Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eight Weeks To A Healthier Lifestyle Continued

Considering the span of your lifetime in which you probably indulged in the standard American diet and lifestyle; eight weeks is a short period of time in which to reverse your unhealthy habits and create new healthy habits. No doubt you probably experienced both successes and failures during the 8 weeks. Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle is a work in progress and you are taking positive actions so don`t beat yourself up over your failures. Concentrate on your successes and continue to build on them. In this article we will explore the essential components of optimal health. Before continuing you may review the previous blogpost!

In this post we will cover more in depth four essential components of optimal health:

1. Managing Stress
2. Exercise
3. Diet
4. Mind, Body, Spirit and Self-talk

Optimal health isn't just about "eating right". Your health is affected by how you (do or don't) manage stress in your life, how sedentary you are, what you say to yourself and your beliefs. Optimal health encompasses your whole lifestyle.


Stress is the most common cause of ill health, probably resulting in as many as 70-90% of all visits to the family physician. Stress in our lives comes from many areas; workplace and/or school, financial, relationship problems being the three top situations where stress arises.

Chronic stress may lead to such chronic illnesses as: depression, cardiac disease, ulcers, obesity, anxiety disorder, sexual dysfunction, decreased immune system health and even possibly cancer. It is imperative you learn to manage the stress in your life because it is a very real danger to your health.

So how do you manage stress? Many people use food, alcoholic drink or cigarettes to give them a short term relief from stress. However, in the end this will only result in greater stress due to their long term negative effects on health. A better way to manage stress is to examine your life and determine what is creating stress in your life. Actually write down what you feel your sources of stress are on paper. If you started a journal during the 8 weeks use your journal for this. (If not why didn't you?) Now would be a good time to start a journal. You may find you have a list of stress sources. After you have determined your stress sources write down three positive actions you might take to relieve the stress of each of these sources.

Sometimes the actions needed to resolve stress are not "quick fixes". For example you may need to see a financial expert to set up a program for reducing your debt or a relationship counselor to heal your relationships or perhaps, you may need to find a new job more in line with your passions. Those things take time.

For a temporary relief from stress you may:

1. Stretch your arms above your head. Reach for the ceiling!
2. Move your hands in a circle to relieve stress in your wrists.
3. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in thru your nose and
slowly out thru your mouth. Count to ten slowly as you inhale and again as you exhale.
4. Take a walk around your desk, down the hall or even better, outside where you can appreciate the beauty of nature, benefit from the sunlight and breathe fresh air.
5. Have a bite of dark chocolate. I DO mean just a bite! Some chocolates are
healthier than others. Be choosy!
6. Try Rescue Remedy: A Bach Flower remedy you can find in most health stores.

Keep in mind those who indulge in a daily routine of exercise and eat optimally nutritious meals find dealing with stress much easier.


A regular routine of exercise is imperative for optimal health and longevity. Exercise helps relieve stress, combats depression, increases your energy level, helps prevent osteoporosis and high blood pressure, boosts good "HDL" cholesterol, helps to maintain a normal weight, promotes better sleep and improves your sex life. Exercise is one of the keys to optimal health.

It is said the average person watches four hours of television a week. We all have time to exercise. It's a choice. There are many kinds of exercise. You can find something you enjoy doing! Take a class in ballroom dancing, or square dancing, join a gym, start walking everyday, hire a personal trainer to develop an exercise routine which accommodates your needs, the possibilities are endless! There is a form of exercise you can do no matter your age or physical ability. But check with your doctor first if you have been sedentary and/or have health issues.

If we can watch television for four hours a day we can certainly find the time to exercise for 30 minutes. Your health and quality of life depend on it!


Probably the biggest stumbling block one encounters in their journey to transitioning to a healthier lifestyle centers around food. Most people have a hard time deciding what to eat because they aren`t accustomed to having to think about what they eat. In our culture we are so used to reaching for convenience foods. It's hard to stop pulling into the local drive-up junk food place or nuking your dinner. But if you have the desire to live a life of quality with optimal health you must stop eating junk food. You will need to develop a repertoire of nutritious recipes you enjoy. In the first eight weeks you have made an attempt at eating a salad every day and increasing your vegetable intake. That wasn't easy but it was a good first step. Hopefully, you have at least decreased your intake of junk food, if you haven't totally cut it out yet.

Your next step with food is to consider eating 75% of the vegetables and fruits you eat raw. Women should eat 7 servings and men should eat 9 servings per day. Remember a serving is ½ cup. Now why would you want to eat 75% raw? Because food in it's natural state contains enzymes that are destroyed when you cook food at high temperatures. Your body needs those enzymes. Every function in the body is run by enzymes. One of the chief reasons processed food is not good for you is because enzymes are destroyed in cooking/food processing. Many illnesses can be traced to enzyme deficiencies.

Lest you think your only option for eating raw is eating salads let me tell you that is far from true! Considering you have probably spent your lifetime eating predominately cooked food this is going to take some work on your part. Obviously, you aren't just going to dive in and start eating this way. Eating 75% raw is something you work up to. The good news is you've already started! You can learn more about eating raw and how to transition to eating 75% raw by reading any of these books:

1."12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food" by Victoria Boutenko and Gabriel Cousens
2."Raw: The Uncook Book: New Vegetarian Food for Life" by Juliano, Erika Lenkert,and Juliano Brotman
3."Living on Live Food" by Alissa Cohen
4. "Eat To Live" by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
5. "Lupus Recovery Diet" by Jill Harrington

Food in it`s natural state supports our immune system. We have taken food in its natural state, and adulterated it with additives, processing, coloring etc. As a result we have many chronic diseases and acutely severe diseases such as cancer. We must return to eating foods in their natural state. Every cell in your body is created from what you eat. If you assist your immune system by giving it the nutrients it needs your immune system will assist you in combating, recovering from and even preventing chronic illness.

Mind, Body, Spirit

We are not just physical beings. We are also mental and spiritual beings and the balance between mind, body and spirit contributes to our degree of optimal health. There is so much busy-ness in life we frequently forget to care for the deeper inner us when, in fact, the spirit facet of us needs care just as our mind and body do. Whether one explores spirituality by engaging in one of the worlds many faith traditions or embarks on an independent path it is a journey vitally important to optimal health.

Our connection with spirit paves the foundation for our understanding and experience of the concepts of forgiveness and gratitude, the importance of service and compassion and the equal importance of giving and receiving. Connection with spirit helps us to choose love, make positive choices, have meaningful relationships and connect to the joy of being. These are all integral to managing stress, feeling happiness and creating optimal health in our life. In optimal health spirit uplifts the body and mind. It is important to take some time to give some thought as to what part spirituality plays in your life.

You may further explore spirituality in these books:
1. "Finding Joy: A Practical Spiritual Guide to Happiness" by Dannel Schwartz and Mark Hass
2. "There`s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem" by Wayne Dyer
3. "The Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation" by Dan Millman

Self Talk

What is it you say to yourself when you're alone? Self-talk is key to mind/body interaction. What it is you say to yourself over and over colors your attitude, raises or lowers both your energy and stress levels, it may affect your relationships or finances, your emotional state and even the degree of success you have in life. Your self-talk has very real effects upon your health and life.

Negative self-talk such as "I can't", "I'm dumb", or "I'm fat" demoralizes you,lessens your self-esteem and creates a setting for depression to take hold and your immune system to be weakened. On the other hand positive self-talk such as "I'm good", "I can do it" or "I'm a beautiful person" raises self-esteem, combats depression and motivates you to take positive action. It gives you a sense of well-being,less stress and a stronger immune system.

Are you in a negative rut with your self-talk? Sometimes people fall into a habit of negative self-talk which becomes very hard to overcome and change. But you can! When you find yourself thinking something negative immediately replace the thought with a positive one. Take some time in your journal writing to make a list of your good qualities and the things and people in your life for which you feel gratitude. Focus on solutions instead of problems. Be your own best friend.

So what are your next plans in transitioning to a healthier lifestyle? Consider these suggestions:

1. If you haven't completely stopped eating fast and/or processed food resolve to do so. It's a hard habit to break, but as you incorporate more fresh vegetables and fruits into your daily nutrition regimen you will find it will become easier to say no to less healthier options.
2. Go to the library or bookstore and get a raw food book(s) and discover the amazing array of healthy gourmet options open to you. You will be pleasantly surprised! Gradually incorporate recipes and ideas from these books into your daily nutrition regimen. This will also help you to stop eating unhealthy foods.
3. Continue to journal about your successes and thoughts and feelings regarding transitioning to a healthier lifestyle. It makes a difference to write it down!
4. Plan your meals a week at a time so that less healthier options aren't inviting.
5. Don't forget about your stress list positive actions. Go to work resolving your stress issues.

Lastly, be proud of yourself for taking responsibility for your health. Continue to make small changes in your day to day life which enhance your new healthy lifestyle. A balanced life with optimal health is a great joy. One in which you can experience the complete fullness of life. Don't settle for anything less!

Eight Weeks To A Healthier Lifestyle

Many of my clients tell me they want to live in a healthier way. They know they need to overhaul their eating, but don't know where to start and often they feel more than a little overwhelmed. Does that also describe you? Does the prospect of a major lifestyle change seem a little overwhelming to you?

Making healthy lifestyle changes does not have to be overwhelming. The key to incorporating healthy positive changes in your lifestyle is to break the changes down into do-able actions. As you gradually make positive changes in your lifestyle and consistently repeat them, they will become new healthy habits.

Before you start making changes I would suggest you keep a journal while you are instituting changes into your lifestyle. Write about how you feel about making changes, the difficulties, as well as the successes you have along the way. What changes might you make? Here's a suggested (but not all inclusive) 8 week plan to get you started on your new healthy lifestyle:

Week One: Instead of drinking soda drink water. Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. Does this sound like a lot to you? Get yourself a 32 ounce mug. It's much easier psychologically to drink two mugs of water rather than 8 - eight ounce glasses. I would suggest getting a good water filtration system for your home or drinking spring water which you can find in any grocery store. Do not drink tap water! You may add lemon to your water to enhance taste.

Week Two: Eat a salad every day. I would not recommend the "chemical ridden" salad dressings in your favorite grocery store. Rather, you may use a little orange or lemon juice as a dressing or a tablespoon of flaxseed oil. Olive oil makes a good salad dressing especially if you add a little minced shallot, Dijon mustard, garlic powder or minced garlic to it. You might also go to your favorite library, bookstore or online vegetarian website and look-up a recipe for healthy salad dressings. Don't use the commercial brands.

Week Three: In addition to the salad you're now eating everyday, resolve to eat five more vegetable servings per day. This isn't hard when you stop to realize a serving is only ½ cup. Be sure to eat vegetables of different colors. Make your plate colorful! The more colors in your plate of food, the more nutrients you are giving your body.

Week Four: Stop eating all fast and processed foods. Yes, it's really convenient to pull into the nearby fast food place or to nuke something in the microwave. But these foods are lacking in nutrients and are high in both calories and the wrong kind of fat. Use the rule -- 'if God didn't make it, I won't eat it'. Think of it this way: every cell in your body is made from the food you eat. If you eat less than healthy food, your body will enjoy less than optimal health.

Week Five (for coffee drinkers): Cut down on coffee! Resolve to have only one cup in the morning. If you are a heavy coffee drinker you may consider having one cup of caffeinated coffee and remaining cups 50/50 caffeinated and non-caffeinated. Gradually change over to just 50/50 and then slowly decrease the number of cups you have until you're only drinking one cup. You might even consider booting coffee out of your life. Perhaps, switch to green tea for its antioxidant qualities.

Week Five (for non-coffee drinkers): Have a cup of green tea every morning. For added health benefit, add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.

Week Six: Begin eating four fruits a day. If you haven't been wild about eating fruits up till now then start with eating two a day and work up to four. Oh and fruit juices don't count! Your body needs the fiber from whole fruit.

Week Seven: Incorporate some form of exercise into your daily regimen. If you have been mostly sedentary for some time, do check with your physician before starting an exercise program. Your exercise regimen could be as simple as walking. Get a pedometer and work up to 10,000 steps per day.

Week Eight (for smokers): With the issuance of the recent Surgeon General's report, don't you agree it's clear how bad smoking is for your health? Here it is if you haven't read it: ( . There are many ways to quit smoking, however, there is no one way which works for everyone. You might try hypnotism or auricular therapy. Some folks go "cold turkey" and just stop. If you are a heavy "nervous" type smoker I recommend you talking with your doctor about how to quit and be sure to look-up an area support group. You can find a smoking cessation group in your area by contacting the American Lung Association or by calling the respiratory care department of your local hospital.

Week Eight (for everyone): Go through your kitchen pantry and refrigerator and throw out anything containing high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame, NutraSweet, Splenda).

Give yourself a pat on the back. You have worked very hard for eight weeks. The changes you have made in your lifestyle have gotten you started on a healthier path. You may have even lost some weight during these eight weeks. Your consistency with these changes will change your life. You will find you'll have more energy, less aches and pains and a healthier frame of mind. Congratulations!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Western Medicine Is Broken

Ohhhhh I feel a rant coming on. I just turned off my television. I can't tell you how much I hate pharmaceutical commercials. They must think we're all idiots.

Western medicine is broken. It is deadly, expensive, corrupt, inefficient, and riddled with greedy "special interest" which care more about the bottom line ($$$) than you or I. Have you really listened to pharmaceutical commercials on tv? Pay attention to the side effects and then ask yourself: Isn't there a better way?

I always ask myself who listens to the rundown of side effects on pharmaceutical commercials then runs to his/her doctor to ask for the drug. Yet as a respiratory therapist who knows many doctors I KNOW people DO THIS. It boggles the mind! WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Does our reliance on pharmaceuticals really make sense to you? Why have we forgotten God gave us ALL WE NEED to nourish our body? Do you realize the more we hear pharmaceutical commercials the more we get comfortable with side effects? How dangerous do you think that is? I think it's criminal to have pharmaceutical commercials on television.

Your body does not have a deficiency of any pharmaceutical. Drugs are poison. They rob your body of nutrients. Don't believe me? Take a look at the book, "Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook" published by Lexi-Comp, Inc. Yes pharmaceuticals have a place. They are indeed life-saving in acute situations. But they also rob your body of nutrients and in the case of most chronic illnesses do not offer a cure, but only cover up or suppress symptoms.

Remember the various drug retractions a few years ago (ie the Cox2 debacle)? These will only continue to occur. Why? Because the human body was not made to handle synthetic substances. Have you heard about the side effects of Viagra? (Google it!) You can't fool Mother Nature but we'll keep trying. We don't have disease because of a lack of toxic, synthetic chemical drugs in our body.

We have disease because vital cell function is impeded due to stress, toxins and a lack of nutrient components that only come from diet and supplementation. Disease, quite frankly, is your body crying out for what it isn't getting.

Nutrients! the modern "missing link" of wellness. We have to stop relying on pharmaceuticals for health. Drugs do not create health. Nutrients create health. Veggies and fruits of all colors. Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals! Life-enriching goodness from nature.

Aaaahhh I'm glad I got that out. I hope you ponder it and become proactive about your wellness. What! You haven't subscribed to the Empowering Wellness Newsletter! Quick go here: a free Ebook too.. what a deal!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Win... And You Can Too!

This is a cardio day and I must say I had a great cardio workout this morning! I'm so psyched.... my balance is better, doing steps better, way stronger .....Ha! so much for Lupus...I WIN!

Started this blog to document my success with the Shrink It Weight Loss System but it's really more than that for me. It's another victory over lupus from which I've been in remission for five years (during which I've earned an M.S. in Holistic Nutrition.) Nutrition gave me back my life. It is now my mission to keep this body as optimally healthy as I can. My body was exercise intolerant during the time my lupus was active. So it was with some fear I started my exercise routine. (Hmmm who am I kidding? It was with a LOT of fear.) I workout four days a week. Two cardio and two strength training. Let me say I'm going at it with a single-minded determination. I will NOT let illness take the choices in my life away from me again.

It's somewhat unfortunate the Shrink It Weight Loss System has "weight loss" in the name. It's about much more than losing weight. The products in the Shrink It System support your optimal health. For instance, everyone should be taking a quality multi-nutrition product like VitaOne . In 2002, it was recommended in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) everyone take a quality multi-nutrition supplement. Why? Because most folks don't eat very healthy to begin with AND our produce now has 5 - 40% less nutrients in it. So even if you eat well you can't get all the nutrients your body needs.

Or let's look at another product in the Shrink It system Omega 3. Omega 3 is a good fat. You need good fats to help you lose weight, but Omega 3 has a lot of other benefits too. Google "Omega 3 benefits". You will be amazed!

So yeah this has been another victory for me. I'm losing 2 lbs a week and am much stronger. But it's NOT about losing weight. Losing weight is NOT about losing weight for anybody. Losing weight is terrific and it makes you feel good to look better. But it's really about being HEALTHIER and fostering a Healthstyle which works for you instead of against you!

Eat well, exercise, feel better, look better... give your body the support it needs to work optimally well. I'm winning my battle...... I don't want you to have a battle to win. It's a whole lot easier to stay well than to get well. Every facet of your life depends on your wellness. Don't take it for granted. OK?

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Monday, April 20, 2009

What Is Freedom?

I can answer that question in three words. Health is freedom.

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if you didn't have your health?
What if you couldn't work to support yourself or your family?
What if you couldn't do the things you now enjoy doing on your time off from work?
What if you were so incompacitated you had to depend on someone else to dress, feed and bathe you?

When we take good health for granted and our healthstyle incorporates primarily nutrient poor foods and a lack of exercise we set ourselves up for a variety of "lifestyle diseases". The it-won't-happen-to-me or the I'll-start-eating-better-tomorrow attitudes are the most dangerous attitudes you can have. Why? Because the human body can withstand an amazing amount of nutritional abuse; but when Mother Nature says "Enough" ..... times up. You don't have time to procrastinate. Mother Nature plays by HER rules not yours.

Illness is a prison. I know. I've been there. It's way harder to get well then to stay well. But I did it! Life with choices is oh so much better. Life with the stamina abd strength to do all the things you enjoy is priceless. Life with health is life with the freedom to become all that you can.

Take it from me the freedom to be you is worth more than money.

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