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Finding a New Rhythm of Life

Posted on August 30, 2015 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I think human beings thrive with rhythm. Some might call in repetition or our habits or patterns of behavior. They are all gleaned from years of doing something over and over. Many are found entrenched in the stuff from our childhood.

Children thrive with a schedule and a rhythm. I have seen some kids that completely lose their minds if the plan changes. Life has some big surprises for them, eh? Children also seem to be more settled when they know what to expect in general. Remember, they are seeing EVERYTHING for the first time. Their little brains are expanding daily and taking in new information. Rhythm helps them to assimilate the new information without having to reprocess the daily grind.

But, we get curve balls all the time. These curve balls are either “opportunities” or “hurdles” depending on our perspective. When a curve ball comes at you…in other words, something that you expected suddenly changes…what is your first reaction? I think most instinctually say, “WHAT???”. Depending on how you are wired your next response will set the stage.

If your experience has been that new directions usually bring turmoil and unrest you will probably expect that. You may be preparing for the worst and ready yourself to take the licks.

If your experience has been that new directions equal new opportunities your mind will be already problem solving and attempting to see what can be created out of this new material.

How do we get wired or programmed? This is where the rhythm is created. As adults we are uniquely qualified to redirect our programming. Some reprogramming may take a lot of work. However the up side is that we have that power. If you are tired of reacting the same way, getting the same results or not getting results, maybe it is time to reprogram. Get a different rhythm. Try it for a period of time to give it a chance to settle in; most new things don’t feel “comfortable” at the onset. If it starts to feel better and reap the desired results then maintain it until it becomes the habit that you want to have as your new rhythm.

Don’t be owned by bad habits. Don’t be owned by old programming that doesn’t work. Above all, don’t be afraid of trying a new rhythm and putting some significant effort towards it. You may find some new and exciting paths for your life that would be left undiscovered.

Action Plan: Where do you find the inspiration to set upon a new path? How do you stay motivated to do the work? People, please don’t reinvent the wheel. Many, many very successful people are all around you. Study them! Take notes! Steal their ideas. Read about how they have overcome and persevere. Find not just one hero but a hundred. Write stuff down and get visual with it. Talk. Talk to yourself, your network of people, and your dog. But talk about what you want. Then most importantly, do the walk…..every day. When you skip a day, get back to it. Find that new rhythm.

 

Junk Food for the Soul

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been a member of Facebook since 2009. I literally had no use for Facebook and the soon-to-be-irrelevant Myspace at the time, but at the encouragement of my nieces and nephews, I signed up and became yet another willing participant in the social media experiment. What originally passed as mindless entertainment and a way to find out what became of old high school friends has morphed into something much more serious, less entertaining, but just as lacking in substance or meaning.


There's a reason that we have friends and acquaintances, and most of us are able to clearly distinguish between the two. There is a reason that we don't just hang out with the people we say "Hi" and "Bye" to on an elevator. Yet, on social media sites that is often what we find ourselves doing. We accept friend requests from people we hardly know and then get to see every baby picture, political post, endless selfies, and pictures of what they fixed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


The line between friend and acquaintance doesn't exist in the world of Facebook. It's the equivalent of being at a party where everyone is constantly mingling, and meaningful coversation and real connections are replaced with idle chit-chat and small talk. The difference between the two is that at some point, the party ends and everyone goes home. In Facebookland, we are the annoying, drunk party guest still hanging around long after the party is over.


We live in a society that is becoming ever more divided along political and ideological lines. There is no accounting for this on social media. People sometimes post things that are so in-your-face and offensive that you are left no choice but to "unfriend" them. This happened to me recently when someone posted a graphic picture (which I will not describe) in the name of raising awareness. The problem is, I was already aware. I do not want to see depictions of graphic violence toward man or beast mixed in with inspirational quotes and cat pictures. Some things cannot be unseen and it makes me question the mental makeup of someone who feels a need to post such things. 


The filters we have in place when dealing with people in person are absent online. Not being able to see the discomfort that talking politics, religion, or some social issues creates in others is taken as permission by some to talk at length about those things nonstop on social media. It doesn't end there. Add the 24 hour news channels or any popular dot com news site and we become unindated with more of the same.


We would treat this constant consumption of media junk food much differently if its effect on the brain was as obvious as the effect that too much junk food has on the body. Social media, when used properly, can be beneficial. Much of the time, however, the opposite is true. Like junk food, moderation may be the key. A little exposure to social media may be good for a laugh or two, but a steady diet can weigh heavy on the mind, fill one with worry, or even feed insecurities when relied on too heavily for feelings of validation. Perhaps mom and dad said it best: "It's nice today, go outside and play".


Some Diets Are Hard to Swallow

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

"More Pasta?"

"No thanks, I just lost my appetite"


For many of us, dieting advice is easy to abide by: eat smaller portions, reduce sodium intake, drink more water, avoid processed foods, etc. However, some diet fads can make one question the very foundation of their belief systems when it comes to food. One that has gained in popularity just in the last couple of years is the no-wheat diet. This diet is exactly what it sounds like, the elimination of grains as part of food consumption. The argument, and some studies support this claim, is that the human body is not meant to consume gluten, an ingredient found in many grains and wheat products. This is underscored by a growing concern that many of our grains may be enhanced with hormones and chemicals, suggesting that grains are being manufactured rather than grown.


As an American raised in Kansas public schools and taught about the four food groups, and later, the Food Pyramid, this goes against the....er, grain of everything I was taught to believe. A look at the Food Pyramid shows bread, pasta, and cereals as the foundation of diet. Even the updated Food Plate emphasises wheat and grains as an integral part of diet. Like all things related to our food and diet-obsessed culture, this adds an extra layer of confusion.


For those born after 1985, to accept that wheat and grains, once regarded as a staple of the American diet, and something entire meals are built around could actually be bad for you may not be too difficult. For the rest of us, it requires a major shift in thinking and how we view not only the nutritional aspect of food, but the social as well. It's hard to imagine meals and gatherings without consuming the breads, pastas, crackers, and desserts made from grain. To make such a change in dietary and social habits also requires a close examination of whether it brings any true benefit.


Many people believe falsely that they have failed at diets when, in fact, the diet failed them because it was not the right kind of diet. Just because something gains in popularity, that does not mean it is necessarily good. Gluten-free living can be a great benefit to people suffering from celiac disease. People who do not have celiac disease may be robbing themselves of fiber, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals by selecting gluten-free products.


Before starting any diet, it is important to look at the diet itself and see if it lines up with your fitness goals. It doesn't matter if it worked for Mary, Mark, and Kate. If it doesn't work for you, if it may not be safe for you, give it a pass. Remember, the best diets are the ones whose guidelines are easy to follow and that can become a lifestyle that helps you manage your weight over time. The lack of sustainability and unrealistic long-term changes are why so many diet trends come and go. Do you know anyone who started The Atkins Diet when it was all the rage in 2003 and still follows it til this day? Neither do I.

Keeping up with the Karcrashians

Posted on August 20, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The following blog entry is meant as parody and follows the lives of our fictitious characters Khloe and Kym Karcrashian.

August 19th, 2013

 Dear diary,

 I am so over this day! So I'm watching the TV when my sister, Khloe, comes over and flips the channel. Can you believe her? I'm watching the Real Housewives of Toad Suck, Arkansas and she interrupts it for Judge Judy! I hate that show; it's sooo fake! Just as I'm about to rip out her weave this commercial comes on for this place called PRN of Kansas. Some woman comes on talking about this business like she thinks she's Renee Steven or something. So I watch anyway and the woman is talking about something called Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I guess there's like, lots of diarrhea and stuff and OF COURSE Khloe thinks she has it. She probably just ate bad taquitos or got pregnant or something stupid like that.

 I know I don't have IBS. I don't eat enough to have that. I do have Type II Diabetes and take Lantus but I could still use some help managing it so I called the number at the end of the ad to see if they had anything for that. Turns out they do! A nurse screened me and I actually qualify. I'm also getting paid to be in this thing which means only one thing: SHOPPING!!!I'll talk about it more when I have my 2nd visit next week. Too bad Khloe doesn't fit for anything. She could go shopping too (for clothes to hide her baby bump from mom and dad) LOL!!!

Kym


Fitness: Is there really an app for that?

Posted on August 8, 2013 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

 For many moons, fitness experts have been saying that self-motivation is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Now, in our digitally connected age, our smartphones can act as a personal trainer and motivational speaker. Having trouble staying motivated? How about a text telling you what a great job you're doing, or a calorie counter reminding you of the progress you've made since you began? For a small monthly fee, you can get a personalized workout regimen complete with dietary guidelines, calorie meter, and even positive feedback or firm directives to keep you from slacking.

 

  But how effective is it, really? That depends on who you ask, and there isn't enough long-term data due to the newness of the trend to really know for sure. Speaking personally as one who goes to the gym regularly and only had advice from magazines to learn from and being bold enough to ask people who looked like they know what they're doing what they do to train a certain muscle group, I'm skeptical. I can certainly understand why people turn to their smartphones for help. There's too much information online to narrow down what your needs are if you're just beginning. Joining a gym can be intimidating enough without the added humiliation of feeling like you're the only one there who has no clue as to what you are doing. Trust me, I was there once.

 

 That being said, let me explain the reason for my skepticism. I go to the gym for a number of reasons, but the most important one aside from staying fit is the decompression time. It is a time during the day, perhaps the only time, when I can truly disconnect and focus on something without interruption, without other obligations demanding my attention.  A phone with helpful information on it in the gym is still a phone. A text message saying "great job!" is still a text message.


 This does not mean that I'm totally against it. What doesn't work for me may be great for another. When it comes to getting in shape, losing weight, quitting smoking, etc. it sometimes doesn't matter as much how you got there as long as you've arrived. So what are your thoughts? Are you someone who uses an app to assist with your workouts? How has it worked? Are you someone who exercised for a long time and recently started using a fitness app. How has it helped improve your routine?

America's Obesity Problem

Posted on May 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (1)

  One of the greatest freedoms we enjoy in America is the right to choose. This is evident from the millions of food products lining the shelves of our supermarkets, countless restaurants ranging from fast food to fine dining, as well as take out food, catering, and even vending machines. We even have a cable channel devoted to the preparation and consumption of food. We want for nothing when it comes to our choices in food items. And it shows.

 

The Centers for Disease Control released the sobering announcement last week that the number of states where at least 30 percent of the population is obese has climbed to twelve. Just four years ago only one state fell into that category. It is also little comfort that the one state with an obesity rate under 20 percent, Colorado, would have been considered the heaviest in 1995.

 

So what happened? At what point after 1995 did America begin the slippery-slope into adjustable waistband pants and sensible shoes? The blame ranges from our habits, lack of exercise, additives in food, poor diet, supersized portions at restaurants, so-called "healthy" foods with deceptive labels or marketing, and social and economic status. Lack of personal responsibility is often the biggest culprit, but food companies and government also play a role. The following is a list of my personal thoughts of what contributes to this problem as well as my pet peeves regarding reckless marketing schemes.

 

We don't know that we don't know:

 Unless you happen to be a dietician or someone who is fit and has really brushed up on the most current data regarding healthy eating, chances are you're not alone in your confusion over what really constitutes a healthy diet. Most of us get our information from the news or an article in a magazine. We follow the advice only to find out that the latest study does not support the initial claims that were reported as gospel in the first place. With so many contradictory statements and information, how do you know what works and what doesn't? With the information changing all the time, it's no wonder so many people give up.

 

We haven't identified the habits that keep us unhealthy:

 Do you skip breakfast, or worse, do you start your day with a donut and soda? Is your idea of exercise texting with the opposite hand? Maybe you're eating out several days a week. Whatever the reason is, our minds have come to accept certain rituals and habits as normal but our waistlines think otherwise. In order to truly live a healthy lifestyle, you must identify what has made you unhealthy. Sometimes it's not always obvious. Sugary drinks are a culprit that can even sabotage people who genuinely try to eat and live healthy. I will go into this more when I talk about vitamin water

 

 Eating healthy is an acquired taste:

 All the health rags preach that adults need at least five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day. In addition, we're supposed to supplement this with servings of nuts, fish, and other lean proteins. What they almost always fail to mention is that if a person's diet has mostly been fast food and sodium or sugar-laden snacks, they will still want those things and the flirtation with healthy food will end. A good way to reduce the shock is to introduce these foods gradually by  replacing an unhealthy food with a healthy one. For example, swap chips for baby carrots or a crunchy vegetable that you like, candy for grapes, or a fruit for a donut. It won't happen overnight, but the body will acquire a taste for these things and, along with reducing portion sizes and exercise, one lays the cornerstone for a healthier lifestyle.

 

 So many choices. So much temptation:

 Remember that little neighborhood grocery store where you could just run in and get all your meat, dairy, produce, and dry goods and bypass all those snack foods? Neither do I. What was considered a supermarket 20 years ago would be a general store by today's standards. Many of the aisles in the stores now would not be necessary were it not for so-called convenience foods that have replaced the made-from-scratch nutrition found in home cooking. Add to this the snack aisles jam-packed with those sneaky "mini" treats that actually make us consume more than had we just bought the regular size. Why have three full size Oreos when you can rationalize that it's better to eat a whole bag of minis? Which leads us to...

 

 Deceptive marketing. Buying what they're selling:

 One of the biggest tricks that food manufacturers have pulled on consumers is convincing us that certain things were healthy when in fact they were not. Nowhere is there a more glaring example of this than the product called Vitaminwater. First of all, vitamins are not naturally found in water. Neither is flavoring. Yet, the marketing gurus behind Vitaminwater convinced the public that the product was all natural without ever having to come out and say it. The truth of the matter is that Vitaminwater contains a pinch of synthetic vitamins with no known benefits and as much sugar as some soft drinks. This should come as no surprise since Vitaminwater is produced by soft drink giant Coca-Cola. Similarly, trans fats have come under attack and food companies have found ingenious ways to get around having to identify them in their product. Trans fats are associated with heart disease and obesity. They differ from other fats because the body recognizes trans fat as saturated which raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers the good (HDL).  Many foods may list partially-hydrogenated fats on the label which are the same as trans fats. To help avoid the trans fat trap, look for foods that contain Poly and Monounsaturated fats.

 

 

How good were The Good Old Days?

Posted on January 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

 There has been a lot of talk in the news lately, especially from politicians, about a time not so long ago when things were better, less complicated, idyllic.                             

 To look at the past through rose-colored glasses is certainly understandable, given the uncertainty of the times we're living in and our division over the war, politics, and whether or not Kim Kardashian should get a butt reduction. Some notions from only twenty years ago may seem quaint by today's standards, but just how rosy is the past, really?

 By health and medical standards, not very. Medical science is a progression where looking backward is only a tool for comparing data and measuring what works and what does not. Many soldiers who survived the Civil War lived the rest of their lives with breaks and fractures that never healed correctly or with infections that made them susceptible to other illnesses or left them crippled.

 This was largely due in part to the fact that there were no antibiotics during the Civil War and small infections often led to serious illness. There was also no anesthetic. Often the cure for a broken limb was amputation via a dirty hand saw. The overwhelming numbers of wounded soldiers left no time for sanitation and limited water supplies didn't allow for handwashing between procedures.

 In the 20th century, there were many advancements in medicine: the discovery of penicillin, development of vitamin supplements, development and use of X-rays, development and medical use of insulin to treat diabetics, advances in cancer treatment, and placebo controlled, randomized, blinded clinical trials, but to name a few.

 Clinical trials conducted at PRN of Kansas and other medical research facilities worldwide are heavily regulated to help ensure the safety and privacy of the individuals who choose to participate in them. It has been through trial and error over the last couple of centuries since the earliest controlled medical studies began that we have reached this point, an era where participating in clinical trials has never been safer.

 The latest statistics support that people in the 21st century are living, and will live longer than those in previous generations due to the breakthroughs of medical science. While it may be tempting to long for a simpler time where we were less connected and words like multitasking hadn't yet been coined to replace the expression "working your fingers to the bone", it is helpful to remember that the simple life was not always so simple. And although there is still so much more to do, especially for Cancer, Obesity,  and A.I.D.S research, we are still much further along than we were.

A hot dish for cold weather!

Posted on January 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

 This is a great (and rather healthy) recipe I found online!

Refried Bean Soup

1 lb ground beef

1 can (28 oz) whole stewed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz) refried beans (use 2 cans to substitute for beef for a vegetarian recipe)

1 can (2cups) beef broth (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian variation)

1 can green chiles (optional)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

3 stocks celery

2 peppers (red and yellow)

2 tsp minced garlic (or more if you prefer)

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

 Heat oil in large pot. Rough cut the onion, peppers, and celery and toss in oil with garlic and cook until tender. Brown the ground beef in separate skillet, drain excess grease and add to vegetables. Add the beef stock, cumin, cayenne, chilli powder, tomatoes, refried beans and green chiles and bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes . Using a measuring cup, put the soup in small increments into a food processor or blender and puree. Top with tortilla chips and sour cream or plain greek yogurt for a lower fat option. Serves 6. Enjoy!

The (mis)information age

Posted on January 9, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

  We all get them. A well-meaning but completely uninformed relative or friend forwards an email that carries a dire warning. Whatever this email claims will happen to those who do not heed the warning will be much worse if we do not forward this email to at least everyone in our contact list. This email is vague on sources if it supplies any at all; but the message urgently screaming at us in bold, red, capital letters removes all doubt about its authenticity.

 Welcome to the misinformation age. I once received an email warning of the dangers of margarine. The email claimed that "Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC.." The letter went on to state that if one were to leave a tub of margarine in a garage in the summertime it will not grow mold on it. I once found a tub of margarine that had made its way to the back of the refrigerator and can personally attest that it is possible to grow mold on margarine.

 snopes.com is a great resource for checking the origins of emails with questionable accuracy. My own built-in fact checker tells me that the more alarmist in message and appearance the email is(i.e. flashy visuals, ALL CAPS, "Delete this message if you don't love this country" etc.) the more likely it is to be completely baseless and false.

 Misinformation about medical research is spread much in the same way. Spam emails crowing about class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies are common. On a much grander scale, Hollywood has not been kind in its portrayal of the medical research industry, often portraying research clinics as secretive, government-operated entities run by sadists who use their patients as unwilling guinea pigs.

 While there have been much publicized low-points in medical research, it is worth mentioning that those have been far outweighed by the achievements made through research. Accomplishments such as organ transplants, the deciphering of the structure of DNA, polio vaccines, the discovery of insulin, the use of anesthesia in surgery, and more effective treatments for cancer and HIV/AIDS, but to name a few, were not possible without research.

   It is my hope in writing this blog that I will be able to dispell most of the myths and misperceptions about clinical trials that have been propagated through internet hoaxes and negative media portrayals. Making decisions about our health and our bodies is much easier when we are armed with facts. Now, isn't that something we can all agree is a good thing?

It's a new year. what now?

Posted on January 3, 2012 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

 The Christmas decorations have been taken down, the party hats and whistles swept away. The family is headed home and resolutions have been made. Collectively, we tell ourselves that this year will be different. This is the year that we are going to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, drink less, pray more, fix whatever is broken in our homes and in ourselves. Then the sense of deja vu sets in. Isn't this the same thing we said last year?

 

 Resolutions, as they say, are meant to be broken and the only difference between a true resolution and an empty promise are actions. For a great example of a promise not backed by actions look no further than the gym. January 1st always brings with it a swell of gym memberships. One who goes to the gym regularly can always spot the newbies. They walk around looking perpetually confused and choose machines at random, not knowing what they do or how they work. They engage in stretches and exercises not seen in any video or found in any magazine.

 

 The lack of planning and educating oneself about how to effectively begin an exercise routine inevitably leads to frustration and then failure. Like turtles trying to reach the ocean, only a persistent few make it past the sand. The rest shrug their shoulders and say "'maybe next year'". One can hardly blame those who do give up. We as a society are constantly being told to shape up, get up and move, and eat healthy while we shop at megamarts that offer countless convenience foods and snack aisles. We are bombarded with advertisements for pills that will make us slim and machines that claim we will look like Brad and Angelina even if we look like Danny Devito and Rosie O'Donnell.

 

 The reality is that most of these machines, even when used properly did not deliver the results promised. The diet pills only worked as long as one was willing to take it with a bland breakfast and a "nutritious" shake at lunch and dinner. The disappointment is akin to ordering a mouth-watering steak and only getting parsley. The difference is that parsley will not leave a bad taste in your mouth.

 

 Breaking resolutions is not only relegated to to crash diets and lofty fitness goals. Every year parents tell themselves that they'll spend more time with their children  only to have this goal undermined by a demanding work schedule. Couples who resolved to fix their marriages found that a new year did not necessarily mean a new start for them. So what does it mean then when we make promises to ourselves and don't keep them? Does it mean that we have failed ourselves when this happens, or is a better question whether or not these goals were realistic to begin with?

 

 Resolutions are not a bad thing. They can be followed through. Where they become problematic is when they are made not by our inner-selves, but arbitrarily mandated by a date on a calendar. New Year's resolutions in particular have a built-in failure mechanism because of when they are concieved; most of them are made in the week following Christmas, a time that is generally too busy to think through and carry out decisions that may effect us throughout the year. To put this another way, a resolution is a gift you give to yourself to positively affect your life and the lives of others. Trying to do this in the midst of a season based around the idea of only giving to others makes this nearly impossible.

 

 For a small percentage of the population, the strength-in-numbers approach to setting a goal on the first of the year works. For the rest of us, maybe another strategy is in order.  For someone just beginning at the gym, it can be intimidating trying to figure out where to start. This is where matching the goal with the action becomes important. Was the goal to lose weight? Focus on cardio equipment, walking or running tracks, or swimming and worry about the rest after you have familiarized yourself better. Enlist a friend who has a similar goal or consult with a trainer to help you with your fitness goals.

 

 Are you not spending enough time with your family because you work too much? Maybe something as simple as learning how to say no could fix that. If saying no is not an option, or the requirements of your job force you to choose between work and family, you may have to consider a complete reevaluation of your priorities. Again, a decision such as this requires careful thought and focus that is hard to achieve during the holidays.

 

 The key in these scenarios is that small steps are made in order to make the resolution attainable. Rather than looking at the big picture, it makes more sense to ask if you've looked at the obvious, and go from there. By doing it this way the actions required to achieve each step is not so great that it feels impossible. PRN of Kansas has had a great year because of our volunteers who resolved to be part of the future through medical research. We hope all of you have a great 2012 and that you fulfill all your resolutions both great and small!


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