help for insomniacs Archives

Fitness For Your Brain

One of the most interesting bits of information that I have come across when researching for my program on Neuroplasticity is the finding that the combination of aerobic exercise (not Yoga, Tai Chi, or even strength training) and a strong social network gives us a MUCH better chance of retaining good health AND keeping dementia at bay as we age.

The advancements in computer technology in our lifetime are great, and have enabled us to watch instructive videos and repair our own cars or appliances, write emails which arrive instantly, and have live chats with family and friends all over the world!

While the socialization part of this is good for us, the sitting part is not.

In 1969, René Dubos published his Pulitzer Prize winning book, So Human an Animal: How We Are Shaped by Our Surroundings. After studying indigenous populations in remote locations, Dubos concluded that the secret to longevity was directly linked to social connectivity and physical activity. A handful of more recent studies have concluded the same.

Where do you fall in this category? Are you an avid walker, but work at home alone all day and have a limited social network? Or, maybe you have an active social circle who gathers for concerts, dinners, and/or travelling, but are mostly a couch potato?

Here are some examples of how we can integrate this new information into daily life:

Join, or start, a group exercise program. Walking clubs are nice. I am starting one in Otis soon. A group of women who walk together at least once a week, chatting, laughing together, solving all the problems of the world… You can bike or hike or swim together as well. Do what gives you joy, but do it with others as much as possible.

If you only need to add aerobic exercise, once again, it’s important to use what you have available and what fits into your schedule. If you try to make time to get to a gym, for instance, when you already have a busy schedule, then you might find it too difficult to continue going after a week or two. Perhaps a 30 minute walk at lunchtime would fit into your schedule better, or 20 minutes on your mini trampoline a few times a week, or walking to that selectman meeting, or library board meeting. Sometimes, I incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training into my program by listening to an interesting program on my iPod while switching off between walking around the yard and running up the stairs to my studio; the time goes by quickly as I’m concentrating on what I’m learning while getting the exercise in. I have a brother-in-law who reads the paper while riding his stationary bike every day. Use that creative brain of yours to fit something in that doesn’t feel like another task you have to complete. And make it fun!

Whatever you chose to do – schedule it into your calendar! You Are Important! Your own health and well being is the most important job you have in life. If you are not healthy, you cannot care for others, nor participate in life as you wish. Make this appointment with yourself a regular habit by scheduling it in just as you would a dental appointment. You will be glad later in life if you start to take better care of yourself now. It’s never too late to start working out, especially working out with others, which is more fun and even healthier!

Best of Health,

Kathi

To Gluten or Not To Gluten…

Have you thought about going gluten free? Have you wondered what all the buzz is about?

Well, I have just reached my one year anniversary of being gluten free. I originally went gluten free to see if it would help my psoriasis. Sadly, it has not. There have been other benefits that I hadn't counted on, though.

First of all, if you are wondering what the heck gluten is, I’ll tell you. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. It’s the “glue” that makes bread and pasta stick together and hold their shape. If you’ve tried making a sandwich with many of the gluten free breads, you can see exactly what I mean, as your bread crumbles apart instead of surrounding your filling. Pretty messy.

In some people, gluten triggers an autoimmune response that attacks the lining of the small intestine. This means that the body is unable to effectively absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss. This is celiac disease and it’s very serious.

Other people can be gluten intolerant, which is less serious, but not much fun either. Gluten sensitivity can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, "brain fog," and itchy skin rash. The skin rash part was why I originally stopped eating gluten, hoping that mine would get better.

Going gluten free is not as difficult as you might think. There are lots of foods that are naturally gluten-free, for example, fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat, fish and poultry, unprocessed beans, seeds and nuts, and the majority of dairy products. Many grains: buckwheat, corn, flax, quinoa, rice, soy, arrowroot, and millet are gluten free. There are bread and pasta choices that are made with these naturally gluten free grains.

A Mediterranean diet, which many docs believe is the best thing for us includes tons of veggies and fruit, a little bit of meat, poultry or fish (protein), and a bit of grains as well. I love veggies and fruits, as well as quinoa and rice. Ronzoni also makes a gluten free pasta that’s quite good, so I have no trouble staying on this type of diet.

A 2011 study, conducted by Peter Gibson and colleagues from Monash University in Australia, concluded that Gluten Intolerance might be a legitimate disorder, after finding participants that consumed gluten experienced increased bloating and fatigue. But then a small study done in 2013 found just the opposite, so the reality is that more, larger studies need to be done in order for us to know if gluten is a problem for many or not.

What I can tell you is that I have more energy without the gluten. I have two students who went gluten free to rid themselves of skin rashes. Both rashes went away, PLUS, they both feel less fatigued as well.

I will also say that I am not totally without. If I am out somewhere and I want to order a lovely Italian dish with pasta, I order it and enjoy it. I no longer consume gluten on a regular basis, but I don’t deprive myself of something I enjoy, occasionally.

If you want to try it, just to see what you may experience, go ahead. It’s pretty easy and you don’t have to buy special food, unless you want the gluten free bread or pasta. Try it for at least 30 days and see if you feel any different.

So the jury is still out on gluten. Right now, in spite of all the advertising urging you to buy high priced gluten free products, unless you have celiac disease, there is not a lot of evidence that gluten is bad for you. Have you gone gluten free? Are you going to try gluten free? If you did or are, drop me a line and let me know about your experience and I’ll share it with the group.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Can Your Mind Really Heal Your Body?

I'm sure you've heard things said before like, "mind over body" or, "your mind can heal anything," but do you ever think to yourself, "that's easier said than done!" After all, if you're like most people, you don't have time to sit around like a Buddist Monk, meditating for hours a day, focusing on healing your body. So how exactly do you apply it to your life?

Well, I want to share a video with you today that will reveal some startling research on just how powerful the mind is over the body. This video will also introduce a grounded, everyday technique that you can use to help your mind keep your body healthy.

It's a video of Dr. Lissa Rankin, M.D., a traditionally trained medical doctor who specializes in understanding the mind-body connection, and Nick Ortner, producer of the upcoming 9th annual Tapping World Summit, to discuss her findings in her book, “Mind Over Medicine,” and the implications they have for all of us, both the "seemingly" healthy, and those with health challenges. If you’ve been receiving my newsletter for a while, you may remember Dr. Lissa from my telesummit on healing chronic pain a few years back. This video is being released in the lead up to the 9th Annual Tapping World Summit. They have some very interesting dialogue where Dr. Lissa shares her latest research, and her perspective on what is happening in the mind and body when people are doing EFT Tapping. I’ve talked about EFT before, in my newsletter, and you know that I highly recommend using it on a regular basis.

Tapping, most commonly known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a type of energy psychology that combines eastern medicine and modern psychology. It is extremely effective with both physical issues (back pain, headaches, etc.) and emotional issues.

Here’s what you’ll get from today’s video with Lissa and Nick:

- You'll hear about what Dr. Lissa has learned from studying over 3,500 cases of "spontaneous remission" and what the research both tells us, and isn't telling us, about why people get sick or healthy.

- You'll discover the nine common characteristics that people with "spontaneous remission" have, and why they're critical to know for both sick people and healthy people.

- You'll learn about the only two modes that our nervous system can be in, and how in one of them, our bodies’ self-repair mechanism literally shuts down! And the scary part is that most people tend to get stuck in this shut down mode (she'll explain why and how you can get out of it).

- You'll hear about why some of her supposedly "healthiest" clients (exercising, eating well, meditating, etc) were getting sick and the big "aha" moment she had about what was causing it all.

- Near the end Dr. Lissa will blow your mind by redefining what "placebo" actually is and how most scientific studies are not digging deep enough into what is going on with the mind and body.

Watch this video HERE, I know you'll love it!

Best of Health,

Kathi

World Tapping Summit PreviewVideo

Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet!

With the start of each new year, many of us take an inventory of what we've accomplished in the past year, contemplate where we'd like to go this year, and then set some goals for ourselves. It's a tradition that has been around for at least as long as I've been alive...

The problem is that, often, we start the year out really great, but by March we've gotten off track, and from then on we don't even look at our goals again until December. But, is there a better way? Yes, I believe there is.

This year, set your goals, but make at least some of them into what Jack Canfield has labeled "Daily Disciplines." Daily disciplines sounds serious, it's a way to make new habits that will help us to stay on track. For instance, if one of your goals is to work out more, and maybe another goal is to keep the dishes from piling up in the sink, then make a new daily habit of getting up ten minutes earlier. Ten minutes is not that much - you can do that! Then, every day, you will have that ten treasured minutes to either wash the dishes in the sink, or choose a ten minute yoga routine, or do some push-ups, or... Just think of the possibilities! Ten minutes doesn't seem like much, but it can make a big difference! I can tell you from personal experience that you'll feel better when you see the dishes done or when you know that you've done at least ten minutes of exercise. Every new habit must start with small steps and these ten minutes are a great start.

Another good daily discipline is to save 3-5 minutes at the end of the day, right before bed, to check in with how your day went. Keep a notebook and pen by your bed stand and just before you go to bed write down something you did that was a genuine act of kindness, another accomplishment that you are proud of, something good that you did which helps you meet the goals you set for yourself, and two more items (5 total) that you are proud of, or that make you feel good about yourself. This will also put you in the right state of mind to get a better night's sleep!

I also find that setting up a reward for yourself for having done your daily disciplines helps to keep the momentum going through the year. Some rewards that I have used include taking a long epsom salts bath at the end of a week where I kept my daily disciplines every day. Another is getting a massage or reflexology treatment, or something else I consider special, if I've kept my daily disciplines going for 60 days. Use your imagination and choose some rewards for yourself that will be enticing enough to keep you going!

In the meantime, here is a five minute series of exercises that gets the heart pumping and works muscles you didn't know you had! Repeat twice for a ten minute routine!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

A topic that seems to surface almost constantly on social media, at the water cooler, family parties, or anywhere that people gather, is sleep. Many people feel that they don't get enough sleep, but find it hard to get to sleep at night, or they wake up during the night and can't get back to sleep. Many of us also know that some of our daily habits can cause this lack of sleep, but we still don't attempt to change!

Sleep is important - we all know that. When we don't get enough sleep, not only does it make us grumpy and out of sorts, but chronic lack of sleep can cause memory issues, premature wrinkling, and even interfere with our ability to metabolize our foods, affecting weight gain/loss. Yikes! 

Prolonged lack of sleep can also disrupt your immune system, causing you to catch every cold that floats past your nose. 

If you are one of the estimated 1 in 3 Americans that don't get enough sleep, here are a few tips:

  1. Turn off your computer, TV, etc., an hour before bedtime! This is important, yet most people that I know don't take advantage of this simple tip. For your own health and safety, please consider doing this.
  1. Have a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This is another difficult one for many people.
  1. Eating a big meal less than two hours before bed is going to make your body work too hard at digesting that meal to be able to concentrate on sleep. So, if you know you'll be arriving home late, plan a larger lunch and have a small, lighter meal when you get home. 
  1. Getting plenty of exercise during the day (not before bed) also helps the body to sleep better at night.
  1. And here's a quick breathing exercise that can help you get to sleep. Give it a try for five minutes before bed tonight, and let me know how it worked for you!

Best of Health,

Kathi

How To STOP Beating Yourself Up!

Ever been in a place where all of life's standard issue strain has literally hit the fan and you sink into a place of believing that Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, your Yoga or meditation teacher, and countless others are so much more qualified, prepared, capable of getting through this life smoothly, and you wish you could too?

We all sink there sometimes. That quagmire pulls you farther down into the depths as each event happens. Your best friend's dog dies, you get the flu and writers block at the same time, and then your internet goes out for six days... Sometimes life is not easy.

But it's not easy for Oprah and Deepak either. It is easy, when we are suffering, to look at someone we admire and think that they never let themselves get down like this, but, in reality, we're all human. And being human means that sometimes, despite our best efforts, life gets very, very difficult, and we can feel weak, sad, or angry. 

That was me last week. Trying to run a business is near to impossible when you have no internet for six days!!!!! And that was just the tip of my iceberg, so to speak. Life on this planet is chock full of adventures and disasters at times.

When times like this hit, I force myself to meditate more - even though there are a thousand things my mind thinks I should be doing instead. Even if I only take a ten minute self Reiki break, I do it anyway; every little bit helps. And, since we are all human, what also helps, is remembering a story my brother shared with me several years ago. I'll share it with you now to make my point.

This brother has lived in New York City for many years. He, like most people in the city, rides the subway to get everywhere. It's crowded, people are often unfriendly, angry, in a hurry, late for an appointment, etc. On one particular day, my brother was attempting to share positive emotions with those around him, which is his habit, by making eye contact or saying hello, but it was really, really difficult. There was lots of angry energy around and he was getting down on himself for not being able to keep his own positivity up.

He thought he recognized a man standing on the platform near him, and was wracking his brain to remember who it was. This man also looked pretty angry, which, it occurred to him later was one of the reasons my brother, at first, didn't recognize him. When it hit him who it was, he felt much better about his own situation. It was Deepak Chopra.  

If Deepak, with his four hours of daily meditation, his Yoga practice, and everything that he does for himself and others can fall into that quagmire once in a while, then we needn't beat ourselves up about sometimes being in the same position!

So, smile, think of this story when you feel overwhelmed by life's ups and downs, and take care of you! 

Here's a little  video of a calming eye massage. It only takes a few minutes and can help you come back to your sane, centered self.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Take Care Of YOU!

With all the excitement this month of Irish festivities, preparing for Easter and spring hiking/biking starting earlier this year, please remember to take care of you. The more I teach, and the more clients I see, the more important I realize self-care is. So many people - especially women, forget how important their own health and well being is. For many of us, self care feels more like a fringe benefit than an essential daily practice. This was driven home to me, once again last week, when a friend who took care of everyone in town at one time or another, and who was a truly generous soul with all but herself, had a sudden heart attack and died. She leaves a big hole in her family's and extended family's lives. Please take care of yourself so that you'll be around for a long time for your family and friends!

Exercise, eat healthy foods (not too much...), and do some type of meditation.

And so to start you off, here is a link to one of the breathing practices that I teach every week. It focuses on healing the spine. Just about everything in the body is connected to the spine, so a healthier spine means a healthier body. Relax and BREATHE!

Coloring For Grown-ups!

The other day on my journey to teach Gentle Therapeutic Yoga, I was visited by a flock of turkeys - well actually, a family of them. I saw mom, dad, and several younger ones. Dad was attempting to cross the road and was nearly hit by the car in front of me. He stayed on the opposite side of the road after that scare, while mom and the children headed off into a nearby field. I'm sure he caught up with them eventually, unless the hawks decided he was small enough for them to carry off. I really love living in the country. The peace and quiet, the sound of the loons enjoying the lake on a summer evening, all the wildlife that is abundant in our beautiful Berkshires speaks to my soul. And when our souls or spirits are singing in harmony with nature, all those stress hormones begin leaving our body, improving our mood, lowering blood pressure, and protecting our brains! How cool is that!?

Most of us know that meditation is a good habit to start, and that a daily practice can help rid our bodies of stress hormones, but recent studies have shown that crafting and coloring can have the same effect. Knitting, sculpting, drawing, and other creative processes can put our mind, "in the zone," which causes the parasympathetic systems in our body to take over. Anxiety, depression, and grief are reduced, and most people find that time goes by much more quickly. So, find those old knitting needles that you stored in the attic. Get out that box of crayolas your grandkids play with and use them yourself! Have some "playtime" and reap the benefits for your body, mind, and soul.

I'm thinking of drawing and then coloring these mushrooms I found in my yard - pretty colorful, huh?

mushrooms on stump

Best of Health,

Kathi

What Is Energy Healing?

Energy Healing is on the rise - partly due to people wanting a non- invasive, non-addictive, non-chemical solution for their aches and pains, but also because so many people see results. The ancient methods, treatments, and traditional herbal medicines that have been in use for thousands of years work very well when combined with our new technological advances for testing and repairing.

Modern medicine however, is designed to treat symptoms. You have to already be sick before a solution can be found. With energy medicine, distortions or blocks in your energy field, that eventually show up in your body as an ache, pain, or disease, can be discovered earlier. A skilled energy healer can sense blockages in your energy field before they show up as symptoms in your physical body. Those ancient shamans really knew what they were doing! An energy healer accesses the unified field, or source, or divine matrix, to help you heal your own energetic body.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know I believe very strongly that every body is different and there is no cookie cutter solution for any illness or pain. Therefore, I believe the best approach is to use any and all solutions available to us to find the one(s) that work best for our own body. When we are ill, we all deserve to have access to any and all effective treatments. East and West working together can more effectively heal our body, mind, and spirit. Include modern medicine, energy medicine, acupuncture, Ayurveda, homeopathic medicines, along with good nutrition and exercise in your health plan!

Want to try an energy healing session? Here’s a link to my Healing Touch (Reiki) page.

There are many simple energy healing techniques that you can use on a regular basis to improve your mood, or increase your energy when you feel tired in the middle of the day, and balance your chakra system.

Here's one to try for yourself with me right now:

Technology Not Making Life Easier?!

Well, technology is wonderful, when it works, but when it doesn't, it can be frustrating - IF You Let It Get To You! Tech glitches prevented me from publishing last week's newsletter. I didn't let it get to me, but I have to say that I have only recently mastered that skill. Even now, sometimes life's little glitches still get to me, but I am much better at taking them with a grain of salt these days. My own, "aha" moment came when I realized that I was working on several things at the same time and not getting ANY of them done. In fact, I was often forgetting what I went into a room for, because I would get into that room and see something that I'd started and not finished earlier, and auto pilot would have me start back on that task. Yikes! Time for a break!

Most of us have been consummate multi-taskers for much of our lives, but now that we know all this multi-tasking can cause Chronic Fatigue, Adrenal Depletion and more, we realize we have to take better care of our mind and body.

Here are some simple ways to begin to listen to our bodies, reconnect, and tune in with what's going on in the present moment. Remember - put your own oxygen mask on before you help someone with theirs!

  • Meditation is essential for the health of our mind and body. AND Meditation can be as simple as spending ten minutes each morning in silent prayer. Or, you can learn meditation techniques that help to clear your mind; then set aside 20 minutes each morning for your meditation practice. I cannot stress enough how important meditation is to our well being.
  • Journal your thoughts daily. Sitting down with pen and notebook and asking yourself - How Do I Feel Today? The answers will come and you will feel better after they are out of your mind and onto the paper.
  • Playtime is just as important as an adult, as it was when we were kids - maybe more so. Children naturally laugh at least 70% more than adults. Let's change that statistic. Find time to dance, sing, walk on a beach or in the woods, play catch with your dog, do any activity that brings you joy and makes you smile and/or laugh. Laughter reduces the stress hormones coursing through your body, so make time for some fun!

The concept of, "me time," is not an easy one to grasp. BUT, when we embrace the fact that we can't control everything, we begin to know the freedom of not having to try to control everything in our life. Be open to infinite possibilities, and life becomes more exciting, fun, and laughable!

Here's a quick eye massage that will help you get started on your, "me time!"

Best of Health,

Kathi

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »