Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Art Of Living Your Life With Gratitude

Next week November 1st comes around, and we all start thinking of the holidays, the first of which is Thanksgiving. Of course that is 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. The goal is to shift our focus from all that is not quite right in our life, to the blessings we already have.  It's easy to find the bad in life, anyone can do that.  But it takes time and effort to be truly grateful.  So, how DO we move from making a list to experiencing true gratefulness? Read on!

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.  When you do it this way, you will not just state what you are blessed with, you will re-experience it.  That is what will change your physiology.

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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finishing Strong........and Beginning Well!

There is less than 1/4 of 2011 left for us to experience. Soon the familiar sounds of Christmas will be heard and the pace of life will pick up with shopping, cooking, parties, decorating and the like. I was just speaking with my daughter and relaying that in a little over a month Thanksgiving will be here. It's hard to believe, but the end of 2011 is drawing near.

So how have you done with your health goals for this year? Have you nailed them and moved on to other goals? Did you struggle with some and do well with others? Or did you totally blow all of them? Probably most of us fall into the middle category I'd bet. If you have already nailed all your goals then pat yourself on the back for having had a great year. If you really struggled this year, acknowledge it and realize it's time to move forward since there's nothing we can do about what is already past.

I'd like to encourage you a bit here. There is still some time to make a difference in your health this year. No, you may not be able to lose 50 pounds, but you can make a dent in your weight. You may not be working out at all, but by the end of the year you could have a habit of exercising 4x every week. While you may not be able to hit all your goals by the end of the year, you can do some things that set the pace for your upcoming year. If you decide, and that's all it takes is a decision, you can have a whole boatload of new health habits started by December 31, and you finish the year feeling good about yourself. You'll finish the year strong and that will make you proud of your accomplishments. Remember to not take on too much if you are going to try to finish strong, but maybe set up a plan that allows you to do a few new things every week so that you build that momentum. Maybe this week you start walking a few times a week. Maybe next week you start working your eating habits by planning a few healthy meals. The week after that you could add in some massage therapy to help you de-stress and relax. You get the picture. A few steps at a time and come the last week of December you'll be rocking.

I'll caution you with one very important concept. When the holidays arrive, your schedule will not get easier. It will get tougher and tighter as events are put into your schedule, and as opportunities to consume sweet treats multiply like rabbits! Be prepared, make your plans and commit to sticking to them for optimum results.

Now on to next year. NOW is the time to start planning. Your success in 2012 starts NOW. It's time to set your goals for where you'd like to be in a year. It's time now to get those goals written down and start reviewing them regularly so that when January 1 rolls around you already have them ingrained in your brain to the point where you are consistently taking action that can move you closer to achieving them. Too many people wake up January 1 and start thinking about their goals then. That's great, but if you do that you've already lost valuable time. You want to start well, which means hitting the ground running and having that momentum working strongly in your favor. So go buy yourself a notebook, or use your computer to write up your goals and save them. Then start reviewing those goals daily. Make sure they're attainable and measurable so you have a clear idea of what it will look like when you attain them.

Some of us may have no real clue where to start.  Eating and exercising are the two things that usually come to mind when we talk about health goals, so let's start with those two.  How many healthy meals are you currently eating per week?  Remember, healthy meals means eating REAL food, that grows, or was once alive with eyes (meat, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables).  Can you add in more per week?  How many?  Are you snacking well in between meals?  Can you start preparing healthy snacks to keep with you like nuts, seeds, or a piece of fruit?  Are you exercising at all?  Maybe you can add in one day/week more than you are currently doing.  Maybe you need to have more intense cardio sessions so taking a spin class might be the answer.  

How about your rest habits?  Are you resting well? Do you get to bed at a regular time every night allowing your body to develop good sleep hygiene and better rest?  Are you taking in too much caffeine too late at night to allow your body to rest? Too much alcohol can do the same, keeping you from reaching deep, restful sleep.

How about stress in your life?  Is it under control? What are your plans to offset it?  Do you have a vision or a purpose for your life that energizes you?  Are you giving of your time to worthy causes that make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate?  How are your social interactions?  What can you do to improve them?

Each of these areas that I mention, fall into my oh so often repeated wellness mantra:  To BE Well, we must Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well and Rest Well.  Any time you want to evaluate your health and well being, it should all come back to that simple, but extremely valid saying.  Starting there, and focusing on those 4 areas of wellness, will surely allow you to move in the right direction.  If you need help working on those 4 areas, that is something we do regularly in our office with our wellness coaching so don't hesitate to give us a call!

Finally, considering we are so close to Thanksgiving, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention living a life of gratitude.  This falls under thinking well in my wellness mantra.  Spend some time EVERY day being grateful for the things in your life.  Every night when I go to bed I spend time in gratitude to my God for the things of that day.  It's a great way to end your day and helps to assure good rest too.  To that end, thank you to all of you that read my ramblings monthly and that email me, call me, see me in the community and mention reading them.  I am grateful for you, and the chance to spread the "gospel of wellness" as I call it!

Use this time of year to start moving in the right direction, getting your goals set for the upcoming year, and developing momentum for your upcoming success! That way, you'll finish strong in 2011, and you'll start well in 2012!

Until next time...Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It Can Happen To Anyone (You and I Too)

Sooo, here I am, an up and coming health and wellness fanatic, doing my best to take good care of myself, and spreading the "gospel of wellness" to the masses in my own little way. Always eating well, exercising, resting and thinking well, as healthy as I can be right? Yes.........and no.

You see, 2 days ago at work on a Monday morning, I noticed I felt really tired, and a little cold at my office. I checked the thermostat to see if something was set wrong. It was normal. Hmmmm could I be getting sick? Surely not. I haven't run a fever in 2 years, haven't had a cold in 2 years, have felt terrific for a LONG time. Yet by the time lunch rolled around, I could tell I was not right. My eyes were wanting to do nothing but close, and my body felt a bit achy. Oh brother, I don't have time for this, I have a retreat I am going to later this week, I have patients to see prior to that. This was my thought process as panic almost set in. I mean, God forbid I get sick right? Someone like me should always be healthy right? Again, yes.......and no.

See, being healthy doesn't mean you're never sick. I doubt anyone's claims when they say they NEVER get sick. I mean, really? You never get a cold, never have a little stomach upset, no sinus headaches, ever??? Somehow I doubt that. Personally, since in my practice I physically touch 25-45 people a day, and these patients of mine come into the office in varying degrees of health, I get exposed to a lot of the "bugs" they carry in with them. In years past I would get sick enough every year to miss work about twice for a day or two, and you can see how that might happen in my line of work.

Now back to our story....So I realized my body was attempting to tell me something. I was cold and sleepy, and parts of my body were aching a little, which was my body's way of trying to fight off whatever was attacking it. So I went into prevent defense. I went home at lunch, took another dose of my Superfood Solution Shake (I usually take one/day), took two whole food supplements and, because I was listening to my body, I took a nap. I slept for about 1.5 hours total which in itself is a telltale sign that something was wrong since I never nap that long. That evening I took yet another dose of my shake and more whole food supplements. The next morning I was off work, so I took more supplements/shakes, ate good protein and some fruit, drank water, and slept some more. By the afternoon I was already feeling better, and now today I awoke feeling almost 100% (probably 95% if I had to put a number on it).

So why did I fall "under the weather"? Hindsight is 20/20 of course and I can say that over the last 2 weeks, I've let stress get the best of me, I didn't rest all that well because of it, and my eating habits toward the end of last week weren't all that great either. So that is lesson #1 to take from this. We need to pay closer attention to what we are allowing our body to go through as it has a cumulative effect on our health. I was struggling in 3 out of the 4 "Pillars of Wellness" (Eat well, move well, think well and rest well) so that lowered my immunity. The 2nd takeaway from this is how to handle it once you DO start heading down the path to sickness. I ate whole foods, I got extra rest, I practiced total relaxation, I took extra supplements, I didn't put anything toxic in my body (sugars, non-real food etc).

I think lesson #3 is that everyone gets sick to one degree or another at some point. The really healthy among us bounce back much faster, like the blow-up punching bags that are weighted on the bottom, you may get knocked down, but you always bounce back up, and you'll bounce back up faster the healthier you are. In this case, I didn't get knocked down, but I wobbled a bit and bounced back.

Lastly I think a lesson here is that you don't become sick overnight. It's usually a process where inch by inch your immune response slips. You are exposed to "bugs" daily, and your immune system when it's functioning right always wins and keeps them at bay. But when we start skimping on our eating, thinking, resting and exercising, we become less healthy, whether or not we actually have symptoms or not. Eventually if that state continues, we do acquire symptoms and classify ourselves then as "sick".

I find it very interesting that the last two times (this being one of them) I was "under the weather", I was able to bounce right back within a day or so via eating, moving, thinking and resting in a wellness manner. You can do the same thing by learning how to live the wellness lifestyle I promote via our blogs and other social media. I hope this helps!

Until next time...Be Well!

Dr. Bruce