Exciting Update on Book Launch!
Regardless of how you have classified this past year, “good”, “terrible” or somewhere in between, it is now for all of us, in the rear view mirror. The infamous year, 2020, is in the history books and we are now about 2 weeks into a New Year. As humans we have always looked forward to new beginnings and a fresh slate on which to construct a better way. What is your vision and hope for this year?
We can only thrive when we have hope and trust that our actions will move things in a positive direction. We may not be able to control many things that are happening all around us, but we can control our thoughts and actions.
Now more than ever in my career, I am seeing a genuine interest among people, in building better health and reducing the chances of disease. Despite this, I am also seeing now more than ever, increases in physical pain and ailments like back pain, neck pain, and muscular pain. What is contributing to the rise in chronic pain in general?
There is no simple answer for this. What we do know is that since the arrival of this virus, people are experiencing heightened levels of stress, anxiety and fear. There have been increases in consumption of sugars, alcohol, and processed, comfort foods with concomitant decreases in exercise, positive social interactions, and outdoor recreation. Can this unfortunate combination of conditions increase inflammation and with it, the bodily response of pain?
I believe it can. Let me explain just a couple of the mechanisms at work, so we can focus on solutions.
- Diet is the number one cause of systemic inflammation, which is the precursor to disease and pain. This is an undisputed fact. Processed foods, are notoriously high in inflammatory omega 6 fats like the seed oils ( corn, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, soybean…) and low in anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils such as avocado and olive oils. In addition, processed foods have an abnormally high content of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Sugar and it’s counterparts, brown rice syrup, and corn syrup are inflammatory to cells, causing a rapid rise in insulin, promoting insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. Many of these foods are void of nutrients, cause nutritional deficiencies, and yet are high in caloric density.
2. Exercise and Muscle Building activities are Anti-inflammatory and provide a host of countless benefits. Exercise is a potent outlet for stress reduction, release of toxins, oxygenation to the tissues, improved lung and cardiovascular capacity, and improved function of mitochondrial cells ( our energy manufacturing cells) and therefore energy production. Exercise enhances mobility, strength and bolsters the immune system, provided it is not a prolonged or extreme intensity. Exercise, especially when outdoors in the sunshine, improves mood, stress coping skills and reduces pain perception. Strength training enhances how joints function, reduces the strain on the joints and often prevents or halts the progression of arthritis.
3. Stress, you will often hear me say, is the Unofficial Grim Reaper. What does this mean?
Unabated, chronic stress and worry pack a perilous punch of lowering the immune system, ramping up inflammation, increasing the incidence of insomnia, and escalating chronic pain and disease. Need I say more? Our perception of the events that are occurring around us gives rise to a physiological response by the body. If our interpretation of events is negative, resistant, critical, angry, or feeling victimized, the resulting biological response will be elevation of blood pressure, elevation of blood sugar, activation of the fight or flight mechanism, and reduction of immune disease fighting cells.
Many of us are living in the future or past and are precariously perched on the edge of our worries and fears. The brain is designed for our survival and therefore fear and worry may easily be our default mode. Our minds are the first frontier to conquer if we are to be successful in any area of our life. Our minds will offer up many thoughts in the course of a day, we don’t have to believe them all. Although difficult, we can choose the thoughts and beliefs that move us in a positive direction.
If you are finding that your health goals are off to a slow start or if you are feeling mentally or physically unprepared to tackle the habits and behaviors you need to succeed, you are in good company.
Here are 5 simple ways you can move toward a healthier future and manage pain significantly better.
- Move. Exercise, even if it to simply get outside and walk. Perform body weight exercises, or work out with resistance bands or weights. Since many gyms are closed, this will be challenging, but you knew that already. Do it anyway. Even if 10 minutes twice a day is all you can do.
- Meditate. Start and end the day with 5-10 minutes of mindful breathing and visualization. Perhaps include a meditation like the loving kindness meditation. Many studies have demonstrated that meditation is highly effective for chronic pain, especially when exacerbated by stress. It changes the structure and function of the brain by decreasing activity in the fear brain and brains’ pain processing center.
- Nutrition first. This must be a priority! Reduce inflammatory sugars and omega 6 inflammatory oils. Stop eating nutrient void, dead, processed foods from a box or bag. Instead, eat lean protein sources and increase vegetable intake. This is not a diet, it is a decision. Watch your motivations for eating, often they will circle back to an emotional state. Understanding this is the first step to over ruling it.
- Stay hydrated. Our organs, tissues, discs and cartilages are 60-80% water and we require adequate water for normal functioning of our cells and detox organs. Dehydration contributes to pain and stiffness.
- Sleep, Rest, Relax. Seems easy enough but for many who find themselves in the midst of challenges, or experiencing pain, it is far from easy. Sleep is restorative to the body and reduces pain. You have to move your nervous system away from ‘fight or flight’ or the state of sympathetic dominance, toward the parasympathetic state of ‘rest, repair, and digest’. If you want to feel your best, you MUST make sleep and relaxation a priority! For starters, turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed. Stop watching the news, which is designed to hijack your fear brain and cause rumination and anxiety. Create a space that is conducive to sleep and relaxation. Use your favorite music track, nature sounds, essential oils, a cool, dark atmosphere, a weighted blanket, centering meditation and/or prayer or a warm bath of Epsom salts. Find something that is most comforting for you, that promotes peace and tranquility.
Be kind and gentle with yourself as you embark on change. Small steps, repeated consistently over time, reap BIG results. Every new day is a gift that we are given. We get to choose how to show up.
I am excited to announce that my new book, Staying Healthy, Living Longer 7 Powerful Principles for Living Longer! will be released within the month. This book will deconstruct the mysteries of why we are tired, overweight, in pain, or simply not feeling our best. You will learn the tools you need to transform your health and achieve a longer, healthier life!
You can pre-order my book NOW! (with discounts) at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VC6PYWJ/
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4 STRATEGIES TO MOVE FROM RESOLUTIONS TO REAL SOLUTIONS.
A brand new year with a fresh crop of 365 new opportunities to begin again….Instead of Resolutions, begin the year with Real Solutions.
Like most people you may be starting the New Year with motivations running high and a sense that a new crop of 365 days was just what you needed to propel yourself toward healthier habits. You may have set a few worthy goals such as lose 20 pounds, begin a certain diet, exercise more, eat healthier foods, manage stress.. and so forth. And if you’re similar to most people by mid January you will begin to feel a sense of ‘love lost’ when you think about those ‘resolutions’. If The sparks that ignite your motivation, begin to fizzle out with the holidays fireworks,.you are in good company. When it comes to life changes, most people have the attention span and focus of a squirrel, and when it comes to will power, well, that is not as powerful as we had hoped.
In fact, most people who begin a “diet” or attempt a lifestyle change will be unsuccessful without the right tools. When it comes to having the right tools, and understanding what leads to success, there is some good news and some bad news.
I will give you the bad news first.
There may be reasons why you have fallen short when trying to change a habit, but they are not excuses.
Now here’s the good news:
There may be reasons why you have fallen short when trying to change a habit, but they are not excuses. Thankfully, you are still responsible, and what you acknowledge you can change. It does require personal accountability.
It sounds simple, and it is, but simple does not mean easy.
I have outlined 4 simple strategies that will put you on solid ground and move you forward. That is where we want to go, right? Therefore, looking back or dwelling on past failures is no longer an option. That would be like trying to drive your car, looking in the rear view mirror. We recognize that nothing good will come from that!
1. YOU WILL CREATE WHAT YOU BELIEVE-
There is no other force as powerful, creative or destructive as your thoughts and own belief system. Therefore, if you have struggled with maintaining weight loss, or a healthy eating lifestyle, the question you need to ask is: Do I believe that I deserve to lose weight and feel good? This is not a question you pose to your head, but to your heart. Your intellect will always tell you what you want to hear, but the heart knows only the truth.
“You cannot solve your problem with the same mind that created it.”
If you are not getting the right answers to chronic, recurrent, problems, this may simply mean you are asking the wrong questions.
|“You cannot solve your problems with the same mind that created them.”-Albert Einstein|
In order to achieve any lasting changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle factors, you have to dig deeper and ask some difficult questions to uncover the limiting beliefs or lies that are keeping you from rising higher. Some, or most of our limiting or destructive beliefs are subconscious, but specific tools and an honest inventory will help in Identifying, Acknowledging, Challenging, and Releasing these automatic negative thoughts and allow you to create a greater vision for yourself. Your belief system is directly related to your thoughts. Guard your mind like Fort Knox.
The battle is won or lost in your mind, so that is where it must begin
2. GET CLEAR, GET COMFORTABLE:
I would encourage you to get a clear vision of what you want for yourself. This will be your mental map or GPS. You can be assured that you will have times when you will fall of the track, not if, but when. Here’s the point, Just because you get derailed, you don’t have to crash. Immediately, divorce yourself from the tendency to nurse the bad feelings, feel guilty, blame or engage in self- recrimination. Having a vivid vision of what you desire for your self will keep you from losing momentum during the challenging times. There are many ways to do this. Some people do well with meditation, picture boards, positive affirmations, visualization, journaling and writing out their goals. Daily. You must be vigilant, bad habits die hard.
The second part of this exercise is to assign a numerical value to how comfortable you are that you will follow through with the goal. For example, if your goal is to ” exercise 5 times per week for 1 hour” and you assign a 2 to your comfort level ( 0 to 10, with 0 representing not comfortable at all) this is NOT a worthy goal for you at this moment. Modify it until you are at an 8 or better on the comfort scale. Your previous goal may change to, “I will walk for 20 min a day, 4 days a week.” Then give it life by putting it on your calendar. And finally, Don’t break a date with yourself, you are important.
3. WILL POWER IS NOT VERY POWERFUL.
The nature of will power is that it is not a powerful motivator or catalyst for change in the long run. Psychologists and life coaches know this. It may get you started initially, but it is rarely a faithful friend to the end. Instead, you have to cooperate with some natural laws at work here. I will outline a few.
Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Pretty basic for survival, back in the day. The main motivator for any behavior is based on this principle and so self- gratification and self- protection are the two most powerful activists. Unfortunately, portions of our brains, ( namely, the Amygdala and Nucleus Accumbens) are easily hooked on various forms of pleasure, some good, some not so good.
In the ‘not so good ‘category are sugary, salty and fatty foods which trigger the same centers in the brain as some drugs. The food industry knows the sneaky secrets to turn on the reward centers in your brain and activate the release of the neurotransmitter, Dopamine. In fact, Dopamine is often referred to as the “Master Molecule of Addiction.” Studies have shown that while animals will work hard for a sugar or fat reward, they will work the hardest for a combination of sugar and fat. An example in the ‘good’ category are people that obsessively engage in rigorous exercise to achieve an endorphin release. The so called “runners high.”.
So what does this all mean for us common mortals? Why are bad habits, like not exercising, eating poorly or smoking, so hard to change despite the knowledge of their deleterious effects and contribution to disease? No, it does not mean you are “weak” lacking in willpower and doomed to failure!
Many health coaches and scientists have studied this question and countless methods to facilitate lasting behavioral change. A fairly daunting task, for sure. Lately, many theories converge on the principle of Love versus Fear. What does love have to do with it, you ask? Everything we do comes through motivation from either love or from fear. If you are not enjoying your life, or if fear is an emotion you feel more often than love, joy or peace, then you are probably operating from a primitive, lower brain function which seeks to avoid pain and seek gratification through external means.
The take home message is that all lasting change starts with self – love. The love of self, knowing and accepting your true nature and spirit of greatness, gives rise to love of others and thrusts you to a higher level of function. If love, the most powerful force there is, becomes your primary moving and motivating force, you will naturally seek and gravitate toward healthy foods, habits and the positive reinforcement they create, which is feeling good, healthy, vibrant and strong. That is our birthright. Furthermore, “Nothing succeeds like success.” As you create positive habits, they reinforce themselves. It is true freedom to make choices that are life enhancing and that affirm self- love.
Think back to the last time you felt pure contentment, a lightness of being, joy or peace, what were you doing? DO more of that! It’s time to give yourself permission to re- discover or find ways of creating more joy. If you are feeling stuck, don’t forget to check in with your belief system, strategy #1.
“Everything we do comes from either Love or from Fear.” – Arlosky
4. START SMALL, END STRONG
The most common mistake when embarking on a life change for health or personal reasons is to set goals that are unreasonably difficult to stick with and therefore will have a limited degree of success.
An example is beginning a ‘diet’ that is based on the principle of deprivation and elimination. I am certain you can relate to this. You can also most certainly guess why this sort of plan is doomed to fail. If food is a source of pleasure for you and you decide to eliminate every food you are currently considering ‘bad’, you will be miserable. Remember what happens when your brain is miserable? It is pleasure seeking and pain avoiding by nature. Is it any wonder why most diets fail? A simple rule that I will share, is to consider that there are NO foods that are off limits. ( exception of course, are foods that you may have an allergy or intolerance to, and these often times are the very ones you are craving).
Does that mean you can have your fill of donuts and French fries? Of course, the answer is a resounding NO!
As a general rule eating ‘clean’ 80-90% of the time allows time for your body to chemically adjust and down regulate the dopamine and hormonal systems ( insulin, leptin) of reward, cravings etc. Have you ever noticed how when you eat sweet or fatty food, you crave more sweet and fatty food? The formula your body uses is as follows: eat junk, want junk. It’s not in your imagination. It’s a downward spiral due to changes in the chemical and hormonal systems of the body. Your body is very much like a chemistry lab and is inherently good at maintaining status quo and enhancing survival mechanisms.
Do not despair, eating clean is a way of life that will eventually be as automatic as brushing your teeth.
Concentrating on building your meals around Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, Local (SOUL) food is the foundation of healthy eating.
Concentrate on building your meals around Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, Local ( S.O.U.L) food .This is the foundation of life- long, healthy eating habits. Increase your consumption of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and oils. Consume foods in their most natural and unaltered states. For example, a baked sweet potato, not French fries. Use the method of ‘crowding out’, that is, filling up on the most “nutrient dense” and healthy foods first and thereby reducing the consumption of the calorie dense, processed, and unhealthy fare. Remember you will always allow yourself the 10-20% ‘free choice’ for a night out or a special occasion. No guilt allowed! EVER!
Make it a practice to increase consumption of water, drinking at least ½ ounce per pound of body weight. A simple practice that has enormous, far reaching health benefits.
Beginning an exercise program gradually, and ramping up intensity slowly, is the kinder more sustainable approach. This will allow you to feel the positive changes without experiencing the negatives of forcing your usually sedentary body to complete a full session of P 90X.
If you are new to exercise, use your smart phone’s app to track the number of steps you take in a day. Set a goal to increase the number of steps weekly until you reach 6,000 steps per day, which is the average for most people, or strive for the 7,000 to 8,000, recommended by the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control). Eventually you may get to 10,000 steps or beyond which is associated with the most health benefits.
Following these simple, real solutions will provide the spring board that moves you forward and allows you to experience success. Success experienced early in the process of life change, is indicative of future and continued success.
If you desire to see yourself in a better place this time next year, you must begin to make different choices. Quite simply, if you desire a different outcome, you have to make a different choice. One small, next right choice at a time, one day at a time.
If you keep your vision in front of you, state your intentions,stay focused on the feelings of accomplishment and the health benefits that will inevitably follow, you are sure to end 2017 a happier, healthier you!
Who needs resolutions anyway?
I would love to help you make this transformation a reality. If you have particular health, fitness or rehab issues that you need assistance with, contact me: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website or contact me for New Years “Commitment to Wellness“, 2 for 1 packages!
BE WELL, BE BLESSED.