Put Your Self in the Equation

By Mind, Spirit

Put Yourself in the Equation

Where do you put yourself in your day? Seems like a funny question to ask. After all aren’t we all by the very nature of being alive in our day? The reality is that very few of us actually take time out to dedicate some portion of the day totally for ourselves. It seems we can always find some excuse that trumps our belief that it’s possible to have time for ourselves. The kids, the kids’ schedules, the project at work, phone calls that have to be returned, groceries bought, dogs walked, dinner guests or just about any other realistic reason. There is no disputing there is an endless supply of things that demand our attention daily.

For the most part, you can be pretty sure nobody will tell you to take time for yourself. They are usually consciously or unconsciously happy to have you slave away for them. Can you imagine your child saying to you” Mom/Dad you look tired; how about I mow the lawn, make dinner etc.?” Or how about your boss saying, “You have really been working hard; how about taking some extra time at lunch or better yet take the afternoon off?” I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, just unlikely.

Recently I was talking to a woman about where she puts herself in her day and she told me it was easier to not commit to something because she always felt bad when she didn’t live up to her commitment. For her, taking time for herself meant working out regularly. To take a long run or go to the gym was a luxury that she rarely afforded herself. I asked her if she realized that it wasn’t a commitment to working out but a commitment to herself. I pointed out how committed she is to getting all her kids’ needs met, volunteering at school, working a full time high powered job and running her household. She said, “It makes me exhausted when you say it like that.” The truth is she was exhausted. When we don’t put ourselves in the equation, we get worn out and eventually it affects not only our health but our mood as well.

Balance is essential to good health and feeling alive. Making time for you is essential to that balance. It can be as simple as taking time to sit down and read the paper, take a walk, a bath, mediate or exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters that you do it and know that you are doing it for you. Take a minute and assess how well you do at putting yourself in your day. Challenge yourself for a week to put yourself in your day everyday and see what a difference it makes. I am certain that once you realize it can be done without your world falling apart you will start claiming “me” time daily. It is also worth mentioning that by taking time for yourself you are teaching the kids and those around you that it is an important thing to do as well. When you take time for yourself, you will be happier, calmer and more at ease and I can promise this goes a long way to make your world run a whole lot smoother.

Is Sugar Really That Bad?

By Body

Is Sugar Really Bad?

Most of us are aware that sugar is not the best choice for a food source. However, in polling my patients I found that most really didn’t understand why other than it inevitably leads to weight gain. Gaining weight however is just one of the many consequences of sugar’s negative effect on our bodies. In reality sugar directly or indirectly affects all the major systems of our bodies. While researching for this paper, I discovered that Americans consume around 156 lbs. of added sugar a year, which is the equivalent of 30- 5pound, bags per person per year! That does not include the naturally occurring sugars we consume such as those found in fruits, grains and vegetables. So, where does it all come from? Of the 156 pounds, 29 of them are from the sugar you scoop into your coffee or use while baking. The rest comes from food you generally wouldn’t think contains sugar such as ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressings, crackers, yogurt, dips, and energy bars. I encourage you to read labels and I think you will be surprised at the number of foods you consume that have sugar as a main ingredient. The guidelines for sugar consumption as set forth by the WHO (World Health Organization) suggest that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sugar. To put this in perspective, if you drank one single can of soda that would put you over the limit!

Most of us like sugar in some form or another, but to really understand the complication of sugar we have to “look under the hood” so to speak. Sugar effects two significant hormones in your body, insulin and glucagon. These two are intricately related to controlling your metabolism and they do the exact opposite of one another. Insulin lowers blood sugar, converts fat to storage, increases production of cholesterol, removes fat from blood and takes it to fat cells and shifts the body into storage mode, makes the kidneys retain fluid and stimulates growth of arterial smooth muscle cells. Glucagon, on the other hand, raises blood sugar, coverts fat into ketones and sends it to the cells to be burned, releases fat from cells to be burned as energy, decreases the production of cholesterol, makes the kidneys release fluid, shifts metabolism into burning mode and stimulates the regression of arterial smooth muscle. So, why is this important to you? When you eat too much sugar for your body, it upsets the balance leading to increased cholesterol, increased blood pressure, weight gain in your mid-section, fatigue, decrease in your muscles’ ability to use glucose, bloating and unfortunately hunger!

We Americans love consuming large amounts of carbohydrates. When these carbohydrates break down in our bodies, they convert to sugar. Increased levels of sugar over time can and most often does lead to insulin resistance. In fact, the research shows that most people over the age of thirty who are not eating mindfully are dealing with some degree of insulin resistance. When talking to patients about their insulin resistance, I find there is such relief that they are not diabetic that they fail to fully understand the consequences of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal action of insulin. Cells are not able to take in glucose, amino acids and fatty acids as well as decreased growth hormone leads to all the aforementioned symptoms.

Unfortunately, there is no drug that changes the resistance of the body cells to insulin. There is, however, something that we can do about it.


Most important because it causes the release of growth hormone. Growth hormone will reduce the liver’s uptake of glucose, so we don’t store as much, stimulate the immune system, increase fat breakdown, so we burn fat more efficiently, increase our muscle mass, increase the strength of our bones and stimulate the health and growth of all organs except the brain. There are a few guidelines that really make exercise productive and cause the release of growth hormone.

Important guidelines:

  1. Exercise on an empty stomach
  2. Exercise intensely to the point of muscle fatigue such as cycling, weight lifting, interval classes
  3. Do not eat for one hour following exercise and only drink water during exercise
  4. Consume only protein and no carbs near workout time


The biggest surge of growth hormone occurs one hour after you get in a deep sleep, BUT you cannot have had sweets or carbs before bedtime. This will inhibit the release of the growth hormone.


Drinking green tea before you eat reduces the glycemic index of food uptake.

So, the good news is there are some things we can do about the effects of sugar and reduce the insulin resistance. The bad news for some is that it means that we have to exercises and rest well. Please evaluate your sugar intake. Think about what it is doing “under the hood”. If you need to use sugar consider a sugar substitute such as stevia. Its steriol glycoside has 300 times the sweetness of sugar and a neglible effect on blood glucose levels. Even though your symptoms may not be immediately evident, sugar will eventually take its toll.

Helping Your Fall Allergies

By Body, Spirit

Help with your Fall AllergiesWe are getting closer to that time of year again when ragweed and other pesky irritants water our eyes, clog our noses and make our lungs expel. Fall is just around the corner and with a few helpful hints you just may be able to reduce your symptoms.

Although there are many different types of allergic responses such as food and dust, the type of allergens I would like to focus on in this article are outdoor seasonal allergies. Allergies are diseases of the immune system that are caused by an overreaction to substances called “allergens”. Although there are endless possible offenders, in our neck of the woods ragweed and mold are primary irritants. As the leaves fall from the trees and dry mold spores are released into the atmosphere, we inhale them. When we are allergic, our bodies go into attack mode, releasing histamines, causing the typical reactions such as coughing, watery eyes, fatigue, runny nose and headaches. As the wind blows across the ragweed, it also releases ragweed into the atmosphere and it is also inhaled. This causes reactivity in our lungs and nasal mucosa. Consider a few of the following preventative options to make your fall less irritating and more enjoyable.


As we go through our day ,we are exposed to significant amounts of allergens that find their way into our hair and on our skin. When we get in bed, those allergens end up on our pillow as they fall out of our hair and come off our skin. We then end up being exposed all night long even though we are safe in our bed. By simply taking a shower or rinsing before we get in bed we can significantly reduce our exposure.


Knowing what is blooming and what the pollen counts are help you to make good decisions about when to be outside and when to minimize your exposure. Weather.com has a section that is devoted to giving you information about what the pollen counts are in your area as well as what allergens are present. If the pollen counts are high, it’s probably not the best choice to go for a bike ride or exercise outside. Save it for a lower pollen day and minimize your exposure.


When the weather is cool , we are so tempted to open the windows and doors and air out the house. Unfortunately, instead of airing it out, we are inviting the pollen in. The pollen settles on our furniture, clothes, and kitchen countertops, which creates multiple opportunities for ingesting or inhaling. Therefore, as tempting as it is, keep the doors and windows shut during heavy pollen seasons.


Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions, with the amount of allergens that are brought in on our shoes, flow through house vents or enter when we come home, we can significantly reduce our exposure by vacuuming at least two times a week. Consider wearing a mask when vacuuming to reduce your exposure. It is also very helpful to leave your house for a little while to let whatever is floating in the air settle and reduce the amount you inhale.


We always hear about the value of washing our hands, and when it comes to allergies, washing your hands frequently will significantly diminish your exposure to allergens when you are tempted to rub your eyes, touch your nose and yes, put your fingers in your mouth.


As the kids head back to school and into the petri dish, exposure to erasers being clapped, playing on the playground at recess and dragging their sweatshirts and sweaters around all pose a problem and increase their chance of reactivity. Helping them understand how important it is to wash their hands and face after being outside will significantly reduce their exposure and symptoms.