Friday, October 31, 2014

Trust And Toxic Relationships

Sometimes the greatest trust we experience is with animals. Unfortunately trust between humans can be hard to come by.
Trust is the basis of any effective and life affirming relationship. So how does trust happen and why is it that so many people including highly sensitive people find that no matter what efforts they make they are not able to get to a positive trusting place with many of their important relationships?
And while we are at it, let’s ask what happens to trust in toxic relationships including narcissistic ones.

Are There Different Kinds Of Trust?

There are different ways that people experience trust; however, trust at its most fundamental level is a feeling of safety. The feelings of safety can come from any number of sources which is one of the reasons that it can be difficult to create between two people.
In what ways is trust created?
  • via similar expectations
  • the same values
  • compatible personal habits
  • comfortably similar 'style'
  • similar background
  • a match in goals and dreams
This is a trust based on sameness, on being alike and it can help for building a foundation in a relationship.
Compatibility makes a big difference in establishing trust but does not help us with the dynamic nature of life which requires listening, paying attention, the ability to compromise and problem solve in mutually positive ways. That is a different and equally necessary component of trust.
Each of these compatibility or relating challenges provide rich opportunities for trust issues and abuse.

Where Does The Toxicity Arise?

Toxicity in relationships usually arises from some form of mishandled difference or incompatibility or some form of exploitation.
Although there is obviously nothing inherently wrong with people being different, differences can be a problem if they are used to make inappropriate demands of others. It is not appropriate to transfer our habits, expectations and lifestyle automatically to another and demand that others conform to our preferences. For example, a person who does not celebrate holidays should not demand that people who like to celebrate them forgo their celebrations or people who dislike one kind of food insist that their friends and family eat like them. These are simplistic examples. Of course context is not being considered here and context does matter.
So how we handle differences and the dynamics of the ups and downs of life can result in toxicity in our relationships.

Domination And Toxic Relationships

The need to dominate someone else is a surefire way to create a toxic relationship and deserves a special mention since it accounts for a lot of the perceived toxicity in relationships. The need to dominate is an important pattern in narcissists because narcissists only feel safe when they have the upper hand. Narcissists, however, are not the only people with a high need to dominate. People who
  • have rigid ideologies
  • are very competitive
  • have fixed ideas about rules and roles to live by
also have a high need to dominate others to perpetuate their worldviews or social position. They can be very toxic for those who do not share their point of view.
Some families have rigid ideological and social views with a dose of narcissism for good measure. They tend to think negatively of people who do not meet their expectations and are very critical and judgmental. Often, their thinking and attitudes did not sit well with other family members and can cause a lot of heartache. There is a reason for this disappointment: people who have these rigid ideas and attitudes have a basic inner negativity that often is not open to change.

Is It Hopeless?

There are indeed people with whom one cannot have a positive relationship, people who will not see you as an equal human being. Fortunately not everyone is like that.
Some describe people as coming in 3 flavors:
  1. the haters or hopelessly negative
  2. the indifferent
  3. your kindred spirits or tribe.
This is a simple but effective reminder that we cannot get along with everyone but there are still plenty of people out there who will make great companions. 33% of the human race is a large number.

What Does A Healthy Relationship Look And Feel Like?

In a healthy relationship, both people are peers and have a say. They respect each other and negotiate how they handle their differences. One person does not set or dominate the agenda. The relationship is actually co-created by the two people. There is a feeling of relief and acceptance that you do not get in a toxic relationship. Cocreating a relationship does not happen in toxic relationships and certainly not in relationships with a narcissist.

Changing Relationship Dynamics

Some relationships in your life will fall in a gray area of sometimes good and other times not so good. They may be worth some attention to see if you can make them better. Work relationships and family relationships can be helped by some creativity.
Here are a number of creative things you can do to change relationship dynamics:
  • enlarge the concerns/agenda to include your concerns and issues
  • change perceptions about pitfalls and risks to change the choices that get made
  • create a compromise strategy: one day is is my way, another day your way and on a different day we try something new
  • attach change to goals and important mutual concerns. By trying “x” we help us to succeed at “y”.
  • move the relationship in a cocreating direction.
Some people cannot handle negotiating and so at best you can work with them on a limited basis, and some simply cannot be in your life.

Assessing Possibilities

Before you get involved with someone, look for these characteristics to assess whether or not you have a potentially non-toxic relationship:
  • flexibility
  • creativity
  • listening skills
  • open, non rejecting language
  • keeps promises and does not promise more than can be done
  • realistic rather than inappropriate expectations
You deserve the care and regard of others. When you are willing to do your part you also deserve people in your life who meet you part way to the best of their ability. Not only is it important to your emotional and mental health to have constructive companions but also for your physical health as well. Stressful relationships are very physically damaging.
Awareness about potential sources of toxicity and a mindful way of appraising individuals can help you find people to be in relationship with who will bring out the best in life for you. Your goodwill and creativity can make the relationship joyful. You deserve no less!
~Thanks to Maria Hill

Why is Iron so Crucial to Your Body?

The human body requires iron to perform many vital physiological functions. For instance, iron is the key component of hemoglobin that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body, and it plays a key role in cell growth and differentiation. According to the World Health Organization, up to 80% of the people in the world may be iron deficient. Premenopausal women, particularly those who exercise regularly, face a great risk of iron deficiency, or even anemia. Athletic, active males are also at high risk for iron deficiency. Low levels of iron can leave you feeling physically tired and weak, impair mental function, and weaken the immune system. Having too much iron in the body, on the other hand, can poison certain organs and even cause death. Maintaining the optimal balance of iron within the body is therefore essential to one’s health.

How does the body acquire and expel iron?
The body cannot make iron; you must acquire it through your diet. Dietary iron is processed and absorbed by the mucosal cells of the small intestine. Only about 10% of the iron we consume each day is absorbed into the body, however. The process of iron absorption is tightly regulated because the body does not posses any biochemical mechanisms for removing iron. Instead, iron is lost through processes such as bleeding, menstruation, and breast-feeding. Additionally, iron within the body is constantly being recycled and reused (e.g., in red blood cell turnover).
What happens once iron enters the body?
After being absorbed into the mucosal cells of the small intestine, a portion of the iron is stored in the protein ferritin. Each ferritin molecule is capable of binding to around 4,500 iron molecules at a time. Ferritin binds and releases iron in response to fluctuating amounts of iron in the blood, thereby maintaining a relatively constant serum (blood) iron level. Ferritin is found in all cells, but is most common in bone marrow, the liver, and the spleen. The liver, heart, and pancreas typically have high levels of ferritin and are therefore susceptible to disease or damage from iron overload.
Iron not stored within ferritin is exported from the intestinal cells and released into the bloodstream. Once the iron enters the blood, it is bound by the protein transferrin. Proteins like transferrin prevent iron from forming cell-damaging compounds such as free radicals and aid in the transportation of iron to various tissues throughout the body.
Some iron is also shuttled to the bone marrow where it plays a key role in the formation of new red blood cells. Iron-bound transferrin binds to the transferrin receptor on the surface of newly forming red blood cells, then moves into the cell where the iron is separated from the transferrin. The transferrin protein returns to the bloodstream, and the iron is available in the cell for use. Since red blood cells have such a short lifespan (about 120 days), the body requires a constant supply of iron to rebuild hemoglobin. As a result, dying red blood cells are recycled by white blood cells known as macrophages. Old hemoglobin is broken down to replenish the blood’s iron supply.
Why might my iron be low?
One reason you may be low on iron is that your body’s demand for iron may have increased. This often occurs in young children undergoing rapid growth, pregnant women, and people who lose blood through blood donation, intestinal conditions, menstruation, or very intense endurance activity. Another reason for low iron is decreased iron intake or absorption. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recommends that men aged 19-50 consume 8 mg of iron per day and premenopausal women consume 18 mg of iron per day. After menopause, women’s iron needs drop to the same level as men’s: 8 mg per day.
How can I improve my body’s iron status?
Dietary iron takes two forms: heme (meat, poultry, and fish) and nonheme (beans, spinach, and fortified foods). Although nonheme iron is the more abundant form, the body more readily absorbs heme iron. Therefore you can increase iron absorption by consuming more heme iron. In addition, vitamin C helps to increase the amount of iron that your body absorbs; consuming foods or beverages rich in vitamin C at the same time that you are eating foods high in iron will boost iron absorption. Other compounds inhibit the absorption of iron, so you should avoid consuming foods or beverages containing these substances at the same time you are eating iron-rich foods. For example, for improved iron absorption, don’t drink coffee or tea during a meal or for one hour following a meal. Similarly, legumes and whole grains contain compounds that reduce iron absorption - so avoid consuming beans or whole grains with an iron-rich meal.
~Thanks to Gil Blander

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heartburn and Acid Reflux: 15 Natural Remedies

Almost everyone will experience heartburn at some point in their lives. Did you know more than 40% of Americans have heartburn pain at least one time each month, and that 5 – 7 % of the entire world population has heartburn or acid reflux on a frequent basis? Ouch!
Heartburn feels like you have too much acid in your stomach. You may feel too full for too long, and you may experience bloating, burping and other related symptoms of indigestion. When it’s really bad, people sometimes mistake the symptoms for a heart attack. The tricky thing about heartburn and reflux is that while it’s true that acid is the problem, it’s the opposite of what we think. We have heartburn because we don’t have enough acid.
Sound confusing?
Well, consider that when you swallow, food goes down your esophagus to your stomach. There’s a little flap that separates the two, but if that little flap isn’t working right, acid can back up, causing that burning feeling even when we have low stomach acid. So that burning feeling is a symptom, not the cause, of the problem. Several things can cause that little flap to weaken and malfunction, things like having too much caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, sugar or processed foods. In addition there could be bacterial overgrowth (Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with ulcers and even cancer), a hernia, or even a side-effect of a medication. (Be sure to read the potential side-effect of medications you’re taking or check with your pharmacist to see if your medications could be causing your heartburn.)  
Stomach acid is hydrochloric acid (HCl), and it is a beautiful thing. It’s incredibly powerful - in fact it would burn right through your skin if you could touch it. Its role is critical to our health and wellbeing, not just because of digestion but because it’s one of our bodies’ primary defense systems. When we eat yummy food, sometimes bad bugs come along for the ride. Remember salmonella and E. coli? These bugs can cause disease if we don’t have enough acid to kill them off. When stomach acid is low we can’t possibly digest our food properly, we’re unable to fully absorb vitamins B12 and iron, and we’re at greater risk of food poisoning.

Our bodies produce less stomach acid as we age; it’s just a normal part of the aging process. But other factors can decrease the flow too. Two major factors are the chronic emotional stress of anxiety or depression and the physical stress of chronic illness. If you’re suffering with stress and you’re over the age of 40, you’ve got a double whammy when it comes to stomach acid. I’m going to share a few of my favorite tips for dealing with heartburn pain and for increasing stomach acid.To ease the pain of heartburn or reflux, try the following:

Toni - Heartburn 2
  • Baking soda neutralizes the acid in your stomach and should be used only occasionally. Even though it makes you feel better it keeps you from digesting properly - not a good thing. Dissolve one teaspoon in eight ounces of room-temperature water and drink.
  • Aloe juice naturally helps to reduce inflammation. Drinking up to ½ cup before meals may ease your symptoms. Note: aloe juice may have a laxative effect.
  • Ginger root tea is an ancient remedy for stomach troubles. It can block acid andToni - Heartburn 3suppress H pylori. Peel and slice about one inch of fresh ginger. Add to two cups of hot water and let steep for about half an hour. Discard ginger root and drink the tea about 20 minutes before your meal. 
  • Chamomile tea before bedtime can help soothe inflammation and help you get to sleep.
  • Slippery elm coats and soothes, and has antioxidants that can help with inflammatory bowel conditions. It’s available in several forms. You can make a tea with two cups boiling water over two tablespoons powdered slippery elm bark, steep for 3 – 5 minutes and drink three times a day. You can purchase capsules or lozenges at your health food store. The lozenges are helpful for sore throats too.
To increase stomach acid:
  • Relax before you eat. Sit down, take a few deep breaths, express gratitude for the food you are about to eat. Avoid eating when angry or upset, nothing interferes with digestion more than that.
  • Chew your food thoroughly. This one step can make all the difference in your digestion. Chew until food is liquid in consistency; while you’re chewing your body is ramping up acid production.
  • Eat small amounts of fermented vegetables daily. Naturally fermented (cultured) vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi also contain probiotics that will help to get your body back into balance. Just a tablespoon or two twice a day will help. Be sure to buy products that include vegetables and salt only, no vinegar. Mix your veggies into a salad or use as condiments at mealtime.
  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) can easily improve the acid content of your stomach. If this is new for you, start with ½ teaspoon in a glass of water 20-30 minutes before your meal. Gradually increase the amount until you’re taking one tablespoon in a glass of water. To improve the taste, squeeze in a little lemon or lime juice.
  • Avoid drinking too much liquid with and right before meals. We all know we should drink lots of water, and we should. But when we drink it within the 20 minutes before a meal, or we drink a full glass with a meal, we’re diluting our own stomach acid! If you’re a big water drinker like me, this can be a hard habit to break. But try keeping your liquid to three – four ounces during a meal and see how much better you feel. Do your best to wait 30 – 60 minutes after a meal to resume drinking water, or enjoy small sips if you can’t wait.
To prevent recurrence of heartburn:
  • Switch to whole foods: limit processed foods!
  • Eat moderately, stopping when you are satisfied rather than full.
  • Finish eating three hours before bed. No late night snacks to interfere with your good night’s sleep.
  • Take probiotics daily, whether in food or in supplement form.
  • Identify and avoid trigger foods. An elimination-type clean eating plan can be a perfect tool to help you identify the foods that trigger heartburn in your body. Now you know how simple it can be to reduce and avoid heartburn pain, which of these steps will you take?
~Thanks to Toni Crabtree

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Anxiety-womanAs a business owner I have a lot on my mind. I never thought I would have so many anxious thoughts all day long...the laundry list of questions running through my brain. And on top of it all, I’m barely getting any sleep each night!

Yoga to the rescue…every time I start to get really overwhelmed, I stop and take a deep, full breath. And I will do these three yoga poses to help calm my nervous mind and quell the anxiety.

Downward Facing Dog—Downward Dog is an incredible pose for so many things. I especially find it helpful when I am anxious because it releases my entire body. I can feel the tightness in my shoulders, back, jaw and neck when I initially go in the pose. Downward dog stretches out every part of my body and releases my mind. There are so many little adjustments to think about in the posture, it forces my mind to focus. If Timothy is lying underneath me, I can look at his gorgeous happy face and it makes me relax. I often close my eyes in downward dog as well to do a mental scan of my body to see where I can let go a bit more.

Start on all fours, tuck under your toes and lift your hips up and back. Press firmly in to your hands and try and transfer your weight back in to your legs. Engage your abdominals and stay and breathe for at least 8 to 10 breaths:
Pigeon—Our hips are like the basement of the house where we store all of our junk. Over time we need to take out the trash or else it just piles up and overwhelms us. Pigeon feels good and releases the hips and lower back. I feel like I can always calm down a little when I go in to pigeon pose, it’s like soaking in to a warm bath.

From downward facing dog, bring your right knee forward towards your right hand and your right foot towards your left hand. The shin will run somewhat parallel to the front edge of the mat. Lift your chest and sink the front of your upper left thigh towards the mat and lengthen through the left leg as you lower it the floor. Stay upright until you feel the hips settle then you can also walk forward and lay the torso on the floor and release your forehead to the mat. Hold for 8 to 10 breaths then step back in to downward dog and repeat on the left side:
Janu Sirasasana—One of my all time favorite poses is janu sirasasana also known as head to knee pose. Janu sirasasana releases the hips, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders and upper back. The kidney region gets a good stretch as well, helping us release anxiety and fear. Our kidneys are shaped like our ears and the sound the ears like to hear most is the oceanic sound of the breath. When we hear that breath in this pose it allows us to let go.

From pigeon on the left side, swing your right leg around in front and straighten it out placing the left foot on the inner upper right thigh. Lift up through your chest then walk you hands forward and extend your torso over the right leg. Stay here for 8 to 10 breaths then repeat on the opposite leg:
~Thanks to Kristin McGee

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Busy People Burn More Calories in Less Time

Listen, you’ve got a full time job, stressful deadlines, a baby on your hip - and maybe even a social life. Add drive time, traffic, parking hassle, and locker room change, my one-hour spin class turns into a 2 or 3 hour commitment. Nobody’s got time for that.
So, what I want to know is: what’s the most sweat-inducing, time-efficient, bull-busting workout? A workout that will not only burn the most calories in the least amount of time, but that will continue burning calories later (while I’m watching NetFlix on the couch).
After polling the experts, reading the research, and experimenting with a HIIT boot camp, here’s what I found.
Read on for the best workouts - organized by the amount of time you have available. Learn which are the best exercises for burning calories and why. And, most importantly, how to keep 'em burning long after you leave the gym.

THE KEY: Engage the afterburn

The following workout plans hinge on Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), also known as the “afterburn.” EPOC is the period of time after your workout that your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) remains elevated. The more intense your workout, the longer the afterburn will last. The most efficient workouts, then, will maximize EPOC to ensure the most calories burned in the shortest time period.
Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)

Only 2 days a week to exercise?
Do 30-minutes of weight training

What is it?
Using barbells and free weights to do weight-bearing repetitions to gain muscle mass and tone.

  • Seriously engages EPOC 
  • Builds muscle mass which raises your resting metabolic rate (RMR). The more muscle the body has, the more calories it burns at rest.
[RMR is different from EPOC: EPOC is the measure of increased caloric burn after exercise, RMR is the measure of how many calories are burned over the course of an entire day. Weight training raises both: double win!]

  • Higher risk of injury
  • Takes longer to recover
  • Hard on joints and bones

How to ensure the longest caloric burn:

Alwyn_CosgroveFitness coach and author Alwyn Cosgrove writes in his Hierarchy of Fat Loss, that the key to reaping the most benefits from your weight training is recruiting the biggest muscle groups. The more muscles that work simultaneously, the more calories you’ll burn.
The best exercises for afterburn:
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Squat thrusts
  • Burpees
  • Inverted rows
  • Pull ups
  • Push ups
  • Kettlebell swings

Only 3 days a week to exercise?
Do 20 to 30-minutes of high-intensity interval training

What is it?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) alternates high- and low-intensity activities through varying bursts of movements with rest periods. 

  • Engages EPOC
  • Trains the heart to adjust to changing conditions
  • Doesn’t build as much muscle bulk (a pro for many women)

  • The body needs more recovery time
  • Can only do 20-30 minute sessions at a time

steve_kambBecause you can only do so much HIIT or weight training, you can only burn so many calories before your body wears out.

How to ensure the longest caloric burn:

In order to reap the full benefits of HIIT, you’ve got to go all out. Push yourself full throttle during the short sprints, and breathe deep during the recovery periods. The harder you push the longer EPOC will be engaged post-workout.

Here are two HIIT circuits to try:
Treadmill HIIT circuit 

  • 1 minute Sprint
  • 90 second Recovery
  • 1 minute Sprint at 3% incline
  • 90 second Recovery
  • 1 minute Sprint at 6% incline
  • 90 second Recovery
  • 1 minute Sprint at 9% incline
  • 90 second Recovery
  • 1 minute Sprint at 12% incline
  • 90 second Recovery
Repeat three to six times depending on level of conditioning.

Kettlebell HIIT circuit
Jeremey_DuVallFrom trainer Jeremey DuVall

  • 30 seconds of Kettlebell Swings
  • 30 seconds of Right Arm Kettlebell Snatch
  • 30 seconds of Right Arm Kettlebell Push Press
  • 30 seconds of Right Arm Overhead Walking Lunges with Kettlebell
  • 30 second Sprint
  • Rest 90 seconds then repeat on left arm.
Aim for completing two to three circuits on each arm.

Up to 5 days a week to exercise?Add steady-state aerobics

stretch_office_factor_75What is it?
“Steady-state aerobics” is basically endurance cardio. By keeping your heart rate below the aerobic zone, you’ll be able to sustain effort for longer periods of time. Examples of steady-state aerobics are endurance running, jogging, or low-impact cardio equipment like the elliptical machine.

  • Low impact
  • Easy learning curve
  • No need for special equipment
MedhiThe longer you do cardio, the more total calories you’ll burn. You must be in really good shape to handle 30 minutes of HIIT, while anyone can do 45 minutes of moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio.

  • Doesn’t engage EPOC
Although it trains your heart to be in shape by remaining at a higher level of operation while exercising, it doesn’t train your heart to prepare for moments of extreme stress because it never really has to deal with rapid changes.

How to ensure the longest caloric burn:

endurance_runner_factor_75Although low-intensity cardio doesn’t result in much afterburn, it is an excellent way to increase endurance, expand your cardiac capacity, and burn major calories. In fact, when combined with weight training it’s the most effective at fat loss, and 44% more effective than cardio alone.


The Caveats:

Nothing will happen if you don’t eat right.

fuel-your-workout-and-maximize-your-resultsNo matter if you’re putting in 5 days a week of alternating HIIT, weight training, and endurance jogs, your body will not change if you eat like crap. It's been proven over and over. Nutrition is the biggest factor in physical performance. Get juiced up with some clean pre-workout fuel and stay hydrated - and you're pretty much guaranteed to see results fast.

You gotta recover.

The most important day of your workout is your day off. If you want to make progress quickly, you’ve gotta learn to recover. That doesn’t mean you get a free pass to an eat-athon. Employ these speedy recovery tricks, and prioritize cleansing post-workout meals. That will ensure your body fully recuperates, meaning your performance will be ever better during your next workout.


All things equal, weight training burns the most calories in the fewest amount of time, and HIIT comes in at a close second, but both are highly stressful on the body and require more recovery time. Cardio, on the other hand, burns fewer calories, but thanks to its less stressful nature, enables you to do activities longer and more frequently. Ideally, you'll want a combination of all three to keep your body in optimal condition.
~Thanks to Emily Hill

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