Monthly Archives: March 2012

Word Wednesday – Chiggers

Yow! What has been causing the rash (pun intended) of bites that I’ve been dealing with recently? Are they from mosquitoes, spiders … What?? I’ve figured it out. Well, truth be told I didn’t figure it out. I showed the most recent three or four to a friend and she said, “Looks like chiggers!” I said, “What the heck are those?”

I’d heard the term but had thought it was a catchall for anything that caused an itch when you were in the woods. Not so. Chiggers are little spider mite larvae that create a microscopic feeding tube (a stylostome) on your body and feed on your tissue as it breaks down. Joy. The itch is your body’s reaction to the stylostome.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has a fun website about discovering nature. The bad news? Chiggers! There is a wealth of information about how to reduce the number of bites … becoming a guy would be a big plus since they bite more women than men. From a different website I learned that they love wet leaves. This is beginning to make perfect sense! I’ve been clearing out the leaves that I had piled on my garden beds last fall which was the last time I suffered an explosion of insane itching. (I see a fabulous excuse in this!)

As a health coach I find it interesting that all of the information I found about chigger bites report that they aren’t a health concern unless you itch too much and cause infection. I beg to differ. As a past and current sufferer, I am fully aware that my immune system is working overtime trying to deal with the invading substance; therefore my hard working immune system will be challenged by anything else that comes along.

If you are suffering an assault on your immune system it is in your best interest to increase its nutritional support. That means eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get as many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals as you can from natural sources. Use olive oil on your colorful salads and include onion, garlic, radishes and pepper. Choose high quality protein such as wild caught salmon, cod, shrimp and pastured, organic eggs. Reduce or eliminate red meat, fried food and dairy. Supplement with Omega3 and a high quality supplement.

So, not only is my immune system launching an all out war on stylostomes, it is suffering under the attack of my stress reaction to all of this itching. I am blessed to be working from home so I can: a) itch, b) soak in a tub and c) whine to the dog. Actually I’ve been taking an antihistamine, going for long walks with Mikey the Wonder Dog, taking hot showers and doing some deep breathing. (The hot showers intensify the itch for a bit, but then it goes away for a couple of hours.)

Bottom line here is that although the ‘authorities’ say there’s no physical issue other than itching, your immune system will thank you for the support you offer. Eat well, take your mind off of it and try to relax … breathe.

Relapse Prevention & Sugar Addiction

I’ve had a long history with friends and loved ones in AA, plus I nearly finished my degree to become an Addictions Counselor several years ago, so I know a thing or two about addiction and relapse. When it comes to sugar and refined flour (sugar in a different form) I recognize an addiction when I see one. I am addicted to sugar.

One night, this normally healthy eater found herself in a sugar stupor after having eaten 15 … one at a time 15 … mini Milky Ways. 15. I admit it had been a difficult few days, but typically, if I found myself in an emotional eating frame of mind, I would head for the carrots, celery, romaine or apples. This was a full-on relapse into the old unhealthy sugar jar!

I don’t keep candy in my house. This was in the house because Unity Church of Overland Park was doing an outreach program in which members put together Easter baskets for people who wouldn’t otherwise receive them and I was putting together a couple of baskets. Of course I thought I’d just have a couple of those little mini’s … yeah, right! How quickly we forget that we are just one mini Milky Way away from a date with a sugar coma!

I did what any self-respecting addict in recovery would do: I accepted responsibility and acknowledged my mistake, and then I created a Relapse Prevention Plan. I highly recommend it. Work toward identifying your triggers so that BEFORE you jump on those Milky Ways or Snickers or potato chips or ice cream you recognize what’s happening and go directly to your plan to prevent it. It’s an especially helpful tool when you’ve gone a long time without having a problem and all of a sudden find yourself heading into the danger zone.

To offer you ideas for how to proceed, here is mine:

  1. Check my Nourishment Menu*
  2. Remember that it is an addiction and that I’m not capable of having just one regardless of how hard I try to convince myself that I can.
  3. Call my relapse buddy.
  4. Have faith that the craving will go away.
  5. Journal about the situation.
  6. Do something physical: Dance, walk, exercise … whatever.
  7. Have a cup of Bancha Tea.
  8. Brush my teeth.
  9. Limit salty foods since they lead to the body wanting to balance itself with sugar
  10. Eat carrots … even if I don’t want to … do it anyway.

*Nourishment Menu—this is a menu of things you enjoy doing that nourish you in other ways. For me it includes:

  1. Bubble Bath
  2. Take Mikey the Wonder Dog (TWD) for a walk
  3. Brush Mikey TWD
  4. Pick a positive quote or affirmation and create a graphic using it
  5. Look through my photos for pictures that would work well in my blog/books
  6. Knit (I’ve been making my granddaughter a scarf for Christmas for two years. I like knitting, but forget about it.)
  7. Dance/Walk/Exercise (nourishing because I get satisfaction from it)

My recovery pledge: I will

  • Become aware of the behavior that signals potential problems.
  • Ask a friend or two to be my relapse buddies.
  • Go through my relapse prevention plan before I head to my substance of choice.

I would love to hear about the Relapse Prevention Plans that you develop. Please send them to me via comments here or go to my website to send them privately.

It’s Not Trivia Tuesday – Fibromyalgia

Even if it’s rainy and gray for what seems like the first time in months, I am enjoying this first day of spring. There are birds galore and many of the flowering trees are in full bloom. I can’t decide what my favorite is; Red Buds or Dogwoods. Lucky me, I have both in my back yard and they bloom one right after the other! Soon my tulips will be open and I’ll have a hard time pulling myself away from the front door!

As the season of growth begins I, too am beginning a new journey. I decided that I want to coach people with fibromyalgia (and/or fatigue) so that they can regain their vitality. I suffered with fibromyalgia and the resulting pain, fatigue and brain fog. Today I am symptom free! (Well, maybe a little brain fog now and then.) My journey inspired me to enroll at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I got the formal education in nutrition and lifestyle coaching that enables me to help others on their journey to good health.

The first step in beginning to feel better is to eat better. The brilliant colors of spring fill my head with images of brightly colored salads made with fresh fruits and vegetables. I realize the time for farmer’s markets and fresh produce stands is getting closer … I AM READY! At this time of year it gets easier than ever to eat fresh. My salads have begun to look like a rainbow: Romaine lettuce, bright red radishes, a little yellow pepper, orange carrots, green onions, purple onions, almond slices and a handful of blue, red or blackberries and a few slices of clementines. I top it with a balsamic/olive oil/ raw honey concoction … Serious YUM!!

Take the first step toward good health. I know you would rather rejoice in spring than suffer from the pain and/or fatigue that accompanies a change in season.  If you’d like to find out more about how to feel better visit my website and contact me for a free health consultation. Don’t live in the KC area? No problem. I coach over the phone as well. Recent studies show that there is no difference in outcome whether coached in person or via phone … Could one conversation change your life? You bet!

Tuesday Tips – Happiness!

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

In this book, Mr. Achor talks about how putting positivity first improves intelligence, creativity, productivity and energy. He calls this the Happiness Advantage and during a recent TED talk he outlined a simple process designed to achieve results in 21 days.

Every day list three things you’re grateful for, journal on a positive experience that occurred in the last 24 hours, exercise, meditate, and perform an act of kindness such as sending a positive email praising or thanking someone in your social, family or work network.

I can attest to most of the suggestions as I regularly journal and most days there is a lot of gratitude. I also exercise gently every morning, and occasionally meditate. I am now committing to daily meditation and instituting a practice of daily kindness.

It’s all so easy to effect a change toward a better, more focused brain! For more information, I recommend the TED talk (He’s an entertaining speaker!) and/or purchasing his book.



Self-care Saturday – Brain Care!

Keeping your brain young and vibrant is an excellent way to practice self-care. Today I’m combining it with the gadgets in our lives.

Do you want to put a positive spin on this fast-paced world of technology?Every time you turn around, it’s something new: New applications, changed applications, new operating systems, smart televisions, smart phones that connect to smart televisions … just when you get comfortable with it, it changes. YIKES!

The good news? Dr. Andrew Weil says it’s just that kind of learning, the kind that pulls you out of your comfortable routine that keeps your brain young. The next time you find yourself cursing the advancements to your favorite gadget; totally frustrated because you can’t find the way to do what it is you’re trying to do, stop the cursing and send a silent, “Thank you” to the developers.

Now, to practice what I preach!

Wednesday’s Word is Moderation

How can you impact your health and the health of the planet, the animals and global hunger? Practice moderation.

Wow! Simple.

To see a significant improvement in your health and impact the world at the same time, moderate the processed foods and increase the whole foods. First decide what processed foods you want to keep in your diet. It can change from week to week. Go with your desires.

Do you salivate at the idea of freshly baked bread? Eat it. Savor it. Rejoice in its perfection … Once a week. Is your idea of heaven apple pie? McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese? French Fries? A juicy steak cooked to perfection? French toast slathered with butter and syrup? Barbeque? A crazy bleu cheese-bacon-double cheeseburger? Eat it. Savor it. Rejoice in its perfection … But choose carefully and only indulge once a week … Moderation.

Americans have forgotten the life-giving nature of whole foods: Blueberries and strawberries, oranges and melon, lettuce mixes, red peppers, radishes, celery and carrots, beautiful colorful vegetables; the colors of the rainbow nurture our health and give us incredible energy.

You can’t take a supplement and get even close to the same benefits as eating the food. Scientists have discovered that it’s not about one nutrient in a food; it’s about the interaction of all of the nutrients in that food.

Great news! It doesn’t require much effort to create a healthy meal. Most grocery stores have salad bars loaded with whole foods. Just pass up most of the heavy, creamy, pasta salads in favor of fresh, whole foods. Top your colorful salad with some beans and dress with vinegar, olive oil, some seasonings and a scoop of sunflower seeds or almonds. DINNER!

The United States has become a nation of gluttons eating with abandon whether hungry or not, choosing to ignore the horror required to fill each plate and willing to defer the high price of their choices: Poor health; physically, psychologically and monetarily, and a planet that cannot sustain the destruction.

Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food,” said it best, “Eat less, mostly plants.”

I wish you good health … physically, psychologically and monetarily!