Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's Your Thing? Do What You Wanna Do!

On Saturday morning, Matthew called me and asked to talk to Joe. This was our conversation:

"Hi Babe, how are you?"

"Good, where's Joe?"

"He's running in a race right now."

"Oh, well I wanted to tell him to remember the poppers we got that one time...my teacher gave me some."

"That's cool---I'll tell him. I'm sure he'll remember...."

"Joe's running in a race today?"

"Yep, he'll be back soon though."

"You know, he could ride his bike. That would be much faster than running."

"You're right---I'll tell him you suggested that."

"Yeah, bike riding is much faster than running."


This conversation sparked a thought----we really should take a minute to evaluate why we're doing the things we're doing (Wellness, and otherwise). Why does Joe run in races? To Matthew, action is about getting somewhere the fastest, so if he wanted to be the fastest he should ride a bike instead of run. To Joe, running is a great workout, a challenge, and he just really enjoys it.

To me, running is kind of a chore, kind of a meditation, kind of an emotional relaxation and physical outlet all in one. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I don't. I ran 11 miles on Sunday and throughout the run, I went through the range of emotions---it was hard in the beginning until I was warmed up...then in the middle there were several hills that seriously taxed my ability to stay at my goal pace...then during the last 4 miles it felt like the "home stretch." My feet hurt, I was looking into the sun, my arms were tired....but I felt really pretty good. My end sprint was painful and hard....and exhilarating and satisfying. I walked a lap around the parking lot before getting into the car and going home, and during those moments I knew exactly why I run. Biking just doesn't give me that feeling---for me it's less satisfying and more of a pain in the @$$ :)

For yourself, take a few moments to reflect on what you choose to do, and then take it a few steps further. If your choice is about more than burning calories, this can help you stay the course and re-vamp your motivation. What's your thing?

Monday, June 29, 2009


Isn't summer great? The air is warm, the skies are bright (mostly), and things just feel better. We gave a wellness coaching update report late last week, and it went pretty well. The numbers show that people are using the service and even changing and benefitting. What the numbers don't show are the stories---of real people, making improvements in lifestyle and quality of life.

There really is no way to put the essence of change on paper or in a Power Point presentation. If you've changed something, you know what I mean. Did you change your "normal" even a little bit this year? Maybe you went from eating no vegetables to eating 1 serving a day. Maybe you go to the gym 1 time a week now, when before you never went. That's huge! We like big results, but big results require big changes---and frankly, our success rate for big changes is pretty darn low. Focusing on today, now, what you can do that is a healthier choice than what you may have done last time you faced the same option, is what gets you to a new and better place over time.

It's almost July 1st, and this is a great time to evaluate the goals or resolutions you made in January. Did you stick to any of your plans? Make any improvements? If so, great! Time to update and make new ones for the second half of the year. If not, ok--start over. Reflect on why things didn't happen the way you had hoped, re-group, re-plan, and make new goals for the next 6 months.

Need help? Let me know.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Today, as I complained to a dear friend, she finally said to me, "You can be ____, but don't be ridiculous." The blank could be any emotion---sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, afraid.....

It snapped me back to reality---this and last weeks' realities have been pretty good overall, but people seem to be in somewhat of a funk. Many people are on vacation, kids are out of school---and those of us left at work on the sunny and not-so-sunny days are feeling some kind of unhappy heat. We've been trying to make changes. We've given it our best (?) shot, and it isn't working. We're frustrated. Old habits are creeping in. Now what--we just keep trying?


Here's the catch:

If you initially made progress in your wellness and now you feel stuck, it's a good time to take a minute and wallow, and then try something new. If whatever cycle you're in is not yielding the results you want, do something differently!

It may feel hard. It may be stressful. Complaining and resigning yourself to it will not get you any closer to your wellness goals. Make a half-year resolution, a new plan, set a new goal...do something.

If you are stuck, and you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting.

So, feel what you feel, and then do what you need to do to feel better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

After Workout Recovery Smoothie---or Meal Replacement---or Hangover "Cure"

1 banana
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder (raw cocoa, unprocessed)
1-2 Tbsp organic hemp powder
2 dates (take the pit out!)
4-6 ice cubes
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw almonds (optional)

Blender all ingredients. Drink. The dates don't always blend all the way, but that's ok---just eat the chunks at the end! If you have a wimpy blender or want to lower the calorie count a little you'll probably want to leave out the almonds.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hemp---eat it, don't smoke it.

Hemp is a plant protein. My new favorite thing is plant protein---its good for you because it provides you with amino acids you need without other junk or the need for breaking down in the body. The benefit to this is that if your body doesn't have to break down protein into amino acids, it can (1) use the amino acids readily and (2) focus energy on other things your body needs---like cleansing and repairing cells and keeping you healthy.

Hemp protein is good for you because it actually has all 20 amino acids used in the body, including the 8 (or 9, depending on your source) essential ones. Hemp protein comes from the grinding of the cannabis sativa (yes, same as the stuff you can smoke, except once you grind it, the THC level is essentially eliminated from the final product).....you don't get high from eating hemp protein.

Hemp just happens to have the most perfect combination of amino acids that most closely matches those needed and used by the human body for growth and repair. There is also a high concentration of Omega-3's and -6's that can help to reduce food cravings, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation in the body. What else does it have? Chlorophyll, lots of fiber (but lacking oligosaccharides that cause any GI distress), antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals........

The overall benefits:
Improved metabolism
Improved immune system
Decreased cholesterol and blood pressure
Increased energy and productivity
Decreased food cravings

Buy hemp in an organic powder form and add it to your meals----smoothies are the easiest way to go.....stay tuned for my new favorite after-workout smoothie recipe. My favorite brand so far is Nutiva.

p.s. It would help with a hangover too :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


“Having the best day ever, the best health ever, the best life ever, isn’t about willpower or saying no to the things you crave and enjoy. Sure some of those things may be bad for you. But we’re like kids with a cookie jar. If someone says we can’t have it, we just want it all the more. The magic is in adding things in. Don’t worry about taking things out." --David Wolfe

Saturday, June 20, 2009


"At some point you need to just fall in love with what you’re doing and give it permission to work" ---Ignite the Phoenix

Just a little re-visitation to our prior discussions (totally onesided, I admit) about focusing on the positive. I want to remind you to focus not on what you're moving away from (the yucky bad habits), but on what is exciting about what you're moving toward (healthy positive habits yielding results!).

We can perseverate on our nagging feelings about what we are bad at (losing weight, quitting smoking, etc.) or we can find the anti-bad-habit that counteracts or makes those bad habits counterproductive, and focus on that.

After a while, you'll crave the good habit, and when you do the bad habit, it won't feel good anymore. I tend to have to re-remind myself of this over and over....and over and over again.
I ate burgers and pizza for a few weeks straight recently---it was like a highly addictive drug. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I felt really good while I was chewing and swallowing....and I kept some of my good habits like going to the gym. Slowly, I began noticing my lower energy level (it was freakin' hard to get out of bed at 4:30, and I was losing my energy--and productivity--around 3pm). I snapped out of it by making a goal toward the positive side of things. This was after I tried the restriction method-----STOP eating junk, stop eating junk, no more junk....gotta quit the junk......tomorrow I'll quit the junk......

I got a new book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, by Brendan Brazier. I may not do the vegan thing (nope, for sure not....I had sushi last night)....but I got inspired to try new things, a new protein shake, a new strategy for what to eat after I run, new recipes, and a new perspective on how/why to manage stress.

It worked! I just realized today that I haven't thought about missing out on the pizza---but rather, I've thought about how great I feel after a hard run and a delectable superfood laden protein shake and some E3 Live (yes, its algae). Whatever your positive, feel good, food or action is, do that! Think about adding, putting in, increasing whatever it is that makes you feel really good physically and mentally. If you stop thinking about what you're trying to eliminate, you may find it slowly becomes less important (don't freak out) and then less prominent....and then all of a sudden you're reaching your goals.

It won't happen overnight, but practicing your positive mindset will pay off. I promise.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coconut Oil is #1

Have you ever bought a coconut at the grocery store? No, not the brown furry ones, the white roundish smooth ones with a sort of dome on top. These are young Thai coconuts, and they are truly a superfood.

Several decades ago, cattle farmers in the mid-western states decided to feed their cattle coconut-based feed. The idea was that this saturated fat-based food would cause the cattle to get all fat and lazy and produce the effects desired by the cattle farmers. Instead, a few weeks into it, the cattle were showing the opposite effects----they were becoming lean and very active. The cattle farmers quickly switched to soy and corn-based feed and then got the fat lazy cattle they wanted. (There is also another discussion relevant to this, involving the unfounded bad rep of saturated fats--for a later post)

What does this mean?
1. Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats, however, it is made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCTs). Digestion of MCTs is nearly effortless and they are not stored in the cells as other saturated fats are.
2. After consuming MCTs, the liver almost immediately converts MCTs to energy. MCTs are easier on the liver, pancreas, and digestive system than other fats.
3. Coconut oil does not become rancid easily (it has been tested after a year, and still no sign)
4. Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial, antiprotozoal, and antifungal
5. Coconut oil helps with normalization of body lipids, protects against alcohol damage in the liver, and helps improve the immune system's anti-inflammatory response

What to look for:
1. Virgin Coconut Oil (It doesn't have to be organic, but it usually will be!)
2. On the label it must say it has 60% or more MCTs---if it doesn't, the oil is processed and the MCTs have been removed

What to do with it:
1. Cook with it---coconut oil can be heated to a very high temp without becoming a trans fat
2. Bake with it---substitute it 1:1 for any other oil or fat
3. Add it to soups or other recipes
4. Use it as body lotion (out of a different container than that with which you cook, please)
5. Eat it straight out of the container (!) or use in place of butter on toast or anywhere else

What it will do for you:
1. Help regulate metabolism (i.e. speed it up)
2. Help with minor thyroid dysfunction
3. Increase energy levels and endurance
4. Helps with digestion and reduce symptoms of acid reflux, IBS, and ulcerative colitis
5. Fight bacteria and infections, including STDs (but it won't prevent them)!
6. Decrease cholesterol and blood pressure
7. Relieve stress
8. Improve hair, skin, and nails
9. It's high level of antioxidants helps fight aging and free-radicals
10 Helps control blood sugar
11. Promotes healthy teeth and bones
12. ....Many many more

Things you should know:
1. It's solid at room temperature (melts at around 77 degrees)
2. The recommended amount per day for maximum benefits is 3-4 TBSP
3. It doesn't taste like coconut!
4. If you're going to buy your own young coconuts and consume it that way (great!), you need to read the instructions on how to open it --- so you don't chop off or injure your hand :) There are many options--just be careful! Google it or check out one of these: http://thenaughtyvegan.com/youngcoconut.htm or http://vegetarian.about.com/od/cookingtipstools/ss/youngcoconut_2.htm (p.s. I don't actually recommend doing this, but I know there are many benefits to it)
5. My favorite brand of coconut oil (so far) is Nature's Way

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/03/24/coconut-oil-part-one.aspx (you probably have to subscribe to read this one)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Stress is a topic that comes up in almost every facet of wellness. There are different types of stress---and if you've taken one of my wellness courses online, you'll name them as eustress (good) and distress (bad). It's not that I don't agree with this explanation/description, but I think there's more to it.

Brendan Brazier, a professional iron man triathlete, categorizes stress into complementary, uncomplementary, and productive. Productive is the type I want to talk about today. So, remember when you were in school, and you would wait till the night before a due date to write a 10-page paper. You couldn't get started, and you probably even said you work better under pressure and that's why you waited so long to do the assignment. Even though in that case you were probably straddling the line between uncomplementary and productive stress, there was some truth to your method.

Stress can be mental or physical. When you work out (or in the case of our ancestors, when you were being chased by a bear), there can be one or both types of stress. When we have mental stress, it's not always as clear-cut. The mental stress might be the first step in the chain of events, but once it has started, if we don't regroup and make it productive.....we experience physical stress. Cortisol is released into the body, and this has damaging effects in both the short and long-term. In fact, Brazier believes that most diseases are the result of stress.

What should you do about it? Find outlets for your stress. Find ways to transmute your mental stress (uncomplementary) into productive outcomes. Define what is stressing you, identify whether or not you actually have control over it, and then if you don't----figure out how to let it go. You may still have to deal with the situation, but your reaction can be different.

Easier said than done, I know. But try. At the end of the day, the less stress you have (mental and physical), the better you sleep, the better you feel, the more likely you are to be productive the next day. Why not try?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bottle It!

Don't you sometimes wish you could bottle the sunshine and save some for later? I don't know about you, but when I get up in the morning and the sun is shining, it's just a little bit easier to be enthusiastic about the day ahead. It's even better when it's nice on the weekend---then it's not about getting up the motivation for work, but for weekend things that are more fun (no offense to all my wonderful work friends!).

Since we can't really save the sun for later, it's important to figure out ways to get your motivation level up when the weather is blah. I do this by turning on a bright light as I sit at the computer at 4:30am (yes, crazy, but I'm a morning person), and then I go to the gym before work. Even if my workout is not totally 100% all out or super long, it still helps me get going. If you aren't really a morning person or you don't have time in the morning to go to the gym, there are other things you can do. If you are participating in the Fit It In program, take 5 minutes to do a set of the thera-band exercises, or do a couple cat stretches, jumping jacks, or some other form of physical activity. Or, make a really energizing smoothie (I'll post a recipe later). Maybe you meditate, or maybe you listen to motivating music. Whatever it is that you do to get yourself up and running in the morning, keep doing it! It sets the tone for the whole day. If you've had trouble lately, try something new.

What do you do in the morning that helps you be motivated for the day ahead?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tart Cherries

Do you have arthritis? Knee pain? Are you an athlete? Do you sometimes get sore after working out?

What causes this soreness? When we strip away all the context, all the issues listed are about inflammation in the joints and in the tissues. You've traumatized your tissues--either passively or actively!

What do you do about it? There are many suggestions...glucosamine, ibuprofen, MSM (one of my personal favorites), and/or tart cherry juice.

Tart cherry juice is an awesome anti-inflammatory. I heard about it a couple years ago from someone who has arthritis. It's not a drug, and it doesn't build up in your system (so if you drink it today and not tomorrow you won't feel the benefits tomorrow). Most people buy it in a concentrated form, and it's the texture of syrup so you can keep it in the freezer. It is very tart, so if you like tart things, you may just like to eat it by the spoonful! If you don't, I recommend adding it to apple juice or some other sweeter juice.

Before I posted info about it on here, I wanted to have a significant amount of personal support for the product. So far, I have two people who have consistently used it for arthritis and both swear by it. I have one runner who has developed knee pain recently, and as soon as she began drinking the juice the knee pain went away while running (and comes back if she doesn't drink it). I have another young woman who has knee pain most of the time due to permanent damage from being an athlete when she was younger. She drinks the juice everyday, and says she notices a significant worsening of the pain when she misses a day.

The woman who told me about tart cherry juice bought it from Schutt's Apple Mill (http://www.schuttsapplemill.com/) in Webster in a concentrated form (keep it in the freezer and add a Tbsp to a glass of water). You can also buy it from Wegmans (for about $2 for 8 ounces!). The best source I've found is http://www.singerfarms.com/. They are a farm in Appleton, NY, and they will ship it to you for free! It's a pretty reasonable price, considering you only use 1-2 Tbsp a day.

Have you ever heard of tart cherry juice? Let me know if you try it and how it works for you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Would you use Twitter?

I'm not totally sold in the Twitter idea, but I get it. People really like to be connected, and when you're interested in something/someone it is a convenient way to be in the know.
In the company I work for, Wellness Coaches USA, my manager is going to start using it for our employee group. I don't totally fit into the group because he manages all of the Con-way Freight accounts across the country....and my two accounts, RIT and Rotork Controls. So it will be interesting to see how relevant and useful Twitter is for me in relation to work.
In order to follow his Tweets I have to sign up on Twitter, so I did that---and it made me wonder if there's any use for it in wellness from my perspective.

I signed up to follow two "people" on Twitter so far, the morning radio show team I like and Sarma Melngallis who owns a raw food restaurant in NYC and www.oneluckyduck.com.

On one hand, I feel like people who Tweet may be a little narcissistic----I mean, who cares if you're waiting in line at the DMV? But on the other hand, I don't have to sign up to follow it if I don't care, and if I sign up I don't have to read it if I don't want to. It's not really different than a blog or Facebook, just shorter and more frequent posting.

So my question is---Would you follow a wellness Twitter?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What If....

.......we were all lucky enough to have unlimited money, personal chefs and personal trainers, life coaches, personal stylists.............

Would we all be 100% happy, healthy, and look totally awesome?

Studies have shown that rich people are no happier than paraplegics.

This tells us you should just stop always wanting the next thing----I talked to someone today who had made a really small but huge change in the last week.....she went on a walk twice (compared to never in the past year). But when she told me about it, she said, "Oh and I did walk twice this week, which I guess was an improvement, but it was only twice and I really want to do it four times, and I should have just done it more but I didn't....but I'm going to because twice isn't enough."

Am I totally nuts, or is twice a significant improvement over zero? That's 200% improvement. She reached a goal, a milestone, and now she wants more instantly.

When you catch yourself doing this, or always looking for that next better thing, stop for a minute. Pat yourself on the back, do a jig, whatever you need to do to acknowledge that what you did was significant before you go reaching for something else. Take a moment to check and see if where you are right now is ok for now.

I am trying to break this habit myself---some call it being an overachiever or sometimes it's just about beating ourselves up, and maybe that's all a little bit true. How else would I have ended up in school long enough to get a PhD? It wasn't for fun! I start to see myself considering doing some other school thing, then I realize that I should really just stop---I can learn whatever I want to know on my own (and pay for what I've already done). I do this with apartments/houses, cars, yoga, food, everything---I like what I have/do, but I'm always trying to see if there's something better I could do or get. But if I just stop for a moment, I realize that I have everything I could possibly want (and I could probably give up some things and still be totally happy).

For your mental well-being, take a breath from acquiring once in a while, whether it's a thing or a condition or a habit. Goals are good, but don't forget to stop along the way and see and enjoy where you are right now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

End Overeating

Please check out this link http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ and read the June 1, 2009 post.

If you're interested in how our culture has cultivated an obsession with food and overeating, you'll really like this post (I just ordered the book from half.com to add to my pile of things to read).

p.s. A side note: Herbal Water is so awesome, I very highly recommend that you go to Wegmans and pick up a bottle or two from Nature's Marketplace. It costs $1.49 a bottle...try it and tell me what you think!

Where are you?!

Hello RIT wellness pilot participants,
In the beginning of May, I sent an email out saying I would be leading a lunchtime walking group Mon-Thurs at noon each week starting outside the SAU. I know, this isn't convenient for everyone, but I can't help it!

At that time, I had many many responses about how excited people were to do the lunchtime walking group. Lots of people said they'd make it as often as they could, or just on certain days of the week, etc.


We've been walking at lunch for a month now. Most of the time there's three of us. Now don't get me wrong, I'm totally happy with my walking buddies and I think they like it too since they keep coming back.

But where are the rest of you?

I know you have perfectly good reasons for not walking, and I'm not pointing fingers and saying you should do it---it's not like that at all. I just want to remind you that we're doing it, and that it's a great break in the middle of the day. It's also a good time to ask lots of random health questions---today we discussed what might be the healthiest drink at a bar, the reasons why you shouldn't drink diet soda, and how different peoples' walking speeds vary based on the type of their muscle fibers (i.e. if you're a slow walker it doesn't necessarily mean you're out of shape).

When it gets hot out (or rainy) we'll just walk over to the ice rink and walk there.

So if you do have the time one of these days, come on out and try it. If you come once (like a few people did in the beginning of May) and it doesn't fit with what you're looking for, I'm never going to come back and ask you why you don't come anymore or put you on the spot.

Walk if you want, and don't if you don't want to----but you won't know unless you try!

See you tomorrow at noon?!

Monday, June 1, 2009

You get what you feel.

When you're having one of those days in which everything goes wrong or badly, do you feel like there's some sort of conspiracy against you? Maybe you throw your hands up and exclaim, "What next?!" You are exasperated and frustrated, and you feel like you'd be better off in bed...

Where did that come from? Was there some force working against you? Or is it like one of those infomercial products we can't trust the testimonials about-----she sure did lose 80 pounds while taking those pills...but started right after having twins and also maintained a strict diet and exercise program. Did the pill do anything? Does your feeling about a bad day make it worse? Or are you more likely to be distracted by spilling the coffee so that you burn the toast and stub your toe?

It's kind of like wellness, we just list what went wrong and don't acknowledge or even know the circumstances.

When you feel great, doesn't this tend to snowball into other great things and feelings? Is there some cosmic force going on, or is it just that when you're happy and excited you are more focused and aware of good opportunities and events, likely to take action, and acknowledge what's going on around you?

I guess it doesn't really matter either way (if you believe in cosmic forces, then totally go with that, and if you don't--then just read into it the other way!)---as long as you make the connection that you get more of what you feel right now. When something happens to bring you down, find something to get excited or happy about, and try and turn that cycle around. Do you ever do this?