Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This blog will no longer be updated. Thanks for reading.
Visit Kristina and me here from now on:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Exercise for Your Heart

I am borrowing this from an email I got from Dr. Mark Hyman---he's got a lot of great information if you're interested in his Ultrametabolism perspective

"What did our caveman ancestors know about exercise that we didn't?
After all, they didn't spend hours in the gym doing painfully long aerobic sessions.
But they did have incredible strength, speed and stamina.
If they saw a threatening animal like a saber-toothed tiger or even a hungry dinosaur coming at guessed it, it was time to run, and fast.
So what did our cavemen ancestors know that we don't?
It's something I've talked about repeatedly in my books and blogs and it's the same principle that underlies my dietary recommendations.
What they did was do what their genes had evolved to do -- exert tremendous amounts of energy in a short period of time.
They didn't run for hours on end, starve themselves with ridiculous diets or lift boulders over their heads to build bigger muscles.
Cavemen followed natural cycles of work and rest, or what I call periods of exertion and recovery.
This helped them to build their reserve capacity -- their ability to exert tremendous amounts of energy in a short period of time.
Reserve capacity means your heart has the ability to pump more blood, faster in times of stress.
Reserve capacity for your lungs allows them to deal with high exertion like lifting, carrying, running or going up stairs.
And not only did this help caveman build incredibly strong hearts and lungs, but it also made them lean, fat burning machines, which I'll explain why in a second.
The big takeaway here is that if eating like our ancestors did leads to health and vitality, then it makes sense that we should exercise like our ancestors as well...just as our bodies were designed to do.
And thankfully, by exercising the way our ancestors did, we can not only spend less time exercising -- as little as 12 - 20 minutes per day -- but we can strengthen our hearts and lungs and reduce the risk of heart attacks or developing breathing problems.
You've actually heard of this type of exercise before -- it's called interval training and can have powerful effects in a very short period of time.
A few years ago, Harvard researchers published the Harvard Health Professionals Study.
After studying over 7,000 people they found that the key to preventing heart disease is intensity - NOT long-duration exercise.
What's more interesting is that in another study, researchers found that by doing the right type of interval training, people continued to burn fat for up to 24 hours after the interval training session."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Tips

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are your plans for tomorrow? Joe and I are going to Penn Yan to his aunt and uncle's house. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm not ashamed to say that the only thing we're contributing is wine.

I'm in a cooking slump, and I'm looking forward to getting over it...but it's not over yet. Plus, I have always seriously disliked Thanksgiving food. I'm not a picky eater, but it seems like everything about Thanksgiving food is unenjoyable to me except the green bean casserole and the rolls (well, depending on the rolls). A few years ago, when my mom and I were spending Thanksgiving alone, we had only green bean casserole and rolls....and we watched movies all day. It was great. Thanksgiving is about the people for me, definitely not the food.

This website is one of my new faves:

Her post from yesterday gives some really good tips for how to deal with Thanksgiving if you are trying not to overeat. Even if it's not all things you would do, maybe you would try some of it?

Monday, November 23, 2009


You know how people have certain sayings you associate with them? Like when you're in a situation and you can just hear what so-and-so would be saying to you at that moment? Well, my mom has this saying, "Home is a haven" (or sometimes it's more like, "Home should be a haven").

I never thought much about this saying as I was growing up, but now it just makes so much sense to me. I love my home---it's a 2-bedroom apartment, and it's just....nice. Sometimes people make jokes about how I don't have a lot of stuff (ok, I could use a chair in the living room, and maybe some more things on the wall here and there (in addition to Matthew's artwork and the painting my mom had commissioned for us last Christmas by Meredith Mallwitz---she's also going to be the new art director for Anthropologie at Eastview... My painting is similar to Ominous).

I have things I want, and I enjoy being home and using all my kitchen gadgets. At a point, I stopped defending my lack of stuff, and just started feeling lucky that I have a home that's a haven. Plus, at this time of year it doesn't hurt that I have a heated garage :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eatin' Out

Have you noticed how many new restaurants there are in Henrietta? This may be a stupid question, but are there enough people in Rochester who eat out often enough to keep all these places open?

I eat out more than I'd like to (not sayin' I don't enjoy it...), but I haven't been to most of those places and they're not really on my list of places to go either. Plus, it's so easy to overeat in a restaurant. Did you know that Chipotle, although using higher quality ingredients, can pack about 1700 calories into a burrito? I'm not really a calorie counting type of person, but that seems very excessive to me. Not to mention they don't go light on cholesterol elevating ingredients or salt.... Check out this site if you want to know how much you've really eaten at Chipotle.

I don't want to ruin your experiences of going out to eat, but I think it's important to be aware of what we're eating, and that's just more difficult at a restaurant. My goal for next week is to try a new recipe instead of going out to eat. I'll post what I do later---will you do it too?


Kristina and I are working on the new website, and it's ... not ready yet. But, you can go look at it---the design there right now is just a placeholder, not what it's going to look like when we're done---and it will probably change throughout the day whenever I have time to mess around with it! Honestly, it's difficult to decide...and we're working on it! Please go ahead and share your opinions or suggestions for what you'd like to see.

Things we're planning so far:

Blog by Kristina and Lisa

What Do They Do - Interviews with local people about what they do to be healthy - we're planning to ask a dentist how he/she takes care of his/her teeth, a personal trainer what he/she does for a workout, a doctor what he/she does to maintain health, etc. If you have ideas or any people you think would be good for this section, let us know!

Our Favorite Things - Kristina and I both really enjoy trying new health and wellness products and ideas, so we're going to showcase our favorites.

Podcasts on wellness topics - We may not do this right away due to time constraints, but it's in the plan!

Video Blogs - This probably won't happen right away either, but it's in the works---demos on how to do certain things (mostly food and exercise topics).

Any more ideas? Share them with us, please.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Luck

I went to a strategic planning session for the Autism Council of Rochester on Saturday. It was great! That might sound fake (and it might not sound like a fun thing to do on a Saturday morning), but it's not. I like being on the board of the ACR because it is such a good cause---we're not providing a service that's already being done, we're focusing on helping members of the community with autism transition from childhood and youth services (i.e. high school to the real world) to being a functioning member of society. How awesome is that? We meet once a month for board meetings and determine how to accomplish this through fundraising and programs---we're all there because we want to be and because we each have something unique to offer.

Something the facilitator, Cathy Cappella (no clue how to spell that), said really kind of stuck with me. She said that her husband always says not to wish him good luck. He thinks "luck" is more a matter of just doing what you can to be prepared and then going out into the world and taking the opportunities that are offered. I like this.

I don't necessarily think we should write off luck altogether, but I'd like to think I have more of a say in what happens to me than just blind luck. I can work on boards, like ACR, and also on other projects that help others as well as either serving me professionally or personally. Then I'm prepared to use what I've done to open and jump on opportunities as they present themselves.

What's your ideal next opportunity? How could you build yourself up to being ready for it?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Inside Outside Upside Down!

My mom wrote me an email today about her determination to feel good. It's funny how our priorities change under different circumstances. Did you know that the flu virus can manifest in your mouth as blood blisters (at least that's what it looks like)????? Well, my mom has that. She has been feeling blah and then got these sores in her mouth, which the dentist finally identified yesterday as the flu.

Anyway, her determination changed focus from whatever it was before to just trying to feel good. Her words were, "I am determined to feel good inside outside upside down!!!"

I think I am going to adopt that goal too---whatever it means for me at the time. Today it's going to be about resting. I've been going to the gym at 5am for the past week, and then to yoga after work everyday. I'm tired :)

If your only goal was to feel good, what would you do?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I wrote a post last night that I thought was about hope. I posted it, and then I re-read it and deleted it. It sounded too lecture-y to me, and it was looking from a perspective of fixing things that are messed up.

I had several interesting conversations this week, and some of them directly related to the post I wrote last night---dig yourself out of whatever you're stuck in, have hope.

But, I realized that isn't really the message I want to give.

First, most of what we see as our problems are actually symptoms of something else we should address, but when we keep pounding on the symptoms to beat them down, we get discouraged and we're missing the real issues.

Second, hope isn't about digging or desperately trying to get something.

We're always seeking answers and solutions and the magic bean that will make us achieve our wellness goals. And that's ok, because we have to keep working on ourselves in order for something to change.

I think, though, that some of the underlying factors in change are more fundamental. At least they have been for me. We have to get up everyday and go through what life we have---and sometimes as a result of human nature and the society we live in, we try things that are not successful at helping us reach our goals.

Having hope for some is ...

Going 3 days without a migraine

Walking up 2 flights of stairs

Eating 1 salad a day

Only having 19 cigarettes today

...If you have a goal, good luck. If you don't reach that goal today, keep positively and courageously working toward it.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,'I will try again tomorrow.' "

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Have you ever tried Mr. Clean Magic Eraser? I love that little thing---All of our walls are white, which is nice and everything, but for that reason it's also easy to get scuff marks on the walls and on the door. I like living in an apartment because it's easy, but because of the nature of apartments it can also get cluttered (i.e. we keep our bikes inside---which I'm planning to change by cleaning out the storage unit and making room for them there). The point I'm getting to is that every time we bring things in or take them out, we end up marking up the walls in the entryway and on the corners (ok, it's mostly Joe's fault but he doesn't know he's doing it and he has a lot of stuff he carries in and out for work). So, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is this great little thing---you get it slightly wet and then just rub off all the scuff marks. My door is the cleanest in the whole apartment complex, and I have to resist the urge to clean up the entire hall and stairway with it.

Fortunately, on days like today when my eyes are burning, my ears and throat are itching, and my sinuses are aching (I made myself stay home from yoga again so I wouldn't spread germs---you're welcome fellow yogis), Mr. Clean gives me something productive to do while I procrastinate grading papers and researching some random stuff for people.

I have no idea why it feels so good to clean my walls---I don't get the same satisfaction from cleaning the rest of the apartment. But it's a great way for me to get in the mode of being productive. Maybe you won't find it so satisfying, but what would do that for you? All I know is that after I cleaned my walls, I was motivated to get other things done too. Kitchen, carpet, bathroom, closets....if I had started with one of those, I probably would have ended there too. But I started with the walls, and now everything is done (except grading papers...but I'm getting to that). Do you have a trick to get you started on something, wellness or otherwise?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween?

I am supposed to be going trick-or-treating tonight. My mom was planning on coming to Rochester today to spend time with me (manis and pedis were the plan I think). I was going to go to Best Buy and get a new hard drive so I could start the new website....

But I'm sick. So is Matthew. The nurse sent him home yesterday from school with a fever of 105. I called Steve last night to check on Matthew because I saw all this scary stuff on the news about kids dying from H1N1. In addition to that, a friend of mine who works for the NJ Dept of Health was on CBS national news talking about their H1N1 call center having received 10,000 calls about it since Oct 6 (!). Steve told me Matthew seemed fine after some medicine and time on the couch, but he'd check in today too about trick-or-treating later. At this point, even if I feel any better, I don't think I'll go.

Long story short, I'd like to thank whoever infected me at the Health Benefits Fair this week with whatever I have that I passed on to all the other people whose blood pressure I checked... :) It's actually a good reminder for me that even though I'm generally healthy, I'm not invincible.

I wanted to go to yoga today, and I could still probably make it to Best Buy and to get a pedi....but I'm trying to take my own advice and stay home to not infect other people (in addition to just feeling yucky and not being able to breathe).

If you're sick, please stay home. I'm going to---even though I don't want to.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Change of Plans

Remember when I said I was leaving RIT? Well, I was just kidding about that. Not really, but things have changed. I'm staying. I'm sure some people will ask why, and the answer is that circumstances just changed.

Kristina is great (and reminds me a lot of my cousin Kristen). Early last week she suggested I stay, and I had never considered that option after I put in my notice in August. But then HR people caught on to the idea, and I proposed a solution involving me staying to my manager. They liked it. I'm staying. I'll still be teaching online, and working at Rotork.

So, I am going to spend the next week catching up with those of you who have been neglected since Kristina started (not her fault, just because of training stuff and spending time at the benefits fair).

We'll be working as a team on the conclusion of the pilot, and also collaborating on the expansion. That should be an interesting journey, since there are over 3000 of you altogether. We're going to do a collaborative effort online with a new blog and other resources, so you can get to know both of us.

I'll keep you posted.

Rotork Friends, I will continue to be there on Friday mornings. We'll start our second annual Maintain Don't Gain Campaign in two weeks, followed by a New Year's Evolution program. So start thinking about what your goals for the new year might be!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


In general, I'm not in favor of taking medicine. There, I said it. I also would rather only eat raw cashews (vs. roasted), and I don't think most whole grain cereals are overly healthy.

The reason I'm telling you this is because people frequently ask me about what I do in the realm of health and wellness (i.e. what do I eat? what do I do for workouts? ...etc.). I don't like to answer those questions because then people turn it around on me, saying I'm giving them advice that isn't practical. But I wasn't actually giving advice---I was just talking about what I do when asked.

This happened two days ago at the RIT benefits fair---Kristina (the new coach, have you met her yet?) and I were set up taking BP and body composition (boring, but easy). The table next to us was manned by the Better Me program, and one of my very good friends who works for them chatted with us throughout the day. Not only did she make sarcastic (jokingly, of course) comments at lunchtime when Kristina and I did not grab one of the boxed lunches, but she also made sort of a scene to passersby saying the wellness coaches don't eat. Later, she handed me her bag of snack mix and asked me if it was something I would eat. I looked at it and said no. She asked why, so I told her why. Then she got all offended-acting about it because I had said she was eating something bad.

She said, "I'm just not going to ask you anymore---you always (?) tell me what I'm eating is bad."

I said, "I didn't tell you this is bad. You just asked me if I would eat it, and I told you the truth. I didn't say you shouldn't eat it."

She acknowledged that, and I offered to tell her what I would say if she has asked more generally about the quality of the snack. She was happier with that dialogue, and then we dropped it.

First off, I won't defend my own food choices, and if you know me, you know that no matter what my food values are I still eat junk with the best of them. I might not support the idea of eating white pasta, but that doesn't stop me from doing it occasionally. I might not want myself to eat certain things, but I sometimes do it. Really, the point is that when I'm wellness coaching, we talk about what you do, not what I do. I told my friend that I don't coach to my needs, I coach to the person I'm speaking with. It's not that what I do is better, it's just what fits me right now (and I expect that to change continuously).

In the same light, we shouldn't compare ourselves or our habits to other people. Don't judge others for what they do, even if you think you're more evolved. We need to just make the decisions that fit ourselves now, and be open to new ideas too. It's much more pleasant that way. And if you want my opinion about something you do, I'll give it in whatever context you ask! There is no universal right or wrong when it comes to wellness---its a continuum, and yours is different from that of everyone else.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Today I was going to walk the 10K in DC while Joey runs the marathon (which has not started yet). We drove down yesterday in several torrential rainstorms, but overall it was an easy drive. When we got to the hotel (which is strategically near the finish line), we were getting ready to go to dinner and I realized that a whole pile of stuff I was going to pack in my bag was still on the chair in my bedroom. That means I'm in DC and all I have to wear is fitness clothes---my first thought was---what is wrong with me? I never do that---I always over-pack and have way more than I need. Luckily this area is filled with runners this weekend so no one would flinch at me being out to dinner in my fanciest athletic pants (I still felt stupid though).

Then, I figured out how convenient it was because I would be done walking the 10K way earlier than Joey finished the marathon, so I'd go shopping. It would be great---I could buy new jeans and shoes (all I remembered to bring were the uggs I wore on the way and my running shoes).

I got up this morning and started to get ready--------------and then I went to put on my shoes. I did have them---two running shoes: two right shoes of two different pairs that look the same. I feel like I did this on purpose because I knew I didn't really want to walk the race (who walks a race?), but I intended to do it. There's no way I could do it in my uggs (I walked at lunch one time in my uggs and it was not good).

So now I'm stuck here in the hotel room by myself, waiting till its late enough to go shopping---and since its Sunday that won't happen till 11. I swear on my mother's life that I did not forget all that stuff on purpose, but Joe said maybe it was subconsciously on purpose---maybe he's right. I feel guilty, but I'm sure I'll get over it once I get out of here and do something besides track the 4 people I know in the race online. In any case, Joey's running for the Organization for Autism Research, and I raised money for it and didn't run. It's not my finest moment, but I swear I'll make up for it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Marathon

This weekend is the marathon I signed up for in April. I really appreciate all the money people donated to the Organization for Autism Research in order for me to run in it.

By late August, I was really loving the running---my ritual was to go by myself to the Canal Path and run with my favorite podcasts or with Spezzano and Sandy. There was usually haze over the canal, lots of sleepy ducks and geese, and just the feeling of being alone in the middle of the city. I really just loved that feeling.

On one of my longer runs on a Saturday, the air conditions were so perfect, and I was doing great improving my pace to under 8min miles.........and somewhere around mile 9 it started to feel like someone stuck a fork in the bottom outside corner of my right knee, right in the meaty part. It hurt, but not in a way that made me stop. So I kept going for the remainder (I think it was 14 miles---from lock 32 to the airport and back). Long story short-----I am quite certain I tore my meniscus that day. I took a week off, and then ran short distances for a week, with the pain during the next long weekend run stopping me. I could sort of walk, but certainly could not run after 8 miles (and had 4 miles to walk back to my car). I secretly hoped I could take a month off and focus on spinning and the elliptical to stay in good cardio shape---to then return to running and finish training. It didn't work. It doesn't hurt unless I run, but 3 miles into any run I become crippled again. And I'm sort of sad about that. I liked running (did I really say that?). I wanted to do the marathon, but mostly I'm unhappy about not being able to do the short fun runs I did last year---the Turkey Trot in Webster, the St. Patty's Day run downtown.

I also thought about all the money people donated for me to run ($500 total). I decided I would pay everyone back out of my pocket, and then I changed my mind. I can still go to DC and walk the 10K while Joe is running the marathon, and I feel weird about reimbursing people for money they donated to a really great cause (even though I know they only did it because of me running a marathon). So although I will pay anyone back who wants me to, I think my next action is to just contribute to the cause. I joined the Rochester Autism Council board of directors, so I'm going to be participating on several of the committees, and also going into group homes and volunteering my time to help teach people with autism about healthy living habits. I'm looking for a partner to help me with this---so let me know if you're interested :)

In the end, the whole thing didn't turn out to be about me running (or not), or about my knee. It's just about helping other people, and going with the flow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Make a Decision....

....and then make it right.

I've been faced with some decisions recently. Kind of big ones. It surprises me how quickly and easily I can flip flop from wanting one thing to wanting the opposite. I was discussing my options with my mom, and she finally just told me it doesn't really matter what I do---the part that matters is that once I decide, I just make it work.

I never thought about it that way before, but I think she's right.

How often are we sure that when we get that one thing, reach that one goal, or have that one certain thing happen....that we will then be content or happy? Then, when we get that thing? Does it work? Not usually, at least not long term. I'm wondering what would happen if instead of focusing on the things in our lives, about our jobs, about ourselves that we don't like, we just accepted those things and focused on the good parts. It's pretty obvious that it might make us feel more positive, and it's nothing new to suggest trying that. However, have you ever really picked a thing that you're unhappy with and tried to take that approach? I see people do it---they obsess about their weight for a lifetime, and then all of a sudden they shift and begin focusing on their health. They might lose weight, or they might not, but in both cases they feel happier than before.

Why wouldn't we try that?

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Year's Evolution

I know it's early to talk about the new year already, but I think it's a good time to start for a few different reasons.

I have a problem with New Year's Resolutions.

The word resolution itself comes from the word "resolve." When we resolve something it is finished, right? How can we be starting a new habit by finishing something? I can see it in one sense---quit smoking to start being healthier, start exercising to stop being unhealthy....but the wording doesn't totally seem to fit for what we're really trying to do. If I'm resolving something by finally starting an exercise program (quitting smoking, losing weight, managing my stress, etc.), doesn't it sound like a last resort?

I know last year I talked about how busy the gym was after January 1st, and I'm sure it will be again this year. It's great that people try to start an exercise program, but aren't you sick of trying and not having it stick? This leads us to the question of why it doesn't stick. WHY? Because we don't change anything except saying we are going to force ourselves to go to the gym. Who are we kidding? Does that ever work permanently?

Not very often.

The society we live in forces us into survival mode much of the time, whether it's about money, food, health, time, or something else. We are also fed the idea that we can find a magic bullet for reaching our goals, and also that we should be able to change our lifestyle instantly if we decide to.

The fact is, we are really bad at doing that....and there are no magic bullets. So maybe if we just look those facts in the face, we can deside not to resolve something this year in January, but to begin our evolution in the positive direction. We are always evolving, whether we try to or not---but whether it is going in the right direction or not is a different story.

Evolving in the right direction is up to you to plan. Your wellness coach (or friends or personal trainer, etc) can help, but you have to really decide for yourself where you want to go. Once you do, you can begin to take the steps to get there. What if your New Year's Evolution plan is to lose 20 pounds in a year? Can you break that year into months, and then begin to take small steps leading you to that goal? All of a sudden, 20 pounds (although the end goal) is not the entire focus. The focus is on what would you do today if you were going to work toward weighing 20 pounds less. You are not just trying to reduce a number with this approach, you are trying to change the type of person you are---you are evolving into a person who weighs less, not acting like a person who already weighs 20 pounds less than you do.

My direction after I leave RIT is going to be on evolution, not flip-flopping or resolving bad habits. You could start thinking about it today----figure out what your long-term evolution would include, and then break it down into smaller pieces to figure out what to do today. I hope you stay in touch with me and share what you're working on.


Hi :)
I know, I haven't been posting. Sorry about that. Have I mentioned I'm leaving my job? Well, I have a few things going on that have been taking precedence over posting here. But, good news! My replacement at RIT started today, and she's really nice. I'll be bringing her around tomorrow (and throughout the rest of the week) to meet all of you. That means I'll be leaving by the end of next week----but I'll be stuck at the benefits fair from 9-3 on Tues and Wed so you can come by CIMS and say hi and bye.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Fall can be a tough time of year for many reasons----the light is less, the air is colder....its really time to hibernate right? Its almost NO-vember, which makes it easier to feel down rather than up.

I've had a lot of people talk to me in the past week who are depressed and overwhelmed, mostly with work issues. Its amazing how stressed out one person can really get and still function! Someone joked with me this week that at least the Prozac makes her numb to some of it. She's relatively new to her job at RIT, and she took it as a transfer from another department where she was really just a coffee filler-upper. She wasn't fulfilled there, so she took a busier job and now she's completely overwhelmed, in over her head, having stress chest pains, and upping her meds. She's not fulfilled now, can't even think about taking care of her health, and sees no end in sight.

My first reaction is to feel like she's just screwed. But really, she's not. We talked about a lot of strategies and different ways of approaching things and thinking about things. Options---what are they? Mindset---what can you do about it?

Easy? No. Simple? Yes. The bottom line is that no situation is perfect, and you have more control than you might first think you do about how you feel as you go through your days. That's not to say you should just decide to feel better and then you will, its just to say its worth figuring out what the right formula is for you to start working on feeling better!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


For the past week or so, I have been really tired. Partly because I have been working on training for my new online teaching job, which is great but (unpaid and) takes about 3 hours a day. Have I mentioned that I never watch TV? I don't know how anyone fits it in. Seriously.

I'm not excited about leaving all the great people I've met at RIT and Rotork. Its beginning to sink in that I won't see you anymore, and I'm just kind of sad about that. I wish I could keep the fun chatty parts of the job and ditch the logistics and data entry. But I can't. And I am excited to only have my teaching jobs taking up my time, and working on some other things too. I might get to see my friends again :)

This has happened before---where I met and built relationships with people in a professional context---and then I have to leave, and its like leaving friends, even though we didn't really call ourselves friends because it was just a work thing.

So, I'm sitting here procrastinating grading fake papers for my online teacher training, and I'm thinking about all the people I will miss seeing throughout the week. I would like to name you all right here, but what if I forgot somebody?!?! So, you know I'm talking to you.

Back to what I meant to talk about in this post---
I might hibernate this winter, only going outside to get to Wegmans to eat, or Midtown to work out, or Blue Lotus to do yoga. So we might have to just keep in touch here on the Internet. I'm going to have a new website and move the blog somewhere else. But I hope you'll starting talking back to me---this relationship is feeling pretty one sided :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Worth Reading.

"The brain is a three-pound supercomputer. It is the command and control center running your life. It is involved in absolutely everything you do. Your brain determines how you think, how you feel, how you act, and how well you get along with other people. Your brain even determines the kind of person you are. It determines how thoughtful you are; how polite or how rude you are. It determines how well you think on your feet, and it is involved with how well you do at work and with your family. Your brain also influences your emotional well being and how well you do with the opposite sex.
Your brain is more complicated than any computer we can imagine. Did you know that you have one hundred billion nerve cells in your brain, and every nerve cell has many connections to other nerve cells? In fact, your brain has more connections in it than there are stars in the universe! Optimizing your brain's function is essential to being the best you can be, whether at work, in leisure, or in your relationships."

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yesterday as I walked the three miles in from the parking lot to the Eastman Building at RIT (only a small exaggeration), I realized my feet were freezing.....and then I realized I should have had a coat on....and also that I haven't worn socks or outerwear to work since May.

I'm horrible with socks--some unknown sock monster eats them, one at a time. So I never have a match. Thankfully, I'm not opposed to wearing unmatched socks, and Uggs don't require them at all. This is the major underlying reason why I should live in a climate where socks are never required. And shoes should be optional. That being said, there is something comforting about the chill in the air (Did I really say that?!)---I don't have big plans this weekend (yoga, gym, work, repeat), just staying inside drinking tea and wearing daytime pajamas. This is the best attempt I can make at looking forward to winter. {shiver}

Maybe I'll buy a crockpot.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You're coming into your own, Dear Leo

Before you think I'm crazy and click away, read on for a bit. I read my horoscope every month, and is my horoscope of choice (thanks Mom). Don't ask me if I believe in it, because I don't know. But reading it for the past couple months has really made me think about how we are influenced by what others say to us.

My horoscope for Sept was a little down and for Oct, it's much more hopeful, with the summary beginning by saying, "You're coming into your own, Dear Leo." I have no idea why, but that made me feel good. And, of course (you know me by now!), it made me think...

I talk to a lot of people who tell me about how they interact with their doctors. A general complaint among women is that their Primary Care Provider (PCP) doesn't understand them. This is usually found by women who would like to lose some weight (or their doctors would like them to). They dread going to the doctor knowing they'll be lectured about their weight. I find this very unfortunate because doctors are in a position that could potentially be very helpful to their patients. Instead, they tell women (and men too, probably) what a bad job they're doing and that they just need to lose weight.

Today I spoke with a woman who was thrilled that her doctor's office called to push back this week's appointment until December. She spent much of last year navigating through weight loss and losing 15 pounds very slowly. Then, life caught up with her, job pressures increased, and she gained the weight back. Not only is she struggling with how to get started again, but she's dreading facing her doctor who will just berate her for the failure and tell her to lose the weight. On top of that, when she's asked her doctor for help with how to lose weight, she has gotten no useful information.

It's clear to me that being negative and making someone feel badly is 100% counterproductive. We strive to give our kids positive feedback to elicit more positive behavior, right? Well, adults work that way too. I know that some people joke that no matter what they do, I will always find something good to pick out and focus on (after a week off the wagon, or whatever the case may be). In fact, I generally ask people before they tell me what they "screwed up" to tell me at least one thing they did well. There is always something. And it might sound funny or not important, but that's my #1 goal. When you are done talking to me, you should feel better about yourself than before. Also, you should have at least one thing you're going to work on in a positive way (not as punishment).

So when Susan Miller gave me some good motivating advice in my horoscope this month, it gave me a boost. Silly? yes. Do I care? No. Take it where you can get it! :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cleaning House

I just spent the last hour (or two?) cleaning out my inbox. The problem with the number of jobs I have (today, 3) is that I have 4 email addresses. My personal address, is like an old friend---we've been hanging out since 2006 or maybe 2005. Maybe it was 2004? Who knows, but it's been a while. I've had a few computers during that time too---and generally speaking, I've left thousands of emails in old inboxes, never having to clean them out before I stopped using the computer.
The desktop I'm using now has been really good to me---for the last 5+ years. Finally, over the last few weeks, it has been slowing down and telling me that it's full. I've filled the hard drive with parts of two degrees worth of homework and papers, three teaching jobs (or 4?), wellness coaching stuff, web design stuff, and lots of digital pics. I'm not so much of a hoarder in person---I often get rid of things (especially clothing) that I end up wishing I had later. But I'm messy, and messy people who want to be neat can't have a lot of stuff that lays around causing messiness. Someday, though, I'll post a pic of all my kitchen gadgets. It's obscene, and I won't tell you how much I spent on my blender.

I guess cleaning my inbox this evening, and paring down the number of messages present from 7000 to 1200, made me think about de-cluttering and how it can help productivity level (not to mention peace of mind). Like I said, I'm not a very cluttery person with physical stuff, but when my desk, computer, inbox, and other virtual clutter begins to reach a breaking point, it makes me less able to focus and be productive. I was going to clean my inbox when it reached 5000, but it seemed like such a long boring I put it off.

The truth is, it wasn't so bad. I want to try and do that for other areas of my life too because then maybe having 3 jobs won't make me feel so scatterbrained (and it's soon to be 2 anyway). Maybe I'll sell stuff I don't use. Anyone want a pair of size 8 Uggs (they have laces and I'm too lazy for all that), a Garmin GPS watch for running (I tore my meniscus), or a dyson vacuum (apparently Joe hates it, and since he does all the vacuuming....)?

Did I mention I have no knick knacks? Wait, that's not true---I have these. Aside from the bowl, which just holds random junk, I'm quite fond of the others and paid way too much for two of them. Not as much as the blender though...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

We all know the controversy going on in this country regarding healthcare---and I don't want to talk about that. In fact, if you talk to me about it in person, I will probably just mildly agree with whatever you say about it.

I'd like to take it to a more micro-level. What do you do when you need to use your healthcare provider? Do you advocate for yourself, or do you just blindly trust whomever you have chosen to see? Speaking from experience, I think there are parts of the healthcare system that are just horribly pathetic. I don't want to pinpoint small town doctors or hospitals as always being "bad," so please don't take it that way. If you live in a small town, you have just as many questions to ask as the big city people---maybe with a slightly different focus depending on what is available and what you need.

I recently went to the doctor, for the first real time that I actually needed something. I didn't see a doctor, but a nurse practitioner. This was at the Medical Associates of the Finger Lakes, Penn Yan branch (because although I live in Rochester, I'm lazy and after I called 20 places who were not accepting new patients, I gave up and went back to the place in PY I have never really liked). It's not because it's in PY that I don't like it, but because it's dingy and gray looking and the nurse practitioner tells me the exact same bad information every time I see her. (Did you know that women in their 40s+ are most likely to get HPV because they don't use protection? Also, you can cure any skin breakouts by eating broccoli. Neither one is true).
This most recent trip in, I had a specific question, was looking for a specific referral, and had by all intents and purposes researched enough that I knew exactly what I needed. The NP not only did not listen to me, but she came up with her own idea of what she thought was going on (asked me 10 questions out of a book, to which I answered No to all but one), and then concluded that she was right (!?). Then she referred me to the most inappropriate specialist for this particular issue, to which I will not go and waste insurance money or co-pays on. It made me think about all the people out there who are just taking this crap service because they don't know any better (and that is not an insult, it's just a case of trusting the so-called experts).

What do you need to do to advocate for yourself?

1. Research your symptoms before you go. Google it. Easy. Print out what you think it might be and understand why, and also what the options are for treatment.

2. Get a second opinion. If you go to the doctor, and anything serious happens (i.e. diagnosis or referral) or you don't feel like the doctor is on the right track, go find another doctor and get another opinion.

3. Go to a doctor who has good reviews. This is not always easy, but try and find other people who have gone there and listen to their stories and make your decision based on that and what your needs are.

4. Ask questions. I don't know how many people come to me and say their nurse takes their blood pressure and doesn't even tell them what it is. YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. In fact, you should keep track on paper. What if normally you have low BP (100/50), and one day you get it checked and it's 120/80 (textbook perfect), so they say---great BP! But for you, this is high. You just missed an opportunity to catch something before it's a bigger problem. A good question to ask your healthcare provider, "What would you do if you were in this situation?" Don't assume they are telling you everything, or that you shouldn't ask something--if they don't know they'll look it up. And if they don't look it up, you should find a new doctor.

5. Take into account what you're looking for. If you have a hangnail it's not such a huge issue. If you have a chronic disease, are pregnant, have something unidentified that could be serious, or are just being extra cautious---make a big deal about it.

Why is this so important to me? First, because I screwed up. I didn't follow this advice, and I wasted an afternoon driving to PY to talk to a nurse who was rude and a NP who was completely incompetent and irresponsible for my health outcome. It was pathetic, and I wasted money on it.

Like I said before, I am not putting down small town doctors or hospitals, but take into account what your needs are when you choose where to go. This NP I went to has always served the purpose before because I never actually needed anything from her.

When my sister was pregnant, she chose to go to FF Thompson in Canandaigua because it was probably better than Geneva (just a guess that's what she was thinking). Whether it was technically those doctors' and nurses' "fault" or not, I would bet my life on the fact that she wouldn't have died that night if she had her baby in Rochester. I'm guessing she didn't follow my rules above, because otherwise, in spite of childbirth being commonplace, she'd have weighed the seriousness of having a baby and wouldn't have minded driving the extra half hour to ensure everyone came out of it alive. But you know what? I can't ask. On top of that, I won't ask the three people I know who have had babies in the exact same place with the same doctor since then, what they are thinking. Only because it's none of my business, and maybe they just see Jen dying there as a fluke. And they are right, it's not common. But it happened. And that makes it possible---I bet Jen didn't think it would happen to her either, and she never thought there'd be an emergency that FF Thompson wasn't equiped to handle, whether they should have been equipped or not. They didn't handle it. She didn't consider that option---if she had?

Associated with #5 above, ask yourself: Are the risks associated with your healthcare choice low? If not, make a new choice. If so, could you reasonably make them lower with another choice? This my friends, would have saved my sister's life. Her choice was reasonable, but she could have made it better if she had even known to think about it.

I'm just asking you, because you're reading this, to think about those things when you make your healthcare decisions. Be your own advocate because no one will ask the questions for you, or decide what's most important when choosing care. You get to decide, and most of us don't decide actively---going with the flow is not always the best choice. Don't make assumptions. Don't take chances with your life and health.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.

Michael Pollan's statement is really true!
What's your goal? Be healthier? Be skinnier? Live longer? Feel better?

In any case, you can follow that mantra and you will be better off. And closer to your goal.

Sometimes I'm better at that method than others. In Florida. Bad. In Rochester. Sometimes Good. Out to Eat. Bad. With People. Bad. Stressed. Bad. Nervous. Bad. After eating Badly. Bad....

There seems to be so much more Bad than Good. So then I think about how much more Bad there is than Good. And then that makes me do more Bad. Snowball.......

So if I can focus on these three small details----Eat food (you know, not crackers out of a box that could just as easily have ended up in the paper factory and then in your printer). Not too much (you know, like when I should have stopped after 1 cacao berry clarity but instead I ate 3 because I was feeling intense). Mostly plants (Easy to tell what is what---if it's a plant, eat more. If not, eat less.).

It's simple! Not easy, simple. You can't be perfect after making one effort or decision. But keep it in your head. Keep trying. It gets better. Who wants to be perfect anyway?

Bring a Friend to Work

I went downstairs to the garage this morning, and got in the car....and hit the garage door opener button, and it went up about 2 inches and then stopped. I tried this a few times and then got out of the car to find that one of the springs is broken.

So I'm stuck. I had an 8am appointment with the 17 housing maintenance guys (how ironic) on campus that I had to email in and cancel. I'm supposed to be in the USC building all morning and have several appointments there....not to mention my 2 11am appointments and the lunch time walk....

I had no trouble missing work for the last three days after letting people know and planning to not be in. But it's a little different when I'm just not showing up and calling in at the last minute. Then again, stuff happens---I'll just do work at home till Angel or that other maintenance guy comes over and fixes it.

I called Midge, my HR friend at RIT, to let her know why I'm not showing up, and I ended up talking to her for the entire time she was driving around campus making sure the Farmers' Market signs were set up (p.s. Farmers' Market from 10-2 in E Lot---they have great stuff, even baked goods and chair massages). At the point when we decided to get off the phone, she said it would be nice if we could just keep talking----which reminded me of when I was a stay-at-home auntie, and I would occasionally talk to my friend Stacey as she walked her entire mail route. Sometimes Matthew and I would meet her out in town with the stroller and walk part of her route too. And no, USPS, we never carried any of the mail for her in the stroller.

When I began wellness coaching, I often thought how nice it would be if I could bring a friend to work---a team effort would make it more fun, and easier. The time would go faster too, I think.

As a wellness coach, I get to be kind of a loner---talking and listening all day long, often with people I consider friends, but it's still a solo job. If you do get to work with and among people you call friends, take a moment to notice (and maybe even let them know) how much better they make your day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm in Florida. Yes, I'm on the computer---because I teach online and I have no choice. And I like it. I can do a half a day's worth of work and then walk away from it (except when a student calls me while I'm at a Miami Dolphins game to tell me her house just burned down!).

I'm pretty happy about the fact that at the football game last night---leading up to it, during, and after actually---there were a lot of things that happened that could have been annoying. But they weren't.

A quick run-down:
Before game traffic....sitting in traffic where a few people caused a bottle neck by trying get around the problem and then ended up jamming things up and slowing things down for everyone else.
During the game....very immature 20-somethings sitting in front of and behind us. One girl spent the entire first quarter (and then periodically after that) turned around standing up (the only person standing for most of the time), waving and trying to get her friends' attention who were sitting further back. The girl behind me talking incessantly about how easy it would be to be a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader, and discussing her boob size with the boys next to her.
After the took an hour to actually move from our parking spot to the exit of the parking lot.

The funny thing is that there was not one moment when I was annoyed. I noticed all that stuff, and more. Joe doesn't get annoyed about things that don't matter, and so it just wouldn't make sense for me to either. We just had the best time. It was sweaty and loud, and there were those 20-somethings, and a really really big guy sat next to me and infringed on my space, and the people in the parking lot were wasted and playing really awful music really loudly...And if I had gotten annoyed at any of it, that would have been the only thing that was different about the night because none of those people would have been any different based on my reaction. I guess I'd rather just notice and laugh about it and then have a good time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Waiting Patiently for Change.

I'm on the verge of a lot of change, and it is not happening very quickly----a bunch of things have to wait until other things happen before I can make a move. And those things that need to happen are out of my hands, and in the hands of people who are not being proactive.

I'm trying not to be frustrated----and I'm working on being patient. So, time will pass and everything will work out.

I had this email dialogue with my mom today, who by the way, if I haven't mentioned it, is the most amazing real person I've ever known.

While I was speculating and projecting ideas....she responded like this.

"I agree - I want to be crazy-me with no holds barred --- not censor my thoughts and beliefs - just rock-them - LIKE MONETIZE THE HATE {}- that is genius.

And yah ------ the sky is the limit for you --- and like me as time passes, it just feeds your determination to make these choices.

We can do anything --- we have already --- and if we don't, shame on us - because we have trekked thru madness and mayhem - and that can't be only to survive. Truly."

I love my mom because she is so real---someday I would like to write a post to tell you how awesome she is, and how humbled I am by how she came to be who she is. I know other people have gone through a lot and managed and persevered and risen above it all...but I don't know them. So my mom is an inspiration, and I think her story would inspire you too.

The truth is, the title of this blog (Thrive, in case you didn't notice :)), is what she's talking about there---remember that old question, "what's the point?" Well, I believe the point can't be just to get through it.

But let's wait till later for all that----my plan is to transfer this blog to a different platform in the next couple weeks and then make it less work-ish and more me-ish. Consider that a fair warning :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life in Music

I'm not sure if this post is wellness related, but I'll try and tie something in--maybe it has something to do with telling my story---Since I'm encouraging you to improve your wellness through telling your stories, maybe I should set an example!

I went to Boston last weekend---not really, it was South Dartmouth, but it felt like going to Boston for the most part---for my friend Catie's wedding. I left early Saturday morning and returned on Sunday, so it was a pretty quick trip. Joe stayed in Rochester to run the half marathon, so it was a solo road trip for me. Aside from being a little stiff afterward from driving so much, I really enjoyed all that time in the car with nothing to do. I don't know about you, but when I travel I always end up listening to things on the radio I wouldn't normally listen to at home. This trip was kind of nostalgic for me at times.

I have driven the first part of that trip many times because I used to live in the Boston area...and I'm pretty sure that similar to my trip last weekend, it has always rained at least part of every drive I've ever taken between Boston and home.
I heard a little of everything on the radio--- Paula Cole, Oasis, Dave Matthews, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Lisa Loeb, Ace of Base.... even Madonna from the early years.

I think most of my life played through my head during the first half of my drive---generally provoked by whatever song came on the radio. The trip itself reminded me of one specific prior drive to MA---except that I was alone this time. In 2001, I graduated from college on a Saturday, moved to Boston on Sunday and started working on Monday. I was 22, and my sister Jen, who was two years older than me and living in Penn Yan with her husband, drove me to my new home that day in my car and then flew home the next morning. We scoped out Lexington (my new 'hood) and went to the grocery store (Stop 'n Shop--so not Wegmans) and figured out my route to get to work the next day. It wasn't that I was a mess about making that big move, but it was a big deal at the time, and she helped me make it through with only tearing up just a little bit when she left for the airport and I left for work. I'm not sure if I ever told her how helpful and meaningful that was to me, but I'm pretty sure she knew. I hope so---she was always really good at writing notes and cards and mailing me stuff (one card even had a footprint--signed by her dog Maddie). Most people I stayed in touch with just emailed me, but I think she knew that getting real mail when you're alone is just that much better.

As I was driving to Dartmouth this past weekend, at a certain point, I realized I wasn't going to end up very near Boston because Tom Tom was telling me to turn off the Mass Pike. I followed his directions, found myself in downtown Providence, and realized I had not downloaded any map updates since May of 2008---but Providence had certainly updated their roads. So, I was lost, and Tom Tom was confused---showing me driving through the air perpendicular to the roads on the map. Luckily it was Sat morning with light traffic, and I ended up back on 95 soon enough, headed in the right direction (I hoped).

I made it---found the hotel----found my college friends, and went to the wedding. Catie's parents own a house in South Dartmouth, and the wedding was there---outside----in the pouring rain. We all laughed as we approached because if anyone has to have a wedding in the rain, it should be Catie. She would never let that put a damper on her event. And it didn't. It was fun catching up and fun planning our next friend reunion. I drove home on Sunday thinking I would make it to the yoga workshop I signed up for that afternoon. But I didn't.

And I'm totally behind on my work---for all of my jobs. I think I'll go to yoga class tonight and just deal with it later. This whirlwind trip could have really thrown me into a frenzy, both to prepare and recover work-wise (considering I'm also going to Florida next weekend). But I'm glad I'm just rolling with it---I had a good time, and all that driving time with all those old songs was kind of like reflective therapy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Live on Purpose

Stories of Wellness

I like the idea of becoming healthier through telling your story. It's kind of the foundation I used in my own research, and I am seeing it more and more all the time.

My friend Monica, who works at a place where I used to do wellness coaching, is trying this out---blog-style. She hails from a little town outside Pittsburgh, and lives south of Rochester for now. Read her blog....start at the bottom and read up

Think about what your story would look like if you were to start writing it down...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Indentify your Indentity

We all have "things" we identify ourselves by, even if we don't actually walk around with those labels displayed for everyone. You may call yourself a smoker, a health nut, a fat person, a stupid person, an intelligent person, etc.

It's interesting to look at how our personal conceptions of our identities inform how we can actually (or can't) change. I think the easiest example is to look at someone addicted to something---let's make it obvious and just talk about heroin :)

So a person who calls themselves a "heroin addict" is never going to be successful at changing (most likely). Why? Because if you see yourself as a heroin addict, you may be able to stop using it temporarily, but you're still an addict who is not using it and you will start again. This is really common for people who are overweight too---if you call yourself a chubby person, you will have a much more difficult time changing it permanently (ever heard of yo-yo dieting?).


Let's say you see yourself as a health nut. If you label yourself as "health nut" and really read up on it and believe it to be true and start acting like a health nut, you can change your weight. Eventually, the habits you do that are causing your extra pounds will change. But if you focus on being overweight, you are just fulfilling the label.

There have been so many studies on this, but we still don't really follow it (maybe we like to call ourselves names?). A related example is a study in which classrooms were labeled as either regular or gifted (where there were no difference in the abilities of the students, just randomly selected). The "gifted" students not only thought of themselves as smarter but they also performed as gifted students would. Even those students who had been previously labeled as needing extra help. This study was used to demonstrate that the way teachers perceive their students determined how they taught and treated the students. They held students to higher standards and the students themselves also knew they were being called gifted, so they lived up to the expectations.

Why not use this to our own advantage? What do you want to be? Smart, organized, beautiful, funny, life of the party.........? If so, then stop calling yourself average or worse. Make lists of the identity traits you want. Then focus on those instead of the names you've been calling yourself up till now. Just see what happens!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Go Bowling to Be Healthy

Huh??!! Go bowling to be healthy? Well, maybe it's not that simple. But here's the story:

Dr. Robert Putnam of Harvard University, wrote a book called "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community." The book is very heavy on statistics and I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for a light and quick read. Let me tell you what I got out of it (I didn't read all of it either).

Possibly the most eye-opening catch phrase in the book says something about how if you're a smoker and you want to cut your chance of dying in half this year, you should either quit smoking or join a civic association (think: The Elks Club).


Let me back up a little bit. I'm interested in the concept of Social Capital, which "refers to connections among individuals -- social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them (Putnam)." Over the last several decades, social capital has declined very quickly and significantly. This is a big deal, and it's not just that we miss the good old days. "School performance, public health, crime rates, clinical depression, tax compliance, philanthropy, race relations, community development, census returns, teen suicide, economic productivity, campaign finance, even simple human happiness -- all are demonstrably affected by how (and whether) we connect with our family and friends and neighbors and co-workers."

To bring this back around to the bowling reference, Putnam talks about how people used to join bowling leagues, and now are significantly less likely to do so---they still might bowl but it's on an occasional basis where social bonds are not formed as deeply.

Low social capital leads to more depression, sickness, colds, cancer, stroke, heart attacks, and unexpected death in general.

What should you do? You don't have to join the Elks Club if you don't want to. You could go on a walk with a neighbor, or better yet, get together with neighbors and throw a block party. Turn off the TV and the Internet during your free time and do something more social. If you don't want to go out partying or socializing and schmoozing all the time, you don't have to (I'm pretty thankful for that---I love being home). Find the social connections you like, and just do those more. You don't have to have a million friends, just make sure the bonds you have with the ones you want are strong and that you interact meaningfully and casually with the people you care about on a regular basis.

This was a big boring book, but it had so many statistics that clearly proved this point, that it is certainly worth mentioning. Over the decades, technology, life pace increases, dual-career households, and more have impacted our time spent investing in social capital. The bottom line is that the value of social capital is undeniable. You can ignore it if you choose----but if you do ignore it, you might just want to quit smoking and improve your odds of survival :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Don't Worry and Don't Hurry

One of my new favorite things to do is to download and listen to podcasts while I'm doing cardio. I am kind of tired of listening to the radio, and I'm a little short on time for reading, so I figured the next best thing (and way to keep feeding my seek-aholic brain) would be to listen to people talk.
Yesterday, I was listening to an interview by Dhrumil from He was interviewing Dr. Alejandro Junger (remember the guy who wrote Clean?). By the way, I'm still totally sold on the Cleaning/Detoxing idea, but I have more opinions now that I've "read" 3 more books after Clean on the same topic. I'll save that for later.

Anyway, Dr. Junger talked about his life, and progression of events that led him to developing the Clean program and writing the book. It was interesting, but one thing that really stuck out to me was a conversation he talked about that he had with a spiritual leader at an Ashram in upstate NY. He spent time there before and after going to India to practice medicine. When he returned to the states, he was confused about what direction to go in life---he was widely known and respected for his cardiology expertise, but India also valued what he could offer them in the way of developing their medical offerings.

His spiritual leader eventually told him she had two pieces of advice for him:

1. Don't worry.
2. Don't hurry.

The point was that all he had to know was what direction he wanted to go (in his case, to keep learning and to keep helping people). If he followed this purpose, he wouldn't need to worry about what to do or how to do it, and it would happen naturally---he didn't need to try and make it happen faster.

It reminds me of wellness coaching because we are always going outside (backward and forward) of our current moment. We obsess about things we did (how we messed up and reflecting that on how we'll act in the future), and things we hope we can make ourselves do (intensity about getting what we want and thinking of the end results of not getting it---worrying about what will happen to us).

If we could just re-focus on what's happening right now, we'd be much better off. Worry is just a negative excuse to not do anything differently right now---let the world happen to you because you're paralyzed by what might happen anyway. When we look at things this way, we don't change our behaviors. Additionally, when we constantly obsess about what the future might bring, we try to hurry things along, usually involving some kind of mental process and intensity about trying to control things in life that we have no control over---or just plain hurrying, and making each moment intense trying to get to the next. If we relax, do our work and feel good, we're more productive in the end anyway.

So, don't worry, and don't hurry. Just take time to identify what's most important to you, and figure out how to mesh that with feeling good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Here's the pic of bee pollen that I meant to post earlier....


Have I mentioned to you how much I love these products?

I have been buying the Whole Food Vibrancy Bars (specifically the Green Synergy and Chocolate). They are about $2.40 a piece at Lori's Natural Foods in Henrietta, and have 200 calories. So, don't just add them to your day----substitute them in for something else!

I am also trying the drink powders this week---they sell single serving and also the big containers of the stuff.

I'm pasting the Guiding Principles here because I think you should read it! Don't get overwhelmed---this is suggesting best-case-scenario. Pick some things you could do in your life, and don't worry that it's not perfect... you don't have to buy the Vega products to work towards meeting these principles!

Guiding Principles
Quite often the simplest solution is the best one. Over the past 50 years, however, our Western culture has managed to complicate matters concerning diet and its relation to health. Obesity and malnourishment exist simultaneously while the over-consumption of calorie-rich but nutrient-poor foods drain our energy. To make matters worse, we treat obesity with drugs and fad diets and combat fatigue with refined carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine. These are short-term solutions that eventually render us energy depleted, over-stimulated, chronically stressed and vulnerable to illness and premature aging.

So what can we do to address this problem? Today, many health experts believe the solution is to consume primarily plant-based whole foods; pure and simple as nature intended. Whole foods support all the requirements of a healthy body system, from absorption to elimination.
The challenge with whole foods has always been their relative inconvenience to prepare, compared to the gamut of fast food offerings so readily available to us. Born of the belief that one should not have to compromise between whole food goodness and fast food convenience, Vega was created with the following principles in mind:

Plant-based whole foods are the true future of optimal health
"Eat your fruits and vegetables." This is one of the most tried and true recommendations for a healthy diet. Plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals, enzymes, fiber and phytonutrients and countless studies support their many health benefits. Vega is made exclusively from plant-based whole foods.

Raw, alkalinizing foods are the best defense against illness and disease
In stark contrast to processed food, raw plant-based whole foods foster an alkaline environment within the body, an ideal platform upon which optimal health can be built. The main cause of all illness and disease stems from the disruption of pH balance in the body. Raw, alkaline foods help neutralize acid in our diet to promote healthy pH balance. Vega is slightly alkaline (pH of 7.2), similar to human blood (pH 7.4).

Nutrient density is more important than calories
Once the body is supplied with the nourishment it needs, cravings will cease. Consuming nutrient dense whole foods is a healthy way to naturally reduce caloric intake resulting in the creation of a stronger, leaner body. Vega is very nutrient dense, yet low in calories.

Food should provide energy, not drain it
Ease of assimilation is a key benefit of wholesome, natural food. The less energy the body must spend on digestion and assimilation, the more it will retain. Enzyme rich to conserve energy upon digestion, Vega offers superior net energy gain.

Food should energize through nourishment, not stimulation
Refined foods, sugar and caffeine "˜lend' temporary energy by stimulating the adrenal glands, creating a brief increase in energy levels but eventually resulting in fatigue. Vega contain an ideal balance of essential fatty acids, fiber and low glycemic carbohydrates to provide a constant, enduring supply of energy through nourishment, not stimulation, resulting in improved performance, mental clarity and enhanced ability to burn body fat.

Avoid common allergens to reduce food sensitivities
Many people, whether they know it or not, have sensitivities to foods that are abundant in the modern diet; commonly resulting in headaches, mild flu-like symptoms, low energy, and difficulty shedding body fat. Clean and green, Vega is free of most common allergens including artificial sweeteners, corn, dairy, gluten, soy, wheat and yeast.

It is possible to grow a younger body
Regular exercise to break down body tissue, coupled with premium, whole food nutrition to rebuild it is what keeps us biologically young. Depending on activity level, six to eight months from now your body will have regenerated almost all of its tissue at the cellular level. It will literally be made up of what you eat between now and then. Supply your body with premium building blocks such as those found in Vega and the result can literally be a healthier, younger body.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Be Wordy

I've been reading a book by Anthony Robbins that was written around the year 1990. It talks about how to be successful and maximize your results and approach to life---and its a little funny to read his 1990 perspective on pop culture and current events examples (he talked about going to the movies with his wife to watch Ghost).

A lot of what he says really applies to how to improve your lifestyle and behaviors.

He says that most of our lives are conducted on autopilot---and to change, we not only have to come off autopilot consciously, but we also have to re-train all the neural pathways that lead us to the choices we make day after day. We guide our choices by the concepts of pleasure (trying to gain it) or pain (trying to reduce it). This is similar to the concepts of punishment and reward, but he really emphasizes that we need to not just try and will our way through change, but use strategies that will help lessen the strength of the neural pathways over time. We also need to work on breaking and interrupting our autopilot patterns.

One of the concepts he talks about that really interested me had to do with choosing our words. He gave the example of himself and two colleagues being in a situation where they were being screwed in a business deal. He was feeling very angry and upset, colleague #1 described himself as furious and enraged (and had the red face and bulging forehead veins to match), and colleague #2 was annoyed and peeved (sitting and observing calmly). As he assessed the situation, he realized that the way in which each person described their feelings was related to the intensity of how they felt. The way they felt was determined by their perception of how they could possibly avoid pain and gain pleasure (one thought he would better control the situation if he was seriously mad and the other thought he would make better choices if he remained in control of his emotions).

This seems like common sense, but what Anthony did next was try an experiment with himself (you know that's right up my alley!). He wanted to choose words that would affect his emotions and mental state rather than letting it occur the other way around. He thought the word "peeved" was sort of funny and ridiculous, so he began using that as a descriptor whenever he was becoming irritated. He found that instead of becoming enraged, just saying the word peeved lessened his intensity of feelings. It changed the entire tone of situations he was in.

So in relation to wellness----how do you describe yourself? What words do you choose as you talk about your attempts at lifestyle change? Are you frustrated about having trouble losing weight? Can you change the words you use to describe it that will alter the way you feel?

The bottom line is that whether you feel positively or not, the outside world is still going to keep being the same outside world---but if you can stop getting mad at traffic or the person in the 7 items or less lane who has 22 items, you just feel better. The world doesn't necessarily change, but you feel better. The long-term result is that the better you feel, the better decisions you have the capability to make.

Identify a negative descriptor you use frequently (i.e. hate, furious, depressed, etc.), and think of a more mild or silly substitute. Make an effort to replace the word and see what happens. I have a friend who really despises her admin job--and she can easily fall into the habit of saying she hates her job and she's miserable in it. Instead, I get emails from her talking about how she has a goal of working in a job where there is more tomfoolery and shenanigans....which language pattern of hers do you think makes her feel better (given that right now the admin job itself is not changing)?

Our language has somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000 words in it (more than any other), but the average person uses between 2000 and 10,000. If you look in a thesaurus, you'll find significantly more negative words than positive. It seems worth the effort to make our words more positive--even if it just helps a little, it's a pretty easy thing to do!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Movin' on.....over?

In the next few months, there will be some wellness coaching changes at RIT (and maybe at Rotork too?). The plan for RIT is to expand the wellness coaching service to the entire faculty and staff (all 3100 of you). This is great news! If you're reading this and you work at RIT, maybe you already see the value in having a wellness coach---whether you've talked to me once or everyday since January.

Change is good---RIT is being a trend and example-setter for other universities and organizations. Offering health insurance is one thing, but offering a face-to-face connection with someone who can help you with everything from how to treat a bug bite to assisting you on your more serious wellness and lifestyle improvement quests, is taking it to the next level.

I've had a really good time here---meeting you and developing wellness connections and friendships. A lot of you know that I have another job too---I teach online for DeVry University. I really like teaching online for a few reasons (#1 may be that I can do the work at 4am in my pjs). I've been offered a teaching job with Axia College as well (this is the 2-yr school that falls under the University of Phoenix).

As a result, I need to move on from wellness coaching at RIT. I'd like to say it was a difficult decision for me to leave, but it wasn't. Have you ever had something just fall into your life and it just felt right to jump on the opportunity? I think this is what happened because I knew it was the right thing for me to do----and this doesn't mean I don't care about you :)

Nothing is personal in the world of careers. We are all replaceable (I may have told you this too, if we've talked about your job issues!). We all need to make decisions that are most appropriate for ourselves in any given moment.

A few other things I will have going on:
1. Being on the Board of Directors for the Rochester Autism Council
2. Doing an Anusara Yoga immersion for 9 weekends between now and May
3. Attending an Educator course at the Living Foods Institute for 45 days (split into three sessions) next spring and summer
4. Beginning to work on research projects extending from the methodology I used in my dissertation (narrative inquiry)

I'll be at RIT through the end of September, helping to transition in whoever takes my place. The plan for Rotork still needs to be determined!

I hope you'll stay in touch :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Remember the chia pudding I suggested yesterday? Well, I tried it. I don't really want to tell you the texture was sort of gross (gooey), because then I'm afraid you won't try it. So, when I first decided the texture was kind of gross, I thought I would try and "fix" it--then I could tell you about it and also offer a solution.

I mixed puffed millet cereal with the pudding (you could use rice krispies too)---so it was like the texture of rice krispie treats when you've just dumped everything in the bowl and stirred it. It was good! I swear---although it didn't taste quite like rice krispie treats, it was close enough for me.

I was also thinking that it may be a way to eat your bee pollen---once you mix those textures and tastes, the bee pollen might blend well. I haven't tried it though, so let me know if you do!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Did you ever have a chia pet? My bro-in-law (before he was my bro-in-law) gave one to me for Christmas one year. It was weird---spread seed goo over a ceramic animal (not sure what kind of animal), and then let it sprout and grow.

Result: pointless, weird-looking, primarily non-functional clutter--sort of a plant!

Why, I wonder, did the inventor of the Chia Pet not just promote the consumption of chia seeds? I'm kind of surprised I have not learned much about them till now, but I guess that's the way knowledge comes---I think you may be surprised and interested too.

Chia seeds were used by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans as a staple to their diet. It is said that just a tablespoon could sustain a warrior's activities for an entire day.

The benefits:
1. Rich in Omega-3's (more than flax)
2. High antioxidant levels (preventing it from going rancid)
3. Can be eaten whole or ground
4. High in calcium, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, niacin, molybdenum, and iron

In the 1500s, the Spanish took over the Aztecs in Mexico, and since the chia seed was closely linked to religion for this culture, there was a ban placed on it. It's back now on a large scale, and being produced and distributed as a health food.

1. Add to salad, yogurt, smoothies, etc.
2. Buy chia seeds already ground and substitute for part of your flour portion in recipes

When chickens or cows are fed chia based feed, their products (meat, milk, and eggs) become enriched with Omega-3's. It can be added to baby food, and really anything else. It has a nutty sort of taste.

You can also make a pudding out of it:
1 cup chia seeds
3 cups nut milk (almond, coconut, etc)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or replace cinnamon with raw cocoa powder)
pinch sea salt

Cover in fridge for 20-30 minutes.....Pudding! Will keep for several days (recipe from Sarma at If I make anything else with it that's good, I'll share the recipe.

New is New

I think I already have a post with this title, but I'm feeling inspired to use it again.

I like new. I don't mean new stuff (but I kinda like that too). I mean new thoughts, new perspectives, new styles. Trying new things, having new ideas, being open in a new way.

It seems like every time I think I have things figured out, something new happens. Life can be unpredictable, and new does not always seem positive right away. But the perspective of always looking for the potential of excitement and opportunities out of the new events in life just helps to keep us going in the right direction. You could probably go back into that sentiment and replace the word "new" with the word "change"---but I think new has a much better connotation than change.

Change sometimes freaks us out. Having something new feels better.

What's new with you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What to do with Bee Pollen!

Bee pollen is certainly worth consuming (unless you're allergic!), but at first glance, it's not the easiest substance to eat because it tastes weird. A few years ago, I bought some bee pollen from Durham's Bee Farm online (this was before I realized I should be eating local bee pollen). I kept the two big bags in my mom's fridge, and I told her she should eat it too. I remember taking a spoonful of it and just trying to eat it that way---I thought I would just follow it up with some water. Well, the taste and texture hit my gag reflex, and I almost lost it---but I didn't. I just drank water and shuddered at the thought of eating more. I sort of gave up on it then. My mom ate it for a while though---she's good about that stuff. And my friend Jena was visiting, and she actually liked the taste. So for a while we would just put out some on a plate and try to munch on it anytime we walked by it.

We eventually threw those bags of pollen away.

This year, I learned more about bee pollen, and I thought I needed to give it another try since it is just so nutritious. I read a tip that said to keep it in the freezer. Not only does it taste better, but it also prevents it from getting moisture in it and going bad. It will last 11 years if you freeze it.

So what I do is eat (swallow) three teaspoonfuls a day. Sometimes all at once, and other times spread throughout the day. I found that anything more than a teaspoon can kind of get stuck and hard to swallow. Chase with water. Always chase with water. It doesn't taste bad this way, actually doesn't taste like much at all---and I've found that I even chew on it a little now.

Other ways to eat it:
1. sprinkle it on salad
2. add to a smoothie
3. mix into peanut butter or other gooey substance
4. take in capsule form (I'm not a big fan of this one---I'd rather it be eaten since its a food)
5. be creative!

Let me know how you try it!
(I'll add a pic of it to this post later when I'm on my other computer)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is Nature's Most Complete Food?

It "rejuvenates your body, stimulates organs and glands, enhances vitality, and brings about a longer life span. [Its] ability to consistently and noticeably increase energy levels makes it a favorite substance among many world class athletes and those interested in sustaining and enhancing quality performance." -Steve Schecter, N.D.

Any guesses?

This substance is about 40% protein, half of which is in the highly usable amino acid form. It contains nearly all nutrients required by humans to be alive. It's a natural substance that cannot be man made in a lab.

These are its other claims to fame:
-It "is the richest source of vitamins found in Nature in a single food. Even if [it] had none of its other vital ingredients, its content of rutin alone would justify taking at least a teaspoon daily, if for no other reason than strengthening the capillaries. [It] is extremely rich in rutin and may have the highest content of any source, plus it provides a high content of the nucleics RNA and DNA." --Institute of Apiculture, Russia

-It inhibits the development of numerous harmful bacteria. Experiments have shown it contains an antibiotic factor effective against salmonella and some strains of bacteria.

-It has a good effect on the composition of blood. A considerable and simultaneous increase of both white and red blood cells is observed. When it is given to anemic patients, their levels of hemoglobin [oxygen-carrying red blood cells] increase considerably.

-It acts to normalize cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood: Upon the regular ingestion, a reduction of cholesterol and triglycerides was observed. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) increase, while low-density lipoproteins (LDL) decrease. A normalization of blood serum cholesterol levels is also seen.

-It has been shown to delay the onset of tumors in mice

-"More good news comes from the University of Vienna, where Dr. Peter Hernuss and colleagues conducted a study of twenty-five women suffering from inoperable uterine cancer. Because surgery was impossible, the women were treated with chemotherapy. The lucky women given [this substance] with their food quickly exhibited a higher concentration of cancer-fighting immune-system cells, increased antibody production, and a markedly improved level of infection-fighting and oxygen carrying red blood cells (hemoglobin). These women suffered less from the awful side effects of chemotherapy as well. [It] lessened the terrible nausea that commonly accompanies the treatment and helped keep hair loss to a minimum. The women also slept better at night. The control group receiving a placebo did not experience comparable relief." --Dr. Mercola

-It enhances immune system function.

One last bit of information: The "being" who makes this substance works very hard, with only a 1-teaspoon yield after 1 month of 8-hour workdays.

What do you think it is?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Local August

Check out one of your colleague's (Rotork) journey to a healthier lifestyle. Petra has been slowly making wellness changes since I've known her. Over the past year, she's improved her health without turning her life upside down. This blog chronicles her challenge to emphasize eating local foods for the month of August. (start reading at the bottom of the page and work upwards)

I'm impressed. Not just because she can eat all local foods, but because she's trying something new on her quest to continually improve her wellness.

What challenge can you try? It doesn't have to be as "big" as Local August (remember, Petra worked up to this over a year), it should just be something that makes you think and feel positively about food, lifestyle, and your health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Brains are Better Than One

I'm not referring to two people here---I'm referring to one, you. Your two brains are the brain you know...and your intestines.

Instead of housing all the neurons and electrical components needed to run the digestive system in the Central Nervous System (CNS) (brain and spinal cord), these components are located right along the digestive system itself. This gives the intestines the ability to interpret and take action for themselves.

The primary and obvious function is for the intestines to be able to decide what to do with food when it enters the system----break it down, throw it back up, speed it through, etc.
The part I think you may be (more) interested in is regarding your emotions. Depending on what source you read (and it probably is variable between people), your intestines contains between 80-95% of the serotonin in your body!

Isn't that amazing? Serotonin does three main things (for the purpose of our understanding)--(1) regulates how digestion occurs in the gut, (2) sends messages about digestion to the brain, and (3) gives us feelings of well-being.

Physically, our diet can cause the serotonin balance to go haywire---Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is actually an effect of having too much serotonin released in the gut and not enough SERT to transport it out of the area. So you end up with too much serotonin floating around in the gut and it causes GI problems.

Our diet can also cause upset serotonin balance that has the potential to wreak havoc on our emotions. Depression and anxiety, often a result of having too little serotonin floating around in the brain, can be a symptom of a poor diet (and this connection between brain and intestines also explains why many people who are on SSRI anti-depressants also have GI distress of some kind).

I'm not saying that if you're taking SSRIs you should stop. I'm just suggesting that if you also address your emotions through the care of your intestines (what you eat), you may be happily surprised at the outcome. Different people are sensitive to different things, so look at yourself as your own little research project---when you eliminate certain types of foods (one at a time---like dairy, processed food, etc), do you feel any better? Through the Standard American Diet, we have changed what is considered "food," and our bodies do not have the capability to evolve as quickly as our changed habits (i.e. increased amounts of processed and manufactured foods).

The result is upset intestines, leading to upset serotonin balance, leading to upset people.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Be a Chooser, Not a Picker

Andrew Q at RIT gave me a summary outline of a book he just read, The Paradox of Choice, Why More is Less, by Barry Schwartz.

This is an interesting concept, and not having read the book, I can't really say exactly what the author was projecting. However, Andrew's outline summarized the main points, and some of them really caught my attention.

Be a Chooser, Not a Picker.
Andrew's notes say, "Sometimes none of the options should be chosen or new options should be created."

My interpretation:
We all have a conception of the world---it sometimes fits into a nice little box of ideas and thoughts about the way things work and what our life options are. Sometimes we get stuck in this box of options, and other times outside options surface and we can turn our lives in a new way. The issue comes when we forget that we can create our own options.

In other words, we play it safe or we limit ourselves and our potential by not stepping out on a limb or being creative in our plans. This can be as simple as following diet plans that only meet certain criteria based on our understanding of what it means to be healthy. I can see how my vision of healthy lifestyle has evolved over the years because I have been open to trying new things (maybe a little too open!). I have a couple friends like this too--a new diet plan comes out---Try It!!! Now, don't get me wrong, most of them don't work (and I'm not talking about dieting to lose weight in my case, just to be healthy and feel good). However, if I never was open to trying anything outside of the Food Pyramid suggestions, I would never have found the things that do work for me.

On a more global scale this works too--think about the things in your life you may feel stuck inside. Are you faced with options that don't seem like what you really want? Before you just pick things because they're presented to you, decide whether or not there's some other option you could create. I've never been very good at this---even on a simple level, like at a restaurant. Mom and I took Matthew to lunch last Friday, and when asked what he wanted he said, "A fish samwich." We were a little concerned about finding that where we were and with the time constraints we had, so finally we gave up and told him he couldn't have it, and we went to Peppers in Canandaigua. The stars partially aligned because they did have a Friday Fish Fry on the menu, and then (totally out of character for me---it wasn't on the menu) I asked the server if they could make it into a fish sandwich for him.

Her response, "No problem."

We all left happy, and I left thinking. Apply it to Andrew's book statement. Be a chooser, not a picker! If you have a choice to make and you don't like the spoonfed options, think about how you may create a new choice that feels good to you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


These look really funny, but I've had two people (one in public safety and one person I met in MA) tell me how great they work and how helpful they've been.

For people who are on their feet a lot or who have issues caused by absorbing too much shock into the body from the feet---these could be a good product to consider!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rain on Your Parade

Are you on Facebook? If you are, you may have noticed an abundance of status updates talking about the weather (and other status updates telling people to stop talking about the weather). Why? It's pretty obvious---the weather has been less than stellar this summer (and can you even believe it's August?).

There are a lot of explanations, weather reports, and theories about why the weather has been so rainy this season, but take a moment to think about how the weather has/has not affected you and your wellness. Did you go outside and exercise less often in July due to rain? Or did you just run in the rain? Did you turn to comfort food when it was chilly outside? Or did you have your summer veggies anyway?

There is always going to be an option of bad weather (especially here in the NE), and we can use that as a reason to do less, feel worse, and eat more junk. Or we can take into account that things don't always happen as we originally planned, and do the good stuff anyway. The weather is just one example of this---did you lose your job this year? Did something bad happen to you or someone you care about? Was work more stressful than normal? Did your teenager make some poor personal choices?

Regardless of the things that happened to you this year, you still have a choice--the world's events keep going, so how you react (or don't) may not help it become a better place or control your surroundings. But it can help you feel better along the way.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Express Yourself

A common denial response to the suggestion of improving one's wellness is to reply with something like this...

"Yeah, well, I gotta die someday. And my dad smoked and drank and ate bad foods for his whole life and he lived till he was 92. So, I'm not going to waste my time quitting smoking when it won't make any difference!"

The opposite is also widely accepted...

"Every adult male in my family died of heart disease before the age of 50---so I'm doomed anyway. There's nothing I can do."

I don't give much of a response to things like this, and chalk it up mostly to a lack of readiness. I understand where it comes from. But I'd like to expand on it and answer it here.

We all have certain genes, passed to us by our parents. Some genes are turned on and some are turned off at any given moment. What we do and how we live serve as inputs for us---which genes are expressed and which are not. All of our habits---what we eat, how we feel (emotions), and what we do for exercise, help to determine our gene expressions.

Look at this as a chance to neutralize the icky genes by how you act, and maximize the healthy genes. If you're the guy with relatives who all died in their 40s, you're admittedly at a disadvantage. But if you maximize your gene expression through your lifestyle, you are working at "beating the odds." You can ask my Dad about this one---he took this approach and is 61, rode his bike 26 miles the other day, and just spent 10 minutes on the phone last night telling me how great he feels.