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The Beginning of the Holiday Season
by Mortez on 

The Beginning of the Holiday Season

 

Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season. The next couple of months are filled with treats, parties, family gatherings, alcohol, and a packed schedule. So how do you continue to pursue your health and fitness goals despite this time of year?

 

The definition of insanity is…

 

Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

 

This year, as the holiday season approaches, do things differently than you have done in the past. It’s not about “depriving” yourself of your holiday favorites but rather substituting with healthier foods and behaviors. (Although I would argue that choosing your health and wellbeing over sugar and less healthy food as well as the health of those you love is NOT deprivation.)

 

Non-Candy Alternatives

 

Halloween is later this week; do you plan on handing out candy to trick-or-treaters? Let’s face it; kids will receive enough candy filled with high fructose corn syrup between parties at school and trick-or-treating. What if you handed out something that wasn’t candy? My guess is parents would thank you, and your house wouldn’t get egged!

 

Ideas include:

  • Glow Sticks

  • Temporary Tattoos

  • Stickers

  • Pencils

  • Plastic jewelry that is glow in the dark and Halloween themed

  • Mini Play-dough containers

  • Halloween themed mini-toys: plastic eyeballs, fake fingers, etc.

 

Bottom line is be creative…ask your kids what they would like to get other than candy.

Better Choices

 

The biggest issue with Halloween candy other than the obvious (sugar!) is the high amounts of high fructose corn syrup and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). You can bet that any product that contains high fructose corn syrup is a processed industrial food that is void of any nutrients. To increase health, we should seek whole, real, unprocessed foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

 

If you still want to hand out candy, here are some “better” choices free of the ingredients above.

  • Endangered Species individually wrapped chocolates

  • Yummy Gummy Candies

  • Annie’s Gummy Snacks

  • Trader Joe’s Organic Pops

  • Unreal candy

  • Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups

 

Most of these products can be found at Whole Foods stores and some other local grocers.

Switch Witch

 

What is the Switch Witch?

 

The Switch Witch lives on the dark side of the moon. She LOVES candy. The Switch Witch loves candy so much that she’s eager to trade toys to girls and boys in exchange for their candy stash.

 

The girls and boys can choose to keep a little candy for themselves, but the more they give the Switch Witch, the better their toy will be! The Switch Witch eats the candy over the course of the year. Just when she runs out, it’s Halloween time again and time for another visit from the Switch Witch.

 

The Switch Witch can also be known as:

  • The Candy Fairy

  • Great Pumpkin

 

Have the Switch Witch come to your house this year…

 

After trick-or-treating on the 31st, allow your kids to pick 5 of their favorites pieces of candy. Place the rest on your front step for the Switch Witch. In the morning, your kids will find a new toy, book, or something else they would value more than candy in exchange for the candy they left the night before.






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Power Over Habit: Why Mindset Matters
by Mortez on 

If you have ever tried to ignore a box of doughnuts at work, you know how hard it is to keep your hands to yourself and walk on by.  And once you walk on by, the battle isn’t over.  Even if you are in a different room and down the hall, you can’t stop thinking about those doughnuts. 

Why is it so hard to resist something as small and seemingly innocent as a doughnut?  It has to do with habit—and mind set.

Hardwired habits

The draw you feel from that doughnut goes way beyond just a mild interest:  you are wired to want it, and resistance is hard.  In his book, The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler MD explains the breakdown:

When you taste foods that are highly palatable (such as foods containing excess sugar, fat and salt), your brain releases opioids into your blood stream. Opioids are brain chemicals that cause you to have intense feelings of reward and pleasure, as well as relieving pain and stress.  The pleasurable effect is similar to the feelings that morphine and heroin users experience.  The desire may be so intense that you keep taking one bite after another:  it can be hard to stop.


That explains why you keep eating.  But why do you give in and approach that doughnut box in the first place?  Why not just refuse to take that first bite?


The answer is another brain chemical called dopamine.  Dopamine is responsible for motivating you to seek out the doughnut so you can get the opioid release.  You remember how good it tasted and how great it made you feel.  Dopamine energizes you to work for that doughnut.  It causes you to concentrate on it and drives you to seek it out.


Once this process happens a few times, the whole cycle becomes a habit that is very reward focused, very ingrained and very hard to break.  Your brain’s circuitry has become mapped and wired to want the doughnut.  And you don’t even have to be near the doughnut for this process to start--the dopamine can kick in even when there are no doughnuts in site:  ever made a run to the store for a treat that you just had to have right then?

The result

Over one-third of all adults in our country are obese.  We live in a society in which we are surrounded by highly-palatable foods (think restaurant foods and processed foods).  The deeply ingrained habit of eating unhealthy food and too much of it is widespread. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded not only with unhealthy food, but also with a neural circuitry that drives us to pursue that unhealthy food. 

Remap your brain with mindset

And now the good news:  you can start right now to change the trajectory that you are on.  You can rewire your brain and begin reducing the power that those opioid-producing foods have over you.  You can draw a new map in your mind that will have you passing by the doughnuts on your way to better pleasures.


The secret is mindset.  You must want something else more than you want those fleeting moments of pleasure that the doughnuts bring you.  What is it?  What do want?  Maybe you want to drop a couple of jeans sizes.  Maybe you want to be off your blood pressure medication.  Maybe you want to be known as an ‘athletic’ type person.  Maybe you want to keep disease at bay.  Or maybe you just want the immense satisfaction of being in control of yourself!  People who can’t resist a doughnut have given away power over their own lives!


Once you know what you want, go after it with the following strategies:

1.  Stop.  There is no other way to say this: you must stop eating foods that are not in your plan.  In the beginning, this will be difficult.  When everyone around you is tossing back pizza and soft drinks, you will struggle.  You will smell the pizza, you will be in the emotionally charged atmosphere and dopamine will be flowing in your bloodstream.  Think about what you want more than that doughnut; think about what you can only have by resisting the doughnut.  Sheer will-power is what you have to use at this point.


2.  Savor the victory.  Once you come out on the other side having successfully won the battle within your own mind, you will have accomplished much more than just saying no to a piece of pizza.  You will have begun ‘cooling’ the stimulus, as Dr. Kessler puts it.  You have taken the first step toward weakening the circuitry in your brain that drives you to habitual patterns of behavior.  The next time, it will be easier.  And after that, even easier.


3.  Focus on new rewards.  As you remap your brain, you are creating new neural pathways that in time will be stronger than the weakening, “doughnut-centered” pathways.  Make sure these new rewards are life-giving and energy-producing, such as the thrill you get when you can run a 5K or set a PR in your weight-lifting.


You can have power over habits:  it’s all about mindset.  You can do this!

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Cold and Flu Season is Upon Us: How's Your Gut Function?
by Mortez on 

Fall is here, and that means that cold and flu season has arrived.  Have you ever noticed that some people seldom get sick?  Or maybe you have wondered why after being exposed to the same virus, one person gets ill while the other remains well. 


The reason lies in the strength of the immune system.  And the strength of your immune system is largely dependent upon the condition of your digestive system.


When you are exposed to bad bacteria or viruses, it is up to your immune system to protect you from being infected.  If your immune system is strong, your body will fight off the threat.  If your immune system is weak or compromised, you may end up sick.

Microbes:  the good, the bad, and the ugly


Inside your digestive system are many microbes.  Microbes are live organisms that affect your overall health. 


Some of these organisms are beneficial and protect you from disease.  These good bacteria recognize when illness-producing intruders enter your body; they promptly attack the intruders so you do not get sick.  If you do not have enough good bacteria in your gut, you will be more susceptible not only to infections such as colds and stomach flu, but you will also be at risk for autoimmune diseases such as colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and Chron’s disease.


Ideally you have a large supply of these good microbes living in your gut.  But they can easily become depleted.  If you have recently taken antibiotics, you have had not only the bad bacteria wiped out, but also the good bacteria.  Antibiotics are not selective in their destruction.

Antibiotics are not the only way that good bacteria become depleted in your digestive system.  The chlorine in your drinking water can destroy them, as can the pesticide residue on the food that you eat.

Once the supply of beneficial microbes in your intestines dwindles, bad microbes such as yeast, fungi and disease-causing bacteria begin to take up residence.  When the scale tips in favor of the bad, your immune system becomes compromised.

Enter Probiotics


If you think you might be deficient in good microbes, it is not difficult to remedy the problem.  The solution is to take probiotics.  Probiotics are good microbes that you can consume in your diet.  They then settle in your digestive system and get to work protecting you from illness and destroying the bad bacteria that may be living there.

Probiotics are available in capsule form, but you can also replenish the good microbes by eating yogurt. Check the label on the yogurt that you buy to make sure it says that it contains active cultures—those are the good bacteria that you need to eat.


Take action now and get a head start on this year’s cold and flu season.  You can get ahead of the game by improving your gut function and fighting illness.

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