Beat the Heat – Keep Your Mind Calm & Cool This Summer

Self-care is very important. But practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Time for ourselves is often the last thing on our agenda. Our schedules overflow with many responsibilities, busy careers, caring for others, and keeping up with technology.  We must take time to support our own physical and mental health. We need ways to re-center and restore ourselves so that we can feel and function better.

The summer season is here, and it’s a great time to focus on relaxing, going on adventures and living each day to the fullest. Use this time to develop some self-care strategies and implement them into your regular routine so you can boost your well-being, not only for the summertime but through all the seasons of your life. Here are some important self-care strategies you can include in your life.

  • Nourish Your Body. Fuel your mind and body with nutrient dense foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables which are loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Some of the best self-care foods include fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (such as olive oil, nuts and seeds and fatty fish), and quality lean proteins. Avoid refined, fried or sugar-laden foods and beverages.
  • Sleep Well. High quality, restorative sleep improves brain function and leads to happier, more productive days. Allow for 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep and practice good sleep hygiene. Unplug from your electronics a few hours before bed and allow time to unwind from your busy day.
  • Feel Grateful.  Being thankful can transform your life. Studies show gratitude improves physical and emotional health, reduces stress, strengthens the immune system and improves sleep. Start and end your day focusing on what you are grateful for. You can write in a gratitude journal or simply ponder three things you are grateful for in your current life or recall happy memories from your past.
  • Practice Self-Love.  Practice balanced love and know that self-care is not selfish. Spend time refilling and recharging your system. Plan a spa day, walk through a garden, organize your home and bring in some fresh flowers. Schedule time to do what you love. At the end of each day breathe deeply and review what is good about yourself and what is right about your life.
  • Embrace Movement. Do something that energizes your body. Life is movement and when we become stagnant toxins can accumulate in our mind and body. Stretch, dance, go to the gym or take a walk in the park. Discover different physical activities that you enjoy. Exercise is a key part of self-care.
  • Repeat Positive Affirmations.  An affirmation is a definitive statement that something is so. Affirmations are self-fulfilling prophecies. Create personal affirmations to declare and affirm your goals and visions that you hold. Saying positive words can help set you up for positive wins throughout the day in all areas of your life.  Replaceany negative or self-defeating words or thoughts with positive affirmations. Say them out loud daily. Write out your positive statements on a beautiful notecard or place post-it notes in your daily environment. Perhaps start with this affirmation: I am worthy of self-care. I honor myself and nourish my body, mind and spirit.
  • Calm Your Mind. Develop the habit of practicing relaxation techniques daily. Be mindful to stay in the present moment – when we feel stressed or worried our mind is usually focusing on the past or the future. Find a quiet place for prayer and meditation and embrace the peace and stillness. Become aware of your thought patterns and replace toxic thoughts with positive ones. Use guided imagery to avoid stress buildup. Imagine yourself in a peaceful setting, incorporating your senses and changing your mental state. Guided imagery is a powerful tool for increasing relaxation, reducing pain, managing stress and improving mental resilience. Start and end your day with a few minutes of deep breathing and a some of your favorite yoga stretches.
  • Stay Connected.  Moments with friends and family can help you feel more connected and relaxed. Build social networks. Strong social ties have been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.

The more you can fit self-care time into your schedule the more you will be able to grow, enjoy your life and thrive. The better we feel and function, the more we can do for the people and things we care about.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT     Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.   We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935, Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook           

Why Should You Work with a Health Coach?

Living a healthy life can be challenging at times. A state of optimal health and well-being means more than just the absence of disease.  To pursue good health we need to make individual lifestyle choices that support our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. Lifestyle habits in the area of diet, physical activity, sleep and stress management can greatly impact the quality of our life and ultimately impact our long-term health.

A Need for Change

Over 75% of chronic disease is preventable. We know that most chronic disease can be prevented by eating well, being physically active, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.  According to the World Health Organization chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide.

Most of us want the benefits of being healthy. We want to avoid disease and have energy and stamina to thrive in our lives. Many people know that getting proper exercise, eating well and managing stress are healthy behaviors but do not practice these things. Many people have tried to improve their fitness levels, manage their weight, improve their sleep or reduce the negative effects of stress… only to find that behavior change is hard. Whether you have failed to make your health a priority, have found it difficult to implement long-term change, or you are not sure where to begin, a health coach may be able to help you on your journey to well-being.     

A health coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority that can help you create personalized, lasting mental and physical changes. Your doctor may have advised you on healthy changes you need to make. A health coach can act as your partner to support you and help you in developing the skills needed to embrace new behaviors.

Doctors and Coaches Working Together

In her internal medicine practice, Dr. Geni Abraham recognized that patients weren’t feeling better just because she gave them medications and treatment protocols. So, she explored what else she could do. In that process her office transformed into a wellness focused office and she added a health coach. As her health coach, I help patients develop healthy nutritional habits with a “food is medicine” focus, encourage exercise that they enjoy, and work on stress management and sleep hygiene.  It turns out that these measures are going to promote health and wellness and prevent disease.  This integrated approach helps patients feel healthier, more energetic and they are able to meet the challenges of today’s stressful society.  It is also what is going to reduce our overall healthcare costs in the future.

We offer lifestyle and stress management programs to our patients and members of our community.  I spend a lot of time with each person, often regularly scheduled 30 or 60-minute appointments to help them stay motivated and accountable as they make positive changes to reach their health goals.

How will a health coach help you to make lasting lifestyle changes, from weight management to overall wellness?

  • Goal Setting: Your coach will challenge you to focus on your ultimate outcome. What is your long-term wellness vision? Perhaps you want to change your diet and lifestyle to have more energy and vitality, and to make sure you can be around for your children or grandchildren. This long-term vision will help you to break through the obstacles you may face when embarking on behavioral changes such as a new way of eating or exercising. With an understanding of your personal interests and your readiness to change your coach will help you to establish SMART goals which are: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely.  You will establish both short and long-term goals that you will continually revisit as you transform them into reality.
  • Maintaining a Positive Focus: You can retrain the way you think and establish positive self-talk. A health coach can help you shift to a more accurate and positive way of thinking. The focus will be on your strengths rather than your weaknesses to make behavior changes. Do you feel that you’re not motivated enough? Do you feel you lack time or discipline? Does the weather, an injury or financial constraints hold you back? A health coach can help you break down and overcome these barriers so that you can get back on the path to better overall health.
  • Implementing Small Changes: Have you found that making drastic changes all at once were unsustainable and didn’t last in the long-term? Have you discovered a lot of contradictory advice in the overwhelming amount of information on the internet and in the media? A health coach can help you implement small changes at a pace that is comfortable for you so that you can meet all of your health goals.
  • Creating New Habits: To find success in realizing your health goals it is important to develop healthy habits and stick with them. These new habits will turn into automatic behaviors. Start by committing to something easy and practice this new habit regularly.  It is not hard to form a new habit when you relate it to an important goal. Your health coach can support you in forming new healthy habits and reversing unhealthy ones.

Working with a personal health coach could change your life. Take the next step on your health journey and let a health coach provide you with the guidance, expertise and support you need on your path to achieve optimal wellness.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT     Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.   We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals.

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935, Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook           

Taking Care of Your Heart

February is American Heart Month. This is a great time to focus on steps we can take to keep our heart healthy and prevent heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but a heart-healthy lifestyle can go a long way to prevent heart disease. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease. Make sure you are working with your doctor and incorporating healthy lifestyle practices to treat these conditions.  Our day to day lifestyle choices directly impact our heart’s health. Research shows that making healthy lifestyle changes, even later in life, may stop and actually reverse heart damage.

A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight heart disease.  The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods instead of nutrient-poor foods. The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables (variety of color), lean protein, healthy oils (Extra virgin olive oil), whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease.

This healthy diet includes:

  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice per week and limiting red meat to no more than a few times per month.
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
  • Avoiding hydrogenated oils (trans fats) which are found in fried foods and processed foods such as pies, cookies, pastries, donuts and frozen food.
  • Limiting refined sugars and carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice.
  • Sticking with water as your beverage of choice is best, as there is no benefit to adding sugary drinks.
  • Focusing on whole, natural foods and eating lots of vegetables.
  • For dessert, eating fresh fruit and saving sweets for a special treat or celebration.
  • Taking time to savor your food and enjoy your meals with family and friends.  

Regular exercise is one of the most effective tools to strengthen the heart muscle and reduce the risk of heart disease. Your heart will get stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. Regular exercise has many benefits including: burning calories, lowering blood pressure, reducing “bad” cholesterol and boosting “good” cholesterol. Aim to do aerobic exercise (“cardio”) for thirty minutes, five to six times per week.  Some examples include walking, jogging, biking, swimming or dancing. To check your intensity and make sure you are not pushing too hard, you should be able to talk but you shouldn’t be able to sing a full song. Find activities that you enjoy and start small. You can even break up your exercise sessions into 10-minute intervals. In addition, you should include strength training twice per week to build muscle and reduce body fat. To maintain flexibility, be sure to include stretching exercises (such as yoga) weekly as well. For ongoing encouragement, use an app on your phone or a wrist band that provides input on how many daily steps you have taken. Talk with your doctor before making any changes to your current exercise routine.

Focus on rest and relaxation. The effects of stress can have a direct impact on your body and can harm your heart. It’s important to have healthy habits in place to help in preventing and managing stress. When we feel stressed, we often reach for unhealthy habits to find relief, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or overeating. These unhealthy habits lead to other factors that may contribute to damaging your heart by increasing blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar.  Find hobbies and activities you enjoy, stay social and engage with friends and family. Stay positive and ponder uplifting thoughts about the future, as optimism is good for your heart. Dedicate a certain time each day to focus on your body and relaxing. Practice stress reduction techniques and exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and tai chi. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for a healthy heart. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. Create a nightly routine to unwind and relax before bed and stick with the same sleep schedule, even on the weekends.

Working with your doctor is essential to managing your health effectively. Staying proactive with your lifestyle choices will have a positive impact on your heart and overall health.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Simple Daily Habits for Reducing Stress

Stressors, good and bad, are a part of everyday living. Extreme stressors, such as the loss of a loved one, can obviously impact our health. But the ongoing, daily stressors that we face on a regular basis also put a strain on the body’s ability to function properly. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are due to stress related problems. While we cannot completely avoid stress, there are effective ways to manage how much we are affected by stress. 

Incorporate these simple daily habits to start living a lower-stress lifestyle.

Practice Positive Thinking 

It’s not the event or circumstance that determines whether we are stressed, but how we respond to those events. It’s how we feel or think about the event that determines our stress levels.  It is important to choose a positive mindset and challenge negative thoughts. It can be helpful to practice relaxation techniques while focusing on positive emotions such as appreciation and gratitude.  This can be as simple as breathing deeply while you focus on things that you are grateful for.  Emotions, or feelings have a powerful impact on our bodies. Practice maintaining a positive focus to reduce the effects of stress. Make sure to stay connected with friends and family and engage in activities that inspire you to smile, laugh and think positively.

Exercise

Incorporate 10-30 minutes of moderate activity into your daily schedule to reduce stress. Exercise reduces the levels of our body’s stress hormones, and it increases production of chemicals that elevate mood. Medical studies show that exercise dramatically reduces depression and anxiety.  Even one session of exercise can improve your mood.  Find an activity that you enjoy. Include walking in nature, swimming, group fitness, biking, tennis, etc. Regularly practicing yoga can be a great way to reduce stress and restore your sense of well-being.  Yoga can increase strength, flexibility and your ability to relax.

Get Quality Sleep

Sleep restores health and vitality to your mind and body.  Inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night not only leaves you more energized and better prepared to deal with stress, but it also lowers your risk for many diseases. Consistently maintain regular bedtime and wake-up hours. If you have trouble relaxing, try herbal aids such as valerian, passionflower, lavender oil, lemon balm or chamomile.  Avoid caffeine consumption (tea, cola, coffee, chocolate) within 4 to 8 hours of bedtime.  Reduce stress and prepare for a great night’s sleep with a relaxing bedtime routine (book, meditative music, bath, relaxation technique).

Mind/Body Relaxation Techniques

The state of relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and the growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue. Relaxation is a state of rest, enjoyment and physical renewal.  Harvard researchers have found that yoga, meditation, prayer and guided imagery all induce the relaxation effect.  Meditation can be as simple as letting tension go as you focus on your breathing.  If your mind wanders, return to your breath. Guided imagery is a type of meditation utilizing your imagination to visualize yourself in a peaceful setting where tension is washed away from your body and mind.  Practice one or more of these techniques even 5 to 10 minutes a day to offset the stress response with the healing power of relaxation.  Do you ever find yourself in the midst of a stressful situation? Deep breathing, where you fill your abdomen and expand your diaphragm downward, is one of the most powerful exercises you can do to quickly de-stress. Breathe long, slow and deep in a mindful-state as often as possible. As a powerful daily practice, deep breathing will advance your health and well-being. You can also unwind by enjoying a massage or practicing progressive muscle relaxation (an exercise that involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups throughout your entire body) to relieve stress and release muscular tension.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A good diet will help prepare your body for daily stress. An unhealthy diet will only make you feel sluggish and less able to deal with life’s everyday demands. Reduce processed foods containing high sugar, saturated fat and salt. Enjoy a variety of fruits, vegetables, quality fats, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and lean protein. Take time to enjoy your food and eat without rushing.

You don’t need to devote hours to stress relief every day. Just practice these simple habits on a regular basis and enjoy a more positive, fulfilling life.

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

5 Tools to Transform Your Life Through Goal Setting

How do you achieve the life of your dreams? The first step is to create a vision that will guide you on your path to what you desire. Without a clear vision we can lose our focus and allow circumstances to distract us from our course. It is very important to create goals and design action plans to achieve those goals. If goals are done properly and specifically they can transform your life. It is important to lay out goals for every area of your life: personal, emotional, spiritual, physical/health, financial.
If your goal is to lose 40 pounds, for example, you would include action plans such as going to the gym three days per week. What is the vision that will inspire you to continue the action steps necessary to achieve this goal? Perhaps it is seeing yourself feeling vibrant in a body you love and being proud of your accomplishments. You now see yourself feeling emotionally powerful, having better relationships, filled with more energy and exuding confidence.
Setting goals is a fundamental key to all lifelong success plans. Use these five tools to help you reach your goals.

Design Your Goal
Determine a crystal-clear goal and focus on the result that you really want. Without goals our energy is scattered, and we will be less effective. You must write down your goals. Just the action of writing something down sets the wheels in motion. It makes ideas more concrete and will hold you accountable for working toward your goals. Use positive language and make sure your goals align with your vision. We often get caught up in what we think we should be doing instead of going after what we are truly passionate about. It is helpful to set goals that are SMART. Specific: Set a desired outcome as explicitly as possible. Measurable: identify the ways in which you will track your progress. Action-oriented: outline the specific steps that will enable you to complete the goal. Realistic: Create a goal that you are willing and able to accomplish. Timely: Set a deadline or time for achieving your goal to help keep you motivated.

Create Goals from a Place of Gratitude
Our state of mind is very important in setting and achieving goals. When we come from a place of scarcity, lack or disappointment we will hinder our progress toward our desired goal. We need to line up with the feelings of abundance and gratitude to be in alignment with those things we truly desire. Take a few deep breaths and spend at least ten minutes writing down or thoughtfully pondering those things for which you are most grateful. Focus on those things that bring you joy until you fill up with that feeling of appreciation and gratitude. This is the energy that will break through any resistance to the creation and achievement of our goals.

Focus on What You Desire
Whatever we focus on consistently we will experience in our life. Your brain is a supercomputer and your self-talk runs the program. If you tell yourself that you can never lose weight, you may be self-sabotaging your weight loss efforts without even realizing it. Don’t limit your future based on past experiences. Focus instead on how you love being active, energetic and fit, and your brain will supply the means to get you there. Think of the kind of person you want to be in the future. For example, if you are trying to quit smoking, don’t just focus on the will power required to resist cigarettes. Focus on becoming a non-smoker and the freedom that comes with that. How your immune system will be stronger, your skin will look healthier, and your breathing and exercising will become easier. Think in terms of end results with a clear vision of what you desire. Maintain a laser focus on your goals. Wake up and go to sleep focusing on your goals. Get in that state of certainty – how will you feel when you achieve your goal?

Celebrate Small Wins
Big goals are great, and they inspire us to keep going and keep growing. But our big goals are not going to happen overnight. A goal may be too big to swallow in one bite and will need to be broken down into yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals to get us there. We need to focus on the small and significant steps we take along the path to the big goal. By celebrating the small wins, we will stay motivated and have the strength to stay on our path. New Year’s Resolutions often fail because we are trying to accomplish everything all at once. Whether we have an intention to quit something such as smoking or drinking or to start something such as an exercise plan, we need to pick a date of completion and slowly build to the outcome we desire.

Visualize Your Goals as Achieved
Visualization is a powerful tool to help you reach your goals. It is the process of creating what you want through crystal clear pictures in your mind. Start to imagine what you will feel like, what your world will look like once you’ve achieved your goal. Creating a vision board can be a powerful, fun activity. Make a collage filled with pictures of your future goals. By surrounding yourself with images of the goal that you want to achieve, you make sure that you’re always keeping your goal in mind. This means that your brain will be working on how to achieve your goal on a subconscious level around the clock, and you will be inspired with ideas on how to move toward your goal.
The ultimate reward of goal setting is not necessarily the attainment of the desired outcome but who we become on our path toward our desired achievements.

 

Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT
Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.
Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

The holidays are such a joyful time of year.  The season is filled with festive parties, decorated malls and coffee shops brimming with the scent of pumpkin spice.  Make a plan now to prioritize self-care and stay focused on all you have to be grateful for during this season. By planning ahead and staying focused you can avoid the overwhelm that many of us feel during this busy time of the year.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Plan ahead for the expenses of the season.  Writing down your financial goals for the season will help you avoid overspending.  Keep track of your spending regarding things such as decorations, gifts, travel and meals.

Eat well to feel good.  Stay focused on eating whole, natural foods.  Enjoy the holiday festivities but always fill your plate with vegetables first and enjoy your favorite foods – just in smaller portions.

Make a list. The holiday season is a wonderful time to enjoy gatherings with family and friends.  Have a planner or appointment book to organize all of your to-do’s and events to keep you on track and on time.  As your appointment book fills up you will have to choose what events and tasks are most important to you.  Sometimes having to say ‘no’ is an important part of self-care.

Holiday Self-Care Checklist:

  • Take a walk in nature
  • Incorporate relaxing essential oils
  • Get quality sleep
  • Have a home spa day
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Declutter an area in your home
  • Be grateful & practice positive thinking
  • Plan something fun for yourself
  • Get connected with friends & family
  • Lighten your spirit with laughter
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Do yoga or stretch at night
  • Enjoy a relaxing cup of tea
  • Listen to music
  • Stick with your exercise plan
  • Indulge in moderation
  • Practice Deep Breathing

 

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

5 Keys to Boost Your Weight Loss Efforts

Would you like to see your health and weight loss goals realized? The secret to creating your ideal future starts with your daily routine.  Today you can start making little changes in your life which will lead to bigger improvements over time as you remain consistent.  Start on your path to wellness today, become a person of discipline and see your dreams come true.

Create Habits for Success  

Determine a crystal-clear goal and focus on the result that you really want.   Consistently practice behaviors that will help you achieve your goal. Always choose discipline over mood.  Do not let your feelings decide. We may never ‘feel’ like being a person of discipline. It is hard to push forward when we rely only on willpower.  Consistent habits will take the load off willpower. Start today to change the bad habits that have resulted in an unhealthy life. Be excited and believe that you can turn your dreams into reality with your new healthy habits.

Give Yourself a Pep-Talk

The words that you speak are proclaiming your future. Consistently make positive declarations about yourself and your future. If you continually say things such as, “I hate exercise”, or “I just have a slow metabolism”, you will have a sluggish body and lack the motivation to seek positive change. Start saying positive affirmations about yourself and your goals. What you repeatedly hear you will eventually believe. Start to declare such things as: “I am a highly disciplined goal setter,” “I love exercise, burning calories feels great,” and “I choose health and vitality, discipline rewards me”.

Become Health Conscious

Become mindful in your daily choices. Focus on the nutrient density of your food. Choose nutrient-rich whole, natural foods and include healthy fat, protein and fiber at each meal and snack.  You should start your day with a balanced breakfast but if the choice is to have a doughnut or nothing, wait until you can include a more nutritious option.  Exercise does have its rewards. If you become stronger you will add lean muscle tissue.  The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn per day. Your body will also be more energized, firmed and toned.

Change Your Pattern of Eating

Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity as a way of losing weight and feeling healthier.  There are different versions of intermittent fasting, but one approach is time-restricted eating. In one version you limit eating to an 8-hour window. An example of an 8-hour eating window would be between         10 a.m. and 6 p.m.  During that time, you can eat what you want with no calorie restrictions; however, you may want to eat in moderation.  Intermittent fasting can boost your metabolic rate and reduce the amount of calories you consume in a day. During the 16-hour fasting window you can have plenty of water. You can also have coffee or tea (no calories or artificial sweeteners during the fasting window.) Be sure to consult with your own healthcare practitioner before embarking on any change to your diet plan.

Identify Obstacles to Your Goal

Write down all the triggers that will take you from your health and weight loss goals.  Come up with a plan to overcome those blocks or temptations with an “IF-THEN” list. Here are some examples: IF I don’t have time to exercise after work, THEN I will get up 20 minutes early three times per week. IF I eat when I feel stress, THEN I will call a friend or take a walk. To avoid emotional eating, ask yourself if you are really hungry.  If you are actually bored, thirsty, sad or emotional you may need something else besides food.  To avoid food cravings, we need to assure we are consuming adequate nutrients and eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.

Good habits are formed over time and will become a natural part of who we are. Today’s habits determine tomorrow’s version of us. You have to make a decision to start.  Choose one habit that will help you the most. An example would be to start a weekly walking/workout routine.  Track your progress and continue with this new habit until it becomes automatic. The habits you form from this day forward will ultimately determine how your future unfolds. As John Maxwell has said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.  Phone: (561) 432-8935 Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook @DrGeniAbraham

How to Increase the Healing Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude refers to the quality or feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.  Being thankful can transform your life. A quote from Willie Nelson expresses this well, “When I started counting my blessings my whole life turned around.”  Many studies have shown that gratitude improves physical and psychological health, reduces stress, strengthens the immune system and improves sleep quality.  Practicing gratitude thoughts increases feelings of joy, happiness, forgiveness and compassion.

There are many ways to foster gratitude in our lives. The simple act of saying “Thank you” is very powerful. When you thank someone make sure that you experience the sense of appreciation as you speak the words. Another powerful practice and a great way to start your day is to focus on gratitude thoughts. Think of three things that you are grateful for and ponder each thought for 30 seconds. Feel the appreciation and joy of those things. You can be grateful for things you currently have or by thinking of happy memories from your past.  Even being grateful for small or simple things such as a beautiful sunrise counts. We can reap the benefits of gratitude through prayer, meditation and speaking positive, thoughtful words.

The Institute for Functional Medicine offers some tips for practicing and exploring gratitude using a gratitude journal:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes writing about the things for which you are grateful. You may find it easier to write at night so you can include events or observations from the day.
  • Set an alarm on your watch, calendar, or smart phone to help remind you to write in your journal once or twice per week. Try to integrate journaling into your routine, but also write down joyful experiences as they happen so that you don’t forget them.
  • Begin your journey by writing about the basic material things about which you are grateful—such as having a home, a warm bed, food, etc. Then, try to shift the focus to the people, places, experiences, and situations that bring you joy and happiness.
  • Avoid repeating the same entries. This will make journaling a challenge as time passes, but challenging yourself in this way will allow your awareness and sense of gratitude to flourish.
  • Instead of tallying up all of the good people and things in your life, reflect deeply on how these people and things bring you joy, and what your life would be like without them.
  • Try to find something to appreciate in the people and things you don’t like. Focusing only on the goodness will help shift your perceptions and bring you more happiness.
  • Don’t forget to be grateful for yourself and your abilities. Appreciate all that your body and mind can do— whether it’s walking, talking, reading, dancing, swimming, or scaling a mountain.
  • Get creative! Gratitude journals don’t have to be full of lists and words. Fill yours up with keepsakes of your favorite moments—concert ticket stubs, restaurant menus, photos, etc.—or other things like drawings and collages that allow you to express your joy.

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” —Hausa Proverb

-Diane Duvall, CLC, CHHC, CPT

Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness.

Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.       Phone:  (561) 432-8935   Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook

Easy Exercises to Help Improve Your Memory

A healthy lifestyle can support your brain health. You don’t have to succumb to memory lapses, brain fog or lack of focus.  Our brain’s hippocampus, the memory center, regenerates throughout our lifetime provided we give it the right tools.  The foods we eat (and the foods we avoid) play an important role in our memory.  Some of the healthy foods to include are colorful vegetables and healthy fats, along with avoiding sugar and processed carbohydrates.  Proper sleep allows our brain to process our memories and regular exercise improves hormone production and blood flow to our brain.  Practicing mindfulness (the opposite of multitasking) reduces stress and allows our brain to focus. If you find yourself trying to complete several tasks at once, mindfully bring your attention back to the task at hand.

Giving your brain new experiences will keep it healthier. As physical exercise is important to the muscles in our body, mental exercise is important to keep our brain strong. We must continually challenge our brain with new, surprising information.   One way to challenge your brain is with brain games using online websites or apps. One example is a program called Brain HQ which has many different exercises designed to improve brain function.

In his book, Stones of Remembrance, Daniel Amen, MD, (a psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist), shares a list of easy exercises to help prevent memory loss and sharpen your mind:

  • Play language games like Scrabble, Boggle, and Scattergories, or work crossword puzzles and word-search puzzles.
  • Play strategy games like chess, backgammon, dominoes, bridge, or mahjong.
  • Play math games like Sudoku or KenKen.
  • Memorize poetry, Scripture passages, and famous historical dates.
  • Set aside fifteen minutes in your day to learn something new.
  • Take a class (a foreign language, cooking, or an art course, for example.) Challenge your brain to learn new things.
  • Limit your screen time. Unless you are watching something educational, TV is usually a “no-brain” activity. In fact, studies show that adults who watch two or more hours of TV a day have a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those who don’t.
  • Try using your non-dominant hand to write, eat or brush your teeth.
  • Expose your brain to new experiences, scents, sights, and people by traveling somewhere you’ve never been before.
  • Hang around with smart, interesting people who challenge your ideas and way of thinking.
  • Listen to classical music, which research suggests can actually lower your blood pressure and improve your memory and cognitive function.

 

– Diane Duvall is a Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified Internal Medicine, Board Certified Lifestyle Medicine, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.  Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine to prevent chronic disease and promote health and wellness. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462.   Phone:  (561) 432-8935

Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow on Facebook