Category Archives: positive outlook

How to Prepare to Make Positive Health Changes

It’s never too early or too late to begin planning ways you can implement simple changes to improve your health and wellness in Planning for Success graphicthe 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: 

  1. 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.
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    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.

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  2. 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!)
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    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.
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  3. 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.
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    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.
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  4. 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.
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    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.
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  5. 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.
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  6. 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.
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    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.
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  7. 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. 
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  8. 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:
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.

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? 

Case Study: Eliminating a 20-Year Cough

I recently promised to share more case studies so you could gain a better grasp of what I do on a daily basis and the types of cases I handle. Please note I have permission to share this information, will never use the person’s real name and may change minor details of the case to protect the client’s identity.

This case study is about “Eleanor,” a woman in her 50’s who came to see me because she wanted to lose weight and was trying to reverse Type 2 Picture of a daisy with a heart centerDiabetes. She was on Metformin, a nasal inhaler, two different allergy medications, asthma medication, high blood pressure medicine, a statin drug, Levothyroxine and Nexium. During her initial consultation, she casually mentioned she had constant post nasal drip with a cough and had to clear her throat constantly. She said this had begun over 20 years ago and nothing had worked to eliminate it. She had grown so used to this she didn’t even consider it a problem. I thought it was a significant issue we needed to address. Eleanor also shared she was exhausted and was often too tired to participate in social activities she was invited to attend.

As I reviewed Eleanor’s medical history and eating habits, I noticed she ate a large amount of carbohydrates and had bread or crackers with every meal and snack. The fact she was eating so much wheat made me suspect she had developed an allergy to it. A further review of her physical symptoms and a check of her allergy point with the EDS unit confirmed this. “EDS” stands for “Electro Dermal Scan” unit. It is a unit I use to check nerve centers associated with body systems and health conditions. Eleanor’s allergy point scored extremely high, meaning there was a large probability she had one or more allergies. Using a piece of bread, I was able to identify that wheat was a likely culprit.

I made the following recommendations:

  • I recommended that Eleanor eliminate wheat for three weeks. I encouraged her to keep a diary during those three weeks to record any changes she experienced physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • I recommended a revised eating plan known to help reverse insulin resistance.
  • I encouraged her to engage in some form of movement ten minutes each day.
  • I recommended three supplements known to help insulin resistance, thyroid function and systemic inflammation

At Eleanor’s next visit, she burst into my office grinning from ear-to-ear. She was visibly more energetic, happier and her skin looked better. When I asked her to share what changes she had seen, she said her cough and need to clear her throat had completely disappeared. After 20 years, she was finally able to sit through a movie without embarrassment, sleep soundly and leave home without tissues. She went on to say her energy levels had improved and she had lost ten pounds. Not bad!

After six months, Eleanor had lost 30 pounds, was off the Metformin, the statin drug, all allergy medications, the inhaler, Nexium, the asthma medication, and her blood pressure medication. In addition, she was on a lower dose of her thyroid medication, Levothyroxine. She had gone from taking nine daily prescription medications to only taking one. She said she no longer turns down social invitations, got a raise at work because her productivity improved dramatically, and she was training to run a mini-marathon. She thanked me profusely, but she gets all the credit. She recognized she needed to make changes and she committed to making them. I am so proud of her!

Currently, I meet with Eleanor via telephone about once a year. She is truly a different woman from the one who first walked into my office. Stories of transformation and progress such as hers are why I do what I do. How can I help you? Please contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation.

Top 10 Ways to Live Abundantly with Diabetes

Last week I participated in an online diabetes discussion and was accused of not having diabetes. Since I’ve had Type 1 diabetes since 1967, this accusation surprised me. The reason for the accusation? Among other things, this person said it was “obvious” I don’t have diabetes because I don’t mention it in any of my social media profiles and do not talk about it constantly. As a result of this, I began reviewing profiles of people I know have diabetes. Out of over forty profiles, I was the only one who does not Diabetes Dreams Canceled?mention having diabetes in the first 30 characters of the profile. For people who are diabetes advocates or who work in the diabetes industry, that’s fine. For anyone else, I find it heartbreaking.

Why heartbreaking? Because these people have made diabetes the sole focus of their journey. Instead of viewing diabetes as a challenge that is a secondary part of their life, they view it as the primary matter that defines their existence. I find this heartbreaking! Yes, diabetes is a serious disease; and yes, it requires constant vigilance, but it should never become the factor that defines how a person views him or herself. In fairness, there are many medical conditions which people allow to become their identity instead of being a tiny part of their life. This phenomenon is not limited to diabetes, but seems to be exceptionally common in people with diabetes.

Sadly, this has become very common. Medical professionals often encourage patients to become victims and tell the newly-diagnosed that their disease must become the focus of all their attention. They also often tell patients that diabetes will impair their quality of life and eventually kill them. I consider this the worst form of malpractice. Patients need to be educated about their diagnosis and need to be told about its seriousness, but they should never be convinced they must become invalids who cannot live normal lives. They must be encouraged and trained to control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control them. Diabetes is a fickle condition that doesn’t always obey the rules and rarely does what the textbook says it should. It can be frustrating, but should never become all-consuming. In my case, I have never and will never allow diabetes to prevent me from doing something I wish to. I maintain normal glucose levels by eating a unique diet, exercising and using insulin. (For those who are familiar with diabetes control, my A1Cs run under 6.0. I intend to keep them in the normal level.) I’m not non-compliant and I certainly don’t ignore the fact I have diabetes, but I don’t let it control my life, either. I control it and I’ve learned to deal with unexpected occurrences with humor and acceptance.

It drives me crazy to constantly see diabetes “support” organizations make statements such as, “Having diabetes is hard,” or “Diabetes is a constant stressor.” (Those are direct quotes taken from national diabetes support groups with online channels.) Having diabetes is only hard or stressful if you choose to view it as such. Diabetes is a serious disease, but it should NEVER become such a large focus of someone’s life that they cease to live normally. I talk to many people who tell me they “can’t” do things because of diabetes. My consistent response to that is, “Why the heck not?!” Having diabetes can be challenging, but shouldn’t be limiting. There is absolutely no reason people with diabetes cannot live full, abundant lives. People who control diabetes instead of allowing it to control them feel free to travel, participate in sports, ride motorcycles, stay active, and enjoy every minute of their life. (For more info on having diabetes and riding motorcycles, please see Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding.)

Here are my top ten ways to live abundantly with diabetes: 

  1. Do what you know you need to. In other words, stay compliant and follow the rules. Ignoring your condition will only lead to problems.
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  2. Learn to laugh about it. Let’s face it, blood sugars are affected by so many different factors they sometimes don’t do what they should. Learn from every unexpected occurrence, but keep a sense of humor about the developments.
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  3. Plan ahead, but be prepared for the unplanned. Always carry a fast-acting source of glucose and your blood sugar meter. If an unusual situation develops, test glucose levels more frequently.
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  4. Get support. By “support,” I don’t mean someone who will let you whine. I mean find people who will listen and provide encouragement, but who are not afraid to hold you accountable if you start holding pity parties. I also give you permission to tell people to stop telling you what to do and to stop asking, “Are you sure you should do/eat that?” Educate those folks, set firm boundaries, and then move on if they continue trying to be the “diabetes police.”
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  5. Let the grieving end. Every person with diabetes goes through a period of grieving. Unfortunately, many folks with diabetes get stuck in the “anger” stage of grieving. As a result, they are constantly angry about everything related to diabetes. Do whatever is needed to release your anger and bitterness so you can start living abundantly and enjoying your life. If needed, seek professional counseling. This is especially true if depression is starting to limit your ability to live a normal life. (And … YES … people with diabetes can live normal lives.)
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  6. Stop talking about it constantly. It isn’t necessary to tell every new acquaintance you have diabetes. Try focusing on other conversation topics. You will probably find your circle of friends widens and you start receiving more social invitations.
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  7. Hold yourself accountable. At the end of every day, take a personal inventory of what your thoughts focused on the most during the day. If diabetes consistently wins the prize, it’s time to start focusing on other things.
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  8. Find a doctor who views you as part of the team and who allows you to control things without constant supervision. Many doctors are horrified if patients change their insulin dose or dietary plan, yet most people with diabetes have to do so to maintain control. Find a doc who recognizes you know more about controlling your glucose levels than s/he does and who welcomes your involvement in making changes.
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  9. Cut yourself some slack. Even those of us who do “everything right” sometimes experience unusual highs or lows in glucose levels. Don’t blame yourself and don’t assume that every unusual occurrence was caused by you. Review what happened prior to the high or low and then think about anything you could have done to change it. Let the unexpected become learning situations. Also recognize that unusual fluctuations may occur which cannot be attached to a specific cause. Accept it, learn from it and move on.
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  10. Stop limiting yourself! Make a list of five things you think you “can’t” do because you have diabetes. Now create a schedule of ways you can gently attempt each of those things. Don’t try to go from zero to sixty overnight. Venture into the new activity in small doses. (Limit the list to legal things, please. In the US, diabetics cannot be astronauts, scuba dive, hold a pilot’s license, be police officers in some states or drive passenger vehicles. Set your sights on legal activities which are similar.) Evaluate things you’ve been told you should “never” do to see if it makes sense to not do it. Were you told you should never get a pedicure? Think about potential risks and then devise a work-around, such as taking your own tools. For the record, I think there are a variety of common activities diabetics are often warned against that make no sense at all. If you want to get a piercing or tattoo, wear open-toed shoes, have a body part waxed, etc., consider the risks and take proper precautions.

How ’bout you? Is diabetes your identity or a tiny part of what defines you? 

Note: I know many people will respond negatively to this post. This is purely my opinion. Please keep your comments balanced and kind. 

Ten Ways to Eliminate Holiday Stress

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.

  1. 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!
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  2. 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.)
    Two women experiencing holiday stress. 
  3. 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.)
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  4. 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.
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  5. 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.
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  6. 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.
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  7. 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.
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  8. 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.
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  9. 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.
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  10. 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.

Confessions from Thyroid Hell

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.

The Joy of Fruitless Smoothies

Picture of a sliced avocado

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.

Following are some guidelines you can use as a basis for creating wonderful fruit-free smoothies:
  • 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.
Using these guidelines and a bit of creativity, you can create a multitude of uniquely delicious and nutritional smoothies. Your options are limitless! Following are a few smoothie recipes I enjoy. Please let me know what you think of them!

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.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
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
5-10 drops of a trace mineral
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)
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack.

Red Light District Smoothie

This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.

Ingredients:
 
1 diced organic tomato
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
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon
 

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 Dairy-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.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
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)
Organic cinnamon  or organic nutmeg to taste if desired
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. This is one of my favorite treats.
 
Please consider these recipes to merely be a suggestion. Run with them and modify them to your heart’s content.
 
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.
 
Have fun!

Why You Need More Magnesium

Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good magnesiumhealth and which is used by every system in the body.

A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following: 

  • muscle cramps
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches and migraines
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • digestive disorders
  • impaired pituitary and thyroid function
  • PMS
  • kidney problems
  • insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • vertigo
  • problems swallowing
  • muscle aches
  • tremors and shaking
  • anxiety or over-excitability
  • muscle twitching and tics
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • kidney stones and heel spurs
  • coronary spasms
  • atrial fibrillation
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • numbness in extremities
  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • water retention
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • and many more 

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.
  • Use 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.
  • Take 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.

References:

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.

Why Bigger Isn’t Better

I confess that I’ve now started this Thanksgiving blog post five or six times and then deleted what I’d written. I had lofty goals of writing a beautiful tribute to everything for which I’m thankful. What I wound up with sounded either insipid and saccharine-y (and we all know my position on artificial sweeteners), or came across sounding oddly ungrateful. So, instead of being “normal” and writing a glowing homage to the many blessings that overflow in my life, I thought I’d write instead about why we should be thankful for the tiny things we often overlook. The end result is a list of questions connected to situations I often hear people complain about. I’m sure none of you can relate to any of those situations (because you’re far too noble), so feel free to share this post with someone who can.

Do you find it difficult to be thankful and give thanks for your daily to do list and for the long list of tasks demanding your attention? Stop for a moment and give thanks that you even have a to do list. Many in this country no longer have a to do list because they were laid off or their company went under. Give thanks that you’re overly busy, even if you hate your job. At least you have one.

Are you frustrated by your domestic duties and that no one else in the house helps? (Every mom knows what I’m talking about.) Be thankful you have a roof overhead requiring such chores. Then take a drive downtown and pay careful attention to the expressions on the faces of those standing outside missions waiting to get a bed. There are many who would love to have a place to call their own and to know where they’re going to sleep every night. Cleaning their own toilet would be a blessing to them.


Are you tired of the old tile and wallpaper in your bathroom? Give thanks that you have indoor plumbing. I’m serious about this one. When we lived in Mexico, we didn’t have indoor plumbing for a while. Every flush is a blessing to me now. If you’re fed up because your kids used all the hot water, stop and be sincerely thankful that you have hot water. Again, I speak from personal experience. I’ve lived in two different countries where we didn’t have hot water. Cold showers suck in any language.


Are you feeling frustrated because a clerk or server or teacher isn’t being nice or treating you with respect? Give thanks that you’re not dealing with the pain that person is dealing with. There’s a reason they are so nasty. Be thankful you’re not carrying their burdens, then go out of your way to be nice to them. Big tips make a huge difference. Some day they’ll appreciate your kindness.


Frustrated because your job or relationship is too confining? Be thankful you’re not in prison.

Frustrated by traffic and people who drive 10 miles under the speed limit? Me too. Get over it.

In all seriousness, stop taking the easy way out and giving thanks for the “big” blessings in your life. Start making an effort to notice and be sincerely grateful for the little blessings that abound in your life. Then make a conscious choice to be aware of them on a continual basis. You’ll soon find more blessings in your life than you thought possible. I dare you. Try it.


This post was written in support of the Epic Change organization. Please click here:
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