I’m excited to be a featured speaker at Dr. Sonal Singhal’s The Transformation Immersion- an 11-day Series on Holistic Wellness & Beyond, which starts Dec. 1.
17 Wellness Coaches & Experts join me from across the continents to speak at this FREE virtual mega event. We will be delivering strategies, techniques and tools for establishing optimal Physical, Mental and Emotional well-being.
Here's the highlights:
📅 Starts on Tuesday
👩🏫 11 days, 18 experts in the health & wellness sphere
👩⚕️ Catch my talk Thursday morning
🖥️ All online
🎟️ The whole event is free, get your ticket here>>> where you can take a look at all the speakers, and plan for which you'd like to catch.
Pass the link (or this blog page) along to someone you'd like to watch this with.
I just had to write about food during the week of our national food gorging, aka Thanksgiving (for those of us in the States). And during the week of Thanksgiving, when we show gratitude and feast to our heart’s desire, this is also the worst time to talk about diets.
So I’m not going to do that.
I’m instead going to talk about the mindset behind why we change our diet, what is diet anyway, what are we looking for, and just how do we know it’s working anyway?
Let me share an excerpt from my book Younger Joints Today. It’s a book about reversing chronic joint pain, and has a ton of information on how nutrition affects joint health.
People use the word “diet” in many unhealthy ways. It often involves severe restriction, a sudden change in a desire to get healthy. Many times, there are unhealthy motives behind dieting and diets.
Instead of “diet” meaning “restriction,” I prefer these definitions instead: “habitual nourishment” and “regimen of intent.” How do you intend to nourish yourself every day?
So, diet can mean how you regularly nourish yourself. Or it can mean restriction, and deprivation.
Start out by asking yourself, ‘why am I dieting?’ Why are you changing how and what you eat? What are your reasons, and what are your goals?
I find this piece immensely important, and often overlooked.
Your intention and your reason set the stage for how successful you are in making changes.
If you are going on an extreme detox diet because you read about it in a book, or a blog, or because someone you know is also doing it, or because you feel guilty for over-indulging over the holidays…. Pump the breaks. Those are all external factors influencing your decision.
What they say you should do.
How about you? Don’t you have any say in the matter???
Instead, I would like to invite you to make dietary changes because you want to, because your curious, because you’d like to experience some novelty, fun, and learn a thing or two about what foods are right for you along the way.
All books, blogs, videos, and social media posts can do is provide information. Some of that is relevant, but it can’t all be relevant to everyone. Is a carnivore diet the key to everlasting health, or will a vegan diet save us all? Trying to lump us all into one, “this is best for everyone” diet just won’t work.
You would be smart to look for guidance through this process by a professional. Many types of professionals can assist, such as Naturopathic Doctors, functional medicine practitioners, nutritionists, and holistic health coaches.
The success of your dietary changes will depend on your goals that you established from the start. You did set goals, right? Otherwise, how can you tell if it’s working and worth doing?
A trial of a dietary elimination, for example dairy elimination to see if it is affecting digestive health, may last 3 to 6 weeks. A nutritional intervention to address autoimmune, neurologic, or rheumatic conditions may last much longer. The key is to have a plan, be well prepared, and know what your benchmarks for success are.
Whatever your plan, I suggest you take phrases such as “cheat day,” and “cheat meal” out of your vocabulary. It just plain sets up negative thought loops, reinforces shame, and is just overall creepy verbiage. What, are you monogamously married to this diet?
Instead, just acknowledge when you are following your dietary changes, and when you are choosing to not follow it. That’s all. A rational adult making a well thought-through decision.
Any diet, or diet-pusher who leans on “no cheating”-type anti-cheerleading (bullying, if I’m being honest) earns an instant “eww-factor” in my book.
By all means, make the dietary changes you wish, based on internal-derived interests and goals, with a specific expectation established. And if all of this seems a bit too much, get some assistance whenever you need to help you create your path forward.
Wishing you a holiday season full of gratitude for your meals and those you share your meals with,
Why do we do the things we do?
Why do we do things we don’t want to be doing, and why is it sometimes so hard to start doing things we want to be doing?
These questions and more led me to my side hobby of behavioral sciences.
I find it fascinating to learn all about the seemingly simple science of habits, that is actually anything but.
I write much more about this in my Step 4 of my book Younger Joints Today, a whole chapter in fact, talking about habits and lifestyle decisions as they impact our joint health.
If you, like me, geek out on this topic, a few of my favorite authors on the subject are Carol Dweck, Brene Brown, Charles Duhigg, James Clear, Brendon Burchard and anything that the brothers Heath (Chip and Dan) write.
So why am I choosing to talk about serious topics like addiction right now? Because I’ve seen the stats on increased alcohol and opioid abuse for my state since the pandemic began, and I imagine those stats are similar globally right now. The need for support around this topic is timely.
My aim here is to talk generally about habits, addictions, what we can all try on our own, and when to reach for help.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine defines lifestyle medicine as, “the use of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection as a primary therapeutic modality for treatment and reversal of chronic disease.”
This subject quickly transitions into the topic of habits, good and bad, as well as addictions.
I’ll start first with talking about addiction. I like the definition Dr. Nzinga Harrison has described on her In Recovery podcast (a great resource for those who are or who love someone in addiction recovery), which is that addiction is persistent behavior despite negative outcomes.
I like this because of its generality, it’s applicability to any type of addiction, and its absence of specifics on use. Becoming addicted to a substance or behavior can happen at various levels and frequency of use, depending on genetics, medical history, trauma history, social circumstances, and more.
I am not an addiction counselor, so for those needing intensive support, they may consider an in-patient treatment center or for local (Oregon-based) counseling, I often refer to Christy Hey or Molly Rodden at Well Life Medicine Center.
When to turn to a counselor? Well, like in so many other realms, think about turning to a professional when you feel you can’t go it alone any longer. You probably know what I mean. You can’t keep it all together, it feels like something’s got to give, and you just can’t see what the first step out of this is.
That’s what professional support is for.
Like counselors and treatment, choosing to participate in group meetings focused on addiction recovery is also an individualized approach. Most know about AA, with associated off-shoot branches such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and OA (Overeaters Anonymous). I do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction recovery. For those looking for a non-religious recovery organization, SMART Recovery is an option.
Ok, now addictions aside, what about those who are struggling with more of a, “I really know I should/shouldn’t be doing this,” but don’t put the behavior in the same category of seriousness as an addiction.
Well, I’ll continue talking about alcohol a little bit more, then we’ll move onto other topics.
Going sober for a month is no new fad. Many choose to do this January of each year. There’s also Sober October, and a number of diet plans and programs (such as Whole30) where 30 days of alcohol abstinence is a part.
For many, going 30 days cold turkey with no booze is daunting. If you’re looking to cut back, or do a temporary alcohol elimination, a few self-guided programs out there are the Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace or Sober Sis by Jenn Kautch (the latter is geared towards women with a Christian/ spiritual affiliation).
Jumping off all this, my strongest recommendation is to get a coach to help you work through the patterns you’re wanting to change. Whether it’s reducing your alcohol, smoking, sugar, or increasing your sleep, exercise, or healthy eating, getting step-by-step accountability, tools, and support every step of the way is your ticket to success.
Your doctor or counselor may fill this role. Or perhaps your personal trainer or athletic coach. If you need a “lifestyle coach” there are many types of holistic health coaches, nutrition coaches, all sorts of people available (now at the click of a button) to help you succeed and make positive lifestyle choices stick.
It is also extremely valuable to have someone there on the not-so-good days. We all have ups, and downs, and the occasional bump in the road (or the road is entirely blocked). It can help to get some perspective, and comprise the toolbox of resources you need to cope and work through the rough spots.
Your toolbox for tough spots is highly individualized. When those cloudy days come, do you have a supportive person to talk to? Do you have activities, hobbies, and self-care ideas at your fingertips? Are you intentionally creating the environment around you to minimize triggers and maximize successful habit changes? A lot can to into your toolbox, and I suggest you have as many resources in it as possible.
Check out that chapter in my book I mentioned above if you want to read more about how I work through the process of positive lifestyle changes with my patients. It takes creativity, adaptability, and an individualized approach to match you up with who and what you need as you go through your journey.
I wish you the best on your path towards ever-improving health,
Hey, you: move your body.
I’m speaking to all of you, of course.
I bring up physical activity to my patients with joint pain of course, but did you know it can also be beneficial for those with digestive concerns, anxiety, depression, and even hormonal imbalances?
If you’re looking for a “magic bullet” for health, regular physical activity is about as close we can get.
No matter who you are, and you have going on, move it, shake it, and don’t forget to have fun.
In this week’s topic, movement as medicine, I’m going to skip right over all the stats on why exercise is healthy for you.
And, I know from my years in practice that stats and data don’t change minds and hearts.
Even the word exercise is highly problematic.
It conjures up ideas of boring chores, counting repetitions, and forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.
So instead, let’s celebrate all the amazing things our bodies can do by moving them in ways we enjoy.
But where to start?
And although you probably know by now that my unofficial motto is, “just start somewhere,” let me share with you a few great folks. In the interest of geography and current guidelines, I share those I know personally who offer virtual classes and sessions:
Jill and Cara with PUSH Fitness – these two Salem-based personal trainers help women of all ages celebrate their fitness and strength, no matter where you’re starting from. Small group in-person and virtual class options.
Christal and gang with Fusion Fitness – evening classes including VXN dancing. Small group in-person and virtual class options.
Melissa with Optimal Living offers not only yoga classes (private and group) and nutrition counseling but is also my go-to mindfulness and meditation expert. Exclusively online.
Taylor Harris with Flow As You Are Yoga. A few of you out there will recognize her from my original Healthy at Home and Move With Us videos. Taylor merges mindfulness, mind-body awareness and yoga during her virtual sessions.
Dawn with Bit by Bit Bodyworks – who adepts combines mindful movement with body awareness in small group and private virtual sessions.
Gillian Byers – a body-positive personal trainer and Reembody Method Apprentice.
Rachel – a Seattle-based personal trainer, also a Reembody Method Apprentice.
Tami – my all-time personal favorite Zumba teacher. She is a great instructor who makes sure those of all levels are having fun and getting in a great workout. Weekly virtual and in-person outdoor classes (Portland).
The trainers at Training Day PDX, which was my original and most-love weight-lifting gym, offers online coaching.
Evolution Healthcare and Fitness – is a gym I have enjoyed weight lifting classes from, and currently teaches both in-person small groups and virtual classes.
Now more than ever we are connected across long distances. Your personal trainer could be a city, a state, or a time zone (or more) away. Your yoga teacher could be all the way across the globe, and that’s not really all that unusual nowadays.
But if you’re looking for “low-touch” i.e. DIY home movement options, here is a list of curated choices from yours truly as well as those shared with me by friend, family, and patients:
Yoga with Adriene
Miranda Esmonde-White has mobility and movement-based courses, videos, and books
The big caution with the DIY approach is to listen to your body, and honor what unique needs it has every day. Some days may desire high-impact energetic exercise. Other days may need restorative, gentle movement. Don’t force it, and stop to modify whenever you need.
So now I’ve given you a ton of places to start. I wanted to give you enough choices for all types of needs.
Where to start? Anywhere. Truly. Just pick one video, one coach, one exercise, and try it on for size.
You can’t go wrong if you just keep moving and have fun.
I am starting off this month-long series with Mental Health first. That was an intentional choice. I find it’s a major positive (or negative) momentum for our health; when our mood is good, all the other little things we know we “should do” for our health and well-being seems so much easier to do, right?
And when our mental health is suffering, well….everything else seems to slide down to meet it.
As I shared in the videos and posts all this week (on Instagram and Facebook), Mental Health is a big topic. It covers everything from a psychological crisis to persistent lack of motivation. You might recognize the latter as the existential ennui I’ve heard mentioned quite regularly recently.
First off, if you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis and is a potential danger to themselves or others, here are a few numbers to know:
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 800-950-NAMI (6264) or text “NAMI” to 741741
Now, let’s talk more about the more insidious types of mental health struggles that most of us face.
I want to start off with a little homework for you, if you’re willing.
Think of yourself as a bucket. Yep, you’re a bucket. The more full of live-giving energy-water you are, the better you feel, the better you can handle life’s stressors, and overall the better your well-being.
Now, dear bucket, things in life can add, subtract, or are neutral to your bucket’s contents.
People, environments, interactions, the entertainment you choose, your meals, the way you spend your time, everything is either a positive, negative, or neutral effect to your bucket’s fullness.
You know what adds to your bucket’s lifeforce. They make you feel good, feel whole, feel healthy.
You know what depletes your bucket’s contents. They make you feel anxious, on edge, irritated and wiped out.
Now, your homework is to intentionally think through all your interactions, all your actions of the day, and decide…. Are they filling you up or depleting you?
Next up, what to do about it?
I break this topic up into self-care at home, and professional support.
One is not better than the other, and your needs are not fixed. One day, week, month, year may require different amounts of each type. Honor that.
Professional support can come in many styles.
The first to come to mind may be a therapist, mental health counselor, or psychologist. One of my favorites in the Willamette Valley is Molly Rodden at Well Life Medicine Center.
Finding your professional guide is an individualized process, so talk with other providers you see to get a referral or perhaps try to match up your interests and needs in this giant mental health provider directory.
Self-care for mental health will look a little different for us all, though there are some general themes. Movement, nutrition and lifestyle play important roles in balanced mental health, and I will be discussing those in depth in the weeks to come.
A first step is to take a critical eye on your list of things that fill up vs. deplete your bucket and see where you can make improvements.
Bucket fillers go by many names, a few of which are self-care or stress-reduction tools. Call them whatever you want, here’s a short list of ideas on ways to fill your bucket:
The average person will find some of these ideas interesting, and some repelling. That’s ok. We don’t all have to fill our buckets the same way. The important thing is that you are filling yours in a way that honors your needs.
And what to do when things just aren’t going your way?
We have control about many potential stressors in our life, but not all. Most of us will have the occasional not-great day.
This would be an excellent time to reach out to your professional support, and in addition, have your go-to mental health “toolbox” set up. This might include:
Find your “well of course I can do that.” This will be unique to us all, and changes day by day. Maybe one day it will be taking a brisk walk outside in the sun (even if it’s cold). Another day it may be showering and putting on clothes. Or cooking yourself a homemade meal.
Find and do your “well of course I can do that.”
I hope this week has given you a new perspective on how you think about mental health, as well as new tools and ideas for how you can best take care of yourself going forward.