Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

December 11, 2017

A Bottle for Ideas Brings the Enticement of Exploration

I went to an art sale today where I bought this bottle for ideas. I chose this one rather than a bottle for courage, truth, or inspiration. As you can see, my bottle is empty. Although I consider myself a veritable well of ideas – many of them good…right now I got nothin’. Maybe I should have opted for a bottle of inspiration, but I digress.
ideas
Since I’m fresh out of ideas, I think I’ll just share some things I’m pondering:

Why are cowboy boots so comfortable?
They don’t have memory foam or padded soles or special arch supports, but they always feel great! Maybe that’s why my dad had a closet full of them.

Who decided high heels were a good idea?
While I’m on shoes, I may as well question why anyone thinks the unnatural stance and awkward gait created by high heels are a good thing.

Why can’t all clothes feel like pajamas?
Of course I mean feel like pajamas and look like tailored, polished, professional clothes! Actually, they can look funky and creative but fit well while feeling like pjs and I’d be pretty happy.

Have I ever had a favorite color?
I like lots of colors and color combinations, but I can’t think of a color I consider my favorite. I think I used to answer paisley to this question because the question annoyed me.

Why do popcorn and coffee smell so good?
You don’t even have to like coffee to like the smell of it. Before I was a coffee drinker, I wanted to pour it over my head so I could feel the warmth and breath in the fragrance. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve craved popcorn simply because its aroma filled the air.

Why do products I consider superior disappear so quickly?
The obvious answer is that I like things very few people like. That could be true, but I don’t think so. Anyone else have this problem?

Why would anyone think you need to add sugar to dried fruit?
Ever notice how hard it is to find dried mango, papaya, cantaloupe or pineapple without added sugar? Fruit is sweet to begin with and drying it concentrates the natural sugar. That seems sweet enough to me.

Am I going to have to create a winter garden in my house to get vegetables and fruit with flavor?
It is a constant source of frustration that my local grocery stores are filled with fruit and vegetables that have no flavor. In the winter, farmers markets are not an option.

Why do we still use QWERTY keyboards?
Hardware has outgrown the need to slow down our typing speed. Wouldn’t we be more productive if we could text faster?

Why do fire trucks use sirens when driving in Christmas parades?
Those things are really loud and kinda scary for small children.

Why do weather reports seem less accurate now that we have more technology?
Maybe there is so much information available that we can’t interpret it properly or maybe we just arrogantly believe weather can be predicted with certainty. At this point in time, it cannot.

Should an increased genetic tendency for a specific cancer lead to preventative surgery?
This is an individual patient choice and should be an informed one. To me, it seems dicey to recommend surgery when, like the weather, we cannot predict with certainty whether a patient will develop cancer. Many camps will disagree with me.

If an increased genetic tendency for a specific cancer can be a reason to recommend something as invasive as surgery, why would a physician be remotely hesitant to recommend a gluten-free diet to someone with a genetic tendency for celiac disease?
This has stumped me for years. A gluten-free diet can be nutritionally complete so ?????

Why would a healthcare provider automatically send me home with a prescription for 30 opioid pills after a minor procedure instead of waiting to see if potential pain could be controlled with acetaminophen, a NASID or naproxen?
There are probably a lot of people asking this question right now.

What are my intentions for 2018?
Will they lead to changes in my job process, friendships, boundaries, or financial transactions? Will they lead to ideas?

No matter how much I ponder or what direction my thoughts take, I know I feel best when I can see a wealth of possibilities opening up in front of me. Sometimes the best way to get to that point is to sit still and allow myself to visualize what can be without the encumbrance of fear or practicality.

I can figure out the how later. I don’t need ideas right now. All I need is the enticement of exploration.

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=prescribe

October 31, 2017

Technology as a Health Advocate

There are many ways to use technology as a health advocate! Being an informed patient can help you make better decisions regarding nutrition, fitness, disease prevention, disease management, and disease treatment.

DNA Analysis

My daughter-in-law was adopted from Korea. She arrived in the US without an extensive family medical history. When she learned she was expecting her first child, she and my son decided it could be beneficial to know more about her DNA. In addition to the battery of early screening tests offered by their doctor, they chose to have DNA analysis done by 23andMe®.
23andMe
After some initial problems with FDA approval, 23andMe is now approved to offer DNA screening for genetic markers that may indicate a high risk for certain conditions. The list of approved tests include those for genetic variants that may make you more likely to have Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance), Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (can lead to COPD or emphysema) , Hereditary Hemochromatosis (the body absorbs too much iron from the diet), Hereditary Thrombophilia (abnormality of blood coagulation that increases the risk of blood clots), Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. A complete list of currently available tests is listed on the 23andMe website.

While this service is not intended for diagnosis of any disease, the results provide important knowledge that you can share with your physician. If this additional information lessens the time it takes to secure a diagnosis, it may increase the treatment options available to you. That’s more than worth the $199 price tag.

For that price, you’ll receive additional wellness reports for things such as lactose intolerance, muscle composition, deep sleep and genetic weight; and reports for traits like male hair loss, earwax type, earlobe type, and sweet taste preference. Also included are over 40 reports identifying whether you carry a variant gene for diseases such as Bloom Syndrome (short stature, higher cancer risk, genomic instability), Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Hereditary Fructose Intolerance, and Glycogen Storage Disease Type lb (plus 35 more).

Research Participation

As a 23andMe customer, you can also choose to be a research participant. According to the website: “On average, a customer who chooses to opt into research contributes to over 230 studies on topics that range from Parkinson’s disease to lupus to asthma and more.” This participation has led to publication of 84 research papers since 2010.

Other research participation is facilitated by Apple’s ResearchKit app. For instance, you can participate in the Mount Sinai Asthma Health and Stanford Medicine MyHeart Counts large-scale
medical studies through this software. And the number of research and disease management apps is growing. Hopefully, the ease of using personal electronic devices to participate will increase the number of volunteers for research studies and give researchers an easy avenue for providing research results to participants – an often neglected follow-up.

Disease Management Apps

Health related phone apps reach far beyond research. There are disease management apps that focus on education and awareness, behavior tracking, medication reminders, community and networking. Visit any app store and you’ll find a long list of medical apps in addition to health and fitness apps. That’s great progress in making technology available as a health advocate.
glapps

In spite of such progress, obstacles remain. Last week while I sat through a meeting at the local teaching hospital, I was struck by how many times meeting participants were told that the hospital, med school, research institute, and clinic records are not integrated. The systems will not talk to each other. Information is not shared.

I had two thoughts – 1)This is horrible. Fixing that problem would save the staff time and improve user friendliness and patient care. 2)This could be a good thing. If all records were integrated there would be a huge increase in privacy and accuracy concerns. At least everything gets a 2nd look now because there’s no way to avoid it.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this mixed response. While I’m excited about the knowledge leaps we can make using technological tools, privacy and accuracy are legitimate concerns when using technology as a health advocate. At this specific moment in time, we must carefully weigh how much privacy risk we’re willing to take in order to move knowledge forward or make our healthcare easier.

Should I use the technology?

There are many reasons to embrace the integration of technology into our personal health plans. It can be a great health advocate. If I could have taken a genetic test to my doctor that showed I had a variant marker for Celiac Disease when I was attempting to get a diagnosis for whatever was causing me to break out with unbearably itchy rashes, have abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue, and achy joints, perhaps it would have improved my experience and lessened the time I continued to suffer. I also love the ease with which 23andMe customers can contribute to research. And I can see the benefit of using software to assist with a variety of aspects of disease management.

I suppose any decision regarding technology as a health advocate should be guided by the premise that knowledge is power. Before swabbing saliva or downloading an app, read the
privacy policy. Before participating in a study, ask lots of questions. But beyond that, apply self-knowledge and personal boundaries. If you know that you’re not likely to use a disease management app, don’t download it. Figure out another system that works better for you. If you’re not comfortable participating in research that tests drugs, choose other studies. It is possible to help advance medical knowledge without doing something that violates your boundaries.

For fun, you can let yourself be curious! After all, DNA testing can also help you locate long-lost or surprise relatives.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

https://www.23andme.com/

https://www.23andme.com/research/

https://www.23andme.com/publications/

https://www.theverge.com/2015/10/21/9581555/fda-23andme-health-data-limited-approval

https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm376296.htm

https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/ios-medical/id6020?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=medical&c=apps&hl=en

October 17, 2017

Can You Pivot?

When things don’t turn out as planned, can you pivot? Today, I thought I was going to make enchilada sauce. Over an hour into the process, I realized there was no way my combination of ancho and pasilla chiles, charred vegetables, marjoram and Mexican oregano was going to turn out like any enchilada sauce I’ve ever tasted or hoped to make. The flavors had potential, but not as the end product I’d planned.
pivot
I face similar situations regularly. No matter how meticulously I plan, things change. I can either let that throw me, or I can pivot. At those moments, I usually remember my grandmother saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Hearing that over and over let me know that it was not unusual to have to look for another solution.

Changing course is not always easy. Sometimes it requires significant physical, mental, or emotional effort. But with life throwing challenges my way, the ability to pivot has made me less wasteful, more efficient, more creative, more knowledgeable, more confident, and infinitely more resilient. This is true when I’m developing recipes, but it is also true throughout all areas of my life.

Pivoting requires engagement, flexibility and decision making. If I had been determined to end up with enchilada sauce, my efforts would have been wasted. An hour of wasted time with my current schedule can mean I must say no to lunch with a friend or rearrange anticipated down time. That would feel discouraging.

Being able to see potential in the work I’d done allowed me to make a subtle shift that turned the effort into an acceptable mole sauce that can be easily tweaked into perfection. Visualizing a different outcome is one component of a graceful pivot.

Recognizing I’m in a moment that could benefit from a shift comes even before visualization. That was pretty clear to me when adding salt didn’t head the sauce in the right direction. My taste buds called for sweet and something to mellow the bitter overtones. Honey, anise, and chocolate all fit that bill.

Connecting my taste instincts with my food knowledge led to an immediate association of the sauce on my stove and mole sauce. Exploring that thought excited me because most of the jarred mole sauce I’ve found in stores contains crackers or bread. I added a few ingredients to see if my visualized flavor profile would work as I anticipated. It did!

I recorded the changes in the recipe plus a few that I think will improve it next time. Of course, I also had to revise the dish I had planned for dinner. My enchilada pie turned into enmolada pie. It wasn’t that much of a shift and didn’t require a trip to the store.

The pivot, which included recognition of my dilemma, connection to a possible change, exploration of that change, visualization of a new end product, and implementation of the new plan, allowed me to turn a kitchen failure into a successful recipe albeit not the anticipated one.

Imagine what that did for my mood, energy level, and motivation! Instead of feeling defeated or discouraged, I felt excited about all the dishes I can make with mole. Woohoo, my mind is now moving full speed ahead!

The ability to absorb, process, and turn unfortunate events into positive momentum is what allowed a pharmacist I know to purchase and grow his pharmacy into the largest in the county seat, marry and have two beautiful children, and become a pillar of the community in spite of having had polio as a child that rendered him minimal use of his legs.

Instead of viewing his disability as something to hide, he chose to showcase his amazing upper body strength — a pivot that clearly fed positive momentum into the rest of his life. I think of his example each time I walk into his pharmacy.

A willingness to pivot is important for businesses too. If Anheuser-Busch had not reimagined its end product during Prohibition, there would most likely be no Bud Light, Franziskaner, Natty Daddy, or Rolling Rock today. Someone at Molex had to envision a future beyond flower pots and salt tablet dispensers for the company to begin to manufacture electrical appliances. We don’t always notice when a business innovates, but we certainly notice when it doesn’t. We soon become dissatisfied and move on.

It’s common to resist change. But things change whether or not we’re resistant. Hurricanes, floods, fire, and tornadoes reshape communities. Acute or chronic health problems arrive. Spouses leave. Jobs are lost. Violence touches our families. Any of these things can happen at a moment’s notice when we have done nothing wrong. It is at those moments that pivoting becomes a critical skill.

We all want to emerge from shock, trauma, loss, and grief feeling optimistic, energetic, positive, and poised for joy. We all can, but some of us don’t know that we can or don’t know how to get from A to B. That path starts with a simple pivot away from the devastation and toward the possibilities created by that devastation.

I feel fortunate that I can pivot both in and out of the kitchen, but the ability was hard earned. Some tough circumstances early in my life led me to hone this skill. While I’m not all that grateful for some of those circumstances, I am grateful for the resulting resilience. Enough so that I would encourage you to develop this skill even if you don’t see its merits right now.

Sometimes the stakes are much higher than enchilada sauce vs mole.

August 21, 2017

Sandwich in Some Healthy Habits

Today when the moon gets sandwiched between the earth and the sun seems like the perfect opportunity to sandwich in some healthy habits. I’m sure you’ve seen a million warnings in the past two weeks about protecting your eyes during today’s eclipse. You probably prepared by purchasing some special viewing glasses or creating a pinhole viewer. That tiny bit of preparation will protect your eyes as you view something spectacular.

eclipse

Eclipse


Making tiny changes in preparation for better health as you age can be just as easy and have a big impact over time. If you look at everything you think you should be doing to live a perfectly healthy lifestyle, it may so overwhelming that you don’t ever get started. Statistics indicate that the majority of us fall in this group. The CDC reports that only 20% of Americans meet physical activity recommendations and a 2016 study indicates only 3% of us live a healthy lifestyle.

It is important to note that you can improve your health by making small changes over time. A study published July 13, 2017, in the New England Journal of Medicine found that “Improved diet quality over 12 years was consistently associated with a decreased risk of death. A 20-percentile increase in diet scores (indicating an improved quality of diet) was significantly associated with a reduction in total mortality of 8 to 17%….” In other words, it didn’t take 100% improvement in diet to result in a significant reduction in mortality. And mortality is the extreme. Just imagine how much small changes can improve your everyday energy level, stamina, strength, flexibility, mental acuity, mood, and comfort level.

So often we look at eating well and working out as all or nothing propositions. When all seems like more than we can handle, we go for nothing. Knowing that even small changes can make a difference seems to indicate we should look at healthy habits more like a savings or investment account with benefits that grow slowly, but surely.

What do small changes look like?

Drink water 95% of the time rather than soda, diet soda, energy drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, lemonade, sweet tea, hot chocolate, or any other sweetened drink.
Eat an orange for breakfast rather than drinking orange juice.
Eat plain, unsweetened yogurt topped with fresh fruit rather than flavored yogurt.
Choose eggs and whole grain toast for breakfast rather than cereal and milk.
Snack on raw, unsalted nuts rather than the salted, roasted version.
Choose black beans over pinto beans.
Order a side of mixed vegetables rather than a choice of potato most of the time.
Reserve dessert for special occasions.
Snack on fruit rather than candy.
Pop your own popcorn using a tiny bit of olive oil spray.
Get salad dressing on the side and limit to 1 tbsp.
Buy frozen vegetables rather than canned when you can’t get fresh.
Cook with olive oil.
Take leftovers for lunch rather than eating fast food.
Substitute baked fish for one serving of red meat each week.
Eat less prepared meat.

Sandwich in some activity

Even if you don’t have an hour to spend in the gym, you can increase physical activity during your daily routine.

Stretch every morning.
Walk to lunch.
Walk a few flights of stairs before catching the elevator.
Do stair stretches before you head upstairs to shower.
Regularly park on the far side of the parking lot.
Do some yoga breathing at your desk.
Carry your own boxes.
Wear ankle weights on Saturday.
Do tricep curls with your cast iron skillet before cooking.
Find a video workout you can do at home when there’s no time to go to the gym.
Combine lifting light weights with warrior poses and lunges.

Make sure to rest

Get the electronic lights out of the bedroom.
Allow plenty of time for sleep.
Plan some down time each week.
Do something fun each week.
Don’t skip vacations.

As you can see, nothing on these lists sounds like a big deal. Everything is easily doable. In fact, it’s hard to believe that these changes can make any significant difference in your health. The great thing is, they can. Simple changes like these when made for an extended period of time can have many positive effects. Why not sandwich a few into your day?

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0502-physical-activity.html

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)00043-4/abstract

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1613502