Thursday, November 10, 2016

Find Health In The Midst of Stress

Stress is one of the largest contributors to every modern chronic disease condition we experience today.  It would be utopia if we could just erase all the sources of stress in our lives by willing it away.  I can only hope that there are one or two Buddhist monks somewhere in Tibet who can successfully pull that off... it would give me hope that my efforts at that might succeed someday.   The surprising election of Donald Trump this week has, for at least the one-quarter of voters who voted against him, set off near-hysteric levels of stress; not to downplay the legitimately worried fears of ethnic minority's, immigrants, Muslims, et al.  

Holding onto high stress does devastating things to our health including: reducing our brain size, lowering our IQ, raising our risk for cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and dementia/Alzheimer's, lowering immunity, increasing inflammation, creating heart disease -- just to name a few.  In short, to stress you out more, stress kills.  So how do we find a healthy path around stress when it is so relentless in finding us?

In this modern age there are an incredible number of stress factors in our lives.  A large number of them invisible to us; a number of these factors also fully under our control.  Stressors are cumulative, meaning that the more we can eliminate or restrict, the lower our level and the lighter the impact stress will have.

I want to lift up some of these "invisible" stresses, which may be way more controllable than your over-the-top boss may be.

Invisible Stresses:

  • Sugar consumption
  • Gluten
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Toxic friends
  • Lack of exercise
  • Too much social media
  • Television late at night
  • Procrastination
  • Worry
  • Participation in gossip, criticism of others
  • Ruminating on negative comments/events
  • Allowing yourself to rehearse difficult/mean/ugly conversations
  • Imagining the worst

You notice that most of the items in the last half of the list have to do with your thinking.  Many of us tend to treat our brains & thought processes as powers unto themselves; that we're just helpless victims of a "brain out of control."  We surrender to a mistaken belief that our thoughts have the power to create reality and we're powerless to change it.  The fact is that run-away thinking is  something we've learned and we train ourselves to do through repetition, in the very same way we learn a language or a musical instrument.  To eliminate the stresses in the last part of the list, we need to take charge of what we mentally practice; show our brain who is boss.  Do not allow yourself to get pulled into the rehearsal hall.  Smack yourself.  Say, "No. I'm not going there.  I'm going here instead."  Rehearse the opposite thoughts, with as ridiculously positive of a spin on it as you've taught yourself to put negative spin on it.  Or, actively do something to side track your usual pattern: Go for a run.  Shoot some baskets.  Go to a movie.  

Negative thinking is an addictive habit.  Like all addictions, it destroys your health from the inside out, creates needless misery and stress, and never brings sunshine and light to your being.  So start today, this minute even, with retraining your brain to be your friend rather than your enemy.  The stress you reduce in doing it will improve your health and longevity.


Friday, September 2, 2016

On-going Immunization Conversation

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a shift in their policy position on families who don't vaccinate their children.  Their new position is that these families can be dismissed from a pediatrician's practice if vaccination is refused.  Their statement encouraged gentleness in doing this, but the change in course from one supporting tolerance to this new stance is a pretty dramatic change.  In addition, they've issued a statement that all personal exemptions presently allowed under state laws should be rescinded by state legislatures.

Ever since the measles outbreak in Disneyland in January of 2015, the public argument over vaccinations has exploded, devolving often into mere name-calling and false stereotyping.  The pro-vaccination side claims science is on their side and that statistically speaking, "you're a fool not to be vaccinated," (and "non-vaxxers" are threatening everyone in the Free World by their dopey Neanderthal arrogance as well.)  Open hostility has been pretty common.  On the other side are thousands of compassionate, EDUCATED parents who just want what is the best for their children's health.  Who is right?  There is no Right answer for every situation, and statistics don't provide answers to any single individual.

I believe the AAP is off-base.  Vaccinations are a medical procedure.  Like all medical procedures there are risks and benefits, and these have to be spelled out to each patient by Informed Consent.  To go down a path that forces parents to accept only one choice is to violate the very conscience and purpose of having Informed Consent.  Informed Consent guarantees patients the right to choose for themselves what they are willing to risk from a medical procedure and the consequences of exercising that choice.  To dismiss families from medical care because parents won't make the same choice as their pediatrician is punitive, and fulfills no good purpose, leaving children without a physician.

The AAP takes a second draconian step by wanting the removal of personal exemptions and leaving only medical exemptions (which only a doctor gets to determine) as the only way to avoid exposing your child to the risks immunizations pose.  If these shots were so perfectly safe, then why has the Federal Government excluded pharmaceutical companies from liability on their vaccines?  Prior to this legislation, the number of lawsuits and size of the awards for wrongful death and injury from vaccinations caused the pharmaceutical companies to threaten they would stop making vaccines if they weren't protected from lawsuits.  Congress, inundated with reports from public health officials about the rare but equally horrifying deaths and injuries from the various illnesses themselves (and surely no small amount of pharmaceutical company lobbying money), caved quickly and passed the requested legislation.

Are vaccines safe?  Statistically, I have to say yes, for the most part.  Do vaccines prevent dangerous diseases?  Again statistically, apparently yes, though not as effectively as we are brainwashed to believe.  Have I, or would I vaccinate myself or my children?  No, except perhaps under extreme duress and fear; and I can admit to caving into that on rare occasions.  But, there are still hundreds of adverse effects (including deaths) reported each year, and perhaps thousands of unsubstantiated but strongly suspected injuries to children's health.  These are injuries and deaths silenced and dismissed by a myopic medical community blinded more by their statistically regimented conviction than their holding any objective compassion for the real fears parents carry and the dangers to the welfare of their children many experience at the hands of our technological Western form of medicine..

In my humble opinion, informed consent and personal exemptions should remain the free choice of all patients, and the AAP should re-think their new position.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Breaking the Stress Habit

Stress is one of the largest contributing factors to impairment of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.  The more years that go by, the more communication and convenience inventions that come along, the madder the rush, the faster the pace of life... the more stress insidiously drains away our energy, vitality, attitude, and resiliency.  Stress (and aging) are the two most common reasons people might give themselves and each other for that achy, tired, nervous, blah but "keyed up," sleepless, "dead" feeling from which so many suffer.  But, do you know that as much as that feeling might bother us we're, at the same time, very much addicted to it?  Stress has been so much a part of most people's lives that their bodies have developed a tolerance, nay, even a need, for the adrenaline fix.

Stress creates an automatic body response that keeps us wired up, better than coffee.  It helps us keep pace with fast-paced life.  And, if we actually take a vacation or try to slow down, our bodies push back on us with the word "bored" prominently blinking in red across the inside of our foreheads.  If you're going to remove the destructiveness to your health that stress possesses, you most likely are going to have to break your stress habit.

Dr, Joe Dispenza, author of Break the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain, says that 95 percent of our daily activity is made up of actions and behaviors that we have learned or taught ourselves through emotional repetition to the point that our bodies are running on auto-pilot with barely a thought going in to what we're doing or why.  Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process, talks about how most of the time we react to current circumstances and events from something we started doing long ago, rather than choosing a healthy thoughtful response for today.

Breaking the habit of being stressed requires re-engaging one's brain, being conscious of the present moment, gaining awareness of how automatically we react without thinking, and eliminating or replacing those reactions with thoughtful present-moment intention.  When we start doing this we'll run into much the same dynamics as one would with any addiction.  There will be denial, resistance, withdrawal, relapse, and struggle to maintain the change.  Determination and perseverance must become cherished characteristics that we hold close and seek as much support as we can for holding on to them as we can.

Wellness coaching can help this process, as well as developing appropriate support systems and effecting lifestyle changes that reduce the triggers to stressing.  I'm available to help you engage in this life growth toward better health.  You can make an appointment, or contact me.  I'm open to skyping or trying to do work over the phone if you're not local.    


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Gradually Then Suddenly

Have you heard the story of someone suddenly having their routine life jerked up short by a heart attack?  That health moment turns into a watershed life event where all things then get measured by "before my heart attack" and "after my heart attack."

Most of the life threatening and life altering diseases we face today are those that have been building for a long while.  "Gradually then suddenly" is a phrase taught in Fierce Conversations training.  Things will just very slowly drift into disarray -- so slow as to not really notice it's happening, and then one day the problem fully explodes.  

Just as chronic illness frequently follows this gradually then suddenly pattern, it is also the pattern of making healthy changes, only this pattern is "gradually then never."  In the same way a very small mistake in setting a course can cause you to wind up miles off course, very small steps taken today with your health can take you miles away from premature serious, or terminal, illness.

A health coach is someone who can serve you well in taking on the changes that you probably already know to be "good" for you, but you can never quite get around to doing.  Entering into health coaching supplies you with all the following:
  • Assessments of where you are and where you want to be in your old age.
  • Develop a plan with goals and strategic objectives to set the course.
  • Create action steps that are achievable, effective, and measurable, which will keep you on a wellness course.
  • Receive clear insights and motivation to stay the course until new ways become healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Help you avoid pitfalls and handle the common retreats backward into old habits.
  • Identify supportive helps and critical attitudinal structures to hold the course.
  • Re-evaluate the course in view of new information and tap into successes to gain stamina for next steps to wellness.
If you'd like to receive some health coaching to get you out of the health rut you've been in and get started on a new road, give a call to the clinic.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


For the past decade or more, the wisdom coming out from the vast majority of dermatologist offices has been that sunshine is evil incarnate.  The implication has been that almost any exposure to sunlight would result in skin cancer.  While undeniably skin cancer is triggered by skin damage caused by excessive ultraviolet light exposure (i.e. sunburn), sunlight is not skin cancer waiting to happen.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.

The Journal of Internal Medicine reported in March on a Swedish study that found avoiding exposure to the sun was comparable to smoking in terms of mortality risk.  In other words, people who avoid time in the sun might as well be smoking cigarettes; the impact on your health will be comparable.  The reason for this observation is not understood, but most speculations tie it to Vitamin D deficiencies.  Ultraviolet light from the sun on our skin produces activated Vitamin D.  Vitamin D has been proven to improve immune function and reduce cancer risk, in addition to building strong bones and regulating calcium stores.

I do want to be clear.  Getting sunburned is bad, and the damage is cumulative - so, the more sunburns you get the greater your chances of skin cancer.  I also recommend avoiding sunscreens.  Most commercial sun blocking products contain toxins and blocking the sun chemically, or blocking it by staying inside your house are virtually alike.  So what is one to do?  Ideally, you need to accustom your skin to being in the sun.  This involves exposing your skin gradually to increasing lengths of time in it.  If you are forced to be out in the sun longer than your skin is accustomed to, then using a sunscreen is better than getting burned.  But starting early in the summer (or spring even) start exposing areas of your skin that you know will be exposed throughout the summer so that your body can cope with longer exposures when you start playing outside.

The other problem with long exposures to sunlight is that ultraviolet light does tend to age your skin.  Good oils (e.g. avocado, hemp, apricot kernel, or macadamia nut) with Vitamin E added are great moisturizers and provide good protection against the free radicals created by excess exposure to ultraviolet light.