Sunday, December 30, 2012

Climbing Mount Everest
A gifted, insightful, and highly motivational speaker and business advisor, Zig Ziglar, passed away on November 28th, 2012. In the month since then, I've been meditating on many of his quotes that have helped to shape my worldview. 

“People do not wander around and then find themselves at the top of Mount Everest."

People make so many New Years resolutions that fail- usually because the "Holidays" are setting us up for failure from the start. We come from a perspective of making up for bad decisions instead of actively building positive circumstances for success. We also typically don't know why we are doing what we're resolving to do, other than very basic surface elements. For example, do more exercise to lose weight. 

“You hit what you aim at, and if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.”

We have to be specific about our goals. More like, I want to lose weight so I can look great in the suit I'm wearing to make that speech to impress my clients at the annual conference. My overall health must improve so that I exude the best possible energy and vitality, which will help bolster my confidence and effectiveness when conveying my message.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” 

Goals should be specific in both Why and How. I'm going to run 3 times a week, building cardiovascular endurance until I can run a 5k distance in 30 minutes or less, by the time of the conference, which is 5 months from now. I also intend to improve my sleep cycle so that I sleep the same 8 hours each night. To bolster than habit, I will read quietly in my bedroom under soft lighting for 30 minutes before falling asleep, instead of my current habit of watching television and eating sugary dessert foods during that time.

“We cannot start over, but we can begin now, and make a new beginning ” 

Don't get caught up in past challenges and don't let yourself talk your way out of goals because of current circumstances. If you're living above a desperate survival level of income, the vast majority of lifestyle changes that can positively impact your health goals are cheap and/or easy. Sleep patterns and basic cardio exercise should have very little to do with your bank account.

“If you want to reach a goal, you must “see the reaching” in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”
Write the list of goals, print out the list of goals, and keep it handy enough to read everyday. Put it on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, or on the coffee pot. Read it daily to encourage yourself to not be distracted by habits and commitments that deviate from the goals. 

“You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope-building people.” 

The aforementioned reading instead of prime time television shows about dead bodies and nightly news about killers of healthy, vital bodies is a good example of this. Find something positive to put in your brain. Don't go to a bar for social interaction...Do go to Church for social interaction. 
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” 

Social interaction with positive, hope-building people works best when you are also contributing to the relationship. When we only take the positive energy for ourselves, instead of fostering fresh, good vibes, the suppliers quickly run out and try to find other, more encouraging peers for themselves. An investment of positivity and selflessness in a relationship will be rewarded hugely in the end.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” 

The successful folks will spend their 24 hours as effectively as possible. Again, if you are taking away more than you contribute, you will get written off as a draining force. Keep your upward progress and direction in mind when following your goals and aiding people in reaching their respective goals. 
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." 

You don't have to be smart or rich to get started on this positivity building journey. Just be organized and open to the experience. Everest is a big mountain, attitude is the only thing that is a constant throughout the climb of your life. Your aptitude at given challenges along the way will change drastically- bringing us to the failure part.

“Failing is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.”

You may fail at a specific event, but that does not make you a failure. Nobody knows how to do everything. That's why we climb mountains with a team of people- some are guides, some are good at building fires, and some are good at physically climbing.
“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember ~ the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you. ” 

I love this one- you know you're doing something right when people start to pick on you. Pretty soon you will realize that they are still on the ground and you are half way up the mountain. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fat People Falling

According to Google, "Fat People Falling" is the search phrase most responsible for most of my Pageviews here on this blog...HA! I bet those people were disappointed when they got here!

I just realized I missed my Blogo-versary. I'm into my 13th month of blogging about health and wellness, not including "Fat People Falling," "Fat People Sex," or "Fat People on Fire" - all of which have been Google searched and created consequent traffic on this blog. I'm baffled!

So what have I been rambling on about all year? Lots of juice and veggies, an ongoing case study on a massage client, several books and documentaries I've come into contact with, with a consistent undercurrent of a paleo-primal diet vs. a vegan whole foods diet.

Did Tom Heal this year? Yes, most definitely. Personally I feel more vibrant than I ever have. I continue to understand how my body works academically and practically. I've discovered many more ways to enjoy more natural foods and how they affect my body. Mentally, I've been able to unravel a bunch of stressors in my life, just by gaining perspective and some world view updates in my hard-headed drive.

On the giving end of healing, I feel that I have adapted several new techniques and a greater holistic understanding of what my massages are doing to benefit my clients. I'm going to finish my Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy certification later this month. I feel like I'm learning and evolving every single day that I get to touch more people. I've also had more consistent clients this year, because I've been in the same clinic and on the same schedule for two and a half years now (as of Nov 20th). I actually have a following of folks who get consistent results from me, which is a gold mine of data for a hyper-analytical guy like me.

Specifically, my foot work is taking some leaps and bounds lately- plantar fasciitis and relief for runners has been a focus for me, thanks to Erik Dalton's video about plantar fasciitis. I've been able to apply it to dancers, runners, teachers, and high heel wearers. Thanks to my wife's ingenuity when trying to fix a headache I had from playing a 3D video game too long, I have some new scalp and temple techniques I'm experimenting with. The MAT level 1 videos have completely changed how I see and feel the spine and supporting muscles from the pelvis up. New stretches from a NMT/MFR integration class I took have been useful almost every day for me and my clients.

Overall, I am loving my body and loving my job more and more everyday. This blog has allowed me to clarify and examine what I've been learning from all kinds of sources. It has turned into much more of a personal scrapbook than a public wellness resource, but I'm not necessarily apologetic about that- especially if my audience is actually concerned with the antics of Fat People!

I've posted 62 total posts. This year's posts I'm proudest of: Why Myofascial, How Did You Get Into Massage Therapy, Why ME, Hydration, InterSEXtion, Food Stuffs, Case Study, Not So Fast.

The best book I've read in years and have yet to blog about since I just finished it last night: Use Your Brain to Change Your Age

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No Regrets Thanksgiving

While washing dishes after the second major family Thanksgiving dinner, I discovered that my right serratus anterior was on fire. Apparently endurance dishwashing is THE activity for getting a ripped serratus!

Moving on...

Moving backwards, actually...

In 2002 I started earnestly trying to be a vegetarian. I made some rookie mistakes, but for the most part, did well. Thanksgiving that year was the first time I made a public stand to not eat meat during the holiday and I counted this event as my anniversary date. Ten years later, that anniversary is meaningless in terms of marking a consistent meatless dietary routine, but it is still important for some other reasons. Yes, I ate turkey this year and plenty of it. Turkey is dinner again tonight. I was personally responsible for preparing, roasting, and smoking, the two big turkeys we shared with two branches of our family tree this year. However, ten years of paying attention to my health in relation to the foods I eat and the assertive decisions I make is a huge milestone, for me.

I have no regrets, even though I participated in two Thanksgiving dinners. I didn't over eat, because I chose quality over quantity. I have a much better understanding today how my body handles certain food choices than I did ten years ago. I'm constantly learning and applying that knowledge to my daily practice. In fact, this very week I'm reading how my diet affects brain health in Dr. Amen MD's Use Your Brain to Change Your Age.

Recovery is a significant part of my daily life now, which is a recent change for the better. Pro-active recovery by storing up resources of health...seeing my body's systems as a continuum as opposed to a light switch. There is so much  more than "Healthy" or "Sick" and I can adjust my daily habits to grow health. I'm taking Dr. Amen's advice to "Pick Your Top 24 Healthy Foods and Put Them in Your Diet Every Week" seriously to stay healthy every day. This strategy to fill your diet with so much good, constructive food that there's less room for poor choices works so well for me, why would I beat myself up over the couple days of feasting on turkey? I'm too non-conforming and punky to handle a system of harsh restrictions.

Speaking of conforming to social norms, being a vegetarian or vegan causes stress and alienation, especially in large family meals. Even my wife has sworn to never even try going without meat, so when I follow stricter standards, I'm on my own. I believe the stress relief found in not having to explain myself and my dietary habits in those few meals around holidays is invaluable. I don't have any more time or brain cells to spend banging my head against that wall of ignorance. I've discovered that most of my family doesn't want to spend the time thinking about changing their habits, no matter how dramatic their health could increase, so I'm not going to keep trying. It's like politics...just don't bring it up.

Psychologically, I find improved health by focusing on abundance of joy, instead of restricting what I think about. For example, this Thanksgiving, I didn't mention what I was eating and why I was eating it to anybody. I did think about, talk about, and find big time joy in my almost two year old niece. I filled my mental plate with the antics of an exploratory toddler and her interactions with my dog. 

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude and abundance in a harsh world full of shortcomings. I am indeed thankful for my health and the ability to share what I've learned with anyone who will listen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Quick Update

October hit me like a mack truck so I've been overwhelmed with business busy-ness. I want to recap some of the projects I'm working on:

Reading the 4 hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. It's nowhere near the health focus of the 4 Hour Body, but it provides deep insight into cultural paradigms that waste time and cause useless stress. There are countless ways to minimize stress by tweaking your lifestyle here. Worth the read so far, even if it jumps from topic to topic frequently- everything from outsourcing email tasks to world travel. Notable quote that blew my mind: "Regret is past-tense decision making. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret." I couldn't agree more.

Diet wise, I've been hardcore on the fruit consumption and loving every minute. I ran out of bananas a couple days ago and haven't made it back to the farmer's market. You might call it addicted behavior because I feel withdrawal from my 15ish banana a day habit. I'm also going through a LOT of apples of all types, because they are in season and keep my energized to take on the massage world. I was worried that the end of watermelon season was going to crimp my frugivorous style, but apples and bananas have kept me going strong. 

Dr. Amen's brain research has also blown my mind this month. I'll post more about him soon. 

My upcoming reading list includes Mosby's Massage Career Development Series Sports & Exercise Massage Textbook- a gift from a colleague and friend. A loaner from the same friend: The Gerson Therapy- The proven nutritional program for Cancer and Other Illnesses, will give me some really solid, time tested juicing and whole food info. 4 hour work week also has kept me web-surfing to countless blogs and resources for different topics as well. 

Still haven't finished the Myoskeletal Alignment certification, but after Thanksgiving, for sure. 

The world massage conference was broadcast online this past week and I have a registration for it- I'm still contemplating paying the $50 bucks for 50 hours of CE credit- that's a ridiculously good deal. 

That's enough for now!

Grace, Peace, Love, and Wellness...Learn it, Grow it, and Live it!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sports Massage VLOG

This is my first attempt at video editing of me talking. I'm just kind of rambling about Sports Massage because I can riff on that without too much scripting- or any at all.

Ultimately I want to build some research based, educational massage therapy related content for my Youtube channel. One thing at a time, right? The truck cab makes a good studio and the steering wheel makes a decent tripod. The sun is kind of washing me out though.

Windows Movie Maker isn't all bad. I would love a way to add some tickers, extra links and pop up facts along with my freckly face. I already had to convert my Android camcorder format to something usable in the editing software...ahhhh technology.

So to update, I'm now using a webcam that gives me a decent sound quality and has more adjustable settings than my android. I deleted the original video from youtube because it was so poorly executed. Here is the latest incarnation of my Sports Massage Speech:

Still a work in progress, of course.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Body

Chicken Soup for the Soul is a series of "inspirational" books including the newly published I Can't Believe my Cat Did That. The series is so titled because of the commonly held belief that chicken soup is a cure-all for the body, especially cold and flu symptoms, so a figurative application of chicken soup type beneficial tidbits must help the soul as well. My personal experience with the book series is very limited to a quick skimming, 15ish years ago, when I received the high school graduate themed version, as a graduation present from one my mother's church-lady friends. At the time I thought it was a fluffy, preachy, mess of pop-psychology nonsense that totally missed my demographic's needs and practical competencies. I'm sure I wrote the obligatory thank you note and went back to my Metallica albums. The reference to the feline themed, newest title illustrates my current research on the series, because it still seems like a ludicrous bit of fluff.

Moving on...

The premise that Chicken Soup is an important source of healing and nourishing  indeed comes from the food itself. I just finished reading The Secrets of People who Never Get Sick by Gene Stone. In it, he has a chapter about chicken soup and its benefits. There is a recipe from Cooking Jewish, by ]udy Bart Kancigor which is supposed to be the standard chicken soup formula. Sadly, the same flaws in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have happened to the commonplace, modern food version of soup as well.
Turned into This

Some refer to this as the "Premium" brand.
Just this week, when my wife got some sniffles, she asked me to stop at the store and pick up her favorite brand of chicken soup- Progresso's Homestyle Chicken Noodle. This product is just a vague, weak, barely palatable form of a supposedly hearty, satisfying, and health-full food! The whole chickens, onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, garlic, celery, dill, parsley, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, celery root and more fresh dill on top, is out. Chicken broth, chicken, chicken skin, chicken fat, and more chicken with carrots, eggs and wheat, sugar and invert sugar, barley and soy ingredients, is in.

Seems so obvious that if you take a shopping cart full of produce and steep it in hot water for a couple hours, you're going to get a lot of nutrients in a tasty soup. Why do we settle for this drivel in our mind from silly books or in our belly from silly canned goods? The moral of the story: Pay attention to what goes in your mind and body. We are what we eat, literally and figuratively.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just Say No?
After a few months of very sporadic appointments, my case study client Mrs. R will be available again for weekly, 2 hour massages. I'm excited to make some progress, since the prolonged breaks in treatment have put us back in a routine of putting out fires, instead of making lasting holistic, structural improvements. Today's 2 hour session was just that- getting the neck moving again while trying to minimize inflammation caused by so much deep tissue work in that concentrated area. Then some back work focusing on loosening the tissues close to the spine.

Erik Dalton, PhD
When I started the case study, it was supposed to coincide with my home study course from Eric Dalton in Myoskeletal Alignment. I still haven't completed the quiz to become officially certified by the Freedom from Pain Institute, but I feel like I'm still learning plenty, albeit slowly. I've been reading sections of the text and trying to apply it to my clients in small doses, mixed with my tried and true techniques. With Mrs. R, because of her complex issues, I'm relying on the stuff I've used for close to a decade, not the specific techniques I've learned over the past few months. The Myoskeletal perspective, however, has been invaluable in helping me see through the complex strain patterns, to decipher where and how some of my old standby techniques should be implemented.

The question I have now, is how to approach the pharmaceutical element of Mrs. R's treatment. 
Gabapentin, Hydrocodone, and Meloxicam daily with over the counter migraine medicine when needed. That's what she has been taking for years now. One doctor tells her that she can't stop or lower the pain meds because the pain will come right back- essentially, she will be taking these powerful substances forever. A new doctor is creating a plan to ween her off the drugs because there is so much going on. The new plan should be explained to Mrs. R next week before I see her again. Aside from drugs, she says massage therapy has been the only thing to ever give her relief. While I am anxious to provide as much relief as soon as possible, because I know she is in a lot of pain despite the pharmaceutical pain killers, it's hard to condone doing deep tissue massage on someone who is so numb to sensory input. On the other hand, she couldn't handle the massage treatments as well without the medicine- it creates her baseline, it's a part of her now. We continue to have great communication during the massage and I'm confident enough in my work that I don't believe I'm doing any harm to her tissues. I feel similar tension everyday in other clients.

For example, Mrs. R drives, sits at a desk, and works at a computer, for long hours every day. The strain patterns produced by those prolonged postures clearly express themselves in her upper crossed syndrome, tight pec'd, tight scalene'd structure. All that stuff is on top of whatever disc issues are in there. I would know if I were poking my fingers into something that didn't belong, since I've worked on the necks of cubicle dwellers and long distance drivers for years now- thousands of them. I will continue to be very cautious with Mrs. R, and look forward to hearing a fresh perspective, but I sincerely believe my work thus far has been beneficial and not damaging.

There is also the somewhat pressing issue of motherhood. Mrs. R wants several children and can't take the pills while pregnant, so she needs a natural pain relieving therapy, at least while she's tending the cabbage patch, which may be 5-7 years. The goal is to find a way to provide therapy which will balance her soft tissue structures, to allow for optimum mobility and function, within her comfort level and with her doctor's blessing, that lasts a long time.

A few key background posts about the Mrs. R Case Study: Here, Here, and Here.

No Guts, No Glory

I just finished reading the 147 page book No Guts, No Glory: Gut Solution- The Core of Your Total Wellness by Dr. Steven Lamm MD and Sidney Stevens.
It was nice to read a book that covered a lot of ground but wasn't too bogged down with intensive data. Plenty of reputable research was cited, but the message of the book was more that we need to start paying attention to the wellness of our guts, instead of focusing solely on seemingly random symptoms and pain. The book is an overview of the complexity of the system, whatever you want to call it, that digests our foods, greatly influences our moods, hugely impacts our immune function, and generates our life-force and vitality. He refers to it as the "Gut."

There is a plan for improving our gut's functionality, but again, it was all phrased as a wake up call, more than a strictly scheduled diet and health regime, like so many self-help style books include. The tenets of the plan are eating foods based on highest nutritional content and least damaging content, detoxification from environmental and food sourced pollutants, use of enzymes, pre and pro-biotic supplements, and overall stress management.

The biggest eye opener to me was how the trillions of microscopic organisms inside our GI tract work symbiotically with our body to form an "Intelligent" system. When we take a course of antibiotics, they can wipe out years, even decades, of built up immune function inside that system. Research is leading doctors away from widespread antibiotic use, in favor of strengthening the beneficial bacterium in the gut, to promote the greatest health in their patients. If you have one weed growing in the middle of a golf course full of healthy turf, you don't use agent orange to kill it. Instead, you could fertilize the healthy grass more and don't water the weed.

There was also some talk in the book about the gut/brain connection. Research is still preliminary here, but so far the inner workings of our neurological functioning and how it creates the huge range of human feelings and emotion could all be tied to the interplay of food, our guts, and our brains. Fascinating stuff.

Overall, definitely worth the couple hours of informative reading.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Big Theories, Small Actions

I spend a lot of time reading books about health, fitness, and nutrition which frequently leave me feeling overwhelmed. That feeling is usually when I try to incorporate and intermingle several theories, philosophies, or techniques into one viable system for daily consumption. Lately I've been going much bigger with the fruit intake and veg juicing. By trying to incorporate more raw foods into my daily diet, some of the enjoyment of food has, in fact, waned.

To avoid the all or nothing mentality that challenges me in several areas, today I compromised with a quick, less destructive, yet extremely easy and accessible cooking technique for some fresh local produce. 

Blanching veggies simply means boiling them for a short duration, 3 minutes in my example today, then putting them in an ice water bath to halt further cooking. Like steaming, this maintains the fiber's integrity much  more than other cooking methods and doesn't break down as many nutrients. Check out for specific directions.

Beans in the boil.
Beans in the ice.

Yesterday's Lunchtime Salad
Another challenge I've faced in the past with vegetarian or whole/raw habits is a longing for hot foods, especially in colder months. Salads are great, but sometimes, I want a fat baked potato to feel full and satisfied. The blanching method allows for hot food without prolonged baking or microwaving. Today I had such a craving for something filling and warm but not fatty and heavy, so I went for some carrots and green beans from the local farmer's market.

In about 15 minutes of prep time, I had 2 big bowls of veggies which will last the Wifey and me a couple days.

Today's Warm and Heartier (by comparison) Lunch
Clearly something was lost in the process, but once the water is thoroughly cooled, it will go into my herb wagon to recycle the nutrients and keep me from just pouring it down the drain.

 For more than you ever wanted to know about my fascination with green beans and their health benefits, I posted that earlier...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Not So Fast

Last night I watched the BBC Horizon documentary "Eat Fast and Live Longer." It was certainly an interesting take on fasting to improve overall health and longevity. In it, documentarian Michael Mosley set out to figure out how to live longer with less morbidity.  
He started out at the London marathon looking for the oldest participants. After quick interviews with several robust 70 and 80 year olds, he found an alleged 101 year old man participating. Mosley met the man again at the finish line after about 7 hours of walking, and he was in no way feeble or devastated physically. When asked what he eats, the 101 year old man replied, through the translation by his son, that he eats a "Simple Punjabi farmer's diet." That means fresh, simple foods and in half sized portions, compared to his family members. He has no signs of  heart disease, takes no medications, and has never had a surgery. The man's birthday is April 1st, so even with a cynical eye to avoid being the fool, it's a very impressive feat for the man to finish the marathon at all. He's clearly old enough to be considered an intriguing interview on aging, whether 101 exactly, or not.

National Institute on Aging/NIH
The theme of the rest of the documentary was calorie restriction for longevity. According to a very recent Wall Street Journal article covering a study by the U.S. National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, "Calorie restriction confers health benefits on monkeys but doesn't increase their life span, a new study suggests, undermining some people's belief that a sharply restricted diet could help them live longer." More health may not equal longer life in years, but who wants long years without consistent health? It's the "years in your life vs. the life in your years" argument. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, "The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important." I agree.

Lately I've been watching you tube videos by DurianRider and Dan The Life Regenerator. Durian Rider, whose real name is Harley Johnstone, promotes an unlimited calorie diet, as long as it's raw vegan, and follows the 80/10/10 (carbs/fat/protein percentages) formula with great success- as evidenced by his brilliant cycling and running hobbies. Dan McDonald is also into raw, vegan, living food including lots of green juices. He speaks frequently about fasting and detoxing to improve quality of life. Both men are constantly preaching how our society's perspective on appropriate amounts of protein consumption is completely skewed. This was also a theme in Eat Fast and Live Longer. Eating higher levels of protein promotes production of IGF-1, or Insulin-like Growth Factor, which is naturally occurring in the body, but is linked to several disease processes, like cancer. Eating less protein, and less total food, puts the body into a repair mode versus a building mode. 

Vegetarians and Vegans are constantly harassed by questions of how to get complete proteins. Dan the Man explained in one (at least) of his videos, I'm still looking for the exact one for the link, that the body doesn't need continued barrages of complete protein to function on a daily basis. His analogy was that when you build a house, you have raw materials trucked into the sight. After you build the house with those complete pieces, like bricks and lumber, you just need electricity and fuel to live there. If you're a normal sized person doing normal activity, you just need carbs for energy and small pieces of protein (separate aminos found in veg) to do maintenance type repairs- think spackle. If you're doing a remodel, like focused body building or healing from a major injury, you might need a shake full of complete proteins.

The real problems arise when you keep delivering bulky raw materials to your house and have nowhere to put them. I don't want to move a palate of bricks off my couch so I have room to sit down. Excess protein and fats just build up and get in the way, in the body- which brings us back to fasting.

Fasting allows the body to catch up- physically, energetically, and spiritually. Since we're on the physical subject, I'll stay there today. The last segment of the documentary shows Mosley implementing his favored formula of fasting, after arriving back home from his research travels. 5/2 Feast days/Restricted days. On the 5 feast days a week, he eats whatever he wants in whatever quantity he wants- high fat, high sugar- whatever. The other 2 consecutive days of restriction still allow for 500 calories of food- that's a fast even my Wife says she can handle! He ate eggs, ham and a bowl of strawberries for breakfast on his fast day. After a set time of following this 5/2 system, his bloodwork indicated great improvements in all of the health indicators they were following. 

What would I do? Instead of eggs and ham, which are not filling and contain comparatively high fat and therefore a lot of calories, I would stick to a raw vegan leafy green diet of 500 calories on my 2 fast days. Raw kale, for example, has 34 calories in 1 cup. If I ate nothing but Kale, that allows for almost 15 cups to equal 500 calories! Say 6 cups of kale, spinach, and romaine with some broccoli and cabbage and carrots on top, dressed with lemon juice and crushed ginger- twice in a day. That's a ton of food for a day of "fasting."
Something like this- 2 bunches in my 5 cup Blender

Shopping for food this way would be easy too. Since I'm already going to the farmer's market once a week, I could just buy two days worth and "Fast Salads" and have the freshest produce possible. Forget Meatless Monday- lets do 2 raw vegan days a week. I'm currently only eating about 3-4 leafy green salads on a good week anyway, so why not consolidate them in 2 days to magnify their value? Overall it sounds like an easy way to keep the diseases of excess at bay- even for just a little bit longer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Diet Du Jour

Last week I spent several days surrounding the death of my step mother driving long distances, planning and performing a memorial service, and eating loads of comfort food. Both my wife, my father and my sister were with me for the majority of meals.

My sister recently got back to her pre-baby weight. My niece is 19 months old now. Sister is a daily walker and has been quite successful with Weight Watchers point counting in the past and is currently using an online menu/budgeting service with a light option.

My father is counting calories and has lost about 50 pounds. He has also been highly stressed for several months as my step-mom's health declined. He typically fasts for one 24 hour period a week, for spiritual/religious purposes more than physical, I believe. He has been driving an average of 4 hours a day for months and doesn't do any regular exercise to my knowledge.

My wife has been in a state of transistion for several months nutritionally as well. She's taking a cake decorating class which leaves us with lots of extra chocolately sugar bombs laying around the kitchen. Her activity level has waned during the summer months because she hates the high humidity and extreme heat of the Florida summer. We've also been dealing with tropical style lightning storms every day for weeks. I think she's done some Zumba on the Wii a few times, but we don't even like that during the electrical storms.
My step mom passed due to a major cardiac incident. She had bypass surgery 3 years ago "preventatively." She was also dealing with a challenging lymphoma on the lung and dependency on a ventilator. As with all my health pursuits, I try to be smarter than my predecesors and/or learn from their mistakes. I really need to make myself more heart healthy and lung healthy. Likewise, most of my health pursuits start at the grocery store.

It was a mind blowing week for food- seeing all these perspectives from people I know, love, and trust- they're some of the smartest people I know! My sister told me that Weight Watchers basically allows as much fruit as you want, with no points against you. She and I both downed some serious watermelon, bananas, and grapes during the trip. My wife made several wonderfully tasty comfort foods, like sheppard's pie and lasagna. I tried to eat lots of fruit at least one meal per day- I even blended some watermelon into some juice so I didn't have Breville withdrawals. The wife/sister/Tom trip to the grocery store was full of various types of foods at all levels of "healthy."

So now I'm back home and looking again at my daily habits. Calorie counting counts, no doubt. Fruit makes me feel light, fresh and energized. Fat and refined sugars do not- as proven by a couple of breakfasts this week that involved biscuits and creamy sausage gravy and sticky buns, fried eggs and bacon. I've been watching a bunch of Youtube videos about raw food vegans and that's starting to make a lot of sense to me too.
Practical application time- I'm thinking about Mono-eating- specifically bananas, apples, or plums, for 3 separate meals. I was doing really well at having a daily leafy green salad for a little while- I miss it. I've been eating eggs for breakfast daily for a couple years now and still feel like it's more beneficial than harmful, because it's my primary source of protein and it keeps me grounded first thing in the morning. Food grouping-wise, the eggs and coffee route is great, especially considering that I'm not giving up coffee anytime soon.

Financially I'm super broke this month, but that is looking up with the wifey's new job, so my produce fetish can be realized again at the local farmer's market sometime real soon.We got some BOGO arugula at Publix yesterday which is one of my favorite leafy green foods. That's a good start- Love it!

Food Stuffs

Food and nutrition are constant fascinations of mine. I need to summarize what I've learned about the basics over the past couple years, because it really shouldn't be as hard as most folks make it.

There are 4 kinds of nutrition- Protein, Carbs, Fats, and Micros (vitamins and minerals). The Micros help the body use the three Macro nutrients effectively. The brain functions primarily and best on glucose (sugars.) Muscles and tissues at the cellular level are built out of proteins and fats while being fueled by carbs. Water and Fiber are also key components of food, but are primarily modes of transport for the other components.

Plants have the most Micros and Carbs. Animals have the most Protein and Fat. Humans seem to be able to assimilate the protein and fat that are in plants more efficiently than those found in animal sources, meaning less energy consumption and consequent stress on the body overall. The total diet should include more plants than animals, for optimal nutrtion and digestive health.

Refined foods are higher in calories and lower in nutrients. They also frequently contain high levels of salt or added fats for preservation and flavor, respectively. Both are harmful to the body in the amounts used in standard food stuffs.

Weight management is simply a balance of calories in and calories out. Food eaten vs. activity and exercise.

Different parts of the GI tract break down different types of foods. Protein is broken down in the acidic environment of the stomach while sugars are broken down in the mouth and small intestine. Fiber and water exchange happens in the colon. The liver and gallbladder break down fats and the pancreas secretes numerous enzymes and hormones to digest carbs.

Application of heat to food, better known as cooking, breaks down nutrients, enzymes, chi and fiber. Foods that can be consumed raw and whole contain the most nutrients, enzymes, chi and fiber (found only in plants). The body digests one food at a time best- aka monoeating. Monoeating whole, raw foods as soon as they are picked from their source plant are the most vital, potent, and nutritive. There are animal derived foods that can be eaten raw, whale fat for the Inuits, for example. In those cases, the freshest meat from the kill, while it's still pumping blood through its tissues, would be "healthiest."

Balance is the key. American's typically eat way too much protein and fat, from animal sources, and put undue stress on our bodies in the process. We also eat complicated foods with multiple macros that don't combine well, creating an overall acidic, malnourished, overfed, and overworked state of chronic disease.

Once a person understands these basics about what is happening, it's all a matter of finding the appropriate balance of foods of the right types, in the right proportions, with the right preparation, for the lifestyle of the eater. That's where science of nutrition becomes art.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spiritual Healing- Foundation in Jesus

I've been avoiding this topic because there is so much ambiguity and discord in this line of thought about healing. I haven't found the "right" book (aside from the Bible) or the "right" speaker on the topic yet, who resonates completely with what I believe regarding spiritual healing. If I'm going to use this blog as my journey, I should post when I stop to see the sights along the way, right? I don't have to know the final destination to learn from where I am.

My highest goal in this life is to be like Jesus. A huge portion of his ministry on Earth was healing masses of people with his bare hands, according to every account I've ever read. There was that time a lady touched the hem of his robe and was healed as well- so just His presence was adequate to provide healing. Stories involving Jesus healing the sick are usually framed in terms of casting out demons or recognition of faith.

In Mark chapter 5 are 3 examples of healing in a row. The first is a casting out of a "Legion" of demons from a man into a herd of pigs. As a massage therapist in a very mainstream clinic, a "Demoniac" who cuts himself and lives in a cemetery most likely won't ever make it onto my table. For practical application purposes, I'll skip over him for now. The second story is the aforementioned lady touching Jesus' robe and receiving healing. People may come to me because of my reputation for healing in a transcendent or unique way, but I'm probably useless to them if I don't even aim some willful, intent of loving touch in their direction. That only leaves one more chance for me to emulate my Teacher- example number 3:

"35 While He was still speaking, they *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, *said to the synagogue official, “ Do not be afraid any longer, only [m]believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and [n]James and John the brother of [o]James. 38 They *came to the house of the synagogue official; and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And entering in, He *said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He *took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and *entered the room where the child was. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat."

If someone approached me with this scenario, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live,” soon followed by, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?..." my faith would go out the window. My first reaction would not be to say "Do not be afraid...only believe."  So clearly that's my first hurdle- remembering that the power and authority of Jesus is infinite and far outside our established, earthly boundaries. I can hear Morpheus in the Matrix lecturing Neo about the laws of physics within an artificial construct, "Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? Do you think that's air you're breathing now"

"The child has not died, but is asleep." How literal was Jesus being? Did He see it, feel it, or experience it with some other sensory input? Did God the Father tell him while he was healing the hemorrhaging woman? Was Jesus feeling so much vital energy coming from His own faith, fasting, and prayer that healing this little girl was simply a commanding sentence away and He knew it? Was He on such a high spiritual plane of existence that he was capable of understanding that the girl was already healed and whole in the Kingdom of Heaven and that this was but a blip on the proverbial radar? Was this another example of demon possession and Jesus saw the demon leave as soon as He walked in? To me, all or part of each of these are completely plausible.

The only physical action He took was taking the child by the hand. From this I take a couple things. First, keep it simple. The body is a healing machine which is connected to far greater powers than are visible. Sometimes it just takes a loving nudge in the right direction with a reminder of what we are supposed to be doing. The Healer, in this case, brought great power, insight, and spiritual connection into the room with Him. It only took the simplest of actions to convey that power into the recipient.

I know Jesus was into prayer in solitude, fasting, walking, simplicity, and freedom from arbitrary social or financial regulations. The traditional Chinese theories of energetic, some would say spiritual, healing also rely on some of these tenets. My next step is to examine some of these components and see where they fit into my life and practice, so I can continue to be a disciple of the best Teacher I know.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fast Food Makes me Feel Slow

On the surface, it looks like a pro athletic, pro exercise campaign.

Taco Bell wants us to live more, and so does professional baseball.

The Fine Print- it's an App for an electronic device.

This side speaks for itself- "So Real, It's Unreal"
When I'm in a bind and I have to pick the lesser of all available evils, my fast food of choice is Taco Bell. That started when I was a vegetarian in my 20's and no other typical fast food offered anything entree like without meat. Now that I'm not a Veg, I still lean towards the Border because it's fast, cheap, and different than the typical beef and potato choices at McDonalds and Burger King. The other day, I found myself in the aforementioned bind and drove thru the closest Taco Bell and ordered the Big Box- I chose the one that did not have Doritos involved, assuming it had to be more healthy. HA!

I ended up with a burrito form of nachos- the window cling said it best- "It's Nachos in a Burrito." There was literally corn chips, nacho cheese, sour cream, and about a teaspoon of ground beef inside a huge white sticky flour tortilla. Zero vegetation. It was like eating nacho cheese soup with a spoon made of simple carbs.

The box also contained a beef burrito with cheese, a teaspoon of tomatoes and maybe a breath of onions. No corn chips though.

There was a crunchy taco- also beef, cheese, with a tablespoon of shredded lettuce. Lastly a huge soda. It was like Supersize Me all over again- Is that actually considered a viable meal? It's all in a box together like a combo that should be eaten in a single serving by one person. Uggggh is all I had to say afterward.

In my defense, I had driven through 90 minutes of tropical storm conditions and had a very limited amount of time to get somewhere. As I ate some, not all, of the boxfull, I noticed the ridiculous marketing campaign on that box which was trying to convince me to enjoy a game of virtual baseball on a cellphone. Weird way to "Live Mas" if you ask me. After eating the meal, I felt like I was going to Live Menos, or perhaps not at all for a few minutes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The single most important thing you can do for your Stress

I just watched this neat video about how we deal with stress. Basically the moral of the 11 minute story is that by re-framing how we think about situations, we can change them from stressors into useful information. There was also a bit about writing letters to yourself or others about stressful situations and then evaluating it without actually sending the letter to the offending parties. I think it was part of the "Cognitive Behavior" segment.

I've been thinking about writing a personal blog on one of my other favorite topics: Sex. More specifically, how it fits into marriage and healthy adult relationships. I don't want to post that stuff here, because it's quite important to separate sexual touch from therapeutic massage therapy and other healing modalities, which is what this blog is about. Sexual contact is completely outside the scope of legitimate massage therapy licensure and practice and will therefore be outside the scope of this blog, generally speaking.

Sex gives me constant stress and I have piles of letters to write to many people. By creating another blog, I'm going to turn this letter writing exercise into a journaling research exercise. I don't want to dwell on how I was wronged in the past, just where I am going from here...which is part of my personal healing process. Stress is bad and I need a plan on how to handle this major stress generator in my life, so that Tom can heal.

A Pain That I'm Used To

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sexual Tension

I watched a documentary the other night called Let's Talk About Sex. It basically spelled out many of my personal experiences with flawed sexual education and conflicting beliefs that were taught to me as an adolescent.

It's clear that Americans are sex obsessed and sexually repressed. I wonder how much stress comes out of that situation- the guilt, the shame, the frustration, the misunderstanding. Is that the stress that's actually killing us in the "75% of all doctor's visits are stress related" statistic from Sunset Relaxation Therapy?

The documentary maker, James Houston, consulted with several religious leaders in several parts of the US, regarding abstinence only education. This part was especially fascinating to me, having been raised in several churches at a time, from birth, and knowing that I've never been given ANY practical advice about sexuality. Don't have sex until you're married. That's it.

We had 8 parental figures (a divorced mom and dad each with their 4 respective new partners) and 4 grandparents at our wedding. Her Maternal Grandparents were the only married set- long time married but he is not the biological father of the 3 adult children. The Wife and I are the youngest of all cousins and siblings in our respective families. Needless to say, we had a wealth of experienced folks, matrimonially and sexually, at all stages of life and relationship. Did anybody have anything useful to say about how to work this sex type thing into our life, now that it wasn't going to send us straight to Hell? Nope.
Insert bitterness here _______.

 According to the American Psychological Association, "Marriage and divorce are both common experiences. In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50. Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher."

Softpedia says, regarding divorce and stress rates, "'Stress affects your immune system and leads to increased inflammation. We’re now thinking that inflammation is at the route of cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer. In addition, during that time you’re not taking care of yourself. You’re eating poorly, you’re not exercising. You’re sleeping terribly. Then your social world, of course, especially in the case of divorce, suffers. You lose half your friends and your in-laws.' Professor Linda Waite, co-author of the study, says of what happens post-breakup/divorce." Furthermore, "What’s even worse, the findings of the study indicate, is that these health impacts do not go away when moving on to another relationship."

Aside from my personal angst about my personal life, I have a real concern for stress induced sickness from this huge source of daily, deeply rooted stress in so many American's lives. I believe that sex and marriage are unable to be examined separately and healing, in most cases, comes from education. As a nation our healthcare crisis, our marriage crisis, and our teen pregnancy crisis are thriving on ignorance and fear. If we can't figure out how to effectively and practically manage love and health, and how to effectively prepare our children for life's most complex and rewarding experiences, we're in trouble. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

You're a Good Audience

As we approach Father's Day, I found myself thinking about my Step-Dad today. When he married my Mom, he had four adult children. My sister and I were grade school age. I was the youngest of the six siblings. My Step-Dad has always been extremely outgoing in all situations. He's a people person and I'm the opposite- a shy, introverted, loner type of person. Those early years of getting to know my new dad figure were full of him trying to get me out of my shell.

To this day, his personable personality comes out constantly because he has decades of practice with certain puns, plays on words, jokes, and slick one liners. No waitress is safe. Being the youngest child, every joke was new to me and I always thought everything was funny every time. Dad constantly complimented me back handedly on being a "good audience" as opposed to saying I'd laugh at anything, no matter how silly and unsophisticated. For example, he uses the words "serious" and "cereal" interchangeably, to add levity to intense conversations.

After several of those intense conversations, while teaching me to drive, I went to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles to get my very first Driver's License. With my Driver's Ed voucher in hand, I saw a poster on the wall opposite where they take the Driver's License photos. That poster had a really funny picture of a baby orangutan and it said, "If you want a better picture, bring a better face."

Sometimes it's good to do massage on clients who are buying what I'm selling. I like it when I actually connect with clients who need what I do and take some ownership of their bodies before, during and after the limited time I am with them. They are a good audience. They want a better massage, so they bring a better body. It takes way more time than I have with you to be a healthy, flexible, low stress person- I'm just here to point you in the right direction. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Down with the Sickness

After a string of uplifting posts about juicing veggies, I am saddened to say I got seriously ill one day this week- consequently messing up my "scientific" juicing spree. My 15 month old niece came into town this week for Memorial Day weekend. My sister had to stop several times during the trip and clean up lots of gross oozing from the baby, who was sick with some kind of stomach bug. The first 2 days of the weekend that I saw the baby, it was from across the room for less than 5 minutes. Hardly direct contact, because she was sleeping off the poo sickness.

On Monday, the family met at Grandmom's house to do some business which required some signatures from some of us, so we passed the baby around a bit to keep her occupied. The results were catastrophic! I think the count is up to 8 now of affected, infected people who were there that day. Typically, I have a very strong digestive tract. Top to bottom. I can eat way too much of really foolish foods and have little more than lethargy as a side effect. Tuesday and Wednesday, however, I set a new standard of gastric distress for myself. I drank my aforementioned beet, celery, carrot, cucumber juice, in hopes of alkalizing and calming my GI tract with nutritious, easily assimilated and high water content juices. Since the Wife had been sick the evening before I thought I was preparing myself. I was wrong.

The sickness acted like a severe but quick (24 hour) stomach virus. It could not have been food poisoning because so many of us ate totally different things due to very specific dietary restrictions and the timing of the baby having it several days ahead of us.

After a couple days now of nursing myself back to health with plenty of fluids to rehydrate (I lost a lot of fluids for about 24 hours in several not fun ways) and very light foods (spaghetti noodles and green peas), I slept through last night and am refreshed again. I intend to get back to my juicing regimen today before returning to work. I am also convinced that I need to be nicer to my tummy overall- again I'm thinking fresh raw vegetation. I bought some bananas, pears, and a watermelon yesterday to keep myself light for a few more days.

Thankfully, Sister and Baby are back home safely and over their respective bouts with the pestilence du jour. As Deolal Mahabir, my Zen Shiatsu instructor, stated during the class I took from him, "All sickness is home sickness." Meaning anyone in the family who is sick creates an imbalance in the greater family unit. Very true, in this case- even the smallest member of the family had a huge impact!

***check out the link to Deolal's bio, since I don't know what title to give him, because he has such diverse training in so many unconventional fields, over so much time. There are pictures of his lovely family too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The cucumber and celery info is clearly pertinent to my juicing every day this week.

I got this info from

3. CUCUMBER The beauty of cucumber is it’s water content – 95%. That is phenomenal and you won’t find that anywhere else. It’s the daddy of water-content. This of course makes it an incredibly hydrating food to consume, that ALSO contains superb amounts of antioxidants, including the super-important lignans. These highly beneficial polyphenols have more commonly been associated with the cruciferous vegetables, but their content in other veggies such as cucumbers is gaining more and more attention. Cucumbers contain a right load of lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol , three lignans that have a huge and very strong history of research in connection with Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including Breast, Uterine, Ovarian, and Prostate Cancers. The best thing about cucumber is that they provide the base for practically every alkaline soup, smoothie and juice – giving you a very alkaline, very nutritious base that also tastes great. In terms of the actual nutrient RDA per serve, cucumbers contain fair amounts of vitamins K and C, and slightly less of vitamin A and the B vitamins. Cucumbers also contain the following alkaline minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, iron and zinc.

6. CELERY - Celery, like cucumber is a favourite because it’s alkaline AND really high water content, so is used very frequently as a base in juices and soups (not so much smoothies as you have to juice it first…and then you have double the washing up). One of celery’s big benefits is it’s vitamin C level, which has the well known benefits – but two of it’s lesser known nutrients are phthalides which have been shown to Lower Cholesterol and coumarins which have been shown to inhibit Several Cancers. The beauty of vitamin C rich foods are that they help with the most common and most challenging health concerns – they support the İmmune system, inflammation (so helps with Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Asthma etc), and vitamin C also helps significantly with Cardiovascular Health. If you are on a weight loss journey, you’ll also be happy to hear that this alkaline staple contains plenty of potassium and sodium and so is a diuretic – meaning it helps rid the body of excess fluids.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why This Juice?

My week-long juice fest started Saturday and I continued through Sunday and Monday, even though it's a holiday weekend that involved weird food choices otherwise. Last night I slept about 12 hours because I was super exhausted from weeks of working way too much- which is another reason I want to boost my health meter a bit with juice. 

In the last post I mentioned the budget concerns of juicing for a week. But aside from being reasonably priced, I need to explain why I'm doing this combo of veg...

Carrots- The Health Online Zine states that carrots Prevent Cancer, Improve Vision, Prevent heart disease, Reduce the risk of stroke, Nourish Skin, are Anti-aging and aid in Dental Health. Dan the Life Regenerator mentioned in the budget video that carrots are cheap and grounding. I desperately need some cheap sources of grounding energy, since my head has been so high in the sky with zany ideas lately. 

Celery- According to Juicing for, "Celery leaves has high content of vitamin A, whilst the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C with rich supplies of potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty essential amino acids." Celery is also great for re-hydrating after a workout and neutralizes acidity in the blood's pH. It can significantly lower total cholesterol, can prevent kidney stones, and has a "calming effect on the nervous system." 

Beets- According to Nutrition and, beets "offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels in the body and have anti-aging effects." "Raw beets are an excellent source of folates. Folates are necessary for DNA synthesis in the cells." A beet "contains significant amounts of vitamin-C."  "The root is also rich source of niacin (vit.B-3), pantothenic acid (vit.B-5), pyridoxine (vit.B-6) and carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, manganese, and magnesium. " In addition, the root indeed has very good levels of potassium.  Potassium lowers heart rate and regulates metabolism inside the cells by countering detrimental effects of sodium."

Serrano Peppers- From Fruits and Veggies More, Serrano Chili Peppers are "fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol free, an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and C, and a good source of fiber, vitamin K, and manganese." Wise Geek tells us that that hot peppers "have been linked to metabolism, insulin levels, natural cold remedies, pain control, weight loss, and endorphins. Hot peppers are the way to go when looking for an energy boost. Capsaicin levels in hot peppers are high, and this is the pepper ingredient acknowledged for raising endorphin levels and improving mood."

Cucumber- World's Healthiest Foods tells us that "cucumbers provide us with a variety of health-supportive phytonutrients. Included among these phytonutrients are flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, and kaempferol), lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), and triterpenes (cucurbitacins A, B, C, and D). Cucumbers are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K. They are also a very good source of the enzyme-cofactor molybdenum. They are also a good source of free radical-scavenging vitamin C; heart-healthy potassium and magnesium, bone-building manganese, and energy-producing vitamin B5. They also contain the important nail health-promoting mineral silica."

 That's quite a bit of nutritional bang for my juicing buck. It covers pretty much all systems of the body. The cucumber and celery make it a refreshing, lighter drink. The beets add richness and a potent nutritional edge. The carrots add sweetness and help balance the darkness of the beets. The peppers add a whole other dimension of flavor, energy, and metabolism boosting to the total juicy package.