Sunday, September 5, 2010

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”

~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

Laughter is good for your health

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
The Benefits of Laughter

Physical Health Benefits:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience

Social Benefits:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in on the fun.

The link between laughter and mental health

The link between laughter and mental health
  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Bringing more humor and laughter into your life

Anyone can join the laughter movement. All it takes is a willingness to risk some loss of control. The timid may start with a few shy giggles. The courageous may jump in with deep belly laughter. A sense of humor is not required. There’s more than enough stress to go around and absurdity abounds in our daily lives. All we have to do is believe, let go, clap our hands and laughter will live again. So will we. Laughter is feeling deeply which allows us to live fully.

Source: We Need to Laugh More, Enda Junkins, LMFT.

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

  • Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
  • Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When in a state of sadness, we have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
  • When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

Creating opportunities to laugh

  • Watch a funny movie or TV show.
  • Go to a comedy club.
  • Read the funny pages.
  • Seek out funny people.
  • Share a good joke or a funny story.
  • Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
  • Host game night with friends.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
  • Goof around with children.
  • Do something silly.
  • Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yo yo dieting # Blood Sugar Stabilization


Diets are life’s quick fixes. They are used in our moments of frustration and desperation. The most common place for these moments is when: your clothes do not fit, you’re heavier than ever before, summer’s around the corner, you’ve got a wedding in three months, you’re getting ready for vacation, etc... I know because I’ve been there myself and so have 1000’s of our clients. Diets are that piece of potential magic each of us hold on to, believing that it can be that easy & simple. We become so overcome by the pain of our current status that we’ll do practically anything. It’s at these times that our vulnerability is at its highest and our sense of reason is at its lowest. This is when we reach for the magic potion and unfortunately as we all know, the reality is it doesn’t exist. When do quick fixes ever solve the real challenge? What in life can successfully be accomplished by going for a quick fix? Can a business succeed without a plan? Can a relationship succeed without continued communication? Can you parent without leading by example? Your health is no different from these things. The fact is that anything we do that’s worth something takes a proper foundation, hard work and a commitment. I’ve never seen a diet work permanently, never. Please ask yourself... have you ever seen one work permanently? We know they can create a temporary result – they really can do that... and then life shows up again. My invitation to you is to focus on Programs and let go of the “Quick Fix” mentality that leads to a Diet.
Now, realize that Programs are actual plans. They’re designed to give you an education and follow a system. They provide Structure that can be worked into your lifestyle and direction on how to do that. The goal of a Program is to create a plan that you can follow the rest of your life. Now, there are many programs to choose from, and each can be categorized into one of two Philosophies. This is where we can finally get to the heart of the matter. If you can learn the base physiology and science behind both Philosophies, you can quickly determine if the program you’re investigating will provide you with the long lasting results, education and foundation to become a permanent part of your life.


Philosophy 1
The type of Program centered on Caloric and/or Carbohydrate Restriction & Deprivation – A Philosophy that Creates Deficits:
This is the most common nutrition philosophy, most clearly explained with the phrase “calories in vs. calories out”. The thought process is this, if you are Burning 2500 calories per day and you eat 2000 calories a day, you are putting your body in a 500 calorie deficit. With that deficit, your body will burn body fat and you will lose weight...This philosophy also states that it doesn’t matter when you consume those calories as long as the deficit stays in place. These restrictions will assist you weight, unfortunately, because they’re based on deprivation, the body will always hit an immovable Plateau. While following a program like this, the initial drop in weight and body fat you experience will be stimulated by Low Blood Sugar. Yes, it will cause the body to drop fat, but it will also cause a drop in your muscle... The drop will continue to happen until your body reaches its internal Set Point – the weight it’s used to being. Once you reach your Set Point, your body will begin aggressively attacking its muscle converting it to the glucose it needs to feed the brain the fuel that’s necessary for the rest of the body Function. Physiologically speaking, your stored fat cannot be converted fast enough to feed the brain the necessary glucose. This is why it begins "cannibalizing" (burning its own) muscle tissue. Each pound of muscle burns approximately 30-50 calories per day, which means every pound of muscle you lose slows down your metabolism. This is why it’s almost impossible to lose fat in your trouble areas when you’re on a program centered on restriction; it prevents the body from reaching an internal hormonal balance and actually slows your metabolic rate. After this slowdown occurs, eventually you begin eating the 2500 calories again, except now your body has lost part of its engine (muscle) and you gain more weight back. The worst thing about this is that this weight contains more body fat you had before you started. What I’m describing is what we call the Yo-Yo syndrome. Think about it, when in life are deficits ever a good thing? Eventually every Deficit must somehow be paid back. When the focus is on cutting and restricting, the outcome is already set. If you want the weight loss to continue, you’ll need to keep cutting more and more because you’re training your metabolism to Slow Down, not speed up. I have personally worked with clients that came to me because they could only eat 500 calories a day! They told me about the cycle of cutting and restricting and then how they gained back all their weight and body fat plus some. These people came looking for solutions, looking for answers... They felt they were doing what they were supposed to do.... They just didn’t know what they didn’t know. The bottom line is: this Philosophy is based on incorrect physiology. It fails question #1 above and for most people it also fails question #2. This leads us to Philosophy

#2 Blood Sugar Stabilization – The Solution:
Imagine using Nutrition as a foundation. Imagine using it to create balance in the body. I always like to use a baby as an example. Babies eat every 3 to 4 hours, and never overfeed or underfeed... Babies eat when they feel hungry, and stop when they’re satisfied. They drink Breast milk, which is a balanced mixture of Protein, fat and Carbohydrates. You see, from the moment of birth, our bodies are meant to be fed with a balanced source of nutrients at regular intervals. This is due to the fact that our Energy source comes from Glucose (sugar). Our Nervous System is fueled by Glucose, and our body’s number one goal is to create Balance (Homeostasis). Homeostasis means stabilizing your blood sugar. The key to stabilization is to implement the correct Nutrition Ratios and Calories per meal, as well as maintain the correct Meal Intervals to help the body maintain stable blood sugar. This in turn creates Homeostasis among all systems in the body. Homeostasis causes the continual release of the body’s Stored Fat (each pound of stored fat has 3500 calories), which is then burned within the Muscle Tissue. As long as the body maintains balance it will continue to build Lean Tissue (what forms your Metabolism) and burn Stored Body Fat. The biggest thing that makes Philosophy 2 stand out from Philosophy 1 is that even if you are in an overall Caloric Deficit, because your blood sugar is stable your body will use the calories from your stored fat, NOT your muscle. This key process will increase your appetite and calories as you progress, which is in turn the sign of a faster metabolism. Homeostasis will also eliminate all your sugar cravings and increase your overall energy. The key to Blood Sugar Stabilization is to Use Nutrition to Create Balance, Balance to Create Energy, and Exercise to Burn that Energy up.
As I said in the beginning I think any action that’s creating a moment of health awareness is positive. Diets will fail you, and programs centered on restriction & deprivation will take you to immovable plateaus and ultimately create a high level of frustration. Programs centered on Blood Sugar Stabilization are based on the physiology of the body. That is a clear fact.

Making your Health a Permanent part of your life is a true commitment.
So, my Invitation to you is this: Take Action with your health, Become Educated on how your body works, Implement the correct strategies, Accept you don’t know what you don’t know, and Engage in a program that you CAN follow for the rest of your life which is Centered on Blood Sugar Stabilization