Wanting What You Already Have Can Lead to Better Health

I was cleaning out some boxes and drawers this weekend, and I came across this card that one of my sons had given me for my birthday a few years ago. It was so sweet that I thought I would post it here.

“Today is my mom’s birthday. I hope she likes this because I love her a lot. My mom is the most understanding and supportive person I know in this lifetime. Whenever I am down, she understands because she remembers she once did the same thing. She then, to cheer me up, shows me all the good things happening. In my opinion, my mom is the most supportive person I know because I will come home with a so-so grade, and she will go over it and show me the right way. Also if I come home with a great grade, she congratulates me. In general, next to me, my mom is the most athletic person in my family. She works out every day and used to play field hockey and rugby. She also ran track. She is my biggest role model because she works hard to put food on the table but she can always find time for fun. Happy Birthday Mom!”

The sweetness takes my breath away. I adore my three boys around the world and back. We may not have every material thing that we want, but I want this life we have and the love we have with every cell in my body. Noticing the richness in your life measured in connections and laughter can keep you living in the present and optimistic about the future, no matter what happens in your external life. When you are happy and centered and grounded in the most important factors of your life, you are more likely to eat well, exercise regularly, laugh heartily, and take better care of yourself and those around you. Take a moment. Drink in the love in your life, in the sweetness of yes, even teenagers who can write things like this card, and live your very best life starting now. What can you do for your health today? Make your annual physical? Go for a walk? Hug someone in your family? Shop along the perimeter of the grocery store where the healthier food is? Whatever step you can take today, do so. And look at your life through clearer lenses. Realize you already have what you truly desire..and worry less about having or getting what you want. What you need…what will really nourish your life…is probably already right there. Have a wonderful and healthy day!!!

 

Fondly,

Colleen Walsh

cw@wellnessnow.guru

Losing and Gaining Weight…it is not as simple as calories in/calories out

Guest article by Dr. Martha Arden, part of the “Strong Mamas Fit Families” Team.

When I heard that the New England Journal of Medicine published a special article several weeks ago entitled “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity,” I rushed to my hospital library’s website to download the article. I’ve often wondered about many of the things we think we know about obesity, the urban legends that everyone seems to believe. Is there any proof that they are they really true? The article was written by a group of 20 experts in the field from 7 different universities, funded by the National Institutes of Health, so my expectations were high.

The myths were the most surprising. The authors defined myths as common beliefs that persist despite the availability of contradicting evidence – that is, there is proof that these often-repeated truisms are false. I was very surprised that some of the things I’d always believed – and shared – weren’t true. But there were plenty of presumptions as well, where there is no evidence true or false, and more research is needed. Thankfully, there are also well-established facts that can guide us in our individual and collective efforts to be healthy and lean.

Over the next several postings, I’d like to discuss the most pertinent myths, presumptions and facts described in the article and their implications for those of us who are trying to control our weight. I think you’ll be surprised as well.

Myth 1): Small sustained changes in energy intake or expenditure will produce large, long-term weight changes.

I learned this in medical school and believed it until the day I read this report. Weight is determined by the balance of calories in vs. calories out. It’s an article of faith, passed down over the years, that a difference of 3500 calories one way or the other translates into a pound of body weight, and that small changes, made over time, will show up on our bodies.

The fact is, the 3500 rule-of-thumb was based on short-term experiments of men on very low calorie diets, and it doesn’t apply to regular life and small, long-term changes. When you think about it, this makes sense: our bodies adapt to the food we ingest and the level of activity we engage in, as our metabolism changes in response to small changes in calorie intake or expenditure. The number of calories that “makes” a pound varies depending on circumstances and how our body responds to those calories. In a study cited in the article , an increased calorie expenditure of 100 calories each day led to a 10 pound weight loss over 5 years, not the 50 pounds predicted by the 3500 calorie rule.

My experience with anorexia patients is consistent with that study: teen girls with anorexia sometimes exist for months on fewer than 500 calories a day, but their weight doesn’t just keep dropping indefinitely – their bodies struggle to adapt, lowering their temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, stopping their periods, slowing their digestion, and using a variety of other mechanisms to conserve the precious few calories they get. They still lose weight, of course, but as time passes the weight loss occurs at a much slower rate than you’d expect.

So what does the debunking of this myth mean to us? My first reaction was that this is terrible news – not only have I and other professionals been spreading misinformation, but also that our bodies don’t actually respond to changes like precision machines. It is certainly disappointing that we can’t just cut 100 calories a day and lose 50 pounds in 5 years.

On the other hand, I feel it’s liberating to know that our bodies are living and breathing, working to adapt to whatever we throw at them – we’re not machines. The disproving of this myth tells us that weight loss is harder than we may have been led to believe. There’s more to it than just cutting back a little or walking a little more. Those of us doctors and nutritionists who’ve told our patients that their lack of weight loss means they’re just not making the little changes have been wrong. Losing weight requires hard work, not just little changes. That’s a downer, but it’s good to know the truth.

Of course, it’s definitely way better to not gain excess weight in the first place, because our bodies will fight us when we try to change the status quo. The good news here is that, just as it’s hard to lose weight, our bodies also help resist gaining weight– some. I, for one, am very happy to know that if I drink an extra glass of orange juice every day for 15 years, I won’t gain 150 pounds!

So, the take-home messages from Myth #1: Our bodies resist changes in weight, so it’s far easier to maintain a normal weight beginning in youth than to lose weight later – and if we want to successfully lose weight, we have to make major changes in our diet and activity level to sustain our progress.

Reference: Casazza, et al. New England Journal of Medicine 2013; 368:446-54. “Myths, Presumptions and Facts about Obesity.”

Taking Out the Trash on a Cellular Level (aka Exercise!!)

In a recent New York Times Health article, it states, “When ticking off the benefits of physical activity, few of us would include intracellular housecleaning. But a new study suggests that the ability of exercise to speed the removal of garbage from inside our body’s cells may be one of its most valuable, if least visible, effects.”

It goes on to explain, “It’s long been known that cells accumulate flotsam from the wear and tear of everyday living. Broken or misshapen proteins, shreds of cellular membranes, invasive viruses or bacteria, and worn-out, broken-down cellular components, like aged mitochondria, the tiny organelles within cells that produce energy, form a kind of trash heap inside the cell. In most instances, cells diligently sweep away this debris. They even recycle it for fuel. Through a process with the expressive name of autophagy, or “self-eating,” cells create specialized membranes that engulf junk in the cell’s cytoplasm and carry it to a part of the cell known as the lysosome, where the trash is broken apart and then burned by the cell for energy.”

What does this mean in simplest terms? Our bodies create waste as cells age and die, viruses are destroyed, toxins are processed. It has long been known that our internal organs aide in the removal of some if not all of this waste. This new research shows strong evidence for the fact that exercise can indeed make the body more efficient at taking out its own trash, and by being more efficient possibly avoid or reverse diabetes, risk of cancer, and certain auto-immune illnesses.

Think about people that you know that are couch potatoes. What does their skin look like? Their hair? Does it lack luster and the vigor of good health? Now imagine or look at a friend or acquaintance that exercises regularly. Do you see the bounce in their step, the glow of their skin, the shine in their hair, regardless of age? Our bodies WANT us to make good decisions. Our cells function so much better when we exercise and don’t smoke and choose healthy food. These decisions are celebrated in every cell of our being…skin, hair, heart, lungs, muscles…it is a party all day when you take good care of yourself.

If you ARE that couch potato, do not worry. Small steps in the right direction will take you miles over a year. If you smoke, quit (and get help…there are tons of medical and government sponsored programs to help you). If you don’t exercise at all, start by walking every day for 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes a day, every day. For nutrition, the first and easiest things you can do is ban high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and white flour from your nutrition plan and go for foods that look the way they did when they were created. Eat an apple, not an apple flavored bar. Replace chips with carrots and raisins. You still need to eat!! Baby steps will help you take out the garbage that is accumulating in your body and you will be just a hop, skip, and a jump from better health before you know it!! Good luck!!!!

A Place to Begin: First Step is to Change Your Mind for Peace of Mind

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men get completely thrown off track! All sorts of things can happen in life to derail us from our stated goals…death of a loved one, job loss, and divorce top the stressers list in nearly all surveys. There are some instances when it is most appropriate to get right back on the horse and keep going. Other times, in order to preserve our sanity and the sanity of those around us, it is better to take a step back, re-prioritize, and start over.

Divorce is one of those times that calls for a complete system re-boot. The good news is that you can create and build a life that is calm and centered and happy. The day will come when you can get back into a normal workout routine, and the kids will adjust and, in fact, can thrive in a solid co-parenting environment.

When a life-changing event such as a divorce or separation first happens, life can feel as if it is spinning out of control and it can be very all-encompassing. If you and your co-parent stay on opposite sides of a line drawn in the sand, with winners and losers, this pattern can go on for years.

There are several components that make up “good health” and these include fitness, healthy body, stress levels/perspective, and happiness/satisfaction in one’s life. When you are rebuilding your life, all of these components are effected due to the complete change that you are experiencing. Perspective and a life plan may be the best place to start in order to start turning it all around.

You may feel that your co-parent is against you and that you are still fighting and therefore unable to get started on a peaceful journey. Again, the good news: only one of you (so it can be YOU) needs to stop this pattern for your life to get measurably better. You can decide to be the bigger person and thus gain control in a way that can steer your life, your children’s lives, and the entire situation into a very calm and peaceful experience. You can only control your own behavior and your own reaction to situations. Trying to truly understand the motives and behavior of others, in certain situations, can prove to be frustrating and a huge waste of time and energy. It doesn’t matter for the point of your happy life who did what or said what. The point of your life story is that sometimes, for no reason at all, people that we love dearly and trust will let us down big time. Starting today, you can get past that, be open minded, be kind, and act as your own best advocate.

10 Steps to begin again, to re-boot, and regain your positive perspective and energy:

If something happens that is the “Mother Load of All Curve Balls” give it the time and attention it deserves. Cut unnecessary things off your to-do list to make time for this.

Enlist the help of people you love and trust. Trying to get through a complex and baffling situation completely on your own does not work.

Surround yourself with people who love you as frequently as possible. This will keep you from losing your mind.

Lower your expectations…about everything…until the storm passes.

Sometimes people will just drop the ball. You can wish they didn’t drop the ball. You can cry and rant and rage. This doesn’t change the fact that there is the ball…still dropped. We have expectations that people will do what they say, and when we know people for a long time we really expect them to come through. Sometimes they don’t. Wishing and yelling are equally ineffective. Let it go and move on.

Take a giant step back. Mother may I? Yes you may. This will give you a better perspective on what your options are going forward.

Make room for new possibilities. Sometimes cleaning out your closets and basement helps…it doesn’t make any sense but in de-cluttering your external world, you may find clarity and space in your internal world of thought.

Rest. Meditate. Breathe. Forgive. Talk to people who believe in you and in your possibilities.

Make a new game plan. Start over. Don’t look back and don’t look down. Replaying the loss of the person in your life or the lost opportunity will not help you. Go forward. Live. Know that there will be happiness and success again for you.

Start!! Exercise. Eat well. Take baby steps. Ramp up, gear up, and GO! Believe in yourself and your dreams. Rock on.

Colleen Walsh, founder of http://www.wellnessnow.guru, has been working in health and fitness since 2002. A single mother of three athletic boys, she is well versed in balancing co-parenting, hectic schedules, being an entrepreneur, and maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life for herself. A life coach, motivational speaker, and creator of Strong Mamas/Fit Families exercise DVD, Colleen has devoted her life to her family and to helping other families create healthy, fun, and balanced lives.

Be Present and Avoid Dying, Having Never Lived

Disclaimer: we cannot avoid dying. Death is universal. However, we do have control over how colorfully we live.

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

I have so many clients who live with this very challenge…both in personal training and in life coaching. I don’t judge them for the challenge, but it seems to be more and more widespread. What can we do to change our lives and priorities around so that regardless of how long we get to live, we are able to live fully?

When I have had success with my clients in changing this scenario, it has always started with very small changes that accumulate into new, healthier habits. This is almost always the best way to effect long-standing, real change. So, we start at the beginning.

“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money.” Ok, most people are not willing to change careers and jump off the hamster wheel, and that is fine. However, if you are already tired when you wake up in the morning, you won’t be more tired if you get up 30 minutes earlier and walk or run before work. However, your heart, lungs, and muscles will thank you all day long. This early morning cardio is also an amazing time to connect with nature and the outdoors…but even if you are on a treadmill in your basement or living room, most people start clearing their minds and problem solving while they exercise. They don’t even do it on purpose! There is often a clarity of mind, a living in the present, that comes automatically by putting one foot in front of the other. I get some of my very best ideas in this way…or I get a new perspective on a problem that was stumping me. Feelings of stress can diminish too. Running for 30 minutes does not change your cranky boss or the long commute…external factors…but it can change the way that you respond to these factors, and that can make all the difference in your day.

The other thing that you have control over so that you do not sacrifice your health in order to make money is the food that you put into your mouth. From the time that you take the spoon out of your mother’s hand when you are about 12 months old until you die, you have a lot of control over this. Before this time, when you are being spoon-fed nasty mashed peas, I agree, you have no say. Just open your mouth. But once you are the one paying for the food, choosing the food, and putting it into your body, you have to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. These decisions are crucial!!! First of all, don’t skip breakfast. What you are telling yourself is that you are not worth the 30 seconds it takes to eat an apple, make a smoothie, consume a previously cooked hard-boiled egg. Something. If you can recognize that it came from the earth and not from an astronaut lab, even better. Then, about 3 -5 times during the day, seek food that you recognize. Salads, vegetables, fruit…egg whites, chicken, tuna, tofu, chickpeas, cottage cheese. There are so many choices. In general, if it comes in crinkly wrapping, it is not food and not your friend and your body and heart do not know what to do with these. If it grew, walked, swam, or flew, there is a good chance that you can digest it. But, do make the time to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and ideally a healthy snack of almonds, an apple, something easy…in the afternoon. Your blood sugar will thank you. Your waistline will thank you. Your co-workers will thank you.

“Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.” True. It is so much less expensive to stay healthy than to get healthy. Keep working yourself into the ground. See how it feels to try to come back from a stroke, a heart attack, or a chronic fatigue syndrome. Or add exercise, good nutrition, and a little more sleep to your life and avoid all of that. I know I said to get up a little earlier to exercise…with that will hopefully come the realization that one more hour of tv at the end of the day is not adding that much quality to your life. Cut it out. Go to bed. Have some herbal tea instead of that beer or glass of wine. You will sleep better and wake up with more energy.

“And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” To me, this sounds the worst of all!! Life does not come with a dress rehearsal. This is it. This is as good as it gets. It doesn’t get better later or tomorrow or soon. It gets better right now when you start paying attention to it, when you take a deep breath, when you let yourself laugh loudly and love fully. If you have concerns about the future, write them down. Look at them. Are they based on reality? If so, make a plan to offset the fears or risks and follow the plan. If the fears are not based on fact, let them go. Once you are following your plans (financial, life, being organized, eating well, etc), you really can let many of those worries fly out the window. Now, open your eyes. Look around. Take out a pen and paper and write a gratitude list. This may seem awkward at first, but give it a shot. I do this every morning as soon as I wake up. I write the date and “I am grateful for” with 1-5 right after that and quickly fill it in. Some days I have to add more lines! You’ll be surprised at how this makes you pay attention to your day. There are so many amazing things that happen every single day. When you feel yourself worrying about the future, see if there is something you can do about it, take the action, tell the truth, and let it go. When you feel yourself regretting the past, see if there is a wrong you must right, do it, and move on. If you can learn a lesson from your mistake, it was worth making, but not if you then get stuck thinking about it forever.

Don’t die never having lived. What a waste of a gift. Live right now. Live well. Be happy. Be kind. Live with your heart wide open and see what happens. It is a great adventure, after all.

Fondly,
Colleen Walsh
http://www.wellnessnow.guru
Life Coaching by Phone
Motivational Speaking

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…The Critical Importance of Getting Enough Shut-Eye

We have all heard the doctors’ recommendations…8 glasses of water a day, walk 30 minutes a day, get 8 hours of sleep a night…but it seems that the sleep request/command is the one least adhered to and possibly the most important to our health. We all know that we feel better when we are well-rested…your peers may even tell you that you look younger, better, more energetic when you are rested, whether that is because you are making getting enough sleep a habit or you are just back from vacation.

 

The problem is that too many people are burning the candle at both ends and even melting the middle and this has now been shown to have a negative effect even at the gene level. We are connected to work 24/7 and there are flashing lights and beeps throughout the night. Or, we just aren’t getting into bed at a reasonable hour because of tv, web surfing, or work.

 

The new research shows that we need to make getting more sleep a priority, which just may have positive effects on other parts of our life as well. If not enough sleep negatively effects our metabolism, more sleep will improve it. If we are procrastinating on projects and then working late into the night, better time management and jumping right into that which we would otherwise put off will make us work more efficiently and feel better about the project and ourselves. (And good self-esteem is never wasted!!).

 

Think about how you can make getting enough rest a priority in your household. While I get up at the insane hour of 4 am to start work, I do make certain that I am in bed in time to clock in enough rest. I turn my cell phone off (those that may need to reach me have the house number and everyone else can wait until 4 am). I sleep with those silly eye covers (and when I don’t I absolutely notice a difference) so that my brain doesn’t register the DVD player clock and the cable box clock and any other blinking LED light when it should be resting. I try to unwind with herbal tea before I go to sleep. I meditate when I wake up. Is it all perfect? No, of course not…just doing my best with what I have, but I have to say that it IS working for the most part!! Good luck! Let us know what works for you! (Below is an article regarding the recent sleep research). Sweet dreams!

 

 

Sleep Deprivation May Disrupt Your Genes

Healthday // Healthday

By Randy Dotinga HealthDay Reporter

 

 

MONDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) — Far more than just leaving you yawning, a small amount of sleep deprivation disrupts the activity of genes, potentially affecting metabolism and other functions in the human body, a new study suggests.

 

It’s not clear how your health may be affected by the genetic disruption if you don’t get enough sleep. Still, the research raises the possibility that the effects of too little sleep could have long-lasting effects on your body.

 

“If people regularly restrict their sleep, it is possible that the disruption that we see . .. could have an impact over time that ultimately determines their health outcomes as they age in later life,” said study co-author Simon Archer, who studies sleep at the University of Surrey, in England.

 

The study was published online Feb. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

At issue is how a lack of enough sleep affects the human body. While it’s obvious that people get tired when they don’t sleep, scientists have only recently started to understand how sleep deprivation affects more than the brain, said Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. Research has suggested that sleep is important all the way down to the level of cells, said Czeisler, who was not involved in the new study.

 

For the study, researchers recruited 26 volunteers who spent a week getting a normal amount of sleep (8.5 hours) and a week getting less than normal (5.7 hours). The participants were still able to enter periods of deep sleep.

 

The researchers then studied the genes of the participants in blood samples and found that numerous genes, including some related to metabolism, became less active.

 

So what does that mean for the body? “We have no idea,” Archer said, “but these effects are not minor.” They appear to be similar to those that separate normal from abnormal types of tissue in the body, he said.

 

Archer said the next step will be to investigate how a lack of sleep affects the body in the long term and to figure out whether some kinds of people are more vulnerable to sleep deprivation’s negative effects on health.

 

For his part, Czeisler praised the study and said it raises the prospect of a blood test that will tell doctors if a patient’s body is being affected because he or she isn’t getting enough sleep. That’s important because substances such as caffeine can hide the effects of lack of sleep so patients don’t realize there’s a problem, he said.

 

What about the possibility of a pill that mimics the effects of sleep so people don’t have to bother getting some shut-eye in the first place? There’s no evidence to support the idea of such a pill, Czeisler said, although there’s ongoing research into how to improve the quality of sleep that people do manage to get.

For more about sleep disorders, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Simon Archer, reader in chronobiology, University of Surrey, United Kingdom; Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., chief, sleep medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and professor and director, sleep medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Feb. 25, 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online

Spring! Give Us Not to Think So Far Away

Spring! Give Us Not to Think So Far Away

 

A Prayer In SpringPoem by Robert Frost

 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;

And give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the springing of the year.

 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,

Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;

And make us happy in the happy bees,

The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

 

And make us happy in the darting bird

That suddenly above the bees is heard,

The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,

And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

 

For this is love and nothing else is love,

The which it is reserved for God above

To sanctify to what far ends He will,

But which it only needs that we fulfil.

 

The spring always seems to be a good time to take stock and to contemplate change, while focusing on the present moment and immediate beauty…as everything seems to be coming up new around us, especially after a particularly long and cold winter!!

 

Sometimes when we look back over where we have been, we can appreciate best what we have learned and think about what we would like to share with those around us.

 

I know my three boys have been some of the best teachers that I could have asked for, and in looking .back, I noticed that my patience with them has certainly increased with practice…just like any other practiced skills!! They keep me focused in the present moment and on the things that are most important to our values and happiness.

 

What can you offer to those around you to make the world a better place? Who brings out the very best in you? What beauty will arrive in spring that makes you walk a little  happier?

 

Look for more news on wellness, happiness, and health by following us on Twitter (@yeswellnessnow and @GoStrongMamas and @TheBalancedLife) and “like” us on Facebook (Wellness Now).

 

Enjoy the spring!!! It brings great promise!

Best,

Colleen Walsh

http://www.wellnessnow.guru