Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Psychologist's Secrets To Making New Year Resolutions Stick

1. Clearly define your goals. Many people in the spirit of New Year’s loudly proclaim, “This is the year I’m going to finally get in shape.” But what does that mean? Do you intend to lose a certain number of pounds? Reach a body-fat percentage goal? Run three miles without rest? Bang out 10 pull-ups? Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). The first step to behavior change is to clearly understand what “it” is.

2. Track your progress. “If you can measure it, you can change it” is a fundamental principal of psychology. These measurements will be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you are. They will also help you to identify plateaus or “sticking points” in your progress so you can adjust your efforts.
3. Have patience. You must set realistic goals and realize that progress is never linear. Some people will see rapid gains only to hit resistance later in their efforts. For others, initial progress may be painfully slow but then they suddenly achieve rapid breakthroughs. Making lasting changes takes time.

4. Publicize your goals to friends and family. As embarrassing as it might be to announce your specific resolution to the world, social support is critical. Yes, it takes some personal courage and vulnerability to share something that you might actually fail at, but to dramatically increase your odds of success you’ll want support from those around you.

5. Put it on your schedule. How often do you hear people say they can’t “find the time” to do something. Nobody finds time. We all choose to spend our time the way we do—whether that’s eating junk food or going to a spin class. Make your new goals a priority and actually schedule them into your calendar. If you have a fitness goal schedule time for your workouts. If you want to declutter, schedule time to clean out your closet on your calendar. If you want to save money, put in a weekly budget review onto your Sunday afternoons. Think of these time blocks as important appointments—just like an appointment with a doctor. Don’t automatically schedule something else over them. That which is scheduled gets done.

6. Stop “all or nothing” thinking; it’s better do something than nothing. Are you guilty of “all or nothing” thinking? Do you ever think, “Well, I might as well get dessert since I already ate those French fries?” And then, “I blew my diet last night so I’ll just restart it next week.” The difference between doing something rather than nothing is huge. If you don’t have a full hour to workout at the gym, just decide to make it the best 20-minutes you can. If you have a slight cold or minor injury, decide to just walk the track for a couple miles. If you have a financial emergency and can’t save your full 10% this month, just save what you can. The bottom line is, any effort towards your goal is better than no effort.

7. Get up, when you slip up. None of us are perfect. As the great Vince Lombardi said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” Resiliency is the key. Don’t turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge the mistake and recommit to the path.

Achieving our goals isn’t about willpower. It’s about developing the right skills and strategies that, with patience, will lead to success. Keep these seven secrets in mind in 2016, and you’ll join the elite 8% who will be celebrating their success later in the year.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Boost Your Fiber Intake

Consume as many fruits and veggies as possible. 

The superstars for fiber content include berries (raspberries #1), snow peas, apples, canned tomato products, pumpkin, cauliflower, avocado, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, okra and winter squash.

Eat more beans – strive for one serving daily. 

Measure for measure, beans provide more fiber than any other food (about 3-4x more than fruits/veggies). All of them are fiber superstars so choose what you enjoy the most. Don’t forget about bean dips like hummus which are delicious!

Make a high fiber cereal (at least 5 grams per serving) a part of your daily breakfast. 

There are at least 30 varieties/brands now available that fit the bill. Personally, one of my breakfasts of choice includes 1 cup mixed – fruit usually berries/apples (7 grams fiber), ½ cup high fiber cereal (5 grams fiber), ½ cup of Greek-style plain yogurt (2 grams fiber) and 2 tablespoons of wheat germ (2 grams fiber).

Eat physically intact whole grains– brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, farro, etc vs. their refined, processed white counterparts.

Substitute 100% whole grain bread, crackers, etc., for their refined counterparts.Numerous brands are available. Check out the newer 100% whole grain crackers – Multigrain Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ak-mak, Kashi Heart to Heart etc. Many provide 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Choose multigrain pasta over regular. I love the taste of Barilla Plus.

Include more physically intact whole grains—brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, farro, black rice, etc.  To get the most health and metabolic benefits from the fiber you eat, you need to have an abundance of good bacteria residing in your colon. Here are the key strategies for establishing and maintaining a robust supply of fat-fighting beneficial gut bacteria.

Eat an abundance of plant-based, high fiber foods as noted above. 

Good bacteria “feed” off of fiber and the more real–food fiber you eat, the more good bacteria you will have in your gut. This is THE MOST POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE of all five of these strategies. Honestly, if you do not eat an abundance of fiber, success is IMPOSSIBLE.

Include probiotic foods regularly in your diet. 
Yogurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and any other “fermented” foods that contain live bacteria.

Do not take antibiotics unless medically indicated. 

And if you must take an antibiotic, be sure to take a daily probiotic supplement as directed (they are over-the-counter) while you are on the antibiotic and for two full weeks thereafter.

Get out in nature and get dirty. The soil contains an entire ecosystem of good bacteria. Gardening is highly recommended, especially vegetable gardening!

Consider a regular, daily supplement of a high quality probiotic.

Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units). This number should be prominently displayed on the front of box or bottle you are looking at. You want to find a probiotic that has a range between 3-50 billion CFUs that specifically fits your unique digestion.

The lower end of the range, 3 billion CFUs, is what we would call a daily maintenance product. This potency would be well suited for a person with an otherwise healthy digestive system that needs to replenish the probiotics lost daily due to modern living.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Keep Your Health In Check During The Holidays

While, yes, it’s extremely hard to resist piling a little bit of everything onto your plate, try to be a bit more thoughtful about what you choose. Do you really want that sweet potato casserole? If your taste buds don’t light up at the thought, then skip it, move on to the next dish and ask yourself the same question. If you fill your plate with only the foods you love, your meal will be all-around more satisfying and less shame-inducing.

The holiday season isn’t exactly the kindest to our bodies. Between helping ourselves to endless desserts and nonstop trays of finger food, it’s no wonder that our stomachs feel bloated. To combat the gluttony, we recommend serving a refreshing yet healthy cocktail. 

- 1 oz Skinny Triple Sec
- 1 oz Tequila
- Juice of half a grapfruit 1/3 cup
- Juice of half a lime
- 1/2 cup sparkling water
Your guests definitely won’t complain about going back for seconds.

Right now, your usual workout probably feels stale, which makes it that much harder to stay on track. So sign up for something new instead. In addition to helping you work off all that pie, a challenging exercise that requires a lot of focus will clear your mind and put you in a better mood.

In an effort to increase your digestive health (and boost your immunity), take a probiotic supplement. All the good bacteria from the probiotic will balance out the bad and keep your gut in good shape. And, given all the excess food, we welcome these little guys with open arms.

Between hosting and parties and presents, we often put ourselves second to friends and family. While totally honorable, your selfless nature can take a toll on your mental and physical health, so make it a point to do at least one thing that brings a quiet smile to your face each day. Take a solo walk around the neighborhood or bring your favorite book to a local coffee shop, just for an hour. You deserve a little me-time.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Massage Therapy Can Relieve Headaches

Since many tension headaches and migraine headaches are accompanied by neck pain, headache sufferers find that manual therapies such as massage offer relief from headache pain and related symptoms. Because massage therapy relaxes tense muscles, relieves muscle spasms, improves blood flow and aids relaxation, it can be helpful for relieving the pain of both tension and vascular headaches.

Types of Headaches: Muscle Tension and Vascular Headaches

The most common types of headaches are muscle tension and vascular headaches. Muscle tension headaches produce dull, constant pain on both sides of the head and may also involve an aching neck or sensitive scalp. They generally start slowly and can last from hours to days.
Muscle tension headaches are sometimes called muscle contraction headaches because it is the tightening of the muscles of the head, face and neck that causes the pain. This is why tension headache sufferers often describe their pain as a “vice-like grip” at their temples or as tightening bands around the forehead or along the base of the skull.
Vascular headaches are the ones many people describe as “pounding” or “throbbing.” They occur when the blood vessels that supply the brain and the muscles in the head swell and constrict. Vascular headache pain intensifies with physical activity and typically lasts from 4 to 72 hours. It may be associated with other symptoms such as vision problems, extreme sensitivity to light, and nausea. Migraines, cluster headaches and headaches that result from high blood pressure are all examples of vascular headaches.

How Does Massage Therapy Relieve Headaches?

Massage therapy helps to relieve both types of headaches by easing muscle tension, relieving muscle spasms, releasing shortened muscles and relaxing tension held in the muscles of the head, shoulders, and neck. When muscle tension eases, there is less pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that supply them. Oxygen-rich blood circulation improves, which also relieves pain. Massage therapy not only helps the muscles of the body to relax but also effectively reduces the anxiety and mental stress that can cause or exacerbate headaches. Regular, ongoing massage therapy can also help to prevent headaches by helping to reduce overall stress and the muscle tension that can trigger headache pain and by helping to maintain emotional balance.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a form of bodywork. It is “touch,” or manual, therapy in which various parts of the body are rubbed, pressed, kneaded, stroked and tapped. Massage has a demonstrated ability to help relieve physical and emotional tension and stress and to improve circulation throughout the body.

Different Types of Massage for Different Types of Headaches

Because headaches often result from or involve pain referred from problems associated with the bones and muscles in the neck, shoulder, and back, massage focusing on the cervical spine (the vertebrae in the neck behind the skull) can help to relieve headache pain. Shiatsu massage, a Japanese technique in which pressure is applied with the fingers, thumbs and palm to acupuncture points, also may help to reduce headache pain. Another therapeutic touch technique that seems to help headache sufferers is known as the Trager Approach. It uses massage to stretch muscles and joints and promote relaxation.

Some tension headaches may be relieved by a specific form of massage therapy called trigger point therapy (TrP). Trigger point therapy is the application of pressure to specific points such as along the trapezius muscles (the muscles extending from the base of the skull to mid-back located along the spine) and sternocleidomastoid muscles (muscles on either side of the neck). This pressure interrupts the nerve signals that not only cause the headache pain but also create the trigger point. This therapy aims to relieve pain and to re-educate the muscles so they assume healthy positions and postures that do not generate pain.

What Causes Headaches?

In general, it is difficult to pinpoint the precise cause of an infrequently occurring muscle tension or vascular headache, but sometimes the anatomy of the headache—how it starts, where the pain is felt, and how long it lasts—provides valuable clues about its source.
It was once believed that there were only two simple origins of headaches. Vascular headaches, such as migraines, occurred when blood vessels that supplied the brain and muscles of the head and neck dilated or were constricted. Tension headaches were thought to result from the tensing and contracting of muscles of the head, face, and neck in response to physical stress, such as injury or emotional distress.

Today, it is understood that there are complex chemical changes in the brain associated with headache pain. Tension headaches are associated with neurochemicals in the brain —varying levels of serotonin, endorphins and other chemicals that serve as neurotransmitters (substances that nerves use to send messages to one another) helping nerves to communicate.
These chemical changes observed in headache sufferers may cause, or be caused by, muscle tension. It is possible that tensed muscles in the neck and scalp may trigger a headache in someone with altered neurochemical levels or, on the other hand, the neck and scalp muscles may be tensing in response to these neurochemical changes. The rise and fall of these chemicals are thought to not only activate pain pathways to the brain but also interfere with the brain's own capacity to suppress the pain. Massage therapy can effectively ease the muscle tension that causes headaches.