Facebook Event: 30-Day Real Food Challenge

For the month of May, I am challenging myself to eat nothing but REAL food, meaning no processed stuff. I hope you’ll join me! This challenge is FREE!

We will be following the rules in Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. I’ll post a couple of the rules every day on our private Facebook group, but you can get your own copy at http://amzn.to/1k42M3Z for $5-6.

We will not be banning entire food groups during this challenge, nor will there be any calorie restrictions. This is not a diet. Our aim is simply to cut out the CRAP we are putting into our bodies. That means no processed food, food from a box, can, or fast food window. Anything with a package that has more than a couple of ingredients, or ingredients that you can’t pronounce or identify the source of, is processed. Fast food is processed. Sorry, no Diet Mountain Dew either. We will be eating lots of real, wholesome, natural, DELICIOUS food!

As a nurse, I know how hard it is to eat well when you are juggling work, family, kids, etc. Especially when you work 12-hour shifts or other odd hours, as I do. That is why I am putting together this challenge, so we can support each other!

We will have a private Facebook group for the challenge where we can offer support, recipes, ideas, etc.

Join us, you have nothing to lose but your addiction to processed food, maybe a little weight, and that feeling of being tired and weighed down by all the chemicals that you’ve been putting into your body.

Click here to join in on the challenge!

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Thoughts on being a nurse after 20 years.

I’ll tell you the truth; I haven’t always liked my profession.  I quit college to get married in the ‘80s, and then I had a child soon thereafter. If I hadn’t made those choices at such a young age, I probably would have ended up doing something else. But in my early 20’s, I found myself divorced with a toddler. I had so little imagination, I thought I was looking forward to a life of either blue-collar work or poverty. I had three choices…go on welfare and become a statistic, find a back-breaking factory job that would pay the bills (which would have eventually been outsourced anyway), or take some classes at the local community college that would help me give my son a middle-class (ie. “better”) life.  I couldn’t picture myself doing either #1 or #2, so I went to nursing school.

In the early days, I defined myself by what I did for a living. I was young and I thought that “ER nurse” was the coolest answer I could give to the question, “what do you do?”  I collected initials behind my name and prided myself on being the fastest, smartest, most efficient and skillful ER nurse that I could be. When tragedy struck, such as the drowning of two little boys, brothers, in an unsupervised pool with an unlocked gate, or when the sole survivor in a car crash that claimed the lives of seven people was a four-year-old girl asking, “Where’s my mommy and daddy?”, I distanced myself emotionally from the human aspect of the job. I believe that to cry would show weakness, and furthermore, if I let these things bother me, how could I function? Besides, I was more focused on living the life of a young, cute, self-destructive ER nurse, just like on TV. Partying with my ER buddies on my nights off, chasing cute guys, making up for all the fun I thought I had missed out on because I married young.  I thought any young woman would love to have my life, because it was anything but boring. But I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing.

After just a few years, I found my life in ruins. (Another blog post for another time). My father had just died too, the person that I most wanted to make proud.  I left nursing for a little while, and a shift happened (again, another blog post, or several, for another time). I returned to nursing, but I never returned to the ER.  I was not the same young woman. I was beginning to know myself, and hitting rock bottom had humbled me enough that I had a new empathy for my fellow human being. I came back with a renewed sense of purpose. I wanted to make a difference.

Since then, there have been times that I’ve wanted to leave the profession. Sometimes “doing my job” involves carrying out orders that I know are not in the best interests of my patient, even though they are perfectly acceptable from the perspective of medical practice standards. In these times, I have felt like I am just a cog in the wheel of the big, bad machine. That is not what I want to be. I want to make a difference, remember?  At other times, I connect with a patient on such a deep level that I feel that fate must have put me there in that place, at that time. These are the times when I have felt that I have a gift to bring to my patients.

When I am titrating the Pitocin, interpreting the fetal monitor strip, or handing the doctor an amnihook, I am not doing anything special for my patient.  In fact, sometimes I do those things against my better judgment because it is my job.  If I weren’t doing those things, some other nurse would be there doing them. It’s the things I do that aren’t really in my job description that I feel are my greatest contributions to the nursing profession.

tired nurse

I am currently on a travel assignment, and I’ve been having a hard time with homesickness and questioning my motivation for doing this assignment, as well as whether I want to keep nursing at the bedside when it’s over. Last week, I had a patient that really touched me and gave me a reason to keep going.  My interaction with her was the catalyst for this blog post. She was (is) an immigrant from one of the lesser-known African nations, having come to the United States sixteen years ago to escape the misogynistic control of the society there. She came to the U.S. at the age of 23, met a nice man, got married, became a Jehovah’s Witness, and eventually had a son, who is now four years old.

Because of her spirituality, she refused blood products and an MRI to rule out the suspected placental accreta, which earned her the unofficial label of “difficult patient.”  Due to these and other risk factors, she had undergone a cesarean despite the fact that her baby had died in utero. She had nicknamed her baby Jack-Jack, and his loss was devastating, especially since her age (nearly 40) and her medical issues made having another baby nearly an impossibility.

Her husband left her in the evening to go home and care for their young son, leaving her alone. It was one of those uncommon nights where I actually had some free time, which was good because she called me into her room and told me she needed me to sit with her. She said she needed a woman to talk to. I’m glad she was specific. I’m good at meeting my patients’ physical needs, but I’m not always good at reading the emotional needs of a person that I just met, despite how hard I try.  I ended up spending a total of about four hours sitting and talking with her that night.

She talked about her faith. She told me the story of having been raped by an uncle in Africa and becoming pregnant at the age of 14.  Despite the trauma, she wanted to keep her baby. Her family took her to the doctor for what they told her was prenatal care, and they gave her something they told her was a vitamin.  It was a sedative, and when she woke up, she had undergone an abortion against her will.

She told me about the traumatic birth of her other son four years ago, here at this very hospital, and the extended hospital stay afterward, and how because of it and her experience in Africa, she held a lot of mistrust and bitterness toward the health care system. She told me how the doctors, residents, and nurses at her first hospital stay treated her like she was stupid and wouldn’t listen to her spiritual and physical concerns. She told me that she hadn’t believed them this time when they told her that her baby was dead, that she had demanded a second opinion, and that she had been rude and hard to deal with.

We talked about Jack-Jack’s soul. She said she knew that the baby she knew that moved and kicked in her belly was still alive somewhere, but not here. Still, she wanted to say goodbye to his little body one last time, even though she had held it for hours that afternoon when it was still warm. She said she knew it was irrational, but would I please go get him for her?

I went down to the specimen refrigerator, where the body was awaiting transport to the morgue, and retrieved her baby’s cold, refrigerated body. I unwrapped it from the plastic bag that contained it, and redressed it in baby boy clothes and a handmade blanket. I placed Jack-Jack’s body in a bassinet and brought it back to her. We both cried.

What I did was probably against the rules. I don’t really know. And it certainly wasn’t in my job description. Any nurse would have assessed her incision and given her pain medication, but not every nurse would have given her the emotional support she needed that night. Not because I’m a special nurse, but because I just happened to have the time that night, and we just happened to connect on a deeper level. We connected not just as patient and nurse that night, but as women, and as mothers.

She thanked me for the “girl talk”, as she called it. She thanked me for bringing her baby’s body back to her. She thanked me for helping her get through the first night without him. But most importantly, she thanked me for restoring her faith and trust in the medical profession. Despite all that, I’m sure  she helped me more than I helped her.

I’m not the same lost, overachieving young nurse that I was twenty years ago.  I have heard it said, as the healer heals others, she also heals herself.  I don’t know about being a healer, but I’m certain that those patients whose lives I’ve touched the most profoundly have played the biggest part in my own soul healing.  There are times when I’m so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that I don’t take care of myself, but I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. Nursing is a hard job, and I’m sure I’m not the only nurse who has ever questioned my career choice.  We are at times overworked, underappreciated, and stretched thin. There is something to be said for accepting and even appreciating the consequences of the choices you have made. That is what I want for my fellow nurses. Despite the challenges, I want you to see the potential you have for touching people’s lives, cut yourself some slack, break down the walls that you think are protecting you from being hurt, and be human. And I want you to love yourself for it.

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Get your head out of the sand.

U.S. childhood obesity rates have reached 30%, and could be up to 70% in the next ten years.  As of 2007, 2.7 million children in the U.S. are on medications for ADHD.  Today’s children are the first generation who are predicted to have a shorter life span than their parents.  Up to one in ten children in the U.S. are diagnosed with some degree of autism.  Childhood cancer has risen dramatically over the past 20 years.

What’s going on?  Could it be the food supply? Processed crap, GMO’s, preservatives, artificial colorings?  Water and air contamination?  Sedentary lifestyles caused by technology? Any and all of the above, probably.

Why doesn’t someone do something about it?  Because the food and pharmaceutical industries, among others, are big business.  It’s all about the dollar.

What can I do about it, you ask?   Read labels!  Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Try to avoid things that come in boxes.  If you see it advertised on TV, don’t eat it.  If it comes to you through your car window, don’t eat it.  If you couldn’t make it homemade yourself, don’t eat it.  If you COULD make it yourself homemade, don’t eat  it and MAKE IT YOURSELF!  If it contains high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, don’t eat it. If it’s genetically modified (most corn, soy, and canola in this country), don’t eat it.  If someone wants to give your child medication for being hyperactive (ie. acting like a kid!), tell them to go to hell and let your child be around people who love him for who he is!   Get outside! Play! Stop caring what the neighbors think! Plant a garden, and only use heirloom seeds (non-GMO). Support a local farmer and join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Stop supporting the big food and pharmaceutical companies. They don’t give a damn about our health, they are in it for the money.  Vote with your dollars.

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What IS Integrative Health Coaching?

Here, Dr. Shelley Roth of Duke Integrative Medicine gives a good overview of I.H.C.
Dr. Roth was one of my instructors when I attended health coach training at Duke Integrative Medicine.

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Diabetes: A Different Approach to Care through Health Coaching

When you have diabetes, life can be a challenge. You must be careful what you eat, monitor your blood sugar several times a day and make sure you take your medication. You may also be concerned about complications such as neuropathy, glaucoma and gum disease. All this worry can lead to feelings of helplessness and defeat. Learn how health coaching can give you a fresh perspective and put you in control in the effective management of your diabetes.

What is Health Coaching?

Health coaching is a person-centered approach to wellness, not just disease management. When you visit with a health coach, he or she will get to know you as a person and work with you to create a personalized wellness plan that educates, motivates and empowers you.

Unlike some diabetes treatments, health coaching is not a lifelong commitment. You may have heard the phrase, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”?

Well, health coaching operates on the same principle. It is designed to help you find the tools within yourself to make positive changes in your behavior and lifestyle. Just like any new skill learned, these techniques will become a part of you and the coach will no longer be necessary.

Why Health Coaching?

Doctors are busy in their medical practice. If you have a question or concern you need addressed immediately, it’s often hard to book a quick appointment or get the doctor on the phone right away. This can be discouraging. A health coach can step in to fill these gaps between visits.

Health coaching can be a very effective way to manage diabetes because once you’ve developed your wellness plan your coach is available via phone call, email or text message throughout the period you’ve agreed to work together. This means if you have a question while you’re on the commuter train or a concern while sitting in a restaurant, your coach is just a call or click away.

How Will Health Coaching Help with Diabetes?

According to a clinical trial done by Duke University, health coaching improves patient accountability and clinical outcomes.

During your meetings your coach will help you connect with what’s most important in your life. This will help you set realistic goals and help you better stick to a long-term program. You’ll learn how to make simple, yet critical lifestyle changes that will compliment your current diabetes treatments and may even eliminate the need for them altogether.

Examples of these changes are:


Diet is crucial in the effective management of diabetes. There are certain foods that help and others that hinder effective diabetes management. Your health coach can tell you more.

Exercise and Weight Management

Weight management is another critical component in the effective management of diabetes. You and your health coach will tailor a fitness plan just for you.

Stress Management

With the hustle and bustle of modern life, stress can add to diabetes complications. A health coach will help you learn to use your own inner resources to keep stress levels low.

When you work with a health coach, you’ll receive the tools, guidance and support you need to effectively manage your diabetes and reach your wellness goals.

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The Dirty Dozen.

This list is posted in several easily-accessible places around the internet, but it a very important resource for people who are striving for a healthier lifestyle, so I am reposting it here.  Print a copy and use as a guide when buying produce.

Source: Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org and Food News, www.foodnews.org
12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

More Information
For easy reference, download a copy of the wallet guide!

Environmental Working Group

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Integrative Health Coaches Help Patients Achieve Personal Health Goals

Reposted from Emaxhealth.com

Working with a personal health coach is increasingly recognized as an effective strategy for achieving health goals and improving overall well-being.

The need for health coaches has grown exponentially in recent years as the demands of balancing work and life stresses have taken a toll on personal health. Coupled with an aging population, a growing number of people are seeking assistance in efforts to improve their health by addressing such issues as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and excess weight, while others simply need help optimizing their overall well-being.

“Healthcare has long been about ‘fixing’ people – treating disease to return a person’s body and mind to an acceptable state of health,” said Julie Kosey, MS, CPCC, ACC, integrative health coaching manager at Duke Integrative Medicine. “And separately, people have sought the support and guidance of coaches in a wide range of disciplines, such as athletics, career and life, to help them move to new levels. Health coaching brings these two worlds – healthcare and personal coaching – together.”

Duke Integrative Medicine is the first major academic medical center to take the emerging field of health coaching to a new level by developing a specific role for the integrative health coach on the clinical team. By drawing from different coaching disciplines as well as integrative medicine principles, the integrative health coach helps clients improve their health and enhance the quality of their lives.

Integrative health coaching is a critical element of the “personalized health plan,” which practitioners at Duke Integrative Medicine help patients to develop and implement. Offered at its new state-of-the-art building – designed specifically for healing – patients participate in an intensive “immersion” program. Together with Duke physicians and healthcare professionals, each patient develops an individualized plan tailored to his or her needs. After the patient leaves the center, this plan serves as a blueprint for the patient and health coach as they continue to work together for months or even years.

“As part of Duke Integrative Medicine’s innovative model, coaches assist patients in recognizing their inherent creativity and resourcefulness, and help them use these to attain their wellness and life goals,” said Ruth Q. Wolever, Ph.D., director of research at Duke Integrative Medicine and assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke Medical Center. “Rather than simply motivating them, effective coaches help their patients find inspiration by connecting them with what matters most in their lives.”

Wolever added that clinical research is demonstrating that coaching increases adherence to health goals by helping patients sustain the mindset needed to make lifestyle and behavior changes for the long haul. For instance, a study funded by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services and conducted by Duke Integrative Medicine showed that integrative medicine principles, along with the assistance of health coaching in supporting behavior change, improved cardiovascular risk compared with usual care.

“By identifying reasons for making changes and setting realistic goals, patients are more likely to stick to a long-term program,” she said. “Patients are encouraged to predict obstacles and develop strategies for accessing inner motivation. They learn how to use their personal values and purpose to support day-to-day behavior changes.”

Currently, there are various options for health and wellness coaching training. The International Coach Federation (ICF) accredits coach training programs and offers its own credentialing process for coaches. While ICF and other organizations such as The Coaches Training Institute have subgroups dedicated to wellness and mind, body and spirit disciplines, there currently is no formal certification for integrative health coaches.

“At Duke Integrative Medicine, we are exploring the training that might standardize integrative health coaching so that, as the demand grows, there will be consistency in education, skills and experience among coaches to help clients achieve their health goals,” Kosey said.

She added, however, that Duke Integrative Medicine coaches have a graduate degree in health behavior, training in coaching skills from programs accredited by ICF, experience helping clients change health behavior both individually and in groups, and knowledge of integrative medicine and health.

“Skills, education and training are clearly important in helping patients meet their goals,” Kosey said. “But the comfort level a person has with his or her coach is just as important. The patient-coach relationship is very intimate, so trust and respect are critical components.”

To help patients determine if a coach is right for them, Kosey says they should consider the following key questions:

— Does the person have the skills and experience you are looking for?

— Will the coach provide a sample session so you can experience his or her style and approach?

— Is there a good rapport with the person and would you feel comfortable talking about deeply personal issues?

— How will you and the coach work together? Via phone (most typical format) or in person?  Will you have access to your coach through e-mail?

— Does the cost fit your budget and how will payment be handled?  Are you ready to invest in coaching which is typically a significant investment of time and money?

— Will the coach provide references? Does he or she uphold the International Coach Federation Code of Ethics?


Duke Integrative Medicine

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6 strategies to overcome emotional eating

When you eat with your head, not with your stomach, the pounds pour on
By Joy Bauer TODAYShow.com contributor

Emotional eating is when you eat in response to feelings rather than hunger, usually as a way to suppress or relieve negative emotions. Stress, anxiety, sadness, boredom, anger,  loneliness, relationship problems and poor self-esteem can all trigger emotional eating. When emotions determine your eating habits rather than your stomach, it can quickly lead to overeating, weight gain and guilt.

If you find yourself regularly eating in response to emotions, try to break the habit with some of my strategies below.

Learn to recognize your hunger
Before you automatically pop something into your mouth. Rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being ravenous and 5 being full. Make every effort to avoid eating when you’re a 4 or a 5.

Find alternatives to eating
Prepare a list of activities that are personally appealing and handy. Perhaps go for a walk, call a friend, listen to nostalgic music (anything that brings you back to a happy time), take a hot shower or bath, clean your house, polish your nails, surf the Internet, schedule outstanding appointments, watch something on TiVo, clean your purse, organize your closet, look through a photo album, etc.

Keep a food journal
Logging your food will help to identify your toughest timeframes. It will also make you accountable, so perhaps you’ll be less apt to reach for unnecessary food.

Three-food interference
Make the commitment to first eat three specific healthy foods before starting on comfort foods (i.e., an apple, handful of baby carrots and a nonfat yogurt). If after that, you still want to continue with your comfort foods, give yourself permission. However, most of the time, the three foods are enough to stop you from moving on.

Exercise regularly
Daily exercise relieves stress and puts you in a positive mindset, which provides greater strength to pass on the unhealthy fare.

Get enough sleep
Research shows that sleep deprivation can increase hunger by decreasing leptin levels, the appetite-regulating hormone that signals fullness. Furthermore, with adequate sleep, you’ll be less tired and have more resolve to fight off the urge to grab foods for comfort.

Posted in Food and Nutrition, Mindful Awareness | Leave a comment

Easy Raw Avocado Soup.

3 avocados
1 carrot
1 large celery stalk
1 bell pepper, color of your choice (I used yellow)
¼ white or yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 handfuls of spinach
1-2 pinches of sea salt
1 cup of water

Loosely chop veggies and add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add water as needed to desired consistency.  Serves 4.

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Dry Skin Brushing.

Dry Skin Brushing has been used in different cultures for centuries, and it is now regaining its popularity.

Dry skin brushing is a wonderful, enjoyable detox technique that you can do at home on your own.  A Tampico skin brush, made of natural agave fibers, can be found online for around $10.

Dry skin brushing gets rid of old skin cells, revealing the healthy new skin underneath.  It also stimulates the lymphatic system and encourages the removal of toxins from your body.  Most of the toxins that are released along with the lymphocytes that carry them eventually make their way to the colon for elimination.  The lymphatic system is like the body’s garbage collection system, and it should be kept moving so that the “debris” can be filtered out in an efficient way.

Easy skin brushing technique:

Brush your skin when it’s dry.  Before a shower or bath are the best times to do it, since that will allow you to wash away the dead skin cells you have loosened.   Use long strokes, always trying to brush from the tips of your extremities inward to your core.  Use circular, clockwise brushing motions on your abdomen and back.  Use as much or as little pressure as feels good to you.  The stiff bristles of the skin brush may take some getting used to, but this is supposed to feel good!  Think of it as a mini-spa treatment in the comfort of your own home.  If you have a partner, you can trade dry skin brushing sessions to make it even MORE enjoyable!

Afterwards, your skin may be slightly flushed due to increased circulation, but don’t brush so hard that your skin turns bright red.   You can brush your entire body in just a few minutes, then step into the shower to enjoy an invigorating, tingling sensation over your entire body.

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