Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Learn a New Language

I think improving your lifestyle is similar to learning a new language. You start out not knowing a lot about what it will take for success, and then you gradually learn and practice the concepts.

If you don't practice, you will not get better at it!

I'm learning American Sign Language, and I don't think its hard, but it sure does require a different way of thinking! I don't practice as much as I should, but I'm in class four days a week, so that's practice in itself. What about wellness----eating better and exercising more? Can you really expect yourself to just decide what the outcome should be (i.e. being proficient and having it be a part of everyday life), and then just do it? Not really.

You need reinforcements! A plan. A positive outlook. Support. New ideas. Flexibility. Willingness to try new things and learn new ways of doing things. Exposing yourself to the concepts and ideas is important---read articles and books about it, talk to people about your ideas and things you've tried.

Then use your wellness coach to help you navigate the process on a long-term basis. It is about getting yourself to go to the gym once and eat more vegetables today. But it's also about strategizing for how to continue in the future and improve.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Community Acupuncture

I saw an article in the D&C about this a couple months ago, and over the past month I've talked to a couple people who have been using the service and having excellent results.

Check out this link:
If you are interested in learning more about it, check out the FAQs page on the website. It talks about how you can experience acupuncture in more of a traditional (non-westernized) way in this community setting....and you also pay much less to do it!

The thing about acupuncture is that it is cumulative and even though one session might make you feel pretty good, you probably need to go several times to experience a benefit.

Have you tried it? What did you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Real Age

Check out this website www.realage.com to figure out if you're biologically older, younger, or the same as your calendar age.

There is a lot of other good info on this site too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


So I'm sitting here watching college students each their lunches. I have to say, I'm pretty freaked out by it---not by their manners, but by what they're eating. There's this thing, this chicken tender sub (I think)---on a white roll with some kind of sauce and a lot of melted cheese. It doesn't even look good...but they're eating it. With fries and/or chips, gatorade and/or mt dew, and a cookie the size of my 5 year-old nephew's head. That is most definitely more than a day's worth of calories in one sleepy greasy meal.

Overall, I wouldn't say the population is noticeably overweight, but they are probably ranging in ages from 18-21. I just want to let them know that if they keep this up, they will be sorry!

When you're 19, and developing (or cementing) these habits, you don't think about how it will affect you later. But, they will find out, it does and it will.

Is there no hope? I'd like to think there is, but based on the food selections here... I'm not sure how this could change. Maybe we're in too deep. What do you think?

Monday, March 23, 2009


It occurred to me this weekend that sometimes the "thing" holding us back from our wellness goals (or maybe it's just one of the "things") is that we don't really acknowledge that we are giving up or changing something we like (or something we are just super comfortable with).

I want to work on this for myself, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on it with you. If you're trying to eat more veggies and fewer fries, don't just hammer home the "EAT VEGGIES" message over and over again---that part is important to focus on, but give yourself the opportunity to acknowledge and let go of giving up the fries.

Step 1. Make a plan
Sub-step 1. Identify what you're adding to your life and what you're taking away.
Sub-step 2. Think about (and write down) what it is about the thing you're giving up that you'll miss. Remind yourself why you'll be better off without it. Then just miss it for a little while.

Step 2. Try your plan
Step 3. Evaluate and re-plan
(repeat steps as needed)

So, it's not quite so black and white, but you get the idea. Sometimes I really miss things like grilled cheese on white bread and oreos (and I'm not saying I would never have those things), but they're not a part of my lifestyle anymore. I didn't have a hard time giving up coffee in a caffeine-addiction sense, but I miss the ritual of coffee. I'm slowly getting used to my new rituals and habits, and I can see myself liking them more in the long-run. I think I had to really acknowledge missing the old stuff and then let it go.

What about you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

It's Thursday. Which means it's almost Friday, and Friday is almost the weekend.

What did you do differently today than you did yesterday? How about compared to last week?

It's another day, just another routine day... do something different! Just for one day. See how it feels to go outside your comfort zone just a little. Maybe you could buy a vegetable you've never had, look up a recipe for it, and try it out. When you get out of your car after work, walk around the block once before going inside. Turn the TV off for a half hour and read something for pleasure. Do crunches and push-ups during commercials.....

Come up with your own!

I think one of my most important roles is to remind people to notice when they do something good for themselves. This morning I talked to a woman who immediately told me she did not make any progress on her eating habits....then I found out she switched her breakfast from bagels with cream cheese to cheerios....and her lunch from dinner leftovers to sandwiches on whole grain bread! She hadn't noticed or given herself credit for that because her ultimate goal was to eat healthier dinners. In my estimation, she's having at least one less stick of butter in calories per day! (you know how calorie-dense bagels are, right?)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sticks of Butter

This week I am toting my very useful (and very heavy) body composition scale around to various locations so people can see their progress (or lack thereof). It makes me think about how people measure progress---the traditional way would be in pounds lost. The 80's-90's way would be via Body Mass Index (BMI) improvements... Today's way is more focused on body fat percent. The problem is that even with this measurement, there is no way to be 100% accurate. I have a pretty good scale, but drink a bottle of water and eat a snack beforehand and your reading will be thrown off.

I wish I could help people to not focus on pounds, but rather, on actions. Pounds (and similarly, cholesterol readings, BP, blood sugar, etc.) are a side effect of what you DO. So, if you have planned a strategic way to improve your actions over time---that my friend, is a recipe for success in my book. Unfortunately, wellness coaching costs money and I have to prove my worth by showing results in numbers.... but I have faith the actions' effects will trickle down to the level of the numbers.

This morning, I was speaking with someone who has lost 22 pounds since our January weigh-in. Her numbers showed a significant difference... and that was important, but the real impact came when she figured out how many calories she had dropped by working out more and eating less-----77,ooo

77,000 is not chump change---she is serious about this (and doing it in a very healthy way).

Not everyone can blow themselves away with the numbers---but think of a way to represent your progress that makes you feel good.

...someone else said weight watchers told her how much weight she had lost in Sticks of Butter (1 stick=810 calories)

How would you measure your progress?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No, Really.

The last post showed the relationship between plant consumption and heart disease and cancer deaths. Ok, so if you know about research, you might argue that it didn't show a causal relationship---we don't know anything else about the lifestyles of the countries studied. But, it's like anything else, if you can think of an excuse (its probably a good one) you can justify ignoring something that's pretty clear in its message. Don't miss the point.

Its like wellness coaching---when I presented a summary of the process to a bunch of research faculty, they found all these issues with whether or not our "results" would show anything valid (i.e. did peoples' health indicators change as a result of wellness coaching? How could we ensure validity and reliabilty?). After a few minutes of discussion, I finally just said---we're not doing a research study. We're talking about life---and when you ask people who use the service whether or not it was helpful, they will most likely say yes, in one way or another it was helpful. In addition, we'll track changes and improvements---will these results be published in a scholarly journal? Nope. But do they mean something? Yes.

In regards to vegetables----will they solve all your health problems? No. Will they help you in many ways to feel better now and in the future? YES.

You saw the graph. Eat more plants.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Plants vs. Killer Diseases

From: Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.'s book, Eat to Live


We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. – Alfred E. Newman

Chicken or Egg?

I went to an event last year where Lisa Ling spoke about her experiences working with National Geographic. She has done reports on the World's Most Dangerous Gang and things like that. Her philosophy is that its necessary to get the real facts, "the facts on the ground," rather than just relying on mainstream news media stories.

So mainstream news tells me I can be healthy by following the food pyramid. I decided to test it against other theories I've read about.

My experiment is working---I've gotten up everday at 4:30 to do work, worked out (most days) from 6-7, and then worked from 8-6, and have not done any work at home after 7pm.

I've increased my vegetable intake to about 12 servings a day (mostly via green juice and salads), cut out all white flour/sugar, had minimal processed food, and only drank wine one night. I've only had meat twice since Feb, and both times it was raw.

Last week was the first week I did it, and by Thursday I was exhausted.

This week, I had a hard time falling asleep on Thursday night because I had too much energy.

I'm not sure what came first to cause this shift....the veggies? the placebo effect? the infrared sauna? the lack of meat and/or cooked food? the routine of getting up early?

I don't know what gave me so much energy, but sometimes it is important to look at the effects of the big picture of what you're doing and not overanalyze and dissect it into pieces. Sometimes things work altogether to bring an effect---don't fight it! Be happy and continue (and consider drinking some green lemonade).

As Lisa Ling would say, "Now you have the facts on the ground. What are you going to do about it?"

Test your own theories. Get your own facts on the ground. Now that I know what works for me---I can't really stop, can I? Well, I could. But.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I like the idea of journal writing---but I've never been one to do it in any consistent way. When I started working on my dissertation, my faculty mentors suggested two things: join faceook and interact with your colleagues for motivation, and write a blog documenting your progress and let your friends and family read it. I did both because I had no clue what I was getting myself into with the whole dissertation thing.

So now I have this year-long blog from 2007 documenting my dissertation (sort of, mostly it was just writing stuff to procrastinate). I'm really glad I did it---I just read a post (while I was looking for ideas for this blog) that reflected on my wellness struggles and status at the time. I read it remembering how I felt then--and what it really did for me was magnify the progress I've made since then---but I don't remember making any progress along the way!

I wish everyone could take a look back and see their progress. If you haven't written in any journals or blogs, you might take this opportunity to start documenting in some way--maybe it's just writing notes and blurbs on a calendar about your lifestyle. Maybe it's starting a journal. It brings me back to the idea of how important it is to recognize your progress and give yourself credit for your successes. I can't believe how different my lifestyle is now (and all I've ever focused on is what I need to improve).

Time Management

Managing time well has a direct relationship to stress level. I don't have a study to back that up (although I'm sure I could find many). It's not rocket science--I'm sure you'll read that and either think or say something like, "duh."

But do you really get it? I thought I did, until I started this experiment I have going on for the month of March. I'm not going to talk about that in depth---because you'll probably just think I've lost my mind and you won't respect my wellness advice anymore. Not really, but it is having to do with testing out nutritional concepts and seeing if they really work to improve energy levels.

The one thing I found out during my experiment so far is that planning out my time makes me more productive. I've dedicated certain hours of the day to very specific things, and when I do that, I'm more likely to be productive during that time. I've also planned out what to eat and when to go to the gym.

I thought I was pretty productive before, but now I'm finding myself to be even better.....and with that comes less stress!! Who wouldn't want that?

So, the point is that sometimes planning and time management seems like a drag and not really all that important. Even so, try it out---commit to just a set period of time, like a week. Plan out as much of your life as you can fit in and feel comfortable with. Let me know how it goes!

p.s. raw vegetables give you more energy

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Positive First

The theme for this week seems to be "junk food" and people feeling guilty and obsessing over eating too much of it.

I'm still working on my methods for getting people to first focus on what they've done well, and second talk about things that haven't been going so well. Let's say last week, you identified a few things to work on for seven days. Maybe you wanted to stop eating after 9pm, or you tried to go to the gym one extra time, or you bought whole grain bread and more vegetables.

So when I ask you how its going, you tell me that you really screwed up because you went to the Olive Garden for dinner and had one of those cheesy pasta-y dishes with extra grated cheese on top... Oh, and three days ago, you ate a half a package of oreos, and you've only been to the gym twice.

Maybe you are feeling really guilty because you didn't stick to your plan for the whole week, and once you did one thing "wrong" it was much easier to do something else outside of your plan.

But maybe if you list the things you did well compared to the week before....

Went to the gym twice instead of once
Ate salads 4 days of the week instead of none
Drank three extra bottles of water
Smoked one less cigarette
Ate out one less time
Ate half the package of oreos instead of the whole thing

...Maybe this perspective is not only more optimistic and healthier, but it makes it more likely that you will be motivated to keep trying.

What if you make little improvements (sometimes over and over again) every week? What does that look like in 3 months? 6 months? A year? Five years?

When you are trying to be healthy, be proud of yourself for doing the healthy things you do. Then go back to the planning phase to address the other things. Feeling guilty is not helpful!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Practice Living By the Laws of Nature

This is something I wrote in Fall of 2007 when I was working on my dissertation and teaching at Keuka. I think the concept is still relevant (and I don't have time to come up with anything new today!)... Even when things feel unbalanced, take a minute to remind yourself about what is good. If possible, do this before you remind yourself of what's not going well!

I have been reading a book called "40 Days to Personal Revolution," by Baron Baptiste. If you're not into ancient wisdom, spirituality, yoga, meditation, and things of this nature, don't read it (p.s. It's not about religion). However, if these topics interest you, you may find it (like I have) to be a really nice summary of all the things you've read so far, and it totally relates all of the concepts to health.

Gandhi believed health must be achieved in the spirit realm (vs. physical) in accordance with the laws of nature, and in regards to diet, exercise, positive surroundings, and a pure heart. When we do not live by the laws of nature, we are not living up to our potential. Sometimes I have found it difficult to ALWAYS follow these laws---I mean, you shouldn't focus on money, yet, you have to pay your bills. You shouldn't worry about fitting the status quo, yet, you still have to function well in society. We should be IN this world, but not OF it---I do get that part, so I guess it all just takes practice. I do have to worry about what people think in order to meet deadlines, teach well, finish my dissertation. Like everything else, it just seems to be about balance----the right amounts of: coffee, sleep, meditation, exercise, family, food, studying, friends...

I have to add, I really like teaching a freshman health/wellness class. The subject matter is SUPER easy, and although I have to prepare for class, its not like my brain has to work really hard. It's a nice break from doing research.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Do you know how many people tell me they hate going to the dentist? Can you relate? Dental health is very important, and its not something I cover very often as a wellness coach. When I was coaching more in manufacturing settings, I got a lot more complaints and heard many more feelings of frustration about the cost of dental work (they were less likely to have any dental coverage). But even now, whenever the topic of going to the dentist comes up, people sigh in annoyance and mutter a variety of things about hating going to the dentist.

Last year, I found this website that addresses dental health in a do-it-yourself and take-responsibility-for-your-teeth kind of way. http://www.cleanwhiteteeth.com/
Dr. Ellie Phillips (who by the way also owns Phillips European Restaurant on E. Henrietta Rd with her husband) developed this system over the last several decades and has decided to spread the word about it full-time rather than continuing to practice standard dental care.

Here's the bottom line:

1. Rinse with Closys Mouthwash
2. Brush with regular toothpaste
3. Rinse with Listerine (rinse your toothbrush in Listerine too)
4. Rinse with Act

5. After you eat throughout the day, eat a few xylitol mints or chew the gum

You can buy all this stuff locally, and although Dr. Ellie has a line of xylitol products called Zellies, there are other brands out there too.

I spoke with Dr. Ellie a few weeks ago and she told me several stories about people who have completely reformed their dental health by using this system. Everyone from a guy who used to brush his teeth with Ajax to get them white (and in turn scraped the enamel off his teeth) to people with standard dental issues and even people who have not been to the dentist in decades.

I also know of an MCC dental hygiene student who is in need of people to practice on for free. If you haven't been to the dentist in years and would like free dental work, please contact me and I'll give you her phone number.

Take care of your teeth now---giving up is not going to help your dental bills!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wanting vs. Wanting

I ran 5-miles yesterday after not having run since sometime in January. It took me 48:15, and I was feeling pretty good about that. I decided I'm going to run in the St. Patty's day 5-mile run, and I wanted to surprise Joe and not tell him until that day. I wasn't going to tell him because I thought if I wanted to back out at the last minute then I wouldn't be disappointing anyone.

I guess I'm ruining it though because Joe subscribes to my blog.

I decided I should take my own advice and set myself up to be encouraged to do things, and not give myself an easy way out. I know I want myself to run the race....but I'm not really sure I want to.

I see this concept very often in wellness----people really want themselves to make healthy choices, but when the moment arises they don't want to. I think having a variety of strategies is good (i.e. do it not wanting to, etc), but sometimes you can take away some of the decision-making responsibility by telling other people or making committments. If you don't want to let someone else down, you are more likely to make the decision you want for yourself.

That's why wellness coaching works---I come back and check in to see if you held up your end of the deal. If you didn't, I help you re-plan. I want you to be successful at making healthy decisions, and ultimately I want you to want to. But in the beginning, if you don't want to in the moment....I think its perfectly ok to use outside motivation to hold yourself accountable. It may be cheating, but like I've said before, cheating is ok sometimes.