Monthly Archives: June 2014

Big Impact: Minimal Effort

Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely eat a food that’s been artificially flavored, chemically preserved or enhanced or overly processed. I eat organic eggs, chicken and wild caught seafood. I feel good about that, but in thinking further, I realize that my choices have a greater impact on the planet and on its people.

its-a-wonderful-life-bellThen I began to wonder what that impact really was. I could surmise some of it, but I truly don’t know … How can anyone, really? Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a Wonderful Life” didn’t have a clue how the world would be changed without him. That’s true for each of us and it got me thinking about the effect of human action or inaction and how each impacts the universe.

If we tried to think of the effect of each choice, from turning on the water to wash our face to our decision about whether or not to have children, we’d not get out of bed, but we could, just for a moment, think about how we are connected.

Simple things like plumbing and soap connect us in myriad ways. Consider the elements required to make the soap, the pipes and connections and the systems required to bring the water into your house. Each piece has people and resources attached to it: faucetchemists, engineers, salespeople, factory workers, miners, advertising execs and graphic designers, actors to sell the soap in commercials, cameramen, distributors, delivery drivers, shippers, shelf stockers, store managers, customer service workers, cashiers. And there’s waste treatment and garbage on the back side with all of it’s equipment, machinery and people. There’s the water itself and where it’s coming from and how using it impacts its source. Then there’s the energy required for all of these things … all so that you can get up and wash your face.

Each action; infinite connections …

So, that impact I’m trying to figure out is almost impossible because without a Jimmy Stewart moment, there’s no way for me to see the impact of each choice. However, as responsible, thinking adults, we can try to envision the impact of some of our choices:

By choosing to eat food that is organic, untreated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers, not fed hormones and antibiotics, we might just save a family farmer, or reduce the cancer incidence due to the carcinogens found in those chemicals. We’ll help to reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity.

The farm workers who pick the crops will be healthier and so will their children because the workers won’t return home with pesticides on their hands and clothing … one of those families might give birth to a child who goes on to become a physician or teacher, instead of a person with physical or mental challenges.

As for water, we can use less by turning it on and off responsibly, using water-saving devices, landscaping with tolerant plants and being aware that water does not flow from a never-ending source. It is finite.

What else? We can buy from companies that treat their employees fairly, with dignity and respect: Talk about long-term benefits!

How will all of this thinking change my habits? I admit to being aware before but I put my blinders on when I went shopping. That changes today. I will quit shopping at Wal-Mart and set a timer when I water my plants. I will use the dishwasher rather than hand wash and make sure that my clothes washer loads are full. I already have water saving devices.

While I was looking for images I came across a photo (copyrighted) of migrant workers with their faces in the strawberry and tomato plants. Many had kerchiefs over their nose and mouth, but that’s not much of a filter for chemical dust. I will picture them when I look at the price of conventional vs. organic strawberries and opt for the long term value. Buying more organic produce will mean that I’ll have to choose less expensive alternatives in other areas. Beans and rice anyone? (A fabulously healthy option that tastes great!)

Choices with impacts unknown … our day is full of them. Take a minute, once in awhile, to think about the seemingly simple things that are actually complex and how our connections create our world. We can impact the world with our choices. We can be cognizant or turn a blind eye. It’s our choice.

Better health and weight loss aren’t just about eliminating junk food and exercising, they’re also about self esteem.  Making compassionate choices just makes a person feel good about themselves!

Blessings,
Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach
simplifying healthy lifestyle changes
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Get Happy! (The Practical Health Coach says, “It’s way easier to be healthy when you’re happy.”)

It’s hard to be healthy if you’re unhappy. Motivation is harder, discipline is harder, well, life is harder. The last thing we want when we’re down is to challenge ourselves.

I’ve never been a miserable person, but today I’m a happy kind of person. It began when I decided to start my day with positivity. I’d love to take credit, but credit goes to a book that seemed to jump off the shelf at Borders one day about 8 years ago: Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude. The book seemed to be screaming at me a lot of the time, but it started the habit that changed my life.

Mr. Gitomer suggests that we spend a bit of time reading positive, inspirational things every day for 10-15 minutes. When I read empowering messages I must make notes or write about what I’m experiencing in the moment. That is what led to my journaling habit.

There are a lot of people telling us to journal, begin a gratitude practice, change our thinking and change our minds, but for me, at that time, the whole thing seemed so new and fresh and I felt at home with the idea of reading motivational material daily. I am so grateful that I did, and you will be too.

It’s important to learn ways to raise your happiness level. Jeffrey Gitomer’s book is one way. Another is Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage. 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 one of my favorite TED talks he outlined a simple process designed to achieve results in 21 days. (Watch the video. It could be the best twelve minutes of your life!)

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 the suggestions as I regularly journal and most days there is a lot of gratitude. I also exercise gently every morning, and meditate on many days. Wouldn’t you like to get happier? Who wouldn’t?

It’s easy to effect a change toward a better, more focused brain! For more information, I recommend one, or both of the books above. (At the very least, watch the video.)

Blessings,
Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach
simplifying healthy lifestyle changes™

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The Failure of Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz was wonderful when he was on the Oprah show. Dr. Phil was wonderful when he was on the Oprah show, but both of their shows have degraded the very thing that made them so terrific when seen once a week … their information was fresh and delivered in such a charismatic way that we all looked forward to their segments and they didn’t have to settle for any story less than life-changing.

HypeUnfortunately, when you have to fill an hour, five days a week, week after week, the information gets really stale, really fast. I’m sorry, but you can only talk about poop once and make it fascinating. What then? Showmanship begins to take the place of good medicine. In Dr. Phil’s case his show quickly succumbed to a Jerry Springer-esque peep show atmosphere. Dr. Oz on the other hand, chose to rely on hype and ploys to make you think that this next best thing is better than the last one and the one before that.

YIKES!!

It’s pretty sad when an apparently well-respected physician tells a United States Senate Panel,

“If the only message I gave was to eat less and move more,
which is the most important thing people need to do,
we wouldn’t be very effectively tackling this challenge,
because viewers know these steps and they still struggle.
So we search for tools and crutches for short-term support
so people can jump-start their programs.”

And in another attempt to defend his choices, “I would rather have a conversation about these materials on my stage than in back alleys.” Seriously? When was the last time any of you had a discussion about a ‘miracle diet pill’ in a back alley? Fewer people would take any of these miracle products if they didn’t know about them from Dr. Oz himself.

Even with the explosion of junk diet pills as a result of his show, the biggest danger from magic diet pills (or any pills for that matter) has come from pharmaceutical companies pushing badly vetted prescription drugs.

In an article today, titled Celebrity Turns a Good Doctor into a Snake Oil Pitchman, Dr. Manny Alvarez said, in reference to his possibly being jealous of Dr. Oz’s success, “… I care too much about the truth of medicine, so if I were to have a show, it would probably last two episodes.” Exactly!

What is the answer? How about actually telling the audience what is in their best interests? Quit ‘jump-starting’ things badly and tell people the truth. It’s our just-give-me-a-pill-for-it culture, spear-headed by pharmaceutical and supplement companies out to make the most money possible, that’s responsible for people needing to get that quick fix whether it’s a virus that needs to run its course, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes or losing ten pounds: Just give me a pill for it.

Dr. OzDr. Oz has the platform to actually make a difference but instead he’s making money for himself and for charlatans that sell the junk he pushes.
If he would start working with people to actually help them get healthy his ratings might go down, but imagine if he had regular challenges with real people learning how to change their diet? Imagine if he took some of that money and had several hundred health coaches working with people on how to make changes work in their daily lives … That would be change worth taking to Capitol Hill!

Whether it’s weight loss or better health, there is no magic pill. What is there? Simple changes over time. It works.

I’ll tell you how to jump start your weight loss: Go for a walk. Fix yourself a green smoothie. Add in fabulous veggies and fresh fruit. Eat clean and follow Michael Pollan’s advice, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And if you want to stay on track by adding in things that will support your goals, hire a Certified Health Coach who can simplify healthy lifestyle changes.™

Blessings,
Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices™

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The Magic of Magnesium

Are you cranky, feel weak, have low energy or trouble with blood sugar making it harder to lose weight? Read on!

Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. 1

Necessary for energy production, structural development of bone and for the synthesis of DNA. It plays a role in transporting calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes which is critical to nerve conduction, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm.

Energy production is quite complicated and involves dozens of chemical reactions in a complex choreography of relationship and sequence. When those chemicals don’t follow the dance steps exactly as they should, we don’t get the energy production we should. Without magnesium, the dance falls apart.

Those of you who’ve been in any of my classes, or has read my blog for any length of time know that inflammation is the enemy! Diets low in magnesium have been linked to increases in the inflammatory process.For example, one large clinical trial found that a Nordic diet strategy—a diet rich in fish, whole grains, and vegetables as sources of magnesium—led to a suppression of the important inflammatory trigger interleukin1. 2

Diets low in magnesium, a cofactor for over 100 enzymes involved in blood sugar control and glucose metabolism, are a likely contributor to Type 2 Diabetes. Glucose metabolism is a key factor in weight loss. 2

It is suggested that over half of Americans suffer from low magnesium.

These diseases can be impacted by habitually low intakes of magnesium:

  • Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis (according to WHF, “…the existing research, together with the frequency of magnesium-deficient diets, suggests that low magnesium may be an underappreciated contributor to bone loss.”
  • Migraine Headaches: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health, all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. 3
  • Depression

How to get your magnesium in your diet

Since there aren’t any routine blood tests that reflect the body’s magnesium stores,3 it’s a good idea to eat a diet rich in whole spinachplant foods including beans, greens, nuts, seeds and whole grains. That way you are unlikely to have a problem. Here is a selection of foods from World’s Healthiest Foods website. Bear in mind that many more veggies and beans are great choices. This is a list of the top 13.

  1. Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) 47.7% DV (Daily Value)
  2. Spinach (1 cup) 39.2% DV
  3. Swiss Chard (1 cup) 37.6% DV
  4. Soybeans (1 cup) 37% DV
  5. Sesame Seeds (1/4 cup) 31.6% DV
  6. Black Beans (1 cup) 30.1%DV
  7. Quinoa (3/4 cup) 29.6% DV
  8. Cashews (1/4 cup) 29.2% DV
  9. Sunflower Seeds (1/4 cup) 28.4% DV
  10. Navy Beans (1 cup) 24.1% DV
  11. Buckwheat (1 cup) 21.4% DV
  12. Pinto Beans (1 cup) 21.4% DV
  13. Brown Rice (1 cup) 21% DV

Other great sources in descending order are Barley, Lima Beans, Millet, Kidney Beans, Oats, Tofu, Almonds, Rye, Wheat, Flax Seeds, Green Peas, Tuna, Summer Squash, Scallops, Collard Greens and Beets (1 cup of beets has 9.8% DV.)

Sadly, the Standard American Diet leaves room forburger the likelihood of a dietary deficiency of magnesium. Even with fortification and a multivitamin, most Americans only get, on average, three quarters of the daily value (DV).

Added to the poor diet that most Americans eat, is the stress that seems to be prevalent in our society. Stress can cause excretion of excessive amounts of magnesium.

beansWhat we need is food plan packed with magnesium-rich foods and some stress reduction techniques on the side! So, here are some guidelines:

It’s actually pretty simple to achieve the DV by eating two servings per day of green leafy vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds. So, if you made a smoothie with a two cups of spinach and ate two ounces of pumpkin seeds, you’d be good to go. Have a nice salad, include spinach and top with sunflower seeds and some edamame and you’re on your way with one meal!

Need to get your stress level under control? Get up ten minutes early, or after work take a few minutes in your car (parked please), and listen to a ten-minute guided meditation. These tools will help you in so many ways. There are several options at www.youtube.com. My favorite is a Chakra Meditation that’s just under nine minutes long.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that soaking in anbath Epsom Salt bath not only relieves stress, it’s also a lovely way to get a nice dose of magnesium and sulfate both. Increase magnesium levels and achieve the stress-relief to stop excessive excretion … plus you’ll soothe muscles and get softer skin. What a deal! (Add a drop or two of lavender essential oil to increase the calming effects.)

Magnesium isn’t something you want to be tracking each day. Instead, just pick some of foods high in magnesium and make a plan to include them in your diet on a regular basis. You’ll be adding not only the benefit of magnesium, but all of the other benefits that come from eating a diet rich in whole, healthy foods.

There are some factors other than a diet low in magnesium-rich foods that can cause a magnesium deficiency. These include high blood sugar, age and medications.

  1. National Institutes of Health (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/)
  2. World’s Healthiest Foods (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=75#function)
  3. NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22426836)

 

Are The ‘I Shoulds’ Swirling Around In Your Head?

Shoulds“I should … ”

You fill in the blank. Maybe it’s “I should eat more vegetables” or, “I should exercise more” or,”I should eat less” or, “I should quit eating fast food or junk food,” or “I should get up and take Sparky for a walk,” or … STOP!!!

A strange thing happens with shoulds; We begin to ignore them. Sounds good, right? Not so much. While we’re ignoring them, we’re still thinking them. We think them every time we do the opposite of what we think we should be doing. That thinking is a stressor; that creates a physical change in our body releasing a hormone, cortisol, that actually depletes energy and makes it harder for us to lose weight. Oh joy.

What to do? You’re going to hate me for this. When your shoulds relate to health improvement, you should do the shoulds, because you’re right, you should.

Don’t leave yet …

What I want you to start with is actually defining the shoulds in your head. Instead of, “I should eat more vegetables,” or, “I should exercise,” I want you to actually think about vegetables or exercise and which ones you like and how you might enjoy them. It might go something like this.

“I should eat more vegetables. What kind of veggies? Ummm … I don’t know, I kind of like peas and maybe broccoli when I dip it in dressing. I love salads but they’re a real hassle. Ummm … I like carrots and celery and I love, love, love green peppers and cucumbers. John ordered edamame at the restaurant the other night and it was tasty. Oh, and I love brussel sprouts, they are delicious!”

The next step in the process is to change the shoulds into actions.  From the example above, you’ve started identifying alternatives and soon you could catch yourself thinking, “I should eat more vegetables,” and immediately change it to, “I think I’ll stop at the salad bar on the way home and make a nice, big salad to have with dinner.” Of course you could also say a number of other things including cooking up some broccoli or cutting up some celery and carrots to serve with hummus before dinner or as a snack.

If it’s exercise you should be doing, you could list out things that you enjoy that involve movement. Dancing, walking the dog, riding a bike, playing chase with the kids, Wii Fit, group classes, swimming … Whatever it is that you love. Then you can change your vague should into, “I think when I get home I’ll play chase with the kids,” or “I think I’ll take my swim gear with and stop at the pool on the way home. They have a day rate and I’ll see how it goes!”

When you become aware of the shoulds and you begin to define them rather than let them hang out in your head as negative judgments, you’ll be developing tools that will allow you to create an action plan and taking action dispels the stress. It’s through awareness that we are able to make lasting change.

Can’t figure out what you should be doing or how to fit your shoulds into your busy schedule? That’s where I come in! As a Certified Holistic Health Coach I teach people how to fit healthy choices into their busy lifestyles. I do it using my own Step-by-Step Approach that’s tailored for each individual’s life, likes and dislikes … That’s why it works!

For more information, or to schedule a helpful, motivating Strategy Session, contact me:nancy@healthworkskc.com

Blessings!
Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices™

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All or Nothing: My Story

NOI am definitely an all or nothing kinda gal! I often take things out of my diet to see what results, and usually don’t have a lot of trouble doing it. As I said in Monday’s blog, it’s easier for me to just say no. Gluten? None. Dairy? None. Sugar? None. That’s what works best, but … I went through several months recently when I just wasn’t able to sustain it.

Why? I guess I don’t feel bad enough when I cheat small. A piece of garlic bread on Sunday might cause a sneezing fit and itchy eyes. Ice cream on Friday brings on bloating and some minor digestive issues; Not too bad.

But this is how the real trouble starts. You see, Sunday is the start and while I might wait until Friday to cheat again in the first week, the next week I’m cheating on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. At that point my whole system is on overload and a single sneezing episode turns into two and my intestines feel like they’re being strangled by a boa constrictor.

As bad as I feel, it’s the silent damage that’s happening to my cardiovascular, endocrine and pulmonary systems that is even more worrying. Inflammation, the underlying factor in most chronic diseases, is now rampant.

I’m fast approaching 65 years old and I haven’t had to visit a physician for anything other than routine screenings for five years. Why? Because I choose to eat real foods that don’t cause inflammation in my system. If I continue to flirt with the exact foods that my system reacts to, it won’t be long before I join millions and millions of people my age (and younger) who are on prescription drugs for high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma and allergies.

I refuse to do that. So, even though I’ve not had any for awhile, today, in front of this audience, I recommit to:

  • No Dairy
  • No Gluten
  • No Sugar

Not for one day or until Sunday … For all days. There are so many delicious options. Even for ice cream without added sweetener. There are no good excuses for my cheating, so I’m just not going to.

What about you? Is there something that will improve your health that you’ve been resisting taking out of your diet? Would you like to commit to giving it up? Just comment below, and everyone who reads this will be there supporting you! Give it a few months and you’ll find that, you won’t really miss it. It’s when you cheat and have that small amount that makes you miss it more.

All or nothing. That’s me.

Blessings!
Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices™

 

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Ask the Health Coach: Does it Have to be All or Nothing?

1 a practical health coach

A participant in one of my Gluten Free 101 classes asked, “Does it have to be all or nothing?” The answer is yes and no. We’ll talk about gluten first, but then we’re going to touch on the other biggies: sugar and dairy.

If you have Celiac Disease it is a resounding “YES!” You cannot even have something that’s come in contact with a utensil, plate or appliance that’s been used with gluten-containing foods. So, if you toast, you have your own toaster. Most of the people I’ve talked to with Celiac say that their homes are basically gluten free. Otherwise it’s just too hard to not ingest something that’s been cross-contaminated.

Gluten Sensitive people can usually tolerate small amounts of gluten without major issues, however I always recommend eliminating 100% of gluten for 3 months to make sure your system has cleared it all and has had some time to mend. After that, you might find that a small piece or bite of cake at a party doesn’t cause you any, or just slight discomfort and you might decide to allow a slip-up now and then.

In general, whether it’s dairy, gluten or sugar, I find it easier to just say no. When I fall into the I-can-have-one-bite syndrome it usually ends badly (See Thursday’s blog for that story.) and so I just prefer to not even go there. Food corporations design their food to be addictive. They know what chemicals and ingredients, what percentages of sugar, fat and salt will bring you running. Breaking the cycle is the only way to beat it.

If instead of totally eliminating all gluten or dairy you might want to spend a few months trying out different gluten-free or dairy-free products to see which ones make the grade. You can even blend things together to make it easier to adapt to the change. For example, mixing half dairy and half almond milk for a week, then increase the almond milk over time to where you are dairy milk free.

Try out some gluten free cereals and breads before you go 100%. (I’m not crazy about any of the breads so far. I’m planning to make my own one of these days to see how that works, but Trader Joe’s or Tinkyada’s Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta is great if cooked properly.) I’ve used Udi’s Whole Grain bread the most. I only like it toasted nice and dark. Their hot dog buns are pretty good if lightly toasted. There are a wealth of gluten free crackers and chips and most Mexican restaurants serve a multitude of gluten free dishes; Just ask. Many Chinese restaurants will substitute gluten-free soy sauce and rice noodles when asked. (Blue Koi in KC is my fave and they carry my favorite GF Beer, Estrella Daura!)

For me, sugar is definitely all or nothing. If I allow it into my diet it creeps up to alarming proportions over a few weeks, so I am back on the no-sugar wagon! If you’re someone who can have one piece of candy or a serving of ice cream a day … go for it! I highly recommend using fruit as your sweet treat of choice and have posted a few great summer treats on this blog. If you need extra sweetener, I recommend NuNaturals Liquid Stevia.

So, as you move into a diet that is free of a specific food, you’ll have to determine which way works best for you, but what I’ve found is that total elimination is the easiest way to get over cravings for what you’re eliminating. Martina Navratilova, upon going gluten free said this, “Don’t concentrate on what you can’t have. Concentrate on what you can have. Although I was initially challenged by a gluten-free diet, I’ve been able to find many alternatives to my favorite foods, from gluten-free beer to gluten-free oatmeal and bread.”

Whatever the food you need to eliminate, I wish you success!
Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices™