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Positive thinking, mindfulness, consciousness, meditation, health

Change your Thoughts. Change Your Health.

The power of positive thinking has been scientifically proven to positively impact our health. Read more at my post featured on The Mind Unleashed: Change Your Thoughts, Transform Your Health. Using The Power of Consciousness to Heal.

11 Ways We Hold Ourselves Back From Our Goals

Hello 2015! Are you still waiting until tomorrow or next week to start working on your resolutions? Well, why have you waited for the past year? We shouldn’t have to wait to make changes that benefit our lives.

Of the 45% of Americans that make New Years Resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them. Chances are, many of our resolutions have been carried on from year to year. I am a firm believer that we create our own obstacles to growth but that that we can overcome them and live an amazing life! Often the difficulty is created by our mind, rather than the task itself.

The following are some of the reasons that keep us from achieving our goals anytime of the year.

1. Unreasonable expectations

We are incredibly hard on ourselves, and it doesn’t help that we are constantly trying to be “better,” “fitter,” “richer,” etc. We strive for a different version of ourselves and are never satisfied. How many of us also finally reach our goal only to find something else to try to “fix?”

Solution: Many of us are also striving for perfection, which is unattainable; so when we don’t achieve this we feel disappointment. There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but make sure it’s reasonable goal. Look at your goals from the perspective of improving meaningful attributes of your life. Instead of wanting to be a certain size or shape, think about wanting to be healthy. This approach will help you achieve your goals in ways that are directed toward self-respect rather than superficial ideals.

2. Wanting instant results

Results don’t happen overnight, and neither do the things we are trying to change. We are creatures of habit, and changing habits takes time (they say it takes 21 days…)

Solution: Delayed gratification is important. For example, while a weight loss pill may take the weight off in a short period of time, you still have not made the changes to your diet and lifestyle that will lead you to gain the weight back once you have stopped the pill. Healthy life changes should be part of a daily regimen, not packed into 2 months at the beginning of the year. 

3. Trying to do too much, too fast

New Years Resolutions are exciting. It gives us something to talk about and something to look forward to. Sometimes, however, the excitement drives us to do everything at once and this can be overwhelming. This can lead to burn-out, frustration and may prevent us from taking any more steps to moving toward our goals.

Solution: Focus on what you are capable of fitting into your schedule and prioritize. Cleaning the attic can probably wait. Make a daily commitment to yourself and set short-term goals. Exercise a few days per week or set a time every day to throw away things that you no longer use. Chip away at short term goals and you will be where you want to in no time.

“Embrace that your perfection lies in the fact that you are imperfect.”

4. Excuses

Anyone can make time for what they prioritize. TALK is cheap. The time you spend talking can be time spent doing.

Solution: Avoid procrastination. Get started on your goals now. If you don’t start today, when will you?

5. Focusing only on the outcome

Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. If you do achieve your goal, how much satisfaction will you have if the process was tedious and stressful? It’s important to have your goal in mind but the way there may not pan out how you expect. It will, however, flourish into a life changing experience what will serve you in the best possible way.

Solution: Let it flow. Make it fun. Want to eat healthy? Find fun recipes or make cooking an enjoyable family affair. Are you dreading the gym? Why not join a dance fitness class or walk outside and enjoy the scenery?

6. Focusing on the past

During any time of reflection we tend to look at all the “mistakes” we made. This brings up many different emotions, such as, regret and not feeling capable of change. This is natural. If we did not have these feelings, we would not think about making any changes. We keep bad habits alive by focusing on them.

Solution: We tend to avoid uncomfortable feelings and repress them only for them to come up again. These negative emotions lead to us avoiding making positive changes or having the clarity to find solutions. While it’s very important to allow ourselves to feel our emotions, avoid dwelling in regret, anger or depression. Keep the pity party short and focus your energy on moving forward.

Happy Healthy Life7. Self-induced pressure

We can be our own worst enemy. Making significant changes is stressful, and the less stress you create will allow for a smooth and enjoyable process.

Solution: If you feel pressure from yourself, monitor your self- talk. Anytime you feel you have to/need to/should do something, you will likely feel resistance to it. Often wanting to change something prevents us from taking steps to change. Let go of wanting to change and start changing, NOW. Here are a few other ways we may subconsciously be sabotaging our path to success:

8. Self-pity

It’s important to accept that we are responsible for our lives, so this means accepting our part in whatever we have gotten ourselves into (nobody forces us to eat unhealthy food or smoke) and to stop blaming others.

Solution: Like in number 6 above, it’s ok to let yourself feel the sadness or regret for a limited period of time. Then tell yourself, “I made some mistakes, I am human. I accept and forgive myself for what I did in the past. The past is in the past and I am going to pick myself back up and make positive changes.” Remember, life is filled with negatives and positives and without mistakes and failures we would not learn for the better. If we can accept that fact, life will be a lot easier.

9. Resistance to letting go

Many people want different things but are hestitant to change. We like easy and comfortable, but remember, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Change takes effort. It means stepping out of our comfort zone. Changes are only difficult if we think they will be.

Solution: In order to make room for the new in our lives, we need to let go of the old. This may mean letting go of old household items, old habits, old ways of thinking, or even relationships with certain people; things we hold on to even though they are the very things that create the unhappiness we feel.

10. Fear of failure

Fears are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you never try, how will you know?

Solution: Recognize the fear, but don’t let it hold you back. Life will go on if you don’t achieve your goals. Learn from the experience and try again with a different approach. Look at “mistakes” as learning experiences, not failures. If you get off track, don’t be hard on yourself. Pick yourself back up and try again. Never give up on yourself. You are worthy of living a happy and healthy life.

11. The “C” word: Can’t

Solution: How will you know if you don’t try? If you have tried in the past and it didn’t work out, identify how you change your approach. It took Thomas Edison several times before he invented the light bulb, but imagine if he stopped trying because he didn’t think he could?

The time to start making changes to benefit your life is…

NOW!!!

What are some ways you hold yourself back? What are some tips you find helpful in moving forward with your goals? Share below!

Ask Dr. Aunna: Why am I so tired all of the time?

Source: cdc.gov

Source: cdc.gov

 

Dear Dr. Aunna,

I have been dealing with low levels of energy for the past few years and it only seems to be getting worse. I have seen a few doctors for this but my blood work is normal except for a borderline high cholesterol. Everyone keeps attributing my symptoms to depression, but except for a little stress here and there I feel pretty happy. Coffee doesn’t work anymore and I can barely stay awake during the day. I am at my wits end and need your advice because I am falling behind in everything!

– AH

*AH, a coaching client of mine, like many others, struggles with low energy and fatigue. AH’s doctors did a thorough workup, checking every possible cause of fatigue from anemia to thyroid disease and even sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Most people fail to realize that their lifestyle habits greatly contribute to their fatigue, rather than a serious disease or “hormones.”  Here is a snapshot of part of AH’s holistic health assessment:

Breakfast: Muffin or bagel, coffee with sugar and creamer
Lunch: Don’t have time to eat lunch usually, but will get a snack from the snack machine or run to the cafeteria when I get the chance.
Dinner: My husband and I usually order out or I make a sandwich or heat up a TV dinner.
Snacks: Pretzels, peanut butter crackers
Beverages: Diet mountain dew, 4-5 cups of coffee per day
Water: Don’t usually drink water. Most of the fluids are from diet soda or coffee.

Alcohol: 3 glasses of wine at night
Tobacco: Never
Drug use: Never

Exercise: Don’t have the time or energy
Stress Release (yoga, meditation, etc): No time, but will watch TV until I fall asleep.

Sleep (duration and quality): 5-6 hours per night. Not good, toss and turn

AH may be considered healthy based on her labs and lack of any specific organic disease, but as you can see above, there are many other factors at play. In fact, there were many other emotional and social issues affecting AH not mentioned above. AH was convinced that she had a diagnosis that no one had discovered yet, but given the fact that she was willing to try anything, she implemented the simple solutions I suggested.  She not only regained energy but her cholesterol level dropped and she lost weight. Here are some take away points from her case.

ProblemLack of awareness. AH didn’t even realize how unhealthy her lifestyle was until she wrote things down. Many people are on the go and  accustomed to certain habits, that they don’t even question them or realize how harmful these habits can be.
Solution: Practicing mindfulness is an effective way to be conscious of your habits. You can start out with keeping a journal and seeing what you can change, or take the time to slow down and consciously make healthy choices throughout the day.

Problem: Excuses. Enough said.
Solution: Many people say they don’t have time, but we make time for what we prioritize. You are worthy of being healthy so start making yourself a priority. (Read more about how to overcome obstacles and make effective change here).

ProblemUnhealthy diet. AH’s diet is filled with refined carbs, low fiber, sugar, and barely any fresh fruits or vegetables. Restaurant and frozen meals are often filled with unhealthy ingredients. Whenever we eat high glycemic index foods, our blood sugar spikes and so does insulin, leading to a crash and feeling drained. An unhealthy diet can also lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease which will definitely cause fatigue.
Solution: Eating a diet filled with whole grains, protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables (all which contain healthy fiber) leads to a slow steady state of glucose release in our blood. This helps avoid crashes and the fiber keeps us full longer. Cooking meals is a great way to not only eat healthy but practice mindful habits.

ProblemSkipping meals. A drop in blood sugar can lead to feeling weak.
Solution: Don’t skip meals. If you don’t have the time to eat a full meal, keep healthy snacks such as nuts or apples handy to snack on until your next meal.

ProblemDehydration. Dehydration not only leads to fatigue, but can also lead to feelings of hunger.
Solution: It’s recommended that you drink eight 8 oz servings of fluids per day. It’s best if most of your daily fluid intake is from fresh water, rather than fluids from sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages.. Limit salt intake, as salt without enough water can also cause dehydration.

ProblemCaffeine overload. While caffeine can give you some energy, it can also cause insomnia and throw off your sleep. Caffeine also activates the sympathetic nervous system, so with your body on continuous adrenaline drive you are bound to get worn down. It can also cause or worsen anxiety adding to even more stress. AH was also likely so fatigued throughout the day and developed a tolerance for caffeine, which is why coffee no longer helped.
Solution: Limit caffeine to one to two cups of coffee per day. Since a cup of coffee’s caffeine effects can last up to 4 hours, make sure your last cup is in the early afternoon to avoid insomnia at night. Cutting back on sugar and creamer in your coffee will also help. Applying the other solutions mentioned will also increase energy and decrease the need for caffeine.

ProblemAlcohol. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but the quality of your sleep will be affected. The restful cycles during sleep shorten with alcohol use.
Solution: Cut back on alcohol. Limit yourself to a glass of wine a few nights per week.

ProblemLack of Sleep. Stress, caffeine and alcohol all disrupt sleep. TV, especially at night can be activating and interfere with sleep. What’s worse is that the less we sleep, the more we accumulate a sleep debt. Lack of sleep not only causes fatigue but also increases our risk for infection and can lead to depression.
Solution: Make sleep a priority. Go to bed at the same time every night and use the 30 minutes before to wind down instead of watching TV. Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Problem: Lack of physical activity. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, boosts energy and helps release stress.
Solution: Current exercise recommendations are to engage in moderate intensity exercise, 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. Make sure not to exercise too close to bedtime as it can cause insomnia

Problem: Lack of coping mechanisms. If we don’t release stress we wear ourselves down and can lose sleep. Using alcohol and drugs to cope with stress has detrimental effects on our body.
Solution: Practice daily stress release, whether it be journaling, exercise, yoga or meditation.

If you struggle with fatigue, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional as serious causes for fatigue always need to be ruled out first. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits will improve your quality of life regardless.

Do you have a health question you would like answered? Send us your question for a chance to be featured. Find out more about Dr. Aunna’s Holistic Health Coaching here.

*Information from AH’s assessment was posted with permission. Names are changed to protect privacy.

3 Key Steps to a Meditation Practice

 

Lao Tzu Quote

 

Feeling stressed? You aren’t the only one. In fact, statistics show that up to 77% of people in the USA report feeling physical symptoms related to stress.

All stress is created by our mind’s reactions to situations, rather than the actual situation at hand. Meditation not only helps release stress, but has been found to have many health benefits, including improving back pain and even headaches and blood pressure.

 

The number one concern people present to me when I recommend meditation is, “I just can’t get the thoughts out of my head.”

 

What is meditation?

Many people think that meditation means sitting in lotus posture chanting “OM.” Although this is one way to meditate, meditation is actually about being in the present moment.

Everyone’s true nature is peace, love and joy. It may not seem this way, but that is only because we have been accustomed to associating with our distressing thoughts and emotions. Meditating helps us get in touch with our ever-present sacred peace. Yoga, Tai chi, qigong, painting, walking in nature, and exercise are just a few examples of ways to be present.

If you are stressed and would like to relieve stress, here are 3 steps to a mindfulness meditation practice that have helped me and many others I know:

1. Believe

The number one concern people present to me when I recommend meditation is, “I just can’t get the thoughts out of my head.” If that statement isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy, then I don’t know what is. You can “get the thoughts out of your head.” It takes practice to resonate with your sacred inner space, especially after a lifetime of identifying with your distressing thoughts and emotions.

The key is not to resist the thoughts, since that will only make them stronger. If I told you, “Don’t think about anything right now,” what happens? (Try it). Thoughts create our reality, and just as much as you are in control of reacting to negative thought patterns, you are also in control of cultivating inner peace.

 

As humans we spend much of our time “doing.” We go through the motions of life and lose touch with our true inner peace and even the not-so-peaceful parts of our existence that trouble us. 

 

2. Breathe

Our breath is what keeps us alive and helps us reach the inner peace within. It’s no wonder we disconnect from peace during times of high stress and anxiety, because it is during those times our breath becomes fragmented and shallow.

Start to practice deep breathing in a quiet place, although with time you will be able to focus even with disturbances around you. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel the way your breath enters and exits your body. Sometimes it is helpful to visualize your breaths cleansing all aspects of your life, with all the negativity released through the outbreath.

Occasionally disturbing thoughts and emotions will arise, and that is OK. It is helpful to picture yourself (the true sacred peace) as the observer of these thoughts and emotions as if they are images on a movie screen. Then bring your awareness back to your breath. The more you do this, the more you will find that your mind will clear on its own.

3. Be

Meditation and being present, allows us to “be.” As humans we spend much of our time “doing.” We go through the motions of life and lose touch with our true inner peace and even the not-so-peaceful parts of our existence that trouble us. These thoughts and feelings are ones that we repress. Instead of dealing with these issues, we tend to avoid them by overworking, alcohol, food, and even projection of negativity onto situations outside of us. If we do not deal with what is troubling us, however, we will continue to face the same issues over and over again.

The only way out is through, and being present will often bring these issues to the forefront for final healing. Meditation may feel uncomfortable at times because, the painful thoughts and emotions that we are trying to let go of in the first place, are the ones that seem to persist. Don’t be startled if strong emotions wash over you. Feel the sadness, anger, pain or whatever it may be. It may even mean having to cry uncontrollably for awhile. These emotions are trapped energy and experiencing and honoring them will allow you to let go of them once and for all.

Practice makes “perfect”

Remember, it’s important not to get caught up in whether or not you are doing things “right.” This is just another way the mind creates distress. Just focusing on your breath and embracing the moment is enough. Set aside about 20-30 minutes per day to practice.

Share your tips on meditation in the comments below.

How Stress Can Kill

Stress

A Stressed Nation

During a mountain hike in India last year, the trek guide asked me, “Is it true that people in America are very stressed and only care about money?” I couldn’t help but laugh at America’s apparent international reputation of being stressed out. Americans are stressed, and not dealing with this stress is leading to self-medication with food, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. It’s well known that these addictions have harmful effects on the body, but stress by itself is also detrimental.

How stress affects the body

It’s normal and even beneficial to experience stress, because without it, we would not have survived as a species. When our caveman ancestors faced death by a ferocious animal, they had to run away, FAST! An involuntary, protective mechanism in the body, called the “Fight-or-Flight” response, releases a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones which give the body the strength and speed it needs to avoid danger. This adrenaline and cortisol rush is what enables people to perform extraordinary feats under pressure. 

Holistic Health

Nowadays we don’t have to worry about being another creature’s lunch. Instead our jobs, relationships, drama and other problems have become our lions. Issues that have no relevance in the present moment are causing our bodies to react as if there is an actual threat at hand. As long as our minds perpetuate the stressful thoughts, however, our bodies will continue to be worn down, eventually leading to significant medical problems and even death. It’s amazing to me how many patients present to me for multiple health issues that are usually related to stress.

Modern Day

Holistic health

Not pictured above are the many other ways in which stress affects our body. The increase in blood sugar, meant to give us energy during the “fight or flight response,” has now led to an epidemic of hyperglycemia and diabetes in those who are obese or eat an unhealthy diet. Stress has even been shown to weaken the immune system, thus increasing our risk of infections and even cancer.

The mind-body connection can be demonstrated in even more ways. When the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the “fight or flight” response kicks in, our parasympathetic nervous system slows down. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for many important body functions including digestion, salivation and sexual organ function. Your body is not concerned about digestion when it’s about to be digested, however! Add the fact that our digestive system has more nerve endings than our brains, and it’s no wonder why we experience indigestion and constipation during times of high stress. The underactive parasympathetic nervous system also explains why stress can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Pourang in the Himalayans

Me during the peaceful hike in India.

STOP STRESSING YOURSELF OUT!!!! 

Dealing with stress

A little bit of stress is ok. It helps us meet deadlines and helps us get out of the way of danger. It becomes a problem when it continues to operate needlessly in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, stress is a choice. In fact, according to Google, the definition of stress is as follows:

A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances

We have unconsciously developed a habit of associating a non threatening stressor as a threat with our minds. The good news is, that we can consciously dissociate with our minds as well. Two ways to do this include:

Avoid the stressor,
or
deal with the stress appropriately.

While many of us may not be able to leave the stressful relationship or job, we can learn how to deal with the situations as they occur (aka NOT worrying about things happening when they haven’t/likely won’t even happen.) This may mean choosing not to react negatively to a situation. Or it may mean taking the time to release stress daily. Yoga, meditation, journaling and exercise are just a few examples of ways to relieve stress. I have applied The Sedona Method, on the spot in stressful situations where I couldn’t otherwise outwardly release stress, and it has helped me immensely.

If you feel like stress follows you wherever you go, it’s worth doing some soul searching to see how you may be attracting it in your life. Anything that happens outside of us, always reflects what is going on within us.

Regardless of how you choose to deal with your stress, make it a priority to do so. Your life and health depend on YOU.

A few of my upcoming posts and my book will be devoted to mindfulness and meditation, so stay tuned for a stress free life, and sign up for my emails if you haven’t already!

 

[newsletter]

Share ways you deal with stress in the comments below!

Erectile Dysfunction: Something Worth Talking About

erectile dysfunction

The Little Blue Pill

Viagra has come under scrutiny lately with a study showing that it may be associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma. Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to achieve or maintain an erection, affects more than 18 million men over the age of 20. It’s well known that men don’t typically like to go to the doctor, let alone discuss their genitourinary health. This can leave many men with ED undiagnosed and untreated.

In my experience, many male patients presenting with ED will usually ask for a prescription of Viagra, without wanting to disclose any further information. What many people don’t realize, is that erectile dysfunction is not an “Oh by the way” kind of diagnosis, and can be a sign of serious underlying disease in the body.

Erections and Erectile Dysfunction

Erections occur when blood flow in the penis increases as a result of penile nerve stimulation. Smoking, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are just a few things that can affect blood vessels and/or nerves, in turn affecting the ability to have an erection. Hormone imbalances, increasing age, depression and certain drugs (SSRIs) can also cause erectile dysfunction. Nowadays with the increased prevalence of some of the causes mentioned above, it’s no wonder why so many men are affected by ED.

ED Treatment

Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra dilate blood vessels, allowing blood flow to increase in the penis. What these medications don’t do, however, is work on the underlying causes mentioned above. Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 cause of death in Americans. It is caused by smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension; all which can be reversed with simple lifestyle changes. A healthy diet, exercise, managing stress and not smoking, will not only decrease the risk for heart attacks and stroke, but will also contribute to a healthier sex life. Many young men with depression are also faced with ED and treating depression will also improve overall quality of life as well.

The “little blue pill” like most pills, won’t fix things. Pills are a tool in the healing process, which also have risks and side effects associated with them. With any disease, it’s important to not only identify and treat the underlying cause, but to find out the deeper reasons causing an individual to engage in unhealthy habits in the first place.  

Don’t suffer in silence

If you or a loved one has erectile dysfunction, make sure to bring it up to a healthcare professional.  It’s less about the ability to perform sexually, as it is a sign that something more serious could be going on. If you can intervene sooner rather than later, it may be enough to prevent permanent damage. Doctors are here to help, and the only way we can do this is if we talk about it.

Skinny Fat: When Looks Can Kill

draunna.comskinnyfatSkinny-Fat

No, I’m not talking about the pop culture oxymoron that describes thin yet flabby physiques. I’m talking about something more serious. Which brings me to my next point: SKINNY DOES NOT MEAN HEALTHY!

I REPEAT, SKINNY DOES NOT MEAN HEALTHY!

While some people may look deceivingly well in clothes, there may be something even more dangerous going on underneath the skin.

Why You Can be Skinny but also Fat

There is actually a scientific word for skinny-fat people: Metabolically Obese- Normal Weight (MONW). A thin person with a normal weight may actually be obese based on the amount of fat contained in his or her body. In fact, studies have found many people with normal weight to have a high percentage of body fat. So the number of obese people in the USA may actually be a lot higher than what is known now just based off the BMI values in our population.

Obesity Statistics

In 2013, of US adults over 20 years of age, 35.1% were found to be obese and 69% were found to be overweight (including the number of obese people). Think about that, more than half of US adults are overweight, and what’s even more sad is that this number continues to grow. Along with obesity comes the growing number of obesity-related diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and even certain cancers, eventually leading to early death.

Overweight vs Obese

Being obese means having excessive body fat, whereas being overweight means weighing too much. The statistics mentioned above are based off of the body mass index or BMI of an individual. A BMI is a measurement of relative weight based on someone’s mass and height (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared).

BMI greater than 25= overweight
BMI greater than 30= obese

The higher the BMI is, the higher your potential risk for developing debilitating diseases and even death. The problem, however, is that the BMI does not actually measure body fat. Muscles and body water are just a few other things that influence a person’s weight. A healthy and fit male who weighs 200 lb at 6 feet tall would be considered overweight based on his BMI of 27.

Why Being Skinny-Fat is So Dangerous

MONW individuals, as compared to people with normal weight and healthy fat levels, have been shown to have an increased risk for pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease. It is thought that these individuals also contribute to the high prevalence of these diseases in our country.

Dangerous Fat

So we have determined that it is not so much about how much you weigh, as it is about how much fat you have. So where is all the fat hiding? It turns out what’s more important is where the fat is located in your body. There are many different types of fat in the body. While subcutaneous fat (the fat you can pinch) may not be aesthetically pleasing, it’s the visceral fat, or the fat that surrounds the organs that is detrimental to our health. It’s this visceral fat that is associated more with the diseases I mentioned above. It’s true that people who are overweight are more likely to have a higher visceral fat content, as well as a larger abdominal circumference, which is also associated with obesity-related diseases. MONW individuals with smaller waists however also have a high content of this visceral fat as well. 

It’s very important to note that this does not mean that it’s ok to be overweight either. People with excess body weight can also run into issues with severe arthritis, physical deconditioning, difficulty walking, difficulty breathing, sleep apnea, chronic pain and overall poor quality of life.  

Are you a Skinny-Fat or MONW Person?

The best way to determine fat distribution is with radiologic imaging such as a CT scan, DEXA scan or MRI. These tests, however, are expensive and not covered by insurance for this diagnosis. An easy estimate of total body fat can be made by skin fold analysis which can be done by a personal trainer or healthcare professional.

Note the increased yellow fat tissue throughout the heavier individual. (I have been unable to find the original source for this picture as it has been widely circulated throughout the web. If anyone is aware of the original source, please contact me with the info)

Note the increased yellow fat tissue throughout the heavier individual. (I have been unable to find the original source for this picture as it has been widely circulated throughout the web. If anyone is aware of the original source, please contact me with the info.)

How NOT to be Skinny Fat… or Fat at all

So far it’s pretty obvious that it is not all about being thin, rather about being fit and healthy. Regardless of how much you weigh, if you feel you have excess body fat and are not fit, there is an answer. Research has shown time and time again that an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise are the main causes for obesity, and that a healthy diet with routine exercise not only decreases the amount of body fat (both under the skin and around the organs) but that it can reverse diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and decrease your risk for stroke and heart attacks.

So the next time you get on the scale or look at yourself in the mirror, focus on whether or not you are healthy, rather than skinny. Your life literally depends on it.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Also a few questions to ponder:
Could you be a skinny-fat or MONW person?
Could you benefit from eating a healthier diet or exercising more?

References

1. CDC. 2014, May 14. Obesity and Overweight FastStats. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.

2. Rahman M, Berenson AB. Accuracy of current body mass index obesity classification for white, black, and Hispanic reproductive-age women. Obstet Gynecol 2010; 115: 982–88.

3. Romero-Corral A, Somers VK, Sierra-Johnson J, Korenfeld, Y, Boarin S, Korinek J, Jensen MD, Parati G, Lopez-Jimenez F. Normal weight obesity: a risk factor for cardiometabolic dysregulation and cardiovascular mortality. Eur Heart J. 2010 Mar;31(6):737-46.

Preview for upcoming first episode of #HealthyVibes with Dr.

Sneak Preview

 

Dr. Aunna’s first episode of #HealthVibes airs next week. What will it be about? Sign up for email updates if you haven’t already. Tune in for more…

The Magic Pill

photo-20

Can I get a side of pills with that?

According to the CDC, 48.5% of Americans have taken at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days. 21.7% report taking three or more prescription drugs. Why is it then that chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure continue to increase in our population? The answer is complicated, but to keep things simple for this discussion, one main reason has to do with what I call “under-diagnosis” and “over-mistreatment.”

A “Pillemma”

Typically we go to the doctor when we experience a physical symptom, and after a few encounters and possibly some tests, we are often prescribed pills. If we are fortunate enough to afford the medication or compliant enough to take it, we may or may not experience relief of our symptoms. Oftentimes we don’t feel any better, and if anything, worse from the side effect of a pill. Then we may become disappointed that our doctor could not “fix” us.

What if there is something deeper than just the symptom we are experiencing? Let’s take a headache, for example. There are many causes for headaches, but the most common reason I encounter with patients is usually related to stress. When I examine patients with headaches, I find many of them have tense shoulder and neck muscles; hence why it is called a “tension headache.” So yes, while a pill can inhibit the pain, it still is not treating the muscle tension, which is being caused by stress!

Pills are not always the answer. Unfortunately with the limited amount of time doctors have to see patients these days, the only option is the “easy fix”, which is usually a pill. It doesn’t help that our society is always looking for this “easy fix”, so instant gratification wins, but in the end we are often back where we started. So what’s the solution, you may ask? Let’s take a look at how disease is diagnosed: Typically we see illness like this:

Disease Approach

 

We often forget that WE ARE NOT JUST A BODY. WE ARE NOT ROBOTS. Here is a more realistic diagram of a human being’s existence:

 

Holistic Approach

 

The real the dilemma our healthcare system is facing has to do with the following:

Underdiagnosis– Not addressing the whole person

Over-mistreatment- Treating only a part of the problem with a “solution” (pills) that creates more problems (side effects, death, etc.)

While pills are effective at the physical level, they do not address all of the other factors that contribute to illness. Often the underlying cause is related to something completely different than what is seen on the surface (see arrows above). I am not saying that we should all stop taking medication. Medication is effective and has a place in treatment of illness, but it is rather one of many tools to be used. Prevention is the best way to avoid illness in the first place, and many times healthy lifestyle habits are enough to heal.

How to begin healing

Until we address the underlying causes that contribute to illness, will we then find complete healing. Like in the headache example, Aleve or Tylenol can relieve pain, but so can massage and stretching. Nothing will be as effective as managing stress, however.

True health can only occur when the mind, body and spirit are integrated and healthy. It involves more than a pill and what a doctor tells you. It involves healing your body and mind. It involves honoring your emotions. It actually involves YOU. Yes, it’s complicated and takes a little more effort than a pill. But we are complicated creatures, and, in my opinion, some delayed gratification and a commitment to our well-being is well worth it for a happy and healthy life.

Share your health secrets in the comment below.

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