Cleaning up debris, again. Sigh.

Yesterday I swept out my garage in the morning. It's amazing how quickly the dust and dirt accumulates in that space. Then I swept the kitchen. We have a new dog (our pandemic addition), doubling our canine count and apparently our dog hair production. In the evening, I sat on the front porch for my final Zoom meeting of the day and couldn't help but notice the cobwebs and old blossoms accumulating around the bench and front door. Sigh. I saved that cleaning for another day.

Debris accumulates

It struck me that just like debris seems to accumulate around my house, debris accumulates in my lifestyle. It's a slow creep, but little things start to show up. A bit more liberal with snacks in the evening after dinner. A bit less attention to getting enough vegetables. Even a bit less focus on staying connected with my wife.

Does this happen to you too? I suspect it does. And just like our homes need a periodic sweeping and dusting, our lifestyle choices would likely benefit from periodic...

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Eat dinner like a pauper?

diabetes nutrition May 21, 2020

"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper."

It's likely you've heard this statement before. Results from a new study add additional support for the idea that this might be the way the human body was designed to eat.

Bigger dinners may increase risk of metabolic disease

Researchers analyzed data from the NHANES nutrition survey, specifically from almost 4700 people with diabetes. Based on food recall questionnaires performed on 2 separate occasions, they broke people into 5 groups based on the amount of food eaten at dinner compared with breakfast.

What they found was that compared with the group the ate the least at dinner, the group that ate the most had an increased risk of diabetes-related mortality (1.9 times greater risk) and heart disease-related mortality (1.7 times). 

The authors of the study also created risk models based on their data, and concluded that:

  • Moving 5% of energy intake from dinner to breakfast could reduce the risk of...
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The Hero's Body, Part 2 - Who Says Exercise Can't Be Enjoyable?

diabetes exercise lifestyle May 15, 2020

The Value of Exercise
You know that exercise is important. The body just doesn't work right if you are not moving. In particular, it becomes harder for you to efficiently burn fat when you are sedentary. But even though we know exercise is important, it can be really hard to get it done, right?

Two Stories
Let me tell you about two of my clients, each of whom has diabetes or prediabetes. I was struck by their stories, and I'd like to share a bit with you.

Matthew* uses insulin to control his blood sugar, and he tests his glucose regularly. Over the past year he has gone back and forth from being well-controlled, to not well-controlled, and back to controlled again. Now Mr. L will admit he doesn't like to exercise. It is hard for him to get out for a walk on a regular basis. But interestingly, the key factor we identified for when he is well-controlled is that during both of these periods he was remodeling his house - first his kitchen and then his garage. And he really...

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The Hero's Body, Part 1 - Nutrition is a System

Is this food healthy?

Before the pandemic, I ordered a latte from a local barista. In our exchange, the barista mentioned I might like to try it with coconut milk, because it's "healthier than cow's milk." Whether it's a blessing or a curse I haven't decided, but statements like these catch my attention. Where does this claim come from? Is it true? What is the evidence that supports this claim?

With all of us basically trapped at home these days because of COVID-19 and social distancing, many of us have much more time to spend online. Of course we want to stay healthy, even though the world seems like it got turned upside down, so seeking nutrition advice is common. And in the online world, there is no shortage of nutrition claims! But alas, online there is a great shortage of evidence.

Let's discuss what comprises good nutrition, emphasizing a few concepts that you will hopefully find useful.

The hero's body

Last week I wrote about how The World Needs You to Be a Hero. I believe...

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The World Needs You to Be a Hero

Everyone loves a hero

When I was a kid, every week I could not wait for Saturday morning cartoons. I would get up, race downstairs with my sister, and spend the next 2-3 hours watching the week's new shows.

My favorite cartoon was Super Friends, which brought together all the superheroes from the Justice League - Superman, Batman & Robin, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman - who would use their superpowers to battle the forces of evil. 

While watching Saturday morning cartoons is no longer a childhood ritual, I believe most children still dream of using their special gifts to save others, fight for justice, and bring goodness into the world.

What is a hero?

he·ro /ˈhirō/
noun: A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities
 
These days I think of heroes a bit differently than when I was a child, and I'm drawn to the phrase "noble qualities" from the definition above. I'm thinking of someone who shows up...
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Boost your immune function by calling an old friend

Reconnecting with old friends during COVID-19

As I write this, one of my college housemates, a cardiologist in Miami, has been sick with COVID-19 and on a ventilator for almost a month. He is showing signs of improvement but it's been really slow, nail-biting progress.

While this is of course a terrible a circumstance, one of the blessings that has come out of it has been the opportunity to reconnect with my 6 other housemates, several of whom I've not seen for more than 10 years. We had a great Zoom call this last weekend, with prayers and worry broken up by laughter and fun memories.

While maintaining relationships has never been something I've been good at, right now I'm encouraged to be on the lookout for other opportunities to re-establish old friendships or family bonds. 

Immune function and social connections

Perhaps because of this, an older study caught my eye this week. Published in 1997, researchers actively placed cold virus in the noses of 276 healthy...

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What are your important life buckets?

I beat myself up pretty well last week.

During this time of coronavirus and social distancing I had grand plans to take advantage of fewer commitments and increased downtime to accomplish so much. I wanted to develop a number of new educational training programs at work, clean out the garage, and organize my files and photos, among other things. Yet, I had days last week where it seemed like getting dressed was about the highlight of my accomplishments.

Just like many of you, I'm learning how to make my way in this time of social distancing. And I suspect like many of you I'm experiencing challenges that make it hard to show up each day in the way that I desire. 

Has anything like this happened to you?

If so, here are a few things that I believe contribute to the problem. Our routines are different. We don't receive the same daily reinforcements and encouragements that let us know we are making a difference in someone's life. And there is great uncertainty about how long social...

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8 Practices to Increase Your Joy

joy mental health mindset Apr 09, 2020

The 8 Pillars of Joy

My daughter Maddie is a science and math geek (much like her father). But she's also got this really cool artistic side. Take a look at the photo accompanying this blog post. Those are 3 art pieces Maddie and her friends are working on in her engineering class. They're currently on my garage floor as we're in the midst of social distancing and the schools are closed, so she brought them home to work on.

I was walking through the garage the other day when I stopped short as I took in the scene, and the range of possibilities for her life really struck me. She's interested in chemical engineering. But she's also working on designing a user interface for a non-profit. She's got so much potential, and so many doors open. I wonder where her life will take her?

The current reality, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Tutu

After the fact, I began to appreciate the joy this brief moment provided. I believe I'm more aware of joy currently. In part, this is because our world...

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Shouldn't eating be enjoyable?

diabetes nutrition Apr 03, 2020

Where does your mind go when you eat?

I heard this question recently when listening to the Ten Percent Happier podcast interview with Evelyn Tribole, one of the developers of the intuitive eating. I have to admit, when I heard the question my first thought was, "huh, I'm not sure."

How about you? Where does your mind go when you eat?

Let's start with a story...

My low point in my relationship with food occurred just before my 15th birthday. I so badly wanted to fit in, to be popular. Somehow in my mind I began to believe that if I were only a bit skinnier I would get what I wanted.

From 125 pounds, I dropped roughly 20% of my body weight while trying to keep my food-restricting and purging behaviors hidden from my parents. Although I was never diagnosed, I clearly had an eating disorder. I bottomed out just under 100 pounds.

Fortunately I somehow "snapped out" of this phase after about 6 months. While my weight returned to normal, I've maintained a complex relationship with...

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It Seemed Like Everything Was Falling Apart

James' system was breaking

It was too much for James*. His father was ill, and he was travelling back east frequently to help with his father's healthcare. Combined with his business travel, lots of stress, and the difficulty he faced finding the right foods on the road, it was just way to hard for James to eat well and keep his blood sugar down. He was feeling tired, frustrated, and ashamed.

About 3 years ago James found great success controlling both his blood sugar and his weight by following a ketogenic diet. He'd lost over 50 pounds, and when everything was ticking just right, all of his blood sugar numbers were excellent. He'd even been able to stop one of his diabetes medicines. And he felt really good.

The problem was that he needed to devote a fair amount of effort to keeping on track. Shopping for groceries ahead of time, packing lunches, and keeping his stress down helped him stay on track. When life was "normal," this was all very manageable.

However, with all the...

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