Monthly Archives: May 2014

7 Healthy Alternatives to White Sugar

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sugarRefined sugars are not only inflammatory in nature, but are linked to metabolic diseases as well. Sugar has been shown to cause tooth decay, diabetes, weight gain, and even acne. The most inflammatory sugars are those of a refined nature (white sugar and brown sugar). There processing depletes any nutritional value while increasing inflammation.

The sugar substitutes are just as bad if not worse. They are not only inflammatory in nature but have been linked to disease in the body. Aspartame is linked to headache, nausea, dizziness, and is thought to precipitate and/or worsen conditions like multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions. Saccharin (otherwise known as Sweet’n Low®) has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

With the health risks of traditionally made sugar it’s nice to know that there are some alternatives out there that are less inflammatory and lower on the glycemic index.

Here are 7 of my favorites:

Stevia is a natural sweetener that is derived from the stevia plant. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar yet is negligible on the glycemic index and is calorie free making it a great substitute for diabetics. Many stevia products are available on the market and now there are even naturally flavored version such as chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, and more. For some stevia may be an acquired taste. Stevia is in our Trim Shakes!

Sucanat is literally whole cane sugar completely unrefined. It retains it’s molasses which gives it the brown color and it’s distinct taste. Cane juice is extracted and mechanically heated and cooled to form grainy crystals. Sucanat has fewer calories, and a smaller proportion of sucrose, and because it’s unrefined, sucanat retains some nutritional value. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and others. If you are a fan of brown sugar, this is the best alternative.

Turbinado, Much like is the unrefined version of cane sugar. It’s processing is very different from sucanat in that the cane juice is extracted, heated, and then turned into crystals. This doesn’t leave much of the molasses intact and therefore the turbinado has a lighter appearance and a milder taste. However, this sugar can also be used in place of brown sugar in recipes and food preparation, and it contains the same nutrient benefits as does the sucanat.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol contained in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. It is commonly found in chewing gum. While it can give some indigestion to some upon initial consumption, it is considered a healthier sugar. It is lower on the glycemic index which make is preferable for diabetics over regular sugar, and it has been shown to fight cavities.

Agave is a combination of fructose and glucose sugars and is derived from the agave plant. It is made by extracting and purifying the sap of the blue agave plant. This sugar alternative is low on the glycemic index, which makes it better for diabetics, however it is also higher in fructose than the rest of the sugars and thus must be consumed in moderation. High fructose intake is thought to be linked with obesity because of the way the body processes the sugar. As well, high fructose consumption may increase risk for heart disease over time. So enjoy this sugar alternative only in moderation. Dr. Weil is not a fan of Agave. Use this as last resort.

Raw Honey to some is considered a super-food as it is packed with vitamins, minerals and healing nutrients. Some specific types of honey, such as clover and orange blossom are a little lower on the glycemic index. However, diabetics must still take care and consume this with moderation because to can spike the blood sugar if overindulged. Also, it is important to read the labels when purchasing honey to be sure the honey is RAW as processed honey is no better than table sugar. It’s processing strips all of its nutrient value and leaves it high up on the glycemic index.

Maple Syrup is a naturally occurring syrup that is an excellent substitute for table sugar. It’s high in mineral content especially manganese and zinc, and can help stabilize cholesterol. However it does have a high glycemic index, so diabetics must use caution to avoid this particular sugar alternative. There are different grades of pure maple syrup (A, B, C) that refer to the level of processing. The higher the grade the less processed the maple syrup is, leaving it with distinct tastes between the three. The most commonly used is grade A.

Conclusion: There are plenty of alternatives to traditional table sugar, however, even healthy sugars and sugar substitutes should be consumed in moderation. Over indulgence in even these “healthy sugars” can lead to any of the inflammatory diseases mentioned earlier in the article.Avoid refined sugars, and products containing high fructose corn syrup. These types of sugars have an addictive property and contribute to weight gain leading to obesity.

A healthy option to combat sugar cravings is an essential oil blend. I love this product! I have been using it for 8 months and have been off sugars for nearly that long.  It works to eliminate the cravings.

Shake That Booty

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New ways to get and stay healthy are always in the spotlight as more than 30 percent of Americans are classified as obese, according to the CDC. “Functional fitness,” or workouts that incorporate strength training to make activities of daily life easier, has been around for years but is becoming more and more prevalent, especially marketed towards older adults. While lifting weights or going for a run can be a great workout, they focus on working muscles independently. Therefore, you may be able to run six miles but still throw your back out when lifting a suitcase into the overhead compartment. Functional fitness helps muscles work together in tandem, incorporating balance and coordination and can also help promote weight loss.

There are gyms that offer such training but you don’t have to leave your living room to begin a functional training routine. Check out the videos for exercises for beginners that will work out your muscles and increase your stamina and extend your life.

Psychological Barriers to Action – and How to Deal with Them

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Let’s face it; weight loss and keeping it off is hard. We’ve all heard the statistics about weight regain and the grim numbers about the obesity epidemic we’re facing in this country. But what really makes it so difficult to lose weight and then maintain? Well, let’s first take a look at what we know. What we know to be true is that those individuals who do adhere to their weight loss and maintenance regimens achieve and sustain weight loss; pretty simple, right? If you stick to the plan, it works! However, many people struggle to do this. Now, the problem can present itself as being about lack of knowledge or lack of motivation or a lack of willpower but what it really comes down to is non-adherence to the plan; i.e. simply not sticking to it.

Now, if setting goals and trying hard to achieve them were enough to ensure success, the task of achieving Optimal Health would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, when it comes to making positive life changes many people will encounter psychological barriers to sticking to the plan. The most common are summarized, most appropriately, by the acronym FEAR:

F = Fusion with Unhelpful Thoughts. This basically means that we’re so caught up in our thoughts that we aren’t even aware that we’re thinking and then those thoughts dictate our behavior. It’s like we’re being pushed around by our thoughts or allowing our thoughts to tell us what to do. When a person sets out to make a change, it’s normal for their mind to generate “unhelpful” thoughts like: I’m too busy, I can’t do it, I’ll fail, It’s too hard, and so on which can prevent them from moving forward. It’s a common misconception that our thoughts control our behaviors. They certainly influence our behaviors but ultimately we have a choice. However, when we get all entangled, caught up, or carried off by these thoughts they dominate our attention and we can’t focus on what is truly important to us. Becoming ‘fused’ with unhelpful thoughts throws us off-track.

E = Excessive Goals. If a person’s goals exceed their resources, they’ll either give up or fail. Necessary resources could include a person’s skills, ability, social support, time, money, and physical health. Setting goals that are too difficult or impossible will only result in frustration and abandonment of their weight loss and maintenance plans.

A = Avoidance of Discomfort. The practice of new way of eating and living can be difficult and tedious for some; and the pursuit of goals that pull us out of the “comfort zone” almost always generates significant anxiety. This discomfort is inevitable when it comes to lifestyle changes. So, if we are unwilling to make room for that discomfort, then we will not take action.

R = Remoteness from Values. If a person loses touch with their values that underlie their goals – if it doesn’t seem meaningful or important to them – then they will lose motivation. Values can provide a deep motivation that helps to sustain the practice of new skills, or the pursuit of challenging goals, even when it’s difficult, tedious or anxiety-provoking. The practice of using Structural Tension Charts can be a big help to realize and set goals with Primary and Secondary Choices and action steps to follow. This is found in the first few chapters in “Dr. A’s Habits of Health” as well as “Discover Your Optimal health” and the Workbook.

So, how do we address these barriers? Well, the antidote to FEAR is DARE:

D = Defusion from Unhelpful Thoughts. The mind is a reason-giving machine, and as soon as we think about doing something that pulls us out of our comfort zone, it cranks out all the reasons why we can’t do it, shouldn’t do it, or shouldn’t have to do it. And if we wait until the day when our mind stops reason-giving before we do the things that really matter in life… we’ll never get started. So, if fusion with reason-giving is a major barrier to action, then naturally we target it with defusion. This means separating or distancing ourselves from unhelpful thoughts, letting them come and go instead of being caught up in them. In other words, defusion means looking at thoughts, rather than from thoughts; noticing thoughts rather than being caught up in thoughts; and letting thoughts come and go rather than holding on to them. One of the simplest ways of separating from thoughts is to write them down. This helps a person to take a step back and see the thoughts for what they are: a string of words. Nothing more, nothing less.

A = Acceptance of Discomfort. This means making room for painful thoughts and feelings, not because they like them or want them, but so they can do what matters. So, we can ask ourselves “Am I willing to feel some discomfort, in order to do what matters most to me?” If a person is unwilling to make room for the inevitable discomfort, they may need to clarify and connect with their values or set easier goals. Both of which we will discuss next.

R = Realistic Goals. If a person’s goals exceed their resources then they need to create a new goal to acquire those resources if possible, or accept the limitations of their reality and change their goal to adapt in the best way possible. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, if a goal seems to big, make it smaller. If walking for 30 minutes is too much, cut it back to ten. If doing it daily is unrealistic, do it every other day. Ask yourself: “On a scale from zero to ten, where ten is ‘I’ll definitely do this no matter what’ and zero is ‘There is absolutely no change I’ll ever do this’ – then how likely are you to actually do this?” If you score less than seven, best change the goal to something smaller and easier.

E = Embracing Values. If a person is lacking motivation, then they need to reflect on why they’re doing this. What’s important and meaningful about this action? Does it truly matter? If so, why? Ask yourself: “Is this really important to me? Which of my values underlie this action? How would doing this make a positive difference in my life and the lives of others?” If we can link our new behaviors to something personally meaningful, we’re far more likely to do it!

So, there you go. Those are the most common psychological barriers to someone taking action to change their lifestyle and the most effective ways to target and overcome those barriers.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Nick Frye, Behavioral Therapist

 

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Relationships: How Do I Get These?

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Stressors are anything that threaten or adversely affect your health. These may include issues at work, poor eating habits, anything that allows negative or potentially hazardous substances into your body. These stressors can be internal or external in nature and sadly, many of them can’t be avoided. We do have lives to live and jobs to work, after all.
However, do not be discouraged (another bad stressor that will adversely affect your overall health). While you can’t avoid stressors, there are ways to combat them. Below are some Rx for various stressors (this is by no means a complete list):

Body

Migraines, recurring illnesses, lowered immune systems, rashes, headaches, aches and pains, sluggishness, poor sleep patterns, etc.

1. Avoid foods with preservatives, dyes, and basically any type of unnatural sugar or processing.

2. Avoid carrying around excess weight. There are some great weight loss programs out there.  While I have found great success with Take Shape For Life (and coach for other TSFL clients), find a program that works best for you.

3. Avoid seemingly healthy foods that are modified (GMO). There’s been a lot of debate over GMO lately but the truth of the matter is natural and unaltered is always best (that includes dehydrated which is easily returned to it’s natural state with the addition of water).

4. Avoid over the counter and prescription remedies as often as possible.  Most ailments were treated effectively LONG before science stepped in and began creating drugs.  Look for natural remedies such as essential oils, vitamins, minerals, fresh foods and herbs, or techniques such as massage to combat most ailments. These natural remedies are non-invasive, non-addictive, and work with the body to help it heal itself.

5. Exercise properly and safely. Over exercising is just as harmful and not exercising at all.

Mind

Stress, anger, depression, anxiety, etc.

1. Learn to quiet your mind and refocus. Mediation is a great tool as is learning the art of relaxation and release. A healthy regime allows for a period of quiet or mediation each day.

2. Exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body.  It releases those happy endorphins which aid in healing and have an uplifting and calming affect on our minds.

3. Learn to prioritize. People who work off of lists are naturally healthier than those who do not. Why? Because they are less stressed and changes do not throw them. They have learned to prioritize so they always have a plan of execution.

4. Learn to say NO. Those who take on too much often find that they can’t do anything effectively.

5. Find coping mechanisms. Take time out, use essential oils to help clear your mind or calm you down in stressful situations, step away from highly volatile or stressful events until you are relaxed and better able to address the concern.

Relationships

Marriage, lovers, work, children, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

1. Avoid relationships where you are giving 100% all the time and the other person is doing all the taking.

2. Cultivate relationships based on mutual respect and trust and avoid those that offer only distrust, selfishness, and criticism.

3. Make God or a Higher Power your first priority. Doing so will help you see the best in others.

4. Remove people who are toxic or only bring drama into your life.  It is less likely that you will be able to lift them up and more likely that they will bring you down to their level.

5. Communicate.  I can’t stress this enough.  The key to every great relationship, be it romantic, work or other, is the ability to communicate effectively and listen even better.

Health is so much more than you may think…

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Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans, it is the general condition of a person’s mind and body, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain (as in “good health” or “healthy“). The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

So what does that mean?

Are you healthy if you don’t feel sick?

Are you healthy if your doctor doesn’t prescribe any changes to your current lifestyle?

In a world where HEALTH is subjective, here are three areas you should look at to determine your overall health:

1. Body

Are you eating healthy. limiting your sugar, fat, and red meat intake?

Are you exercising properly and refraining from injuring yourself?

Are you avoiding putting toxins of any kind into your body (i.e. preservatives, chemicals from hygiene products, alcohol, drugs, etc)

Are you watching your food and water intake and are they at healthy quantities?

2. Mind

Are you exercising your mind, creating new pathways?

Are you limiting stress?

Are you learning new things and practicing old skills and talents?

Are you meditating or taking time to relax and reflect each day?

3. Relationships

Are you treating others and being treated with respect?

Are your relationships healthy and non-toxic?

Are you important to someone or several someones?

Do you have a relationship with a higher power?

Health is a multifaceted achievement.  To obtain true health, all three aspects of your life must enjoy a certain level of health.  Failing in one aspect will mean a lessening of health in the other two aspects. To be truly healthy, you cannot ignore one aspect but must maintain a high balance in all three.

 

Throw Me A Lifeline

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Fear of failure can be just as debilitating as fear of heights, or any other fear. Not only does it stand alone as a fear, it is coupled with other fears people struggle with. For example, a person with a fear of flying also has a fear of failure… failure of being unable to get on a plane without being terrorized and having others notice.

Fear of failure, however, is the easiest fear to overcome.  Unlike other more insidious fears that require conditioning to defuse, fear of failure requires one or two successes to diminish it’s strength.  AND those successes can be assisted by outside means.

Let me explain.

Back to our flying/failure combo.  Fearful flyers can get through a flight by getting drunk (sometimes works), taking sedatives (also has a minimum success rate), or utilizing some other chemical inhibitor. They seek to change the way the brain responds to the fear.

The same can be done with a fear of failure but without harmful chemicals.  Fears of failure, after all, require just one of two successes to diminish their intensity.

Imagine facing any fear with a sense of calm. You’re more likely to get through the stressful event successfully and come out the other side knowing you are strong. How do you get that calm? By  diffusing the chemicals in the brain that heighten our sense of fear.

Essential oils counter the fight or flight chemicals in our brains and cause us to think more rationally during times of anxiety or fear.  Here are a few suggestions for essential oil application:

 

  • Wild orange, bergamot, lime — all give a calm sense of well being and are uplifting to the mood.
  • Lavender – calming
  • Frankincense – brain tonic, neurotonic, mind clearing, awareness, uplifts spirit, restores DNA and RNA

 

 

Did You Hit A Bump In The Road?

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Psychological Barriers to Action – and How to Deal with Them

(I am gearing this towards weight loss but the concept applies to anything you are struggling with in your life… Relationships, career, education, mental well being, etc.)

Let’s face it; weight loss and keeping it off is hard. We’ve all heard the statistics about weight regain and the grim numbers about the obesity epidemic we’re facing in this country. But what really makes it so difficult to lose weight and then maintain? Well, let’s first take a look at what we know. What we know to be true is that those individuals who do adhere to their weight loss and maintenance regimens achieve and sustain weight loss; pretty simple, right? If you stick to the plan, it works! However, many people struggle to do this. Now, the problem can present itself as being about lack of knowledge or lack of motivation or a lack of willpower but what it really comes down to is non-adherence to the plan; i.e. simply not sticking to it.

Now, if setting goals and trying hard to achieve them were enough to ensure success, the task of achieving Optimal Health would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, when it comes to making positive life changes many people will encounter psychological barriers to sticking to the plan. The most common are summarized, most appropriately, by the acronym FEAR:

F = Fusion with Unhelpful Thoughts. This basically means that we’re so caught up in our thoughts that we aren’t even aware that we’re thinking and then those thoughts dictate our behavior. It’s like we’re being pushed around by our thoughts or allowing our thoughts to tell us what to do. When a person sets out to make a change, it’s normal for their mind to generate “unhelpful” thoughts like: I’m too busy, I can’t do it, I’ll fail, It’s too hard, and so on which can prevent them from moving forward. It’s a common misconception that our thoughts control our behaviors. They certainly influence our behaviors but ultimately we have a choice. However, when we get all entangled, caught up, or carried off by these thoughts they dominate our attention and we can’t focus on what is truly important to us. Becoming ‘fused’ with unhelpful thoughts throws us off-track.

E = Excessive Goals. If a person’s goals exceed their resources, they’ll either give up or fail. Necessary resources could include a person’s skills, ability, social support, time, money, and physical health. Setting goals that are too difficult or impossible will only result in frustration and abandonment of their weight loss and maintenance plans.

A = Avoidance of Discomfort. The practice of new way of eating and living can be difficult and tedious for some; and the pursuit of goals that pull us out of the “comfort zone” almost always generates significant anxiety. This discomfort is inevitable when it comes to lifestyle changes. So, if we are unwilling to make room for that discomfort, then we will not take action.

R = Remoteness from Values. If a person loses touch with their values that underlie their goals – if it doesn’t seem meaningful or important to them – then they will lose motivation. Values can provide a deep motivation that helps to sustain the practice of new skills, or the pursuit of challenging goals, even when it’s difficult, tedious or anxiety-provoking. The practice of using Structural Tension Charts can be a big help to realize and set goals with Primary and Secondary Choices and action steps to follow. This is found in the first few chapters in “Dr. A’s Habits of Health” as well as “Discover Your Optimal health” and the Workbook.

So, how do we address these barriers? Well, the antidote to FEAR is DARE:

D = Defusion from Unhelpful Thoughts. The mind is a reason-giving machine, and as soon as we think about doing something that pulls us out of our comfort zone, it cranks out all the reasons why we can’t do it, shouldn’t do it, or shouldn’t have to do it. And if we wait until the day when our mind stops reason-giving before we do the things that really matter in life… we’ll never get started. So, if fusion with reason-giving is a major barrier to action, then naturally we target it with defusion. This means separating or distancing ourselves from unhelpful thoughts, letting them come and go instead of being caught up in them. In other words, defusion means looking at thoughts, rather than from thoughts; noticing thoughts rather than being caught up in thoughts; and letting thoughts come and go rather than holding on to them. One of the simplest ways of separating from thoughts is to write them down. This helps a person to take a step back and see the thoughts for what they are: a string of words. Nothing more, nothing less.

A = Acceptance of Discomfort. This means making room for painful thoughts and feelings, not because they like them or want them, but so they can do what matters. So, we can ask ourselves “Am I willing to feel some discomfort, in order to do what matters most to me?” If a person is unwilling to make room for the inevitable discomfort, they may need to clarify and connect with their values or set easier goals. Both of which we will discuss next.

R = Realistic Goals. If a person’s goals exceed their resources then they need to create a new goal to acquire those resources if possible, or accept the limitations of their reality and change their goal to adapt in the best way possible. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, if a goal seems to big, make it smaller. If walking for 30 minutes is too much, cut it back to ten. If doing it daily is unrealistic, do it every other day. Ask yourself: “On a scale from zero to ten, where ten is ‘I’ll definitely do this no matter what’ and zero is ‘There is absolutely no change I’ll ever do this’ – then how likely are you to actually do this?” If you score less than seven, best change the goal to something smaller and easier.

E = Embracing Values. If a person is lacking motivation, then they need to reflect on why they’re doing this. What’s important and meaningful about this action? Does it truly matter? If so, why? Ask yourself: “Is this really important to me? Which of my values underlie this action? How would doing this make a positive difference in my life and the lives of others?” If we can link our new behaviors to something personally meaningful, we’re far more likely to do it!

So, there you go. Those are the most common psychological barriers to someone taking action to change their lifestyle and the most effective ways to target and overcome those barriers.

Contributed by: Nick Frye