Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fancy Water

Do you get sucked in by marketing ploys? You know, the ones promising weight loss, glowing skin, more energy, blah blah blah....

Water is contributing to this with its own marketing trap. There is Vitamin Water, mineral water, water made out of clouds, bubbly water, water with fake sweeteners added....... so which one should you drink?

Step 1: Look at the nutrition label. If there are calories in it----it's not water!
Step 2: Check the ingredient list for artificial sweeteners (splenda, aspartame, sorbitol, etc)
Step 3: Check the price

If you find a fancy water that has low-to-no calories, no sweeteners, and is a reasonable may want to waste your money on it, and you'll probably not harm your health. The other option is to buy a Brita or Pur water filter, install it on your kitchen sink, and fill up a glass, BPA-free plastic, or aluminum container (made specifically to hold water), and drink that. It's cheaper, it's as "clean" as bottled water, and it's better for the environment to reuse your containers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Some words of wisdom from Eeyore:

Small applause is better than no applause, even when it is a little lacking in Smack.

Anybody who tells you that getting thin takes "about a week" is lying.

Go ahead, eat all you want. But just try squeezing out the doorway.

Don't be surprised if it hails a good deal tomorrow. Blizzards and what-not. Being fine today doesn't Mean Anything. It's just a small piece of weather.
(I'm pretty sure he's talking about Rochester in this one!)

p.s. I was going to apply some of that to wellness, but I think I'll just let you do that part :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


One of the things I'm terrible at is improvising. I'm not saying I don't do it---I improvise all the time in cooking, and sometimes it ends up being a disaster. Especially when I'm cooking, I substitute, replace, adjust amounts--you name it, I change it. Then I'm either thrilled or disappointed with the outcome, and generally left with a mess.

It works with wellness too---make a plan, then when it rains on your running plans or traffic prevents you from going to spinning class----improvise! Do something else. It might be a blast, and it might not be exactly what you wanted...but it will almost always be worth it. If it wasn't worth it, you'll just improvise differently the next time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Which Way Do You Go?

The topic for today involves Western Medicine vs. Alternative Health Practices. I shouldn't really even phrase it that way--because I think that creates part of the internal conflict regarding having to choose one or the other (at least for me).

When you're sick, what do you do? If you're more Western Medicine (WM) oriented, you probably take inventory of your symptoms and either pop some pills or make a doctor's appointment for prescriptions, tests, etc. If you're more Alternative Health (AH) oriented, you probably take inventory of your symptoms and then look to herbal or nutritional remedies, supplements, neti pots, acupuncture, massage, meditation, or other non-traditional "solutions."

Over the past 15 years, I've evolved from a wholly WM approach toward the other end of the spectrum. In fact, I think sometimes I take it too far. I'm beginning to reassess my position on always trying to "medicate" with just yoga and food and herbal supplements. One way I've done this is to examine how I came to have this perspective.

Think about why you do what you do when it comes to medicine and health. Is it totally passive--you just do what you always did and what your parents did? Or have you researched and come to your own conclusions? There is no wrong answer---it's about figuring out why and how you got to where you are, and then you can identify whether or not you have any reasons to change.

For myself, I believe I've been interested in AH for a while, and tried some things here and there when WM wasn't doing the whole job. Then I watched someone I love die in the midst of the most routine procedure with qualified WM professionals. WM didn't work that time, and I think I was jaded by that, pushing me to resist WM whenever I could.

I also see a nurse practitioner who tells me things about health that I know are not completely accurate, and I think about all the patients who just believe what they're told by the WM professionals because they trust them.

Today, when I have a health issue to deal with, I think I'll take a complementary AH-WM approach. Maybe I need WM to help with some symptoms, and I'll also use as much AH as I can to address what is going on inside to have cause the problems and to help reverse it.

I've been thinking of WM negtively as the "bandaid approach" for quite some time, and maybe it is sometimes. But bandaids can be helpful, as long as we're always looking a few steps further to get to the root of the problem as well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


In anticipation, we often put things off....till a special occasion....the weather gets better....there is more money....the kids grow up....the bills are paid...the job gets better....the headache subsides...

You may have seen the email forward that circulated a few years ago talking about how you shouldn't save things for a special occasion (I think one example used was fancy perfume) because you don't know what tomorrow brings.

I agree with that, and I also think we can take it a little further into wellness.

Say you want to improve your wellness in some way. What are the things holding you back? Work, time, money, energy, stress, kids, ideas, focus, motivation, lack of support, lack of commitment.... Identify your barriers.

Then take a step back and look at each one. Is the fact that you have no time the real reason you cannot exercise for 30 minutes a day? There are 1440 minutes in a day. Can you spare 30 for exercise instead of TV? Chances are, you could.

So be honest---what is the real reason? You don't know where to start. You don't want to. You don't like exercise. You don't think it will help. You have no plan. You are afraid if you do it and it works, you'll have to keep doing it.

If you're talking about how you'd like to make changes, and every sentence leads to a "but" statement about why you can't do anything differently, you won't get too far. You're anticipating....nothing. It's just talking. If you really do want yourself to make wellness improvements, it's important to get to the bottom of how and why you've made decisions to do what you do now, and what the real reasons are for not doing the desired behavior. Then you can start strategizing effectively.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Your Goal Today?

I try to use the strategies I suggest to people, and sometimes I do this better than others.

Last night, I knew I had some work to catch up on that I had been putting off. It was there in front of me, and I had the time to do it...but I wasn't getting anything done. So I took out a piece of paper and wrote down exactly what I would accomplish last night.

...Then I found something else to do and really felt like that might be it for me for the night (have you read the Twilight series?).

At some point, I looked at the clock and knew that if I waited any longer, I would either not get my work done or I would be up really late. So I put down my book, and did my work---it worked. I used my list as a checklist and just did the work---not wanting to, but it was getting done nonetheless.

I really think if I had not written down what I was going to do, I wouldn't have done it. It would have been this unfocused, loosely defined "work to do".....that could always wait till tomorrow.

Can you do this today? Take out a piece of paper and write down some things you really want to have accomplished by the end of the day. Then follow your list and cross them off.

The Best Smoothie Ever

So I made a smoothie for dinner last night and it was amazing....

I wanted to share it with you...and also note that it is probably enough calories for a meal--but they're good healthy calories and its high in antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fat. I actually left out the coconut and the lime because I didn't have it, and the ice because I had partially frozen the pineapple. Make sure the avocado is ripe!

GREEN GOBLIN’S POTION (from David Wolfe and The Best Day Ever)
1 medium or large ripe avocado
1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1 Tbs honey
1 1/2 cup orange juice
2 tsp lime juice (optional)
1/4 tsp coconut meat
2 ice cubes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Next Logical Step...

When you think back to how you've improved your wellness and lifestyle over the past few years, can you see the pattern of how change occurred?
In wellness coaching, we use the Transtheoretical Model to help people move through the stages of change (precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance). Without going into the details about what each of those stages are, I think the concepts behind how a person changes are pretty interesting.

Let's suppose I come to your workplace and suggest a "new" way to increase your vegetable intake. Maybe I offer the ideas of eating vegetable yogurt and adding spinach to your smoothies (sound familiar?!). There will be a group of people who try it enthusiastically. There will be a group who think it might be ok, but they wait to see how others react (or wait till I bring in a taste test). Then there's a group who are not interested, but might be convinced to taste it out of curiosity (and they probably do not go try on their own later). Next is a group who thinks I'm nuts, and last is a group who doesn't care and doesn't even listen to the idea.

So, let's just look at the group who thinks I'm crazy.

They probably have a standard American diet. They probably have a standard level of activity. They aren't ready to change and they're not considering it (precontemplative stage).

Now let's just say they are exposed to the idea again in (possibly) a different way. Let's say other things happen in life that expose them to a desire to be healthier and they see more people doing healthy things. Fast forward a year or two---maybe they're ready to try it now.

The point is, for things you want and don't want to change, the more you think about the healthy actions and see them as acceptable and normal around you, the closer you are to adopting them yourself.

When you've set a goal for something you'd like to accomplish (ex: work out three days a week), if you plan and strategize and try out new things----at some point, the next logical step becomes working out three days a week. AND it doesn't feel dreadful.

So nudge yourself by exposing yourself to the healthy information and ideas, even if you don't agree or are not ready to try it. Leaning toward wellness (passively and actively) is much easier than trying to leap all at once.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Anything Worth Having is Worth Working For??

Is that true? Can you have something you appreciate and value without working very hard to get it?

What about with wellness? Do you work hard to maintain your current wellness and try and reach higher goals?

I've been thinking about this, and I guess I believe it all depends on your perspective. I personally would rather have things just come easily and effortlessly. I believe I would still appreciate those things---but maybe I just think about things more that I do have to work for.

For example, have you ever heard the saying about how you don't know what you've got till its gone? Sometimes I think that's true. Like, you don't think about having legs or a sense of smell or hair until something happens to take it away. Maybe that's because we didn't work hard to get our hair or legs or sense of smell in the first place.

But maybe with things that we had to work to get initially, we are hyperaware of their existence and our posession of them. Conversely, we also seem to be hyperaware of the things we have that we don't want (extra weight, a bad ankle, a poor outlook on life).

I think where I'm really going with this is to suggest that maybe we could look at and appreciate the things we have that we didn't work for a little more. Maybe we could unfocus on the things we have that we didn't want or ask for, and flip it to concentrate on the positive.

Let's say you find out you have a condition that limits what you can eat (i.e. gluten allergy, diabetes, etc). You can feel bad about all the food you'll be missing---or you can be thankful for the incentive to improve your health. Then get excited about what new things you can try. Either way, you have to change (or in the case of a decision to change to improve your wellness---you've committed to changing). Won't it be easier if you're not dreading it and feeling bad about it? You can also take the opportunity to remind yourself of all the things you do have that you like and benefit from that you don't normally acknowledge.

Friday, April 10, 2009

New is New

So I've been doing wellness coaching for WCUSA since May 2008. When I began at RIT in mid-January, I knew it was going to be a stressful few months. In fact, I think I kept telling that to myself so I would keep my faith that it would get better and easier over time. I'd know where and who things and people are. After all, I had been through the start-up process at other places and continue to see how much easier and comfortable it gets at Rotork over time. Employees become friends, they make progress, they realize they can trust me, and we all move along around the wellness wheel. My day is less about logistics and more about people and stories.

There's a fine line between offering wellness coaching and telling people what to do, between offering assistance and not crossing the line of being pushy. Sometimes, I have to say, in certain places/offices/departments with certain people, I have felt really discouraged. Sometimes I want to leave by saying----I'm not trying to sell you something...have you ever heard of just saying no thank you? Could you just be friendly, and let me know you aren't interested instead of leaving me guessing? There's no pressure---I only want to help people who want to be helped. Could you just ask me if you do want help? I'm not a good guesser.
I refrain myself from saying anything, and sometimes just leave a little less sure of the process and myself. I'm also less likely to stop by as frequently to re-visit and re-offer to ensure I'm not being pushy.


From the beginning there have been those people who were always nice and interested and inquisitive---I'd name names if I thought that was appropriate.


Over time, more people have become interested and welcoming and more friendly. I realize that avoiding me is not always a personal thing--some people are afraid or not ready to face their wellness issues and needs for change. Some people are skeptical that their organization is using me to spy on them and force them out. Some people are just plain busy.

How is this like wellness? We have to get to know ourselves and why we live the way we live. Where is the smoking/binge eating/negative attitude/lack of motivation/lack of exercise coming from? How did we get here and what has nudged us one way or another along the way? Over time, how have we changed for the better? What little things have become more friendly and accepting, more positive and less threatening? Was our change a big deal or a little one? Did other people care or notice? Did that matter?

I knew an elderly woman who bought a new house, and she frequently repeated, "I always say, New is New." At the time I thought it was funny. Now, I get it.

New is New. It's different, scary, exciting...a lot of different things. It's new. If we can roll with it and develop it and make more new out of it, we've succeeded. Wellness and lifestyle change is new until you get to know yourself and where you're headed. Then changing and improving becomes more comfortable.

So, think about trying something new and better for you. Realize it might be a little awkward or uncomfortable. Then take a deep breath and try it anyway!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Goals Revisited

I made a goal for myself for this week---because I'm going to Mexico on Saturday for a wedding, and because I wanted to take a break from some of the junky habits I'd been hanging on to. I had a food and exercise goal, and the way I measured it was by weight...and today was the day for me to weigh-in.

This also refers back to the concept of garbage in-garbage out because I felt immediately better and had more energy when I stopped eating the delicious vegan cookies and coconut ice cream I had been eating for several days in a row. So, maybe it was psychological, but who cares!?

I got two things out of my goal setting:
1. I had a reason to not bargain myself into having a cookie and ice cream last night and the night before---Logically, I knew I would not be one pound lighter than last week if I ate that stuff.
2. I re-made the connection between how I feel and what I eat.

I use this method when I'm in the contemplation phase---when I really have slacked on my good habits (or not that I stopped doing good things but I added some not-so-good things), and I want to get back on track but I can't seem to get myself started. I used the website and would have lost $100 to a charity I don't support if I hadn't reached my goal. This did add a little pressure, but it was pressure I needed to put the priority back on reaching my goal instead of just maintaining status quo.

What goal can you set for yourself this week? How are you going to reach it? Let me know so I can check in with you later and see how it goes :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Garbage In...Garbage Out.

Ever have one of those days when you just feel like garbage? A blah day?

What did you eat the day before? What physical activity do you (not) do? How was your state of mind?

There is a direct relationship between how you treat yourself and how you feel. Sometimes it's not instant, but it's there. The next time you think of doing something (or not doing something) because you don't think it makes a difference in the whole scheme of things....think again.

Did you ever hear about the butterfly effect? "The concept of the butterfly effect is frequently referred to in popular culture in terms of the novelty of a minor change in circumstances causing a large change in outcome." - wikipedia

So the butterfly flapping it's wings (or the grouchy office worker snapping at a co-worker and eating a donut) can affect the incidence and impact of a tornado across the world (or the state of wellness of the office workers and everyone surrounding him/her).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Healthy Junk Food and Better Feeling Thoughts

The idea of improving wellness fits best into a long-term plan in terms of making long-lasting changes. With that being the case, merging into new habits is usually more effective than jumping in and changing things all at once. So mapping a plan for getting from point A (now) to point B (our goal) is important to our success---this is nothing new.

So another perspective on baby steps...

If you're craving donuts and you don't want yourself to eat donuts, can you compromise? Could you possibly be satisfied with something else? I'm not talking about eating carrots. I'm thinking more along the lines of whole grain flax cookies or organic fig newtons or something like that...
Or maybe the compromise is to buy one donut instead of three. Whatever it is, think about how you can take yourself one step further from your old habits.

Let's say in the prior 100 days, you ate 100 donuts. If you are able to be satisfied with the whole grain cookies for 16 of this 100 days, you made progress. If you continue to be focused over time, you can pare the number of donuts down slowly and you won't ever feel the magnitude of your change.

It's similar to the concept of finding "better feeling thoughts." Let's say someone close to you has died. You're sad----and you can't go straight from being sad to being happy (i.e. get over it all at once). More likely, you have to go through a range of emotions before you reach happiness again. Maybe one step up from sadness is frustration. When you're sad, can you reach for a feeling that is more based in frustration than in sadness? If so, you've taken a step. As you progress through the emotions, you can reach happiness---but it would have been a much more traumatic and less successful journey to try and jump straight from point A to point B. I have more information about this---so I'll try and organize it and post the progression of feelings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Today I was talking to someone who is both training for a marathon and writing chapters for a book (and has a full-time job and kids...). She has been having trouble making progress toward her goals....

So she found this website and has set herself up with a contract for getting her book chapters written. You can do this for any goal, including health and wellness goals like quitting smoking or losing weight.

The stake for this woman is that if she does not meet her deadline, her credit card number will be used to donate $100 to a charity she does not support.

There are ways you can set long- and short-term goals, and you can have checkpoints along the way. You can also designate referees and supporters to assist with the process. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, you enter that amount and when you want to do it by. You also decide how often you want to check in, and how much each check in is worth. So let's say you want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. You could set it so each week if you don't lose 1 pound, your credit card is charged a certain amount of money. You determine who the money goes to---it can be a person you know (friend or foe), or a charity.

What do you think? Could this help?

What's a CSA?

You will start to hear more and more about how important it is to both eat healthy foods and be concerned about the environment as you make food choices. One way you can show your concern is by enrolling in a CSA each year.

"Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community's farm, with the farmer and the members providing mutual support and sharing the risks and the benefits of food production. Typically, members or " share-holders" of the farm pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation. In return, members receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as the satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather and pests. "

So, how does it work?
You pay an amount (some places allow installments) each year to enroll, and for specific months you stop by a pick-up location each week (or pay extra to have it dropped off) to get your share of produce.

The upsides are obvious. The downsides are that you have to pick up the produce (but most likely you can find one on your way home from work on a weekday), and you don't get to choose what you get. What you get depends on harvests, and you could actually see this as a plus...You are "forced" to learn new recipes and try new things.

Check out a couple of the options in our area:

You can get all the details there, and also view the harvest schedule.

What do you think? Would you consider trying it?