Kick Stress to the Curb (Part Two)

March 8th, 2010

In our last post (Kick Stress to the Curb) we talked about several ways to combat stress.

We discussed the fact that stress is actually created in your mind…not by “stressful” events themselves…as most people think.

In this post we are going to dig even deeper into the topic of stress. I’m also going to share a powerful technique you can use to immediately stop stress from getting in your way.

But before we get to the technique, I want you to understand how devastating stress can be to your health.

When you are stressed, when you are tired, when you are overly emotional, your body releases hormones which can cause you to feel even more stressed. One such hormone is cortisol.

When cortisol is released into your bloodstream, it can cause negative effects on your body.

It has been shown to be responsible in part for weight gain, irritability and a myriad of other health problems. Cortisol also stimulates the release of stomach acid and can suppress the immune system.

We live in a fast-paced, busy world. We are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, images, information, offers and business solicitation for all type of things.

We have more to do than ever before in history, so it is very easy for us to get overloaded and to feel overwhelmed.

The reality is that the mail sitting in the pile on your table and all of the other things swirling around in your head can be dealt with one at the time. You do not have to let them fester in the back of your mind and cause you stress.

Unfinished (or unstarted) projects on your list…going to the grocery store…picking up dry cleaning…and all the mundane, daily tasks…don’t let them get the better of you and cause you stress.

My friend and colleague, personal development expert, Darshan Shanti, shared some wisdom with me regarding how to eliminate stress from your life. I’d like to share it with you now.

Step One:

First and foremost, realize that stress does not exist in the external world. It is a creation in your mind. It is based on the meaning you are placing on the events and circumstances in your life.

Step Two:

Break the stressful event down and look at each of its component parts.

1) The event itself
2) Your perceptions about the event
3) Your thoughts about those perceptions
4) Your emotions about the event, your perceptions and your thoughts
5) Your decision about the event, your perceptions, your thoughts and your emotions
6) And lastly, your response to the event, your perceptions, your thoughts, your emotions and even your decisions.

While this may seem like a lot of work at first, this exercise will slow down your thinking process and allow you to become proactive and not reactive. You’ll begin to realize that at each step of the way you created the stress in your mind.

Once you do that you can take responsibility for your creation.

Step Three:

Relabel your perceptions, thoughts, emotions, decisions and reaction into something positive.

Anything you can make up and label as “stress” can be relabeled as something else that will serve you better. It is therefore your decision to allow (or not allow) stress in your life.

Basically if you realize that whatever you are afraid of, whatever you are worried about, whatever your stress is about, it is not nearly as bad as you think it is, it will diminish the negative hold stress has over you.

If you really think logically about what is stressing you, you’ll probably realize that it isn’t nearly as bad as you think it is…or as bad as the images you have created in you mind.

What we think of as stressful is really a reaction to an event that in our mind seems negative.

Stop letting stress have power over you. Your energy level will shoot through the roof and you will feel and look healthier too.

Kick Stress to the Curb (Part One)

February 18th, 2010

Stress can have an enormous impact on your health!

Learning to manage stress is one of the greatest ways to improve your health and to supercharge your energy level. It is also one of the most difficult things for most people to do.

The truth is that if you didn’t have any stress in your life you probably wouldn’t get a whole lot done. Pressures and looming deadlines can be highly effective motivators to get people moving. Without deadlines, most projects would never get started…and certainly not finished.

But like most things, too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad. And too much stress is a recipe for disaster!

I am not going to spend page after page telling you why having too much stress is bad for you. You already know this.

The reality is that you can never eliminate stress from your life. You will always have deadlines and obligations in one form or another. The trick is to not let the pressure of stress get to you. The key is to realize the stressors are there, but to not let them affect you.

It may seem like wishful thinking or simply impossible, but once you learn how to neutralize the effects of stress caused by life’s obligations, you will never be a victim of them again.

Having said that, here is a tool you can use to manage stress.

The Mayo Clinic has a program you can use to manage stress called the 4 A’s.

Here’s how it works…

The first A is to AVOID. It may seem like common sense, but if something is stressing you, try to avoid it. If at all possible, get yourself out of the situation.

Since avoiding the things that cause you stress may not always be an option, the second A is to ALTER.

For example, if your car is making a funny noise and it is driving you crazy (no pun intended) get the car fixed. If somebody is bothering you or making noise in your office, ask them to stop.

Sometimes altering may not be a reality either, so the third A is to ACCEPT.

By accepting, you recognize the situation “is what it is” and you agree you will not let it have power over you.

I learned an incredibly simple, yet powerful concept many years ago that has really helped me in life.

I learned that you cannot control other people (or circumstances)… BUT you can control how you react to them. While the stressor may still be there, you don’t need to let it have control over you.

This is often very useful when dealing with personal conflicts with overbearing co-workers or family members.

The fourth A is to ADAPT. So for example, if your office environment is noisy and it bothers you, get a set of noise-canceling headphones and listen to some music to drown out the noise. Or get a sound machine or desktop fountain to create a more soothing noise instead.

Again, those are the 4 A’s. They can be an effective technique to help you to avoid stressors before they take control of your life.

I bet I know what you are thinking…”Those sound great, but they won’t work for me.”

I know that these things may seem easier said than done, but realize this. All of the anxiety or stress we feel from a situation or event is actually created in our mind, not by the event itself.

If you had a fight with a coworker or boss, if you crashed your car, if you [enter any event here], the event may have happened, but the stress, anxiety or other feelings you are experiencing are not being created by the event…they are created by the meaning you have in your mind ABOUT the event.

Once you understand this, stress won’t be able to stop you from achieving anything.

Achieving Your Health Goals Takes Small Steps…Not Leaps!

February 1st, 2010

In my last post (My Friend Hoover) I told you about a friend of mine who ate his food like a Hoover vacuum.

I am happy to report that it has been a week now (as of this writing) and Hoover is feeling great.

He is starting to lose weight and feel healthier, simply by chewing his food when he eats. He is now reviewing a copy of our Super Immunity report, and is excited about implementing so many new strategies to feel and look even better.

And this got me to thinking…

In my last email I promised to share the secret with you that can help you achieve any goal you want – including losing weight, improving your health, becoming more successful (in your work or your business) and more.

The secret is simple to implement, and as long as you follow through with it you WILL be successful.

My friend, Hoover, used this technique to implement the simple strategy of chewing and it is working like gang-busters for him. I am positive that this strategy can help you too.

But before I share it with you I’d like to ask you a question.

What is the difference between a pot of cold water and a pot of boiling water?

If you said that one is boiling, and one is not, you are correct.

If you said that one is cold and one is hot, you are correct.

If you said that the boiling water has movement (because it is boiling) and the other water is not moving, you are correct.

So why is one pot of water so dramatically different than the other one?

When you take a pot of water and heat it to approximately 212°F (100°C) the water begins to boil (or vaporize)…changing from a liquid to gas.

But the thing to remember is that in order for the water to reach the boiling point, it has to go from cold to hot. It has to be constantly heated until the water temperature raises enough for the boiling process to occur.

Your health, your happiness, your success in business…all of these things also take constant and regular action to achieve.

You don’t just work out for 2 weeks and turn from a scrawny wimp into Mr. Olympia, regardless of how much you might wish you could.

If you asked anyone who you consider to be in excellent physical condition how they got that way, most of them will tell you that they work out regularly, eat right and do other things to maintain and improve their health and fitness.

The key to success in anything, including losing weight, gaining muscle, being successful in business, being a better parent, friend, spouse, or lover, etc. is to take small steps daily to achieve your goal.

Don’t try to cram 3 years of weight loss into 2 weeks and then get frustrated when it doesn’t work. Chances are that it took you years to add the weight, so be patient in the process of taking it off.

My friend, personal development expert, Darshan Shanti, said it best recently. He said that if he wanted to lose weight he would make sure that everything he did helped move him toward that goal.

He said that no one would probably notice if he drank several glasses of soda each day, or if he ate fistfuls of junk food whenever he wanted…but they WOULD notice when he put on the extra pounds.

The point is that once you know what your goal is, take action regularly by create “rituals” in your life that get you closer to your goal.

Then stick with those rituals, regardless of what else is going on.

Here’s what I mean…

If you want to lose weight and you decide that you need to work out 3 times a week to achieve that goal, then work out 3 times each week.

Don’t complain that you are tired and skip your workouts. Doing this won’t help you achieve your goal.

Saying that you need to work out at least 3 times per week (and then actually doing it) is the only way you will get what you want.

So once you have decided on your goal, decide on what actions you will need to take to get there.

Then be accountable to one person…you!!!

If you find yourself trying to skip your workouts, bring yourself back in check by saying something like, “I know that skipping my workout seems easy, but I really want to get to my goal of _______.

If I skip my workout, how can I expect to achieve my goal?”

Then remind yourself WHY you chose that goal in the first place.

Realizing (and reminding yourself regularly) WHY you want something is the most powerful way to keep yourself on track.

Remember…if you don’t do the things you need to do to get the things you want, you won’t get them…and then there will be no one to blame but yourself.

Give this strategy a try and achieving your goals will be much easier.

My friend Hoover

January 26th, 2010

The other day I was having dinner with a friend that I hadn’t seen in years.

We’ll call him Hoover to protect his privacy. (In a moment you’ll understand why I chose the name.)

Although Hoover and I talk all the time, there are some things that never really seem to come up during our conversations…his weight being one of them.

You see, Hoover loves food.

I’m not saying that he really likes food…I’m saying he absolutely, positively LOVES it.

Now, there is nothing wrong with loving food…as long as it doesn’t get in the way of life, your health and your happiness.

Sadly for him, it does.

When Hoover came to stay with us, it was almost painful to watch him eat.

I have never seen someone shovel food into their mouth so fast. It was literally like watching a Hoover vacuum eat a plate of food.

My wife, daughter and I were stunned. Before we could even make a “visible dent” in the food on our plates, Hoover was FINISHED eating.

I promise that I am not exaggerating here…we are talking inhaling a plate of food in under a minute.

This went on for several days and finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

During the last meal of his stay, Hoover and I went to dinner alone. During the meal I looked at him and said, “I’d like you to try something. I’d like you to try chewing each mouthful of food 10 times before you swallow it.”

Hoover agreed.

He was surprised and also very appreciative that I said something to him. (Fortunately we have the kind of relationship where I can say something like this to him without offending him.)

He said that he knew he ate fast, but he had no idea just HOW fast.

Normally I would have suggested that he chew each mouthful 25 or 30 times, but for someone like him who wasn’t even chewing at all, 10 times was enough to make a huge difference.

Within 2 mouthfuls he looked at me and said, “Wow, I can actually taste the food.” And he wasn’t saying that to be funny, he was actually serious.

The next morning his trip was over and he returned home.

I didn’t expect him to mention anything about the whole “chewing thing” ever again, because I figured that he was only doing it to humor me.

A few days later I was surprised when he called to thank me for giving him such powerful advice. He said that even though it had only been a few days, he was eating much slower, and actually enjoying his food more.

He said he was eating less too, which is helping him with his weight management goals.

Imagine that…all this from something as simple as chewing your food a few more times.

Although you may not devour a plate of food in under a minute like my friend, Hoover, there are things you can do to improve your health.

You wouldn’t drink toilet water, would you?

January 11th, 2010

I realize that some people may think that is an inappropriate question to ask, and maybe they would be right. But when it comes to your health, I’d rather risk offending a few people to make sure you are protected.

The truth is that while you may not drink toilet water, you may be surprised to find out that you are probably breathing it.

Here’s what I mean…

When you flush a toilet there is an “aerosol effect” that causes tiny droplets of water to be sprayed into the air. You don’t see them, but they are there.

“Toilet aerosol” was first brought to light in 1975, by a microbiologist named Charles Gerba. Of course, it has been a topic of conversation ever since.

So what does this mean for your health?

Well, it could mean a couple of things.

1) Your bathroom counters, walls, and even ceiling, may not be nearly as clean as you think.

2) Each time you flush your toilet you may be infecting your toothbrush with water from your toilet if your toothbrush is out in the open in the same (or adjoining) room as your toilet.

So how can you protect yourself?

It is very simple. Put the toilet lid down when you flush the toilet and leave it down for a minute or two after the toilet finishes cycling.

That’s easy enough, right?

The hard part is remembering to do this each time you flush your toilet.

That’s why we created this eye-catching image for you to print and put up in your bathroom, until putting the lid down becomes a habit for you.

If you would like to download your free copy, simply visit:

www.healthyheadtotoe.com/toilet.pdf

Also, please feel free to forward the sign to your friends and family and encourage them to print it for their bathrooms too.
(Of course, if you wanted to encourage them to sign up for our newsletter at: www.healthyheadtotoe.com that would be great too.)

I hope you found this tip helpful.

I’m a 25…what are you?

December 16th, 2009

No, I’m not 25…I AM A 25.

25 is how many times I chew each bite of my food.

How about you?

In a previous post (Improve Your Health by Improving Your Digestion) I talked about the importance of choosing the number of times you chew each bite of your food. By doing this you make it easier for your body to digest what you eat?

People often tell me that chewing their food a set number of times is absolutely ridiculous. They don’t have the time or patience to spend that much time and energy eating.

Sadly, many of the people I hear this from “coincidently” happen to also suffer from digestive problems.

Not only does chewing your food make the digestive process easier for your body, it also makes you less likely to get indigestion.

While there are many reasons people experience indigestion, one of the main causes is the extra burden placed on their digestive system by processing partially chewed food.

Although we’ll talk more about stress in future posts, I want you to think about something…

Eating improperly can cause indigestion. Indigestion can cause discomfort and irritability… which can lead to stress. Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol.

At normal levels cortisol is important to the overall function of your body. But during periods of sustained stress, cortisol increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels – and has an immunosuppressive action…that means that it “suppresses the immune system”.

Cortisol also stimulates the secretion of gastric acid (stomach acid) which can further aggravate indigestion.

When you are already stressed, if cortisol is released into your system you will likely begin to feel worse, making the whole process a vicious cycle.

So remember…pick a number and chew your food until it is liquefied.

How much fiber should you eat each day?

December 14th, 2009

Fiber has become a hot topic in recent years. With the changing of the American diet (as well as many other countries in the world) many people consume less fiber then their ancestors did.

Our busy, hectic lifestyle has changed the way we eat. For many people, processed “convenience” foods are replacing well balanced meals. The meals we eat are much higher in carbohydrates, fats, chemicals, fillers, additives and calories then generations before us.

It is no wonder that diabetes, hypertension and a host of other illnesses are becoming much more commonplace…even with all of the advances in medicine in recent years.

A common question people often ask is, “How much fiber should I eat each day?”

The answer to this may surprise you. According to the American Dietetic Association, healthy adults should consume at least 25 grams of fiber each day.

Sadly, the average adult consumes 10 grams or less per day.

Children should consume their age plus 5 grams per day. For example,
a 6 year old should consume 11 grams per day. (6 years + 5 grams)

So increasing your daily fiber intake should be one of your health goals, if you don’t already consume a minimum of 25 grams.

But it is necessary to caution you that you will want to increase your fiber intake gradually. If you increase it by too much, too quickly, you may experience temporary cramping, gas and bloating.

It is also important to note that when you increase your fiber intake it is also important to drink more water too. This can help reduce cramps and can help your body more easily process the fiber.

Although there are some quality fiber supplements available from your local grocery store or health food market, the best way to increase your fiber is by eating natural, whole foods.

Another common question that people ask is, “How do I know how much fiber I am eating right now?”

The truth is that it is difficult to calculate exactly how much fiber you are ingesting each day. Doing so would require weighing your food and/or referencing a food chart.

The other option is to simply guess.

That’s why I recommend a much easier approach to reach your fiber intake goals.

Let’s assume that you eat an average diet right now, and therefore consume the average amount of fiber…10 grams or less each day.

Instead of trying to count, just make it a point to eat more fiber rich foods at every opportunity you get.

So instead of eating a processed, junk-filled snack, have some fruit or vegetables instead. Indulge in some nuts or trail mix instead of a candy bar, or have vegetable juice instead of coffee.

This approach has served me well for many years. Those that I have shared it with say it is much easier then trying to second guess everything you eat.

Just by eating high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, cereals and whole grain pastas, it is relatively easy to reach the 25+ gram per day target.

Here are some specific examples of high fiber foods you can eat every day:

– Whole wheat breads and whole wheat pasta
– Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and celery
– Apples, bananas, oranges and berries
– Green beans, pinto beans, black beans
– Almonds, walnuts and cashews
– Tomato, peppers, onions and garlic
– Brown rice or other whole grains
– Lettuce, raw spinach or other leafy green vegetables

The added benefit of eating these foods is that they contain vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function at optimal levels.

If increasing your fiber intake is one of your health goals (and it should be) then consider adding these foods to your diet – and watch your health – and your energy level improve.

Skip the candy bar, fancy coffee drink or processed snack and have a piece of fruit instead. It is better for your health…and better for your wallet too.

Improve Your Health by Improving Your Digestion

December 4th, 2009

Can you guess the one function of your body that utilizes 75% of your energy each day?

You might think it is powering your muscles, pumping blood to your heart, or any number of other functions. But you’d probably be wrong.

It’s digestion!

Imagine that…three quarters of your energy is used to process food.

And this is very important to think about because anything you can do to take some of that burden off of your digestive system will free up extra energy that your body can use for other things…such as immunity.

Although digestion is about what you eat, HOW you eat it is equally as important.

There are a number of things people unknowingly do to sabotage their digestion…and therefore their energy.

One of the main things is not chewing their food enough.

When you eat you probably aren’t paying too much attention to how much you chew your food. You probably take large mouthfuls, chew a few times and then swallow.

If you’re like most people, the food you eat is less than 25% broken down when you swallow it.

Do you remember when you were young and your Mother said to chew your food? It turns out she was right.

Our digestive system isn’t designed to function optimally when we swallow our food whole, or barely broken down. Sure it can “handle it”, but at the expense of your overall health and energy level.

Our body is designed for our teeth to grind down the food we eat and to mix it with saliva. This liquid substance is much easier for our digestive system to process.

Most people barely chew their food before they swallow it, which sends large chunks into their stomach to be digested.

Those large chunks of food are broken down with stomach acid and enzymes. But the added work of breaking down those larger pieces comes with an added expense to your system. It requires more work…and more energy.

Basically this extra work saps energy from other areas in your body. Your body has to work harder just to keep up.

Think of an assembly line for a minute. If everything is running smoothly, a certain number of units are produced. Now if you slow down the assembly line by requiring more manual processes, the total production will be reduced.

Sure things will still come off the line…but there will be fewer of them, and each one will have required more work.

One of the best ways to improve your digestion (YOUR assembly line) is to chew your food more.

And one of the easiest ways to remember to do this is to pick a number and chew each mouthful of food that many times before you swallow.

Your number could be 20, 35 or 72, it doesn’t really matter.

What DOES matter is that you do this each time you eat until completely chewing your food becomes a habit. At that point you can stop counting.

Does this sound way too easy to really do anything?

Give it a try and see what happens. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Is being sick good for your Immune System?

December 4th, 2009

We’ve all been there at one point or another…snuggled up on the couch or in bed, trying to protect ourselves with the safety of our covers, wishing for the horrible illness plaguing us to just give up and go away.

There are few worse feelings for most people.

But did you know that occasionally having a cold or flu is actually good for you?

While this may seem counter-intuitive, being sick once or even twice a year gives your immune system a chance to get in a good workout.

And part of that process is having a fever…which, surprisingly enough, is also a good thing.

I discovered this while spending some time working on an audio recording project with a well-known Viroimmunologist some years back.

What he told me was very surprising.

A fever is typically caused when your body is mounting an immune response to an invading bacteria or virus. A fever is basically your immune system trying to heat up your body to make it inhospitable for the virus or bacteria to reproduce.

What he said was that when your body is mounting this response it shows that your immune system is working to rid your body of the invader.

Unless the fever reaches a dangerously high level, it is typically better to avoid taking medication and to instead let the body naturally do its work.

It is important to let your immune system stretch its legs once in a while. Like any system, a good work out every now and then is good for it. He said that it is not such a bad thing to have a fever once or even twice a year.

He went on to say that many people are quick to take Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil), or even Aspirin to reduce the fever.

The problem is that this makes it much more difficult for the immune system to do its job, because the medicine reduces your fever that the immune system is creating to fight the invader.

If people would just let the fever run its course, they would likely get better much quicker.

Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t take medication if you have a fever. If your temperature gets too high it can be dangerous and even kill you.

But I would suggest that you do some research and speak with your Doctor or Alternative Health Practitioner. They can best advise
you on when you should take medication and when waiting a little may be beneficial.

It is also important to mention that this does not apply to people who have a compromised immune system, who are on immunosuppressive therapy (such as after an organ transplant), or for children.

And of course, as with anything, use your best judgment when following anyone’s advice!

I know that being sick isn’t fun…but it is important.

I’m not suggesting that you go out and try to get sick either.

Following good hygiene habits, such as washing your hands regularly and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean, are very important.

But next time you are laying there wishing that someone would put you out of your misery, remember this…being sick may not feel good, but it really is good for you.

Improve Your Immunity by Supporting Your Immune System

December 4th, 2009

So what is your immune system and why is it so important?

It is our internal system for self healing and the protection from outside invaders.

That’s right…your immune system is your own personal army working behind the scenes to neutralize foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. It also helps protect you against many environmental pollutants and chemicals.

On any given day we are exposed to millions of foreign cells. Fortunately our powerful army is there to protect us.

Or is it?

The problem is many of the things we do unknowingly weaken or suppress our immune system.

Even simple things such as not getting enough sleep, constantly being stressed and eating improperly can cause chemical responses in our body that decrease our body’s ability to fight off foreign invaders.

But the problem is greater than that.

In addition to suppressing our immune system we are not giving it the proper fuel it needs to function at its peak level of performance. It doesn’t work as well because we are giving it less raw material to work with.

And if it does take the necessary energy to function, it is at the expense of other systems within the body, which leaves you more stressed, tired and vulnerable to attack by foreign invaders.

This is why it is vital to do everything you can to provide your immune system the optimal environment to function…and with the raw materials it needs to function at its highest level possible.

Our body’s system of immunity is an incredible creation. We just need to properly support it and then get out of its way so it can do its job.