Health in the New Year

This time of year brings about a flurry of extra activities, many of which we are unwilling or unable to say, “No” to. Last year (well, actually last month), we discussed the ways various people celebrate during this time of year. Today, we wanted to offer helpful advice about how to stay healthy in 2019 and beyond. To read part 1, click here.

The additional pull on our (likely already) overscheduled lives, leads to additional stress, generally compounded by lack of sleep. Stress can sap our natural resources, leaving us susceptible to illness. University of Birmingham researcher, Dr. Anna Phillips, warns that:

“A breakdown in usual routines, less sleep, more alcohol and immense pressure to be the perfect host can combine to create a very real risk of Christmas making people ill.” 

Illness

This time of year brings about a flurry of extra activities, many of which we are unwilling or unable to say, “No” to. The additional pull on our (likely already) over-scheduled lives, leads to additional stress, generally compounded by lack of sleep. Stress can sap our natural resources, leaving us susceptible to illness.

It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of activities you really don’t want to miss, and those which you are alright eliminating from your schedule this season. This ensures that the activities you do participate in are ones that you really enjoy, and, by not overscheduling yourself, you are better able to fully experience them – stress-free!

Unhealthy Diet

Unless you are the picture of restraint, everybody indulges a bit more during the Christmas and holiday season. Each event we attend has platters heaped with scrumptious treats, and most of us attend a ton of events during this season. 

University of Birmingham researcher, Dr. Anna Phillips, warns that, “A breakdown in usual routines, less sleep, more alcohol and immense pressure to be the perfect host can combine to create a very real risk of Christmas making people ill.” 

Additionally, the added load on our schedules, leaves less time than usual for fitness.

This disruption to our fitness routine, combined with our loosened diets, can do real damage to our bodies. As I stated in my last blog post, the average person puts on between 1 and 4 lbs. each holiday season, and most do not go on to lose the extra weight afterward.

Mindfulness and preplanning go a long way toward helping you successfully navigate the holiday treats. Moderation really can be the key to helping you enjoy the seasonal treats, without the extra weight. 

When you are doing your Christmas shopping, park as far away from the entrance as possible, forcing you to get some extra walking in, and freeing you from competing for the “prime” spots.

Poor Mental Health

The winter holidays and Christmas are a joyous, warm, wonderful time of the year, but for many, they are also filled with painful reminders of dreams, and loved ones we’ve lost. While the message of Christmas and the other holidays around the winter season is one of hope and joy, the heart wrenching emptiness felt at the loss of a loved one, can make it difficult to feel that hope, let alone celebrate it.

Guard Your Mental Health with Mindfulness

It may be helpful to participate in charity events during this season; sometimes putting the focus on others (and their needs) can distract us from our own pain. For some, continuing with favorite traditions is a soothing comfort.

Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season. And, if you need a little restart, feel free to contact me for assistance with your wellness journey. 


Ways People Celebrate the Season

While we are part of a society that focuses on Christmas, we often forget that not everyone we meet personally celebrates Christian traditions.Throughout the world, millions of people are participating in joyous and holy celebrations unrelated to Christmas.

  1. Diwali 
    This five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. It is a celebration of good triumphing over evil and is usually held in November.

  2. Chanukah 
    A Jewish holiday, this is an eight-day festival of lights.  It is a celebration of triumph over adversity and the miracle of a small jar of holy oil that burned for eight days instead of one, which allowed the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. 

  3. Kwanza 
    A seven-day holiday of lights, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate family culture and heritage, and is modeled after the first harvest celebrations in Africa.

  4. Winter Solstice 
    The shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it falls on Friday, December 21st. There will only be 7 hours and 50 minutes of daylight hours. Throughout human history, from prehistoric time to the present, this time of year has been a time of celebration and ceremony. 

Ancient civilizations around the world built temples and structures designed to capture the rays of the sun at the moment of the Solstice. One of the most famous of these is Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire, England. The Winter Solstice is particularly important for Druid, Wicca, and Pagan communities. Today, people around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice with bonfires, music, family gatherings, dancing and singing.

Shalako Kachina Ceremony is a series of dances and ceremonies conducted by the Zuni people at the winter solstice, typically following the harvest. For other tribes, this is commemorated as the season when the river freezes and the land sleeps, known as Luut’aa and also the season of K’aliyee, the time of the north wind blowing.

The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony involves extinguishing old fires and lighting new ones. The Hopi Holy Cycle celebrates the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe.   

Chinese New Year
  • Chinese New Year
    Also known as the Lunar New Year, this is the most important date of the Chinese calendar and is related to the Chinese Zodiac. Because the Chinese calendar is both a Solar and Lunar calendar, the actual New Year’s Day changes from year to year. Prior to the New Year, people clean their houses thoroughly and set up traditional decorations. 

This is a time of year for family reunions, parties, gift giving, and fireworks.Many of us look forward to the holiday season each year, and revel in the traditions that accompany it. However, with the holiday season, comes a myriad of potential threats to your health. Check back next year (on January 1), when we will post about how to stay healthy in the New Year.  

Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season. 


Tips for Maintaining Holiday Wellness

Thanksgiving Well WishesCan you believe we are in the midst of the holiday season? With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought we should discuss something generally overlooked during the holidays – wellness. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for gathering together with loved ones and indulging in a massive feast. Thoughts of health and wellness are not usually at the forefront of people’s minds. However, as enjoyable as the holidays are, they can take a toll on your overall health and wellness. I’d like to help you have the healthiest Thanksgiving possible.

FoodHealthy Thanksgiving Food

The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, are loaded with decadent, fatty, rich foods. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average person puts on an extra pound during the holidays, with people who are already overweight gaining around five pounds. The alarming thing about this is that most people don’t lose the extra weight after the holidays. And over time, the this adds up to an unhealthy situation. Read More


What are Brainwaves: How Brainwaves are Measured

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

Brainwaves HealthyOur brainwaves change according to our physical activity, our mood, our thoughts and feelings, and whether we are awake or asleep. Like musicians playing their instruments during a symphony, our brainwaves work together in harmony.

Click here to read part one.

That the brains of mammals produce electrical pulses has been known to science since 1875. Actual recordings of brain waves in an animal were made in 1912. Brain wave activity in the human brain has been studied since 1924, when the first recording of human brain wave activity was made.healthy Brainwaves

Electricity is measured in units of frequency known as hertz. A hertz is defined as one cycle per second and is named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the first person to provide conclusive proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves. An electroencephalograph machine (EEG) measures the brain’s electrical activity.

Brain wave activity originates with the electrical activity of individual neurons communicating together and is happening continuously throughout waking and sleeping. Although we now know the human brain produces seven different electrical brain wave patterns, four basic patterns are the most studied and the most understood.

 Brainwave MeasurementAlpha, Beta, Delta, and Theta

  • All brain wave patterns are active all of the time. However, brain wave patterns vary and dominate depending on level of a person’s activity, concentration, or mood, and whether awake or asleep.
  • Beta is a fast wave. It varies between 12 to 38 hertz depending on our level of activity, concentration and focus, as well as our mood and level of excitement or anxiety. Beta is dominate during our waking hours. Important in activities of problem solving, judgment and decision making, beta waves are essential for healthy waking activity.
  • Alpha waves are also dominate during waking hours, but they are a slower wave of 8 to 12 hertz. Beta takes a lot of energy and the brain needs to relax intermittently. Alpha waves represent the brain’s relaxation or resting state. The brain constantly uses Alpha along with Beta. Alpha occurs when we close our eyes, think quiet thoughts, day dream, meditate, or feel calm. Alpha is important for overall mental coordination, mind/body integration, calmness and alertness, and integration of learning.
  • Theta waves are slow waves of 3 to 8 hertz. These dominate during sleep during deep meditation. Theta reveals our brains withdrawing from the external world to focus within. During Theta, learning and memory record. It is while in Theta that we experience our dreams. Theta is also a healing and regeneration state for the body.Brainwaves Health
  • Delta waves dominate during deep, dreamless sleep. They are slow waves of .5 to 3 hertz. Deep body regeneration and healing occur during Delta. There is complete disengagement from the external world as the brain and body go deeply inward. It is difficult to awaken a person from Delta sleep and children are almost impossible to waken from Delta.

Disruption

As mentioned earlier, our brainwaves work together in harmony, but when there is a disruption of this harmonic condition, there is a disruption in brain function. Brain wave balance is critical to emotional and neurological health. Anxiety disorders, sleep problems, nightmares, autism, impulsive behavior, anger/aggression, depression, chronic nerve pain and spasticity reveal over-arousal of certain brain areas. Scientists attribute under-arousal of certain brain areas to attention deficit, chronic pain and insomnia.

Conditions as tic disorders, epilepsy, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, migraines, sleep apnea, teeth grinding, vertigo, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) reveal instabilities in brain rhythms. Traumatic brain injury(TBI) concussion, stroke, and coma all affect brain wave balance and brain function.

Brainwave AdaptabilityAdaptability

The brain is constantly changing and evolving; constantly creating new neurons.  Neuroplasticity equals adaptability, growth and change. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to heal itself from injury. Due to advances in EEG technology, it is possible to provide feedback to the brain on whether brain waves are in sync.

During neurofeedback, technicians place electrodes on the scalp, attached to specialized EEG machines. These display images on computer screens and generate sounds to detect and measure different brainwaves. The images and sounds provide information, known as feedback, and allow the brain to learn to reharmonize the various brain waves and allow the brain to reregulate and return to harmonic balance.

Our brains determine our emotional states, our perceptions, and our reactions to the world around us. Our brains are complex, magnificent, and mysterious.  We still have much to learn about who we are and how our brains work.


Water: Why is it so Important?

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

Hyaluronic Acid and Water

It seems as if medical professionals constantly tell us to drink water. The usual suggestion is at least eight 8 oz. glasses per day. But that comes out to 64 ounces, which is an entire gallon of water per day per person! Remembering to constantly drink water during the day is difficult sometimes, especially when I don’t feel thirsty. And I always wonder why we need to drink that much. Now that I know more about science as it relates to the brain and body, I understand the connection between water and hyaluronic acid. Read on to learn more.  Read More


Diet Direction

Diet Direction It seems like everyone is always talking about diet. We are a culture obsessed with the way we look. Yet, we are a nation of fat people! This is quite a paradox. Sometimes, I think I have spent my entire adult life thinking and worrying about my weight and body image. I’m practically a charter member of the international diet program, Weight Watchers – not to mention the number of times I have joined and quit.

Diet NirvanaDiet Direction

Over the years, I have tried myriad diets, including the varieties that require injections. Like millions of other Americans, I’ve been searching for the Holy Grail of diets. only to discover that no such thing exists! No diet will lead me to the Nirvana of Perfect Body Weight. And by the way, I diet not just because of how much I weigh. The ratio of body fat to body muscle matters much more than the number on the scale. So, what’s the answer? The truth is that changing my body requires a change in lifestyle. What matters is the type and quantity of food I eat, exercise I do, and amount of sleep I get.

Diet SleepDiet Dreams

Lack of quality sleep leads to weight gain. Also important is the way I think as well as the words I think and tell myself. Man, oh man, reality can be difficult! If I want to change my lifestyle, where should I start?

  • The latest research points to the fact that the healthiest way to eat is a plant-based diet. What does that mean? Must I become a vegetarian (does not eat meat, fish or poultry, but does eat eggs, and/or milk and cheese) or a vegan (does not eat meat, fish, or poultry or animal products, including milk and eggs)?
  • Research states that a healthy diet includes lots of leafy green vegetables. And not just salad greens, but kale, collard greens and spinach. We also need to eat cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. We also need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables with lots of color, like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, low glycemic fruits like berries.Leafy Greens Diet

What else should my diet include?

I also need whole grains (no white flour or white rice) and beans (also known as legumes), as well as lentils, peas, and peanuts. And every diet around warns you to stay away from sugary stuff and fried foods. (Gosh, but I really like In-N-Out French fries).

Sounds a lot like a vegetarian diet to me.

Then, looking a little further, I discovered the Mediterranean Diet.Research suggests people who follow a Mediterranean diet lose 52% more weight than the standard low-fat diet because it isn’t just a fad or limited list of foods. This way of eating begins with the foundation of vegetables and whole grains, but also includes small quantities of lean meats and fish, a few times a week. This seems like something I can ease into. Fortunately, great recipes and resources on the internet can help me change the way I cook. If you’re interested in this type of eating plan, check out Forks Over Knives. It has lots of fantastic vegetarian recipes or Food Revolution, which offers inspiration for changing what you eat.

Modere Diet TipsSupplemental Assistance in Diet

The lifestyle line I carry, Modere, also offers safe and effective products designed to help you achieve your body’s goals and continue living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re interested in upping the ante in your journey toward optimal health, give me a call. Using Modere as well as EEG Neurofeedback, I can offer you a jumpstart on body, brain health!