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tranquil balanceDo you ever feel confused about what your diet should be? Or wish to have alternatives to pharmaceutical medicine? Have you questioned the balance of vitamins and pharmaceuticals in your routine to wonder how what you do today might affect you long-term?

Information can be extremely confusing about health and it often can feel like every bit of information out there conflicts with something else. When it comes to navigating our own health choices, it can be exhausting to sort through the data to make a choice you can feel good about. Typically, we end up doing what we’ve always done out of a lack of understanding a better way.

  • 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths each year.
  • In 2005, 133 million Americans – almost 1 out of every 2 adults – had at least one chronic illness.
  • Obesity has become a major health concern. 1 in every 3 adults is obese and almost 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese.
  • About one-fourth of people with chronic conditions have one or more daily activity limitations (Statistics from the US Center for Disease Control).

Despite the statistics, the majority of chronic illnesses are preventable. We can reduce our cancer risk by up to 60% by adopting diet and lifestyle habits appropriate to our personal needs. Chronic diseases have direct correlations to improper care of the body, nutritional deficiencies and inflammation.

Whether you’re already dealing with a chronic illness or trying to prevent one, there are some not-so-basic premises of health that can open up a world of better understanding.

Natural medicine philosophy rests not only upon what the latest scientific research discovers, but also on what traditional systems of healing have known for thousands of years about the human body. While our lifestyles and habits have changed considerably, our biological blueprint has not. Now, more than ever the guidance from those who knew how to live well, generation after generation, can help us.

At Stillwater Clinic, we offer a 16-week Holistic Health Immersion program, taking individuals on a journey through their own health exploration to equip them with foundational tools to last a lifetime. Program options include education only with our weekly classes (Monday nights) or a full package of healthcare services to accompany your exploration!

Week 1: The Spectrum of Healing. This introductory class includes a comprehensive look at the array of options in healthcare and how to get the most for your health.

Week 2-8: THRIVE! Natural Medicine Essentials is a 6-week series exploring simple ways to improve your health with things you may already have in your home! Drawing on traditions from around the world, discover healing opportunities through herbal medicine, homeopathy, breath-work, meditation, food as medicine, hydrotherapy and more.

Week 9-11: Understanding Life’s Phases: As we grow older we encounter new obstacles and opportunities. Recognizing the ways to best address the needs of each era is an important part of health.

Week 12-16: Holistic Anatomy: Take a journey into the self with this series explaining the dynamic relationship of the body, mind and spirit. Merging western physiology with Chinese medicine and more to form a comprehensive understanding of the bodies 12 organs and what they each need for balanced, optimal health.

Natural medicine and holistic healthcare provide resources not only for living well, but to move beyond crisis management and toward true healing of the body. When given the proper tools, we have the capacity to thrive. If you feel like you are limited in mind, body or the connection between the two, it’s time for a fresh start.

Next program begins September 1st, 2013. Space is limited so please register early. So far, our participants have accomplished remarkable transformations! Many have successfully and painlessly eliminated prescription medications from their daily routine. Over a dozen have made major career or relationship changes that they’ve wanted to do for years but hadn’t had the energy for. One participant expressed, “After a lifetime of studying natural medicine on my own, I’ve finally had the paradigm shift of understanding to truly make use of the tools.”

Our goal is to provide the community with the tools for optimal living and the education and information to know what to do with them. For more information, visit www.stillwaterhealingarts.com/immersion/.

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It’s the time of year to spend more time each day outdoors than in.  Eating meals outdoors on the patio or at the park is a great way to soak up the sun or relax in the shade and enjoy the season!

Reflexively, we may reach for the sandwiches, chips, pasta salad, juice boxes and beer.  But, taking a moment to consider what our bodies might really want and we just might find our perfect picnic looks completely different.

What is Paleo?

The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic is a dietary trend that is changing people’s energy, sense of vitality, digestive embarrassment, waistlines and much more.  The gist of the story is, skip the grains.  And the dairy, processed oils and junk food.

Long before farming our distant ancestors are believed to have lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.  Leaves, berries, tubers, insects and meats were the most abundant food.  As anyone who has grown a garden may know, grains are not the most easily accessible food source.  Our spinach, kale, celery, cucumbers, carrots and more are ready to be eaten as soon as they’ve plumped right up in the ground.  From field to fork, grains take considerably more processing in order to be edible.

Health Benefits

One of our great challenges as human beings is that our biology does not keep up with our creativity and innovation.  Today, grains may be the most readily available food source.  Crackers, cookies, pastas, breads and chips store well and are easily packed with preservatives to last even longer.  Modified from their original form with science, grains become puffs, tings, flakes, charms and other curiosity provoking yummy crunchy things.

Interesting as they seem, grains tend to pack less nutritional punch than vegetables, fruits and meats.  The purpose of the grain of a plant, like all seeds is to preserve itself through the alimentary canal of a larger creature who happens to chomp it down.  Then it will plant into the dirt with some voluptuous compost and start life anew.  Grains come well equipped with a protective force field known as phytic acid.  This compound limits the grains digestibility by tightly binding minerals creating a strong internal layer.

For someone with a powerful digestive system (pH drops below 3 in the combustion chamber of the stomach’s hydrochloric acid bath) phytic acid may be no big deal.  But to the lady eating while she’s driving her car, the guy who’s munching during a meeting, the kids eating mid-stride during backyard playtime and Mom who hardly sits down anymore to eat, the hydrochloric acid may only be a trickle because the body’s attention is elsewhere.

We all need to take a break from life to do nothing but appreciate and ruminate our delicious meals.  But to make things easier on ourselves skipping grains may be the thing for you.  Gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, irritable bowel, gas, bloating, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, fatigue, headaches and more have been successfully eliminated by some individuals with a grain diet.

The Picnic Basket

Appetizer – Fruity Salad: finely chopped apple, celery and raisins with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Get your palate ready with this nice mix to give your blood sugar a boost.  Fruits tend to digest best on their own which can also elevate the blood sugar too quickly.  Paired with a watery, fiber rich vegetable like celery and a balance is struck in flavor and benefits.

Main Dish – Seaweed Wraps.  Create a layer of prosciuto, lettuce leaves, sprouts and sauerkraut in the center of a nori sheet.  Moisten one edge and wrap tightly around the inner filling material.  The moisture of the sauerkraut will help hold the nori together, but don’t wait too long to eat it or it may get soggy!  Seaweeds are one of our under-appreciated foods in western culture as their mineral and specifically iodine content can’t hardly be beat!  Be sure to source from clean(er) waters as they can bind to contaminants from the waters in which they grow.

Side – Salted cucumber slices dipped into tahini.  Double yum!  This quick and tasty snack is high protein with the sesame seed tahini and is a great source of calcium.

After-Snack – Coconut date rolls.  Easy to travel, these treats can be easily made at home by tossing some dates into the food processor and them rolling them in shredded coconut.  Add some cocoa powder for some extra enjoyment.

Dessert – Lemonade popsicles can be made to be electrolyte packed treats for kids wearing themselves out on hot days.  Combine a squeeze of lemon, pureed berries and some liquid stevia to suite your palate.  Pour into ice cube trays with toothpicks to grab and eat quickly once frozen!

Drink – The herbal tea combination of hibiscus & peppermint is ideal for a hot summer day.  Both herbs have a cooling nature and delicious flavor.  Stillwater has a Summer Cooler blend with this combo available in the store!

Like all diets, no one way of eating will suite everyone.  Vegetarian diets, vegan diets, Anti-inflammatory, raw foods, the Mediterranean diet and more all have their place and usefulness depending on where a person is at in life’s phases. To learn more about discovering the right diet for you, consult with myself at Stillwater Clinic any time of the year!

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As I began my exploration in healthy eating, it seemed as if the list of foods I shouldn’t eat grew longer and longer…  Nobody likes deprivation, especially in this era where we have access to so much deliciousness.  The sense that we shouldn’t have something or that our bodies can’t handle certain foods does nothing but deteriorate our vitality.

Shifting this perspective is crucial to healthy eating and developing a true sense of nourishment.  Everyone has foods they don’t like, that are truly disgusting for one reason or another.  Instead of thinking that we can’t have something because it’s bad for us, train your brain to recognize how disgusting that food really is.  For example:

Wheaty, gluten rich dough = paper mache!  YUK!

Melty stringy cheese = excretion from a cow’s sweat gland.  NASTY!

Try it, you might like it.  And meanwhile, please join us for upcoming events for us to PROVE IT TO YOU that healthy eating can be delicious!

June 24th 11am-4pm :  Open House (a free event)

  • Tasty RAW food, Vegan snacks and Superfoods
  • Foot spa use (cool for a hot day!)
  • Information on all our upcoming programs.

July 1st 2pm-11pm :  Food Is Medicine Supper Club

  • 2-5pm Movement to activate vitality
  • 6:30pm Raw food Farm-to Table feast
  • 8pm Music to inspire the soul
  • Sliding scale $10-30. per person
  • All ages welcome

Be well ~ Dr. Hart

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Becoming Our Best:

Do you ever feel like that ideal sense of self got lost somewhere in the flurry of life?  After investing our time and energy in creating the life we thought we wanted, there is the all too common realization that we feel more out of balance than ever.  Often it is illness that reminds us we’re off track.  A diagnosis of chronic disease comes like a fire alarm, illuminating the needs we’ve neglected or didn’t notice at all.  Otherwise, it is that subtle notion that things could be better somehow.

Regardless of how we’ve arrived, there is a way to reconnect to the best in ourselves.  While it may not be accomplished in a weekend or our set vacation time, re-arranging our lives to support a greater sense of self is worth whatever exchange it may require.

Step #1. Prioritize

Life is filled with challenges and there is always something that could seem more important to do than taking care of our selves.  Not prioritizing self-care is the first way we sabotage ourselves.  This may be because of low self-worth, poor modeling as well as our cultural emphasis on productivity.  Pushing beyond this to make our needs the highest priority is the first and most important step.  Set aside time on the schedule every day, multiple times each day.  A moment here, 10 minutes there, 60 minutes two days per week, all adds up to a tremendous amount of energy to create a new way of being.  Spend six weeks with a new habit and you’ve established a new “normal” to your routine.

Step #2. Discover Your Needs

This may be the most difficult task.  Identifying our authentic emotional and physical needs can be very confusing because we adapt to fit into the world around us.  Emotional needs can be examined through a process of self-inquiry, meditation, prayer and counseling work.  Journaling is a fantastic process to begin with asking ourselves the questions of what we truly need to thrive, as well as to reflect back on what strategies we might have tried in the past.  Growth rarely happens along a straight line so as we learn and re-learn, keeping our own notes about the journey can help us identify when we’re slipping into patterns of self-sabotage.

Physical needs can be equally confusing.  For example, we crave certain foods but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily beneficial for us.  Generally, the foods we desire the most are the one’s that are least beneficial.  When we examine what foods we feel strongly about, they are very likely the foods that are triggering our immune system, resulting in an inflammatory response that causes the brain to experience a mild sense of euphoria.  Removing these foods from the diet is a good start to listening to the quieter voice of what our bodies truly require to feel vital.

Every body has basic needs; Proper nourishment in a calm environment, at least half our body weight in fluid ounces of clean water each day, adequate sleep starting before 10pm, daily exercise equal to the calories we take in.  In addition, some bodies need amino acid isolates for genetic weaknesses to be improved.  Others need neurotransmitter support to function normally.  These details can greatly support our experience of fulfillment in life.

Why we don’t allow ourselves these necessities is the interface for where our emotional needs and physical needs meet.  Why do we deprive ourselves?  Why do we get in our own way?  The first excuse is usually that we don’t have enough time.  Supporting health does not have to be complicated.  In fact, it can be far more simple than the life we currently know.  Identifying and getting our needs met is the most basic and imperative aspect to feeling whole.

Step #3.  Invest in the Journey

The more energy and attention we commit toward the pursuit of anything, the more it shows up in our lives.  A recent parent notices everywhere they look there are people around town with their infants, strollers, car seats, etc…  Not that people weren’t having babies before, it just wasn’t the focus until the energy and attention was put in that direction.  Taking on a new dietary focus and suddenly every headline or book cover that catches the eye supports that philosophy.  We are a trendy culture, but this goes beyond that.  We truly see what we want to see as well as what we expect.

Likewise, the more we invest in the fear of human imperfection, aggression, violence and failure the more we see that wherever we look.  While there is benefit in awareness, investing ourselves in the direction of growth we desire requires considering this on all levels.  It may require educating ourselves in a new paradigm, going to retreats or opening ourselves up to a whole new approach on living.

Step #4.  Go Gently in the Direction of Your Dreams

Establishing a goal allows us the possibility of imagining ourselves in a new circumstance.  This in and of itself can be a powerful gesture of change.  Our cells are continuously reproducing.  Our entire liver has died and recreated itself every 24 hours.  Our taste buds are a whole new set every 7 days.  Yet we don’t experience every flavor as if for the first time each week.  Our memory and self-image keeps the sameness in our lives.  Utilizing a conscious practice of shifting our self-image toward a more satisfied, whole and vital sense of self may allow for greater ease in our lives.

However, if we hold too high a standard for our own compliance, we are likely to fail and fall into another trap of self-sabotage.  Guilt and shame are powerful forces that affect our motivation and destroy our self-esteem.  Set a realistic expectation and allow for spontaneity in life as you find it fulfilling.

Step #5.  Recruit Supporters

Banish the nay-sayers and surround yourself with those who support your pursuit.  This may include establishing new social circles, setting new boundaries with family members and friends.  We have an amazing resource available to us today with the internet connecting us to others in a way never before possible.  Working together as a group enhances our own biochemistry, elevating serotonin creating a sense of well being and increased motivation.  Not only is group involvement inspiring, it also provides a sense of accountability to a process that otherwise is easy to slip out of.

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Pursuing a life of fulfillment and our best selves is what we all want and is something that may be much harder than we’d expect.  With this framework we can begin and support the continuous pursuit of wholeness.  At Stillwater Healing Arts clinic, we offer a wide array of resources to support the whole being.  Visit us online at www.stillwaterhealingarts.com to add to your holistic healthcare team.  Join us in May for a free 6 week Creative Writing group to explore the inner dialogue and work towards our best selves.

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Do you struggle with feeling supported by your daily routine?  Is there enough daily satisfaction from life?  Our habits become our routine and whether we like it or not, they become our identity.  Habits develop early in life and have deep connections to our sense of stability.  With cultivating awareness and supporting our physiology, profound changes are possible.

In addition to the emotional challenges of letting go of our beloved habits, there are many physical obstacles we must overcome in order to re-create our lives.  The body’s messengers that correlate to our emotional states are our neurotransmitters.  The most popular would likely be the neurotransmitter serotonin.  This is the component targeted the most by pharmaceutical approaches to treating depression and other mental health conditions

Serotonin is predominantly found and made in the digestive system (~90%).  It acts throughout the body on smooth muscles and has an effect of creating a calm and happy state on the nervous system.  Even in worms, serotonin is released as a signal in response to positive events such as finding a source of food.  Healthy serotonin levels are known to support healthy and efficient decision-making.  Serotonin is enhanced in positive, supportive social interactions and enhances a sense of well-being and cooperation.  Forming groups or sharing goals with friends is a great way to make use of this neurotransmitters function.

Dopamine is the other predominant neurotransmitter known for it’s associated with forming habits and initiating action. Dopamine acts as the brain’s reward system.  Levels of dopamine elevate in the brain when we have acquired something that we have sought out.  This is particularly true in cases where food-deprived people were shown images of food, or a drug addict who see’s their drug of desire.  Setting short term, accomplishable goals on the road to the long term changes we hope to create is one way to make use of this neurotransmitter.

During our lifetimes, dopamine assists our learning and memory development shaping our associations as positive or negative and wiring us to repeat the learned behaviors perceived as positive.  However, what we may accept as a positive behavior as a child or adolescent, we may later recognize as something that was in some way causing more harm than good.  Reaching for sweet treats and pastries may truly be a food addiction due to the surge of dopamine that was set in place in childhood when these treats were given as gestures of love.  Re-programming our dopamine enhanced memories and behaviors is a challenge that requires deep self-inquiry and attention.

Another agent that plays a role in our ability to make changes is the hormone cortisol.  The energy level we feel during the day usually correlates to our circulating cortisol levels.  This is known as our circadian rhythm.  This rhythm ideally should peak in the morning when we rise, lower slowly until midday, elevate again slightly and then fall in the evening.  When the circadian rhythm is normal we are able to accomplish what we desire in a day, have adequate energy for exercise and fall asleep easily at night.

Cortisol levels rise in response to stress.  When cortisol rises, the body’s response is to shift into energy conservation mode.  When we sustain long-term stress, cortisol levels can become exhausted and fall considerably.  In this state, anything that forces the cortisol to rise will ultimately lead to further exhaustion.  It is typical to have weight gain directly related to elevated cortisol.  Exercise typically raises cortisol levels so if it is too low to begin with, exercise may not be the right solution.  Adequately managing stress by utilizing relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, slow walks in nature as well as getting good sleep will all help restore normal cortisol levels.

Serotonin, dopamine and cortisol all play very big roles in our ability to create a healthy lifestyle for ourselves.  Depending upon our behaviors of the past, these messengers may exist as obstacles to creating the changes we desire.  Unfortunately we cannot simply take a pill to create long-term health with our neurotransmitter levels.  Learning what obstacles we may be dealing with as well as the many ways to support the production of these components of our health can make a world of difference.

Whether it’s weight loss, exercise, dietary changes or other ambitions, committing to a new routine and sticking to it is a big challenge.  For ongoing support, the practitioners at Stillwater are here to help.  Stay tuned for next month’s edition of the Biochemistry of Self-Sabotage with part 3: Becoming our Best.  For more information on how to improve your state of health, visit Dr. Sara Hart at Stillwater Healing Arts Clinic in Lyons.  Now offering a 12 week holistic weight loss program to support the mind and body to create the change you desire.

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Join me at Pharmaca on January 5th at 5pm for:

Sticking to it! Creating Health Routines that Last and the Biochemistry of Sabatage…

We all have the best intentions when it comes to caring for ourselves and yet so easily we get in our own way, sabotage ourselves and create our own demise. Why is this? Year after year we make a resolution and so few of us actually stick to it (less than 12% statistically!). I’d like to share with you an understanding of brain and organ function from the Naturopathic and Anthroposophical context as well as some tools to help overcome the odds. Let’s get this year off to a great start and keep it there!

2700 Broadway, Boulder, CO

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