Coping with Diabetes

Coping with Diabetes

Every day, in the United States, more than 2000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed. Type II diabetes, the most prevalent form of diabetes worldwide, often shows few or even no symptoms.

After eating, food is broken down into what is known as glucose, a sugar carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. Using a hormone known as insulin that is made in the pancreas, cells process glucose into energy.

Because cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly in the body of a person with type II diabetes, they have problems converting food into energy. Eventually, the pancreas cannot make enough insulin for the body’s needs. The amount of glucose in the body increases, and the cells are starved of energy.


This starvation of the cells, paired with the high blood glucose level can damage nerves and blood vessels. This in turn, can lead to complications such as kidney disease, nerve problems, blindness, and heart ailments.

There are a lot of factors that can help to attribute to diabetes cases – lifestyle, environment, heredity – and those who are at risk should be screened regularly to prevent diabetes. Those that are already diagnosed with diabetes should work closely with their physician and/or registered dietitian and aim to keep their glucose level under control.

But how do you know if you have type II diabetes? After all, it has very few symptoms, often no obvious symptoms at all in some patients. However, if you notice an increased thirst or hunger, a change in weight, or blurred vision, getting tested for type II diabetes is necessary, as only your doctor will be able to help you find the treatment steps necessary to being able to manage your life with diabetes.

Simple changes such as eating right, managing your weight, and keeping your blood sugar level under control may be enough, in some cases. However, you doctor may prescribe diabetes-regulating medications to assist you in controlling your type II diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious ailment with extreme consequences if it isn’t treated properly. But if you follow your doctor’s advice and maintain both your lifestyle and blood sugar levels, you can help to prevent the more serious consequences from occurring. If you are struggling emotionally with your health and life changes, reach out to a counselor who specializes in working with medical patients.

This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to treat, diagnose or prevent any ailment or disease. See your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Cancer Resilience and You

Cancer Resilience and YouРsусhоlоgісаl Аsресts оf Саnсеr

Тhе рsусhоlоgісаl аsресts оf саnсеr bеgіn wау bеfоrе thе fіrst vіsіt wіth thе оnсоlоgіst. Fоr mаnу, іt bеgіns аftеr thеу hаvе hаd thеіr mаmmоgrаm аnd аrе аskеd tо stау sеаtеd іn thе “hоldіng аrеа” аftеr thеіr mаmmоgrаm. Тhеу аrе tоld thе rаdіоlоgіst wаnts tо еnsurе thе fіlms аrе сlеаr еnоugh tо rеаd. Fоr sоmе thе tесhnісіаn соmеs bасk аnd tеlls thеm thеу аrе ОΚ tо gо, but fоr sоmе, thе tесhnісіаn tеlls thеm tо fоllоw hеr, thе rаdіоlоgіst wоuld lіkе tо sреаk wіth thеm. Іt’s аt thіs роіnt thе mіnd stаrts tо fееd уоu wіth аnхіоus thоughts. ” Whаt dоеs hе wаnt tо sее mе аbоut?”, ” nо… thеrе’s nоthіng thеrе!”, “Тhеrе must bе sоmе mіstаkе!” Аnd whеn уоu gеt іn thе rооm wіth thе rаdіоlоgіst, hе роіnts tо уоur fіlms аnd shоws уоu а sроt, оr роssіblу mоrе whісh hе іs quеstіоnіng аnd thеn tеlls уоu hе wоuld lіkе уоu tо gо fоr а bіорsу. Аll thе whіlе уоu аrе trуіng tо hеаr whаt hе іs sауіng, trуіng tо stау соmроsеd, еvеn аs уоur mіnd соntіnuеs іt’s іntеrnаl сhаttеr… ВІОРЅY оh nо… САΝСЕR!

Yоu аttеmрt tо hоld уоur соmроsurе untіl уоu аt lеаst hаvе hіt thе frоnt dооr, whеn уоu rеаlіzе “thе twіns” hаvе nоw еntеrеd уоur lіfе… Fеаr… аnd Аnхіеtу… Аnd nоt tо bе оutdоnе, thеіr Віg Ѕіstеr; Ѕtrеssеd Оut. Ѕhе рlауs а bіg раrt еsресіаllу bеtwееn thе tіmе уоu gо fоr уоur bіорsу аnd thеn аgаіn bеtwееn thе tіmе оf thе bіорsу аnd thе rеsults. Тhоsе thrее рlау hаvос wіth уоur еmоtіоns. Аnd sаd tо sау, thеіr соusіns Dерrеssіоn and Despair, wіll likley соmе tо vіsіt аlsо. Тhе rеnеgаdе соusіns ΝО ОΝЕ wіshеs tо hаvе vіsіt! Аnd аll оf thеm саn brіng nеgаtіvе fееlіngs tо thе fоrеfrоnt and spill throughout your life and relationships.


Wе оftеn tеll оursеlvеs thаt оur nеgаtіvе fееlіngs аrеn’t рrоduсtіvе, sо whу dwеll оn thеm? Тhе аnswеr tо thаt quеstіоn іs thаt іf thоsе fееlіngs аrеn’t rеsоlvеd іn sоmе wау, thеу wоn’t sіmрlу gо аwау – аnd thеу саn саusе уоu bоth еmоtіоnаl аnd рhуsісаl раіn fоr уеаrs untіl уоu wоrk thеm thrоugh.

Rеsеаrсh hаs shоwn thаt оnе оut оf fоur реорlе dіаgnоsеd wіth саnсеr wіll strugglе рsусhоlоgісаllу. Аdјustіng tо саnсеr саn bе vеrу dіffісult аnd роssіblу оnе оf thе mоst strеssful tіmеs іn lіfе. Тhе fіrst rеlарsе, thе fіrst sеrіеs оf сlіnісаl trіаls, аnd аll оf thе оngоіng сhаngеs іn thеіr реrsоnаl lіfе саn mаkе реорlе fееl lіkе thеу аrе сhаsіng а mоvіng tаrgеt. Тhе fасt іs, thаt thе саnсеr рrосеss іs асtuаllу а sеrіеs оf сhаllеngеs аnd оbstасlеs thаt nееd tо bе surmоuntеd іn оrdеr tо mоvе оn tо thе nехt сhаllеngе, fоr sоmе, іt іs thаt оf survіvоr, аnd fоr оthеrs, іt іs ассерtіng thеіr dеаth. Іn mоst оf thеsе саsеs thе реrsоn іs sо fосusеd оn thе рhуsісаl аsресts, thеу dо nоt rеаlіzе thеrе аrе орtіоns fоr thе mеntаl аnd еmоtіоnаl аsресts оf саnсеr. Соunsеlіng аnd hурnоthеrару аrе twо suсh орtіоns. Аnd аs thеіr dосtоr, nursе, оr frіеnd, YОU саn hеlр thеm bу suggеstіng аnd rеіnfоrсіng thаt gеttіng hеlр wіth thеіr mеntаl hеаlth іs ОΚ. Νо оnе іs gоіng tо thіnk thеу аrе wеаk, оr thаt thеу hаvе а mеntаl іllnеss. Тhе professional соunsеlоr іs thеrе tо hеlр rеlіеvе thе mеntаl аnguіsh thеу аrе fееlіng.


Ѕоmе оf thе wауs professional cancer соunsеlіng (аnd even advanced medical hурnоsіs)саn hеlр; Ву tеасhіng уоu:

Ноw tо rесоgnіzе sоurсеs оf strеss аnd dеаl wіth thеm
Ноw tо dеvеlор fееlіngs оf dеер rеlахаtіоn іn уоur bоdу
Ноw tо stор аnхіоus thоughts frоm tаkіng оvеr уоur mіnd
Ноw іmаgеrу аllоws уоu tо іnfluеnсе уоur lіfе аnd hеаlth
Ноw sеlf-hеlр асtіvіtіеs саn mаkе уоu fееl mоrе іn соntrоl оf уоur lіfе
Ноw tо dесіdе whаt уоur рrіоrіtіеs rеаllу аrе
Ноw tо соmmunісаtе уоur thоughts аnd fееlіngs

Νоw І’ll ехрlаіn sоmе оf thоsе іn mоrе dеtаіl: Іn thе саsе оf аntісіраtоrу nаusеа аnd vоmіtіng: Аftеr rесеіvіng а fеw trеаtmеnts, sоmе раtіеnts fееl nаusеа аnd bеgіn vоmіtіng іn аntісіраtіоn оf thе nехt trеаtmеnt. Тhе rеасtіоn іs usuаllу саusеd bу sоmеthіng rеlаtеd tо thе trеаtmеnt, lіkе thе smеll оf аlсоhоl оr thе sіght оf а mеdісаl unіfоrm. Оur subсоnsсіоus mіnd іs thеrе tо rеmеmbеr аnd tо рrоtесt us. Іn thіs саsе іt аllоws us tо rеmеmbеr thе ехреrіеnсе wе hаd аnd thе subсоnsсіоus саn vіvіdlу brіng thоsе thоughts аnd fееlіngs rіght tо thе fоrеfrоnt. Аnd іf thе ехреrіеnсе wаs nеgаtіvе, suсh аs nаusеа аnd оr vоmіtіng, thе subсоnsсіоus wіll rесrеаtе thоsе fееlіngs аgаіn thе рrеsеnt. Аntіnаusеа drugs dо nоt аlwауs рrеvеnt аntісіраtоrу nаusеа аnd vоmіtіng. Асtіоns thаt саlm оr dіstrасt thе реrsоn wоrk mоrе оftеn. Тhеsе асtіоns mау іnсludе guіdеd іmаgеrу, mеdісаtіоns, hурnоsіs, rеlахаtіоn, bеhаvіоrаl mоdіfісаtіоn, оr оthеr асtіvіtіеs lіkе vіdео gаmеs. Whу dо thеsе thіngs wоrk?

Тhе mіnd саnnоt hоld twо thоughts аt thе sаmе tіmе аnd gіvе full аttеntіоn tо thеm bоth. Yоu hаvе tо рісk оnе оr аnоthеr. Whеn уоu fосus оn sоmеthіng, уоu аmрlіfу іt іn уоur аwаrеnеss. Ѕо іn thе саsе оf hурnоsіs, sоmеtіmеs rеfеrrеd tо аs guіdеd іmаgеrу, thе сlіеnt іs аskеd tо рlасе аll оf thеіr аwаrеnеss оn whаt thе hурnоthеrаріst іs sауіng. Іn thіs ехаmрlе І wіll usе rеlахаtіоn аs thе fосus. Іf thе сlіеnt іs gіvіng hеr full аttеntіоn tо thе rеlахаtіоn ехеrсіsе, shе саnnоt bе fосusіng hеr mіnd оn hеr раіn, оr іn аnоthеr ехаmрlе, nаusеа оr vоmіtіng.


Whеn іs advanced medical hурnоsіs а trеаtmеnt tооl оf сhоісе? Dr Неlеn Сrаwfоrd, рrоfеssоr оf рsусhоlоgу аnd Dіrесtоr оf thе Ѕсіеnсеs Grаduаtе Рrоgrаm аt Vіrgіnіа Тесh, wеіghеd іn оn thіs іssuе whеn shе rесоmmеndеd usіng hурnоsіs еаrlу оn іn thе trеаtmеnt оf раіn, а dоmаіn whеrе bіоlоgісаl еvіdеnсе fоr а hурnоtіс еffесt іs substаntіаl bеfоrе thе раtіеnt dеvеlорs strоng раіn mеmоrіеs аnd bеfоrе surgеrу аnd lоng соursеs оf drug trеаtmеnt аrе іnіtіаtеd. Ѕо іn еssеnсе уоu wаnt tо lау а gооd hаbіt, fосusіng уоur аwаrеnеss, bеfоrе а bаd hаbіt, fосusіng оn thе раіn.

Аnоthеr trеаtmеnt орtіоn іs Gеstаlt Тhеrару (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works great here too). Gеstаlt Тhеrару fосusеs оn аwаrеnеss іn thе hеrе аnd nоw. Іt аllоws thе саnсеr раtіеnt tо fосus оn whаt іs hарреnіng іn thе рrеsеnt. Gеstаlt gіvеs thе раtіеnt thе tооls tо оwn thеіr fееlіngs, whаtеvеr thеу mау bе. Fоr ехаmрlе, Іt gіvеs thеm thе аbіlіtу tо bе аngrу аt thе саnсеr, оr thе dосtоr, оr thеіr sроusе, аnd thеу аrе аblе tо ехрrеss thіs еmоtіоn wіth а соunsеlоr whо саn hеlр thеm рrосеss thrоugh thе еmоtіоns. Gеstаlt Тhеrару саn hеlр thе раtіеnt соmmunісаtе thеіr thоughts аnd fееlіng іn а sаfе еnvіrоnmеnt.


Оutwаrd сіrсumstаnсеs hаvе lіttlе tо dо wіth bеіng hарру оr unhарру. Іt іs thе іnnеr аttіtudе, thе bеlіеf оf thе subсоnsсіоus or resilience of the spirit and self, whісh can be thе dеtеrmіnіng fасtоr. Іf wіthіn уоur mіnd, уоur thоughts аrе ever aware of what you do have to be hарру about… аnd уоu аllоw уоursеlf tо fullу еngаgе іn уоur hарріnеss, thе rооf соuld саvе іn аnd іt wоuld nоt mаttеr destroy your resolve. (Check out the team at Pink Phurree to see where positive attitude and moxie have some swesome results!) Іt’s whаt уоu fосus уоur аwаrеnеss оn thаt really mаttеrs. Аnd wіth mоst реорlе, we nееd hеlр trаіnіng our brаіns tо ореrаtе іn our bеst іntеrеst.

Cancer Resilience is one of my areas of specialty and is a personal passion. I am a nationally board certified and licensed professional counselor who is dedicated to my clients. If you are facing this journey, or love someone who is, please call. I’d like to help.

Ben Carrettin – Live Better Live Now


A Quick Guide to Hypnotherapy

A Quick Guide to Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis has been around for thousands of years. From ancient Egyptian times even through today, hypnotism has been used in religion, medicine, mental therapies, and yes, even entertainment. Patients often undergo clinical hypnosis to help release stress or to overcome certain challenges in their lives such as smoking habits, obesity, insomnia, depression, fear of flying and other conditions.

Hypnotherapy is similar to psychotherapy except that it is undertaken when the patient is in a state of hypnosis, sometimes referred to casually as a “trance”. Hypnotherapy is meant to help modify the patient’s behavior, attitude, and emotional state towards positive life changes. Clinical Hypnotherapy should always and only be performed by a professional hypnotherapist (someone who is both a licensed and experienced medical or behavioral professional AND a trained and seasoned hypnotherapist). In many cases, the hypnotherapist will train the patient in self-hypnosis so the patient can benefit from hypnotherapy at any time when needed. This is because all hypnosis is, ultimately, self hypnosis.


What Happens During Hypnosis?

Before the actual hypnosis begins, both the patient and the trained hypnotherapist agree to the process. Hypnosis cannot be forced on the patient. (No, you cannot be made to cluck like a chicken. Stage “hypnosis” is theatrical – much like the surgery that takes place on your favorite prime time TV show). There will usually be an informal talk between the clinical professional and the patient with questions and answers as well as an explanation of what is about to take place.

Next is the actual hypnosis. The hypnotherapist leads with his or her voice and gently guides the patient into a state of relaxation in both mind and body. This calms the thinking, regulates the breathing and typically mildly lowers the blood pressure and pulse. The patient may appear to be asleep, but is awake enough to be aware of what’s going on. The patient is then led into comforting, pleasant thoughts and begins to daydream about happy times or hopes for the future.

When under hypnosis, the patient often feels very relaxed. It’s similar to the warm comfort of a bed when a person is very sleepy. The patient can terminate the session at any time if he or she begins to feel uncomfortable. The patient is always aware and present – they can stop the session at any time and at their own discretion. When the session ends, the patient is able to ask questions and discuss the experience of hypnosis.


Hypnosis Today

The Good News

Today, there are many different ways people can enjoy the benefits of hypnotherapy. They don’t even have to leave their homes to take advantage of hypnosis. For simple inductions of self-hypnosis, there are great products available online, such as hypnosis MP3s and hypnosis CDs. With these tools, a person is able to access the benefits of hypnosis for minor issues and basic relaxation. These products are very helpful when times of stress arise or when you just need a boost of self-confidence. They are fast, easy, safe and effective tools to help you tackle everyday, common life situations.

For severe stress and anxiety conditions, specific phobias (like a fear of flying), mild to moderate morning sickness, drug-free chronic pain management and even the nausea and physical distress caused by chemotherapy – a trained and experienced professional is likely required. Often times the best of these have sought advanced medical hypnotherapy training as an adjunct to an existing fully clinical and independent practice. (Similar concerns exist around services in the industry claiming to teach mindfulness meditation but have no actual training or experience to speak of and in many cases have never read any Eastern literature or even practiced actual meditation themselves).

10 Things You Need To Know Before You Begin

  1. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are not cure-all solutions, but they can be helpful in teaching you to reduce and alleviate physical and emotional distress and self-management of minor to moderate pain and anxiety. Basic hypnosis can also assist you in renewing your positive outlook on life and learning to overcome obstacles.
  2. Stage “hypnosis” is not appropriate for clinical work with patients. Anyone who even compares this to clinical work should be avoided. There are unfortunately no required monitors in place on a national or state level to ensure reputable, ethical and properly trained professionals are who is providing your service – do your research and don’t allow someone to talk you into it.
  3. Clinical or Medical Hypnosis can be a drug-free option or drug-reduction option for some forms of anxiety and physical discomforts such as nausea and pain. Isn’t the option of having the physical and financial costs of too many medications worth trying an alternative like medical hypnosis?
  4. Ask what state licenses they hold. Certifications are not enough. You want a competent, trained and monitored professional.
  5. Ask where they got their training and look at that organization online – not just the website, look at reviews as well.
  6. Ask your physician for who they would recommend – many know someone that they refer to who won’t be out there with a flashy website or advertisement – but someone they have worked with for years. At they very least they can tell you what psychotherapist or psychologists they recommend and those folks should be able to lead you in the right direction.
  7. Don’t respond to an advertisement. Period. The car ad you see is for sales – not the mechanic. Many if not most of the hypnotherapists I see ads for in magazines and online are do not even have a basic degree in a related field, let alone years of supervision and a state license. You wouldn’t let the lab tech perform your heart surgery – don’t let a would-be actor perform your hypnotherapy.
  8. Ongoing sessions is your choice but keep something in mind. All hypnosis is, ultimately, self hypnosis. By no more than 3-4 sessions, your reputable hypnotherapist should be teaching you how to achieve a relaxed state all on your own. Anyone who tells you something like, “I can cure your smoking habit in only 12 sessions” is probably more interested in you commercially than clinically.
  9. Which brings me to another point. Smoking cessation and weight loss do not get accomplished with hypnosis. Period. In some cases it can assuredly help – but you will still have to participate in the process towards those goals outside of your sessions. A lot of money has been made off of desperate people by scoundrels convincing people of this as a “cure”. It’s simply not true and my guess is that most of those “practitioners” either have no license, no longer have one or won’t keep the one they have for much longer.
  10. Ethics is an enormous part of graduate training in psychology, clinical social work, nursing and medical school. And licensing boards hold their licensees to ethical standards. Some hypnotherapy boards hold to higher standards – but hypnotherapy training in no way offers the amount of ethics training as those above. Hence, the vast discrepancy in the field of professionals with integrity. Please – do your research.

Closing Comment

Please don’t let my warnings above dissuade you from trying hypnosis or let you believe that I am condemning it. On the contrary, I have seen some pretty amazing outcomes from medical hypnosis. But the myths behind “trances”, the showmanship of stage performers, cinematic renditions and the volume of untrained hypnotherapy businesses in the market can really confuse the client who is earnestly trying to find a drug free option and relief. I hope this post serves to help you find the right professional for you.


A Quick Guide to Hypnotherapy / Texas Recovery Support / West University / Sugar Land / Pearland and Bellaire

The 7 Simple Steps to Longevity

The 7 Simple Steps to Longevity

There are a million fad diets, “natural” suppliments and trendy health plans out there from those that claim to melt fat away like butter, build muscle as dense as steel and even those that are built upon actual healthy concepts – but tend to stray or expect you to maintain an extreme lifestyle to achieve a more healthy you. The path to eternal youth and immortality has always beckoned and we seem to be in search of the quick-fix pill rather than the path.

And guess what? – Surprise! None of these ever works. Oh sure, you may get lean and mean for a season or two. You might even stick with a group plan for a couple of years with peers. But eventually, you will stop. And there is always a price; because the body – your body – was not built to live in the extreme. Yes, it was built to adapt, somewhat, over time – but health and longevity are met with balance and moderation. Eating like a caveman, obsessive exercise regimens and bacon with every meal will always, always catch up. Adrenals (liver and kidneys) will take a beating, gall bladder will get overloaded, cholesterol will go through the roof and knees will wear out. Your car’s tachometer shows when you step down hard on the gas – riding up into the red – but if you run it there all the time you’re going to overheat and burn up your engine. Same with your body.

So, what’s the answer? It probably won’t surprise you that it’s the same answer it has been for a long, long time. It may not be as easy as popping a “miracle” pill but it is simple and your doctor is much more likely to support it than the latest “Neanderthal Nutrient Program”. Here we go:

The 7 Simple Steps to Longevity

(1) Hydrate and eat a BALANCED diet

It’s pretty amazing how little water most people drink throughout the day (the water in your coffee doesn’t count as water). When you are under hydrated your blood thickens and moves slower – that means slower oxygen delivery to the brain – ie slower performance. Many of us think more caffeine is the answer and don’t even realize we are actually setting ourselves up for more distress. Yes, have your coffee – but as you start to get sluggish – check your water intake first. Consider starting your day with a glass of water before you have your first cup of coffee. *Tip – Little sips all day help the brain to chug along.

As with diet – I alluded to this earlier. All meat is not the answer and all plant – while a healthy pursuit – can be risky if you are not extremely diligent every day to ensure all nutrition is present (seriously – most of us are not likely to maintain the level of diligence required, every day, for a lifetime, to do this right). Portion control is huge here and the “kids’ rule” of a colorful plate at every meal are good ways to get started. An adult portion of meat, as a rule of thumb, is the same width and thickness as the palm of your hand from the closest point of your wrist and not including any fingers. Plant should always outnumber meat in volume and simple starchy/carbs do need to be present – but in small portion. Your doc can help you with this or contact a Registered Dietician *Tip – Check out foods that naturally have anti-inflammatory properties and work them into your regular diet – these have a lot more impact on cancer prevention and many other maladies then much of the information we grew up learning in school or with the fitness coach.


(2) Adopting a lifestyle of MODERATION

You’ll notice I do not say boring, lackluster or monastic. Moderation means without excess. You want to take a power yoga class – cool! You want to get in fit enough to do a marathon or a long distance bike ride – fantastic! But power yoga every day, 2 hours at the gym lifting weights every day and running the bleachers every day – is going to take it’s toll. You will not be able to do those things like that over a lifetime. Be clear with that and know it.  And you do not have to be that extreme. Daily, rigorous activity will change over your life just as you will – but if you commit to activity, you will likely be able to be much more active, much longer than those around you. That is the measure of the quality of life and with life expectation ever-extending – there will be a lot of years there for many of you that you will want to be active for. *Tip – if you are setting up a fitness regimen or having a fitness trainer or coach set one up for you – write it down. Then take it to your physician and actually go through it and talk about it with them. You wouldn’t let the lab tech do your heart surgery – don’t let the guy at the gym with a 6-week certification be the final say on your health regimen.

(3) Get ENOUGH sleep

I know you are busy – and there are a million reasons why you “just can’t” but this is one of those things that you simple have to man up or woman up and make it happen. If it means saying “no” to some folks or letting some things fall to another day – than so be it. Sleep directly impacts mood, memory and motivation. Sleep deprivation, even moderate, can really beat up on your effectiveness, in every thing you do. Most of us are the first to jump up and defend this for children – but fail to even consider it, let alone to defend it for ourselves.

Lack of sleep degrades your ability to remember things quickly, inhibits your ability to solve everyday problems and conflicts, impacts your mood which in turn will impact how you engage others and degrade relationships and it will quickly siphon off whatever resolve you had to exercise or do anything else constructive. *Tip – Don’t skimp on sleep. Period. No excuses.

(4) MAINTAINING regular, active exercise

Okay, so here’s the unscientific rule of thumb; “90% of weight loss comes from what you eat and 90% of internal/organ health comes from how you exercise”. I hear this quote or some variation fairly often at the running trail and the gym. But if you really look at the science there is a very important part we are not discussing and it holds a lot of folks back from even getting started. Thirty (30) minutes of brisk activity a day has a much bigger benefit on heart and organ health (and your mobility as you age – ie ability to have an active life) than three or four multi-hour or extreme workouts.

Think back to the story of The Tortoise and The Hare you probably heard as a kid. The high bursts of speed didn’t end up serving the rabbit very well – but the turtle kept pace and ended up finishing the race as the winner. For the majority of us – especially those with full career and/or family lives – our best life, in the long run, is a steady and committed path of healthy living.

*Tip – Walking even 20 minutes around your neighborhood,apartment complex or in the parking garage during your lunch break at work is a step toward a healthy and longer life.

(5) Make and take a day of REST

There has to be a down day – your body and your brain actually need it. This is something we are usually willing to schedule but somehow always let some other obligation take it over. Along with sleep, the day of rest is likely the most routinely hijacked of health habits. You’ll note the title says “make” AND “take”. Funny thing is – your brain and body will function much better as a standard if you put this into consistent practice. This is not a catch up day (talking to you Super Moms) and this is most assuredly not a day to live on the tech and TV either. It is a day of rejuvenation and play. A friend of mine who is retired clergy told me once that every great religion has a time of rest – usually to be observed by it’s followers and some even in it’s story of the deity. He told me, “God rested on the 7th day – what makes you so special that you think you don’t need a break to?”. (Props to  you, Maynard – love and gratitude.)

*Tip – if you really can’t think of what to do for a day of rest and play – go to the experts – ask a kid. Without all the “obligations” and “have to” messages stampeding about in their brains they are often much better and helping you out in this area than another adult.


(6) Yearly CHECK UP with your doc

This should be an obvious one, but I will rant along on it nonetheless. Science is amazing. A mediocre doctor, let alone a phenomenal one, can see what you don’t even know is coming – if you use them. Long term health involves many things including, lifestyle and genetics – it also includes PREVENTION.

Getting a heads up on a part of your healthcare at the beginning and having the opportunity to diminish or remove the risk and problems is a gift your own ancestry didn’t have – at least nowhere close to as good as you have it. This is one day a year…one day. For a couple of hours – in terms of even just financial cost – you will save thousands over a lifetime – that mean’s keep thousands of dollars by taking a preemptive stance on your medical needs. Then there is mobility, health, togetherness with loved ones and all the other benefits.

*Tip – your exam each year should be thorough and your doc should sit down and go over the results with you. If this is a quick, 20 minute, pat-on-the-back visit then you may want to talk with your friends and find a more invested physician. A good doctor today knows his patients are more well read and more involved in their own care than in generations past – an amazing doctor will welcome it.

(7) LISTEN to your doc

This should be so very obvious and in many ways is an extension of #6. Still, many of us hear the suggestions and have every intention to take some of it to heart and maybe even act on a little. This is about your commitment to you and this one is really simple. List your takeaways from your doc visit and post them wherever you need to to not forget: on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror or even as a screen saver on your work computer. Be creative. And take action. If your doc says you need to lose weight – take some steps towards calorie reduction and portion control. If the message is less cholesterol then do it – and if it seems overwhelming, get some help.

*Tip – As human beings, in general, we are very communal creatures – we like to be with others, it’s empowering. Get a friend or co-worker to help you put some of these steps from your physician into practice. You won’t have to look very far to see someone else in your circles who would benefit from more exercise or more balanced and healthy eating.

ONE FINAL COMMENT – the reason fitness plans like “Work out 5 times a week” and resolutions like “All my lunches will be rice cakes” don’t work is at one level, psychology. They are set ups for failure. The very first time you don’t meet it, by definition you have already failed. And then the “why try?” thoughts set in. Give your self permission to be human and room to be successful. Try goals like, “I will exercise more often” and “I’ll take my own lunch to work more frequently”. You can always increase and tighten your goals as you go – but start out in a way that you can feel good about the progress you make.

It’s life changing without being life overwhelming –

just take it one step at a time.

You CAN do it.


Live Better Live Now / Houston / Texas

How To Know If You Need Long Term Care Insurance

How To Know If You Need Long Term Care Insurance

We all know that will come a time when we will need more help and care that we can muster ourselves. And for those of us who are parents – we also don’t want our kids burdened with high cost and management of our care. Opinions of what to do are plentiful and overwhelming. There’s a piece of advice among financial experts that should be well taken to heart: do not over-insure, and insure only based on your needs. Looking towards our senior year brings us to an important question: when should you take out a long-term care insurance policy?

(*Don’t miss our Tip For Texas seniors in this post!)

Deciding on whether you need long-term care insurance depends, for the most part, on where you are in your finances. If you only have low income to speak of and you are already at the retirement age, then you’re better off staying at a nursing home with Medicaid paying the cost of your stay. Since Medicaid is a federal and state program that is paying for nearly half the cost of America’s nursing homes.


But if you’re a reasonably financially well-off person, yet you don’t want old age getting in the way of your lifestyle, then you might want to consider taking out a long-term care insurance policy. However, long term care insurance is not something you want to spend for, without considering the other items on your budget, because:

• You pay for high premiums
• Your premiums may increase over the years
• You pay for some expenses from out of your own pocket
• You lose benefits with a lapsed policy and without a non-forfeiture protection

There are some uncertainties in life that may make you think twice about long term care insurance. You might just meet your end in an accident. If that doesn’t happen, and hopefully it never does, here some things to consider, to determine if you really need long-term care insurance.


Your Family’s History

Does your family have a history of heart diseases, diabetes or Alzheimer’s? Did close relatives fall early because of those diseases?

Your Family’s Current Situation

If right now you needed help in getting dressed or in bathing, would any of your immediate relatives be available to help you out?

Your Own Finances

According to the United Seniors Health Cooperative, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, people should only consider long term care insurance IF they have (a) at least $75,000 in savings, or (b) at least $35,000 in annual income (in retirement).

The figures indicate that you should only think about long-term care insurance if you have enough money that paying for the premiums does not affect your current lifestyle. If this isn’t the case, the best route to take is to put your money where it will earn interest, pay for professional healthcare only if needed, and if necessary, qualify for Medicaid.


Tip For TEXAN Seniors

If you haven’t already, be sure to discuss a Lady Bird Trust (named after Lady Bird Johnson) with your lawyer. This option still exists for Texas residents (and a couple other states) and can make a huge difference for you and your family while still preserving your independence.


Live Better Live Now / How To Know If You Need Long Term Care Insurance / Serving Greater Houston, Bellaire, Rice Village and West University

The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety And Stress

The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety And Stress

The physical symptoms of anxiety and stress can be quite detrimental to one’s health. Unfortunately, many people may be so stressed that they do not realize the extent of it or the impact the stress and anxiety is having on their health. In some cases, the more stress or anxiety an individual experiences the less able they are to recognize it. Quite frequently in these situations the individual may have even become so accustomed to their level of stress, and the physical symptoms it produces, that they feel it is normal. Due to the fact that some people may not be aware of their emotional response to stress and anxiety they may need to rely on physical manifestations to identify it. This makes taking the time to learn about the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety an important step. Tuning into the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety can help you to identify potential triggers in your life and in turn help you to better manage them and alleviate the stress and anxiety in your life.


Symptoms Can Be Different for Different People

It is important to be aware that the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress can vary from one person to the next. Some symptoms may be more serious than others and can even be life threatening. It should be noted that one symptom on its own may not necessarily indicate the presence of stress or anxiety; however, where there are multiple symptoms this is a strong indication there is stress or anxiety present. Some symptoms you experience may be short-term while others may be long-term symptoms. Short-term symptoms include the following:

• Cold hands and feet
• Dry mouth
• Rapid breathing
• Increased heart beat
• Increased sweating
• Nausea
• Diarrhea

Generally these short term side effects appear when the body is responding to a perceived threat. This is the body’s way of helping you prepare to either stay and fight the threatening situation or flee from it; a response commonly known as fight or flight. While this rush of adrenaline and emotions can be helpful in a truly threatening situation, it can have negative impacts during times when there is no immediate danger.

Over time the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress can damage your self-confidence, disrupt the quality of your life and reduce the pleasure you get from your work. In addition, when the body is exposed to these physical symptoms over a long period of time your health can actually start to decline. Long term side effects of stress and anxiety include:

• Sexual disorders
• Changes in appetite
• Insomnia
• Frequent illness
• Back pain
• Asthma
• Headaches
• Digestive problems
• Lethargy
• Restlessness
• Depression
• Irritability


Remember, that one symptom by itself may not necessarily indicate the presence of either short term or long term stress and anxiety. There are other reasons that can result in a single symptom, such as side effects from certain medications. The presence of multiple symptoms; however, can indicate a problem. If you notice multiple mild physical symptoms of anxiety and stress, take heart in knowing that stress and anxiety management techniques can help you to reduce those symptoms and get back to your old self. If the symptoms or distress are moderate to severe, contact your physician or a professional for assistance.

Live Better Live Now / Houston / The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety And Stress

What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a level of chemical dependency (CD) and/or mental health (MH) treatment that allows you much more flexibility while offering more support and structure than just individual counseling or a weekly group. Depending on your state’s requirements, the insurance company’s requirements or the design of the IOP, you will attend several times a week for several hours each time. For example; many Intensive Outpatient Programs are 3 hours long and meet 3-4 days a week (much more than that is closer to a higher level of care called Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP). Intensive Outpatient Programs are meant to be group-based, led by a professional facilitator and cover an array of topics and issues relevant to each client’s needs at a more in-depth level.


Why Should I Go To A CD IOP?

There are many reasons why IOP can make a big difference in your long term recovery success. Some of the benefits of CD IOPs are: lower cost, flexibility with life (work, school, family, etc), the communal design, structure and more. A major facet, beyond the obvious provision of continued support for someone who needs it – is that is increases the time the individual is engaged in an active and involved recovery system. This is very relevant to long-term outcomes and I mean something very different than just attending a 12 step group. Research has shown for decades that length of time in sustained engagement of a recovery support system is correlated to successful recovery in the long haul.

Residential treatment programs that were 90 to 120 days and much longer have all but disappeared, not because of efficacy but because of cost. Most insurance companies would prefer not to cover a 6 month stay in rehab. Obviously, most Americans cannot pay out of pocket for 6 months of rehab. In order to continue to accept insurance and be accessible to the greatest number of clients, treatment centers (those with integrity and purpose) have had to adjust and now continually strive to deliver as much meaningful and progressive treatment as possible in much less time.


So why does this matter? Because we know and have known that your success is very tightly tied to time and en vitro recovery exposure – and you probably aren’t going to get it all in a treatment center. But – after treatment you can extend this time and improve your outcomes by sustaining your engagement in professional, intensive recovery support such as a CD Intensive Outpatient Program. And even after IOP, continuing with Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery and counseling with a seasoned and experienced professional can extend your immersion in a recovery supportive environment.

Ultimately, you are looking at increasing your chances of success the first time around (I’m assuming you don’t want to keep going back to treatment over and over again). If I ask you to pull the Jack of Hearts of a shuffled deck the chances are slim you’ll get it on the first try. If you’re asked to pull any face card out of the deck, your chances are better than the Jack of Hearts – but there is still a good chance it will take you several tries. But if I ask you to pull a red card out of the deck, you have a much better chance in getting it with fewer attempts than the above two. Recovery takes work and there are many variables, including those in your own unique story, so why would you not want to ensure the best possible chance of your success?


CD IOPs Cost Less than Higher Treatment Levels of Care

It used to be that IOP was only accessed for step-downs; meaning if you were already in a higher level of care like a residential treatment center you could go to IOP after your discharged from residential as a “step down” to a lower (less intensive) level of care. Not so anymore. Now, you can also enter directly into Intensive Outpatient Programs by referral from your physician or therapist. In some cases you can self refer. IOP does not have 24-hour nursing, overnight accommodations, meals, physicians rounding (usually) and so on. It doesn’t require a hospital facility – many are housed in professional buildings and private offices. The overhead is low and the staff expenses are much lower than a hospital – all in all, less costly to run, less costly to you. And guess what, insurance LOVES the IOP option. Most insurance companies know that IOP diminishes repeat hospitalizations (less cost to them) and is less expensive to pay for (again, less cost to them). If you have to pay for IOP yourself, ask about payment plans or discounts. Most programs are willing to work with self-pay clients.


Good CD IOPs Allow for Flexibility

Most of my clients who have gone to Intensive Outpatient Programs were back at work or the university while doing it. It becomes the perfect transition back into “real life living” with support while doing it. In many cases this reduces the strain and stress on the client and their family/employers/etc and this means less anxiety for the client and most likely better focus as well. For parents, the ability to be back at home, or at least engage and be with their children can be a welcome and needed positive in an otherwise difficult period. *One word of wisdom here: don’t be in a hurry to get back home. Sober Living as a transition can be a great help in securing a lasting recovery (I’ll talk more about Sober Living in another article). The excuses are many – but the couple of months that it entails is so much less an intrusion than repeated relapses and re-hospitalizations. The need to really get some solid recovery time under your belt is even more important with children on the line.


Good CD IOPs Are Communal

Using a group design, Intensive Outpatient Programs keep a communal circle going well after residential treatment is over – and unlike basic community support meetings, they have professionals facilitating the process. These two points are important. The old saying “two heads are better than one” is so true in a group process. In a well-facilitated group, members are appropriately bonded and weigh in, both supporting and challenging the views and statements of each other. This level of validation and honesty is not often found outside of these arenas. The seasoned and experienced professional leading these groups is there not only as a guide and teacher, but also to ensure that the personal agendas of other members don’t cloud the issue and that members do not leave with an incorrectly or distorted ideas based on the statements of others. Granted, you need a really good leader and I get to that later on in this article. But one of the risks of many community based support organizations is that there are a lot of untrained self-selected “authorities” who may have great personal experience, but who sometimes don’t realize the transference going on in their relationships with others who may be much more vulnerable at the time.


Good CD IOPs Are Structured

Yes, there is a place and purpose for open, process-oriented group time and that is an important part of many Intensive Outpatient Programs. However, a good IOP will have a concrete, curriculum as its foundation. In early addiction recovery there are many core conflicts that come up frequently for most clients and a lose and unfettered IOP is not likely to cover all of these, leaving some clients without some much needed information and experience when they leave the IOP. Intensive Outpatient Programs that follow the 12 Step model or even another system like SMART, have adopted a well-known structures as their base. They should not however just be a regurgitation of an AA meeting – IOP is a clinical level of treatment and as such should be dealing with many of the emotional and psychological challenges of the recovery journey. (you should not be paying for a copy of what you already get in your 12 Step or support group meetings – if this is the case, talk with your counselor or physician – you may need a different program.)


Choosing the Right CD IOP for You

Here are a few tips to help you find a solid IOP for you or your loved one:

a.   Find out how long the program has been around – or at least the host organization. New businesses have a lot of growing pains and your time in the program should be focused on your growth, not encumbered by theirs. And while you are at it – ask. Call the local council on addiction recovery and a couple of doctors or therapists who actually specialize in addiction and ask them who they recommend.

b.   Find out who is actually running the groups in the IOP. Many programs (hospitals are known for this) assign their interns or least experienced staff to run the IOP. Make sure the program has a seasoned and experienced facilitator running the actual groups in the program. It’s also helpful to ask to see a print out of the curriculum the program follows.

c.   Find a program that is offered at a time you can manage and then commit to it. Most major cities have morning, afternoon and evening IOPs. Pick what you can do, stretch a little if you need to, and then don’t skip or miss. Remember, it’s not just about the content; it’s also about the context – the regular immersion in an intensive, recovery environment.

d.   Get your doctor hooked up with the IOP. Sign the release of information to let the program and your doctor talk openly back and forth. And ask them regularly if they are doing it. Do the same with your private therapist or counselor. Continuity of care is everything. These folks work for you – if they can’t communicate with each other, you’re the one who loses.

e.   Back fill around the IOP. On every day that you are not in IOP you should make a support meeting, see your counselor or some other dedicated recovery support. (and that doesn’t mean you can’t do these things on the IOP days too). We often say that addiction recovery is a life or death matter. Think of the parts of your recovery plan as your breath. You don’t stop breathing because it’s the weekend or a holiday – so don’t skip out on your recovery plan.

f.   Remember this – an IOP is not a replacement for 12 Step Meetings. An IOP is clinical and delivers a very different benefit than 12 Steps. You need both!

g.   If you are in a residential treatment facility your Discharge Planner or Case Manager is responsible for helping you to secure an IOP as part of your Discharge Plan and ongoing recovery plan. Be involved and don’t dismiss the value of well-spent time setting this up. Your life and your recovery are a precious commodity – be smart and invest well in them wisely.

One final noterecovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum – you have to get out there and be a part of a community committed to recovery. It also doesn’t happen in an isolated vessel – that means the whole family needs recovery support, not just the addict. Make sure that as you or your loved one embraces their recovery plan the family and loved ones get support and education as well. Addiction is a disease in more ways than one – if you only treat your hand, the rest of your body will still suffer. Disease destroys the whole system – in this case, the family system. Get the family connected with Al-Anon, a counselor or some other support group. It makes a world of difference.

Ben Carrettin / Live Better Live Now / Houston / Texas