Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mindfulness Training for Adults Who Stutter


Stuttering can be described as a genetically based, neurophysiological disorder characterized by atypical disruptions in the fluency of speech. Stuttering occurs in approximately 1% of the general population and in 5% of primary school children (Gupta, Yashodharakumar, & Vasudha, 2016). Males are four times more likely to stutter compared to females (Perez & Stoeckle, 2016). The etiology of stuttering is unknown and there is no cure for stuttering. However, research supports a genetic basis of stuttering. Up to 90% of children who stutter can recover from stuttering with speech therapy interventions or through natural recovery (Perez & Stoeckle, 2016). However, many children enter adulthood with a stutter and a significant amount of these adults may have ongoing psychosocial and emotional issues related to stuttering. There are emerging data to suggest that age of onset of stuttering (>3yrs), family history of persistence, male gender, and lower language skills are predictors of persistent stuttering.

Speech-language pathologists are trained in providing interventions that target reduction of disfluencies in the speech of people who stutter, and more recently, have focused on interventions that simultaneously target emotional support for people who stutter. In fact, most people who stutter prefer an integrated treatment approach, with appropriate goals that address both feelings and attitudes about stuttering and speech fluency (Yaruss & Quesal, 2002). Attitudes and feelings about stuttering are important to consider because communication competence and confidence for people who stutter can be diminished through avoidance or through behavioral techniques present in traditional stuttering intervention methods that are difficult to generalize to everyday conversation. Managing reactions to disfluent speech can be an effective technique for regulating disfluent speech and reducing the psychosocial effects associated with stuttering.

Disfluent speech caused by stuttering can impact emotional well-being. Emotional reactions to stuttering instances include anxiety and frustration associated with anticipated embarrassment and humiliation when speaking (Craig & Tran, 2014). The potential negative psychosocial impact of stuttering may lead to lowered motivation and avoidance of situations when anticipation of stuttering instances might occur. Increased anxiety and avoidance of social situations can adversely affect the quality of life of individuals who stutter (Boyle, 2015). Therefore, speech therapy interventions targeting the reduction of anxiety and psychological stress symptoms associated with stuttering are necessary to benefit both communication effectiveness and the quality of life for people who stutter. Increasingly, mindfulness techniques have been used to decrease psychological symptoms, including those caused by stuttering. Mindfulness practices have been adopted by some speech-language pathologists as a therapeutic intervention used to enhance communication effectiveness and the quality of life for people who stutter. This paper will provide an overview of the different aspects of mindfulness based therapy techniques including: the definition of mindfulness, the history of mindfulness, assessment and treatment of stuttering, the benefits of mindfulness in stuttering management for adults, and considerations for future research.

Read more > Stuttering Information

A short history of banking

The earliest-known money-lending activities have been identified in historical civilizations and societies including Assyria, Babylon, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. Modern-day banking can be traced back to medieval and early Renaissance Italy, where privately-owned merchant banks were established to finance trade and channel private savings into government borrowing or other forms of public use. Private banks were typically constituted as partnerships, owned and managed by a family or some other group of individuals, and operating without the explicit sanction of government. Amsterdam became a leading financial and banking centre at the height of the Dutch Republic during the 17th century; succeeded by London during the 18th century, partly as a consequence of the growth in demand for banking services fuelled by the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the British Empire. The first shareholder-owned bank in England was the Bank of England, founded in 1694 primarily to act as a vehicle for government borrowing to finance war with France. Despite its important role in raising public finance, the Bank of England did not assume its modern-day position as the government’s bank until the 20th century.

Acceptance of the principle that banks could be owned by large pools of shareholders was key to the evolution of modern commercial banks. Shareholder-owned banks could grow much larger than private banks by issuing or accumulating shareholder capital. The shareholder bank’s lifetime was indefinite, not contingent on the lives and deaths of individual partners. The Bank of England was originally incorporated with unlimited shareholder liability, meaning that in the event of failure shareholders would not only lose the capital they had invested, but were also liable for their share of any debts the bank had incurred. The same applied to private banks constituted as partnerships. Unlimited liability was seen as essential, because banks had powers to issue banknotes, and might do so recklessly unless their shareholders were ultimately liable when the holders of banknotes demanded redemption.

In England the introduction of shareholder banks was inhibited by the prohibition, until the early 19th century, of the issue of banknotes by banks with more than six partners. During the 18th century, the population of small private banks had increased; but many had insufficient resources to withstand financial shocks. Legislation passed in 1826 granted banknote-issuing powers to private banks with more than six partners headquartered outside a 65-mile radius of London. In 1844 the issue of banknotes was tied to gold reserves, paving the way for the Bank of England eventually to become the sole note-issuing bank. The inscription that appears on all English banknotes ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand  the sum of ....., signed by the Chief Cashier on behalf of the Governor of the Bank of England, dates historically from the time when the Bank of England accepted a liability to convert any banknote into gold on request. The gold standard was abandoned by Britain at the start of the First World War,  reintroduced  in 1925 but abandoned again, permanently, in 1931.

Read more > Banking Information

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Great Bitcoin Scam

At the outset, let me clarify that Bitcoin itself is not a scam, but how Bitcoin is being sold is a scam. Moreabout that below.

To start out, it is important to understand what Bitcoin really is. It would be easy to bore you with a discussion of the technology, about peer-to-peer servers and sophisticated algorithms, but that is not what you need to know.

What you need to know about Bitcoin is that distilled to its technological essence, each Bitcoin is simply a number. That's it: A number. It is simply a series of digits, with each number being assigned to each Bitcoin.

To illustrate, I'll randomly pull a $1 bill from my wallet, which bears No. L88793293J. Assuming some minimallevel of competency by the U.S. Treasury, no other bill bears that number.

The face value of a $1 bill is, of course, just $1 dollar. But two people could privately agree that No.L88793293J is actually worth $5,000.

To illustrate Fred wants to buy Joe's golf clubs, but Fred doesn't want his wife to know -- at least just yet -- that he spent $5,000 for golf clubs. So, Fred and Joe agree that No. L88793293J is worth $5,000 and Fred gives No. L88793293J to Joe. Fred then tells his wife that he bought the clubs for the $1 bill. At some later time, when Fred's wife doesn't care so much, Fred pays $5,000 to Joe for No. L88793293J, and gets the $1 bill back.

The only difference between Bitcoin No. ABC123 and $1 Bill No. L88793293J is that at the end of the day, the $1 bill physically exists and has a face value that is worth something, i.e., Fred could take the $1 bill and buy something off the $1 menu at McDonalds.

By contrast, Bitcoin has no intrinsic value -- it is just a number. The number may have an agreed value between two parties, but the number itself has no value. Consider a bank account number, such as Wells Fargo Account No. 456789. The depositor and Wells Fargo essentially agree that the account designated by No. 456789 has the value of what the depositor puts into it, less what the depositor takes out. But the number itself, No. 456789 has no value. The same situation occurs with credit card transactions, whereby the credit card processing company assigns are unique value to each transaction, but the number itself has no value.

Let's now talk about uniqueness. Bitcoin does have some value because there are only a finite number of Bitcoins available, because the algorithm that is used limits Bitcoin to a particular number of units, of which there should only be somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 million that fit the algorithm.

Uniqueness certainly has value. Because there is only one Hope Diamond, it is estimated to have a value in the neighborhood of $350 million. Because there are only 100 of that 24¢ stamp with the upside down airplane, they are estimated to be worth about $1 million each. Ditto for rare coins, original Picasso paintings, etc.

But here is where the fundamental flaw in Bitcoin's value lies: It is simply a number, and numbers are infinite  -- there will never be a shortage of numbers. Even if you are the world's greatest mathematician and think that you found the largest number ever, there is always that number plus one, plus two, etc.

So, Bitcoin may be limited to 21 million numbers, but that doesn't mean that somebody else can't come up with a similar algorithm and thereby create their own unique set of numbers, i.e., their own cybercurrency.

For example, let's say that somebody creates a cybercurrency that is based on known prime numbers. There are about 50 million of those, so another 50 million cybercurrency numbers could be created. Indeed, the recent boom in Bitcoin has triggered numerous companies offering their own cybercurrencies, and the amount of such numbers that they can generate is limited only by the ability of their mathematicians to create the necessary algorithms, which of course is similarly infinite.

According to that tome of all knowledge known as Wikipedia, as of November 27, 2017, there were 1,324 cybercurrencies in use. Just multiple each cybercurrency by the number of units they each support, and you get a pretty big number. And that is just the presently existing cybercurrencies, recalling that all it really takes is a sharp mathematician to come up for an algorithm for a new one.

And that brings us back to the main point: Cybercurrency units are simply numbers, and there is not a finite supply of numbers. Rather, the numbers available are infinite. This further means that the supply of cybercurrency units is likewise infinite. This has profound implications for pricing.

The true value of any widget is determined by the aggregate street price of the item, i.e., the sum total of what all units could be purchased for today, divided by the number of additional units which are available for sale. This is where uniqueness comes into play. There is only one Hope Diamond, which means that you take its estimated value of $350 million and divide by one, yielding $350 million. Collectively, those 24¢ stamps with the upside-down airplane are worth $100 million, but there are 100 of them, so they are worth about $1 million each. Or think of it simply in common-sense terms: The more there are of something, the less valuable each one is; if the market is flooded with something, they each have little value. Consumers see this every day at the gas pump, as the price of fuel varies primarily based upon available oil supplies.

Herein lies the problem with cybercurrency, which is that there are an infinite number of cybercurrency units available. Divide anything by infinity, and you get a number that is almost zero -- not quite zero -- but as close as you can get to it as possible. This is true even if we assign a current aggregate value of all the existing cybercurrency units at $500 billion. Because it is not quite zero, we can assign it a value of 1¢, not because it is necessarily worth 1¢, but simply because that is the smallest unit by which we can designate value in our currency.

Actually, it is some number larger than zero, and thus 1¢, mainly because the Bitcoin folks have put in a lot of effort to keep each number unique and assignable to a given owner, and there are some merchants who will accept Bitcoin as if it were a government-issued currency. But how much does that really add, and how unique are those features as other cybercurrencies take hold? Suffice it to say that the answer is much closer to 1¢ than $15,000 per unit.

This now brings us to the economic law of supply and demand, by which value is determined by what a willing seller will let a unit go for, and what a willing buyer will pay for that unit, at a particular moment in time.

Take the 24¢ stamp with the upside-down airplane as an example. Presumably, the U.S. Postal Service would honor the stamp only for 24¢, which is its face value. Otherwise, the stamp creates no other value. But collectors of stamps and other valuables would offer $1 million or more for such a stamp, due to its rarity, and their belief that the value of the stamp will increase over time.

This now brings us to the topic of tulip bulbs. Tulip bulbs have no intrinsic value, other than that they can produce a pretty tulip flower. Yet, beginning in 1636, the price of tulip bulbs in Holland began to skyrocket, as buyers started believing that -- with demand driven by exports to the apparently then tulip bulb hungry French -- the price of tulip bulbs would keep appreciating. They were right. Eventually, the price of a single tulip bulb hit many multiples of the average Dutchman's average wages, and reportedly 12 valuable acres of land were traded for one particular tulip bulb. Individual tulip bulbs were traded for many times each day, with the price increasing with each trade. Then, one day in February of the following year, 1637, the price of tulip bulbs quit going up, and by May 1, the price for tulip bulbs had fallen back to their original value. Thus, was tulip mania the first recorded bubble.

Many centuries later, more specifically in November, 2013, the President of the Dutch Central Bank, Nout Wellink, reflected on the tulip bulb bubble with the following: "At least then you got a tulip, now you get nothing." He was referring to Bitcoin.

But Wellink wasn't exactly right, since with Bitcoin you get a unique number. What that unique number is worth,as discussed above, is something pretty close to zero, which makes Wellink's statement much closer to the truth.

All of which means that the value of Bitcoin, and any other cybercurrency, is established by agreement of the willing sellers and willing buyers as to what point they would be willing to let go of or buy up Bitcoins as the case may be. This means that an investment in Bitcoins is purely speculative -- it is utterly no different than investing in gold, social-media stocks, or tulip bulbs. So long as the number of buyers outnumbers the sellers, the price will go up, but when the sellers outnumber the buyers the price will go down.

You'd think that folks would be able to spot bubbles by now, since we have three in the last 20 years, being the (or, maybe more accurately, Dot.con) bubble of the late 1990s, and of course the housing bubble that ended in the crash of 2007, and then the instant Bitcoin bubble. These bubbles illustrate that they occur not because of sophisticated Wall Street traders looking a business fundamentals, but because the less sophisticated investors who start taking money out of their nice, safe FDIC-insured deposit accounts and money-market IRAs, and start trying to shoot-the-moon with investments that they barely understand. Yet, they see other folks making money overnight and want to do so too. Ask about anybody what the key to successful investing is, and they'll repeat the old mantra "Buy low and sell high". The problem with people chasing investments which are already hot is that they will end up buying high and selling low.

All of this brings us to the scam element of Bitcoin. Again, as I stated at the start of this article, Bitcoin itself is not a scam. Now let me tell you what is. The scam in Bitcoin is in talking average man-on-the-street investors into investing in Bitcoin by intentionally obfuscating what it really is, just a number, into some super-sophisticated investment by throwing out the technical verbiage that surrounds cybercurrencies, such as Blockchain technology and peer-to-peer servers. These technologies actually accomplish only one critical thing, which is that they keep particular numbers peculiar to Bitcoin, but they sure sound like Star Trek level stuff. Yet, to those not familiar with these technologies, it makes Bitcoin sounds like it has a lot more worth than it really does.

To push Bitcoin, there are now a lot of internet gurus who claim to have inside knowledge on the ever-imminent rise of the cybercurrency, very similar to how such gurus appeared so that the Iraqi Dinar Scam (which is very similar, although Dinars at least exist in paper) was able to take off. There are also Bitcoin sellers who spin a load of bull so that they can sell Bitcoins to the unsophisticated investors who can't seem to bring themselves to confront the question that "if something is anywhere as valuable as they say, then why are they selling it?"

The answer is that those who trade in anything make their money on their commissions for selling. It doesn't matter what they are selling, so long as they can make a commission on it. The more trading, the more in commissions. Investments that are perceived as "hot" will generate a lot of trading, and so traders will naturally flock to those investments and try to gin up further interest among investors who heretofore had no interest in that investment at all.

Sure enough, getting away from the wealthy folks who have the spare cash to speculate in stuff, we're now seeing pooled funds set up just so that the average mom-and-pop investors who are simply trying to set some money back for retirement, can throw their bucks in too. What these folks don't realize is that they might as well just take their money to the nearest casino and drop it all on red for a single spin of the roulette wheel. They'll either win or lose, just as Bitcoin is either going to go up or down.

And, at least the casino will pay if you win. I get the idea that some of these "Bitcoin funds" actually own no, or very few, Bitcoins, but are simply the next wave of Ponzi schemes.

I got into a discussion about Bitcoin with retired financial advisor Charles Padua, who expressed concern that so many small investors seemed to be falling for Bitcoin. His take was that smaller investors should be in carefully asset-allocated portfolios so as to spread and minimize their risk, and if -- and this is a big if -- somebody determined to invest in any speculative investment, such as Bitcoin, they should limit their portfolio exposure to no more than 2%. But, he says, better not to invest in purely speculative investments at all.

This takes up back to the fundamental rule of investing, which is simply to buy low and sell high. Bitcoin is already high, and astronomically high compared to its true value. Folks who buy into Bitcoin now are quite likely to be buying high and will end up selling low. There is also an old investment adage to the effect that "the quickest way to lose money is to invest in something which is already hot." The idea there is that the folks who are going to profit have already made their money investing, and now are just looking for suckers to unload their investment on. Bitcoin is certainly hot; in fact, it's now the hottest thing going. That by itself should raise a bright red flag for investors.

Will Bitcoin fall? Maybe not today, tomorrow, or next week, but eventually it will fall as the novelty wears off and folks figure out that they are really just buying a number, and the number of buyers diminish.

Will Bitcoin go away entirely? Probably not, because Bitcoin still can serve some usefulness as a unit of exchange, to the extent that it can convince merchants to accept it as currency. The caveat here is that when a bubble finally bursts, the object of the bubble usually falls into deep disrepute.

By then the scammers who prey on the little investors will have moved on to the next "big thing". It is all a never ending cycle, limited only by the number of available suckers.

And that is a big, big number.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Honey As An Ethnoremedy

Honey in Traditional and Modern Medicine

The use of honey as a medicine is referred to in the most ancient written records, it being prescribed by the physicians of many ancient races of people for a wide variety of ailments (Ransome 1937). It has continued to be used in folk medicine ever since. There are abundant references to honey as medicine in ancient scrolls, tablets, and books. It was prescribed for a variety of illnesses. Excavated medical tablets from Mesopotamia indicate that honey was a common ingredient in many prescriptions (Hajar 2002).
In ancient Egyptian medicine, honey was the most frequent ingredient in all the drug recipes for both internal and external use listed in the Ebers and Edwin Smith Papyri. According to the Ebers papyrus (1550 BC), it is included in 147 prescriptions in external applications. Also, according to the Smith papyrus (1700 BC), it was used in wound healing: “Thou shouldst bind [the wound] with fresh meat the first day [and] treat afterwards with grease, honey [and] lint every day until he recovers.” Honey was used for treatment of stomach pain and urinary retention and as ointment for dry skin. It was used as ointment for wounds and burns, skin irritation, and eye diseases. The Ebers Papyrus contains a description on how to make ointment from honey and how to apply it, with a note: “Notice that this is a very good therapy.” The author of the Smith Papyrus directed that honey be applied topically, with few if any other possibly active ingredients, to wounds.
In old Egypt, honey was the only active ingredient in an ointment described in the Ebers Papyrus for application to the surgical wound of circumcision. Ebers also specifies that an ointment for the ear be made of one-third honey and two-thirds oil. The concentration of honey in seven oral remedies in the Chester Beatty VI Papyrus ranges from 10% to 50%, whereas its proportion in other remedies ranges from 20% to 84%. Honey could very well have provided some kind of protection from the kinds of bacteria most likely to infect wounds, at least enough protection to permit wounds to begin healing on their own.
The ancient Egyptians were not the only people who used honey as medicine. The Chinese, Indians, ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabs used honey in combination with other herbs and on its own to treat wounds and various other diseases.
In old Greece, the honeybee, a sacred symbol of Artemis, was an important design on Ephesian coins for almost six centuries. Aristotle (384–322 BC) described for the first time the production of honey. Aristotle believed that eating honey prolonged life. Hippocrates (460–377 BC) speaks about the healing virtues of honey: “cleans sores and ulcers, softens hard ulcers of the lips, heals cabuncles and running sores.” Hippocrates is quoted as saying, “I eat honey and use it in the treatment of many diseases because honey offers good food and good health.” Dioscorides (AD 40–90), a Greek physician who traveled as a surgeon with the armies of the Roman emperor Nero, compiled De Materia Medica around AD 77, which was the foremost classic source of modern botanical terminology and the leading pharmacologic text until the 15th century. In addition to excellent descriptions of nearly 600 plants and 1000 simple drugs, Dioscorides described the medicinal and dietetic value of animal derivatives such as milk and honey. Dioscorides stated that honey could be used as a treatment for stomach disease, for a wound that has pus, for hemorrhoids, and to stop coughing. “Honey opens the blood vessels and attracts moisture. If cooked and
applied to fresh wounds, it seals them. It is good for deep dirty wounds. Honey mixed with salt could be dropped inside a painful ear. It will reduce the pain and swelling of the ear. It will kill lice if infested children skin is painted with it. It may also improve vision. Gargle with honey to reduce tonsil swelling. For coughing, drink warm honey and mix with rose oil.” Galen recommended warming up the honey or cooking it, then using it to treat hemorrhoids and deep wounds.
In ancient Rome, honey was mentioned many times by the writers Vergil, Varro, and Plinius. Especially Virgil’s Georgics is a classic where he describes in detail how honey is made. During the time of Julius Caesar, honey was used as a substitute for gold to pay taxes. In the first century AD, Apicus, a wealthy Roman gourmet, wrote a series of books in which more than half the recipes included honey (Bogdanov 2009). A Roman Catholic saint (St. Ambrose) stated, “The fruit of the bees is desired of all and is equally sweet to kings and beggars and is not only pleasing but profitable and healthful, it sweetens their mouths, cures their wounds, and conveys remedies to inward ulcers.” The Roman, Pliny the Elder, said that mixing fish oil with honey was an excellent treatment for ulcers.
In medieval high cultures of the Arabs, the Byzantines, and medieval Europe, honey was important too, and in these cultures, most sweet meals contained honey.
The Compendium of Medicine by Gilbertus Anglicus is one of the largest sources of pharmaceutical and medical information from medieval Europe. Translated in the early 15th century from Latin to Middle English, the text consists of medicinal recipes with guides to diagnosis, medicinal preparation, and prognosis. The text names more than 400 ingredients. Treatments are presented roughly from “head to tail,” so to speak, beginning with headache and ending with hemorrhoids. Honey was a frequent ingredient to many of the remedies and it was combined with other medicinal herbs commonly used at that time. Excerpts appear below:
Headache … let him use oxymel … made of honey and vinegar; two parts of vinegar and the third part of honey, mixed together and simmered. Pimples … anoint it with clean honey, or with the powder of burnt beans and honey, or with the powder of purslane and honey mixed together. Pennyroyal … taken with honey, cleanse the lungs and clear the chest of all gross and thick humors. (Fay Marie Getz 1991)
Germans used honey and cod liver oil for ulcerations, burns, fistulas, and boils in addition to a honey salve, which was mixed with egg yolk and flour for boils and sores (Newman 1983).
AlBasri (Ali Bin Hamzah AlBasri), a 10th century Arab philosopher, mentioned uncooked honey for swollen intestine, whereas cooked honey was good for inducing vomiting when a poisonous drug was ingested. For that purpose, he recommended mixing one pound of sesame oil with one-third pound of cooked honey. Al Razi (Rhazes, AD 864–932), a renowned Muslim physician famous for writing a treatise distinguishing measles from smallpox, claimed that honey ointment made of flour and honey vinegar was good for skin disease and sports nerve injuries and recommended the use of honey water for bladder wounds. His book, Al Hawi (Encyclopedia of Medicine), a comprehensive medical textbook of medicine, which was translated from Arabic to Latin in the 13th century and became a standard textbook of medicine up to the 1700s stated: “Honey is the best treatment for the gums. To keep the teeth healthy mix honey with vinegar and use as mouth wash daily. If you rub the teeth with such a preparation it will whiten the teeth. Honey does not spoil and could also be used to preserve cadavers.” Likewise, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), another famous Muslim physician whose great medical treatise, the Canon, was the standard textbook on medicine in the Arab world and Europe until the 17th century, wrote: “Honey is good for prolonging life, preserve activity in old age. If you want to keep your youth, take honey. If you are above the age of 45, eat honey regularly, especially mixed with chestnut powder. Honey and flour could be used as dressing for wounds. For lung disease, early stage of tuberculosis, use a combination of honey and shredded rose petals. Honey can be used for insomnia on occasions.”
The Hindu Scripture, Veda, which was composed about 1500 BC and written down about 600 BC, speak of “this herb, born of honey, dripping honey, sweet honey, honied, is the remedy for injuries. Lotus honey is used for eye diseases. It is used as topical eye ointment in measles to prevent corneal scarring” (Imperato and Traore 1969), “moreover it crushes insects.” In the section on Hymn to All Magic and Medicinal Plants, honey is used as a universal remedy: “The plants … which removes disease, are full of blossoms, and rich in honey … do I call to exempt him from injury” (Bogdanov 2009).
In ancient China, honey has been mentioned in the book of songs Shi Jing, written in the 6th century BC. According to Chinese medicine, honey acts according to the principles of the Earth element, acting mainly on the stomach and on the spleen. It has Yang character, acting on the Triple Heater Meridian (Shaoyang) (Bogdanov 2009).
In Central and South America, honey from stingless bees was used for ages, long before Columbus. Honey of the native stingless bees was used and regarded as a gift of the gods; it was also a sign of fertility and was given as an offering to the gods (Bogdanov 2009).
Africa has also a long tradition of a bee use for honey, both in the high cultures of Mediterranean Africa and in the more primitive cultures in regions to the south. Honey is used to treat infected leg ulcers in Ghana (Ankra-Badu 1992) and earaches in Nigeria (Obi et al. 1994). Other uses include treatment of gastric ulcers and constipation (Molan 1999).

Source: "Honey in Traditional and Modern Medicine (Traditional Herbal Medicines for Modern Times)" 1st Edition by Laïd Boukraâ (Editor)

25 Days: A Proven Program to Rewire Your Brain

25 Days: A Proven Program to Rewire Your Brain

Why twenty-five days? you ask. Let’s just say I’m partial to numbers that finally
work in my favor.
If you’ve ever heard of the notion that death always comes in threes, I can
personally vouch for that. In my case, death came three times for me in the same
night. But instead of losing my life, the experience changed it, affecting the way I
would view health and fitness from that day forward.
It was October 4, 2004, midway through my twenty-one-year career in fitness
and nutrition, when, while I was seated at the computer, my heart—
Thirty seconds later, I recovered on my own, only to have my heart fail again
minutes later. I had no pulse. I wasn’t breathing. I was officially dead for the second
time for about six minutes before being revived by a paramedic, who plunged a big
needle full of epinephrine into my heart and defibrillated me three times.
My heart was beating, but I had been without oxygen to my brain to the point
where my lungs had already shut down. I had a pulse but no lung activity, so they
hooked me up to a ventilator and rushed me to the hospital. That’s where my heart
quit on me a third and final time. It took a minimum of ten defibrillations to bring
me back to life before I fell into a coma for three days. But that night, I made the
history books in a way I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I died three times in three hours and became the world’s only known medical
case to survive three consecutive sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) without any kind of
implanted defibrillator.
When I woke up, I began to pull out all of my intravenous tubes because I didn’t
understand where I was—all I knew was that I wanted to get out of there. They
sedated me and removed me from life support, but I had no short-term memory. I
didn’t know who my parents were, or my girlfriend. You could tell me something,
and ninety seconds later, I wouldn’t know what you were talking about. But it
wasn’t amnesia. It was simply the inability to retain anything. In fact, to this day, I
have a blank space in my brain and can’t recall anything from October 4 until
Thanksgiving—two months of my life are still missing from my memory.
After enduring a week’s worth of tests and having a cardio defibrillator device
implanted in my chest, I was sent home with no real answers. The medical
community was surprised that I had survived and shocked that it had found
nothing wrong with my heart or any evidence of damage. The only two things
doctors were certain about was that a “random” electrical malfunction—most likely
stress—had caused my SCAs and that my being in shape and living a healthy
lifestyle were behind the fact that I was still alive.
Even though I left the hospital with what seemed to be a normal working brain,
I knew something wasn’t quite right. Due to the lack of oxygen flow to my brain
during my SCAs, I couldn’t stay focused and even found myself suffering from
clinical depression. It wouldn’t be until much later, after being diagnosed by Jeff
Ricks, MD, one of the world’s foremost experts on mass trauma management, that
I would discover I had battled what is known medically as mild brain trauma. But
at that moment, I just knew that the way my brain was working was not working
for me.
Up until my incident, I had been working as a personal trainer for ten years and
had been working extensively with NFL and NBA athletes in their off-seasons.
During that time, I trained both myself and my clients using very strict routines:
carefully planned workouts designed to prevent plateaus by gradually changing the
intensity, specificity, and volume over the course of twelve to twenty weeks. The
diets I relied on were even more complicated, involving three separate twelve- to
twenty-week phases.
I was a measurer, a calorie counter, and focused on every single nutrient level in
every single food. I even wore a watch and set alarms to remind myself to eat at
exact times, just to try to capitalize on my body’s hormonal functions around
whatever stimulus I was getting by eating a particular food. If all that sounds
confusing, trust me, it was. In fact, it was nauseating.
But after my SCAs, I was suddenly someone who had to monitor his stress, so it
was unhealthy for me to follow complex and frustrating programs anymore. I was
also still someone who couldn’t remember what he had just done minutes before.
Sometimes my watch would go off, and I wouldn’t know what meal I was on.
Sometimes I wouldn’t even know what day it was. It was unbearable and undoable,
which was why I decided to stop everything I was trying to do and simplify it. I had
to work around my brain to keep my body from falling apart.
Instead of trying to focus on exercise and diet programs lasting twelve to twenty
weeks, I started focusing on one meal at a time. One snack at a time. One workout
at a time. And for each time I ate healthy or finished a workout, I gave myself a
grade of 100 percent. At the end of the day, I would sit down and go over
everything I had done—even if I didn’t remember doing half of what was on my
list. If I managed to do everything and I scored 100 percent on every meal, snack,
and workout, I considered myself successful.
And the next day, I would do it again. And the day after that.
At the end of the week, I added up my total score to see how successful I had
been for five days straight. After five consecutive blocks of five days, I added up my
score again, just to have a sense of the past month. Eventually, as my short-term
memory slowly returned and my depression lifted, within months, I was a changed
man—both physically and mentally. I was imminently aware that something felt
better about the program compared with methods I had used in the past.
Beyond getting back into incredible shape, the first thing I noticed was how
calm I became. I was no longer as worried about how my meals were balanced, and
I stopped weighing and measuring everything. Instead, I took an eyeball approach
with all my servings. I knew I was still eating healthy, but I took a very general
preventive health approach to my diet, instead of the very strict, hard-line approach
I had been used to following.
I also noticed that I was no longer that person who was hard to go out to eat
with, so my friends no longer had to kill themselves trying to find restaurants that
could accommodate my crazy dietary habits. Suddenly I could eat anywhere. I
accepted that every meal wouldn’t be perfect but so long as I ate certain foods,
everything would be all right.
I returned to work as a top trainer three months after my incident and started
using 25Days with clients immediately. But to be honest, I didn’t start them on it
because of the amazing results I had seen in myself; I did it because it was the only
way I could keep track of their programs! I had them carry journals and grade
themselves at every meal, snack, and day I wasn’t training them, so I always knew
exactly what to do and where they had slipped along the way.
It made my training job easier and made their outcomes more enjoyable for
them by streamlining my approach to diet and exercise into a twenty-five-day block
of time. By having them focus on what really mattered to get results, and asking
them to grade themselves each day, it left my clients feeling equally relaxed and as if
they were kicking life in the ass each and every day. And then an interesting thing
Before my SCAs, I had always had a great success rate with all my clients in
getting them to get onto the difficult-to-manage nutrition programs I was
suggesting. But even though I had a really high success rate, it wasn’t maintainable
practically in a real-world situation. Suddenly my clients weren’t just hitting their
fitness and weight loss goals faster and more often, they were making positive
changes within other facets of their lives—and feeling like a success every step of the
So . . . Is Your Life Worth Twenty-five Days?
For me, 25Days didn’t start as a choice—it began as something I needed to do to
overcome an obstacle.
I can’t eliminate my obstacle. I see it every day when I step out of the shower
and notice the scar on my chest. I’m reminded whenever I look down at Lucky, my
heart therapy service dog who works with me twenty-four hours a day. I’m aware of
it each time I offer him my palm to lick to make sure I’m doing okay—and any
time he gets me out of harm’s way if he senses my cortisol levels going through the
roof unexpectedly.
No, I can’t eliminate my obstacle, but I have no fear of it anymore. I’ve become
stronger than my obstacle—and so can you. So tell me, what’s your obstacle?
I know you have one, or you wouldn’t be reading this. We all have some kind of
barrier to becoming the best version of ourselves. And for many, that obstacle is
usually doubt or fear of failure. Either way, it makes them feel that they can never
be successful.
So I challenge you with this: Is your life worth twenty-five days?
Is the effort of putting in just twenty-five days too much to risk to eliminate
that obstacle for the rest of your life?
If, after twenty-five days, you begin to uncover a way to be consistently healthy
so you can live a life of full potential, then isn’t it worth it to try doing away with
that obstacle? I want you to have the best life possible, and the way to do that is
through the same commonsense, straightforward, no-nonsense approach that saved
me and has been successful with all of my clients. That’s what the 25Days program
is really all about. That said, take a deep breath. Now blow it out. If you’ve failed
every other time in your life or you’ve never tried for fear of failing, I want you to
relax. This will be the time you succeed. This is the way to be able to stay healthy
for the rest of your life. This is the way to rewire your brain to make it effortless to
make the choices necessary to live the life you deserve.
This is so much easier than you think it is. Just give me twenty-five days to show

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wash Away Stress With The Power Of Nature

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY, you’re in for a big surprise.  Why? Because your time out in nature isn’t just a nice antidote to the digital world, it has real wellbeing benefits.

Yep, spending time in green spaces is a scientifically proven wellness concept that comes with an official name: ‘forest bathing’. The Japanese coined the phrase shinrin-yoku way back in 1982 (roughly translated as ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or ‘forest bathing’) and have turned it into a form of therapy that’s now thought to lower blood pressure, improve mood and focus and reduce stress. In fact, shinrinyoku is so popular it’s now part of Japan’s national health policy, with millions being spent on research and more than 55 official forest trails being created, with plans for many more. And it’s not only the Japanese who are heading for leafy areas. In Malaysia, the concept is known as mandi embun or ‘bathing in the forest dew’ and it’s catching on in South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, and (not surprisingly) Australia.

Nature’s medicine

Research shows that immersing yourself in natural, green spaces can improve creativity, mood, memory and focus – and that’s just for starters. Hypnotherapist Edrina Rush says it’s because we’re wired to be engrossed in nature and appreciate natural surroundings - especially when there’s an abundance of greenery. “Green is the colour we see the most in nature and it also signifies balance,  calm and harmony,” she explains.

There’s evidence that your pituitary gland is stimulated, your muscles are more relaxed and your blood histamine levels increase when you’re exposed to the colour green. Rush adds that going outdoors can also help to manage levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, behaviour and appetite.

“Too much serotonin and we can become irritable and tense, but too little serotonin and we can become depressed. Breathing fresh air [with more oxygen in it] can help regulate our serotonin [which is affected by oxygen], promoting wellbeing.”

Happily, the feel-good factor triggered by forest bathing can also have a positive one effect on loved ones. “They’re most likely to reap the rewards of our positive psychological gain from spending time in forests,” says psychologist Dr Saima Latif.

The numerous wellbeing benefits of nature mean therapists are beginning to take their clients outdoors. Psychologist Maz Miller from Walk Different ( is one therapist tapping the benefits of Australia’s beautiful natural scenery for her walk-and-talk sessions in Sydney’s south, and she says it offers a unique opportunity to help patients unwind. “Practising mindfulness with ocean sounds is very different to trying to imitate that in an office with some music,” she explains. “People open  up much more [in nature], they feel more comfortable when they’re looking around.”

Take it slow

As far as wellbeing trends go, this one’s pretty easy to pull off - you simply visit a forest, park or bushland, and walk while taking in your surroundings. It’s important to note that this practice isn’t a fast-paced one – it’s all about moving mindfully, contemplating your surroundings and allowing the serene setting to ‘wash’ your soul and rejuvenate your mind and body.

“Forest bathing is one of my favourite self-love practices,” says Chloe Kerman, 36, former fashion editor-turned-shamanic healer ( “I encourage clients and friends to connect with nature by walking in silence and allowing all of their senses to pick up information.” Kerman likes to lie down at the base of a tree and meditate – a process she finds deeply relaxing. “I often leave a forest- bathing session feeling happier, relaxed, in tune and inspired with creative ideas and increased energy,” she says.

Wondering why large, leafy places evoke these feelings? One study published in the journal Public Health reveals that being in a forest setting benefits acute emotions, and is especially effective at soothing chronic stress.  As well as reducing feelings of anxiety, it helps lower the risk of stress-related diseases. “The forest environment lowers your blood pressure, reduces your levels  of stress hormones and increases levels of serum adiponectin, which helps to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr Latif. “The positive health effects of viewing natural landscapes on stress levels and on speed of recovery from stress or mental fatigue, faster physical recovery from illness and long-term improvement of health and wellbeing are reported in research.”

Into the woods

To dip into the forest bathing trend yourself, “Take longer walks in local parks and be present to the sounds and surroundings,” says Rush. “Go where it’s less busy and leave your phone at home.” She advises walking slowly, taking time to pause and tuning in to the sounds of birds and nature. “Touch leaves and walk barefoot to feel the sensations,” she suggests, adding that it’s a good opportunity to sit and take a few deep, conscious breaths, too.

If you’re ready to explore beyond your local park, look up your nearest national park ’s trails, or pick up a copy of Walks in Nature: Australia by Viola Design (Explore Australia, $29.95) for  112 tracks in and around the nation’s major cities (including foodie pit stop recommendations!). Make sure you’re wearing comfortable walking gear, including sturdy shoes or hiking boots,and take water and some snacks for the road if you’re planning on being in the bush for a while. Oh, and if you’re forest bathing alone, always make sure you tell someone where you’ll be and how long you expect the adventure to take.

Want some company on the trail?

There are several accredited forest bathing guides in Australia who can help you soak up all the wellbeing benefits from your  experience. Visit natureandforesttherapy. org to search for a guide in your area.

While getting outside is obviously ideal, you don’t have to physically visit a forest to enjoy its restorative powers. A recent study by the BBC and the University of California found that you can access some of the wellbeing benefits of this trend merely by watching nature documentaries. “Just viewing a forest scene has been documented to have a very positive effect on psychological healing and recovery from stress, especially for those from urbanised environments,” Dr Latif says.

Filling your home environment with natural light, plants and flowers can also increase your connection with nature, as interior designer Olivia Heath explains. “Research tells us that when we improve that sense of nature, directly or indirectly, it can create a more calming, restful, restorative and energising space,” she says. Try filling your home with easy care indoor greenery, such as maidenhair ferns, spider plants and rubber fig trees to bring the forest into your everyday world, and get back to nature more often.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Essential Oils Or Nothing

As essential oils slip into the mainstream, we’re here to decode what they are, how they work and what to do with them

A FEW  YEARS AGO, IF  YOU CASUALLY LISTED lavender  essential oil as your preferred sleep aid, you probably would have received skeptical  stares reserved for talk of crystals and chakras. But it’s 2017 and essen tial oils  are  becoming  more  popular  across  Canada. However,  the million-dollar question remains:  Do essential oils work?

“I’ve always been interested in essential oils and the traditional healing  power  of plants in  different cultures,” says Dr. Roohi Qureshi, a Toronto-based doctor and  founder  of the natural skincare brand  Leaves  of Trees.  “A lot of our pharmacological treatments today actually have their origins in different plants.” She cites the likes of aspirin (originally derived from willow bark) and digitalis (which comes from the foxglove plant), to name  a few. “It makes  sense  that essential oils would have healing properties,” says Dr. Qureshi.

Even the original 1886 recipe for Coca-Cola included essential oils like orange,  lemon,  nutmeg,  cinnamon, coriander and neroli. They’ve been steadily popping up in beauty and skincare products, too. They’re no longer strangers to the mainstream, but why the sudden  leap from  crunchy  health-food store aisle  to swanky  mall real estate?

One of the reasons why essential oils may soon be ubiquitous in your medicine  cabinet  and on your skin- care shelf is because  of our sparkly new sense of envi- ronmental awareness. “People are seeing the difference between chemicals – with their effects on the environ- ment and the body – and natural remedies,” says Isabelle Pacchioni,  co-founder of the French essential oil and natural product line  Puressentiel. “We’re at  a  point where we need to change our way of thinking.”

Little plants can have a big effect on your health, but how? Make no mistake, essential oils are entirely differ- ent from the vegetable oil in your pantry. This oil – the volatile oil that’s found within that offers extra benefits and strength – is but one component of the plant that has been extracted with steam distillation. The process goes like this: Freshly  picked plants are placed over boiling water so that the steam pulls the oils out. The rising steam is contained in a vessel and moved along a tube, where it’s quickly cooled so that it condenses back into water. The water and essential oil don’t mix, making it easy to retrieve the oil. This leaves us with a highly con- centrated oil to use for aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oils to promote physical and mental wellness.

Next, the essential oil needs to get from the vial to the body, but it’s not as simple as drinking it (which, by the way, you should never do). Julie Clark, a certified aroma- therapist and founder of the Toronto skincare company Province  Apothecary,  says  that essential oils  can  be absorbed  into your body in a few different ways. The first way is inhalation, entering your system through your mucous membrane and affecting your nervous sys- tem from there. Most aromatherapists also recommend putting essential oils  in  your  bath because  they can enter your system that way (and it doesn’t sound like an entirely  unpleasant  experience).  They   can   also  be applied topically, penetrating the skin to enter the blood- stream, similar  to a birth control patch (Clark recom- mends putting them at the back of your hairline).

Once they’re in your body, the  oils do all the  work. “Essential oils  affect  your  parasympathetic nervous system [your unconscious nervous system], so you don’t have to do anything,” says Clark. “Once they get in your bloodstream, they will affect you, just like how drinking camomile tea has tangible effects.”

Read more > Essential Oils Or Nothing

Monday, December 18, 2017

The House Of Unexpected Sisters

The House of Unexpected Sisters By Alexander McCall Smith

Chapter One - The Clothes of Others

MMA RAMOTSWE, owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (as featured
in a two-page article in the Botswana Daily News, under the headline “A
Lady Who Definitely Knows How to Find Things Out”), had strong views
on the things that she owned. Personal possessions, she thought, should
be simple, well made, and not too expensive. Mma Ramotswe was
generous in all those circumstances where generosity was required—but
she was never keen to pay one hundred pula for something that could be
obtained elsewhere for eighty pula, or to get rid of any item that, although
getting on a bit, still served its purpose well enough. And that, she
thought, was the most important consideration of all—whether
something worked. A possession did not have to be fashionable; it did not
have to be the very latest thing; what mattered was that it did what it was
supposed to do, and did this in the way expected of it. In that respect,
there was not much difference between things and people: what she
looked for in people was the quality of doing what they were meant to do,
and doing it without too much fuss, noise, or complaint. She also felt that
if something was doing its job then you should hold on to it and cherish
it, rather than discarding it in favour of something new. Her white van,
for instance, was now rather old and inclined to rattle, but it never failed
to start—except after a rain storm, which was rare enough in a dry
country like Botswana—and it got her from place to place—except when
she ran out of fuel, or when it broke down, which it did from time to time,
but not too often.
   She applied the same philosophy to her shoes and clothing. It was
true that she was always trying to persuade her husband, Mr. J.L.B.
Matekoni, to get rid of his old shirts and jackets, but that was because he,
like all men, or certainly the majority of men, tended to hold on to his
clothes for far too long. His shoes were an example of that failing: he
usually extracted at least four years’ service out of his oil-stained working
boots, his veldschoen. He recognised her distaste for these shoes by
removing them when he came back from the garage each evening, but he
was adamant that any other footwear, including the new waterproof, oilresistant
work boots he had seen featured in a mail order catalogue,
would be a pointless extravagance.

Read more > The House Of Unexpected Sisters

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Fixating on counting our steps and monitoring our sleep comes with a cost

“This morning you woke up 35 minutes before  your goal of 6:30 AM. Occasionally waking  up early is OK, especially if you are feeling rested.” With  this text, my electronic sleep coach is trying to make  me feel better about not sleeping, though I keep wondering: If I continue to get as little sleep as I’m getting, will it start shouting at me? I also get this text, interrupting my game of Words With Friends, at 11 PM: “Time to get ready for bed. Good night.” In my head,  it sounds like I do when  I’m trying to get my kids to go to sleep:  GOOD. NIGHT.

I bought a Beautyrest Sleeptracker because I wanted to figure out why I seemed to log enough hours of sleep yet was always tired. And, true to its promise, the tracker provided my heart rate, breathing rate, and time spent in deep  sleep versus light sleep versus REM sleep. It does all this via a scientific  advancement known as magic. Or that’s what I call it, anyway, since I have no idea how a wafer inserted under my mattress can determine these things. All I know is, I have every last detail of my sleep history, everything is perfectlynormal, and I’m still tired. Unfortunately, my sleep coach doesn’t have a measurement for “You’re too old to have teenage sons,” because I suspect  this is the source of my problem.

Still, the more  information the better, right?

It seems, at this point in our history, that we cannot have enough. We have  Fitbits, TomToms, ShapeScales, and other trackers to monitor our health with a band, clip, or smartwatch, and almost 30% of Amer icans use them. When  surveyed, more than half say they do it “to maintain or improve physical condition or fitness.” The second most popular reason is to get motivated to exercise. Third is to give themselves something new to worry about. It’s  possible I’m making up the third reason, but I don’t think so.

I asked  my friends about trackers. There was a sizable group that unequivocally adored them and credited their monitoring with a level of body awareness they wouldn’t other- wise have. “I love my Fitbit,” Denise told me. “It motivates me to move more.” Lesley agreed with her:  “The best part is feeling that party on my wrist when  I’ve met my goal.”

Fine. But there’s a darker side to these  gadgets.

Last week, a girlfriend and  I set out on a hike, rewarding ourselves with  lunch at the end. We whipped out our iPhones: She had walked  5.2 miles, and I had walked  4.4. Why? “Different strides?” she offered weakly. I don’t know why. But I was so irritated that I made her promise to trade phones with me on our next walk. Feeling competitive does not always bring  out my finest qualities.

Nor, for other people, does feeling pressured.

“I’m a very goal-oriented person and someone who’s exercised my whole life,” Laurie told me. “At first I loved the Fitbit. Then  I found that I couldn’t relax until I hit a certain number. After a while it became me versus the Fitbit. I’d be pacing before I went  to sleep to get in my steps—or waking up in the middle of the night to see how high-quality my sleep was. Is it a deep sleep, not deep,  how long am I up? And, well, you could see how this might not be very good for my sleep.”

Rebecca had a different problem with her tracker: It brought back bad memories. She fell in love with a wearable gadget called the BodyMedia Weight Management System  that monitored steps,  sleep, and  calories burned and was integrated  with a calorie-counting program that tracked food intake. At first she and  the tracker were a perfect match. “But then it began to feel like judge and  jury over every little thing— wine with dinner, pizza night, a short workout,” she said. Like a sulking teenager, she began to rebel—by exercising less and  eating more cookies. Finally,  she said, “I had to end the relationship because it was like the bad boyfriends I’d had when  I was younger—it constantly disappointed me, and  no matter what,  I never felt good enough.”

She still keeps her tracker—smashed with a hammer—in a little jar.

Me? I understand all too well the guilt and stress  mingled with the crazy bursts of enthusiasm. In addition to my sleep coach and my iPhone app, I have three Fitbits. (I keep buying  them and losing the little processor that makes them work, so essentially I have three very expensive rubber bands.) And I know I will be seduced by the siren song of the next new gadget. For a short time, I’ ll track  everything madly. Then  I’ ll fall short. Then  I’ll ditch  it.

Until, that is, the day someone comes up with a tracker for reading, playing Words With  Friends, and couch  surfing. I’ll keep checking that one, too. And I will win every time.

Source: Prevention Magazine January 2018

Make This Your Healthiest Year Ever

It’s not rocket science, this business of wellness. In fact, all you need is 15 minutes a day and you’ll be well on your way. Best Health caught up with naturopathic doctor Sara Celik for her top tips on how to maximize those daily moments for a healthier 2018.

BH: What three things are dragging us away from good health?

SC: Number one is our addiction to our digital devices. The more connected we are to our devices, the more disconnected we are to ourselves. Fundamentally, good health starts with being connected to your own body. Your body communicates with you every single day. When there’s bloating, your body is telling you some- thing. When your skin is itchy, your body is telling you something. When you’re not as sharp and your memory isn’t what it used to be, your body is telling you some- thing. But we’re not paying attention because we’re too plugged in. We have our devices with us all day, from our morning bathroom call to our dinner table. Number two is our food. Our food is so different today than it was 100 years ago. Researchers have sampled  soil from 100 years ago and compared it to today’s soil and it’s completely different in terms of nutritional and mineral value because of pesticides, herbicides and pol- lution. As a result, our food has changed. Also, a lot of people are overeating, consuming the wrong things or not paying attention to nutritional value. We’re trained to eat what tastes good, not what does good, and there’s a big difference.

Number three is a combination of our stressful, modern, chemical lifestyle. Everything is artificial. Our bodies aren’t designed to meet today’s demands, and we’re not honouring the simple things we need, such as getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and sitting down when it’s time to eat.

BH: Do you think stress is the biggest issue that women come to you with as patients? Is that sort of the crux of everything?

SC: That and hormones – the two go together. Women’s hormones go out of whack due to stress. Take menopause, for example: We’re meant to go through menopause – it’s a natural part of life. But when women have a lot of symptoms or difficulty dealing with menopause, nine times out of 10 it’s because they’re also leading high-stress lives.

BH: We kind of ignore the stress or feel like “Well, that’s just my life. It’s stressful – whatever. I can deal with it.” But we really should be paying attention to it, right?

SC: We should be paying attention, and I ask my patients, “Do you have 15 minutes a day?” We’re not asking for five hours a day; we’re looking at those small steps you can take every single day that – trust me – will have a huge impact at the end of a year.

BH: What are you suggesting that people do in those 15 minutes?

SC: Use those minutes to get connected and be present. Put away your phone, find a room or space where you can be on your own and just try to connect. When people get con- nected, they understand their symptoms a little more because they’re in tune. We often ignore symptoms until they get louder and are screaming at us, but if people pay atten- tion to the subtle, small signs, they can address an issue before it becomes a big, chronic issue.

BH: I feel like detoxing fits into this idea of reconnecting with yourself and listening to your body. I know you advocate for total body cleansing versus colon cleansing. Why is that important?

SC: We often associate cleansing with the colon, but we need to recognize that there are other pathways of elimination beyond the colon. In fact, there are seven pathways of elimination: liver, lungs, lymphatic sys- tem, blood, colon, kidneys and skin. We eliminate through all those pathways, so our cleanses are total body cleanses. Also, Renew Life is a digestive care company, which means we honour the digestive system. We recognize that the digestive system is the engine in a person’s body. If your engine isn’t working, you won’t absorb nutrients, you’ll feel lousy and your body will tell you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with your digestive system either. Your skin is also a reflection of what’s happening inside.

BH: So, eczema?

SC: As naturopathic doctors, we treat eczema, acne, psoriasis, rashes, redness and rosacea on the inside. Even if we give a topical coagulant to soothe irritation, we always look at gut health because toxicity in the gut is the reason why skin shows symptoms – it’s an indica- tor of what’s happening on the inside.

BH: Can you start a cleanse without seeing a doctor first?

SC: Yes, most people know when they need a cleanse. Their body cues them: They feel tired or sluggish or their digestion is off. Even if somebody doesn’t neces- sarily have symptoms, we have to recognize our exposure to toxins and acknowledge that every single person needs a cleanse. There are some people who shouldn’t cleanse – those who are pregnant or nursing, take certain medications or have autoimmune diseases – but most people will generally feel when it’s time for a cleanse.

BH: How often should you do it?

SC: At least twice a year, and some people will do it seasonally. It doesn’t always have to be a 30-day cleanse – some will do a seven-day cleanse. It depends on the individual, but at least twice a year. bh

This Q+A has been edited and condensed.

Source: Best Health Magazine 01 December 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

How To Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You


If you are reading this book, the probability is high that you or someone you care about experiences anxiety. Anxiety is one of the most common difficulties people experience at some point in their lives. The good news is that in 1959, Dr. Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, the original Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which has been proven to be effective for problems with anxiety.

This book is in many ways a special tribute to Al himself. As he discusses in this book, as well as in most of the self-help materials he developed throughout the course of his life, Al, too, was afflicted with anxiety. He utilized the principles of behaviorism to overcome both his public speaking anxiety and his social anxiety, particularly as it related to women. All of Al's books were written with passion and purpose; however, I believe this book in particular was close to Al's heart because he himself experienced anxiety and found means to overcome it. What better testimony is there than that Albert Ellis himself conquered his own anxiety by applying the principles and strategies he outlines here?

One of Al's main goals was to ensure that his clients and the general public learned the tools to become their own therapists. Reading this and his many other self-help books, including How to Control Your Anger Before It Controls You, How To Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything, Yes Anything! and How to Keep People from Pushing Your Buttons, will surely get you on your way to becoming your own therapist.

I had the honor of being a pre-doctoral intern at the Albert Ellis Institute and being mentored by Dr. Ellis. After my training, I stayed on at the Institute as a full-time employee, traveling the country with Al to conduct professional trainings and public lectures. He dedicated his life to helping individuals with their emotional and behavioral problems. He treated thousands of clients with anxiety difficulties, many of whom are presented as case examples in this book. Coleading therapy groups with Al, I observed him first-hand using the same strategies with his clients that he recommends in this book-and I watched his clients get better!

Al made a distinction between feeling better and getting better. Feeling better can be the result of telling your therapist, a friend, or a family member about your anxiety. Getting better results from using tools and strategies to overcome your anxiety and develop your conviction in a different way of looking at things.

If you or someone you care about suffers from anxiety, this book will be a guide through the theory of what contributes to the problem and a source of proven strategies to tackle it head on. The reader will find this book especially helpful because it provides cognitive, emotive, and behavioral strategies to control anxiety. It offers so many suggestions that you are bound to find several that will work for you. In addition, the tone in which this book is written allows the reader to find the humor in anxiety without minimizing how painful it can be at times.

On one of our road trips throughout the country, I was driving Al to our next venue and I asked him what he would like to have happen once he was no longer here. Without skipping a beat, he said he wanted the Albert Ellis Institute and REBT to continue. Having How to Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You relaunched in a new print edition as well as an e-book is exactly what Al would have wanted. I believe he would be proud that his work continues to help the lives of individuals throughout the world.

Kristene A. Doyle, Ph.D., Sc.D.
Director of the Albert Ellis Institute


Sample Contents

Why I Am Convinced That You Can Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You

Until the age of nineteen, I was an extremely anxious individual. In fact, I think that I was probably born with a tendency toward making myself anxious. My mother was like that: She was a generally happy person but she also made herself quite anxious about little things-money, for example. During my childhood and youth, she never really wanted for money. At one time, my father, who was a promoter and a great salesman, literally had a million dollars-and that was a great deal of money back in the 1920s. But she always worried about expenses, and whenever he left a fifty-dollar tip for a waiter, she would secretly take it back and substitute a much smaller tip. She saved her money in a separate account and had thousands of dollars in it. But she always worried about not having enough.

After my father lost his first million in the stock market, was on his way to making his second one, and the family really was doing well financially, my mother still worried about money-and several other relatively unimportant things-and kept saving and saving. She wasn't entirely wrong about this, for in 1929, my father lost his second million and couldn't pay her the regular alimony he was supposed to pay. But we got through the Great Depression all right because my brother, sister, and I started working and supporting the family. Still, my mother worried incessantly-till she died, with savings, at the age of ninety-three.

You could say that I probably learned how to worry from her, but that would hardly be accurate. My brother, who was nineteen months younger than I, also was raised in the same environment, and he was almost a pathological nonworrier. He took risks and did all kinds of "dangerous" things, and he never seemed to worry about the outcome. If these turned out all right, fine; and if they turned out badly, he was never thrown for a loop. He just went on to risk the next venture, whether it was social or business. In fact, he did very well for himself-just because he rarely worried about anything.

Not so I! I was afraid of all kinds of unseen eventualities. I was a definitely shy, conforming, and hesitant child and adolescent, and I rarely took any great risks-or, if I did take them, I worried about them. I especially had a great fear, and a real phobia, about public speaking. I was bright and talented enough and was often asked to make a little speech, be it in a class play or speaking out in class and giving answers to questions that the teacher felt sure I could answer. But, I voluntarily held myself in much of the time; and I particularly avoided public presentations.

Let me give you a typical example. I was a good speller, often the best in the class, but I avoided participating in spelling bees because I might make a mistake (which I practically never did) and thereby "make a fool" of myself. When forced by the teacher to participate, I would almost always outspell all the other kids and become the winner; but I was exceptionally anxious while doing so, and I didn't enjoy the spelling bees at all. I only enjoyed winning. Briefly.

Another example: Once in a while, we had to memorize a short poem and repeat it in front of the class the next day. I was terribly anxious that I would splutter and stutter while presenting, even though I was excellent at memorizing. Reciting the poem publicly was terrorizing for me. So the morning of the day I was supposed to recite the poem to the class, I would make myself get a splitting headache, and put the thermometer next to the radiator to show that I had a fever. This induced my mother to let me stay home from school that day. What, me recite badly and show the teacher and the other kids how anxious I was? Never!

One time, when I was about eleven years old, I won a medal in Sunday school and had to go up to the platform, at assembly time, to receive it and merely thank the president of the school as I received it. I went up and got the medal and thanked the president, but when I sat down again, a friend of mine said, "Why are you crying?" I was so anxious about appearing in public that my eyes were grandly watering and it looked like I was crying.

I also had extreme social anxiety-when meeting new kids, when talking to people in authority, and especially when meeting new females. I was most interested in girls ever since the age of five and a half, when I was madly in love with a neighborhood charmer. After she disappeared from my life, I kept falling passionately in love, practically every year, with the most attractive girl in my school class. Yes, passionately in love: a real obsessive-compulsive attachment. But no matter how much I adored these girls, and how constantly I thought about getting intimate with them-which I did practically all the time, for hours on end-I never spoke to them or actually tried to get close to them. I shyly, fearfully stayed away from them, shut my big mouth, and only looked lustfully at them without any verbal contact. I was scared to death that if I did approach them and try to become friendly, they would see my failings, rightly reject me, and make me feel impossibly small. I didn't exactly see myself falling through the floor if I actually got rejected, but very nearly!

Even into my teens, up to the age of nineteen, I never really approached any of the women to whom I was attracted. About two hundred days a year, I went to the Bronx Botanical Gardens, a lovely place near my home, and sat on a bench or on the grass in order to read one of my many books, and to look at the attractive women (of all ages) and flirt with them. But I never approached them or said a single thing to them. Typically, I would sit on one stone bench near the Bronx River Parkway, and a girl or a woman would sit on another bench, about ten feet away from me. I would immediately look at her (I was, at that age, interested in all females, yes, about a hundred times out of a hundred), and sometimes she would look back at me. I would keep sneaking looks at her, obviously flirting with her, and often she would flirt back at me. Some of them were definitely interested, and presumably would have been receptive had I approached them and started to talk to them.

Not me! I always copped out. I made up a million excuses to myself-she was too tall or too short, too old or too young, too smart or too stupid. I had all kinds of excuses and rationalizations. So I never talked to a single one of them-no matter how interested in me they appeared to be and how presumably receptive. Then, when the object of my passion finally got up and walked away or I had to get up and leave myself, I cursed my foolishness in not approaching, not taking a risk, put myself down severely for copping out, and resolved to try-really try-to approach the next suitable prospect. But I never did.


Then, at the age of nineteen, I decided to get over my anxieties. First, I decided to rid myself of my fear of public speaking. At that time, I was actively immersed in a political organization, a liberal group of which I was actually the youth leader. It was only a small organization, and nearly all the young members were friends of mine, so I didn't have too much trouble speaking to eight or ten of them at a time. I didn't consider that a public kind of performance. On the other hand, I was supposed to speak to other organizations and groups, to tell them about my particular society and to try to get them to join it. I was supposed to be, especially as their youth leader, a public propagandist for my organization. But I was too afraid to try to fill that role, so I refused many invitations to do so-invitations that came mainly from the adult section of our group, New America, which ran the youth section, Young America. As usual, I copped out.

Pressure on me to give public talks for Young America continued, and I finally decided to give in to it and get over my public speaking phobia. I had previously read a great deal of philosophy and psychology, and I was someday going to write a book on the psychology of human happiness, in which I had a great personal interest (because of my anxiety). So I already had an idea based on the writings of that day (1932), on how to handle anxiety and phobias. I had read what some of the great philosophers-such as Confucius and Gautama Buddha-had said about conquering anxiety. I had especially noted what some of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers-such as Epicurus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius-had said about it. And since philosophy was my great hobby at that time (from the age of sixteen onward), I had read what many of the modern philosophers, such as Thoreau, Emerson, and Bertrand Russell, had said about dealing with anxiety. Finally, I had read, at that time, most of the modern psychologists, such as Freud, Jung, and Adler, who were also interested in curing people of their anxiety. So I was philosophically and psychologically prepared.

But I had also read the famous behaviorist John B. Watson, on his early experiments aimed at curing children of their overwhelming fears and anxieties. Watson and his assistants took children seven or eight years of age who were terribly afraid of animals (such as a mouse or a rabbit) and actually exposed the children to the feared objects, first at a distance and then at closer range. Meanwhile, Watson talked to the children and distracted them, then he gradually moved the feared animals closer and closer. What do you know-after around twenty minutes of exposure, the children would become unafraid and would actually start petting the animals. This deconditioning procedure, which is called in vivo (live) desensitization, worked very well, and in one or a few sessions, he trained the children to rid themselves of their extreme anxieties and phobias.

"Well," I said to myself, "if it's good enough for little children, it should be good enough for me. I'll try it."

So, for practically the first time in my life, instead of avoiding public speaking engagements, I did just the opposite. Every single week, I set up at least one speech that I was to present in public for my organization, Young America, and I made sure that come hell or high water I presented that speech. I was still as scared as I could be; and I was most uncomfortable making the first few speeches. But I knew from my reading and from figuring out things for myself that my discomfort would not exactly kill me. I also reasoned that the dire things that I imagined were going to happen-including my audiences laughing at me and booing me-in all probability would not occur. I would merely give a fairly poor speech, would not by any means convince my audience that Young America was the greatest political group since the United States rebelled against England, and, at worst, few people would join it. Oh, well, that would be bad-but it wouldn't be the end of the world.

In other words, I used a combination of talking to myself rationally-which I had largely learned from philosophers-exposed myself to what I feared most and was uncomfortable doing, and forced myself to speak and speak in public every week for the next ten weeks. Well, it worked! I was very uncomfortable, then I was less uncomfortable, and then, actually-surprise!-comfortable. My heart palpitations, my sweating, and my stumbling over words went down and down and down. I learned to focus intently on the content of my talks-how great a political group Young America was-rather than on how I was doing at speaking and how anxious I was about speaking. I also discovered, much to my surprise, that I really could be quite a fluent speaker, with just as little trouble speaking in public as I normally had in speaking to one person or to a group of my friends. Actually, I was never really poor at speaking, but, because of my anxiety, just terribly afraid of public speaking. My vocal cords and my ability to make sensible sentences, had always been okay, and now, with practice, they were getting even better.

That experience, of forcing myself-yes, forcing myself-to speak in public no matter how uncomfortable I was until I got comfortable and began enjoying it, made a profound impression on me. It was one of the main reasons that, nine years later, I decided to become a psychotherapist. At the time I gave my first public speeches, I was not at all interested in becoming a therapist but was obsessed with becoming a writer-and possibly a writer on the subject of human happiness. Perhaps I was hooked on becoming a writer just because I could do it without having to speak in public. In any case, I was not interested in being a therapist, just in being a less anxious, happier individual. And in very short order, I achieved exactly that. I became completely unanxious about public speaking-I lost my phobia totally. Seeing that I had conquered anxiety in this area, I also became somewhat less anxious generally.

I had always, for example, had to accomplish, had to succeed-in school, at sports, at looking well, and at other important endeavors. I tried very hard to succeed and was reasonably good at it. I especially studied hard, did my homework, and got along well in school. But, of course, I was quite anxious about doing so-since I had to succeed to be a worthwhile individual, and there was always a chance that I would fail. Horrors!-that would be awful.

Now that I saw that I could be uncomfortable in public, and at times even speak badly and not put myself down for doing so, I became a lot less anxious about success. I still wanted success, but didn't absolutely need it.


To test myself out, however, I decided to do the second great experiment of my life: to try to get rid of my social anxiety-and particularly my fear of being rejected by women in whom I was interested. This anxiety had plagued me all my life and was much more important than my fear of public speaking. Remember, I was aiming to be a writer and therefore could largely avoid appearing at public presentations. But if I were to continue my interest in women-which indeed I intended to continue-my not being able to approach and speak to those I was interested in would certainly be too restricting! I would be reduced to meeting new women through my friends and relatives, and I would not be able to meet them on my own. What a drag!

So, keeping in mind my success with public speaking, I decided to use the same procedures with my social anxiety. The August before I was about to go back to college to finish my senior year, I gave myself the brilliant homework assignment of going to the Bronx Botanical Garden every day. I would talk to strange women no matter how uncomfortable I felt about doing so. I would, I told myself, walk in the park until I saw a suitable woman sitting alone on a bench, and then I would quickly, immediately, sit next to her. No, not in her lap, but next to her on the very same bench on which she was sitting (instead of a bench away). Then, having accomplished that-which I was afraid to do because I feared that she would reject me and quickly walk away-I would do the most dangerous thing that I had always avoided: I would give myself one minute, no more than one lousy minute, to talk to her. Yes, if I died I'd die! I would speak to her within one minute, no matter how uncomfortable I felt, and no matter how foreboding she looked. That was my brilliant homework assignment to myself. Why was it brilliant? Because if I quickly spoke to her instead of waiting and waiting to do so, I knew I would be less anxious, would get the damned thing over with, and would have a better chance of getting somewhere with her.

Well, I did exactly what I assigned myself to do. No matter how anxious I was, whenever I saw a woman sitting alone on a park bench, I immediately-no debate!-sat next to her on the bench. I allowed no excuses as to how she looked, how old she was, whether she was tall or short, and so on. No excuses! I just forced myself, very uncomfortably, to sit next to her, whereupon, immediately, many of the women I sat next to quickly got up and walked away. All told, I think I approached and sat next to 130 women that month of August. Thirty, or almost a third of them, immediately walked away. Very discouraging! But that left me with an even hundred who still stayed-which was good for research purposes!

Not at all daunted, I spoke to the remaining hundred women just as I had planned to do. I spoke about the flowers, the trees, the weather, the birds, the bees, the book or paper they were reading-anything, just to make conversation. Nothing brilliant or clever. Nothing personal. No remarks about their looks or anything else that might make them afraid of me and make them turn away or leave. Just one hundred ordinary statements.

Well, the hundred women did speak back to me, some very briefly, some for an hour or more. I soon got many of them in animated conversation. When they seemed willing, I asked them about their work, their families, their living arrangements, their hobbies, interests, and so forth. Regular conversations, just as I would have had if I had been formally introduced to them.

As for my primary purpose in talking to them-to ask for a date, see them regularly, go to bed with them, and perhaps marry one of them-I got absolutely nowhere. Nowhere at all. For out of the hundred women I talked with, I was able to make only one date-and she didn't show up for it! She talked with me for two hours, kissed me goodbye when she left, and agreed to meet me later in the park for a date that night. But she never showed up. And, foolishly, I neglected to ask for her phone number, so I never saw her again. How tragic! How disappointing! But I still survived. And thereafter, I always asked for the phone number of the women I met and dated!

Within that month of getting rejected by a hundred women, I completely lost my social anxiety and, especially, my fear of encountering strange women in strange places. For I saw, cognitively, that nothing terrible happened as a result of my rejections. None of the women I talked to took out a knife and cut my penis off. None of them vomited and ran away. None of them called a cop. No, no terrible thing, which I had so often imagined would happen, actually occurred. Instead, I had many pleasant conversations with these women, enjoyed having them, learned a great deal about women that I had not previously known, got increasingly less uncomfortable and afraid to talk to them, and had several other fortunate results. Best of all, I almost immediately got over my fear of approaching women, and for the rest of my life I have been able to speak to and try to date literally hundreds of them whenever I chance to meet them in parks, on trains, at airports, and other public places. I now have no fear of doing so, and even though I normally get rejected for sex, love, and marriage by the vast majority of them, my social anxiety has gone for good. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! My fear of doing poorly with women and being rejected was gone!

Now can you see why, as I note in the title of this chapter, I am so sure that people can control their anxiety before it controls them? It is because I have done this so thoroughly myself, in the areas of public speaking and social anxiety, and I did it without help from anybody, including a psychotherapist. I have indeed used my experiences to learn how to control anxiety and have, as a therapist, taught thousands of people to do so over the last fifty-four years. Moreover, I have put the experience of conquering my own anxiety into my therapeutic theory and practice over the years, and most probably would not have originated Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy had I not experienced it. Knowing that I had been exceptionally anxious about many things, and that I could make myself into a person who now had great trouble becoming tense or anxious about even the most difficult situations, has spurred me to help other people with my therapeutic theory and practice.

The most important thing of all, however, is that I overcame my own overweening anxiety entirely by myself. To be sure, I used the writings of many philosophers and therapists and learned much from them. I also used the experiments of John B. Watson, who was not really a therapist himself but who conducted several therapeutic experiments. With these aids, and by forcing myself to bite the bullet-make myself very uncomfortable and talk to myself about the futility of my anxiety and phobias-I think I can honestly say I was able to become one of the least panicked people in the whole world. Many unfortunate things have happened to me since that time when I was nineteen, which is now some sixty-five years ago. I am still concerned about doing well, accomplishing many things, winning certain people's approval, and being comfortable in life. But I have taught myself merely to be quite concerned, sorry, and disappointed when bad things happen or could happen in my life, and I am practically never anxious, depressed, or enraged.

From being, in other words, one of the more easily disturbed and disturbable people in the world, I have made myself into one who is very rarely seriously upset about anything. As the title of one of my popular books indicates, I stubbornly refuse to make myself miserable about anything-yes, anything.

I still insist, however, that I mainly did it by myself, with no counseling or therapy, with no support group, with no friends and relatives to help me and push me to do what I did. I made remarkable inroads against my anxiety and have maintained this unanxious tendency since that time.

In the meantime, moreover, I have gone on to become a busy psychotherapist and to see perhaps more clients than any other therapist in this country. I have originated a form of psychotherapy that is among the most popular and widely taught and that has been shown in experimental studies to be unusually effective. In various ways, it stresses what works effectively for other systems of psychotherapy-that is, changing people's self-blocking ideas and inducing people to do what they are afraid of doing.

Best of all, perhaps, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which I created in 1955, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), a similar form of therapy which followed REBT in the 1960s, are probably the most efficient forms of self-help therapy that have been devised. Hundreds of books and materials have used REBT, or something very similar to it, to show readers and listeners how to help themselves overcome their serious feelings of depression, anxiety, rage, self-downing, and self-pity. This is because this self-help therapy can be put in simple terms so that almost anyone can understand it, and it can be used by almost any determined person who will take pains to apply it to his or her own personal disturbance. It works!

From my own experience, then, and from the experience of tens of thousands of people who have used the main elements of REBT and of CBT, I am quite sure that you, the reader of this book, can control your anxiety before it controls you. There are no guarantees, of course, that if you use REBT or CBT it will help you remove your anxiety. But there is a high degree of probability that you can succeed if you really work at it. I did it myself, without much help, and without the over fifty years of research and practice that have now been added to it and that make it more effective today than ever. If you attend carefully to the following pages, you can train yourself to do it, too.

Do you tend to be anxious on many occasions and about several things? Yes, practically all people are. Can you work and think differently to minimize your anxiety? Yes, practically all people can. Will you use the thinking and the action that I have used to minimize whatever anxiety you do have? Try REBT and CBT and see for yourself!

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