Tag Archives: Allergies

Tips to Avoid Harmful Chemicals and Make Your Home a Healing Space

Δ†In the naturopathic profession, often one of the first challenges a doctor will tackle in working with a new patient is to determine and remove the “barriers to cure” – things that are interfering with the body’s ability to heal. In the past, I’ve written about treatments for common barriers to cure such as insufficient sleep, food sensitivities and seasonal allergies. I’ve learned through many patient experiences that no matter how amazing a medical treatment or how hard I work, a patient will be hard-pressed to truly heal as long as barriers stand in the way.

Often, some of the toughest barriers to remove are allergens and irritants in the home.  Chemical usage in home products has skyrocketed in the past few decades. Everything from laundry detergent to stain-resistant carpets, air-freshener sprays and synthetic-fiber bedding is a source of chemicals that put stress on our livers and immune systems. If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, here’s a touching video from Healthy Child Healthy World that puts this issue into focus, especially as it impacts children (who are even more susceptible to the negative impacts of these chemicals than most adults).

My mother happens to be a Seattle-based interior designer with a fluency in eco-design and hypo-allergenic products for the home. While visiting her recently, I took some time to ask her for resources and tips she could share for those of us who are looking for ways to create a healthier home environment. The following are highlights from our conversation:

Q: What kinds of materials and treated fabrics are best to avoid in order to minimize chemical exposure?

A: Ideally, avoid anything synthetic. Synthetic materials, such as polyesters and acrylics, contain chemicals that can be harmful.  In addition to the material itself, these types of products are often treated with other chemicals to make them stain-resistant or otherwise “low-maintenance”. Unfortunately, buying convenience can also mean having to live with toxins that can be harmful to health. Terms like “easy care”, “water-repellant”, “no iron”, “anti-cling”, “static-free” and “flame retardant” are all signs that the product may be treated with harmful chemicals.

Q: What are some of the healthiest and least allergenic fibers to look for when choosing fabrics and floor coverings for a home?

A: The easiest rule of thumb is to stick with natural fibers. Linen, hemp, ramie, and abaca are all natural fibers that are hypo-allergenic and tend to be free from additional chemical treatments. When possible, look for organic textiles, not just organically grown materials, but products that are processed using organic-compliant compounds. Sometime a material will be organic, but then it’s processed with a harsh, non-organic dye and that can defeat the health benefits of sourcing the original organic material.

Q: In general terms, how to you suggest approaching the design of an eco-friendly and hypo-allergenic space?

A: Keep the space free of clutter where dust and allergens can accumulate. Opt for wood or tile floors and avoid carpet. Use natural fibers for window coverings, like wood-based plantation shutters instead of heavy fabric curtains. Optimize air circulation by strategically placing doors and windows to optimize air flow and utilize the air-filtering mechanisms of plants to improve air quality.

Q: Are there certain products, brands and resources you can suggest for people who are looking for products or just want more information on how to make smart choices when it comes to creating a health-promoting space?

A: The following are all great resources to check out:

  • O Ecotextiles is a Seattle-based textile company that creates luxurious fabrics that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable. Not only do I love their products, but they are leading experts on this topic and their website has an incredible amount of information for how to make smart choices for the home.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals often found in paint and other home-based textiles. This site does a great job of explaining the dangers of VOCs, what products typically contain them and how they can be avoided.
  • Unique Carpets, Ltd. sells eco-friendly floor coverings made from natural fibers that are treated in an environmentally-safe way. If you are looking for floor coverings to soften a space, this brand is a great option to check out.

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5 Questions Every Modern Parent Should Be Asking

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.00.44 PMDo you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re sort of uncomfortable but you don’t complain, don’t leave, don’t speak up because you don’t want to cause a scene or make anyone feel bad?

Even when we have concerns that are legitimate, sometimes we hold our tongues to avoid awkwardness or confrontation. We don’t walk away because we believe our departure implies criticism, judgment or lack of trust in another’s decisions or lifestyle.  We take care not to step on anyone’s toes. We don’t want to be rude or offensive by questioning what folks are doing. Maybe we assume that the other person knows better – or knows something we don’t.

Of course we know just fine ourselves. Our little voices whisper to us, “Get out of here. This feels wrong,” or, “This guy has no idea what he’s talking about. We’re in danger.” And our little voices are usually right on target. Those voices become especially useful when it comes to our kids. But sometimes, just as we ignore it when it comes to our own safety, we ignore it when it comes to theirs.

Even though we like to think that we’d never put our babies in harm’s way, it happens to every parent at some point. That moment when we know we should be changing course but we stay put instead because we don’t want to make waves. At times like these it’s important to remember that there’s nothing rude or offensive about being a good advocate for our children. After all, our kids trust us implicitly and believe that when we send them off into the world that we are sending them off to safe place with responsible people. They never say, “Momma, will I be safe?” They move through the world with confidence, knowing for certain that we have their little backs.

We are our children’s best advocates. We are responsible for our children’s safety. And knowing about the world and how it spins in 2013, we can initiate some pre-emptive, full-disclosure conversations that will provide us with comfort and trust as our children explore the world independently. These are five “little voice” questions that every parent should be asking without hesitation or fear of imposition:

1. “Can you please not drive and text or talk on the phone while my child is in the car?”  

We all know the stats. Distracted drivers hurt people. Carpools being a vital part of parenting, often times we toss kids into minivans assuming that the drivers are responsible behind the wheel simply because they are responsible for children. Do you know if the parents or guardians in your carpool are texting while driving? I admit, while I’ve asked this question to friends on occasion, for the most part I assume that people are doing the right thing. But there’s nothing wrong with asking. We have every right to protect our kids.

2. “Do you keep a gun in your house?”  

The Newtown tragedy was not lost on anyone, certainly not parents of small children. Let’s use this tragedy as a lesson to us all when it comes to gun safety. A few weeks ago, my son was eagerly anticipating a play date with a new friend. The night before the big day, I received an email from the boy’s mom, “Don’t take this the wrong way. But in light of everything that happened this year, do you keep guns in your house?” I was so happy that I wasn’t the only parent asking that question. There is nothing intrusive about ensuring our children are playing in a safe environment. I assured her I don’t have any weapons in my house and we cleared the way for a terrific conversation about modern parenting.

3. “Will there be any other people in your home during the play date?”  

Listen, I’m not a paranoid parent, but when I drop my kids at someone’s house, I want to know about older siblings, friends, visiting uncles or handymen hanging around. When we are alert, we pass this awareness onto our children and we give them a beautiful gift called confidence. When their heads are up, they are better prepared to protect themselves if placed in an uncomfortable position. Abusers seek opportunity.

I always tell my kids this: When you go to pick out a puppy, do you want to take home the puppy who is nipping and barking? Or do you want to take home the puppy that curls up in a ball in your arms? Of course they vote for the snuggly puppy. And then I tell them that abusers think this way when they pick out victims. They want easy prey. When we are confident, when we look people right in the eye and use our strong voices to tell them when we don’t feel comfortable, we are unbreakable. Knowing who is in the house, we can prep our kids with an easy conversation and remind them that if they are ever in a place where they don’t feel right, they should go to a parent and ask for help.

4. “Will the birthday cake have nuts in it? Will nuts be offered at the party?” or, “Does your child have a food allergy?”

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s about two kids in every classroom. With this in mind, the likelihood that an allergy sufferer attends your child’s birthday party is pretty darn good. Peanut is obviously the most prevalent allergy in children, though lots of other issues are out there – eggs, shellfish, gluten, dairy, soy… how can we do the right thing? Some kids know enough to ask the right questions. My son, for example, has been asking, “Are there nuts in this?” since he was two years old. He has a genetic allergy and knows to be vocal. Other kids might just trust that the food is safe. So it’s important for us parents to clear potential danger out of the way by asking about allergies ahead of time. This way the party host has a chance has full disclosure.

But even though the party host may not have an allergy kid, it’s also important for her to ask guests ahead of time. Because the last thing anyone wants to do is serve a strawberry cake with almond extract to a kid with a nut allergy and sit there helplessly while the child breaks out in hives and gasps for air. This is the world we live in now, and these are the precautions we need to take. We can no longer take the “I didn’t know better” approach. Because we do know better. Ask the questions. Protect the child. Protect yourself.

5. “Can you please not use your cell phone or go in my bedroom while babysitting?”  

We may be comfortable assuming that our babysitters know better than to text, play “Words with Friends” and chit-chat on their iPhones while caring for our children. But most likely, this is not the case. Very rarely do teens log out. But it is absolutely acceptable to ask them to turn off electronics while watching our kids. We are paying them to give their full attention to our children, after all. And if there is an emergency, they can use the house phone.

We may also assume that sitters respect our privacy when they’re in the house. But I’ve been shocked to hear many adult friends confess that they used to rifle through bedside goodie drawers and personal spaces of parents for whom they sat as teens. If it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss casually, write down a short list of expectations for the sitter like this:

  • chicken soup for dinner
  • PG movies only
  • no texting or phone calls while kids are awake
  • be sure toys are put away and kitchen is clean
  • kids in bed by 9pm
  • my bedroom is completely off limits
  • we’ll be home by 11 but call for any problems

By taking time to create clear boundaries, we are letting others know that we value ourselves and our families. This is a good thing. And really, when we share our expectations we are helping everyone by avoiding uncomfortable situations. It’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to advocate for our kids’ safety. Safety is the last thing on their minds so it needs to be the first thing on ours.

The One Diet That Can Cure Most Disease: Part 1

Red, Yellow, GreenIf I told you there was one diet that could cure arthritis, fatigue, irritable bowel, reflux, chronic allergies, eczema, psoriasis, autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, migraines, depression, attention deficit disorder, and occasionally even autism and that it could help you lose weight quickly and easily without cravings, suffering, or deprivation, you might wonder if Dr. Hyman had gone a bit crazy.

But it’s true. And the story goes like this.

Food is medicine. Bad food is bad medicine and will make us sick. Good food is good medicine that can prevent, reverse, and even cure disease. Take away the bad food, put in the good food and magic happens.

The problem with current medical thinking is that it treats diseases individually, requiring specific diagnoses and labels: “you have migraines,” “you have depression,” “you have psoriasis.” And then you get the migraine pill, the antidepressant, and the immune suppressant.

What if you didn’t have to treat diseases specifically or even need to know their names? In fact, I often see patients—like one I saw yesterday—who came with 20 pages of analysis from a dozen doctors from the Mayo Clinic. Her “diagnoses” were “muscle pain, fatigue and insomnia,” and she had been given no recommendations for treatment. Not very helpful!

I recently saw a patient treated at Harvard by multiple specialists. She was on 42 pills a day for severe allergies, asthma, and hives. She even died twice and had to be resuscitated after anaphylactic shock. In just a few short weeks, simply by changing her diet, she got off all her medications, and her allergies, hives, and asthma were gone.

Another patient, who suffered for decades with reflux and irritable bowel and whose symptoms weren’t controlled with acid blockers and “gut relaxers,” got complete relief from his symptoms one week after changing his diet.

What if you could just treat the whole person with dietary changes, upgrading the information given every day to your body through food? Food is information carrying detailed instructions for every gene and every cell in your body, helping them to renew, repair, and heal or to be harmed and debilitated, depending on what you eat. What if you could send messages and instructions to heal your cells and turn on healing genes? And what if, by some simple changes in your diet, you could get rid of most of your chronic symptoms and diseases in just one week (or maybe two!)?

That is entirely possible. Some people call it detox, Some people call it an elimination diet. I call it the inclusion and abundance diet.

I call it UltraSimple!

The best part of this approach is that you don’t have to trust me or any “expert.” You simply have to trust your body. It will tell you very quickly what it likes and doesn’t like.

If you are constantly putting in information that is making your body toxic, sick, and fat—hyper-processed industrial junk food, sugar, flour, chemicals, additives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, inflammatory foods, or what I call anti-nutrients—it acts like poison in the body. It inflames your gut and your cells leading to whole-body inflammation that you experience as pain, allergies, headaches, fatigue, and depression and that leads to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

This one diet, The UltraSimple Diet—getting the junk out, getting inflammatory foods out, adding healing, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory foods—has the power to heal in a way that medication can’t and never will be able to.

I have used it for decades with tens of thousands of patients with remarkable results. We are beginning studies at Harvard that will look at how to tackle the toughest diseases with a simple change in diet.

This approach can work faster and better than any medication. The power of this simple diet change—getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff—can often reverse the most difficult-to-treat medical problems and give people the experience of profound wellness, even if they don’t have a serious illness. It is something everyone should try just once. Most of my patients say, “Dr. Hyman, I didn’t know I was feeling so bad until I started feeling so good.”

Let me share a story, one that is very common in the world of functional medicine, which is the science of treating the roots causes of disease, the science of creating health.

One patient, a medical school professor and doctor, came to see me after struggling for years with psoriatic arthritis. He was crippled by pain and inflammation, despite taking powerful immune-suppressing drugs, including an ibuprofen-like drug, chemo drugs, and a drug called a TNF alpha-blocker that suppresses the immune response so much that its side effects include overwhelming infection, cancer, and death. Still, he wasn’t better, and at 56 years old, he was planning to quit. He couldn’t operate any longer and could barely walk up the stairs. He had psoriasis all over his skin, and it was destroying his joints. He also had reflux, depression, canker sores, constipation, and trouble with concentration. His liver function tests were abnormal, and he was overweight.

He had a horrible diet. He ate oatmeal with milk and sugar for breakfast, tuna with soup and cookies for lunch, and fish or meat with vegetables and potato or pasta for dinner. He snacked on cookies and protein bars. He avoided chocolate and fatty foods. He ate out more than five times per week and craved sweets and caffeine, consuming three to four cups of coffee and one diet soda per day. He drank about 12 alcoholic beverages per week, including wine and the occasional scotch.

So, I put him on The UltraSimple Diet, getting rid of industrial food, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar and adding whole, real foods. I also got rid of the most common food allergens and sensitivities.

At his first follow-up visit, he arrived pain-free and said he hadn’t felt so good in years. He reported an 80% reduction in pain, could climb stairs more quickly, and was no longer limping. All his pain and stiffness were gone. His hands had been swollen and difficult to open, but now, the swelling was gone and he could operate again. And he had quit all his medications after the first visit (even though I told him not to). His reflux and migraines were gone. His mood had improved, and he was less irritable. He was no longer constipated. And he lost 15 pounds.

If there is one thing I could encourage everyone to do, it is to take just one week to see just how powerful a drug food can be. There is nothing to lose but your suffering. It doesn’t take months or years to see change. It happens in days or weeks.

In my next blog, I will explain exactly what this diet is, why it works, and how it heals your body. And I will show you how to get started.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, I can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!


Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Stinging Nettle Tea: A Natural Remedy to Fight Spring Allergies

nettle intent imageI don’t know how you fare this time of year, but it’s usually right around now that I start to experience seasonal allergies.  For me that means itchy eyes and throat and sneezing, especially in the morning. However, seasonal allergies can be present in many ways, with symptoms that span from a mild runny nose to severe chronic headaches.

For the past few years, I’ve mostly just toughed it out (thankfully my symptoms are mild enough that this is an option), but this year I have a natural medicine plan: Stinging Nettle tea.

In the United States, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is considered a weed by many given the ease with which it grows.  It’s funny name comes from the Latin verb urere, meaning “to burn,” because of its urticate (stinging) hairs that cover the stem and underside of the leaves. So, while walking through a field of this plant is probably not a good idea, using it for its anti-allergic activity can be an effective way to manage seasonal allergy symptoms. It has a nice amount of published research demonstrating positive benefit for a host of allergic and inflammatory conditions.

Stinging Nettle contains a set of compounds that act on the immune system to provide anti-inflammatory action and block histamine release. Perhaps you are familiar with over-the-counter medicines called “anti-histamines”?  Well, stinging nettle works in a similar fashion, blocking the release of histamine compounds that alert our immune system and trigger inflammation, redness, and all those pesky symptoms those of us who are sensitive to pollen, etc. experience this time of year.

Because stinging nettle doesn’t contain caffeine, you can brew it as tea and exchange it for your water source throughout the day.  Here’s my recipe/plan:

  • Add 1tsp dried Stinging Nettle leaf to 16oz hot water. Steep for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drink right away in the morning when I experience the most symptoms.
  • Re-fill tea infuser with hot water and re-use same tea leaves a couple more times throughout day (although most of the anti-histamine activity will come from the first steep, there is a mild benefit from re-using the leaves)
  • Continue as I feel like I need symptom relief throughout day

With any treatment, you should always talk to a licensed health professional and make sure the products and medicines you are using are appropriate for you. Licensed naturopathic doctors are a great source for natural therapies like this one.


Photo credit: John Tann

Celebrate Spring Allergy-Free: 10 Natural Remedies for Seasonal Sniffles

(cc) by wcn247's

The history of celebrating Spring is thousands of years old. It is the day that there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. It is the celebration of the vernal equinox. There are two equinox’s per year, occurring around March 21 and September 21. An equinox is when the earth is neither facing toward nor against the sun. The center of the Sun is in the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The earth is balanced.

For centuries, people across the entire world have celebrated spring as the time of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. Spring months are defined in most places as March, April and May. These are the months that the snow starts to melt, temperatures rise, the days are longer and plants are blooming. Spring is seen as a time of renewed excitement about life. It is the awakening of the dead from a long winter.

(cc) Rich Anderson

Spring is also a time of turbulent and unpredictable weather patterns as the cold air mixes with the warm air. In perfect timing with this wonderful day, we had thunderstorms and flooding yesterday here in Texas and today, it’s slightly colder with beautiful blue skies and no rain.

With the blooming of the trees, flowers and changing weather patterns, people also suffer from allergies due to the increased pollen and climate changes. As I sit home sick, due to a sinus headache, on the first day of Spring, I can’t help thinking about the timing of my illness. While I may be suffering from a stuffy nose and head, I look outside and can’t help but notice the beauty that the rains and warmer temperatures have brought. And so, like the earth, I search for balance between the turbulent storms and the beauty that new life brings.

A follower of meditation, yoga and natural remedies, I am taking this day to balance myself so I too can renew this Spring. Like me, you also might suffer from allergies. Here are some natural remedies that I have found to help with a stuffy head. These remedies may not work as fast as some of the over the counter remedies you can take but in the long run, these methods last a lot longer and make you feel clean, refreshed and renewed.

  1. Drink lots of water, hot tea (such as a sinus tea with nettle – Celestial Seasonings makes a great one), green drinks and smoothies.
  2. Eat hot soup.
  3. Clean out your sinuses by taking a hot bath or shower then doing a sinus irrigation.
  4. Place your face over boiling water with a few drops of eucalyptus oil.
  5. Use a nasal spray (water mixed with a little bit of salt) hourly.
  6. Rest. Sleep some, read, or watch TV.
  7. Exercise. When you feel well enough, sweating and getting your heart-rate up will help you detox.
  8. Meditate.
  9. Do some light yoga.
  10. Mix 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1 tbsp honey (preferably local) in a cup of warm water and sip throughout the day.

That’s it. If you can do these things you will not only feel better, you will be balanced and be in alignment with the changing seasons of the earth and your life.

photos by: wcn247 & Rich Anderson

The Neti Pot – Alleviates Allergies and Great for General Respiratory Health

Kim DuessI was introduced to the Neti pot (sanskrit for ‘Nasal Pot) about 2 years ago.  It looks like a little tea pot and most are ceramic.  Using a Neti Pot is a traditional method to purify and revitalize the breathing passages.  This process can reduce allergies and decrease your chances of contracting upper respiratory infections.  It has been used in India for 3,000 years and has recently become more mainstream through the practices of Ayurveda.

Dr. Oz spoke about the Neti pot on Oprah and says "Whether called nasal irrigation, nasal lavage, neti-potting or sinus irrigation – when you use it properly, it reduces dust and other contaminants in the nose, and it’s a very effective way to clean the sinuses. Modern studies are showing that it’s as effective as drugs for preventing sinus infections."

How to Use the Neti Pot

First you add warm water and a small amount (1/8 teaspoon) of sea salt to the Neti pot.  Then tilt your head and  place the spout of the Neti pot in the higher nostril and pour. The water will run out the other nostril.  The first time can be challenging and the water may not go where you want it to!  Once you figure out the angle/positioning, it is easy and feels great.

If you suffer from allergies, I highly recommend trying the Neti pot for some natural, non-drowsy relief!  It is also great for relieving nasal dryness on airplanes and may help fight off colds.

You can buy neti pots in health food stores and also online.

To your health,

Kim Duess


Food Allergies and Children

Nuts are common allergen among children and they can cause one of the more severe, even life- threatening allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis.

Only about 6 percent of all children have clinically diagnosed food allergies. This number is rather small, but food intolerance, which presents itself much like a food allergy, adds to the public perception that this is a major issue. While the medical difference is quite different, the solution to a food allergy and intolerance is to remove the culprit food from your diet.

Food allergies can be very dangerous, and early detection is critical to managing them and the health of your child. Any family history of food allergies should be discussed with your health care provider prior to introducing solid foods to your baby. Food allergies or food intolerances can occur even if there is no previous family history of such. As you introduce your child to new foods, you should introduce each new food one at a time, and watch for any changes in your child’s appearance or behavior. Some common symptoms of food allergies/intolerances include: 

Rashes or eczema, especially on the face
Diaper Rash
Runny nose, watery eyes, or sneezing
Diarrhea, gas, or vomiting
Temperament changes
Puffy eyes
Nasal congestion

One way to prevent food allergies is not to introduce commonly-known allergenic foods until later in your baby’s life, at 1, 2 or even 3 years old. This approach is referred to as “delayed introduction.”  The foods that children react to are those foods they eat often. The most common food allergens that cause problems in children are eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat. A more complete list includes:

Artificial colors and preservatives
Citrus Fruits
Cow’s milk
Fish and shellfish

Fortunately, most allergic reactions in babies are temporary and the culprit foods can usually be reintroduced when the child is older. Food allergies can be very serious, so it is important to follow the advice that is given to you by a healthcare professional. 

Help for the allergy sufferer: While there is no cure for food allergies, eliminating foods from your diet is often easier said than done. Reading ingredient labels of foods can be a daunting and confusing task. Eight major foods – milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans – account for 90 percent of food allergies. If you or your child suffers from one of these common food allergies, there is some good news that makes reading ingredient labels easier. Food manufacturers are now required to include a listing of the plain English name of these culprit foods just below the ingredient listing. These standards provide a definite improvement for the food allergy sufferer. 

Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

Photo: CC Flickr//Mighty B


In Sicknes and In Health


Week 2. Check. 50 remaining.

I’ve decided that the The 2011 LA marathon and I are married. We will be there for each other in sickness and in health. Last week there was a bit of sickness. The marathon was there for me, but was I there for the marathon?

Terrible allergies threw my body into a tizzy of sneezes, coughs and other strange face postures and noises. I kept contemplating whether or not I should power through it even though I felt continuously exhausted from the histamine. I went from “Go team go” to “whoa team whoa” every few minutes. “But I can’t get behind and miss out!” Uh Sahara….reality check (voice by inner wisdom). Your official training doesn’t even start until July dear. You are fine.

Right. The conclusion for me once again? Pace.

I worked out lighter and less frequently to let my body rest and my immune system settle itself. And in the end I actually found that like my inner wisdom suspected, I was fine.

We are definitely back to “Go team, go!” Thank you pace and inner wisdom. You rule. And when you don’t, you should! And will. I’m learning.


I thought you might enjoy this article from my friend Josh Crosby (Pro Tri-athlete extraordinaire and creator of Indo-Row). He really nails what it means to pace yourself and cross that finish line.

Ok, now off to get my rear-end signed up for one of his classes! If you haven’t tried it, I can’t recommend it more!

Adrenalin can be your best friend and your worst nightmare. It can make you feel super human… nature’s drug.

I’ll share something that happens frequently in an Indo-Row class. Let’s say I call for a 2 min. push at Full Pressure (hard but not breathless). A new excited rower starts pushing hard with everything she has… hair is flying, eyes locked on her monitor, a competitive grin on her face. She gets about 1 minute into it and that grin turns into a grimace with a little drool to boot. Her energy and performance start to fade. Eventually she is so out of sync with her team that if they were on the water, their boat would be doing circles. She still has 30 seconds to go. This is what many athletes call… Flying and Dying. She has spent all her “change” but still has to pay. Her team is tired (of course) but can still finish the race with technical integrity and gusto.

The question then becomes…when should you push it? When is it too much? How do you still go past your limits but maintain your athletic (or professional, or personal or artistic) integrity? Perhaps it’s on a run, with work, a creative pursuit. I always appreciate seeing someone go after “it” with unstoppable passion. But sometimes we get so caught up in our mission – a race, a business deal, a love interest – that we forget to pace ourselves. Learning to channel excited energy into pace and steady progress is what is key. Doing something for “speed” sake doesn’t necessarily get you across the finish line. We forget that through pacing we can actually commit our energy to reaching our goals, closing the deal, finding our soul mates…crossing any finish line in our lives.

8 Intentional Steps Obama Could Take to Save Food

The landscape of health has changed. No longer are our families guaranteed a healthy livelihood, not in the face of the current rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimers and allergies. In the words of Elizabeth Warren, Harvard University law professor who is head of the Congressional Oversight Panel, "We need a new model," and we need a new food system. It’s our health on the line.

8 Steps Obama Could Take to Save Food

1. Evenly distribute government moneys to all farmers: The current system allocates the lion share of our tax dollars (approximately $60 billion) to farmers growing crops whose seeds have been engineered to produce their own insecticides and tolerate increasing doses of weed killing herbicides. As a result, these crops, with a large chemical footprint, are cheaper to produce, while farmers growing organic produce are charged fees to prove that their crops are safe and then charged additional fees to label these crops as free of synthetic chemicals and "organic". If organic farmers received an equal distribution of taxpayer funded handouts from the government, the cost of producing crops free from synthetic chemicals would be cheaper, making these crops more affordable to more people, in turn increasing demand for these products which would further drive down costs.  If we were to reallocate our national budget and evenly distribute our tax dollars to all farmers, clean food would be affordable to everyone and not just those in certain zip codes.

2. Reinstitute the USDA pesticide reporting standard that was waived under the Bush administration. In 2008, the USDA waived pesticide reporting requirements (a procedure that has been in place since the early 1990s) so that farmers and consumers would know the level of chemicals being applied to food crops. Given a report just released that reveals a 383 million pound increase in the use of weed killing herbicides since the introduction of herbicide tolerant crops in 1996 and the potential impact that this glyphosate containing compound is having on both the environment and on our health, perhaps the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy assumed under the previous administration should be reversed.

3. Reinstate the pre-Bush administration dollar value that the EPA places on the life of every American: in May 2008, the Bush administration lowered the value placed on the life of every American by almost $1 million, benefiting corporations who use this figure in their cost benefit analyses, marking down our lives from $7.8 million to $6.9 million the same way a car dealer might markdown a "96 Camaro with bad brakes. The EPA figure is used to assess corporate liability when a company’s actions put a life at risk. While this figure benefits the corporations conducting the cost benefit analysis when assessing the health impact of their chemicals, the costs of these chemicals are being externalized onto the public in the form of health care costs.

4. Allow public debate over the nomination of pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui for Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. As addressed in a letter sent to Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Charles Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee, Islam Siddiqui, nominated for Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative, was formerly employed by CropLife America, whose firm challenged Michelle Obama’s organic garden, has consistently lobbied the U.S government to weaken international treaties governing the use and export of toxic chemicals such as PCBs, DDT and dioxins, and blocked international attempts to help regulate pesticides that increasingly linked to chronic skin and respiratory problems, birth defects and cancer in our community. Given that a growing body of scientific evidence supports the theory that chemicals in our food are contributing to the rise in health problems, particularly in children, the appointment of an industry lobbyist to export our challenged food system to the rest of the world may be in the best interest of agrichemical corporations but consideration should also be given to the health implications that these novel chemicals, proteins and allergens may have.

5. Encourage climate change advocates like Al Gore to discuss Pesticide Use by Big Ag and its Chemical Footprint: While speaking openly about the petroleum industry’s impact on global warming, leading environmental advocates like Al Gore have been quiet about the chemical contribution that the recent introduction of crops genetically engineered with pesticidal toxins play on global warming despite scientific evidence from the Royal Society of Chemistry highlighting their impact. Since the Clinton Administration’s introduction of biotech crops designed and engineered to both withstand increasing doses of weed killing chemicals and produce their own insecticides, new reports based on USDA data, show a 383 million pound increase in the chemicals being applied to these crops since their introduction in 1996. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, "growing biofuels is probably of no benefit and in fact is actually making the climate issue worse" given that glyphosate, being applied in increasing doses to these crops, breaks down into nitrogen.

6. Update the Consumer Protection and Food Allergen Labeling Act to inform consumers of these newly engineered corn allergens: The recent engineering of novel food proteins and toxins into the US food supply has enhanced profitability for the food industry by allowing commodities like corn to produce their own insecticides. As a result, corn is now considered an insecticide and regulated by the EPA .  For this same reason, this corn has been either banned or labeled in products in other developed countries because the new toxins and novel allergens that it contains have not yet been proven safe. Despite the lack of evidence, this corn is in the American food supply. The increase in the rate of food allergies as demonstrated in the December issue of Pediatrics and the growing number of people with this condition- whose bodies recognize food as "foreign" and launch inflammatory reaction in an effort to drive out these "foreign" food invaders, speaks to the need to update and amend the food allergen labeling act to label these newly engineered genetically enhanced proteins and allergens as governments around the world do.

7. Ask the SEC to join the Department of Justice in its investigation into trade practices in agrichemical industry. As the Department of Justice begins its investigation into the impact that Monsanto’s monopoly is having on farmers, their financial situation and the food supply, research out of the USDA highlights that the biotech industry is not delivering on what some are calling their "hype-to-reality ratio". As farmers are charged premiums for seeds that have been engineered to produce greater yields, research out of the USDA, Kansas State University shows that these products are not delivering as promised, directly impacting the cost structures of farmers in a razor to razorblade scenario. As farmers purchase genetically modified seeds in the hopes that they will increase yields and drive down cost structure and their dependency on weed killers, studies now suggest that since the introduction of the "razor", these biotech crops introduced 13 years ago, farmers are actually spending more on the "razorblade", the herbicides and weed killers required to manage them, driving farmers debt to asset ratios to record levels. Given that Monsanto’s CFO, Treasurer, Controller are all leaving the company by year end, the Securities and Exchange Commission could interview these three exiting executives and learn more about the financial predicaments of Big Ag’s customers, the farmers, and the greater ramifications that this monopoly will have on food prices.

8. Appoint a Children’s Health Advisor to serve on the USDA’s National School Lunch Program: The landscape of children’s health has changed. No longer are the American children guaranteed a healthy childhood, not in the face of the current rates of obesity, diabetes and allergies. Perhaps it is time that we follow the lead of governments in other developed countries and create a Cheif Advisor for Child and Youth Health whose responsibilities might include, but not be limited to, serving in an advisory capacity to the USDA on the National School Lunch Program. Under the USDA’s current budget for the National School Lunch Program of approximately $8.5 billion (in comparison the Pentagon’s 2009 budget $600 billion), less than a dollar is available per meal for the purchase of healthy food once overhead costs are taken out. Given that 1 in 3 American children now has allergies, ADHD, autism of asthma and according to an October 2008 study from the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 Fourth graders is expected to be insulin dependent by the time they reach adulthood. As a result, dietary concerns are becoming increasingly prevalent for the estimated 30.9 million children and approximately 102,000 schools and child care institutions that participate in the National School Lunch Program. Given that increasing scientific evidence points to the roles that environmental insults like synthetic growth hormones in milk and trans fats in processed foods are having on our health, investing in a children’s health advisor may provide long term benefits to the future of our health care system .

It’s our food system on the line.  And if our children are any indicator, our health and the economic burden that it presents are on the line, too.

Is Fall Sapping Your Energy? 5 Tips to “Fall” Back On

The winds of seasonal change are blowing. There is plenty of orange going around from falling leaves out here in the East to carved pumpkins and mums on doorsteps. In color therapy orange is the hue of cheerfulness. Therefore I expect to be greeted with sunny dispositions; instead I hear a few mumbled words and observe allergic eyes, sluggish gaits and stuffy noses.
Fall compels you to take stock of your home, garden, school curriculum and work. You note what is depleted and what areas require innovation. While change is stimulating, it can be stressful because for awhile you live in ambiguity to see if things will work out. Instead of rigorously following the tracks you have carefully mapped out, try not to lose track of living in the moment. Nature is a great teacher. Let nature take you on a walk to be present to what is meaningful in life: alive and alert.

To power up:

* Fall back on the things that bring you simple pleasures like laughter, massage, well-prepared hearty food, music, art, good friends which include people and pets.

* Don’t fall down, fall up! Become a work in progress. And if others ask you questions that make you feel small and unimportant, tell them that you are still under construction.

* Rake the leaves, fall on the pile and show your true colors. Even if you have been hurt in the past, the more you open your heart and reveal your inner child, the lighter and happier you will feel.

* Build an identity totem pole on your desk – it could be horizontal. What small objects fortify your spirit? On my desk I have a photo of a bee on a rose, a smooth river rock and an aloe plant.

* Find physical exercises which energize your mind. If you have to develop a difficult project at work, walk uphill to mirror your climb to the summit. If you cannot release a sad situation, then play catch with a friend using a basketball or for greater intensity, a weighted medicine ball. Imagine twhen you throw the ball off your chest, you let go of the negativity. When you catch the ball, you catch the abundance of life.

Regarding those fall allergies, keep yourself in balance to minimize the little stressors that cause that tipping point. If you don’t feel better, consult your doctor for medication.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / aurelio.asian

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