The buzz of energy around New Year’s health resolutions has come and gone. No reason to be discouraged; we still have 11 more months to keep trying.
What I have learned from interviewing people over the years on goal setting is that unrealistic expectations can often deflate the
momentum of initial motivation. Successful goal achievers who do make it to a desired endpoint get there not with magic, but with a formula of the basics—time, patience, repetition, and support. World Fitness Calculator and Superbetter, tech tools based on simple health principles can help boost your body-mind wellness goals for the year.
David Milarch, a fourth generation tree farmer in Northern Michigan with a bent for rugged living, had a near death experience in the hospital, after refusing dialysis and facing liver failure. He had died, left his body and returned, but with a message from spirit guides telling him his work was not done yet. The earth’s trees were in trouble, and he needed to clone Champion trees to protect their genetics for the future of the planet.
Milarch, fueled by the message from the angels, co-founded The Champion Tree Project. Twenty years later, with a modest staff, he has accomplished what skeptics and scientists said could not be done: cloned the earth’s biggest and oldest trees – among them Sequoias and Redwoods - that have stood the test of time and are the most resilient to climate change.
Few would dispute the countless benefits of exercise, but for
persons with complex medical conditions, standard exercise
programs are often not the right solution. Organizations such as NCPAD offer excellent education on modified exercise programs specific to each health condition. The take-away guideline of this New York Times article is to engage in as much exercise as your body will tolerate. With medical supervision, a variety of ways exist to adapt exercises to provide challenge and accommodate limitations. Keep searching for the right type of exercise for your body. Movement creates momentum and health.
The gentle, meditative, paced movements of Tai Chi hold promise as a path of restorative exercise for those struggling with mobility challenges. A widely practiced Chinese martial art, Tai Chi improves balance, aids in stress relief, and promotes circulation of the "chi" (energy) - a therapeutic effect common in eastern healing modalities yielding balance in the body. The Arthritis Foundation sponsors a unique Tai Chi program, Sun Style, created by Dr. Paul Lam. This program is composed of a series of movements tailored to the needs of persons diagnosed with arthritis.
Each time I attend a live musical performance, I am always awed by the soul-piercing effect of music on the audience, be it jazz, blues, gospel, rock, or classical. I witness how music moves the listener spurring relief, joy, play, or an escape into imagination.
Earlier this summer, I visited the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy and spoke with director,
Dr. Alan Turry, on the healing aspects of music and the unique treatment approach of the center.
“Pull on a single thread in nature, and you will find it
attached to everything in the universe,” says the naturalist John Muir. These words came to mind when I recently discovered the cinematic artwork of mouth painter, Moses Hamilton, 37, who lives in Kauai, Hawaii.
Capturing subjects ranging from the mundane to the transcendent, Hamilton’s paintings draw the viewer into the breathtaking landscapes of Hawaii and tell a moving visual story of the island’s people.
Mindfulness, the practice of bringing our attention purposefully to the present moment, is taught widely in healthcare treatment as a tool to aid in stress relief and coping.
I recently spoke with Ashley Mask, Manager of Visitor Experience and Access Programs at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York about Mindful Connections, a guided monthly 90-minute art tour of the museum for persons with dementia and their caregivers.
From the start of football season, to the turn of colors in the leaves, to upcoming holiday gatherings, the fall season inspires memorable meals. It can also be a challenging time of year to eat healthfully and stick to our health habits.
Jennifer Stack, award-winning chef, professor at the Culinary Institute of America, and a guiding voice for foodies with diabetes and pre-diabetes, is a passionate believer that seasonal eating can be both pleasurable and healthful.
For Chef Stack, it’s all about flavor, “One of my guiding principles is that it has to taste good, really good, not just okay. I have found that flavor brings more people to the table of healthful eating,” said Stack.
Building memories of healthful family meals is what’s important, she explained, “Ultimately, if someone doesn’t come back to a staple in their eating habits, it’s not going to be a good source of nourishment,” she added. What’s on Chef Stack’s fall menu? I asked her to give readers her best cooking class tips.
Are you a sensation seeker, or do you prefer a low key evening with quiet music playing in the background? Decoding our sensory style is the subject of a fascinating book, Living Sensationally: Understanding Your Senses, by Dr. Winnie Dunn, Chair and Professor of Occupational Therapy at University of Kansas Medical Center. Dunn's research on sensory processing disorders indicates that people fall into four categories of sensory styles: seekers, sensors, by-standers, and avoiders. In a recent conversation, I spoke with Dr. Dunn about the broad applications of her work.
“People with sensory processing disorders may be more sensitive to sensory input, but we are all wired to have idiosyncratic reactions to sensory experiences - sound, touch, taste or smell,” notes Dunn. In families, finding creative ways to respond to such needs of children can alleviate unneeded emotional suffering. Dunn provides the following example, “At a family gathering, a child with autism may want some time away from the group due to over-stimulation of social energy. Guests present can understand this as a sensory need versus another thing wrong with the child," she advises.
Each day, we humans participate in a common activity—the ancient craft of storytelling. Reading the daily paper, watching movies, or catching up with friends—sharing or listening to stories is at the heart of our nature. But can telling your story have benefits for your health? “Yes, most definitely,” says Paul Browde, actor, psychiatrist, and narrative therapist, “it made all the difference to my health and life."
Sharing the healing power of storytelling is a narrative exercise that Browde and his fellow actor Murray Nossel, an academy-nominated documentary filmmaker, have engaged audiences in for the last 14 years through Two Men Talking, a live unscripted performance that has been showcased to acclaim in New York, London, and South Africa. On stage, the two men explore a variety of stories: growing up white, Jewish, and gay under apartheid in South Africa; homophobia; racism; AIDS; and most importantly, their friendship and the passage of time.
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