The start of a new year is the most popular time for people to set personal well goals for self-improvement. Whether you are inherently a goal-setter or not, it is hard not to look at the start of a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start to pursue your inner wish list. Some people set concrete, obtainable goals with measurable outcomes and deadlines. Others set vague goals like “to be active,” rather than, “I’ll work out for twenty minutes five times a week.”
Whatever your goal-setting style, there is the unavoidable wall we all hit when trying to challenge ourselves and we start to fall short or lose motivation. This is when the self-critic steps in and often times engages is self-punishment or abandoning our goals altogether. It is easy to think that harsh self-talk, deprivation, or comparison with others will be the motivating push we need, but quite the opposite is true. Making self-compassion a top priority will help you find long term success in meeting your goals.
Essentially, practicing self-compassion means treating yourself as you would treat someone you really love. If you had a loved one constantly beating themselves up for not losing weight fast enough because they don’t like they way they look, you would (hopefully) let them know there are many ways they are attractive to others. You would tell them to be patient and focus on losing weight in a healthy way that makes them feel energized and creates meaningful change.
You would perhaps tell them they are human, and they are going to make mistakes, but these mistakes do not take away their value or the fact that they are worth starting again. If compassion for others comes easily for you, then using that well of compassion for yourself can be highly beneficial.
The leading expert on self-compassion as a psychosocial concept is Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor of psychology at UT Austin. She has done extensive research on the impact of self-compassion on various measures of psychological and physical health, has written a book on the topic, and teaches workshops and seminars on developing self-compassion as a skill.
She has published research linking the active use of self-compassion to improved body image among women, greater self-control, higher self-esteem, reduced symptoms of PTSD, enhanced coping skills, lower stress, greater sense of contentment, and a better sense of well-being over all. The benefits of self-compassion practice strongly resemble the goals set by many of us each year for a reason; we are all human and we all want to be happy. Learning to love ourselves and finding connection with others, faults and all, can help us reach this ultimate goal.
When some people hear the term “self-compassion,” they envision a self-centered egomaniac using every excuse possible to avoid discomfort. But this is not the case at all. Having self-compassion, means connecting with the ways we all suffer and using love and forgiveness to help overcome obstacles. Dr. Neff is very clear in outlining what self-compassion is not:
Developing a self-compassion practice is easy and simple. Journaling is a great way to identify areas where you are being critical of yourself, but you can just start to pay attention to the way you talk to yourself when you are struggling. Then ask yourself how you would respond to a loved one struggling with the same issues. Take a look around you and see how others are struggling too. Most importantly, make your goals realistic and try to make them in the spirit of self-compassion rather than pure self-improvement. Here are some examples of goals rooted in self-compassion:
Try to incorporate self-compassion into your goal setting and your daily routines wherever you can. It can only make you stronger and happier, even if you don’t lose all the weight you wanted to or if other obstacles get in the way of your goals. Being able to accept yourself in all your humanness everyday, is the ultimate achievement anyway. For more and Dr. Neff and self-compassion, visit her website.
The above information offers a glimpse at Nicole Griffis’ approach to helping patients achieve their wellness goals. To schedule an evaluation with Nicole, call (512) 442-2727.
Most of us take the time to clear clutter from our personal spaces on a regular basis. It is so satisfying to have a clean and ordered the garage, closet, refrigerator, or even an office drawer. It gives us a chance to start fresh, think more clearly, and hopefully be more productive. But how often do we give our bodies the same opportunity to clear the clutter and start fresh? We don’t think of our bodies as being cluttered, but that’s exactly what toxic buildup is: a backlog of toxins waiting to be dismantled and eliminated. As this accumulation grows the body’s defenses become more strained. This strain can manifest in subtle or extreme ways and vary between individuals. A health program designed to detoxify and cleanse can help ease this strain by decreasing the workload of the hard-working detoxifying organs.
If you stop to imagine the amount of toxins your body works to neutralize and clear everyday, the need for a detox becomes obvious. Our livers, kidneys, lungs, and skin are constantly breaking down the toxins that we breathe, eat, inhale, and absorb so they can be excreted and disposed of. The liver is the true star of the detoxifying process, by using highly specialized metabolic means to disarm toxins and send them on their way. But as toxins accumulate, the liver cannot always complete the process and toxins start to build up.
Sometimes partly-metabolized toxins are even more toxic than their original state. They are stored in the body’s tissues to be addressed later, but we all know what that kind of procrastination can lead to when you are already overworked! The poor liver falls behind deadlines and can never catch up. Meanwhile, the free radicals, or oxidizing particles, that are the byproduct of removing toxins, also continue to build up and can have direct damaging consequences to the cells and tissues of the body.
Scientists are exploring many theories regarding the consequences of the body’s toxic load. Among them is a growing school of thought suggesting that accumulation of hormones and pesticides within the body’s soft tissue is contributing to the obesity epidemic. Many experts believe the growing preponderance of thyroid disorders, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune diseases are correlated with increasingly toxic environmental exposures due to a disruption of the body’s complex metabolic pathways.
A core practice of functional medicine is to address a range of common symptoms with a dietary and lifestyle detoxification. These symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, indigestion, skin rashes, acne, abdominal bloating, joint pain, and insomnia. It is interesting to compare this list of common symptoms with a list of the most purchased prescription and over-the-counter medications such as antacids, sleep-aids, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatories.
Where do these mounting toxins come from? Well, there are the obvious culprits: air pollution, pesticides and hormones found in foods, plastic packaging, medications, food additives, and heavy metals in the water supply, to name a few. Then there are those we are less likely to qualify as toxic: alcohol, fried foods, food with dyes or preservatives, constant exposure to screens and cell phones, frequent stress, and negative thinking.
Modern comforts and conveniences come at a price and we cannot eliminate many of these toxic sources from our lives. Nonetheless, we can minimize much of our toxic exposures by altering what we consume and how we consume it. Below are some recommendations to lower your toxic load and give your body the support it needs to stay healthy:
These recommendations are general guidelines for leading a life with less toxic exposure. Consider joining Austin Preferred’s Detox 360 program if you’re interested in a more in-depth detoxification regimen. You can participate as a group or individual. The program includes meal plans, guidelines, informative articles, and gentle, plant-based supplements to aid your body’s natural detoxification pathways.
You can participate individually or as part of a group. There is no fasting as part of this deep cleanse, so participants can keep up their normal lifestyles. If you would like to learn more, call (512) 442-2727 or visit our South Austin location today!
The Holidays are upon us along with all the joys of the season. Joys such as seeing family and friends, watching silly movies, giving and receiving gifts, and partaking in all sorts of scrumptious foods and beverages. Sharing homemade treats and sipping spirits with loved ones is a warm way of bonding which holds a dear place in the heart of our culture. Heading into the holidays with a plan of deprivation and restriction is highly unlikely for most of us. So, why not approach the healthy holidays with a spirit of moderation and, above all, mindful enjoyment?
The following are some tips to keep in mind while the parties, family meals, edible gifts, and travel plans mount up over the next few weeks:
Enjoy your healthy holidays and stay tuned for future posts on detoxifying, as well as more health advice in the New Year! Call (512) 442-2727 to schedule an evaluation with the Medical Practitioner at our South Austin, Texas location.
Who doesn’t love a piping hot pumpkin pie after a big Thanksgiving meal? Even better is a cold slice for breakfast the next morning (if there is any left over, that is). I wish I could tell you that this desert is incredibly nutritious and that you can eat it as much as you want, but that buttery crust full of refined sugars is never going to be a healthy choice. However, that comforting, delicious filling is a wonderful source of nutrients and fiber! And isn’t that the best part of the pie anyway?
Whether you roast your own little sweet pumpkin or reach for unsweetened canned version, the filling is a surprisingly healthy and tasty addition to your diet during the holidays and all year. The flesh of this festive squash supports your body by supplying many vital nutrients:
Spice up your pumpkin for even more flavor and health benefits. Traditional pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves. For more information on the health benefits of cinnamon and ginger, see my previous post on spices. For this Thanksgiving and beyond, dress up your spiced pumpkin puree in new ways to get all the benefits without wrapping it in a package of empty calories. Here are some tasty ideas for incorporating pumpkin into your diet:
And don’t forget about the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are also nutrient dense treats to add to salads, cereals, smoothies, or just on their own. They are quite versatile and can be consumed in different ways. If you are roasting your own little pumpkin for the flesh to make a puree, don’t throw those seeds away. Roast them and save them. If you are stocking up on the unsweetened canned variety, then stop by the bulk food section and get some roasted pumpkin seeds. Since the seeds are packed with fiber and protein, they can help make you feel full and satisfied on very few calories. And adding these little dietary powerhouses to your diet is a simple, savory way of adding these nutrients:
So, let’s give thanks for the mighty pumpkin and all it offers. Have fun searching for healthy recipes — the internet is brimming with them this time of year and the possibilities are endless. Pumpkin chili, curry and butter; have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Just watch the intake of refined sugars and white flours to get the best of what this seasonal fruit has to offer. Enjoy!
This information and more is available to patients in the Functional Nutrition Program overseen by Austin Preferred’s Holistic Medical Provider. Contact us at (512) 442-2727 if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation at our South Austin, Texas location.
By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC
Following a meal plan of whole foods without processed ingredients makes shopping simpler, once you become accustomed to making healthy choices. You can skip most of the grocery aisles that are crammed with processed foods like snack bars, heavy sauces and boxed dinners. Just make sure you don’t skip the spice aisle on your next trip. As you expand your palate for cooking with whole foods, try different mixtures of herbs and spices in your recipes. If you roast chicken and vegetables on a weekly basis because it is easy and nutritious, you can make the dish taste completely different each week by changing your herb and spice selection. Many spices have beneficial properties for health and metabolism, without the additional calories and chemicals. Here are the top spices to use from a health perspective:
This article provides a glimpse into the type of information available to patients into the Functional Nutrition Program at Austin Preferred. Furthermore, you can contact us today you are interested in scheduling a consultation to enroll in the program.
By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC
Turmeric is a beautiful, fragrant spice used in many Indian dishes. It has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. Thanks to attention from modern researchers, it has been spicing up health headlines with increasing frequency over the last decade. But what is it about turmeric that is so beneficial, and should we believe all the hype?
Curcumin is the active compound in Turmeric that gives it its signature color and many health benefits. Science has singled Curcumin out as a promising substance for an array of conditions. Some of the evidence has been overstated in the press. There is a debate as to whether Curcumin is the miracle substance it has been made out to be. And yet, I recommend Curcumin supplementation for all my patients and take it myself because the cumulative evidence is encouraging. But before I lay out all the potential benefits of Curcumin for you, there are some points I’d like you to keep in mind as you consider adding this wonder spice to your supplement regimen:
Ok, now that we have put some perspective around the buzz of Curcumin as a health supplement, let’s look at some of the possible benefits and reasons it has withstood the test of time as a traditional medicinal herb:
The bottom line is that much more research is needed for us to understand how Curcumin affects the body. And yet, we know that it is entirely safe when taken in recommended doses. With so many wonderful possibilities and virtually no harmful side effects, Curcumin is a valuable addition to any health supplementation regimen. As more research is conducted, we will hopefully find out how to enhance the many benefits seen in the lab within the confines of the human body. So, in the meantime, keep taking your Turmeric supplement with a healthy dose of optimism and perspective.
As a Holistic Nurse Practitioner, I am always looking for ways that my patients can enhance their health through simple, natural means. Modern medicine is effective at addressing acute injuries, chronic disease, and severe imbalances. Naturopathic medicine is effective at supporting the immune system, restoring balance, and creating harmony within and among body systems. My aim is to integrate these approaches to offer patients the best approach to not only prevent and treat disease, but to also enhance health and wellness. I will use this blog to promote methods everyone can use to optimize their health. To tackle any concerns specific to your body and lifestyle, make an appointment with today!
By: Nicole Griffis, HNP, APRN-BC
As you observe your own life’s stress and how it affects you, also observe what brings relief to you. What makes you feel lighter, looser, and more clear-minded? Exercise, fresh air, hugs from family or friends, and laughter are all accessible, healthy sources of joy and stress relief. Deep belly breathing is something we all have access to that has an immediate effect on our nervous systems and stress hormones. The beneficial effect of deep breathing meditation is dose dependent — the longer the meditation session, the more calming results seen in brain function according to multiple studies. However, five minutes of deep belly breathing is enough to initiate these changes, so take time to relieve yourself of the effects of stress. Here are a few other ideas for quick stress relievers:
This is merely a glimpse into the type of helpful information available to patients in Austin Preferred’s Functional Nutrition Program. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our providers, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Moreover, you can visit our Services and Conditions pages for more information on treatment at our practice.
By eliminating all sugars from your diet, you are taking a huge step in the fight against unhealthy cravings. A healthy diet maintains a steady blood sugar level which, in turn, should curb your perceived needs for sweets and empty calories. Nonetheless, cravings can be psychological or emotional in their origin and will take some work your part to fully address. This is especially true in Austin, Texas, given the amount of temptation in the city’s food industry. Here are some more tips to tackle those unwanted hungers:
This information illustrates the type of guidance patients receive in Austin Preferred’s Functional Nutrition program. Furthermore, if you are interested in meeting with the Nurse Practitioner about improving your wellness, please contact us to schedule an evaluation.
Getting healthier is all in your head! Our relationship to food and to eating has everything to do with the stories we tell ourselves about food and eating. These stories are made up of beliefs we have held for many years, creating cyclical thought patterns that keep us in a rut of unhealthy habits. You must train your brain for a healthy lifestyle in order to counteract these erroneous thoughts. Any of the following sound familiar?
“I can eat sweets today because I will work out harder this weekend.”
“What I eat today doesn’t matter; I’ll just skip dinner tonight.”
“It’s okay if I eat fried foods; my grandpa ate like that and he lived to be 90!”
What is the story you have been telling yourself about food? Try to observe the thoughts you are having when you are struggling with unhealthy habits. Then come up with true statements that counteract this reasoning, put them on notecards and stick them on your mirror, in your car, at your desk. Repeat them out loud at least three times a day. It may feel silly at first, but it will help to create new cognitive patterns that can help you beat your cravings! Here are some examples based on the thoughts mentioned above:
“I can eat sweets whenever I want or I can get healthy and lose weight. But I can’t do both.”
“I will eat healthy at every meal and enjoy each bite because I am getting healthier every day.”
“I am eating healthy so I can be my best self, how other people eat does not change my body.”
Don’t be shy, give it a try!
This is just a small glimpse into the guidance patients will receive when enrolled in Austin Preferred’s Functional Nutrition Program. Anyone interested in working with our providers to achieve their wellness goals should contact us today for an evaluation.
Eating out is America’s real favorite past time, isn’t it? Having a good meal out with friends or family can be emotionally nourishing, but not always nutritious or healthy. During your detox phase, it’s probably just easier to not eat out – but if you find yourself at a restaurant, here are some wellness tips for dining out:
More helpful tips like these are available through Austin Preferred’s new Functional Nutrition Program. Anyone interested in working with our providers to achieve their wellness goals should contact us today for an evaluation.