Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Life Gives Us Lemons

Often, we hear, "When life gives us lemons, make lemonade." The lemons that show up in your life may include:

  • Not reaching your personal or professional goals
  • Illness or your body not performing like it once did
  • Losing your job
  • An important relationship ending
  • Having a challenging time navigating through changes in your life

Here is the thing. Life is going to hand us lemons every now and again. If you want to make really good lemonade you have to change the way you think about these situations.

Recently, a colleague shared with me that her husband had lost his job. Surely, it's not what you want to hear when you say, “how was your day, dear?” He experienced the normal feelings that coincide with loss; worry, doubt, fear. However, it didn’t take him long to recover and shift his mindset to: “this is going to be an adventure!”

Some may say he was tapping into the power of positive thinking. This is a strategy I share with clients regularly.
It is often said that affirmations, the act of affirming what it is that you want to create, is the welcome mat to manifesting your desires. This practice works for many, yet not for all. Some have a hard time wrapping their mind around affirming something that’s not already present in their lives.

This is where Non-Negative thinking, changing the destructive things you say to yourself when you experience the setbacks that life deals us, may work better.

The next time life hands you lemons, here is your new recipe for lemonade:

1. Look at the lemons long enough to know what you need to do with them.

2. Feel whatever feelings you need to feel.

3. Consciously reframe what you are saying to yourself about the situation. No need to continue to beat yourself up when lemons show up.

4. Pour over ice and enjoy—essentially do your best to chill out and roll with the change. Take time to look at the situation from different angles, objectify it as separate from you. Know there is a lesson and that it may take time to see it. Trust that the universe will take care of you. You've been given an opportunity to reinvent. Embrace the change and know it will bring what you need.

I know this is easier said when done, however with practice, the act of non-negative thinking becomes easier and eventually falls away, replaced by different words and a more efficient mindset for moving forward.

It is from this perspective that you can enjoy the juicy sweetness of life.
Now that’s delicious.
~Thanks to Wendy Watkins

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to eat in the heat

woman eating watermelon in the summer
Summer changes everything, from our fashion choices (open-toes whenever possible) and workout schedules (early morning run!), right down to when and what we want to eat.
The body reflects what’s happening outside. Meaning what flies in February is very different than what nourishes your body on a long and sweaty summer day. And your food choices and meal times need to shift with the seasons.
Want to make sure you’re not living on beef stew and bean salads come Memorial Day weekend? Here’s how experts say you should eat in the heat.
1. Cool foods rule.
Ayurveda, the 5,000 year-old healing science, is all about balance, so cooling foods and beverages are your friend in summer—especially if you’ve got any signs of excess heat in the body, like heartburn, inflammation, and flushed skin. Salty, spicy, and sour foods are heating, while  mint and cilantro, cucumbers and celery with high water content, and dark greens tend to cool the body. A great green juice to drink in the summer would include pear, fennel, kale, some mint, and maybe a bit of lime juice.
2. Eat sweet.
No, not Ben & Jerry’s. Sweet fruit, on the other hand, is fair game. It’s extremely balancing to anyone with an abundance of Pitta—the fiery of the three Ayurvedic doshas (constitutions). So go ahead and load up on it. Berries are a good choice, as is watermelon, which is super light and hydrating.
3. Pick your alcohol wisely.
Summer is the season of outdoor cocktailing and we're not out to deny anyone that pleasure. But, the same Ayurvedic principles that apply to food also apply libations, which means any drink with a slightly sweeter taste is your best bet for boozing in balance. And instead of a salty, sour (i.e. heating) margarita, enjoy a mojito full of cooling mint.
4. Respect your body’s rhythms.
A lot of people experience diminished appetites when temps soar and that’s totally fine. If you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself to eat. Enjoy lighter meals. Be careful not to skip important nutrients or meals altogether, just don’t feel compelled to eat something hearty just because the clock’s telling you to do so. Listen to your body.
5. Now is the season for local.
When you’re en route to your weekend getaway and notice a perfect-looking farm stand, stop! Enjoy summer’s abundance! Snack on watermelon and freshly-picked tomatoes. Use freshly cut herbs and micro-greens for salads. Not only does nature provide beaucoup de cooling foods at just the right time (think summer squash, snow peas, and cauliflower), they’re super nutrient-dense. Those micro-greens have seven times more antioxidants than the adult versions.
6. Electrolytes are your friend.
The more you sweat, the more electrolytes you need—but not from fluorescent sports drinks. Try using sea salt (for sodium), drinking lots of green juices for magnesium, and sipping cucumber juice and coconut water, for a “potassium infusion.”
7. Enjoy meals with friends.
It might not sound like a direct dietary rule, but it’s important for anyone struggling with too much fire inside—which can leave you feeling cranky and feisty—to enjoy leisurely meals with loved ones. One of the Ayurvedic treatments I would prescribe is joy and pleasure. Plus, it forces you to eat mindfully, rather than scarfing meals on-the-go, which is always a good thing.
~Thanks to Well + Good.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hope for an S-Shaped Back

A 5-year-old boy with a case of scoliosis caused by poliomyelitis, before treatment, left, after three weeks of in-patient Schroth treatment, center, and after six weeks of Schroth treatment, right.Christa Lehnert-Schroth, Bad Sobernheim, GermanyA 5-year-old boy with a case of scoliosis caused by poliomyelitis, before treatment, left, after three weeks of in-patient Schroth treatment, center, and after six weeks of Schroth treatment, right.
Beth Janssen, a physical therapist, instructs Tylene Dierickx, 15, who has scoliosis, in a Schroth Method stretching exercise to help correct the curvature of her spine.Beth Janssen, a physical therapist, instructs Tylene Dierickx, 15, who has scoliosis, in a Schroth Method stretching exercise to help correct the curvature of her spine.

I wore a hard plastic brace around my torso from ages 8 to 16 to treat scoliosis, or spinal curvature. Bracing has been standard treatment in children for the past five decades, and I wore my brace diligently, if awkwardly, in the hope that it would contain my S-shaped curvature and stave off the need for spinal fusion surgery.
By the time I was 16 and full-grown — and no longer considered at high risk for curve progression — my most prominent spinal curve had stabilized at 45 degrees. I’d narrowly escaped surgery and the complications that can accompany it. My orthopedist told me my treatment was done.
I’ve discovered in the years since that scoliosis is not something you endure and outgrow, like pimples and puberty. Significant curves often grow throughout adulthood, and can cause deformity, arthritis, pinched nerves, herniated discs, muscle spasms and reduced mobility and lung capacity.
Now, at the ripe age of 38, I find myself with a 55-degree upper curve, a 33-degree lower curve, consistent pain — and no standard treatment to follow.
Some orthopedists have recommended surgery; others have suggested conventional physical therapy. None can say whether either protocol will eliminate pain, and until recently these were my only options.
Now there may be another: an exercise regimen called the Schroth method. Developed in the 1920s in Germany by Katharina Schroth, the technique is a standard treatment for scoliosis in children and adults in several European countries.
The therapy, tailored to each patient’s curves, focuses on halting curve progression, reducing pain, and improving posture, strength and lung function. The exercises include stretching, strengthening and breathing techniques that counteract the rotation of spinal curvatures. Patients are supposed to do them at home and incorporate postural corrections into their daily lives.
Dozens of studies from abroad have found that the Schroth method and variations of it improved patient outcomes and reduced the need for surgery in people of all ages. In one study, patients who didn’t do Schroth exercises saw their spinal curves progress up to nearly three times more than those of patients who did practice the exercises. In another study, 813 Schroth patients increased their ability to expand their chests to breathe by an average of 20 percent.
None of these studies were large, randomized controlled trials, and the Scoliosis Research Society, which influences guidelines for care in the United States, does not officially recognize physical therapy as a treatment option. “But the mind-set of the American scoliosis practitioner is shifting,” said Dr. Michael Mendelow, an orthopedic spinal surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, S.C.
Boston Children’s Hospital and Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan are among the health-care institutions that now have Schroth therapists. Insurers are starting to cover the treatment and the braces favored by Schroth experts, and certified practices have popped up across the country. Teaching centers such as Columbia University and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian are sponsoring Schroth-related conferences.
“If you look critically at the body of literature, there is evidence that, when properly done in the right situation, with the right therapist and the right patient, Schroth can change the chance of curve progression,” said Dr. Michael Vitale, chief of pediatric orthopedics at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
Even the Scoliosis Research Society is taking a second look.
“We’re primarily using Schroth on people who are being braced — I think it will make bracing more successful,” said Dr. M. Timothy Hresko, chairman of the research society’s nonoperative committee and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard.
At the University of Alberta in Canada, researchers recently completed a randomized pilot study of Schroth, financed in part by the research society. The six-month study showed that adolescents with scoliosis who did these exercises fared better than teenagers who didn’t with regard to curve progression, pain and self-image. A larger multicenter randomized trial, funded by the SickKids Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, is now enrolling adolescents.
Many scoliosis patients, in increasing discomfort, aren’t waiting for new study results. At age 15, Rachel Mulvaney of Mount Sinai, N.Y., went to a clinic run by Beth Janssen, a Schroth therapist, in Stevens Point, Wis. Her 42-degree curve was progressing, and orthopedists had told her she needed surgery.
“Within the first three days there, I was out of pain for the first time in five years,” said Ms. Mulvaney, now 19. After eight months of Schroth exercises, her curve decreased to 30 degrees, and it has since dropped to 22 degrees — a reduction extremely rare in patients her age.
Her orthopedist, Dr. John J. Labiak, clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Stony Brook University, said he was “shocked and happily surprised” by her progress. He has begun recommending the method to other patients.
As for adults with scoliosis like me, who are beyond bracing yet hoping to avoid surgery, Schroth may be the last best chance. We can’t turn back time and change the progression of our curves, but maybe this therapy can make carrying groceries a little less painful or breathing a little easier — for us and those who grow up after us.
A version of this article appears in print on 05/13/2014, on page D6 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Braceless Option for Scoliosis.

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 Banned Ingredients Still in our Food Supply

Our food supply is contaminated with tons of additives: color additives, emulsifiers, faux fats, flavor enhancers, preservatives, stabilizers, thickeners, binders, and more! The total market value of food additives in the U.S. increased from $4.3 billion in 2007 to $4.8 billion in 2012. The projected market value of these additives will increase even more rapidly during 2013 through 2018, from $4.9 billion to $5.8 billion.
“For numerous, suspicious and disturbing reasons, the U.S. has allowed foods that are banned in many other developed countries into our food supply,” says nutritionist Mira Calton who, together with her husband Jayson Calton, Ph.D., wrote the new book Rich Food, Poor Food.
Here are the five banned ingredients:
1. Counterfeit Colors (Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow5, and Yellow 6)
Colors appeal and tempt the eye; hence, we have so many brightly colored cakes, candies, sport drinks and sodas. But don’t let the appearance of things fool you. These colors are carcinogenic and can mutate our DNA. 
2. Olestra (aka Olean)
“It took a quarter of a century and a billion dollars to create this Frankenfat but it didn’t take the U.K. or Canada very long to ban it completely,” says Jayson Calton, Ph.D.
This faux-fat depletes the body’s ability to process and absorb fat soluble vitamins, which we need for good health. It can also cause serious issues with your gastrointestinal tract. So don’t be surprised if you eat olestra-infused chips and have irritable bowel syndrome. Get yourself a super dose of probiotics to start repairing any damage done to your gut.
 3. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
Found in sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas, “this emulsifier prevents flavoring from separating and floating to the surface of beverages,” says Calton. High levels of this lovely additive mess up your thyroid and can cause thyroid cancer, since it prevents the thyroid from absorbing iodine. The main function of the thyroid in the endocrine system is to regulate your metabolism, which is your body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy. BVO has been banned in 100 other countries; however, the United States regards it as safe when consumed on an interim basis.
 4. Potassium Bromate (aka Brominated Flour)
Make sure your food doesn’t come with a warning label! “This flour-bulking agent can be found in rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips to help strengthen dough, reducing the amount of time needed for baking, which results in lowered costs,” says Calton. Manufacturers use potassium bromate, a carcinogen, which is made with the same toxic chemical found in BVO (bromine), even though the Food and Drug Administration “encourages” otherwise.
5. Azodicarbonamide
While most countries wait a week for flour to whiten naturally, the American food processors prefer to use azodicarbonamide to bleach flour immediately. This ingredient has quite a range of uses. It’s found in bread and sneaker soles alike, adding a certain bounce factor to foods or foamed plastics. Read more about this additive  here.
It’s up to us to leave these nasty ingredients on the shelves. Fortunately, perceived loopholes in the FDA’s additive approval process are stirring public concern and political will to revise their policies. 
Listen to the authors of Rich Food, Poor Food here:
~Thanks to Maryann Henein

Thursday, May 1, 2014

5 Practical Tips to Lose the Weight for Good

1. Weight loss is big business. Are you spending your money & time believing in weight loss magic?
Don't sabotage your home environment: no toxic junk! Skip the candy and chips. breads and pasta, and add more green veggies to your cart! When we eat plants first, the greens replenish the alkaline reserve minerals and remove some toxic metals and chemicals from the body that cause acidity. Replace milk and dairy with coconut milk and unsalted butter. Take charge. You are in charge of your grocery list! Plan what you will bring to work for lunch - without a plan it's easy to slip back into habits of eating out: fast and junky foods.

2. Balance is important when it comes to hormones. Not only can you not lose weight when you ingest hormone laden meats and GMOs, but it's important to be aware of toxins in your environment, starting in your home, on your skin, at work that will disrupt hormones and keep us fat. Phthalates, for one, must be avoided! Start by ditching toxic laundry detergents, air fresheners and dryer sheets. Become aware of how often you become stressed during your day. High cortisol levels keep us fat. Change the direction of your focus and you will change the degree of your stress. To balance hormones, pay special attention to getting a good night's sleep; without it we can stay fat! The typical modern lifestyle contributes to leptin resistance: fast food, little or no exercise, too much stress and not enough sleep.

3. Are you worth your weight in sugar? Sugar makes us fat. You may need to reprogram your brain - sugar is not your reward at the end of a hard day. It has nothing to do with comfort and everything to do with inflammation and weight gain. Ditch the sugar, bottled juices and artificial sugars which are loaded with harmful chemicals, more harmful than sugar. Avoid alcoholic drinks. Sugar is devoid of minerals, vitamins, fiber....and has a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system, causing endocrine disruption. Sugar is directly related to having an abundance of Candida in our gut. Candida causes all kins of inflammatory issues, and decreases good gut bacteria. Purchase a good probiotic; good bacteria assists the body with detoxification, and without it we are sure to see weight gain.

4. Read ingredient labels. Don't be fooled by the word NATURAL ingredients, this is a marketing term and means nothing. Most "smart foods" can keep us fat. Remove all MSG from your diet; MSG is an excitotoxin. It excites the brain and interferes with digestion. MSG can be found in many places: soups, crackers, gatorade, KFC, soy sauce...MSG leads to increased serum triglycerides, fasting glucose and insulin levels - all of which are metabolic disorder bio-markers.

5. While nutrition is the key to fat loss, you can't maximize your fat burning without moving the body. The most important factor here is consistency, so choose something you enjoy, and stick to it! Yoga, a walk on the beach, take your time with it and enjoy feeling better!

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