Category Archives: behavior

What to do about cellulite: The Health at Every Size mentality

I think we should all like our booties.

I didn’t always appreciate mine due to it’s…size, but why shouldn’t we like what we’re workin’ with? We have what we have, after all.

Not too long ago, I was thinking out loud about the appropriateness and stylishness of my workout pant collection. Shorts have never really fit me too well- with the bigger rear and all- I enjoy a good pair of snug workout tights. Continue reading What to do about cellulite: The Health at Every Size mentality

Finding our balance

Finding balance in our lives can be as difficult as finding a handsome, smart, successful, emotionally healthy guy on a Match.com first date.

We think we have him, his messages were nice, he picked us up in a clean car, he chose a good restaurant, and then he says something like, “Just so you know, my wife won’t be allowed to work so I hope that is ok with you” while separating his food by color and eating a pea at a time.

Handsome, yes? Emotionally healthy? Fail.

We usually need a few tries to find Mr. Right, and finding life balance can be equally as tricky- we think we have found a schedule that works, a mindfulness practice that brings us calmness, and have carved out time for friends and health on a weekly basis. But that lasted a couple weeks before we “got busy” or distracted or our work schedule ran away with us or happy hour sounded more appealing than gym time or insert reason here:________________.

Continue reading Finding our balance

Food for (behavior changing) thought

What is the secret ingredient to a long + happy life? Good genes help. And good jeans help. But honestly? Quality friendships provide the biggest boost.

According to the Mayo Clinic, having people we can count on can:

  • Intensify belonging and purpose
  • Promote happiness and decrease stress
  • Improve self-confidence and self-efficacy
  • Help us better deal with bad events
  • Encourage change or helps us avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits

In Okinowa, the community with the most people over 100 worldwide, they keep small circles of friends- typically 4 or 5- that they have committed to for life. Continue reading Food for (behavior changing) thought

Citizens of the Planet

When I was in graduate school, my dad took me to see Alanis Morissette at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on a cool, summer night. When we walked in, a bit late, the opening act was already on stage.

One guy, one guitar, and a haunting voice- I fell in love with Alexi Murdoch’s music that night. My favorite song, All My Days, always gets me in the mood to write- it is so peaceful and pensive. I even ran my first marathon listening to the album Time Without Consequence over and over.

I loved Alanis’ new album debuted at that concert, too. Flavors of Entanglement boasted quite a few heart-wrenching songs related to her then-recent breakup with Ryan Reynolds. There was one song, however, that was a noted juxtaposition with the other broken-hearted tracks. I thought Citizen of the Planet had a powerful message:

I come alive and I get giddy- I am taken and globally naturalized

I am a citizen of the planet

From simple roots through high vision

Her phrase- Citizen of the planet- stuck with me. We think of ourselves as citizens of our cities, our states, our countries…but often we lose sight of being, first and foremost, citizens of Earth. Native American culture stressed appreciation for nature and the world that supports our every breath. In our modern society, however, we have often lost this clarity. It’s so easy to be absorbed by technology and ease of access. Continue reading Citizens of the Planet

On where to start to lose weight and be healthier

Collectively, we’re an unhealthy bunch.

Our children?  Vastly chubbier. Our blood pressure and cholesterol? Far higher. And our heart disease and cancer rates? Staggering as compared to 50 years ago. In the 1960s, only about 10% of us were obese. Today almost 40% of us are.

I read an article today that also noted suicide and depression are at a 30-year high.

We are obese and sad! And it’s heart breaking!

What are we doing wrong? And better yet- why aren’t we changing?

Over years of counseling clients, I’ve asked myself this question countless times. Why isn’t my patient reaching the goals we set? And how can I help?

I just finished reading a book on trauma and children- it was a book Dr. P ordered and was written by a child psychiatrist. We are all familiar with what a habit is, but this author was elegant and engaging in his description of the brain and its neurological pathways as they relate to habitual behavior.

Basically, when we do something a number of times, we literally carve a path in our brain matter. Much like a path in the woods heavily trodden, this neurological marking makes it more likely we will follow this same behavior without much thought in the future. Continue reading On where to start to lose weight and be healthier

On anxiety and fear

Sometimes life is like running through the dark with scissors along a landscape of jutting rocks.

We live in a chaotic world. Our natural emotions surrounding this are anxiety and fear. They are our body’s natural reaction to change, and it usually serves to keep us stationary.

When we tell ourselves, “No, I like where I am, because it is comfortable (even though I am unhealthy)”, what we are really saying is, “I’m afraid and nervous to change”.

Anxiety and fear raise cortisol, a stress hormone that make it hard to lose weight and also puts our heart at risk. And because “busy” is cool these days, we are experiencing more anxiety, more stress, more cortisol, more jutting rocks than ever before. 

Quieting our minds and re-center ourselves several times a day can help decrease our stress hormones.

We can only control our present, and there is peace in the present. Health is in the present. Health depends on this ability to focus our minds on the present moment.

One of my favorite quotes is Pablo Picasso’s: “ I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”.  He was a fearlessly brilliant man. His greatness, I believe, was a direct result of this ability to look a challenge up and down and eschew all doubts in himself and fear of the unknown.

Change is both painful and scary. But no change was ever made without a bit of discomfort.

Here are a few ideas to help us control our anxiety and move toward our goals:

1.       Take an honest stock of your current state of mind. Recognizing negative thought patterns. Are we afraid to change anything for the better or try something that we’ve been wanting to do simply because we are afraid or anxious? Here is a self-test for anxiety that could be helpful in answering this question.

2.     Try meditation and mindfulness. Even just taking 5 minutes of our day to reflect on what we are grateful for, happy or excited about, and what parts of our health we are appreciative of can calm our wired minds and refocus our energy. Meditation has been shown to change the actual shape and function of our brains. Here is a great beginner’s guide to meditation. Also consider taking a local meditation class. Classes where we are gathered together create a powerful and positive energy.

3.       Move more. Exercise burns cortisol and increases feelings of euphoria by stimulating endorphins in our brains. A brisk walk is also a sturdy place to think and breathe. Distance runners tend to have less anxiety, because they have longs runs in which they can clear their minds of clutter and fear.

4.       Eat a diet high in plant-based foods. Food is not only energy, but it also contains a good bit of information that our bodies use to decide to be calm or be frightful. For example, large amounts of simple carbohydrate or sugar can stimulate a stress-response and inflammation. This increases natural stress hormones which can in turn increase feelings of malaise and restlessness. Eating bright colored natural foods in enough variety can help shield us from our own negative energy.

5.       Seek professional assistance. Trained minds such as psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, and therapists have dedicated their lives to learning how to help us. We live in a mad, mad world, and there is no shame in asking for guidance. I believe in using our resources. 

xoxo

Joanna