid disease, you have definitely come in contact with someone who does. That encounter may have been quite pleasant, or may have been a nightmare. Either way, the quality of the encounter can be directly attributed to how well that person’s thyroid levels were balanced on that particular day. (Thyroid levels can fluctuate on a daily basis, which makes managing thyroid conditions that much more difficult.)
I thought I’d share an insider’s look at Thyroid Hell, mainly because I’ve spent a lot of time there. I invite those of you with thyroid imbalances to share your stories in the comments. Feel free to have fun with it and please don’t worry about offending us. Thyroid disease is no laughing matter, but the situations it creates are sometimes hilarious.
In the upcoming weeks, I will share more detailed information about thyroid disorders. I will also launch a wellness coaching program for thyroid patients that will provide detailed information about lifestyle changes, dietary changes and supplements that can be used to support the thyroid gland. This program will also contain very specific information on how to discuss thyroid issues with your doctor and on the tests you need to request. I do not want one more thyroid patient to needlessly suffer, and I recognize that education is the only way to prevent that.
The Thyroid Gland is a tiny gland that wraps around the esophagus. It sits just below the “Adam’s Apple.” In spite of its size, the thyroid gland is incredibly powerful. It secretes hormones that directly affect every body system. Every single one. An imbalance in thyroid hormone levels can affect brain chemistry, emotions, digestion, reproductive health, fluid balance in the tissues, kidney function, heart function, liver function, hair and nail growth, sexual function, emotional balance, energy levels, sleep patterns, weight, dexterity, muscle strength and stamina, cholesterol levels, anxiety, vision, internal temperature regulation, and more. As you can see, thyroid dysfunction affects body, mind and spirit in profound ways. Unfortunately, many MDs prescribe antidepressant meds to treat the symptoms instead of doing detailed blood work to find the cause of the problems.
The one item that is also affected but which was not included in the list is: RELATIONSHIPS. It is very difficult for thyroid patients to explain to family members and friends that they truly aren’t themselves. I frequently hear people with thyroid disorders express: “I hate myself and don’t know who this monster is living in my body, so I don’t know how any of my coworkers, family members or friends could stand me.” I’ve been that monster. Even though I was able to usually control my outbursts, the constant turmoil spinning through my brain and thought patterns was pure hell. Many people who are very positive, calm and chipper become Mr. Hyde when their thyroid levels become imbalanced. Those of us who have dealt with thyroid issues for many years instantly know it’s time to get blood work and check levels when the monster starts to rear her ugly head.
Unfortunately, people who have never before received a thyroid diagnosis often genuinely think they’re going crazy. It is extremely common for patients who are hospitalized due to suicide attempts to be diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. It is not uncommon for lab tests to reveal that people who successfully committed suicide had thyroid imbalances. I am very thankful that a growing number of MDs are choosing to specialize in both endocrinology and psychiatry. I personally believe the two cannot be completely separated.
In my own experience, I can say that I could easily deal with the physical afflictions of thyroid imbalance if the emotional effects were not so profound. I’ve heard other thyroid patients echo similar sentiments. Once you realize your thyroid levels are out of balance, you begin the process of changing medication dosages until the correct dosage is found. This can sometimes create a rollercoaster effect where the patient goes from being hypothyroid (having thyroid levels that are too low) to being hyperthyroid (having thyroid levels that are too high.) Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap between the symptoms for hypo- and hyperthyroidism, which makes the entire process that much more fun.
For those of you who have friends, coworkers or family members with thyroid challenges, here’s a list of the emotional and behavioral changes you might observe when their thyroid levels become imbalanced:
- Having extreme anxiety where none existed before
- Reacting irrationally to minor issues
- Responding to almost everything with anger
- Displaying extreme levels of irritability (as in being annoyed by your breathing)
- Overtweeting or excessive use of social media (I’m not making that up)
- Suddenly having a total lack of self confidence and a complete disbelief their efforts will succeed
- Becoming completely apathetic about projects or topics for which they have a passion
- Dressing very differently because their clothes do not fit, their body image plummets, or they just don’t care
- Suddenly becoming out-and-out mean, caustically sarcastic, hypercritical, etc.
- Becoming very negative
- Suddenly becoming a hermit who has no desire to leave the house or interact with others
- A total slob may suddenly become obsessively tidy, or a neat freak may suddenly become a slob
That list could continue with many more points, but the bottom line is that thyroid imbalance changes people’s personalities, not just their physiology. The good news is that there are a wide variety of natural approaches that can support thyroid health. These approaches, used in combination with natural thyroid replacement hormones, can eliminate the hell and restore normalcy.
So what can you do to help a thyroid patient who’s in flux? Love them, obviously. In the midst of that, ask questions to ensure they are working with a professional to stabilize their hormone levels. I cannot stress this enough: Most thyroid patients are already experiencing a bit of self hate. Try not to be negative and judgmental about the changes in their life habits. They may need your assistance in maintaining the status quo, and they may need you to very gently hold them accountable, but they do not need your judgment. Threatening them with ending the relationship will not motivate them at all. Their hormonal imbalance is already affecting their self image, so losing a relationship may not matter to them (or they may expect it) when their levels are out of balance. I know that sounds extreme, but I hear it and see it on a daily basis.
The best advice I can offer is to ask the thyroid patient in your life how you can help them. Be specific. Ask if you can help with chores, if they need you to take them out to have fun, and let them know you love them and are there for them if they need to talk or need a soft shoulder to pound on. Your support will do more for them than anything else.
Ok … your turn. Have you experienced this? What else can we add to the list? I welcome in put from thyroid patients and from people who love them and who are on the receiving end of the angst.
Many people are currently trying to eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. The reasons for this are related to attempts to lose weight, eliminate Candida or pursue a new level of wellness. Most of these people look at smoothie recipes and sigh with frustration because they believe it’s impossible to create a delicious smoothie that is low in carbohydrates. (Even carbohydrates from natural fruit sugars can be challenging to anyone with Candida, insulin resistance or diabetes.) It is very possible to make delicious smoothies that are sugar-free, fruit-free and very low in carbohydrates. Fruitless smoothies can be delicious and can easily become a very addicting habit. Fruitless smoothies are the perfect solution for anyone trying to embrace a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, lose weight, reduce Candida overgrowth, etc. The smoothies I’ve shared below are also perfect fits for the Paleo lifestyle which is currently very popular, and make great options for anyone with insulin resistance or diabetes.
A wide variety of creamy, great tasting smoothies can be made without fruit. My breakfast many mornings is a delicious, all-vegetable, smoothie that is low in carbs, high in protein and which keeps me going strong for many hours. This type of smoothie not only provides huge amounts of energy, but also keeps me feeling full until lunch and beyond due to the tremendous nutrition provided. By using a low-carbohydrate, high-protein blend, my bloodsugars stay very stable. Fruit-laden smoothies that don’t contain protein can cause blood sugar spikes. These blood sugar spikes later fall because they don’t have protein to keep them stable. These falls may cause hunger and fatigue mid-morning as blood sugar levels plummet. A combination of carbohydrates with protein creates a slower, smaller rise in blood sugar and helps maintain blood sugar levels at a more stable level.
- Use sweet veggies such as yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, etc., to add natural sweetness to smoothies
- Add avocado to make smoothies creamy and thick without using sugar-laden yogurt
- Use Stevia as a sweetener if needed
- Use neutral tasting veggies such as cucumbers and zucchini to add bulk to smoothies without adding a lot of taste
- Add dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, etc., to increase the nutritional content of smoothies
- Use liquids such as coconut water, aloe vera juice, coconut water kefir, unsweetened nut or coconut milk, the leftover soak water from sundried tomatoes or nuts, or vegetable juices to add flavor, sweetness, and additional nutrition to smoothies
- Add a protein powder to balance blood sugars and extend the feeling of fullness
- Use organic spices to taste to add flavor. Don’t limit yourself to sweet spices … have fun with spicy spices to create soups and gazpachos!
- Strategically add ingredients such as protein powders, green powders, superfoods, seaweeds, powdered greens, maca, raw cacao powder and others to add unique flavor and increase the nutritional content of smoothies.
Vitamineralicious Smoothie Delight
A lack of minerals can wreak havoc on health. The smoothie that follows is rich in minerals from vegetables, but also adds an extra punch by including a liquid trace mineral. You can boost the mineral (electrolyte) content of this smoothie by using coconut water or coconut water kefir as the liquid.
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 scoop Hemp Protein Powder
1 tomato, diced
1 handful kale or spinach (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon organic lemon Juice
1 serving green powder
1 cup unsweetened milk alternative of choice OR 1 cup of coconut water kefir or coconut water
1/2 – 1 cup Purified Water (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
Stevia to taste (optional)
Red Light District Smoothie
This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.
1 diced organic red pepper
1-2 cup(s) water from soaking sun-dried tomatoes, purified water or organic tomato juice (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
1 handful red lettuce
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon
1 avocado (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional) or experiment with many flavored stevias
Diabetic Chocolate Shake
This smoothie is delicious! Add ice to make it more like a shake. If you really want to make it shake-like, add a scoop of So Delicious Diary-Free Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. (It’s to die for! That’s not an affiliate link … I just love their products!) Be aware that adding the coconut ice cream will increase the carbohydrate content of this shake.
1/2 cup organic cacao powder or organic cocoa
1/2 – 1 cups unsweetened milk alternative of choice
Stevia to taste (I use chocolate liquid stevia)
Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good health and which is used by every system in the body.
A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following:
The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)
As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:
- Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs
- Essential for the production of energy
- Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
- Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
- Essential for the activation of B vitamins
- Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
- Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
- Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
- Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
- Essential for proper digestion
- Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
- Essential for normal kidney and liver function
Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.)
It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)
Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.
If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.
I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:
- Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
- Magnesium Oil: Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
- Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.
Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.
Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
It recently occurred to me that most of the truths I learned about achieving wellness and healing have parallel truths I learned while riding my motorcycle. Healing is as much a mental process as a physical. I hope the following wellness tips bring a smile to your face and help you advance in your healing journey.
Look at Where You’re Going, Not Where You Are
Most beginning motorcycle riders find that cornering – or making a turn – is one of the hardest skills to master. Cornering has so many different facets to consider that schools exist that solely teach how to corner more effectively. One of the first lessons learned is that the best way to turn without winding up in a ditch or in oncoming traffic is to focus on where you want to end up. (This tidbit works while driving a car, too, but is most effective in motorcycle riding.) It’s a simple fact that when you focus on your ultimate destination, your mind automatically triggers your body to do what’s needed to take you there. Most beginning riders get hung up looking down at the road lines or at their own front tire and wind up veering far away from where they need to be. Focusing on our destination is especially important for physical healing.
I find many people become so focused on being sick they fail to focus on becoming well. Their thoughts become so burdened by their physical challenges they stop thinking about regaining health. I know how easy it is to stop focusing on wellness and to become almost obsessed with the many physical problems you’re battling. I’ve been there. I can speak from experience that true healing requires the ability to look past today’s challenges to focus on tomorrow’s healing victories. Doing that will be easier some days than others, but committing to focus on your end goal will help you feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
Always Wear Protective Gear
Nothing concerns me more than seeing a motorcycle rider zipping along without a helmet and without any protective gear. Common sense dictates that wearing protective gear will help protect one from the unexpected. In our household, one of the basic rules each of our kids has to follow before riding anything with two wheels is that full protective gear is always required. Ignoring this rule and not taking basic precautions for protection would be foolish. The same is true of wellness.
I am often amazed when I meet with people who want to feel better but who are not doing basic things to maintain the health they have or who are not doing the things they know they must to control a specific condition. For example, a diabetic who eats everything, doesn’t exercise and who never checks a blood sugar is asking for trouble. Regardless of the health challenge one is working to reverse, there are simple lifestyle habits that must be done on a daily basis. Occasionally skipping a day is acceptable, but ignoring basic health needs on a continual basis may result in worsening health or in an additional diagnosis. Taking full precautions to protect oneself from harm just makes sense. I’m not talking about extreme changes, but am merely referencing the basics. I estimate it only takes me about 60 seconds to put on my protective riding gear. Taking the steps needed to improve health usually aren’t complicated or time consuming, either.
Speeding Doesn’t Get You There Faster
If you do the math, you’ll quickly find that riding fifteen to twenty miles over the speed limit only gains two to three minutes on short trips. The time gained is minimal and typically does not justify the added risks. Driving from one location to another is a process. It would be nice to speed up the process or skip a mile or two, but that usually isn’t possible.
The same is true in healing. Healing takes time. Most health conditions develop over time, so it makes sense that it will take time for your body to reverse conditions. One of the basic healing guidelines I learned in school was that the body heals conditions in the reverse order they occurred, and that one can typically expect the body to need about one month of healing time for each year the condition has existed. This is just a guideline – each person’s situation will be very unique. Sometimes the body can reverse a condition very rapidly, sometimes additional time is needed. Regardless, the fact remains that the body requires time to heal. Healing is a process. Mainstream medicine says you can skip the process by taking a pill, but this merely hides the symptom instead of reversing the problem. Healing takes times. We live in a society used to receiving instant gratification. Our bodies don’t work that way. Patience may sometimes be needed to stop being a patient.
Drop the “When Not If” Mentality
When I was learning to ride, one of the things I heard over and over again was the mantra that: “It’s not a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN you’ll drop your bike.” So what naturally happened? I developed a nagging fear of dropping my bike and dropped my brand new Buell within two months of buying it. Here’s my problem with the “when not if” mentality: It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you have those seeds of impending doom planted in your subconscious, they inevitably take root and bloom if you don’t work to pull out that weed of deception.
This is closely related to focusing on your desired destination and not on where you are now. I find many people become terrified of and focus on the potential outcomes of their condition instead of being thankful for the health they have now. I recently chatted with a woman who has had active cancer for over fifteen years. The doctors keep telling her she should be dead, but she refuses to listen. She gets up every day and gives thanks for how good she feels – even when she doesn’t. Her blood work continues to improve, she feels better every day, and her doctors can’t figure it out. By focusing on the positive and ignoring the potential negative consequences of her illness, she is maintaining a high degree of health. There are no guarantees. Just because you’ve received a diagnosis doesn’t mean you’re going to have every possible complication associated with that diagnosis. Focus on your wellness and maintain a positive attitude! Focusing on the positive actually creates physiological changes in our body chemistry that aid healing. Keeping a positive attitude may accomplish more healing than anything else. Even if it doesn’t, you feel better when you focus on the positive, so give it a try!
Everybody Loves a Custom
Anyone who’s ever watched the Discovery Channel knows many hit shows revolve around taking a stock motorcycle or stock parts and creating a custom look. We have a fascination with taking what the factory hands us and customizing it to fit our own personality and style. Most bike owners find that customizing their bike is a back and forth process that is never really done. We need to use this same approach with wellness!
Every eating plan and lifestyle program can and often should be “tweaked” to fit your personal needs. Your body won’t lie to you. If you began a program that worked well for a few months but you’re now starting to lose the momentum you gained, it’s time for a change. I encourage my clients to get regular blood work or EDS scans every six months to make sure various nutritional and physiological measures are staying at their optimum level. There is no single eating style or lifestyle approach that is perfect for everyone. Constantly monitor your progress. If you start to feel poorly or regain symptoms, then it’s time to identify and address the reason. This typically means a change is needed in lifestyle habits, eating styles or supplementation. Wellness is a journey with many twists, so we should expect to need to make adjustments along the way.
What are your thoughts about this analogy? Please share your perspective!
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