Browsing: Mind Body Spirit

Fibromyalgia And Your Past

Is fibromyalgia linked to the emotional traumas from your childhood?

Most doctors would say “no!” Some doctors believe that fibromyalgia is brought on by how we process and deal with stress. Those of us with fibromyalgia apparently deal with pain signals differently in our brain and central nervous system than other people.

I've talked to many people with fibromyalgia and a good number of them had some kind of emotional trauma in their childhood or sometimes during their life. Is it the emotional trauma that causes bodies to go into shock or the fact that we do not deal with the emotional stress that causes the problems?

In my case, I had an entire childhood of emotional trauma. First of all, my father died of cancer when I was nine years old. He died in our home after being bedridden for three months. He and I never had a very good relationship, I was supposed to be a boy and turned out to be a girl with red hair and freckles … he was so disappointed. Secondly, my mother died of cancer when I was fifteen years old. She died in the New England Medical Center after a seven year roller coaster ride of experimental drugs, surgeries, and new techniques. I was devastated!

My younger sister and I went to live in another city with an Aunt and Uncle. This particular Aunt never liked my mother for reasons that I will never understand, and she soon spoke of her feelings about my mother freely in front of my sister and I. My Aunt and Uncle had never had children of their own, they were in their sixties, set in their ways and certainly had no room in their lives for two orphans. But, my mother had no choice, there was no other family to take care of my sister and I. Frankly, we were very lucky, we could have gone to a foster home.

I left my Aunt and Uncle's home two weeks after I graduated from high school and went to live in the city, where I lived at the YWCA and attended Cosmetology School. I fell apart emotionally, the realization that I was alone, finally hit me right between the eyes. My life took a few more tumbles and turns before it finally stabilized.

That was 47 years ago when I lost my mother. It was three years ago when I went back to my class reunion … not the class that I graduated with, but the class that I had to leave when my mother died and my life was turned upside down. Seeing all of my classmates again had been on my bucket list for many years and I finally got the opportunity to go back to my hometown. I went to the reunion, visited with all my friends, walked around the town, visited the house that we had lived in and sat on the front steps of the porch, like I used to do when my mother would sit out there in her chair and do her knitting. (Reminds me of the song that Miranda Lambert sings “The House That Built Me”.) The house had burnt six months before that, so it was vacant. What was left of the house was a lonely, abandoned shell that finally confirmed that my mother was really gone and that part of my life was really over. Even seeing my classmates again made me realize that they were no longer young, that they had not been suspended in time waiting for me to come back.

I had been in denial for 45 years and carried that pain around with me like a heavy suitcase across my shoulders, until I finally went back to face the truth. The sad part about all of this is that I did not realize what I was doing, I did not realize the stress that I was putting my mind and body through. Stress seems to be the culprit when confronted with fibromyalgia.

Everyone experiences some type of stress, but it's all in the way we deal with it that matters most. We must find a way to deal with our demons and negative thoughts and learn to cope with reality so that we can heal our mind, body and spirit.

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Is There a Type H (Healing) Personality?

Most of us are familiar with the Type A individual – the hard driving, aggressive and demanding go-getter – who is considered at high risk of heart disease. Numerous research studies in recent decades have focused on identifying the exercises associated with those people most at risk of developing cancer, the Type C personality. The most consistent factor is “the inability to express emotion, particularly the feelings associated with anger”. (quote from 'When the Body Says No', page 99, Dr. Gabor Mate) These individuals are also described as overly cooperative, patient, passive, self-effacing, lacking assertiveness and accepting. They suppress or repress “negative emotions, particularly anger, while struggling to maintain a strong and happy facade.” (same reference, page 125)

From my own experience of working with a number of patients with cancer, I invariably find that they are either related or have great difficulty to access or talk about their anger, resentment, and other troubling emotions. They also tend to take on the role of looking after the needs and happiness of others rather than their own. These traits or coping styles are developed at an unconscious level very early in an individual's life as a strategy to reduce stress and are mentioned here not as a criticism nor to suggest that the person has done anything wrong. Within the context of the their life, people are doing the best they can with that which they are aware.

What might be the character traits and qualities of those people who are most likely to heal – the Type H personality? Here is what I have compiled from my own observations of patients who have healed from a range of illnesses, including cancer.

* they learn to feel and express the full range of emotions from anger, fear, sadness to joy. They learn to be assertive and set healthy boundaries.

* they are not passive, not playing victim to the disease or circumstance nor waiting to be fixed. They also do not blame others which is just another way of playing victim and perpetuating a state of helplessness and powerlessness.

* they find a way to diminish and manage their fear so that they are not overwhelmed.

* they do not accept a grim medical prognosis as a 'given'. They maximize medical treatment for the physical disease and they recognize that they can do more. They are able to maintain a perspective that allows for the possibility of a better outcome and full healing.

* they develop and maintain a sense of humor and stay interested and focused on living their life.

* they are willing to see the whole disease in all its aspects – physical mental, emotional and spiritual. They appreciate that the disease is the outcome of unconscious, unexamined patterns of stress or styles of emotional copying and that they hold the keys to unlocking these patterns. They are the very experts that they have been seeking and they are willing to conceal and utilize their own self-knowledge.

* they develop an attitude of responsibility – being 'response able' – for whatever they can do to help themselves.

* they are willing to change key aspects of themselves and challenge their conditioning, habits and beliefs and even their self-image. These individuals accept at some level that how they have been living their life is simply not working. They see the disease as a sign that they have wandered down the wrong road somewhere and they need to stop, identify where they lost their way way and redirect themselves. The disease becomes a life-saving opportunity for health restoring change.

* they have the courage to be honest with themselves and acknowledge their 'dark side'. Healing can only flourish in a climate of truth, of what is real and not denied.

* they are willing to take the high road – transcend conflict, let go, grieve, forgive both themselves and others, and move on.

* they are willing to grow in compassion for themselves and others.

* they are willing to heal the wounded child aspects of themselves and mature into a more balanced, aware and responsible adult.

The above list may appear daunting to achieve and yet it takes only a shift in attitude and a commitment to becoming responsible and self-aware.

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Take Resting To A New Level

I'm a strong believer in the importance of rest. Many athletes and would be athletes get burned out trying too hard to lose weight and / or get in shape. Muscle soreness, lack of energy and even injury can result when we push or bodies to hard.

This is especially true as we get older. The senior athlete needs more time between volunteer workouts to rest, repair, & recovery. For me three days between strength building works seem to work best. After three days I very rested, strong and ready to blast into my workout. Research looks to back me up in fact as far as strength building goes sometimes less is more.

Most of the time the days I spend between strength building exercises are spent doing cardio, walking and / or Qigong, so I'm not really resting my body completely, but am engaging in some form of physical exercise. But is there value in doing nothing?

For me the idea of ​​doing nothing is hard to grasp. I'm not the type who enjoys just lying around. The recent two days I spent in the hospital drve me bonkers! Granted I was not really sick, but even so I could not have stood another day in bed. However there was one benefit of doing nothing, I had plenty of time to think and meditate.

I had time to evaluate my fitness progress and even more important to review my goals, relationships and self development. This addressed in some tweaking of my goals and establishing some new goals.

Call it a self assessment, but the time I spent doing nothing really helped me focus on what's important. One of my new goals is to spend more time doing nothing, time spent mediating, reading inspirational books and listening to good music can have real value.

Another item I have adding to my fitness program is taking an afternoon nap. It took a while to accept the idea that a nap was a good idea and not to feel guilty about taking one, but finally I have fallen into the routine and eagerly look forward to a “quiet time.” I guess the nap is the ultimate do nothing thing. I usually wake feeling recharged and ready for the rest of the day. Now being retired I have the advantage of pretty much taking a nap whenever I want to and most of my friends and family accept the fact that I'm older and need a nap. (Yes, I do use my age to my advantage when it suits me,) I also try to take ten to twenty minutes a day meditating. Both the nap and meditating really seem to help not only my physical but mental well being.

If you work it may be hard to take a nap, although more and more progressive companies are allowing employees a twenty minute 'power nap' some even provide a nap / mediation room. or better yet go outside and sit in the sun with your lunch and just be quiet and enjoy the day.

So take resting to a new level and try doing nothing or as the old guru on the mountain top say say, “Just Be.” Doing nothing will recharge your batteries, help your body to recover for the last workout and even reduce mental stress giving you a new lookout on life. So try taking your period periods to a new level try doing nothing.

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Getting a Good Nights Sleep Is Easy

I suffered from difficulties in getting to sleep and insomnia when I was younger (way younger now …) and would have times when I would sleep maybe an hour a night for nights in a row, even during school time. As I got older I found it easier to get to sleep, but the quality of sleep was still poor and I found myself tired, irritable (what's new huh?) And plagued with niggling little injuries and illnesses that I could not shake. Since I started training and eating properly I've found that my sleep has improved no end, and in fact I find it very easy to get to sleep at night (and, to be honest, not that hard to sleep during the day .. .).

It always amazes me how many people tell me that they have a hard time sleeping, and seem to accept it now as part of their lives. Last night I had a lousy nights sleep and served to remind me all the little factors that add up to a good nights sleep, and I thought I'd share them with you. Sleep is essential to well being and re cooperation, and so is a major part of any fitness goal you may be trying to achieve.

1. Routine.

This is the most important part of getting off at night. Those of you with children know it, and many of us do not extend that to our own lives. It is ESSENTIAL that you establish a consistent and easy to repeat nighttime routine. Here's mine:

20:00 Last big meal of the day (125-150 g chicken, 200g sweet potato, 10 g butter, spinach, salad etc).

21: 15-21: 30 100g chicken, 100g oats, 250ml almond milk. 30ml fish oils, creatine (non training days) zinc (either 15mg or 30mg)

21:45 Cold shower, then in bed.

And this is EVERY NIGHT (maybe not Friday night) for as long as I can remember now. Once you establish a routine it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: I start getting sleepy now about half eight every night, and by ten Im pretty much out. By the way, the TV does not count as bed time routine.

2. Your Bed

You spend a third of your life sleep (and presumably, a third of your life in your bed) and yet people baulk at the idea of ​​spending more that a couple of hundred pounds on their bed (when the same people will happily spend £ thousands on their telly and sofa). It is so important that your bed is comfortable but supportive (and most of this coming from the mattress) and that you keep it clean and fresh. I'm also amazed at the size of peoples beds: Mrs. TailoredPT and I have a super king size (and it is a little like the Silent Night adverts). This is not for showing off, there simply is not enough room for the two of us to be comfy in anything smaller. The moment you start having to tolerate outside effects when you're trying to sleep is when its all going to go awry. You may even have to admit the fact that you're better off in separate beds. I've met lots of clients that now sleep separately and are much happier thanks to a good nights sleep (after all, your only SLEEPING separately …) Spend some cash on the most used piece of furniture you have.

3. Your Bedroom

You sleep at night time. At nighttime it's dark. Therefore your bedroom needs to be as dark as possible. Get some curtain liners if you have street lamp (or one of those stupid house security lights that pumps out 500w all night on a driveway (no-one's trying to steal your roses, arsehole!)) Outside your window and eliminate all sources of light inside too (like your LCD clock). Make sure its as quiet as possible. For some that may mean turning off the TV

It frightens me how many people sleep with their mobile phone either under the pillow or next to the bed. If you have to do this, please turn off the network connection.

Make sure its nice and cool. If possible, have the window opened a little bit. Make sure the heating has gone off an hour or so before. If you find that your bedroom is damp, get a dehumidifier (trust me on this one).

You may want to make sure that the colors in your bedroom are conducive to sleep (no black and white 'feature walls'). Having said that we've got bright rainbow stars (!) On our bedsheets at the moment.

4. No Alcohol

Many clients tell me that they could never give up their daily G + T or they have to have a glass or two of wine before bed. Then you have a drug habit. Simple as that. Give it up. Not only will it cut hundreds of calories off your daily intake, you'll be much better prepared for a good nights sleep (and indeed better for the morning as the quality of sleep will be better). Same goes for caffeine and other stimulants, none after about six in the evening (infact, none at all is better still).

5. Food (and water)

Many people that report bad nights sleep are going to bed (and trying to sleep) hungry. I always eat before I sleep and I always recommend to clients and friends that they do the same.

Your body is going to expend a lot of energy repairing and maintaining itself while you sleep. You need to fuel that. However, do not take this as an opportunity to fill up on junk; stuff that will get you fat when you're awake will do the same when you're asleep. I'm quite happy going to bed on a belly full of chicken and porridge but then my calorie intake is higher than many people. Something high in protein and low in sugar is fine (much like any other time of day). If your timetable is such that your main meal of the day is right before bed make sure you do your best to flatten out the blood sugar load by eating all the expensive bits first and leave the carbs until last.

Also make sure you are hydrated. Try to avoid drinking all your water in one go before bed (you'll need a pee just when you get comfy).

6. Tryptophan

This is kinda included in food but I'd like to mention it separately. It is an essential amino acid that needs to be absorbed through the diet. There had been much research into whether an intake of tryptophan actually helps with sleep and most of it is inconclusive at best. Tryptophan is metabolized into seratonin and melatonin, both important for controlling mood. Although research does not really support the idea that consuming tryptophan leads to an increase in these metabolites it does not dismiss it either and I recommend at least trying foods high in tryptophan to see if it works (Wikipedia has a good list of foods high in tryptophan). For me I found tuna to be very useful, but my intake of tuna (and fish in general) is much lower now thanks to heavy metal poisoning. In any case you'll be establishing a routine and going to bed with a full stomach, which will help.

Almost ironically, a large intake of carbohydrates will also lead to an increase in seratonin and melatonin. I find it very difficult to sleep without a full belly and Mrs TailoredPT always goes to sleep after her night time porridge.

7. Zinc

Zinc is found in pretty much every cell and process in humans (much like magnesium). For guys its also essential for making the little swimmers. Ive found that 15mg-30mg zinc (for girls I'd stick with even less, 5mg) before bed really helps with falling sleep, and also sleep quality. A pleasant side effect of Zinc before bed is really vivid dreams.

8. Breakfast.

Eh? Get a good breakfast, high in protein (if its come out of a box, do not eat it). Unless you're not hungry. Dont confuse not eating breakfast with skipping breakfast, they are not the same thing. Breakfast is not essential to your daily routine, but skipping it through lack of time or effort is not the same as following an intermittent fast protocol.

Getting breakfast right will set you up for the day, which will have a direct impact on how you feel when its bed time.

9. Exercise

Every time I raise the question of exercise before bed I get exactly 50/50 response either way. Personally I cant run around punch stuff and lift weights then fall sleep all night. Mrs TailoredPT does exactly that most nights. I think its more down to routine again then anything else. Try it for yourself and see.

So last night I did not obey any of these and did not get to sleep until past 1am. If this is a regular occurrence with you, try out some of the tips above and let me know how you get on.

Night night


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Chill Out!

If you dread going to your job, relationships seem tense, or have constant debt … you are likely under high stress. Our environment greatly influences the levels of stress we acquire. Have you heard of “disease” dis-ease. The bodies reaction to stress is very detrimental to our health and well-being. When we are not at ease we have already “disease”. The phrase “lighten up” is really saying “take a burden off and stop worrying”. We have over 60,000 thoughts everyday and most of those are likely to be negative if they are not controlled by positive affirmations. Our thoughts affect our body and our environment as well.

A while back I got myself into a year long relationship that gradually turned into a nightmare. The person I was living with was so extremely negative and depressed that I quickly fell into the same thought patterns. The guy I was with took advantage of me and stole all my savings that I worked very hard for. This also made me very tense about everything because financially I was tight and most of the time broke. I did not notice right away, but people around me saw a difference in how I talked about topics and the fact that I did not look as healthy and cried easily. I began to have dark circles under my eyes, hair falling out by the handys everyday for 6 months straight. I finally chopped all my waist-length hair to a very short style to cover up the thinness.

I ever cut ties with that person and thought my life back to where it was. Really take in my mistakes and learn from them. If the people you are around do not add to your happiness then ditch them … they are obviously not worth your time! If you absolutely hate your job, find another one that you enjoy! If you are financially tight focus on wealth and prosperity, speak and think only things that you wish to attract into your life!

Some things that I found to help me relax and be positive:

* listen to peaceful music

* burn natural incense

* minimize exposure to tv and programs

* take cold showers

* be outside in the sun and nature as much as possible

* only hang out with positive happy people

* show love to everyone without exception

* take kava kava root liquid extract

* get in sauna for 30 minutes

* have sex

* warm herbal tea

* get massages frequently

* cardio and weightlifting


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Divine Powers and Forces

There are times in our lives when we have glimpses of a life – our life – that is infinite more than the life we ​​are now living. It is then that we realize that we are living below our potential. We warn for an understanding of the life that we feel should be.

Intuitively we recognize that there are powers and forces within us that we make use of, and that some others barely use at all.

William James, wonderfully linked philosophy, psychology, and religion, to life to a supreme degree. He honored his mission and did an incredible service for all humanity, when he developed the understanding that we all have powers and forces that we make too little use of, that we have huge reserves of power that are underutilized.

The people who wake to these inner forces, these amazing and sustaining powers and forces that belong to the realm of mind and spirit are never found among those who question whether life is worth the living. For them life is incredible and amazing.

Unfortunately most people get caught up in the humdrum of life, and seem not to have time for their greater purpose. They seem to lose sight of their very existence.

Through the body and its multiple senses, we are indivisible from the physical universe about us. Spiritually we are connected to the Infinite Power that is the animating, Life Force of all material forms. It is through the mind that we are able consciously to relate the two. Through it we are able to understand the laws that inspire the workings of the spirit, and open ourselves to allow them to become the controlling forces of our lives.

There are divine powers and forces that will maintain us with peace and safety if we are wise and adequately attentive to find and to nurture it. Swimming against the current is always difficult and unreliable. Going with the current eases the way. Instead of always being certain and even exhausted by the sheer effort of just getting through, we make time for enjoying the journey, and to utter a word of encouragement or joy to a neighbor, on the way.

Life is not so complicated if we do not relentlessly persist in making it so. Supreme intelligence, creative power works only through law. Religion and science are separate approaches to our understanding of the law. When both are real, they complement each other and their findings are the same.

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Is the FDA and AMA Doing Enough?

I would agree that we need these protective agencies in place, but at what cost? And I'm sure most want to feel protected and secure. Health insurance is good, but does lend itself to a false sense of security. Doctors and hospitals can be life saving, but again this leads to that false sense of security. Government agencies can implement more laws and regulations to provide the public with health protection, but history has shown us that they are not that good at this. Curious to know how many people understand that from the time the AMA and the many licensing laws took control of medicinal remedies in the early 1900's we were one of the healthiest nations on earth. Or the published article * in JAMA stating; “Traditional Western Medicine contributor to poor health and is the third leading cause of deaths in the US” This makes me wonder … why the downfall? When there are so many safe and natural ways to prevent poor health as well as improve the health and quality of an individual's life. Why did not they consider this when they created these regulations and laws? Maybe they did? Or better yet, why can not “all” alternative medicines be considered when implementing our new health care mandates now? We hear the presidential campaigns discuss health care, but do you ever hear them say we should consider adding more alternative methods of prevention and health care? Of course there would potentially be so much control as to what can or can not be done that it may be best to leave it as is. I would say NOT. I'm sure we all have our opinions on this.

Good marketing, just like in the height of the tobacco industry, is what keeps unhealthy foods in the forefront of our minds. Now, on the other hand why does our mind and body desire sweets and fats? One can presume if you did not grow up eating these foods, you may not desire them. However that is not always a reality. Or why are human beings naturally lazy? Or why are we creatures of habit, good or bad?

Then we look at the environment and our daily way of life and how this affects what we eat and our health condition. It is certainly good to see many in our society concerned with the quality of our environment and how it negatively affects our lives and our morally taking action to preserve it as well as pushing government (and the world) to enforce laws to protect it. Unfortunately our way of life is only getting more and more hectic. How do we prevent an unhealthy life?

So, does a select group hope that people will always desire unhealthy foods, bad habits and lifestyles leading to poor health? Certainly death from unhealthy habits, poor diet and physical activity can be preventable. When it comes down to it we are responsible for our own actions.

* Starfield, B. (2000, July 26). Is US health really the best in the world? Journal of the American Medical Association, 284 (4), 483-485.

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Herbs to Help Maintain a Healthy Immune System for a Healthy Voice

Herbs for Immunity and Vocal Health

No matter how much we practice, take lessons or rehearse, if our immune system is weak, sooner or later our voice will be weak and our body will break down. We will not have enough strength and energy to produce the sounds we know we are capable of. Proper diet, plenty of sleep and exercise are crucial for a healthy immune system. However, when we get on a roll and are not able to properly satisfy these areas of our life, herbs can help tremendously to bolster and strengthen our immune system as well as keep our voice in great shape.

Echinacea and Goldenseal for Vocal Health

Echinacea is considered one of nature's most useful herbs. Echinacea has such powerful antibiotic effects that it is often prescribed as an ongoing remediation to boost and support the immune system by helping rid the body of toxins. It can also work wonders for a sore throat or any mouth, gum or throat issue when applied directly to the affected area or when used as a gargle. If you feel symptoms of sickness coming on, begin taking a full dropper of liquid extract in juice or water or two capsules three times a day for one week.

Goldenseal has been called a “miracle herb” because of its total healing effect. Powder or extract is generally considered to be more effective than tea. For upper respiratory infections and boosting the immune system, it should be used when infection has already set in and the mucus is yellow or greenish. Goldenseal is very effective when used for tonsillitis and other difficult throat troubles. It may be used as a gargle (five drops of extract in two ounces of warm water). It may also be taken internally for digestion difficulties or infection in the sinus passages and respiratory tract.

Note: Most herbalists do not recommend taking Goldenseal for more than a week at a time because it can reduce the absorption of the B vitamins. If you do take Goldenseal, it is recommended to allow at least two weeks in between dosages. Do not use if pregnant, as it may stimulate the uterus. If you experience diarrhea and nausea, stop taking immediately. If you have any heart disease or hypertension, do not take Goldenseal as it can stimulate the heart muscle so increasing blood pressure.

Garlic is one of the most powerful herbs known for fighting infection and bolstering the immune system, especially when it comes to infections of the throat. Garlic is a natural antibiotic; however, it does not destroy the body's natural flora in the intestine and colon. In fact, it is praised for its digestion benefits. It is a serious immune booster. When used as a detoxifier, garlic rejuvenates the entire system and purges the body of unwanted debris. If you feel some kind of sickness or sore throat coming on, chop up one or two cloves of garlic into small pieces. Chew the pieces slowly until they are like liquid. Make sure you chew though, allowing the juice to coat and sit in your throat and mouth for at least two minutes then swallow. Chewing is very important because the antibiotic healing element in garlic, allicin, is only activated when it is crushed. Once allicin enters the stomach, it begins to heal your entire body. Chewing garlic may stop the infection altogether or stop it from getting worse.

Super Immune Booster Herbs

Keep all the above herbs with you wherever you are on the road, rehearsing or in between presentations and use them continuously. Your voice and immune system will thank you for it every time you sing or present.

As always I wish you the best on your quest for Superior Vocal Health.

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Make 2013 Your Fittest – And Most Peaceful – Year Yet!

It's a well known fact that the majority of people who make New Year resolutions to join a gym (with many half heartedly vowing to do so whilst still chewing on the last remnants of what was a gargantuan Christmas dinner just some twenty minutes before) almost always fail before they've even started, either by not going at all or by giving up after a month (of constantly embarrassing themselves on the gym equipment as they attempted to exceedptiously outdo the more fitter person next to them whilst attempting to look like a gym pro who knows what they are doing, even though they are really struggling to keep up, and deep down, are praying that the person they are hopelessly trying to compete with would stop or at least slow down …)

So why does this happen so often, and to so many?

Why do the amount of people applying for gym memberships increase at the start of the New Year, only to dwindle shortly after? Why do people, eager with anticipation to follow up on their vows to get fit and healthy, just stop going after a while, even if they kindly pay for the whole year, in the vain hope that by doing so, this would force them to go, even when they did not feel like it.

I personally believe that therein lies the problem about going to the gym. After a while, many just no longer feel like it.

The two major factors at play here really come down to time and interest.

Gym peak times are the most busy which is usually when people finish work. This means that the majority of people that go to the gym at these times have typical 'nine to five' jobs.

Having both worked in several gyms as well as gone regularly for many years, I can honestly say that I absolutely hate the gym at peak times. Compared to the mornings and afternoons that are filled with the calmness and peace that comes from the 'off peak' members (which mainly consist of the retiree, self employed, mother / father and housewife / househusband) who does not seem to be in any particular hurry or filled with the stress associated with working in offices (and all which that may entail), the gym in the evening is an entirely different kettle of fish.

Come the evening, everyone in the gym looks tense and angry. The atmosphere is filled with such hospitality, with people queuing to use the machines while huffing and puffing in order to get the person to hurry up so that they could get their turn. The muscle men in the corner make such grunts as they lift and slam down weights (a clear indication of the inadequacy they feel towards their boss / colleague / life as a whole) in order to vent out their obvious pent up anger. The most sad thing to witness is seeing everyone trying to squeeze and fit into the sauna. That the majority of the people, sweating and waiting for an available seat to get comfortable in, had probably done exactly the same thing some hours earlier on the underground before they came to the gym, just to do the same in the sauna, was an irony that was not lost on me, I can assure you.

Peak time life. It's just not worth the stress.

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Non-Clinical Post Traumatic Stress Dreams

I would venture to guess that almost every adult on this planet has had at least one nightmare in their lives. And I would further dare to suggest that the frequency of nightmares, on a global scale, has increased drastically over the last few decades. There are a variety of reasons why we experience nightmares, or bad dreams. Research suggests that something as simple and inconsequential as a very violent or disturbing movie can affect the content of our dreams, stress and even health issues can result in disturbing dreams, and of course, emotional, life threatening and traumatic issues and events bring on those night time terrors. However, with the rise of political, financial and natural collapse, disaster and conflict it would have surprised if the number and intensity of nightmares has not increased. People all over the world are experiencing more and more traumas, in all forms, shapes and sizes than ever before.

Although humanity has endured two world wars, innumerable armed conflicts, nothing compares to the social, human rights, and environmental atrocities, devastating natural and man-made disasters and horrors of every kind that we experience on an almost daily basis. Add to these horrendous events the very stresses of living in a fast-paced, technologically dependent, competitive, and increasingly violent world and you have the recipe for global sleep disorders and nightmares.

It's astonishing, to me, that there are not more of us suffering from traumatic and / or acute stress nightmares and even full blown PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I suspect there are a great deal more people suffering with post-traumatic nightmares than we know. However, for various reasons, they're suffering alone and in silence.

Most trauma survivors are unfamiliar with how trauma affects them. They usually are not even aware that what they're experiencing is a problem until the situation becomes extreme. And when the problem begins interfering with normal daily functioning, they tend to think that they're going to blame, that they're going crazy, or that there's something wrong with them because others, who experienced the same or a similar trauma, don 't seem to experience the same problems.

Trauma survivors will often experience different symptoms and even similar symptoms in different ways. Which symptoms and the intensity of the symptoms experienced is dependent upon a number of factors including a person's attitude and personality, their life experiences, their ability to cope with stress, how serious the trauma was, and what kind of help and support is available to them from family, friends, and professionals immediately following the trauma.

Individuals suffering from recurring traumatic dreams may not even realize it. We most often think of traumatic / stress nightmares resulting from having experienced events such as sexual assault, combat or natural disasters. However, it's important to recognize that such things as aicious divorce can be experienced as trauma, especially by children, as well as witnessing violent acts; surgery, the loss of a loved one, a physical assault or even a severe accident. Although we may not have been to battle, or survived a plane crash, there are still quite a few events in our everyday lives that qualify as traumatic for us, even though the psychiatric establishment many do not diagnose them as such.

Just because we are not diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or ASD (acute stress disorder), does not mean we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress dreams. It simply means we do not meet the clinical criteria for such a diagnosis. However, according to the World English Dictionary, a trauma is:

1. A powerful shock that may have long-lasting effects

2. Any bodily injury or wound

Therefore, any event that results in long-lasting physical or psychological effects and causes us stress can be defined as a traumatic event. And tragic events often result in sleep disturbances and nightmares.

An everyday, run-of-the-mill nightmare is most often characterized by the following symptoms:

– A sense of dread or fear, inside and outside the dream, that may stay with you for hours or even days.

– The physical paralysis, called atonia, that signifies REM sleep (as opposed to the physical arousal common in night terrors), but possibly with more eye movements than usual and slightly elevated pulse and respiration rates.

– Vivid recall of all or part of a frightening dream story.

– Frequently finding yourself being harmed or harmed in some way.

– A recognition of personal dream themes, or a repetition of the dream itself for months, years, or even decades.

What sets an “ordinary” nightmare apart from a post-traumatic stress dream (or nightmare) is that a PTS dream is usually experienced by someone who's survived a tragic event, and in which the dream content and story closely resembles the actual event, and where the same or a similar dream recurs over days, months or even years. The same symptoms as any other kind of nightmare still exists (fear, anxiety, waking up), however, the PTS dream is often triggered by some waking life event.

Over time, PTS nightsmares become less frequent and new features are typically incorporated while some old features fade out or change. The recovery process may be sped up by discussing the nightmares with others who have experienced similar trauma and / or nightmares.

If PTS nightmares persist you may want to consider talking with a therapist. If you're unable to see a counselor or therapist, you can try working on the issue at home. There are a number of techniques that have been shown to be effective in easing and even eliminating recurring nightmares.

Breathing – Treatment for breathing problems during sleep may reduce the nightmares that follow trauma.

Talk Therapy – As with many difficulties in our lives, it's always better to talk about the issues than not. Share your dreams and fears with someone you trust.

Dream Therapy – Working with your dreams can help you understand them, change them, and eventually eliminate them.

Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) – In IRT, (while wake) you change how the nightmare ends so that it no longer upsets you.

We all deal with stress and trauma in our own, and different ways. We all process our experiences in different ways, and we all do so at our own pace. Your nightmares are part of the process. Ignoring them will only delay the healing and processing. Allow yourself the time your psyche needs to work through the trauma you experienced. Nothing in this world lasts forever, including disturbing or terrifying dreams.

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Heart Disease and Low Magnesium Levels: Are You At Risk?

A report out January 31, 2013, suggests the strong link of low nutritional magnesium and a high calcium-to-magnesium ratio, in the increased prevalence of heart disease. It highlights 10 years of groundbreaking research in cardiovascular disease studies. Built upon the work of Mildred Seelig, MD, who studied the relationship of magnesium to cardiovascular disease for over 40 years, scientist and author Andrea Rosanoff, PhD, conducted this comprehensive review.

In her research, Dr. Rosanoff discovered that, “By 1957 low magnesium was shown to be, strongly, convincingly, a cause of atherogenesis and the calcification of soft tissues.” This peer-reviewed research showed low magnesium to be associated with all known heart disease risk factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

In fact, studies dating back to as early 1937, shown low magnesium levels, to be a greater predictor of heart disease than cholesterol or saturated fat intake. However, this research was largely ignored, moving the focus back to cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diets. This misdirection led to less emphasis on correcting low magnesium levels.

Magnesium, considered an electrolyte, is a mineral found within the body. Electrolytes are responsible for the electrical activity in the body. They allow muscles to fire, the heart to beat, and the brain to get signals. One electrolyte deficiency causes imbalances within the entire system. Not only are sufficient levels of magnesium necessary to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, a steady heartbeat, strong bones, and a healthy immune system, but it also plays a role in regulating blood sugar, keeping blood pressure normal and helping the body metabolize energy .

Calcium is another key medical requirement, one of which is supplemented for good health. Dr. Rosanoff found that decades of rising dietary calcium intake were not appropriately balanced with dietary magnesium intake. Such balance is vital when you consider that calcium makes muscles contract and magnesium makes muscles relax. Being constantly tense and tight is a hallmark of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium works with the body to absorb calcium and potassium, so without proper levels of magnesium, calcium and potassium will not be properly absorbed. Based on her research, Dr. Rosanoff believes the imbalance of dietary calcium-to-magnesium ratios, has inadvertently led to an increase in cardiovascular disease.

Carolyn Dean, MD, ND adds, “That cholesterol is not the cause must be obvious, since heart disease is still the number one killer in America in spite of over two decades of statin use. all the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease-hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart arrhythmia, angina and heart attack-can no longer be ignored; the evidence is much too compelling. ”

Many others echo these finds. “In the last decade, magnesium rightly received considerable concern as a critical nutrient for optimal health.” This review secures magnesium, and correcting levels of magnesium intake, as one of the most critical health recommendations today, “reports Ashley Koff, RD. Dr. Mehmet Oz adds, “Magnesium is essential for helping regulate metabolism, and it helps lower blood pressure and dilate arteries.” He suggests that three out of four people in this country are magnesium deficient.

A serum magnesium below 0.85 mmol / L, combined with other risk factors, could have been a causative factor for heart disease. If addressed before prescribing statins, antihypertensives and glucose-lowering medications, it could reduce and possibly eliminate the need for them. However, how much magnesium is needed for optimal health? A 1: 1 balance of calcium to magnesium is recommended, and the World Health Organization recommends 400-500 mg of calcium daily.

When figuring magnesium needs, also take into account the amount of calcium obtained from diet. But beware when calculating nutrient intake, not all “healthy foods” provides as much nutrition as once thought. “The modern processed food diet, so widespread for decades in the United States, is made from food commodities that are low in magnesium (and some other essential nutrients), mainly due to processing losses but also due to decreasing magnesium levels in wheat, vegetables , and perhaps other food crops over the past 30+ years, “states Dr. Rosanoff.

Evaluate your diet and ensure that you have proper balanced nutrient levels, most especially calcium to magnesium. This becomes even more important if you have heart disease or its risk factors. Remember that nutrients work as a team and look to maintain proper balance. Balanced nutrition and proper supplementation is integral in the fight against heart disease. Dr. Dean also notes that, including low doses of vitamin D and vitamin K2, can protect your bones as well as your heart. A good multivitamin combined with balanced calcium and magnesium supplementation is vital, along with Omega 3 supplements to further balance the equation.

The bottom line is that nutritional intake effects health. Improper nutrition, combined with nutrient deficiencies or excesses can lead to unhealthy conditions within the body, conditions such as plaque build up, hardening of the arteries and reduced blood flow. Eating a balanced diet, filled with a variety of unrefined whole grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables (especially leafy dark-greens) every day, can help maintain heart health. While that may seem like nothing new, focusing on calcium to magnesium balance, is a new consideration. While only one piece in a much larger puzzle, this research shows that it is an important consideration.

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Wondering and Discovering – Applying Knowledge to Solve Practical Problems

Walking the hills around my home in the north of England as a boy of fourteen, I found myself wondering about my height above sea level compared with the height of the hills in front of me. I wanted to know how high I had to climb before reaching the top of the next hill.

I had a map, and I had found the hill in front of me on it. What I did not always know was my exact position on the map, and so I did not know how high I had to climb to reach the summit.

I walked up to the top anyway, but I always wondered how I could determine my height relative to my destination.

The hills around my home had strange and wonderful names. I can still remember them. Alphin, dark and massive, looking across Chew Valley at Alderman frowning back, two giant sworn enemies, and more gentle Noon Sun basking in the afternoon sunshine.

Further into the moor, names like Black Hill, Laddow Rocks, and Kinder Scout conjured up images in my young head. I still love those names.

Although their names intrigued me, it was their heights relative to me, or to each other that really fascinated me. Standing on Laddow Rocks, Black Hill several miles away looked much higher. Bleaklow Hill in the distance looked lower, and yet I knew from the map that it was quite a bit higher.

The television aerial on Holme Moss dominated that part of the skyline, and Crowdon Great Brook fell away from my feet.

On some days, the wind buffeted us about, and we had to find shelter among the rocks to eat our lunch in comfort.

Paper was easily blown away, and we knew not to leave litter anywhere. I wanted to make a gadget that would help me determine the height of each hill, but I knew it would have to be made of something more fundamental than paper to withstand the blustery Pennine weather.

So, I set about making a sort of template from the only kind of material I had: cardboard. In the days before plastic bags, in the days before supermarkets, Clifford at the Co-op put the things my mother bought into cardboard boxes.

“Do you want a ride on the bacon-slicer before you go, lad? ' he would say cheerfully.

I had to carry the groceries home. By the time we reached our front door, my arms were dropping off, as we used to say.

Mum emptied the box, putting the things she had bought into their proper places. Meat and dairy products went into a kind of meat safe that was always a bit cooler than the rest of the kitchen. Tinned stuff, of which there was very little, went into the pantry with the rest. Last of all, came the potatoes. These were not new ones. New potatoes came from my father's allotment at the back of the house. These were old potatoes, and they were dusty and brown. It was my job to take out the spuds and put them where they would not get damp. My father had made some shelves with spaces between them so that the air could circulate and keep them dry.

When I had carefully placed each potato so that it was not touching another potato, I turned the box upside down to empty the dust and the dirt.

Sometimes, the boxes would be so dirty that they were only good for making compost to grow more potatoes, but sometimes they were practically spotless on the outside, and I used one such side to make my template. I had to make sure it was absolutely clean, otherwise I could not bring it back into the house. This particular day I had a nice flat piece that was clean and it was not creased either. It was perfect. I cut it from the rest of the box with a sharp knife my mother used to cut up vegetables. The knife was dry and it was clean. I made the cut and then used my mother's best scissors to clean up the edges.

I had a square of good, clean, stiff cardboard to work on. The next thing I had to do was to work out what I wanted to draw on it. I knew from my arithmetic teacher that a circle could be divided into 360 degrees, so a semi circle had to have 180 degrees. The semi circle I wanted to draw had to be no bigger than my pair of compasses could stretch to. They would open to about a five inch maximum. They were quite big.

I drew myself a semi circle with a base line ten inches long. Now I had to divide it up into degrees. I had to decide how many degrees between each division. I decided upon ten degrees.

This was my way of finding out how to calculate the height of the next hill. I knew a little about trigonometry, and although I did not like it very much whenever I had to do it at school, I knew enough to be able to use what I knew to construct this template.

I divided the semi circle up into 10 degree sectors, and then used the other side of the cardboard to construct a table of numbers: distances in miles, height in feet, one for every angle on my template.

It was a bit difficult and took up all my time that evening, and the next. I remember bedtime coming up quickly on those evenings.

I did finish it though, and showed it to my Mum and Dad. They both smoked at it as I showed them how it worked. I explained about sines, cosines and tangents. How you could find the unknown length of the side of a right angled triangle if you had either the lengths of the two other sides or one length and one angle. At least that's how I remember it.

I remember that I wrote the values ​​down from my little red book of mathematical tables, which included trig ratios and values. At least that is what I can recall now.

After the longest week, I took my gadget, as my Dad called it, up onto the moor. I remember that it was a bit misty as it could often be that high up, about 1,700 feet above sea level, and facing the prevailing weather from the Atlantic Ocean via the Irish Sea. Anywhere, visibility was not perfect, but the cloud cover was patchy, and every now and then a corner of clear blue sky would appear, a bright patch from the quilted autumn sky.

The brief window was enough to try the thing out. I took it out of my rucksack, and my friend, John held it steady for me as I lined it up with Pule Hill about four miles away. I got John to stand back a little to tell me if I was holding the thing level or not. I adjusted it and then took a reading. In fact, it was really quite difficult to do that, to take a reading in the wind, wondering whether the thing was really level or not. I took the reading and then we sat down in the heather and entered the numbers we had in our little notebooks. We had both made charts, with ruled lines to make it easier to enter the numbers.

We worked out that Pule Hill was either higher than Mount Everest, I think, or something ridiculous like that. We were both a bit disappointed, but laughed at our results too. There were problems with the device. We knew that. We had known that before we set out, but like the lads we were, we tried to ignore them, and convinced ourselves that they would not make any difference.

Back home, I did try to think how it could have improved. I thought it might need my Dad's old spirit level to sellotaping to the bottom, but I did not dare take his tools up onto the hills. We could have done something with a pop-bottle half full of water, John said, but we both knew that it would make the thing too cumbersome and clumsy, so we did not try it. It was a good idea but it had its faults. However, the principals behind it were sound, we both agreed.

I still have that bit of cardboard somewhere at my parents' house, and I take it out and look at it sometimes. Looking at the marks on the front, the tables and numbers on the back, and reading my junior version of my handwriting, much clearer than today's scribble, I remember that tall lanky lad I must have been. I remembered my freckle faced pal John, now a surveyor for an oil company somewhere, and I am grateful for those days, for that bit of cardboard, for the hills, the heather and the wind and rain, and most of all for the making of who I am now, up there with the wind in my face, and an idea in my head.

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Should I See a Life Coach, a Healer or a Psychotherapist?

It happens – you hit a fork in the road and do not know which path to take. This is a natural thing, and it's OK to ask for help.

When you get to this point in your path it can be confusing to know who to turn to. It is good to do some research before it happens, to have it clear in your mind who to call for help. However, what usually happens is that you do not know you even need help until it's almost crunch time. Most of the research into what form of support you need to get for yourself can be rushed, and there is not a lot of information out there that is simple and straightforward in how they compare the different forms of support available.

I hope this post can help some of you who may be at this point already and are wondering what the difference really is, between a psychotherapist, a counselor, a life coach and a healer. I also hope that it is of interest to those of you who may not be in crisis, but want to do something positive to improve your lives.

I must stress up-front that the explanations in this post are my opinions. As I offer all of these services in my practice I am writing this from the angle that I actually take as a therapist, when in session.


We can never see ourselves, and sometimes we do not even hear ourselves either. Or we miss the important bits. We have all the answers we need inside us, and counseling is about reflecting back what was said in a safe space. You come to counseling to talk through issues that are clouding your judgment, through behaviors that you wish to change or to get help seeing things in a different way. It's usually a few sessions over a short amount of time, working with current problems without going to deeply into past issues. However in the case of Bereavement, more long-term counseling support may be required.


The Psyche is the totality of the human mind, how we are made the way we are. Psychotherapy goes deeper than counseling, looking at how past issues shaped you so that you can understand how you react to things, and why you do the things you do. I always think that as a counselor I'm holding a mirror up, or pointing out things that a client has missed; as a psychotherapist I hold the client's hand and together we go on a journey that transforms both of us in some way. There may be homework involved (such as conversations with family members, or journalling) or techniques to learn (such as stress-management, anger-management). Overall psychotherapy is a trust-based relationship between a client and a psychotherapist. The number of sessions variants, it can be long-term or short-term work, or bursts of work, then a rest, and then more work over several years. Ultimately, it is up to the client to decide where they want to go with the work, and up to the psychotherapist to see that they get there.

Life Coaching

You can imagine an athletic running laps with the coach keeping time, blowing the whistle, telling the athlete to run faster, to slow down, to change post … That's the job of a coach – to get you motivated, to set goals, to lay out a plan and to help you achieve them. Life coaching looks at life balance issues such as work, rest, play and relationships, to help you structure your life better and feel happier, healthier and more confident in who you are. You could have given techniques to learn, homework to do, it might even involve you taking classes in a skill that you need for work so that you can perform smarter and spend less time in the office. Coaching may require several sessions over a period of time so the coach can track results and see the goals through to the end.


When I do working with a client, it's the client that actually does the healing. A good healer holds space for the client to heal; they orchestrate or facilitate the healing, once the client gives permission, through both of their intentions.

There are so many variations of healing methods out there I can really only talk about my own work here. A client can come and talk to me about what they want to heal, talk about the experience of the healing, sometimes all through the healing, and then talk afterwards about how it felt for them – or they can say nothing at all.

It's subtle, or it's powerful. It's obvious or it's hidden, it all depends on where the client is, their journey in life, and what they have come to heal. Some people do not see the results until after a session, when they discover that they no longer lose their temper so easily, or crave chocolate anymore. Some people feel the results straight away – feeling lighter in themselves, happier, clear.

In Summary

Healing does not work directly with the mind, whereas the other techniques do. But sometimes we can be stuck in our minds, and the healing work compliments that by either allowing our minds to catch up with our emotional bodies, or enabling our emotional bodies to let go and catch up with our minds. It's good to do a combination of mind and body work to stay in balance with where we are on our journey.

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5 Easy Ways To Achieve Good Health

The key to enjoying life is good health. One can not enjoy wealth, success at business, creative expression or a loving relationship without taking care of their health first. Do not procrastinate because of youth, lack of time or good genes. Everyone needs to start good habits early in life.

Medical and Dental Check-ups
Hopefully your parents took care of this for you as a child. Now it is time to take care of yourself. Do not wait for symptoms to present. Schedule regular appointments with your primary care physician and dentist. The world is full of stories about unexpected and “no symptom” illnesses that were taken early because of having annual physicals or check-ups.

Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
One does not have to spend tons of money on fancy foods and the latest in supplement in order to achieve optimal health. Eat fiber rich foods to prevent blood sugars from spiking. Eat a variety of fish, nuts, and green vegetables to keep your body healthy. Drink copious amounts of water and unsweetened teas. Avoid processed foods, sugar-laden foods, and fast foods like the plague. Eat healthy meats such as free-range poultry, grass-fed beef, and venison. If tolerable, try intermittent fast 16 to 24 hours a couple times a week, if not every day.

Exercise Daily
Instead of joining a gym or promoting to exercise three times a week and then breaking the promise, just incorporated some kind of exercise daily. Daily is best because it becomes a habit. A short, brisk walk around the block each morning or evening is better than aerobic classes that get skipped or attended sporadically. Also, the exertion and intensity is more important than the length of the exercise. Do not get hung up on watching the clock to do an hour on the treadmill; walking at a brisk pace while swinging your arms for 20 minutes is better.

Get Quality Sleep and Lots of It
In order to perform at your best during the day, you need to get 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep in total darkness and silence. Refrain from reading from electronic devices such as TVs, iPads, laptops, or even smartphones. The light emissions interfere with the pineal gland, which produces the sleep hormone, melatonin.

Take Breaks In Life
Vacations are necessary. Do not be a workaholic, or deny yourself of breaks, days off, and vacations. They lend stress, increase happiness, and rejuvenate the body. Do not cheat yourself, treat yourself, and recharge your battery.

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It’s Just a Pile of Wood

In the 1930s, minor league baseball was really outstanding, especially in the Texas League. The San Antonio team had seven batters who hit over 300, compared to the dozen or so players from the American and National Leagues who hit that well.

Everyone was certain that San Antonio would win the pennant, but San Antonio lost its first six games. In fact, at the end of 21 games, they had lost 18. Every member of the team blamed another player for the losing streak, but no matter who took the blame, the slump continued.

Then one day this team of hitters took on Dallas, the weakest-hitting team in the league, and lost 1-0, with only one hit for the San Antonio team. Josh O'Reilly, San Antonio's manager, knew that the problem with his team was not physical, but mental. The losing streak had given them a bad attitude.

At the time there was a faith healer in Dallas named Slater who had earned a reputation was a miracle worker. An hour before the second game in the series O'Reilly burst into the clubhouse and told every player to hand over their two best bats, saying he had an idea that would win them the pennant. He took the bats, put them in a wheelbarrow and left.

He reappeared with the bats about five minutes before the game started. He told the team that he had been to see Mr. Slater, who had blessed the bats so that they would hit the ball anytime they took a swing. He convinced them that with these blessed bats they would win the game and the pennant.

The previous day they had only gotten one hit; this time they got 37 hits and scored 22 runs, including 11 home-runs. Not only did they win the game, but they went on to win the pennant.

So what changed? Did O'Reilly really take the bats to Mr. Slater? If he did, was Mr. Slater's blessing really what got the team to start hitting again?

The fact is, it does not matter if the bats were really blessed or not. The team believed the bats were blessed. The bats looked, felt, and worked the same as they did before O'Reilly collected them. Before and after the “blessing,” the bats were just a pile of wood. The real changed happened in the players' minds.

In order to change anything in your life, you have to first change it in your mind. You have to have the mindset that what you want is not only possible, but that it is going to happen. The San Antonio team had everything they needed to win the pennant; all they needed was the belief that they could do it.

If you are trying to get fit, you have to think fit. It's not enough to just change what you eat or how active you are. You also have to change your mindset. If you start a new diet or fitness routine but believe it's not going to work for you, you'll start to make excuses for yourself. “A day off my diet will not make a difference,” or “It is okay if I do not work out today because I've been working hard and deserve a break.”

One excuse begets another, and that's a slippery slope to start down. Then you'll wonder why it's not working. You have to make a committed lifestyle change; otherwise your efforts towards reaching your fitness goal will be “just a pile of wood.”

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