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Showing posts from 2014

Making Resolutions That Last

It’s that time again. An entire year has come and gone and we are left with an opportunity to examine what we have done and how far we have come this year. After some investigation, it appears that only 30% of individuals will actually set New Year Resolutions - meaning less than half of Americans will set healthy and obtainable goals for the new year. People may vow to eat better, lose weight, improve relationships, and even learn to cook; possibilities are endless.
Currently, the diet industry worth is over $60 billion and the fitness industry is a $25 billion dollar industry. With so many options and “fixes” promised by some organizations, it can be even more challenging for those wanting to change poor habits for healthier ones.

Here are some ideas for you this new year to achieve those resolutions you desire to change.

First, create a resolution that you really want. If you are creating a goal that others want for you, but you do not want for yourself, it is not going to work. Tr…

Holidays, Relatives, and Keeping Our Sanity

It’s that time of year where family and friends gather for festivities and holiday cheer. But sometimes, cheer is in short supply, especially when relationships experience conflicts. Turmoil within our closest relationships can sometimes make or break our holiday spirit. It does not matter how old you are, get-togethers can be challenging. So as the holidays progress, here are some helpful reminders of improving and maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family to enjoy the most of this season and the end of 2014.
First off, believe and understand that you are not the only one having a difficult time. By acknowledging that others may be experiencing similar difficulties, it may help reduce feelings of inadequacy or self-criticism when you engage with friends and family.

Next, consider your current emotional state and ask yourself if you typically feel frustrated or aggravated with those around you. It’s a difficult task, but if you are reacting and responding to others dif…

The challenge of sitting with our thoughts

Photo Credit One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, once said, "My mind is a bad neighborhood I try not to go into alone." It seems that more and more of us are finding that being alone with our thoughts can be a truly terrifying activity. When was the last time you spent time doing nothing? Take out the social media and electronic distractions, and what do you have left when you are alone? Where does your mind go?

I came across a study recently that was too fascinating not to share. Many of you may have already read about it, but it got me thinking about how our minds work. The article was published in Science magazine, and the title was "Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind." In this article, authors looked at 11 different scientific studies, and found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think. They found that the participants enjoyed doing mundane external activities much…

Handling Holiday Weight Gain

In the midst of the holiday season, food is heavy topic. Between cookie exchanges, holiday parties and family dinners, many people find themselves eating more. Over 35% of Americans report family celebrations and feasts are a source of weight gain. On average, between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans will gain anywhere from five to ten pounds (that’s one dress size!). Typically, people consume 32% more during holiday dinners and even more if holidays fall on the weekend.
For this season, limiting overall consumption of unhealthy or unnecessary foods will be key. Surrounded by increased choices of food and desserts, it can be challenging and difficult to say no. In an effort to keep those holiday pounds off and maintain healthy lifestyles, here are several suggestions to consider. Planning ahead will be a simple and effective tool for you.

Know what types of food will be available and what you can eat. If several of your favorite dishes will be offered, choose beforehand which one…

In the Spotlight: Sjogren's Syndrome

Dr. Taft's blog entry yesterday on surviving the holidays could not be more timely. This is the month of December, and I am just now writing the November post for our Rare Disease of the Month blog. This month we're discussing Sjogren's Syndrome. Although you may have never heard of it, the disease currently affects over 4 million Americans. In case you're wondering (like I was), it is pronounced "SHOW-grins." It was named after the man who discovered it in 1933, Dr. Henrik Sjogren. One well-known celebrity with Sjogren's Syndrome is the tennis player Venus Williams.  


Photo credit: What If Gourmet
Snapshot:  Sjogren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease where the person's white cells are attacking the body's moisture-producing glands. Nine out of ten patients are women, and half of the time it occurs  in the presence of another autoimmune disease such as lupus or arthritis. The hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, but since this diseases…

Dealing with the Holiday Blues

It’s December and ‘tis the season to be jolly. Thanksgiving has passed with Christmas and Hanukah quickly approaching. You cannot leave home without being reminded of holiday spirit. Radio stations are filled with holiday carols and business fronts show support of holiday celebrations. However, anticipation of holiday cheer leave many feeling anything but jolly. 

The “holiday blues” create feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress and loneliness for many people. So let’s look at some of the reasons holiday blues develop. 

A leading cause to holiday blues begins with feeling pressured to be “merry.” Everywhere you go there are holiday reminders, decorations and greetings filled with cheer and positive regard. But if you’re not feeling cheerful, internal pressure begins to stir. Many feel forced to “be merry” which can create increased feelings of sadness or guilt and lead to isolation.

Also, some individuals reflect on past gatherings with friends and family. Whether it’s consciously or uncons…

Mental Health After Bariatric Surgery

Today's blog entry is by Erin Schuyler, an advanced doctoral student in clinical psychology working in our practice for the year.


When a person elects for bariatric surgery, several changes are likely to occur in their life. Physical attributes associated with unwanted weight will reduce as well as eating habits and food selections are adjusted.
What about a person’s emotional and psychological experience? How are these factors impacted and what emotional changes can those pursuing bariatric surgery expect?

Exploring these factors will hopefully provide further insight to persons considering bariatric surgery in addition to candidates who have already pursued this option. Research has shown many bariatric surgery candidates (BSC) have a history of depression, anxiety, binge eating and other mood disorders. In particular, BSC are five times more likely to have suffered from a major depressive episode in the past year.

Following weight-loss surgery, more than one-third of patie…

Psychosocial aspects of having an ostomy

This past Saturday, Tiffany and I had the honor of speaking at the United Ostomy Associations of America's Regional Midwest conference. I was assigned the task of speaking to the patients, and Tiffany addressed the partners or caregivers. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from my talk. I only had an hour for my session, and with about 100 people in the room, it was not nearly enough time. I love bullet points, so here you go:

We are all different! Every ostomate is different and not one size fits all for the emotional/mental aspect either.
Who had months to talk about an ostomy and weigh pros/cons? Who was this a more sudden decision for? Who had cancer? Who had IBD? Something else?
Who had an ileostomy? colostomy? urostomy?
Who has a temporary? Permanent? Multiple temporaries?
What age where you when you got your ostomy? Under 20, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60+
Who was single when they got their ostomy? With a serious partner when they had it?
Some find a stoma life-saving, ot…

In the Spotlight: Pica

This month for our Rare Disease of the Month blog we're discussing Pica, which is a condition that often appears in conjunction with other conditions.  The word Pica is from the latin for Magpie, which is a bird associated with odd eating habits.  It was first documented in medicine in 1563. Pica has the potential to be dangerous, even fatal, depending on the substances the person is eating.


Snapshot:  Pica is when a person repeatedly eats substances with no nutritional value such as dirt, ice, paint, stones, or even glass.  Eating these substances must occur for at least 1 month and at an age where it's developmentally appropriate to not engage in this behavior (aka a 3 month old eating a piece of dirt is not Pica). The most common substance eaten is ice, which may seem benign, and can lead to cracked teeth, slowed digestion, and weight gain.  There are several subtypes of Pica, depending on the preferred substance to eat. Complications may occur. For example, lead poisoning m…

How To Fail at Awareness

I don't need to make anyone aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Our annual descent into all things pink to remind the populace that women (and men, although this is usually lost in the messages) get breast cancer.  And we should get our mammograms, do our monthly breast exams, and support women who have been diagnosed with this awful disease.

It's a great idea, and whoever thought it up gets a major high five.  Unfortunately, we've turned this idea on its head and the message is often upsetting, distasteful, and demeaning to women living with breast cancer, or who are survivors.

I don't claim to speak for anyone who lives with this diagnosis, but I have listened to several of them who actually hate October, the color pink, and most of the "awareness" campaigns.  I use quotes around that word because the aim to truly raise awareness of what breast cancer is has been lost in a sea of pink merchandise and marketing gimmicks.  Take the pink dri…

How to have an allergy-free Halloween

Happy autumn, everyone! The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and pumpkins abound. Many families celebrate Halloween and I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to our patients who have food allergies or restrictions. A few years ago, Dr. Taft and I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to speak at the Cured Foundation conference. There we met with families who have children with with Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (EGIDs), and saw some of the most severe food allergies we have ever seen. Although you may not know children with as severe of food allergies as those diagnoses, there are currently 15 million Americans dealing with food allergies. Our friends over at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) have a wonderful idea for families who celebrate Halloween that I wanted to share.


What it is:
Their project is called the Teal Pumpkin Project. The basic idea of this initiative is to have houses provide non-edible treats for those trick-or-treate…

National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 5-11, 2014)

Next week begins the 24th anniversary of having Congress recognize and establish a National Mental Illness Awareness Week. It starts Monday October 5th and continues until October 11th. As a therapist, I have the opportunity to meet many different types of clients, some with physical illness, some with mental illness, and often these two overlap. There is still such a long ways to go with decreasing the stigma around mental illness. There are wonderful organizations doing great work to empower those who suffer to share their stories, in order for others to truly understand what mental illness is about. If you haven’t already, check out these three: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Bring Change to Mind, and StrengthofUs.

One of the best ways to decrease the stigma around mental illness is to know the facts and educate yourself and others. I was shocked to know that 1 in 4 American adults have a mental illness as well as 1 in 5 American kids. That number is astounding, and yet how ma…