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7 Ways You Can Make 2015 A Life-Changing Year

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This time of year, when overzealous diet and fitness resolutions are beginning to wane, it’s a great time to re-direct our focus to “real solutions” that can have a lasting impact in our lives. For me, this year’s focus is on the increasingly evident body-image crisis, particularly amongst younger generations.

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I recently read some disturbing statistics on this topic via the Huffington Post:

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls wish they were thinner (source: Collins, 1991)
  • 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of getting fat (source: Mellin et al, 1991)
  • in a survey of girls approximately 14-18 years :
    • more than 59% were trying to lose weight
    • in the last 30 days prior to survey, over 18% had starved themselves for a day or more to lose weight
    • 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight
    • (source: CDC, 2004)

My immediate thought was of my 5-year old daughter and how hell-bent and determined I am to prevent her from being a part of those statistics (because I sure didn’t manage to avoid it myself, and it wasn’t much fun). My next thought was how everyone – parent or not – can be a part of preventing our future generations from perpetuating these statistics.

By now, we all know there’s a problem with the media – that images are being photo-shopped to portray unrealistic body proportions and impossibly flawless skin – but blaming the media doesn’t help the situation. We can’t control what’s in the media. We also can’t put our children in giant bubbles to prevent them from seeing T.V. or magazine ads, or from ever playing with a Barbie or Disney Princess doll. What we can do though, is look in the mirror and see what behaviours we’re modelling to our children.

Like it or not, our children are watching our every move, all the time – even when we don’t think they’re watching. Just like they learn our language by repeating our words, they also learn other patterns and behaviours, including those of self-love and acceptance (or lack thereof), by mimicking us. Our children’s body image will become a direct reflection of our own.

Now this is not an article aimed at blaming parents for all their children’s problems, but rather a call out to parents – myself included – to take responsibility. By taking responsibility, we have the control to change it – without guilt, shame or blame. We have the opportunity to impact the course of our children’s lives by taking responsibility for what they see, hear, feel and experience at home. We can directly influence how they see the world, and more importantly, themselves.

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By making the shift from blaming media and other outside sources, to taking responsibility for how we show up in our children’s worlds, we can more easily influence how they grow, hopefully into confident human beings who will focus on bigger and better things than the number they see on the scale, or the shape of their butts – perhaps on passions like saving the environment or endangered species, or ending world hunger.

Telling our children that they’re smart, talented, unique and beautiful just as they are, is important – but it’s simply not enough. We have to model it. They won’t just “do as we say” in this case; they will do as we do. So, from as early an age as possible, we need to start acting like the women (and men – because boys and men are just as susceptible to poor body image) we want our daughters (and sons) to grow up to be. It’s time to start breaking the pattern that we see repeating itself generation after generation – and in the process, help ourselves live out more fulfilling lives.

So let’s make 2015 a life-changing year, shall we?

Here are 7 quick “Do’s and Don’ts” on how to start doing this right away.

1) DON’T go to extremes.

This includes any dramatic change to your diet and fitness routines (i.e. eliminating any entire food group, or going from couch to “insanity”-style workouts). New Year’s Resolutions are typically made of these extreme endeavors, which is why most people fail to maintain them.

DO educate yourself and make small, realistic changes to your nutrition and fitness habits each and every week.

Ask yourself: “Can I do this (change) every day – or week – for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then make the change smaller until it’s a yes. Remember to also plan or schedule it to ensure it gets done, until it becomes habit. If done consistently, by the end of this year, you will have made 52 positive, permanent changes. Is that not way better than 10 drastic, unsustainable ones that you have to repeat each and every January?

Note: When it comes to nutrition, adding healthy options is usually a much easier and more sustainable change than eliminating “bad” ones. When you start to feel healthier from choosing more nourishing options, the elimination of unsupported foods/habits usually comes naturally (although not an overnight process); but when we resolve to eliminate something altogether, that’s typically when we focus on it and want it more. Drastic is rarely sustainable.

What your children will learn from this:

Being active is a lifestyle (not just something you do a couple of times a year), and fitness is something you can build on over time to achieve better and better results. They’ll also learn that food is nourishing, and interesting, and even fun – not evil. By switching from a diet-mentality to one of nutrition (BIG difference), your children won’t be directly exposed to detrimental habits of deprivation and binge eating. Instead, they’ll learn balance.

Furthermore, if you’re continually adding new healthy foods into your weekly menu, trying new healthy recipes, and involving your kids in the process, they will not only learn the importance of nutrition, but they’ll also learn how to prepare healthy foods and make better food choices for themselves when you’re not around.

 2) DON’T use the F-word. Ever.

“Fat” is a word that NEVER gets used in our home (my daughter probably wouldn’t even know the meaning of it if someone asked her), unless it’s in reference to the healthy fats in my morning smoothie or homemade salad dressing. It’s become such a harmful and hurtful way to describe someone’s physical body – even when you’re talking about your own, and especially in front of your children. No matter how it’s said, even in humour, it’s harmful and can have a lasting effect on your children.

DO talk about feeling healthy and energetic.

Let’s face it, when we go over our healthy weight/size threshold, it usually comes with feelings of sluggishness and discomfort. Yet most complaints are about the excess weight or (f-word). Some people may also have concerns about their children’s weight. As parents, it’s our responsibility to stop complaining, and simply do something about it. Our children will model our behaviour.

What your children will learn from this:

Although they will no-doubt be exposed to this language outside of the home (whether around them or directed at them), what they learn at home will impact how they react and how they let it affect them. If their parents are not judging or giving their body labels, children will be more likely to express kindness, rather than judgement, towards their peers, and themselves – no matter what their size.

3) DON’T spend time nit-picking imperfections in the mirror.

Your children are watching, and will in turn begin to look for blemishes, wrinkles, and other things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

DO nurture your body and skin regularly.

Take care of yourself with good daily hygiene, and include regular pampering. Take a sea salt or lavender bath, cleanse with an occasional mud mask, get a pedicure, or whatever else makes you feel amazing. Make sure to treat yourself to pampering every week – it doesn’t have to cost money. Don’t forget to always remove makeup and moisturize before bed. Your skin will love you for it.

What your children will learn from this:

They’ll learn to take good care of themselves, and to focus on the things that make them feel good, not the things they don’t like. In short, they’ll learn to nurture, not nit-pick.

4) DON’T dress up or wear make-up everyday.

Of course there may be a professional reason for dressing up on weekdays, but whenever you can, step out the door with a “naked” face and comfortable clothes and notice how refreshing it feels – and how much time it saves! Show your children that you don’t “have” to dress up or make up your face every day.

DO dress regularly for play!

Put your hair in a bad ponytail, throw on your crappy jeans or p.j. pants and a t-shirt and get ready to play with your children – go to the park, or beach, or hiking trail, or just stay in your backyard. Be present with them, and pay no attention whatsoever to your hair, makeup, or clothes. Your primary goal is to have fun.

What your children will learn from this:

There’s more to life than looking good. In fact, sometimes you can have more fun when you’re dressed like crap because you don’t mind getting dirty.

Oh, and they’ll learn that mom’s actually pretty cool.

5) DON’T highlight your weaknesses.

Your children are listening! When you talk about the things you suck at, they will talk about the things they suck at, which is obviously counterproductive to lifting their self-esteem. We all suck at some things, even many things. Who cares. We are also amazing at other things. We can’t all be a jack-of-all-trades – and frankly who wants to be, it sounds exhausting – so stop giving attention to those things you don’t do well. If you have trouble with this, engage some supportive partners to stop you in your tracks when you start putting yourself down.

DO focus on your passions and strengths.

What you focus on expands. By making this one simple shift, you could go from being amazing at something, to being simply incredible/Ellen Show-worthy at that thing. Now that’s worth putting some effort into, isn’t it?

What your children will learn from this:

This one’s a no-brainer: they will learn to focus and build on their passions and strengths, and do way less of putting themselves down for the things they don’t do as well.

6) DON’T judge others – either by putting them down OR putting them on a pedestal.

Our children are learning from our every word.

DO point out the best in others, without glorifying them.

The beauty of being a parent and leading our children is that we have the freedom to choose what we draw their attention to – for example, we could point to a magazine and say how sickly thin a model looks (put-down-mode), or how enviously naturally-toned her legs are (pedestal-mode), or we can simply say “I love that gorgeous dress – it really suits her”. It’s all a choice – and by choosing the latter, we’re giving our children that same freedom.

What your children will learn from this:

There are unique and positive traits in everyone; yet no one is “better” than anyone else.

 7) DON’T weigh yourself more than once/week (MAX!).

It’s important to NOT give so much attention to the scale, or weight-loss as a goal in general. It’s definitely not the best measure of health, and can lead to obsessive behaviour (which, you guessed it, your children are watching). For most accurate physical results of your healthy efforts, use a tape measure. I also recommend keeping a daily journal of your overall energy level and mood (happiness) on a scale of 1-10. Because that’s the stuff that really matters.

DO hide your bathroom scale, so it’s not readily accessible to your children – or yourself.

If you absolutely must use it (which I really don’t advocate), bring it out only every 4-6 weeks to check in on your personal progress – and only every year for your children, to record their milestone weight. Or better yet, let the Dr. do that for you.

What your children will learn from this:

Nothing, hopefully. If they don’t see it, they won’t learn the habit and resulting negative impact of daily/hourly scale-gazing.

Could these seemingly small (but rather huge) steps actually lead to a “life-changing” year? I really do believe it. If we can release our addiction to fads, quick fixes and all that is “wrong” with ourselves and the world, and instead turn our attention to laying a positive body-image foundation for our children through our conscious, positive behaviours, we can not only change our own lives, but also have a lasting impact on theirs.

As Gandhi famously said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Whether you’re a parent, auntie/uncle, big sister/brother, babysitter, teacher or anyone else that has an influence on children – make it a positive one, and be the model of how you wish to see the children in your life grow and thrive in the world.

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Awareness

A Documentary Series Exploring The Most Powerful ‘Alternative Medicines’ Known To Man

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new 9-part documentary series called Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science. Is set to begin. It's free to sign up for to watch, and you can do so in the link provided within the article.

  • Reflect On:

    Is our current medical industry concerned with health and wellness, or profit? Why don't they promote substances they cannot profit off of that seem to work for a number of illness better than prescription drugs? What's going on here?

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

– Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (source)

It’s quite well known that interest in “alternative medicine” is growing, and has been growing for quite a long time. This doesn’t seem to be a trend that’s going to stop. Every single year, month and day it’s clear that its popularity will continue to increase exponentially. I put the word alternative because prior to modern day medicine, it wasn’t cosidered alternative, it was simply considered medicine, just like organic food wasn’t considered organic, it was just normal food.

The Documentary Series

This type of medicine is something we were at Collective Evolution are incredibly passionate about, which is why we’ve been creating awareness about it for ten years now. This is why we are also excited about a new 9-part documentary series called Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science.

It’s premiering in a few days, so be sure to sign up (it’s free). You can watch the trailer here if interested. 

A heightened interest in this topic  is happening for multiple reasons, one of them is the fact that healthcare providers are losing confidence in pharmaceutical grade medicine. Many doctors and scientists are feeling uncomfortable with the idea of prescribing certain medicines, and many publications have come out for a number of years showing that some of them can be harmful and inadequate. There are many of examples to choose from, from prescription drugs all the way to some vaccines. Perhaps the latest being the statements made by  Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project, explaining how healthcare providers are now concerned about vaccine safety. You can read more about that here.

Another reason is because there are thousands of studies now showing that many “alternative” medicines and therapies (that your doctor doesn’t know about or isn’t allowed to recommend) are far superior for many of the chronic health conditions we suffer from.

This is exactly what the docu-series goes into and provides evidence for.

It’s also happening due to the amount of corruption and fraud that’s been exposed within our federal health regulatory agencies, and again, there are many examples to choose from. One of the best would be the SPIDER papers. A group called the CDC Scientists Preserving Integrity, Diligence and Ethics in Research, or CDC SPIDER, put a list of complaints in a letter to the CDC Chief of Staff and provided a copy of the letter to the public watchdog organization U.S. Right to Know (USRTK). They raised concerns “about the current state of ethics at our agency.  It appears that our mission is being influenced and shaped by outside parties and rogue interests. It seems that our mission and Congressional intent for our agency is being circumvented by some of our leaders. What concerns us most, is that it is becoming the norm and not the rare exception. Some senior management officials at CDC are clearly aware and even condone these behavior.

The main reason we take so many drugs is that drug companies don t sell drugs, they sell lies about drugs. This is what makes drugs so different from anything else in life… Virtually everything we know about drugs is what the companies have chosen to tell us and our doctors… the reason patients trust their medicine is that they extrapolate the trust they have in their doctors into the medicines they prescribe. The patients don’t realize that, although their doctors may know a lot about diseases and human physiology and psychology, they know very, very little about drugs that’ve been carefully concocted and dressed up by the drug industry. – Dr. Peter Gotzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration (source)

Last but not least, the biggest reason why many people are gravitating towards this type of medicine is simply because it’s working for them. There is extreme legitimacy, in some cases, when it comes to alternative treatment. Again, this is exactly why more and more people every single year gravitate towards these options.

 

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Awareness

Having Your Tonsils Removed May Increase Your Risk Of Developing 28 Types Of Disease

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The study accessed health records from 1.2 million Danish children between 1979 and 1999, 60,400 of which had a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or a combined surgery and found they're at greater risk for multiple diseases.

  • Reflect On:

    The fact that what we accept as truth, medically speaking, isn't always correct.

Did you have your tonsils out as a child? Has a doctor given this recommendation to your child or a child you know? More than 530,000 tonsillectomy procedures are performed each year in the United States alone and in fact, it is one of the most common surgical procedures. New research is now showing that this operation can put patients at risk for contracting over 28 diseases later in life.

Some might say this is simply common sense, our organs are there for a reason, so maybe we should be doing everything possible to keep them there and avoid surgery whenever possible? Generally, the mainstream approach to medicine is if something is broke, go in and fix it, or remove it, rarely ever looking at the root cause of the issue and trying to determine why the symptoms are manifesting this way in the first place.

This study will serve as an excellent guide for doctors to be more mindful with the recommendation of this surgery and exploring all other options first.

Who Is A Candidate For Tonsillectomy?

Generally, children that are prone to contracting throat infections and have a difficult time breathing at night because of swollen tonsils are the typical entrants. While tonsillectomies can help to breathe during sleep and may reduce the frequency of throat infections in the short-term, Australian researchers found that the removal of tonsils or adenoids in the throat also increased the chances of allergic conditions and skin and eye diseases as well.

It is believed that this is because these tissues play a more important role that may have been previously thought by detecting and blocking the invasion of bacteria and viruses from getting into the lungs and throat.

The Study

According to authors from the Journal of the American Medical Association, Otolaryngology, “Risks were significant for many diseases and large for some,” after the surgery.

The study accessed health records from 1.2 million Danish children between 1979 and 1999, 60,400 of which had a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or a combined surgery. They then looked at these same children in their 30’s and found that those patients who had a childhood tonsillectomy had actually tripled their risks of infections of the upper airways, such as colds, rhinitis and bronchitis when compared to those who didn’t have their tonsils removed.

The risk of asthma and pneumonia was increased by around 50 percent in those who had the surgery. These infections are already common in the community, authors said that the extra impact of having your tonsils out was “considerable.”

“Our results show increased risks for long-term diseases after surgery, support delaying tonsil and adenoid removal if possible, which could aid normal immune system development in childhood and reduce these possible later-life disease risks,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Sean Byers from the University of Melbourne.

“As we uncover more about the function of immune tissues and the lifelong consequences of their removal, especially during sensitive ages when the body is developing.”

The removal of the adenoids — the tissue at the back of the roof of your mouth right under the nasal cavity actually doubled the risk of chronic pulmonary disease, which includes asthma and emphysema. These conditions are much rarer than typical respiratory infections, only 0.25 percent of the general population in their 30’s has a form of COPD.

Authors of the study concluded that it was “not surprising” that removing these key parts of the bodies immune system might make one more susceptible to contracting a respiratory or immune-related illness or disease. Heightened susceptibility to 28 forms of the disease, which included skin diseases, eye infections, and parasitic infections. These diseases were 78 percent more prevalent in people who had previously had these surgeries.

Because the aforementioned diseases are unrelated to the airways it goes to show that there is a greater function to the role of the tonsils than previously thought.

“Our results show increased risks for long-term diseases after surgery, support delaying tonsil and adenoid removal if possible, which could aid normal immune system development in childhood and reduce these possible later-life disease risks,” said lead author Dr. Shaun Bayers, from the University of Melbourne.

“As we uncover more about the function of immune tissues and the lifelong consequences of their removal, especially during sensitive ages when the body is developing.”

Tim Mitchell, a consultant otolaryngologist and council member of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the findings were interesting and “certainly warrant further investigation”.

“Before opting to remove tonsils or adenoids, surgeons will always consider and discuss all treatment options, including non-surgical treatments, with patients, and parents in the case of children,” he said.

“There has been a significant decrease in the number of tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies performed in the last few decades.”

Perhaps this is a good sign that whenever possible, we should leave the organs in the body.

Much Love

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Health

Going Beyond Speech Therapy To Conquer Communication Disorders & Get Talking

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Nearly one in 12 children ages 3–17 have a disorder related to voice, speech, language, feeding, or swallowing. These issues can cause many social, as well as emotional problems for our children.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you or a loved one struggle with a speech disorder of any kind? What methods other than Speech Therapy are you open to trying?

Communication Disorders in the form of speech or language impairments are all too common. According to the National Institute on Communication Disorders, between six to eight million people in the United States have a language impairment. Nearly one in 12 children ages 3–17 have a disorder related to voice, speech, language, feeding, or swallowing. These issues can cause many social, as well as emotional problems for our children.

Speech Disorders Delays, and Other Issues

  • Articulation disorders
  • Apraxia (motor planning – can’t make certain sounds)
  • Stuttering
  • Dysarthria (slurred speech)
  • Communication & language deficits
  • Sensory processing issues
  • Feeding and swallowing issues
  • Echolalia (repetitive vocalizations)

Speech Therapy

Speech and Language Pathologists administer speech, language, oral-motor, and hearing evaluations. They also review medical history, and barium swallow results to diagnose and prepare treatment plans for various speech-related disorders. They use a variety of speech therapy modalities depending on diagnosis, and many therapists incorporate communication and social skill training in their practice.

Interestingly, many agencies and institutes for health will claim that these disorders are solely a neurological impairment with no apparent cause. Therefore, many doctors and therapists trained by these agencies only recognize speech therapy as the only viable treatment option. However, from personal and professional experience, I encourage all parents and practitioners to move away from conventional thinking. We must explore a more integrative approach to treating these conditions. When digging deeper, we recognize the importance of searching for and treating the many underlying causes of these conditions.

“Addressing root causes of speech and language disorders can decrease the amount of time a patient spends in therapy, greatly enhance the progress in traditional therapies and increase the success rate.” – Jennifer Giustra-Kozek, LPC, NCC

Beyond Speech Therapy

Tongue or Lip Tie – A tongue or lip-tie affects up to 11% of all newborns. According to the 2017 Cochrane review, and it is often overlooked. This condition restricts the range of motion in a baby’s tongue. It presents as a very short and thick band of tissue that tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the roof of the mouth. A tongue-tie or lip-tie may interfere with breastfeeding, speech, eating, swallowing, and oral motor development of the jaw. Some of the risk factors for developing a tie in utero are often genetic. However, smoking and alcohol use, medication, chemicals, viral infections, methylation issues, and chronic stress may also cause it. A surgical procedure is sometimes required. However, some ties can be resolved with chiropractic manipulation, myofascial release, or exercises alone.

The Gut & The Microbiome – The state of our digestive system matters. There are trillions of microorganisms called microbes in our intestinal tract. These include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. In healthy individuals, these “bugs” coexist peacefully and help to regulate our immune system and play a key role in promoting our emotional and physical health. And more emerging evidence linking the gut microbiome to neurologic disorders, including sociability, speech, and language. So, increasing microbiome diversity with specific probiotic strains; and eating a diet free of pesticides, additives, and antibiotics that can disrupt and destroy our gut microbiome, can go a long way in preserving our health.

Clean Eating Matters – Soda, refined sugar, processed grains, artificial colors and sweeteners, food additives, and pesticides wreak havoc on our immune system and our health. These foods cause systemic inflammation throughout the body and can affect the brain as well. In 2017, the journal of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience explored how processed western-style diets induce brain inflammation that can affect mood, memory, learning, and processing. Also, highly processed foods lack nutrition and are void of healthy fats, and nutrients the brain needs.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Language – In June 2019, the Behavioral Health Journal referenced many studies that demonstrated the link between dietary deficiencies and speech and language disorders.  Eating fish during pregnancy is associated with higher language and communication skills. Vitamin D improves symptoms of autism, including speech. Vitamin E improves speech apraxia in children. Diets lacking vitamin B1(thiamine) can result in persistent cognitive and motor deficits, including delayed language acquisition, language impairment, and dyslexia, poor coordination skills, and learning disabilities. A diet rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, iodine, magnesium, and zinc is also crucial for metabolic processes and brain health.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Neurological Disorders – Mitochondria are known as the powerhouses of energy factories of the body. They are vital to our survival as they generate energy in the form of fuel derived from the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins we eat. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a broad term describing the series of maladaptive cellular events due to disturbed mitochondrial function. This dysfunction is often caused by genetic mutations, such as the MTHFR. Or, it can be the result of drugs, infections, and other environmental toxic influences. It is believed to be the root of many diseases, as well as neurological damage. It can also lead to mitochondrial myopathy –  muscle weakness in the face, which can lead to swallowing difficulty and slurred speech. Children with mitochondrial disease can have many developmental issues, motor delays, speech problems, and learning disabilities. Some ways to support mitochondria are through a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, adequate-protein, glutathione, magnesium, selenium, and other nutrients. Keeping sugar levels optimal, getting sufficient sleep, eating a clean diet free of processed foods, and detoxing to remove toxic factors can help restore function as well.

Homeopathy – Many homeopathic remedies can be extremely helpful for children with speech and language impairments. Calamus is beneficial for speech impediments & stuttering. Calcarea carb is used for speech delay and speech apraxia. And, Agaricus Muscarius is recommended for slower learners, late walkers and talkersHelpful homeopathic cell salts for speech are Calc Phos and Natrum Mur.

Essential Oils – The left hemisphere of the brain mediates a variety of higher cortical functions essential for planning, language, speech, intellect, social interactions, reasoning, problem solving, behavior, attention, and movements. There can be a benefit of using certain essential oils to stimulate these areas of the brain through aromatherapy. The most popular oils for this purpose are Wild Orange, Litsea, Frankincense, Thyme, Clove, Cedarwood, Juniper, Bergamot, Lemon Grass, Niaoul, and Summer Savory. Oils can be applied lightly on the spine in a carrier oil like almond or avocado. It is essential that only high-quality organic oils are used, and remember it is never one size fits all. People with specific allergies to ragweed and other plants need to be more careful about having a similar reaction to oils.


Learn more about my family’s healing journey (including everything that has worked for me and many of my clients) in my book Healing Without Hurting. And to receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety and more without medication SIGN UP HERE.

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