Monday, November 8, 2010

The Art Of Being Grateful

It's Thanksgiving, and a time when we are supposed to give thanks. But do we? Or do we look at this holiday only as a time to stuff our faces, sit around and watch football, and hang out with family? There's nothing wrong with that, and I'll probably do a little of each. But, are we thankful? Really Thankful?

You'd be surprised at the benefits of living a life of gratefulness. It changes your whole physiology (your insides). Studies have shown that practicing gratefulness has a whole myriad of health benefits. It can literally add years to your life, and life to your years.

There are several ways to start living this style of life. I teach my patients these when they are having issues with depression or with anxiety. One would be to buy a small notebook that you keep with you. You can use this as your gratefulness journal. You can either carry it with you and write in it as the day goes by about what your grateful for, or you can have a specific time every day that you sit down to use it. Every day, your task is to write down 5 things you are grateful for. Now, the goal is not just to create a list of things you are thankful for, but to experience exactly why you are thankful. How do we do that?

When you pick something you are thankful for, don't just write it down. Instead, write it down, then write a brief sentence or two as to WHY you are grateful. For instance, if I were to write down I am grateful for my wife, I'd might say the following: "I am grateful for my wife because she is beautiful inside and out, and I could not ask for a better mom for my kids. I enjoyed sitting with her by the fire pit and just shooting the breeze last night". That is a real example that I used recently.

You can do that once a day and list 5 things, or you can go through the day and write things down as they come to you or you experience them. Or you can do a combination of the two where you spend 5 minutes writing in your journal daily, but you also keep it with you so you can write down other things that you might experience throughout the day. If you're ever feeling down, stressed, depressed or frustrated, take it out and read through some of the entries.

Lastly, every night before you fall asleep, think on those things again. The bible tells us in Phillipians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, 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." So every night review your day and focus on those things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable etc and be thankful for them. It's a great way to drift off to sleep.

Until next time...BE WELL

Dr. Bruce

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beating The "Holiday 5"

Yes the holidays are upon us. In just a few short weeks, turkey with stuffing, apple pie, pumpkin pie, candied yams and more will be available to us, along with many alcoholic libations. Tasty and enjoyable stuff for sure. I look forward to my first taste of pumpkin pie in almost a year.

However, when left unchecked, the holiday celebrations lead to the dreaded "Holiday 5", or in some cases the "Holiday 10". We are talking about the extra pounds put on because of the excess calories, and the poor quality of foods that we have available to us more commonly.

Over the last 2 years, I've worked hard on limiting the holiday poundage with some quality wins. Here's what I do now and recommend.

1. Understand that plenty of opportunities to splurge will occur. Accept that fact and be prepared for it.

2. Before going to a situation where you know you'll have sweet foods, alcohol, or high quantities of calories, have a snack. Yes, eat a snack. But, make it a healthy snack. Some pumpkin seed and a piece of fruit for example. Eat this about 30 minutes before the party so you don't arrive famished and ready to consume the first pretty looking food that appears (and most food looks much prettier when we're starving). Have your snack and 8oz of water.

3. Indulge in your favorite recipe. Don't completely ignore the pie or candy you love so much. You'll not enjoy yourself. But, limit the quantity. Eat it slowly and enjoy it. Plan ahead to only have "x" amount.

4. Don't fill your plate. This is a good rule all the time, but especially at holiday time. There's so much to choose from as you go down the line at Thanksgiving or Christmas. So put food on your plate, eat it and enjoy it, and then see how you feel. Again, take your time so you stomach starts to feel full.

5. If you know you want to taste everything, just take smaller quantities as you go through the line. Often we fill our plates with large servings and feel bad that we don't have room for something else we like, so we go back and get round two of the rest of everything.

6. Keep up with your exercise. Plan it out weekly so that you're getting the calorie burn you need. It's more vital than ever to do this now, especially since you know things will come up to get in the way of your exercise plan.

7. Finally, EVERY chance you get to eat healthy, DO IT! The next opportunity to indulge in sweets is just around the corner for you, so behave every second that you can!

Mainly, it's important to be prepared and to think about what you're doing. I want you to enjoy the holidays and the tasty foods, but not to the point of regretting it on January 2nd. I enjoy the challenge though. I weigh myself on Thanksgiving morning and monitor it all throughout the holidays, then have a final check on January 2. Last year it was only 1.5 pounds heavier, and I did enjoy my holiday. I hope you can find a way to enjoy and not regret it as well. Have a great holiday season!

Until next time...BE WELL!!
Dr. Bruce