Hobbies and Happiness

Start Enjoying Life Again

Hobbies are not just excuses to get you away from the kids, spouse or work. They are actually great activities that help create the feel good chemicals in our brains needed for healthy mood production. However, often times when we get busy, married, or have children leaving hobbies to be one of those sidelined activities.   

The definition of a hobby from Dictionary.com is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Thereby, by definition engaging “regularly” in these behaviors in order to gain “pleasure” in life is essential.  

So I ask ‘why are you not engaging in a hobby?’

At this point most of us have a laundry list of excuses of why we cannot partake in something we enjoy but at the same time wonder why life feels lackluster.  Well I am here to tell you that our day-to-day activities contribute to our mood and our mood contributes to our thoughts and our thoughts contribute to our overall feeling in life.  

You may be thinking at this moment, ‘well if I had knew all this then I probably would do ____(fill in the blank) more often.’ 

Now that you know hobbies are a fundamental part of happiness you may wonder what hobby is right for you? Great question!! Hobbies tap into your personality, natural creativity and are very satisfying. If the activity feels like work, you feel that you are not very good at it or in the end you don’t feel better then when you started, this may not be the right activity for you. 

What are some common pleasing hobbies:

  • Recreational – fishing, hunting, skiing, camping, parks, community volunteering, comedy clubs, dancing
  • Intellectual – reading, writing, editing, product creation, attending/teaching a seminar
  • Sports – golf, swimming, tennis, basketball, football, volleyball, running, working out
  • Crafting – crochet/knitting, sewing, needlepoint, drawing, painting
  • Technological – Web development/design

Hopefully you can see at least one activity on this list that you used to enjoy and are willing to reactivate in your life.  If not, then with any luck the list at least gets your mind going where you can come up with your own activity.

Start today and stay tuned for more tips!! 

2019 Healthy Kickstart

You Are What You Eat!

With each passing year the struggle to remain healthy may feel as if it is slipping right out of your grip.  Most of what we have learned to this point about diets does not sound like much fun and it seems that being healthy equates to being forever hungry.  

Well not so fast!!   

First off dieting is not a term I like to encourage or use as it feels like a short-term goal.  When I discuss health with clients I am often looking toward something long-term and sustainable such as a lifestyle change. However, without understanding the true purpose of each food group and the effects they have on your body one is not likely to be invested enough to make a change. 

So ask yourself why is food so important? 

I can find many reasons that food is fundamental in our lives. First and foremost, it is our fuel that helps our bodies to function.  Though most of us do not know the basic components of how food is broken down and utilized for fuel. Amino acids that are extracted from food are also used to create other essential chemicals in our brains crucial for mood control, sleep wake cycle, hormone control, menstrual regulation and others. 

The typical American diet is infused with high sugar, fat, refined grains and very little natural ingredients.  The drive-thru is the new kitchen table and family time is pulled straight from that paper bag! Our brains require vitamins, amino acids, and natural supplements gleamed from protein, healthy carbohydrates, vegetables and healthy fats. Often times processed foods have very little of what the body needs, however, it does exude things we do not which has been proven to lead to health related issues such as obesity, type II diabetes, body inflammation found in fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.  

Mental clarity is also lost or decreased with increased junk food.  In addition, those with an unhealthy eating style is more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety as their brain is not afforded the appropriate building blocks to produce needed neurotransmitters known to control mood function.  Ask yourself if your meal choices are poor and then ask “how do I feel?” Likely you are chronically fatigued, unmotivated, experience digestive issues, may have unexplained muscle or bone aches, and experience frequent forgetfulness.  Yes food can do all that to your body and more!

Yet, healthy eating and cooking does not have to be expensive, time consuming or overwhelming. It is actually very simple to combine an 8-10” plate with ½ whole vegetables, ¼ healthy protein and ¼ healthy carbohydrates.  Now how simple is that? May lost calories are in the sugary drinks, condiment and sauces and added bread/buns that are added to meals.  

Take a quick one-week challenge and remove all those mentioned items above from your meals making sure to weigh in before and after…

Key takeaways about food:

  • Eat to fuel not comfort
  • Limit sugars and processed foods (soda, candy, white bread/pasta/rice, etc.)
  • Do not think diet AKA restriction
  • Healthy eating does not have to be expensive
  • Portion control
  • You need the right food to aid your mood
  • You cannot run on an empty tank
  • DRINK WATER

Natural Methods vs. Mental Health Medications for Treatment of Depression

Natural Methods vs. Mental Health Medications for Treatment of Depression


Society as a whole has become more aware of mental illness and most of us have had a bought with at least mild to moderate depression. All too often we are bombarded with media and television to instruct us toward medications as a cure for various ailments.  Though, what is not discussed or explained is that many self-help and natural measures are just as successful in treatment as are medications, in particular with symptoms of mild to moderate depression.  

So one must ask, why not use natural methods to alleviate these unwanted emotions rather than popping a pill.  Truly many will seek out the quick fix of a pill and move on rather than making the effort of implementing holistic and healthy measures. One must ask if a quick fix or along-term solution is desired as those enticing commercials and ads do not divulge that when you stop taking the medications often times the unwanted mood symptoms return. 

Lets look at the most popular medication types for depression and I will discuss what they do and then will enlighten all of you of some natural methods to replace this short term so called “miracle cure” that is pushed all over the media. 

Antidepressants 

There are many classifications of antidepressants, I will only review the most common.  These include SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), SNRI’s (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor) , TCA’s (Tricyclic Antidepressants) and MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors).

Common SSRI’s – 

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

Common Side Effects –

Nausea, trouble sleeping, nervousness, tremors, and sexual problems 

Common SNRI’s – 

  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

Common side effects –

Nausea, drowsiness, fatigue, constipation and dry mouth

Common TCA’s – 

  • Amitriptyline
  • Amoxapine
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Doxepin
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • Protriptyline
  • Trimipramine (Surmontil)

Common side effects – 

Constipation, dry mouth, fatigue

MAO’s  –are not discussed in this article as they are older medication, not commonly used due to dangerous interactions with other medications and are less effective than newer medications. 

How These Medications Work

These medications are effective for treating depression through the preservation of Serotonin and Norepinephrine in the bloodstream.  Serotonin and Norepinephrine are very important neurotransmitters that the body naturally produces and are used for various functions in the body.  Serotonin in known as the feel good chemical as it is known to produce relaxation and tiredness, while Norepinephrine is compared to adrenaline and contributes to attention and concentration.  

Improve Serotonin Creation

Serotonin is mostly found in the stomach, thereby diet is very important in the creation and maintenance of this chemical. Serotonin is created from the amino acid Trytophan that is found in food such as red meat, cheese and nuts. However, foods that are high in simple carbohydrates increases insulin and allow more tryptophan to enter brain resulting in an almost immediate calming effect.  This chemical interaction is part of the reason these foods are so desirable and craved when stressed.  Serotonin aids in sleep, mood health, sexual functions and healthy bowel movements. Low levels of serotonin have been related to depression. Other than food consumption, exercise is the most natural form of increasing serotonin in the brain and has been found equally effective in comparison to antidepressant medications.  If unable to find an optimal level of serotonin in your food or exercise there are natural supplements such as 5-HTP, Vitamin B6 and B12 and folate which should be taken under the supervision of your physician. 

Norepinephrine – is also a neurotransmitter frequently referred to as noradrenaline and is released in the bloodstream when needed for the “fight or flight” response. Increased levels help with mood by increasing energy and concentration.  As with serotonin, norepinephrine can also be found in your diet as the building blocks of this neurotransmitter is created from the amino acid tyrosine.  Some foods that contain tyrosine include bananas, beans, cheese, chocolate, eggs, fish/seafood, meat and oatmeal.  Again exercise is a foundational factor to increased norepinephrine.  Some supplements that have been known to help increase this neurotransmitter are tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, L-Carnitine, Arctic Root, Velvet Bean, Asian Ginseng.

In conclusion, it was once thought that a miracle was upon us when antidepressants became widespread and easily accessible. Though, it is well known that natural measures such as a well balanced diet of veggies, meat, dairy and nuts can help to manage poor mood among other ailments. In addition, adding essential building blocks necessary to create serotonin and norepinephrine through vitamins and supplements to our bodies will aid in mood balance.  So the question remains – are these medications more harmful than helpful since most symptoms related to mild or moderate depression can be treatment holistically.  


Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide information only. This is not a substitute for in person medical treatment, evaluation or diagnosis. If you believe that you may have depression it is imperative to talk with a mental health provider to evaluate appropriate treatment. 


Sources:

Annette (Gbemudu) Ogbru, PharmD, MBA; 2018; RX list webpage; Tricyclic Antidepressants; https://www.rxlist.com/tricyclic_antidepressants_tcas/drugs-condition.htm

Kristeen Cherney; Medically reviewed by Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA; April 17, 2017; Healthline Newsletter, What Medications Help Treat Depression?; https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/medication-list

Annamarya Scaccia , Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT, May 18, 2017, Healthline Newsletter, Serotonin: What You Need to Know, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin

Marcia Purse, Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD; May 03, 2018; Verywell Mind, What is Norepinephrine’s Role in Treating Mood Problems?, https://www.verywellmind.com/norepinephrine-380039

BrainMD Life, November 1, 2016, 4 Ways to boost your serotonin, https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/4-ways-to-boost-your-serotonin/

Deane Alban, Reviewed by Patrick Alban, DC, November 25, 2018, Be Brain Fit, How to Balance Norepinephrine Levels Naturally, https://bebrainfit.com/balance-norepinephrine/

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As the world is shedding a great deal of light on health and wellness a growing number of people, particularly women are falling for fad diets. Many of these diets have been proven to work in the short-term but not sustainable, however most are willing to try due to dissatisfaction with their current body weight and situation.  The yo-yo dieting mentality has been well explained and discussed, I have even heard about this on the Oprah show.  The bottom line with yo-yo dieting is that the weight loss is achieved, sometimes quickly, but when the diet ends one will gain back the lost weight and more.  Any diet that is unsustainable falls into the yo-yo category.

 

The bases for many diets are very restrictive which leads to the ultimate failure.  This failure can imprint the mentality of the need to “do better” or “try harder.” This feeling in most can lead to feeling depressed and hopeless. As the thought of constant dieting is the up and down of each attempt, can this ebb and flow lead to problematic eating.  This sense of failure and the need to try harder can lead to disordered eating where the restrictions become more intense and more time is focused on food.

 

Yes being health conscious, learning about how to eat and how to combine foods to achieve optimal health is a positive approach. Though many fad diets do not teach about nutrition but rather restriction.  If more people understood the purpose of each food type or macronutrient and what they do for and against your body then those attempting to improve their health could make informed decisions about their food intake. Being informed and making good food choices are very different from a list of “do” and “don’t” foods without explanation.  In addition, to how these diets make you feel they also alter the way in which your metabolism functions. Restrictive eating causes your body to react and continue to function with the nutrients given which often times are incomplete, lead to malnutrition and ultimately leads to malfunctioning of metabolism. In the end this can also contribute to weight gain or plateauing due to malnutrition.

 

In future I will drive further into food choices, macronutrients and what they do for your body. In addition, I will begin to discuss micronutrients or vitamins and supplements and the role they play in our nutrition. Also, I will discuss what yo-yo dieting does to your body as well because it does not only affect how you think about dieting and your health/weight.  Making informed choices lead to better health, less restriction and sustainable lifestyles.

 

Stay tuned and have a great day full of informed choices and healthy lifestyle.

What Is In Your Vitamins?

Do your vitamins have added sugar?-2

Were you aware that those yummy gummies have added sugars.  Why do vitamins need sugar? Well actually they don’t. I encourage you to get familiar with label reading as this could help alleviate ingesting unnecessary ingredients.  Vitamins should have close to the recommended daily intake of minerals. Depending on your particular need, vitamins do have variations. For instance, the focus on women’s or men’s health as well as geared toward pregnancy or hair/nail growth.


However, to my surprise I was offered to try a particular brand of gummy vitamins.  My friend spoke highly about how good they taste and which helps her take them daily. Without hesitation I popped two in my mouth. Of course as I am chewing I start label reading. Let me warn you folks this is not the ideal way to label read, lol!! Read labels first as the first thing I noticed were the label glaring at me showing 2g of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in my vitamins!! WTH I thought carbs were only in food and vitamins are not food. Wait, it gets better, I kept reading and the carbs were all sugar, yes 2g of sugar in my vitamin!! No wonder my friend thought they were so yummy, of course they are they have SUGAR in them..


I learned a valuable lesson that day. First of all, if it seems too good then likely it is. Second, read the label first. Lastly, as I continued to read the label I found that the vitamin fell extremely short of providing adequate vitamin consumption for the day. I mentioned that to her and she responded, “that is probably why I take a bunch every day.” Well now that 2g of sugar just skyrocketed in her best attempt to get the recommended daily allowance.  So imagine increasing the consumption in your mind to be the healthiest possible and the opposite is occurring. You are adding sugar.


Today’s takeaway note is READ LABELS before ingesting food, drinks or supplements. Word to the wise, you do not need sugar in your vitamins. This is not how it is supposed to work!!


Chime in and leave a comment about your vitamins and if you found sugars added.


Enjoy your day.

Finding Time For Your Health

Today’s way of life is very fast pace with little time in between for self-care. Most of the time I hear people say “I am too busy” when it comes to health and wellness. Though, being busy may be true, I have to say if it is something you truly want you will find time.  Finding the time may not be an easy task but evaluating your situation in order to optimize your time is essential.

I am the queen of making things work when it feels like things are stacked against you. I had to evaluate my own goals and where I wanted to be in life as I wanted to work on health and fitness. Did I mention that I was also the queen of excuses?  Well no more. Even though it seemed like I had no time in the day I made it happen. For instance this is my schedule.  I work 10 hours a day, drive each way for 1 hour, sleep for 8 hours which leaves me 4 hours of leisure time a day.  That includes getting ready for work, coming home making dinner, etc.  I kept saying I was too tired, too busy when really I was disorganized and not goal oriented.  However I turned it around and now come home to work out for 1 hour in the comfort of my own home.

I have included some tips on how to find time in your day for the things you want.

  • Set a goal

First off what do you want to accomplish and why? Answering this will help to reduce or eliminate excuses. Excuses are the biggest roadblock we have in life.  Believe it or not saying “I don’t have time” is an excuse.

  • Prioritize

Decide what is a must do and what you can cut from your day. Of course going to work is at the top of the priority list, however, hanging out at the water cooler with your co-workers may not be.  If health and wellness becomes part of your priorities then you will easily place it in your day.

  • Remove needlessness

Again we engage in activities daily that add no value to our lives. For instance, hours of television watching, scrolling through social media or searching the web. Health and wellness on the other hand is not a needless activity as it adds value to your life and can wholeheartedly replace some of these other no brainer tasks.

  • Set a timer

I was told by a woman who also runs a tight ship and she told me to set a timer with my priority tasks so that I do not begin to wonder away and waste time. By holding yourself accountable to the task at hand you are able to actually complete your goals.

  • Consistency

Being consistent in all you do will help you to grow habits. No different than your hours of internet surfing or tv watching.  However, in this case you will have something to show for when you are done.

My all-time saying is you will have to find time for something. Is it better to find time to make a doctor’s appointment due to unnecessary illness or make time to get into shape and take care of yourself to ward off those unnecessary things? The choice is yours to make

 

 

Spirituality and Mental Health

Religion-and-Happiness-01

Mental health concerns often wear down the entire person. Whether you are dealing with anxiety, depression, relational concerns or severe mental illness such as Bipolar or Schizophrenia the entire self is impacted. When one is unable to operate at full capacity limitations ensue and problems eventually erupt.  This can take form in negative thinking, weight gain, health problems related to stress which ultimately deteriorates the person you once knew.

These life stressors tend to take a bigger impact on a person when they allow themselves to be at the center of the problem. What that means is they carry the world and the world’s problems on their shoulders.  Over time one cannot sustain such pressure, perfection or focus.  Therefore, by seeking outside of one’s self affords the ability to alleviate some of the burden.

Have you ever wondered how some people are able to go through tragedy and recover while others are destroyed? Like me I am sure you have.  The answer is complexly simple.  It is simple as the plan is easy to follow. However, complex as you have to believe in a concept that you can only trust in your mind and has no physical presence in this world.

Spirituality is just that. Something you believe in but are unable to put a physical existence to. You just have to believe.  That for many is the difficult part of trusting that it is true.  If you believe that something is going to help you through a tragedy then you will look around you for proof – something good will result.  The opposite is also true.  If you feel like nothing will help you through the tragedy then you also will look around for proof – identifying all that is wrong in your life as a result of the tragedy.

Now imagine that you have faith in a spiritual entity and that all burdens are not yours but for this entity to provide aid in working through. This equates to the burden, weight and stress to lift from your shoulders and upon this spiritual helper and guider.  Wow doesn’t that feel more comfortable, I feel the weight lifting already!!

When the world’s pressure is not only riding on you, then life becomes more manageable, tasks become easier and adopting the idea that “things are meant to happen” alleviate overbearing stress and guilt from the unavoidable. Once you are able to believe this is possible the complexity of the task is reduced and one can then follow the plan.

Following the plan is just the reminder that you are not the bearer of the world’s weight, things “just happen” sometimes and that even in a tragedy something good can come about. The nice thing about the plan is it does not change as it is all about positive thinking, plain and simple.  If you are a bit lost and are thinking “how can I possibly turn a tragedy into something good?” Find articles or books to read with stories similar to your current struggle and really focus on how the person evaluates and manages the situation.  How do they come out victorious?  The one sure fire thing in this world is if you cannot figure it out there are enough resources to find a blue print and reproduce it and change it until it is authentic for you.

Go out and be positive thinkers, believe in something outside of yourself that is capable of handling your life stressors and overcome your tragedies.