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.