Healthier Snacking

Truism: It's generally better for our health to eat generally better.

One important concept I support though is, "never say never". Here and there, it's fine to eat your favorite foods no matter what. This includes snacking. Ice cream, potato chips, cake, cookies and so on are all long-time favorites. It's important to enjoy what you eat and to not feel deprived. Deprivation ultimately leads to cravings, binging, regret and frustration.

Having said that, for the more-often-than-not times when you want to snack but still "eat generally better", the options abound! Healthier snacking does involve ahead of time preparation, creativity, insight and openness.

First things first, consider your current snacking habits. What do you eat? Some folks love the creamy, fatty texture and sweetness of ice cream. Others love salt and crunch and derive great pleasure munching on chips, pretzels, etc.  And who could deny the happy moments chocolate and candy bring to children and adults of all ages?

Whichever snacks  you enjoy, look for healthier substitutions. You really may be pleasantly surprised over how easy it is and how tasty it all can be. After considering your fave treats, go to your local health food store or Whole Foods Market and purchase your alternative snack items ahead of time. There are guidelines to consider when you do this however. I'll go over those in just a bit.

Having a supply of healthier snacks at home or in the office, sets you up for greater success. Being able to enjoy a daily treat while reducing health risks associated with the consumption of goodies is a great goal! When you leave home, take a snack along so you're not caught later wanting something and being without. That can easily lead to unintentional garbage snacking.

If you snack at work, (and so many of us do), I recommend you keep your own supply of healthier snacks in the office. Quite unfortunately, even to this day, office vending machines contain blatant junk food and/or misrepresented healthy snacks. You may even want to purchase a small refrigerator, (not too far-fetched an idea when you think about it), which is perfect for storing snacks which need to be chilled.

So, what are healthier snack options? Below is a list of treats I snack on. All bring me Good & Plenty amounts of satisfaction.

Creamy & Sweet:

Chocolate Pudding - This is a must try and really easy to make. My recipe, which I'll provide soon, contains avocado, nut butter, cacao powder, collagen powder, dark maple syrup, etc. For the time being, see Mike Geary's recipe here.

Chia Seed Pudding - This is another winner that's super easy to make. Mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1/2 cup of coconut or almond milk. Add a little vanilla, cinnamon, cacao nibs and 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup. Let sit for several hours or overnight. When ready to eat, give it a good stirring. Click here for my recipe.

Optionally, buy Chia Pod Vanilla Flavor if you want something a bit more convenient. They're excellent tasting containing only a few, great ingredients. The cups even come with their own spoon! I add vanilla, cinnamon and cacao nuts for extra crunch and flavor.

Nut/Seed butter - Individually-wrapped, Artisana Organics brand nut/seed butters are in stores and available online. The butters are very easy to transport and enjoy anywhere. Stick with almond, walnut, pumpkin seed, etc. as peanut butter is a far less healthy option.1

Coconut Yogurt - Anita's plain yogurt is non-dairy and made with very few ingredients. If you're okay with coconut, this is a great option. Add some fresh, organic berries or crushed walnuts, cinnamon or cacao nibs. Yum!

Green Banana - These guys have a bad rap. Green bananas have a much lower sugar content compared to yellow or brown-spotted ones, and they taste excellent to boot! Sprinkle a little cinnamon for an extra treat. Please note, green bananas are also excellent following a vigorous workout.

 Salty

Olives - I love olives and I find, when I'm looking to pick. eating about 5 in a sitting to be very satisfying. I frequently buy pitted, mixed olives in olive oil. Try adding a few slices of lemon into the olive container for extra flavor and freshness. Yum!

SeaSnax - I'm generally not a seaweed fan, but I love this organic, light, crispy and onion-flavored super healthy snack option! Great nutrition and taste!

Roasted Bacon Bitz - I use Applegate Organic Uncured Sunday Bacon for this treat. Check this out: 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a roasting pan with foil and place a rack inside the pan. Lay 2-3 slices of bacon on top the rack. Place the pan in the oven and let roast for approximately 40 min. You want the bacon to get crispy. Once the bacon is done, remove from the pan and gently breakup with a fork. You can add these crispy bacon bits into a zip lock baggy for a great afternoon snack.

Caution: This is so good and fun to crunch on that it's hard to stop munching. Make 1 serving at a time! Great protein booster!

Chewy:

Coconut - Fresh or Smiles - Check your local deli for freshly cut coconut. It absolutely satisfies our innate need to chew.2 Also, look for CoconutSmiles which are sweet tasting, though without any added sugar, and loaded with potassium! Great treat alternative!

Raw, Unsalted Nuts/Seeds - Mix it up with almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, etc. Pumpkin and hemp seeds are also tasty and excellent for fat and protein sources. A handful of mixed nuts and seeds is a perfect snack!

Primal Kitchen Bar with grass-fed collagen -  This is one of the best bars available in my opinion and can easily be ordered on Amazon. I eat the Chocolate Hazelnut or Darlk Chocolate Almond variations. Low sugar and carbs, great chew factor and all of the few ingredients contained within are A+ rated! Very satisfying overall.

The New Primal Beef Jerky - Not all beef jerky is created equal I can assure you of that. This one with grass-fed beef and other excellent ingredients is, if you like beef jerky, the BOMB! I love their Spicy version. 

Granny Smith green apple - It's autumn and the perfect time for apples. Always go organic and buy apples that are smaller-sized when you can.

Additional Sweet Tooth Options:

Green & Black's Organic, 85% Dark Chocolate - One serving equals 12 small pieces and there are 2 1/2 servings per bar. A great low sugar snack. Moreover, cacao is an excellent source of anti-oxidants. Boom!

Frozen Organic Raspberries - Feel like a piece of candy? I have just the solution. Try popping some frozen berries into your mouth. I love Cascadian Farm Organic raspberries, but the strawberries and blueberries are excellent as delicious well. 

Option: When in season, fresh, organic berries can't be beat for a terrific snack. Combine them with a few nuts and you'll be way ahead of the game.

Chocolate Fat Bombs - These tasty treats are just what they advertise. They are the bomb! Check out my recipe here. Or, buy Chocolith. The marble-sized chocolate fudge like balls are sinfully delicious- minus the sin!

Hold-Me-Over Snacks:

Dip organic 85% dark chocolate pieces, organic apple slices or green banana into raw, nut/seed butter.

Create a wrap:

  • Applegate Organics Roast Beef slice or 2 wrapped around a naturally fermented Bubbies dill pickle, or,
  • Nuna Naturals Organic Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast slices with organic apple or pear slices, or,
  • Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon by Spence & Co. contains zero sugar and is sky high in omega 3 fatty acids. I eat a slice or 2 with freshly squeezed lemon and wrap around wild arugula. This is very, very good!

Albacore Wild Tuna from Wild Planet - This line-caught tuna fish is low in mercury and super high in protein. Splash a few dashes of apple cider vinegar on top for added pleasure.

Carrot sticks/celery/jicama/fennel/fresh peppers, etc. with hummus, guacamole or fresh salsa is fresh and delicious.

Cheese

I've given a fairly substantial example above of the healthier foods I enjoy snacking on. I'm certain though that many of you are wondering about cheese. Truth be told, as much as I love cheese, these days due to my casomorphin condition, I'm eating far less dairy. Should you want to add cheese to your snack list, I recommend you go with goat or sheep milk cheeses. Both are less troubling to most people's digestion.

Also, buy cheese that comes from animals that eat well and live with reduced stress. (Same thing for dairy yogurts or kefir.) Cheese from pasture-raised and 100% grass fed animals will absolutely be healthier. Moreover, I suggest eating cheese that is aged at least 30-days when the amount of lactose becomes greatly reduced.

Final Notes to Healthier Snacking

The very best way to make sure you're eating a snack that is truly healthier is to read the ingredient list. Also, look for the DV amount of sugar grams, etc. contained in each serving. Sometimes it's hard to even locate the ingredient list on a packaged snack item and frequently it's in very small print. But, for your health's sake, persevere and look.

Once you find the list, please note a) how many ingredients there are - more than 5 is too many, b) what is the first ingredient - ingredients are listed in the order of quantity from most to least, c) look for sugar in all of its forms - sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, dextrose, honey, dates, etc.

In short, any word ending in 'ose' is sugar. Food manufacturers try to hide the high quantity of sugar they add to their products by varying the words used for sugar. Furthermore, if there are ingredients in your snack that you don't recognize or can't pronounce, become very skeptical and suspicious. Moreover, prepackaged goodies frequently contain more than 15 ingredients! That's not good. Never has been, never will be.

Beyond ingredients, I also carefully review the Nutrition Facts and the listing of Amount/Serving % Daily Value (DV) of sugar, (best if 6g or less), carbs, (10g or less), protein, (15g or more), sodium/salt, (200mg or less) and fiber, (8 grams or more). Not every snack will contain all these elements but the two which reign supreme in my book are sugar and carb levels. I always stick with snacks that contain low levels of these.

Finally, while marketing terms on snacks can be deliberately deceiving, I do seek out organic, gluten-free and non-GMO on packaged items. Having said that though, just because an item such as cookies indicates Gluten-Free on its box, that doesn't automatically translate to healthier snacking. Nope. If it's loaded with sugar and carbs, sometimes junk is junk, even when gluten-free, etc.

I hope this article has been helpful in your efforts towards healthier snacking. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

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1 As per Chris Kresser in, "Are Legumes Paleo? And Does it Really Matter?", due to a variety of risks associated with peanuts including exposure to aflotoxin, reduced consumption of peanut intake or avoiding peanuts entirely is recommended. (www.chriskresser.com, 2/27/14).

2 As per Marc David, Executive Director, Institute for the Psychology of Eating, notes in his article, "The Psychology of Chewing", crunching and chewing are primal activities, inborn urges dating back to the first life forms. Both are natural outlets for inborn aggression.

This Month: August is…National Water Quality Month

Water is one of the most valuable resources we have on planet Earth. Without it we could not survive for more than a week or so. At least 60% of our body is made of it and every living cell we have needs it to keep functioning. Water acts as a lubricant for our joints, regulates our body temperature through sweating and respiration, and helps to flush waste.

Water also quenches our thirst, bathes our body, puts out fires, is invaluable in cooking and cleaning, and provides a home for sea life. It offers us playtime opportunities in the pool, at the beach, lake, or what have you. Swimming, boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, surf boarding, etc., water delivers. In colder temperatures, water freezes and allows us to enjoy a variety of winter activities including: building snowmen, skiing, snowmobiling, and much more.

In short, water is indispensable. The problem is much of it is polluted. There are also severe water shortages throughout many parts of the world. Consequently, it’s super important for us to make an effort to keep our water sources as clean as possible. Consider for example:

•using non-toxic house-hold products

•not dumping things other than water down storm drains

•not flushing medication down the toilet or sink

•not letting water run for long periods of time – (I frequently turn on the shower and let a minute or so pass before even stepping in. What a waste of our precious resource!)

Moreover, did you know that the water source, as well as the type of drinking vessel we use can absolutely influence our body size for the larger? It’s very true. I personally try to stay away from plastic water bottles and instead fill-up reusable, portable canisters whenever possible. My all-time favorite brand is the Hydro Flask®. Love it! I also like Kleen Kanteen. They both come in a variety of sizes and colors. To read more about this important topic, please check out this terrific article, “Are water bottles making you gain weight?” by Cat Ebeling, RN & BSN, and Mike Geary, CNS.

So my friends, I propose we all try to become more mindful and appreciative of the water around us. It would be great if we could start out together right here and now and resolve to make some small, but important habit changes in our lives with regard to honoring and safeguarding this precious H2O commodity. Alternatively, feel free throughout the month of August to post #WaterQualityMonth on all of your social media messages, thereby encouraging others to do the same.

Cheers and wishing you the happiest of maritime delights throughout this special month and beyond!

 

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Earth Embrace

Intro

Greetings earthlings and happy Earth Day! I wish much health and happiness to all of you and to your beloved planet. I come from far away to join you in this special celebration and appreciation of your wonderful world. It’s a noble cause and absolutely makes sense to support and to work for a cleaner, greener home environment. When the Earth is healthier, you earthlings are healthier too. In fact, increased direct skin contact with dirt, grass, sand, and sea, adds to your potential for good, grounded health. In case you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, I’m referring to earthing or grounding which is something anyone may do any time of year.

Earthing – Nuts & Bolts

Hey folks, I’m back to being fellow earthling Susan again and I’d like to continue our down-to-earth discussion. If you think about it, way back when and throughout time actually, human beings, like all mammals, have always had a lot of up close, skin-to-skin contact with the Earth. Whether sitting, standing, squatting, resting, playing, hunting, walking, running, or sleeping, just about everything we did and how we lived meant being in direct contact with the Earth every day. “Okay, right and, so what?” you ask.

Fact: We are all bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet.1 Overtime, our body develops a positive charge that is slowly dispelled when we touch or make direct contact with the Earth which is negatively charged. The negative electrons of the Earth passing through the bottoms of our feet or other body part help to balance the positive electrons in our body. So, when we’re disconnected from the earth, the positive charge in our body builds excessively and this ultimately depletes our energy, and promotes inflammation and disease.2

 In fact, Mark Sisson, in his wonderful book, The Primal Connection, reports thermograghy images and blood samples from patients who responded poorly to conventional medications and therapies revealed a surprising reduction in inflammation and improved blood viscosity after 30 minutes of earthing – sitting, walking, or standing on conducive surfaces such as grass, sand, and dirt.3 (FYI: Earthing does not work on wood, asphalt, or vinyl surfaces.)

Said another way, back in the day, the ordinary contact we had with the Earth day-in and day-out actually served as a conduit for transferring the Earth’s gentle negative charge underfoot (barefoot or even while wearing deerskin moccasins) into our body. Truth be told, modern life has in fact disconnected us from our beautiful, healing planet. (Who doesn’t wear shoes every single day of their lives?) This disconnect renders us more vulnerable to inflammation, pain, stress, poor sleep, and illness.

Reconnecting with the Earth instead upholds the electrophysiology or electrical stability of our body and thereby serves as a foundation for vitality, health, circadian rhythm, and healing. Earthing even helps to reduce extra cortisol in our body which allows for greater relaxation and fat reduction. Also, bear in mind that earthing is dose related; the longer we are able to ground ourselves with the earth, the more stable, energetic, and robust our body functions and the greater our ability to heal.4

 How Should One Earth?

It’s fairly easy. Go outside and take off your shoes. Lie down or take a walk on your lawn or the beach, (walking on the sand with our feet in the water is especially conducive to taking in the Earth’s negative electrons). Sit in a park and let your arms, hands, feet, legs, etc. make contact with the grass and dirt. Even if you spread out a blanket and lie down, have some skin overhang with the Earth. Garden without gloves. Make some good, old-fashioned, outdoor mud pies with your kids. Participate in a Tough Mudder event or watch one bare foot. We can even earth while walking on a concrete sidewalk, as long as it’s not painted over, since all of the ingredients – water, sand, stones, gravel, limestone, or granite and cement are natural and derived from the Earth. (Reminder - Asphalt is not conducive and will not ground you.)

“But, I can’t possibly walk on the sidewalk barefoot,” you declare, “and especially not in the cold or very hot weather!” You’re right and actually you don’t have to. There are some convenient walking, sleeping, and sitting options available which make earthing a heck of a lot easier.

Earthing Products

If you go on-line there are several earthing accessories to check out. With regard to shoes, I’ve used Juil Earthing shoes, but there are others on the market. In addition, good, old fashioned leather-soled moccasins work great especially if your feet are perspired! (If you buy a pair of moccasins make sure they aren’t rubber-soled.) I have also purchased sleeping sheets, pillow cases, and foot mats from the Earthing Institute. Heck, I’ve even gotten a floor mat or 2 for my pets!

My spouse and I experience very deep sleep when using earthing sheets, (they simply plug into an outlet). Moreover, Dave Asprey, well-noted biohacker and author of The Bulletproof Diet, notes that sleeping with an earthing mat has virtually cured his jet lag, (he carries one with him for travel as well as has a set of earthing sheets at home.)

Conclusion

It’s wonderful to celebrate and to be grateful for our beloved planet! Likewise, supporting the Earth’s cleanliness and health is without a doubt a worthwhile and noble gesture. I propose though as we honor our beautiful world that we truly embrace it with the best of intentions and renewed intimacy. It’s time to become re-acquainted with our planet and to reap the healing energies it offers. Through on-going studies, science is exploring the good things that happen inside our bodies when we connect with the Earth. It is indeed a marvelous time to kick off our shoes and welcome back Mother Earth. It’s how it all began.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends/family. Also, if you would like to comment, we're also pleased to hear from you!

1              G. Chevalier, PhD, A New Health And Healing Frontier, Director, Earthing Institute, www.earthinginstitute.net

             2              D. Asprey, The Bullet Proof Diet, (New York, NY: Rodale, Inc., 2014)

3              M.Sisson, The Primal Connection: Follow your genetic blueprint to health and happiness, (Malibu, CA: Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2013)

4              C. Ober, S. Sinatra, MD, and M. Zucker, Earthing: The most important health discovery ever? (Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2010)

Chocolate Benevolence

Valentine’s Day (February 14th) - With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s time when many select a loving gift for a dear friend, colleague, relative or significant other. I completely support this old-fashioned, thoughtful and giving tradition as it promotes healthy hormone release and well-being for both the giver and receiver. While roses and jewelry are always on the Top-10 Hit List for demonstrations of our Valentine affections, giving chocolate is ever popular as well. And, when a clean version of the beloved cacao bean is used, I LOVE the idea of gifting chocolate to a Valentine! In short, the right kind of chocolate is not only delicious but provides us with numerous health benefits as well. Here’s what I mean.

Clean Chocolate

For starters, as coffee comes from a coffee bean, chocolate is derived from a cacao bean. When I refer to clean cacao, I mean an organic cacao bean which will eventually lead to organic chocolate. The other piece to clean has to do with the percentage of cacao versus sugar that there is in a dark chocolate bar. I’m terribly sorry to say this but milk chocolate, white chocolate and all those inexpensive chocolate bars DO NOT contain cacao and consequently DO NOT have health benefits. If you’re a milk chocolate lover, keep reading and try not to despair. Grant you, dark chocolate is an acquired taste. (I know. I’m a former milk chocolate lover.) But, by easing into dark chocolate over the course of time, our taste buds will adjust to this less sweet, yet still delicious and benevolent treat!

Now-a-days, it can be pretty easy to read the packaging on a chocolate bar. A 70% dark chocolate bar simply means that there is 70% chocolate to 30% sugar. Likewise, an 85% dark chocolate bar, (which I eat and suggest everyone eventually give a try), has 85% chocolate or cocoa and 15% sugar.  (Please note, there is no milk in either of these.) As great as healthy chocolate is for us, (which I will go over in a moment), excess sugar will undo those very benefits. When it comes to chocolate consumption, it always behooves us to make it healthy dark chocolate!

Dark Chocolate Conversion

If you currently enjoy a chocolate bar containing 45% or lower cacao, consider increasing the chocolate percentage by 10% at a time. Experiment and go from 45% cacao to 55%-60% chocolate. Get used to that higher level of cacao and reduced sugar. Once your taste buds have adjusted, try it again. Same way. Go from 60% cacao to 70% and so on. Take your time and melt into the experience. This is a much friendlier way for us to gain health benefits from our chocolate habits and pleasures.

The Pros of Dark, Organic Chocolate (1)

•       Increased Anti-oxidants – Anti-oxidants are our friends and move around in our body eating up harmful free radicals. Free radicals can lead to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. So, having more friendly and protecting anti-oxidants in our bodies is in our best interest!

•       Increased Anti-Inflammatory Properties – Reduced systemic inflammation in our body means lowering the risk of developing diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other inflammatory conditions. Works for me!

•       Cardiovascular Benefits – There is reduced hypertension, (lower of blood pressure), and prevention of fat-like substances in the bloodstream to clog our arteries when we eat dark chocolate. Also, when we reduce the blood’s ability to clot, we may also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

My Preferred Chocolate Bar

I’ve experimented with a variety of chocolate bars. As time has gone on, I’ve been able to eat bars containing higher percentage of cacao with ease. Please bear in mind though, even when eating 1 serving from a regular 3.5-ounce dark chocolate 85% bar, (12 pieces of the 30 small squares making up the bar), we are consuming a bit more than 1 teaspoon of sugar. So, eat with gusto, pleasure and gratitude, but be mindful about sticking to the suggested serving size. Of course, chocolate can trigger and addictive response, so if this is your case, it may be in your best interest, to eat dark chocolate sparingly.

Currently, GREEN & BLACK’S Organic 85% Cacao Bar is #1 on my favorites list. Here’s why:

•       There are only 3 ingredients in this bar – Cocoa, cane sugar, and vanilla are the sole bar ingredients! With any processed food, the fewer the ingredients, the better for our health! Another bonus: I recognize and can pronounce all the ingredients. Fantastic!

•       Every ingredient is organic!

•       All ingredients were traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards. This means fairer trading conditions and opportunities are extended for producers in developing countries to invest in their businesses and communities for a sustainable future.

•       The bar is made in Poland. Generally speaking, Europe has higher standards for mold levels. Chocolate made in Europe therefore has less chance of being moldy. FYI – Always store your chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer as the mold will continue to grow.(2)

•       It’s easily accessible – Whether buying on-line or at your neighborhood health food store, Whole Foods, etc. I’ve never had any trouble locating this bar. Additionally, by joining Thrive Market, you can purchase this bar and other healthy items at a significant discount.

There you have it my friends! Feel free to give the pleasure and benevolence of dark chocolate to your loved ones and yourself on Valentine’s Day and all year round. Your body, heart and mind will feel very cared for and loved!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your friends, family, colleagues and Valentines! If you have any comments, please leave them below! Thanks!

 

1               Kelley, D. CNC (2014) Attention: Chocolate Lovers, 12/16/15, from http://www.ledger-dispatch.com/news/attention-chocolate-lovers

2               Asprey, D. (2012) What Dr. Mercola Didn’t Say About Dark Chocolate & Cardiovascular Diseases, 1/10/16 from http://www.bulletproofexec.com/what-dr-mercola-didnt-say-about-dark-chocolate

 

 

 

Pill-Free Heart Burn Relief, N=1

Fairly recently and unknowingly, I had severe symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, (gastroesophageal reflux disease). My original symptom was sudden and severe chest pains that brought me to my local hospital's ER. After hours of testing, the doctors ascertained I had not suffered a heart-attack. Great news! They did not however provide any alternative explanations as to why I had pain so severe it hurt to breathe. I also didn’t pursue with them what else could have been behind that attack. While not necessarily the best move on my part, it was 4am, I had been up all night, the pain had subsided, and I was just happy to be discharged and going home.

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, while the heart-attack like chest pains didn't return, I became aware of a burning sensation and tightness in my upper chest area. I also had a sore throat, some difficulty swallowing, and a sensation of food being stuck in my esophagus. Finally, when I experienced the less than pleasant symptom of regurgitation of sour liquid, my eyes became wide opened and I connected the acid reflux dots.

This is a very common condition that impacts more than 3 million of us annually. In short, GERD, (which is acid reflux that occurs at least twice weekly), is when bile or stomach acid flow up into our esophagus and irritate that food pipe lining. I had been treated years ago for acid reflux by my gastroenterologist. At the time, I'd gone on Protonix, a stomach acid suppressant, as prescribed by my doctor. A nutritionist I was a patient of at the time warned me about taking this type of medication for too long. In her view and others, the vast majority of acid reflux occurs because one has too little stomach acid rather than too much. Moreover, long-term, continued use of stomach acid meds is linked to nutritional deficiencies and even withdrawal symptoms.

Long story short, my symptoms at that time quickly abated, I stopped taking the medication after 6 weeks, and I went merrily on my way. That is until I was stopped dead in my tracks by the recent chest pains. Looking back, I had other symptoms prior to the chest pains including difficulty swallowing and the sensation of food getting stuck in my esophagus. I attributed those symptoms though to other conditions I have including Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, (an auto-immune disease that attacks the thyroid).

So what to do this time round? I didn't want to go back on medication, yet I didn't want to endure symptoms that were uncomfortable, unpleasant, and downright scary. I decided to conduct an experiment and self-treat myself for 1 week. If my symptoms were not markedly improved within 7 days, I would bite the bullet, go back to my gastroenterologist, and get back on standard GERD meds. Here's how it played out.

I connected the heart-attack like pain to tomato sauce, (the pains hit me about an hour after having tomato sauce that night). It was my intuition that the acid in the sauce brought on that attack. I read up on other foods that can also trigger GERD symptoms. In addition to tomato sauce, I also abruptly discontinued:
•             Coffee
•             Hot sauce
•             Red wine
•             Balsamic vinegar
•             Dairy
•             Chocolate
•             Citrus fruit
There are a few other foods indicated in the literature that can also bring on heart burn including fried foods, soda, and peppermint. I didn’t list them though, as they are not things I generally eat/drink.

In addition to eliminating the above, I added freshly brewed ginger root tea to my every day plan. I'd fill up a 16 oz. thermos with boiling water and add several pieces of 1" sized pieces of peeled ginger root and let the tea steep throughout the day. Knowing that ginger has anti-inflammatory benefits, I sipped my ginger beverage in between meals throughout the day to help quiet down my irritated esophageal lining.

Other things I incorporated?
•             I slowed down my eating speed
•             I ate until I was only 80% full and thereby avoided overeating
•             I took my last bite of food minimally 2 hours before going to bed
•             I ate an apple a day, (half in the morning and the half in the late afternoon), which because of the pectin may be helpful in alleviating bile injury to the GI tract. (I'd used the apple remedy many years earlier when I had reflux issues and remembered experiencing relief.)
•             I slept on 3 pillows at night to discourage stomach acid from traveling upward
•             I avoided bending down after eating, (again discouraging stomach acids from flowing in the wrong direction.)

I put this whole regimen together and gave it a week to see if I felt any better. Amazingly, within 24-hours, I absolutely started to experience relief. My chest was feeling less tight. My sore throat alleviated. Each day in fact brought continued improvement. Within a week, I was feeling at least 75% better! Consequently, I did not contact my gastroenterologist, nor did I go on medication. In short, I followed Hippocrates sage words and, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”

I continued my experiment consistently for a good 2 weeks. When I was feeling much better, I slowly, carefully began to re-introduce some of the foods above. I sprinkled a bit of grated cheese on an evening meal. I observed how I felt that evening and the next day. No symptoms. Great! Another day I added a small amount of hot sauce to my eggs. I waited afterwards for symptoms. None again. Terrific! In short, over the course of several weeks, I’ve re-introduced a food here and there in smaller amounts than before. I’ve tolerated it all thus far very well.

It's been a bit more than 2 months since my heart-attack scare. I sleep on 2 vs. 3 pillows now. I'll eat food that was on my elimination list above but a) in smaller amounts and less frequently, and, b) I don't eat/drink all of the potentially troubling items on any 1 given day, (which I was guilty off in the past). I continue to drink and enjoy ginger root tea. But, now that the irritation and inflammation in my esophageal tract has subsided, I partake even in the occasional shot of espresso, glass of wine, and piece of chocolate.

Moreover, having slowed down my eating, I now enjoy and appreciate the smaller amounts of some of my favorites listed above that much more! The funny thing is, I don't need or want nearly as much of them as I used to. The trade-off simply isn't worth it. All without taking any medications that long-term could potentially challenge my body's ability to assimilate nutrients!

Hot off the press and 1 last item: After reading numerous articles indicating that sleeping on our left-side is also beneficial in reducing GERD symptoms, I now partake in that activity as well. Since I ordinarily sleep on my right side, I wasn't sure how natural it would feel to change to the left. Thankfully, it's not nearly as challenging as I imagined. Does sleeping on my left-side help? That I'm not sure about since I was already experiencing relief from the acid reflux symptoms, (thanks to the changes I made above). However, I will continue sleeping on my left-side, along with following through with everything I've mentioned in this article.  Why? Because: 

Final verdict: Pill-Free Heart Burn Relief, N=1 was a knock-it-out-of-the-park, grand slam success!

 

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This article is not intended to be, nor to give, medical advice. For any and all of your medical concerns/conditions/symptoms, please contact your physician.

Get Your Swish On: Oil Pulling

I have a certain routine and order of things I do to start off my day. I’m guessing most of us do. I always try to include a healing habit into my morning ritual to support my body for the upcoming day. At times the habit falls to the wayside and at other times it sticks. Here’s 1 habit though that has stuck and I thought I’d share with you.

Oil Pulling – What is it and Why?

I’ve been oil pulling for the past 2 years. I first heard about this ancient Ayuryedic dental technique on Facebook and have read a lot about this unique practice since. For those who aren’t aware, people have been oil pulling for thousands of years. Also known as kavala or gundusha, it began and still continues in India as a folk remedy and has since been picked up by people all around the world. The purpose of oil pulling is to draw out oil-soluble toxins and harmful bacteria in our mouths, primarily but not exclusively to improve our oral health.

The way oil pulling works is simple. We swish a bit of oil around in our mouths, (trying to push and pull the oil between our teeth), so bacteria gets stuck and dissolves in the liquid oil. Consequently, we’re removing a large amount of bacteria and plaque in our mouths each time we oil pull. Traditionally, oil pulling was done with sesame seed or sunflower oils. Nowadays, more and more people are using organic coconut oil. A benefit of using coconut versus other oils is lauric acid, (one of the fatty acids in coconut oil), which is proven to be antimicrobial, i.e., it can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.

For clarification purposes, there are actually thousands of different types of bacteria, (both good and bad), in our mouths at any given time. Streptococcus is one of the main harmful bacteria and a key player in plaque buildup and tooth decay. Having some plaque on our teeth is normal, but too much can cause all sorts of problems including halitosis, yellow teeth, gum inflammation, gingivitis and cavities. Given that inflammation can cause all sorts of health problems, it does make sense that reducing inflammation in the gums and mouth could lead to benefits of our overall health as well. This may account for the many people who oil pull and have reported improvements in health issues that have nothing to do with their mouths.

How should one oil pull exactly?

Here’s what I suggest. Take approximately 1 teaspoon of oil and start swishing it in your mouth. (Warning: Coconut oil exposed to room temperatures of 76⁰F or less will congeal. I don’t however let that stop me. I take about ¾ teaspoon of solid coconut oil and insert into my mouth. Within moments the oil will melt and I begin to swish. I know for some though the very thought of taking solid oil into their mouths triggers a gag reflex. For you folks, there’s an easy solution. Simply place the jar of coconut oil under a faucet of hot running water. Within less than a minute, there will be enough liquid oil to fill up your spoon.)

So, all this sounds relatively simple thus far I know. The challenging part for most regarding oil pulling is the recommended swishing time: 15-20 minutes. Then spit, rinse and brush. DO NOT swallow. (The toxins which have just been pulled from our mouths are contained within the saliva and oil. This is why it’s most important to spit out when time is up.)  After I’ve explained the procedure for oil pulling to certain friends and family, I can clearly see their expressions and hear their voices. “WHAT?? I don’t have time for that! I can’t swish anything for 15-20 minutes! I just won’t be able to.” There’s really no need to panic at the first glimpse of oil pulling and out-and-out decide you can’t or don’t have time. Let me break down how I was able to make oil pulling part of my everyday morning routine. (At this point, if I don’t get to oil pull I really miss it!)

My Assemblage for Oil Pulling Success

The most convenient time for me to oil pull is in the morning.  As a result, I keep a jar of coconut oil right in my bathroom vanity, along with a dedicated teaspoon and an oil pulling spittoon. (Since I don’t want to clog my bathroom sink by spitting post oil pulling saliva in it, I use small plastic bags for the collection.) Before oil pulling by the way, I electric tooth brush my teeth, floss, rubber tip, tongue scrape, etc. That's just me. Then comes the oil pull.

When oil pulling, I use an amount of oil that feels comfortable. I’ve read some who recommend using 1 tablespoon of oil when pulling. That for me is way too much. Also, I too initially found the 20-minute time period extremely lengthy. First, I’d never swished anything for that amount of time ever before. Second, what was I supposed to do for the 15-20-minutes while oil pulling? That just felt like too much time being wasted when I was trying to get ready for the day. That’s when it occurred to me. I could shower and oil pull simultaneously! For me, this novel idea opened the gateway to the oil pulling world!

In addition to:

• Having the coconut oil, teaspoon and spit bags accessible

• Using an amount of oil that feels comfortable

• And, oil pulling while showering,

the other accommodation I made to make oil pulling work for me was not forcing myself from the get-go to fulfill the 15-20-minute recommended time period. I simply wasn’t comfortable with that. So, I began with sessions that lasted between 5-10 minutes and slowly increased from there. I can now easily oil pull for the entire time suggested. (FYI…I’ve even developed the remarkable talent of being able to cough and oil pull at the same time!)

What have I gained from my oil pulling ritual?

Over the past 2 years, I honestly haven’t gotten many colds at all. When I have, they weren’t nearly as intense or long-lasting. I didn’t come down with the flu either despite deciding to forgo the shot last winter. (Knock on wood of course for this winter!) Moreover, my teeth are brighter and extremely healthy according to my dentist.

I had been quite remiss and neglected making an appointment with my dentist for the past 1 ½ years, (ordinarily I get a teeth cleaning every 6 months). Recently though, when I finally got myself to the him, despite my worries, all went very well. After the poking and prodding part of the gum-line examination, I had only 1 bleeding spot. This was due to the lack of inflammation of my gums which would have been unheard of previously.

There also was very limited tarter build up despite this being my life-long tendency. My dentist and I were both duly pleased and surprised with the examination results! Of course, he asked what I had done during the long time away to keep my mouth so healthy. I told him about my new oil pulling ritual. I’m not sure he had ever heard of oil pulling before, nor am I certain he considered it a possible explanation for my resounding mouth health status. What he did manage to say was, “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!” With my brighter than ever smile I replied back, “That I absolutely plan to do!”

(This article is dedicated to my lovely niece, Amanda, fellow oil puller and dental hygienist student!)

 

I invite you to try oil pulling for yourselves my friends and let us know how it goes by leaving your comments below! It's actually still quite early in the year for any of us to consider adding a New Year's Resolution to our lives!

Also, if you’ve enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends, family and colleagues! Thanks and in great health!

 

 

 

Fruit-ful Discussion

I'm a member of multiple Facebook groups. Many, if not most, have to do with health - specifically eating and food. The various group slants include paleo eating and living, ketogenic living, low-carb high-fat eating, grain-free eating, gluten-free meals, Elimination Diet, auto-immune eating protocol, and many others. Back in the day prior to becoming a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, I took the messages preached in these groups to heart. I wanted to eat absolutely perfectly!

I was very aware and alert to everything that entered my body. Three squares a day that always included clean protein, vegetables, fat, and very reduced carbs. I also worked out diligently 3 times weekly with a personal trainer in addition to playing volleyball, biking, bowling, running, and walking. What were the results? Well, on one hand, I was never leaner and stronger. On the other hand, I struggled with very strong cravings for carbs. My body was also stiff/tight and lacked flexibility. So, yes, I was gratified due to my new found strength and overall body leanness. But, there was more to that story.

Since working in the field of Eating Psychology and Mind/Body Nutrition, I've learned big time to relax into my body and life. I'm more mindful about slowing down and breathing. Yes, I still eat clean, real food and avoid processed junk most of the time. I still work out and play volleyball and walk, (all much less vigorously). The biggest change though is my need for perfectionism has quieted down. Thankfully. Have I gained some weight? Yes. Do I feel the worse for it? No! I actually feel less pressured in general and more relaxed and comfortable in my body. And, the world hasn't stopped turning! I can be 23% body fat vs. 14 and still be worthwhile and a beautiful human being! And so can you!

Back to the Facebook groups. I've recently been struck by what I'm reading on-line. Believe it or not, fruit, due to its fructose, (the sugar in fruit), is, according to certain group members, something to be wary of, concerned over, and villainized! Their messages have actually suggested that one should NEVER eat fruit and that fruit is evil. All for fear over gaining weight. My response - chill out people,...now,...please! Seriously!

Has fruit changed since the Paleolithic era? Certainly! Fruit back then was most likely as sweet as our average carrot today. Why? Well, fruit producers know that we're actually programmed to like sweets. And, over the years fruits have been created to be larger-sized and sweeter than ever. Does this mean we should absolutely never eat a piece of fruit ever again? For what it's worth, here's my unequivocal response - the poison is in the dose! And, not just with fruit, but with anything we eat. (One exception duly noted is gluten containing foods for those having Celiac Disease.)

 If you enjoy fruit, eat it. I eat a piece a day. Here are some things to keep in mind when eating fruit: eat in-season, local, and organic fruit as often as possible. This will mean that fruit consumption will be lower in the winter. Also, become aware of which fruits have a higher glycemic load than others, (higher glycemic loaded fruits and foods raise our insulin levels which create extra, excess sugar in our bodies which is then stored as body fat).

Get this though. I'm currently eating and enjoying apples, pears, and some grapes. Don't shoot me! I know grapes have a higher glycemic load. But, whenever I make a morning shake for breakfast, I add several red grapes to my shake concoction to sweeten things up just a bit. (And, I'm still alive to report this.) Seriously, though, I'm not saying the points certain members in the above groups have made are incorrect. I am saying they are a bit over the top and exaggerated.

Other tips for eating fruit: if you eat a piece that has a high glycemic load, eat something stabilizing to go with it to offset your rise in insulin. This may mean eggs, a shake, nuts, smoked fish, etc. Also, it's always better to eat and not drink fruit. A typical glass of orange juice has just about as much sugar as a glass of soda. Does this mean you should never have a glass of juice ever again? No! Drink juice and enjoy it but not everyday. You can even consider cutting the juice with some filtered water.

In summary, you can have your fruit and eat it to. Just be mindful to not eat an excessive amount and you will have both pleasure and health. And pleasure and health beats perfectionism and health every time. Moreover, if there is anything in this entire discussion to be villainized and deemed "evil" it is actually perfectionism - not fruit.

Final note: an apple a day keeps the doctor away - maybe true, maybe not. But, without a doubt, behind the corner of perfectionism, over time, frequently lies self-abuse, hatred, and exhaustion. Please choose carefully how you opt to stay healthy! I'd suggest you eat some fruit.

If you liked this blog, please share it with your friends and families! Also, if you have any comments, please let me know. I love to hear from you! 

 

Body Wisdom: A Healing Compass

 

The following is an actual excerpt from a recent session with a client. Certain details have been altered to protect my client’s confidentiality. I’m sharing this moment to illustrate how our very love for a food/beverage can cause us to have a blind eye to body wisdom even when our body provides strong, loud messages including pain and discomfort. And, mind you, this particular client is one who prides herself on being in tuned with her body. 

As some background, this client is going through several big stressors simultaneously in her life, (some of which are new and others which are ongoing), including financial challenges, selling her coop where she's lived for 30 years and needing to find a new home, producing a 1-woman show, marital ups and downs, and career malaise. I'm listening to her from an Eating Psychology perspective.  

Client: “I have such gas! I can feel the bloating! (Rubs her hand over her entire belly.) I’ve never had it like this before! My doctor prescribed me something for the gas but the medication gave me terrible abdominal pain. (She couldn't remember the name of the med.) I’m going to go to the health food store on the corner after this and buy some supplements. Milk thistle and some other things I can't remember now. I'll ask at the store what else to take. They're good in there giving advice. I don’t know what else to do.”

Me: (I'm aware that while a medication prescribed by a doctor may be helpful - in this case not - and supplements/herbs, etc. also may certainly bring relief, the client and her providers seem to be focused on treating symptoms and not the root issue(s) that may be causing her gas and general IBS.) 

"I'm really sorry that you're so uncomfortable! In past sessions, you've connected your abdominal pain to your stress levels. I know deep breathing and walking helped relieve some of the pelvic tightness you've felt. But, this sounds different."

She: "It is different. (Rubs her belly again.) I've never been like this. (Grabs some "fat" from her waist area.) I've put on weight in the past but always in my thighs, hips, butt. Never like this before."

Me: "From what you just said, this doesn't sound like weight gain though. You're abdomen is distended due to gas, not extra body fat." (I'm noting a shift the client just made from gas to fat as the cause for her abdominal distention.)

She: "I know but I'm just so uncomfortable. I don't know what to do."

Me: "Have you changed anything in how or what you're eating?"

She: "No. I mean I eat fast and I know I should slow down. And I've heard about people swallowing a lot of air when they eat, but that's not me. Maybe I should cut out dairy and gluten again. That helped bring down my bloat in the past."

Me: (By incorporating the client's life stressors and now food consumption into the discussion, I'm sensing we're getting more to the heart of the issue vs. exclusively treating the symptoms of her acute gastric distress.)

"That might not be a bad idea. We could even talk about an Elimination Diet if you feel up to it. I know you're under a lot of stress so now might not be the best time. But, at some point you may want to experiment for a few weeks to see what food(s) might be bothering you or not. You familiar with this? Wheat and gluten in general, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and even citrus are the biggest culprits. With the Elimination Diet, you cut out those foods for a few weeks. When the foods are re-introduced one-by-one, you look to see if you have any reaction(s). Gas or other digestive distress, headaches, skin rashes, congestion, anything."

She: "It comes to a point where you can't eat anything. (Laughs.) But I may try this. At least with gluten and dairy. And I love drinking my seltzer! Glen and I just bought a whole case. I drink it non-stop."

Me: (My ears just perked up!) "Seltzer? You hadn't mentioned this before. You know by drinking a carbonated beverage you're directly adding air to your insides?"

She: "Yea, I know. But, I love it."

Me: "Mmmmm. I wonder. You know if you want to stop gluten and dairy that would be great. But, it might be even more helpful to keep eating what you're eating and give up seltzer for 2 weeks to see if that brings any relief. In other words, if you stop drinking seltzer but don't change anything else, and you feel better, you'll know that the seltzer is at least 1 factor causing your abdomen to distend."

She: "Oh, yea, you're right. But, I love seltzer." (Makes a sad face.)

Me: "Sounds like you really enjoy your seltzer! Would you consider not drinking it with every meal? One meal you have it and the next meal you don't. It would be interesting to see if you experience even a bit of relief from the gas pains and bloating doing it that way. We can touch base next week."

She: "Okay, I'll try. Oh, seltzer." 

The client seems a bit disheartened but also aware that drinking a lot of a beverage that contains gas could likely be aggravating if not causing her gas pains and abdominal distention. I'm fascinated that despite her great discomfort and her desire to feel better she avoided mentioning her very large consumption of seltzer until the very end of the session. My client certainly expressed a willingness to take actions to alleviate her symptoms, (visited her doctor, took medication, wanted to buy unknown supplements/herbs, considered going gluten and dairy-free), but she avoided mentioning and looking at her beloved seltzer. 

Post Session Thoughts: It could be with all the stressful life situations going on, that my client's consumption of seltzer has increased. But, most importantly to note is how she was "protecting" her relationship with seltzer by being willing to look at any other possible culprit first, and withholding any mention of drinking large amounts of seltzer until the last moments of our session. Certainly she was/is hoping to find other reasons for her bodily distress. 

There is a great lesson here for all of us. When we're in any kind of pain, (physical, emotional, etc.), we may have a tendency to look away from or past the very factor, (person, place, thing), that is causing our distress. In this case, it would be helpful for my client to continue to practice slowing down living and eating, staying embodied, and drinking less seltzer.

Final message: Our bodies offer us great wisdom all the time. Listening to and connecting their inner messages to what is going in our outside world can be a terrifically, effective way towards healing. There most likely will be times when our bodies' messages lead us to places we won't want to go. Those perhaps are the areas we most need to visit.

If you liked this article, please share it with your family and friends. Also, please leave your comments/questions! 

 

 


 

Good Vibrations!

I've been looking on and off at whole body vibration (WBV) machines for a good 1+ year. I find them intriguing with regard to their alleged varying health benefits through gravity resistance training (GRT). They even seem kind of fun! Depending upon the actual WBV machine, I've read and heard one can achieve improved balance, bone density, hormonal profile, as well as increased muscle strength, circulation, and flexibility. As if that weren't enough, just 10-20 minutes sessions, 4 or so days weekly provide cellulite reduction, lower back pain relief, joint protection, reduced swelling, neurological stimulation, fat reduction, and more! Wow! All this from rapid GRT vibration. Could it be?

I've been struggling with different body injuries for years. Most recently, in the past year, I've had ongoing issues with both my left Achilles' tendon and the front and back left rotator cuff(s). And I've diligently attended to these body aches using a variety of modalities of care. Chiropracter, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, prolotherapy, and most recently, Body Talk treatment. I roll out my muscles frequently, (Rumble Roller, Bakballs, the Stick, etc.), and carefully stretch. I'm starting to notice some improvement but there is more to heal. Since these injuries have greatly hampered my sporting lifestyle of running, volleyball, tennis, biking, etc., I'm always aware of and on the lookout for potential, new treatment options.

No surprise then that I re-continued my online search for WBV machines. Autumn volleyball season is just around the corner. And, well my birthday is coming up too! Hmmmm. It appeared I had plenty of reasons to take the leap. Moreover, if a WBV machine develops muscle strength it seemed to me it could have potential for rehab purposes as well. And, to be honest, since not moving and playing nearly as much as I had been in this past 1+ year, my clothing has gotten rather snug. To cut to the chase, I've just purchased the Hypevibe G10 mini the other evening. I'm not endorsing this specific WBV machine. It's just what I've decided to go with given its reported intensity level and relatively small size. 

Now for the fun part! I'm going to start using my WBV machine and I'll report back to you how things go. I'll let you know what it's like to use the machine and how it feels. I'll also over time provide updates regarding any increase or not I notice regarding muscle strength and tone. I'll keep you in the loop regarding clothing tightness, and injury repair. Of course, we can all argue that since I'm involved in several different healing strategies, it will be impossible to know exactly which modality impacted what degree of change to my shoulder/Achilles. I grant you that. But, most of what I do and have been doing addresses rehab to those specific body areas. Overall muscle tone and fat reduction have actually been left hanging given the injuries. 

So, I'm throwing caution to the wind folks. I'm here to have fun and to see if this new type of movement under the influence of heightened G-force, helps my body in any way. Can I achieve health and tone while injured by assuming a variety of postures on my WBV? If that's the case, then what might actually result when my body is healed? I'm excited to find out and to let you know! My experiment may not be scientifically iron-clad, but I'm not going to let that stand in the way. I'm all about healing, inside and out, and helping others to do the same. On behalf of all of us then fingers crossed for some good vibrational results! 

As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I'd be particularly interested to hear about anyone else's experiences with WBV! Thanks and cheers!





 

It's a Mystery, It's a Date! It's..."Mystery Date"!

Our Mystery Date at Dream Hotel NYC Downtown poolside.  Cheers!

My spouse, Janet and I recently had fun on one of our "mystery dates". Known affectionately as "mystery", we started doing this many years ago as long-weekend get-a-ways. We actually visited a number of cities/areas we never would have, had it not been for "mystery". But, then life became a bit more hectic and "mystery vacation" stopped. Recently, "mystery" was resurrected and went from long week-end to daytime or evening date.

 But, what is "mystery" and why have one?

"Mystery Date" is a game we play together for fun, novelty, romance, and creating togetherness. I comment often that adults have forgotten how to play and just be happy-go-lucky. We don't make time for ourselves in our busy lives and too easily fall prey to a routine of chronic day-in and day-out work, home, tv, collapse. Having fun and pleasure is healing to our psyches. It leads one to the relaxation response which relieves non-caloric weight gain tendencies by decreasing anxiety hormones and insulin and increasing metabolism.

How does one play? It's easy. Whether long-weekend or date, each person in the couple has a turn to be the "organizer" and "participant". (I'm defining couple here as any 2 adult people involved in a relationship: romantic; platonic friendship; siblings; colleagues; parent/adult child, etc.) The "organizer" is the person who decides what the date will be and makes all the relative logistical arrangements, reservations, etc. The 2 people in the couple decide together on the exact day/eve of the date but that's pretty much all the non-organizer or "participant" gets to know ahead of time.

As the date gets closer, the "organizer" can, in a playful way, let some of the information out of the bag. When is departure time. How many hours are involved. What should the "participant" wear and/or bring. The "organizer" can even offer date hints via themes, (water, nautical, athletic, musical, etc.) or activity, (eating, theatre, tour, dancing, museum, etc.). It really is all up to the individual couple how things play out. The morning of is when Janet and I reveal our respective "mystery date" destination to one another. That's our way. With your partner, talk about and discover your way.

"Mystery" can be elaborate or not. Money shouldn't be a restricting factor for anyone. One can easily opt, for example, to organize an outdoor picnic in the park under the stars while taking in a free concert, movie, or theatre event. So, if you want an expensive date, that's fine. But, much more importantly is allowing yourselves to play and have fun. And, "organizers", let your creative juices flow! A great place to get ideas with regard to what to do or where to go is from the inside of you. What do you like to do? What did you once like doing that you haven't done in years? What does your partner love doing? Also, incorporating the use of on-line promotion organizations such as Groupon and LivingSocial can be very helpful for ideas and discounts!

Getting back in touch with our younger more playful selves is a wonderful and natural way to optimize health! "Mystery" allows for playfulness, creativity, intimacy, communication, self-awareness, and caring for and awareness of another. All features come together in a unique, fun, and novel way.  So, give it a shot and take the "mystery" plunge! I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised. Your psyche will thank you. Your body will too.