“Anxiety is unfocused fear.”-Dr. Arthur Brooks

Many report to having anxiety. They report trouble sleeping. Feeling exhausted physically and mentally. The number of people that are on anti-anxiety medication is mind blowing. Anxiety can take over our minds and bodies leaving us depleted and incapacitated.

Yet have we ever tried to identify the real source of our anxiety? When we feel anxiety, it’s often very ambiguous. We know we’re afraid, but it is difficult to identify the real reason. The brain craves certainty above all else. So when the future and the outcome are unknown, the brain goes into panic mode.
“The brain mistakes ambiguity for danger.”- Dr. Bill Anton

When feeling anxious, a powerful tactic is first to “Focus Your Fear”.
-Identify the fear.
-Name the fear.
-What is the real fear that is causing me to feel this way?

Strategic Tip: Put your fears into words through writing or speaking. Specifically writing stimulates a part of the brain that is associated with rational thought.

I feel anxious. Why?
Because cashflow is tight in the business and I don’t know what is going to happen. (source of fear)

If cashflow is tight in the business, what are some real possible scenarios? (and then what?)
Example 1: Our Rational brain: We have some sources of liquidity we can use to get us through this tough time. We could use X, Y,Z… If none of those are good, we could do strategy A, B, C….

Example 2: Our Emotional brain: The bank is going to close on us. We’ll have to layoff all our employees. We’re going to lose our house. My wife and kids will end up homeless. I’ll ruin my kids lives. They’ll hate me. We’ll lose everything. I’ll end up divorced. I will be a big disappointment to my parents and my kids. My life will be one big, wasted failure.

As crazy as Example 2 (emotional brain) sounds, this lives inside all of us. The unknown drives our brains crazy. It turns one unknown situation into an Armageddon that is going to completely destroy our lives RIGHT NOW! Guess what? The entire future is unknown, so the brain will continue to freak out forever, if we let it.

Focusing our fear brings clarity to what is real and unreal. It will quiet our mind. We’ll see that while we cannot know the outcome with certainty, it is very unlikely that the many terrible things in our minds will not come to pass. And if the bad things do happen, it will most likely not be nearly as bad as we imagine.

Practical Takeaway: When you’re feeling anxious, focus your fear. Identify it clearly by putting it into words, verbalizing or writing. This will automatically lead to rational, strategic thought.

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs), initially developed for diabetes management, have emerged as a game-changer for non-diabetic individuals seeking to optimize their health. Beyond tracking glucose levels, CGMs provide unique advantages that contribute to overall well-being.

1. Enhanced Dietary Awareness:
Wearing a CGM offers real-time insights into how different foods impact blood glucose levels, empowering non-diabetics to make informed dietary choices. Research, such as the study in Cell Metabolism (Zeevi et al., 2015), underscores the variability in blood glucose responses to meals, emphasizing the importance of personalized nutrition.

2. Performance Optimization:
For fitness enthusiasts, CGMs offer valuable data on how various exercises influence blood glucose. This information, supported by the American Diabetes Association (Colberg et al., 2016), aids in tailoring workout routines for improved performance and recovery.

3. Stress and Lifestyle Management:
Understanding the correlation between stress levels and blood glucose fluctuations is a unique benefit of CGMs. This data helps non-diabetics identify patterns, contributing to effective stress management and healthier lifestyle practices.

In conclusion, CGMs extend their benefits beyond diabetes management, providing non-diabetic individuals with tools to make informed dietary choices, optimize physical performance, and manage stress for overall health improvement.

In the midst of our fast-paced lives, the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, offers a serene retreat for holistic well-being. Beyond a mere stroll, it’s a mindful immersion in nature, backed by scientific evidence revealing numerous health benefits.

Scientific studies, such as those published in the Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, underline the stress-reducing effects of Shinrin Yoku. Forest environments, laden with phytoncides, have been linked to enhanced immune function, as highlighted in the latter study.

Moreover, forest bathing is a boon for mental health, with research from the Journal of Affective Disorders showcasing its potential to alleviate anxiety and depression. Another study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition suggests that time in nature, particularly forests, enhances cognitive function, fostering improved concentration and creativity.

As we navigate the demands of modern life, integrating Shinrin Yoku—whether in expansive forests or urban green spaces—invites a mindful connection with nature. This practice, rooted in simplicity, emerges as a profound means of revitalization, urging us to unplug and embrace the therapeutic embrace of the natural world.

The science of neuroplasticity emerges as a powerful ally, offering a roadmap for reimagining ourselves and unlocking potential. Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, allows us to reshape our thoughts, behaviors, and ultimately, our identities.

One method to leverage neuroplasticity is through mindfulness practices. By cultivating present-moment awareness, we can rewire neural pathways associated with stress and negativity. Meditation and mindfulness exercises enhance neuroplasticity, fostering a positive mindset and reducing the impact of harmful thought patterns.

Another avenue for personal transformation is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This evidence-based approach targets maladaptive thoughts and behaviors, encouraging the formation of healthier neural connections. Engaging in activities that challenge our comfort zones and learning new skills also stimulates neuroplasticity, fostering adaptability and resilience.

Visualizing our ideal selves is a potent tool. The brain cannot distinguish between a vividly imagined experience and a real one. By consistently envisioning the person we aspire to be, we prompt neuroplastic changes that align with our desired identity.

The science of neuroplasticity invites us to become architects of our own evolution. Through mindfulness, cognitive interventions, experiential learning, and visualization, we can actively participate in the reimagining of ourselves sculpting a more resilient fulfilled version of who we are.

I have a suspicion that we came to this life with more than we realize. Your DNA knew exactly how to form your body, your organs, and brain tissue. All without your help. What keeps us so susceptible to holding onto the concept that we didn’t also arrive with an ideal strategy, cognitive game plan and soulfully imprinted tactics for living an amazing life?

The goal then should be to come into contact with this insightful metaphysical content. How do we do that? I feel that’s in large part what Zen meditation and the yogis of old have been trying to explain to us. If we continue to live a life disconnected to the internet, how do we expect to pull down data and have it available?

Anything that clouds our ability to think clearly disconnects us from this information. We can easily call this “Source” information as it comes from something other than your current physical manifestation. You may feel more or less comfort imagining this as God, the creator. There has been mention of this Source for thousands of years in various religious works and I think it works perfectly when talking about accessing your higher levels of thought and knowledge.

Keep the channels clear of static. Free from useless noise. Avoid nonsensical patterns that don’t suit the highest “you”. Eat foods that allow you to feel energetic and keep your cells healthy. Every cell is a sentient entity that constantly responds to it’s environment. Honor that cell by building in the most ideal garden of Eden with clean rivers and beautiful valleys that provide nourishment and enrich that little being.

Probably the single most important ingredient to remembering who you fully are requires an open and observant heart. One that practices loving unconditionally, wants not, drives intention, and acts as a guide in the dark by lighting the path of your true plan. When this is in place, your reactions become less about satisfying you and more about the greater good of those around you. I’m not suggesting you become a victim and solely rule with your heart; that’s a path to imbalance and heartache along with abuse and trauma. I am suggesting that with respect to your needs and healthy balance goals, to use your heart as a means of interaction and always let the logical heart lead the way.

Practicing the art of remembering requires a quiet mind so that you can hear the subtle whispers in the wind. It requires a nonjudgemental perspective deriving from self love as well as love for others and all things. Find the right station and you’ll hear the song you’re looking for.

I spoke with a priest, Father Alex Steinmiller, recently and we talked about human behavior. Most harmful behaviors, we already know are harmful. Yet why do we do them? Lack of information?

People know they should exercise…. But they don’t, even if they want to.
People know they should eat healthy… but they don’t, even if they have good intentions.

We have unlimited information on most subjects, so it’s not that. Are we just not disciplined enough to change our own behavior? My mom always says that most “people would rather die than change”…. Even when they want to.

Father Alex told me, that if we want to change our behavior we need to analyze and eliminate the lead-up actions that trigger the undesired behavior. What situation, people, events, or patterns trigger this undesired behavior? Eliminate the lead-up actions that trigger the undesired behavior.

Analogy: If you don’t want to eat junk food, don’t have it in the house.

This makes sense, as Dr. Robert Cooper says, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Relying on our own discipline to change our behavior is nearly impossible if we keep following the same routines and patterns. This might mean altering where we spend time and who we spend our time with, ect. But it gives us a significantly better chance of making the behavior change we desire.

I am 77 years old and I have always been physically active. I box and lift weights 3 times a week. I go on walks with friends. I also make sure that I eat well. I enjoy taking care of myself, but more importantly, I enjoy what being fit gives me the freedom to do.

At my age, many of my friends who are close in age are starting to experience some health issues. Back pain, hip pain, cancers, heart issues, dementia, and even death. I want to acknowledge that I feel blessed and lucky that I haven’t had many of these issues, but I strongly believe a big part reason is, how diligently I have worked to stay fit.

When you invest money, you make deposits so that the money can grow and compound. It’s the same thing with your health and fitness. Each time I exercise and choose to eat healthy, I am making a deposit in my current and future “health account”. Over time, all those individual choices (deposits) will hopefully compound into a life of better health.

Life is busy and if you do not prioritize your physical activity, it will fall behind other things. So, I make sure to protect the time I need for my workouts. Some people might think this sounds selfish, but it goes on the calendar and I make sure to keep that time for the exercise.

I create a structure in my life that encourages accountability and makes the workouts more enjoyable. I work out with a trainer. He pushes me and keeps me accountable. Prior to having a trainer, I would still exercise but I would maybe do half of the work I do with him. If I felt tired or bored, instead of doing 50 reps, maybe I would only do 20.

I also have young friends that I walk with regularly. Without them, I most likely would not do it as often as I should. Also spending time with these young men, keeps me mentally sharp and curious.

Most people think that as you get older, you should slow down. Since 50, I have ramped up my workouts. I know that as we age, it’s harder to maintain muscle mass and stay fit. So I know that I just have to work that much harder.

I genuinely believe that has been a secret to my life and I cannot stress the importance of this enough to young people. If you want to stay active and healthy so you can enjoy your older years, regularly make “deposits” into your health.

Consistent inputs are truly the key to success. With them, momentum builds and life changing outcomes start to occur.

The goal is to get 1% better each day or 1/10th of 1% or whatever incremental improvement makes sense for you. This is how the process works and as much as we might want to skip a step this cannot be done.

The reality is that you have to lose the first pound if you want to lose 50 pounds, and you have to first get second faster if you want to get one minute faster in a mile run. Each step in the process is important as you move towards your goal.

So do what needs to be done to improve each and every day, and then over time you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. The key word here is consistent, which I think may be just the word that separates the pros from the amateurs.

Even when you don’t want to do it, you get it done and postpone rewards until later. The plan will work if you work it.

Maybe you’ve been trying to lose weight without positive results, but it’s never too late to get in shape. Unfortunately, most of the advice on the internet promising quick and easy results can be unhelpful and even misleading. So, if you are unsure of where to start, listen to your gut.

The collection of bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract has a lot to say about the food you are eating and its effects in your body. We know now there are clear connections between the foods we eat and the growth of specific bacterial species in the G.I. tract.

For example, when you eat the food preferred by the healthy bacteria in your gut, you end up with a diverse gut microbiome that helps prevent obesity and other health conditions. But the opposite could spur chronic inflammation and irritate your gut, making it harder to lose weight.

In a study published in April 2021 in BMJ Journals, scientists found that certain foods in the Western diet (large amounts of meat, processed foods, sugar and alcohol) are more likely to promote harmful gut bacteria and increase inflammation.

But those who ate more fish and plant-based products in line with a Mediterranean diet appeared to be less likely to experience elevated levels of inflammation.

And last but not least, good news for coffee lovers! They are more likely to have a type of bacterium that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cheers!

When you sleep less, you are more likely to eat more the next day, as you have probably experienced. This relationship has been consistently shown in previous research.

But up until recently, no study had examined the effects of training individuals to sleep more on changes in food intake and body weight.

A recent study* published in JAMA last month did just that and the findings are quite intriguing.
The participants, who all reported getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night, were randomized to receive sleep hygiene recommendations or to a control condition.

After 2 weeks, the participants in the intervention group reported sleeping 1.5 extra hours each night. These participants also reported eating approximately 270 fewer calories per day and losing about 1 pound of body weight.

If this reduction was maintained over time, a relatively large weight loss could occur just from sleeping a bit more. In addition, the participants who slept more reported having more energy during the day, feeling more alert and being in a better mood.
So, it seems a little extra Zs can pay huge dividends.

All it takes sometimes is a small lifestyle change to set you on the path of weight loss and greater well-being.

*JAMA Intern Med. Published online February 7, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.8098