Friday, March 21, 2014

Protecting The Fertile Garden Of Your Mind

So this morning my daughter's middle school was featured on a local news channel for some accomplishments that are pretty significant.  Kudos to them for being one of only about 130 middle schools in the US to be so focused on getting our kids ready for college at such a young age.  While that is a great accomplishment, that's not what the topic is for this post.  But it leads to it.

To have the chance to watch the spots that featured the school, I obviously had to watch the news.  Now to some people that's not worth mentioning, it just makes sense.  But for me, I almost never ever watch news programs. The only exception is for some sports or weather information.  After the first segment on the middle school, I left the news on while I did some work on the computer this morning.


We all know just how sensational they try to make news programs these days.  This program was no different.  As I sat and listened occasionally to the news reports, I was disgusted by the negativity I heard.  This person shot, this person arrested, child abuse, deaths, car accidents, war, and the list goes on. I cannot tell you how negatively it began to affect me.  When I realized how I was beginning to physically feel badly with that junk being poured into my brain, I immediately switched it off and put on some uplifting Christian music.

I talk all the time about protecting our minds, and the bible speaks to renewing the mind regularly.  When I think of renewing my mind, I think of what I allow into my mind.  I try to feed it with things that build me up, make me a better husband, father, chiropractor, friend and Christian.  Apparently I've been doing a pretty good job of that for a while, because hearing the news was like a shock to my system, much like when I eat very healthy, and suddenly have pizza or cookies and my body reacts to it.  I'm sitting here now typing this just 15 minutes after turning off the TV and I STILL feel the effects of the poison that was filtering into my mind.

Please make protecting the fertile garden of your mind a priority.  Find inspirational books to read.  Find inspirational people to follow on social media.  Find inspirational people to hang around.  Put your mind on a news fast for 21 days.  Don't worry about missing something.  If anything big is happening, you'll hear about it.  Spend time cultivating gratitude.  Try it. You may just be surprised.

Be inspired.  Be inspirational.

Until next well!

Dr. Bruce

Monday, January 20, 2014

Daily Disciplines

So, how do you start your day off?  Are you a snooze button slapping person?  Are you a sleep through the alarm kinda guy?  Are you a set the clock at the latest possible time to allow you to still get to work slurping coffee and munching on a donut as you arrive at your desk?

I hope not too many of you are that way, but, truth is, I used to be one of those.  I'd hit the snooze button (ok, side bar here:  Snooze buttons are of the devil) as many times as I possible could, until I knew that I had just enough time to grab coffee, hit a shower, and rush out the door just in time to see my first patient of the day.

May I just say, that is not the most productive way to start your day?  Well, I'm gonna say it anyway.  It's not the most productive way to start your day.  Period.

I've recently gotten even more serious about my daily disciplines in the morning, and I have to say, it REALLY sets the tone for my day, getting me energized and focused, which makes chances for a healthy, wellness oriented kind of day much higher.  So, here's what I do, not what you have to do, but maybe it will give you some ideas.

First I rise at 5 a.m.  I grab a cup of coffee (with a little bit of Stevia In The Raw, and coconut milk).  I open my bible or devotional book and spend time reading scripture and/or the devotional for the day.  I spend time in silence being grateful to God for the many blessings I get daily.  I pray through the things on my mind and heart.

I review my daily "to do" list.  I add to it, I clarify it, I edit it.  This way I'm pretty focused on the things I must accomplish that day.  I also review my goals for the year, once again creating a high level of focus for me.   I then spend time doing social media, posting health and wellness information to my Facebook or Twitter account.

When that's done it's time for exercise.  Sometimes it's a brief 20 minute brisk walk, followed by some type of resistance workout at my house.  I don't use weights, just my own body weight.  Exercise really gets my energy up, the walk really gets my mind clear, and exercise always makes us feel better about ourselves when we complete it.

When it's time to shower, I crank up the tunes!  I have a playlist of songs that I call "upbeat and energized".  I get them going as I shower, shave and dress for work.  During this time I'll often go through my personal affirmation over and over, creating more energy and more focus on the kind of person I want to be that day.  As I'm driving to work, I usually continue repeating my affirmation, helping me arrive at the office in a peak mental state, ready to perform at my highest and best for the day.

Finally, at the end of the day, I work on my "to do" list for the next day and rest of the week, and right before I go to sleep, I do my "3 Gratitudes" on my iPad.   That really helps me go to sleep on the best note possible, and gives me positive things to review first thing in the morning.  No better way to end the day, or start the day, than with a complete spirit of thankfulness!

I hope that gives you some ideas on how you can start your day better.  Try it, practice it, see what works best for you, so you can show up as YOUR highest and best every day!

Until next time...Be Well!!
Dr. Bruce

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Choose Life

Every day we have choices to make.  What time we wake up?  Do we get out of bed immediately?  Do we eat a good healthy breakfast?  Are we stressed on our way out the door?  Do we eat out of a vending machine for a snack or lunch?  How do we respond to stressful situations during the day?  Do we come home happy?  Do we finish the day off with a healthy meal shared with family or friends?  Do we schedule in time for exercise? Do we spend time in gratitude daily?  Do we read 30 minutes from a good book daily?  Do we go to bed at a regular time?  Do we attend to matters of spirituality?

All of those questions are good ones to evaluate the "wellness status" of our daily lives.  Very few will answer yes to all of those every day, if anyone would.  But they are a great survey for us to base our daily lives on.  There are other questions you could add into the list, my list is far from comprehensive.  Why not create your own list of questions?  What if you started looking at those questions daily as part of your daily disciplines?  How do you think that would impact your life?

I'll tell you the answer to the last one.  It would most likely help you to take steps daily to making your life a bit more healthy, a bit more wellness oriented.  Creating a new "wellness status" is just a matter of taking a few new steps here and there.  And don't be overwhelmed if you answered no to most of the questions listed, or even if you answered no to ALL of them.  Where you are isn't important, where you're going is.

Don't make your life be one of "what ifs", make decisions today to create your future life.  It's in your hands.  Take some time to be a bit introspective.  Choose life!

Until next time...Be well!
Dr. Bruce

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Next Pitch!!

My son has been a baseball pitcher at various levels in baseball since he was about 10 years old.  He's going to be pitching for his local high school again this year it seems.  It's been fun to watch him develop and learn what works best for him.  I'm sad to know that in about 1.5 years his pitching career may be over as he finishes high school.  He has no aspirations for college ball so all the years I've watched him play will come to an end.

I have a lot of great memories of his pitching.  I have great memories of him learning to pitch, and being his catcher as he practiced.  I saw him have GREAT outings.  I saw him struggle.   Now days I don't like catching him as much since I often don't catch the ball in the pocket of the glove and he throws hard enough for it to actually hurt when the ball hits the glove..and my hand haha. But I remember one lesson I taught him years ago.

I taught him a very important lesson when he was struggling to learn to pitch, and missing the strike zone often.  It's called simply, Next Pitch.  I told him that the very millisecond that the ball comes out of his hand toward home plate, he can no longer do anything else about that pitch.  Whether it's strike three, or ball four, or hit over the fence for a home run, he cannot affect it.  All he can do is focus on the next pitch, so don't worry about the last one, just learn from it.  I remember repeating to him "Next pitch" in practice, and sometimes even during a game.

That's life too isn't it?  We cannot affect the last breath we took.  We can't change our last interaction with our loved ones.  We can't do anything about our failings with our health and well being from 2013.  It's over, it's history, done.  So why beat ourselves up over it or get bummed about it?  Learn from your last pitch, and make changes where necessary.

2013 is gone, 2014 is here. Next pitch!

Do me a favor, leave a comment and tell me your opinion on this post. It would be much appreciated!

Until next time....Be Well!
Dr. Bruce

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas And The Perfect Storm

In truth, I love, I mean REALLY love the Christmas season.  I love the meaning of Christmas, I love the chance to see friends and family I've not seen in a while, I love the sounds, the sights, I love the food and fellowship.  There's not much I don't like about the season.  (maybe the extra pounds I have the potential to pack on).

However, the season is ripe with opportunity to get sick.  It's the perfect storm for ill health.  And there's sound, scientific reason for it.  Read on.

One, it's the "cold and flu" season.  There are many theories as to why this particular "season" exists.  Solid evidence points to a lack of Vitamin D in our bodies.  Most of us are deficient in this important vitamin, and even more so in the winter with less sun exposure occurring.  Vitamin D has a major effect on the immune system's function.  Also, we tend to have much drier air all around us, which initially dries out our mucous membranes in our nose and throat, which is a line of defense against bugs and bacteria of all sorts.  So stay hydrated and take your Vitamin D!

Secondly, this time of year, we tend to live a life that is diametrically opposed to the wellness lifestyle.  Remember what I always teach:  Eat well, move well, think well and rest well.  Think just for a second on that.  Isn't this time of year the antithesis to that lifestyle??  I'd vote yes.  Let's see why.

Undoubtedly we tend to be exposed to a LOT more sugar in our body.  And man is it good.  We had a patient bring us a pecan pie on the day before the official start to the holidays.  Very tasty, very sugary, very bad for our immune system.  One sugary meal or drink has been shown to slow down our immune response.  Goodness knows we get plenty of those treats brought out to us, or made by us, during the Christmas season.

This season gets us so busy we can't always exercise as regularly as we'd like.  Sometimes the weather plays a factor.  Sometimes we just get out of our normal routines with holidays coming around.  Or we might even stay up later at a party, causing us to not want to rise and exercise.   Appropriate exercise boosts immunity, sedentary lifestyles depress it.

STRESS!!!!  Nah, there's no stress during the holidays is there?  Didn't think so. Depression is also more common this time of year.  Some people are lonely, some are lacking Vitamin D for the same reasons we spoke of a few paragraphs ago.  Stress certainly depresses our immune system.

Finally, it's PARTY TIME!  Lots of great gatherings are to be found, plenty of opportunity to get out of rhythm with our life cycles, plenty of chances for later nights, plenty of time for hustling and bustling for presents and food......all leading to decreased rest which of course...depresses the immune system.

There we have it, the perfect storm.  Knowledge is power they say, but I disagree.  Applied knowledge is power, so take this information and plot and plan a way to combat it so you can enjoy your season illness free.

Until next time...Be Well!
Dr. Bruce

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thoughts on Gratitude.....(not a belated Thanksgiving post)

Some things come easy.  Unfortunately, some of the things that come easy, aren't that great for us.  Many times the things that come easy are those that just go along with the cultural flow.  It's always easiest to drift downstream, it takes no effort.  And the faster and stronger the current is, the easier it is to go with the flow, and conversely, the more effort it takes to move upstream, to fight against the cultural trends.  These days it's easy to pick a political side and say everything the "other" side does is wrong and evil.  These days it's easy to pull our cars into our garage, close the door behind us and stay secluded in our homes, with hundreds of channels on the TV to watch and dull our senses, laptops, iPads and smartphones to entertain us, and not get out of our comfort zone to develop healthy social relationships.  It's also easy to talk about gratitude all month long in November of every year, it's even trendy to list one thing we're grateful for daily during that month.  But what about the other 335 days a year we have?

Culturally it's easier to complain.  Complain about the weather.  Complain about the boss.  Complain about the kids.  Complain about the spouse.  Complain about our sports team.  Complain about politics.  Everyone does it.  It takes no effort.  It's socially acceptable.  I was in a department store the other day walking around trying to find my wife, and struggling with being successful at it since she isn't much taller than all the racks of clothing in those stores.  In this process I walked by 2 ladies several times that were talking.  Each time I went by I could tell one lady was complaining about something, and speaking of some sort of drama that had been occurring in her life.  Literally she was standing there for 20 minutes going on and on about this situation (or maybe several situations).  It struck me how common this is and how easy we slip into that trend.  Gossip often goes hand in hand with those drama telling moments too.

You know what? Culturally it's also easy to list something, or things, we are grateful for.  But by creating a list, are we really feeling gratitude?  Are we experiencing gratitude on a deep level?  I'd venture to say no.  In our office, when we are dealing with people that suffer from stress, anxiety or depression, one of the "treatments" if you will, is to help them learn how to create and use a gratitude journal.  And yes, in the journal we do list things we are grateful for.  But it's way more than that.

It has been shown physiologically that when we re-live a past experience that evoked a strong emotional response (positive or negative), the same changes that occurred in us when we went through the event, re-occur.  So, re-live the experience, re-experience the positive or negative physiological changes in our body.  So, when we get people doing a gratitude journal, we tell them to list the thing they're grateful for, and also, and most importantly, to list the "why" for the gratitude.  In other words, think about why you were grateful for that event or person.  By doing so, you begin to re-live it and recreate the positive physiological experiences in your body!  That's not only just plain good stuff, it's truly healthy for you too!

Here's the deal, just take time every day, in the morning over coffee, or in the evening as you prepare for rest, and work on your gratitude journal (or better yet, both times of the day).  List three things from the day, or the previous day that you are grateful for and why you are.  Spend time re-living it, and re-experiencing it.  Note how you feel before and compare it to afterward.  Give it your all, and make it part of your lifestyle, your ever developing and evolving wellness lifestyle!

Remember, it's easier to complain, and that's not healthy!

Until next time...Be Well!!
Dr. Bruce

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What Are You Thinking?

Most people will admit to letting too much bad stuff get into their lives with their diet. Whether it's oreos, crackers, cake etc., we all know those things that we need to cut out to move forward on the wellness spectrum with regards to what we eat..  Those things are easy to spot.  One of the ways we can get those things out of our life is to fill our life (plate) with an abundance of good healthy things and eat those first.  Dr. James Chestnut always says "Fresh Fiber First", and it's a great way to not leave any room for the bad stuff.  This concept works well in our diet, and can work well in other areas too.  Follow me.

One aspect of health many of us neglect I think is in the area of our mental well being.  Often we focus on eating and exercising, and those are very important legs in our "Wellness Formula" of Eat, Move, Think, and Rest Well.  Let's spend some time on the "Think Well" this morning.  To begin, I like to ask "What are you allowing into your head space?"  What TV shows are you watching?  What music do you listen to?  What gossip do you allow?  What negative thoughts pervade your life?  What negative PEOPLE do you allow?  What stressful situations seem to overwhelm you?  Thing about those for a second.  I'm sure if you're like me, you just came up with some surprising answers...maybe some painful realizations.

Fear not though, let's not focus on those things, instead, let's focus on putting "Fresh Fiber First" for our mental health.  Start asking yourself better questions than those I just asked.  What books could you read that would move you in a positive direction?  What new exciting things can you get involved with that allow you to perform at your highest and best?  What new friendships can you develop that build you up?  What things are you grateful for?  What can you fill your mind with that is uplifting and encouraging?  Maybe even ask who you can be an encourager to (because when you lift up someone else, you can't help but rise with the tide!).

Scripture tells us "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)Why not take the time this weekend to focus on adding in true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable things to your life?  Even if it's just one new good habit for you, it will help crowd out one of the bad ones.  Eventually, if you pour enough good stuff into your head and life, the world will look different, your attitude will improve, you'll find more peace and satisfaction, and you'll wonder how you ever even had time for the mental junk food you previously allowed in your world!

Until next time...Be Well!!

Dr. Bruce