Archive | December, 2010

Seafood Watch is catching on

10 Dec

Whole Foods, Seafood Watch Team Up for the Oceans

It just got easier to choose ocean-friendly seafood at the supermarket.

Whole Foods Market Whole Foods Market announced today that it is partnering with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and Blue Ocean Institute to label all the wild-caught seafood in its North American stores according to the sustainability criteria of our science-based organizations.

That means you’ll see green Best Choice, yellow Good Alternative and red Avoid labels next to EVERY item in the seafood case, and similar information (using Whole Foods’ own criteria) for farmed seafood.

Whole Foods has also pledged to eliminate all red-list seafood by Earth Day 2013.

Whole Foods SFW

 

“At the end of the day, it’s a team effort. Our customers, buyers, fishermen and fishery managers can all make smart decisions that move us in the direction of greater seafood sustainability,” said Carrie Brownstein, Whole Foods Market seafood quality standards coordinator.

“Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium are both highly respected for the strength of their science-based seafood programs which evaluate fisheries on life history, abundance, habitat impacts, management practices and bycatch. The new color-coded rating system is a transparent way to display sustainable choices, and it deepens our commitment to having fully sustainable seafood departments.”

Whole Foods Market joins two other significant Aquarium partners: Compass Group and ARAMARK, the two largest food-service companies in North America. Like Whole Foods, they have pledged to phase out red-ranked seafood in the next several years, and are shifting their purchases toward more sustainable items.

Whole Foods seafood  case

Other retailers and food service operators are announcing similar commitments — and creating market incentives for fishing fleets and aquaculture producers to supply seafood that doesn’t harm the health of the wild oceans.

In fact, regional retailers like New Leaf Community Markets — working with another Seafood Watch partner, Santa Cruz-based FishWise — have been labeling seafood in the case for years. FishWise is also helping major retailers (including Safeway) shift their purchases to more sustainable choices.

“We’re delighted to help Whole Foods Market expand its commitment to offering seafood from sustainable sources,” said Michael Sutton, who oversees the Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. “Whole Foods Market is a leader in the field, and its decision will have a real impact on seafood suppliers and other retailers.

Commitments by major buyers like these is one of the hopeful trends we identified last year in our comprehensive report, Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood. With the Whole Foods’ announcement, the tide continues to turn — in a positive direction.

Wagyu Beef

10 Dec

Thompson River Ranch, the wagyu beef supplier for FIT describes the “Wagyu Legend”..

The tradition of producing premium quality Wagyu is not new but it is certainly impressive.  The Japanese Wagyu were developed over the past 500 years as work animals, recently being discovered as having extraordinary meat qualities, resulting in it being of the most coveted cattle breeds in the world.  Genetically quite different than the traditional American breeds, Wagyu are world renowned for their marbling abilities resulting in taste and tenderness far surpassing the traditional experience.   For instance, the USDA scale for meat quality has 3 levels – Select, Choice, and Prime.  Today roughly 3% of the traditional US cattle grade Prime.  Contrastingly, the Japanese grading system

has 12 levels, 7 are above the USDA Prime (see above).  Our cattle routinely grade at the Japanese level of BMS 7-8.   quality comes from meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to premier genetics and healthy nutrition.   We are committed to offering Wagyu beef that is 75-100% Wagyu genetics, which is quite different than virtually all the Wagyu beef in America today.   We feel strongly about our program and hope that you value our commitment to producing sustainable, healthy, tasty and tender beef.

Wagyu, or “Kobe Beef” as marketed by many, is a specific breed originating from Japan.   Wagyu is a breed of cow, just as Angus is the predominant breed in the USA.  “Kobe” is a location in Japan where cows are raised, comparable to Texas or Montana.  Historically, the Kobe region in Japan produced very high-quality Wagyu cows.  “Kobe Beef” is a catchy marketing term used by many US meat marketers. We believe that it is more appropriate to call the cattle “American Wagyu”.

Wagyu cattle are a genetically unique breed.  These animals are more ox-like in structure and are built for endurance.  As a result, the marbling occurs in the muscle of the animal rather than on the perimeter of the muscle.  In the early 90’s, as a result of a new trade agreement, a herd of ~40 full blood Wagyu cows and bulls were brought into the US.  Since that time, just a few ranches have been active in producing this outstanding breed.  Even today there are limited numbers of 100% Wagyu animals in the United States, numbering only a few thousand.  The majority of the Wagyu or “Kobe” meat sold in the US is a 50/50 cross between a Wagyu and an Angus.
Wagyu contributes its intense marbling, Angus contributes size and growth, resulting in meat that is a significant improvement over 100% Angus.  After testing a variety of genetic crosses specifically for beef consumption, we believe a 50/50 cross breed animal does not showcase the best traits of Wagyu.  A higher percentage of Wagyu genetics is needed to achieve the renowned marbling and taste of these animals.

Thompson River Ranch is one of the top American ranches producing 75-100% American Wagyu cattle.

Our concept of nutrition is pretty simple – a healthy, well-fed animal produces healthy beef. Our program consists of grass-fed animals through the first 12-months and then switching to a nutritious diet still consisting primarily of grass, supplemented by other natural ingredients (hay, distiller’s and other grains), focused on slow growth through the age of 30-36 months.  Our animal’s weight gain is designed to be 1.75 lbs/day for 500 days.  The result is an animal that naturally matures, another aspect of producing delicious meat.
Beef is an excellent source of protein and vitamins B-6 and B-12.  The largest health concern for beef is the type and amounts of fat and any additives.  With our beef, we never use hormones nor feed antibiotics.

Additionally, studies have been done quantifying the advantages of feeding cattle a high percentage hay diet over a long period of time.  The data is pretty amazing relative to the type of fat produced.  The human body can manufacture most of the fat types it wants, except for essential fatty acids (EFA’s). Most positive health benefits are seen in two types of EFAs – linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega 3).  Wagyu beef is an excellent source of both of these EFAs.  Another unique advantage in Wagyu is that it contains a much higher proportion of the desirable fats (mono) than other beef. The Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids to Saturated Fatty Acids ratio (MUFA:SFA) is up to three times higher, 6:1, in Wagyu than in any other beef (normal ratio is about 2:1). Consuming Wagyu beef is beneficial to your health, possessing a unique high concentration of beneficial omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and a higher ratio of mono to saturated fats.
The health/fat benefits come from:  1) The Wagyu breed – more ox-like, endurance animal that genetically is more marbled than other cattle breeds; 2) The lower-caloric, long-feed program-producing a 1400-1500 lb. animal over 30-36 months; and 3) The type/ratio of feed – grass, roughage and grain – lower in calories and higher in the EFA’s that represent healthy fats.

We hope that you can tell we are proud of our American Wagyu Program.  Our commitment to provide sustainable, healthy, tasty and tender beef is unwavering.  Our hope is that you are as passionate in discovering products that matter in your family’s health and in sustaining the earth’s resources.  We feel confident that if these things matter to you, then Thompson River Ranch high-percentage, long-fed American Wagyu is the right product for you.

Thompson River Ranch is located at

300 Thompson River Road 
Marion, Montana 59925


Weight lifting and Breast Cancer

9 Dec

Weight Lifting for Women at Risk for Breast Cancer–

Related Lymphedema

A Randomized Trial

  1. Kathryn H. Schmitz, PhD, MPH;
  2. Rehana L. Ahmed, MD, PhD;
  3. Andrea B. Troxel, ScD;
  4. Andrea Cheville, MD, MSCE;
  5. Lorita Lewis-Grant, MPH, MSW;
  6. Rebecca Smith, MD, MS;
  7. Cathy J. Bryan, MEd;
  8. Catherine T. Williams-Smith, BS;
  9. Jesse Chittams, MS

[+] Author Affiliations


  1. Author Affiliations: Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center, Philadelphia (Drs Schmitz and Troxel and Mss Lewis-Grant, Bryan, and Williams-Smith and Mr Chittams); Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis (Dr Ahmed); Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (Dr Cheville); and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia (Drs Cheville and Smith).

Abstract

Context Clinical guidelines for breast cancer survivors without lymphedema advise against upper body exercise, preventing them from obtaining established health benefits of weight lifting.

Objective To evaluate lymphedema onset after a 1-year weight lifting intervention vs no exercise (control) among survivors at risk for breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL).

Design, Setting, and Participants A randomized controlled equivalence trial (Physical Activity and Lymphedema trial) in the Philadelphia metropolitan area of 154 breast cancer survivors 1 to 5 years postunilateral breast cancer, with at least 2 lymph nodes removed and without clinical signs of BCRL at study entry. Participants were recruited between October 1, 2005, and February 2007, with data collection ending in August 2008.

Intervention Weight lifting intervention included a gym membership and 13 weeks of supervised instruction, with the remaining 9 months unsupervised, vs no exercise.

Main Outcome Measures Incident BCRL determined by increased arm swelling during 12 months (≥5% increase in interlimb difference). Clinician-defined BCRL onset was also evaluated. Equivalence margin was defined as doubling of lyphedema incidence.

Results A total of 134 participants completed follow-up measures at 1 year. The proportion of women who experienced incident BCRL onset was 11% (8 of 72) in the weight lifting intervention group and 17% (13 of 75) in the control group (cumulative incidence difference [CID], −6.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], −17.2% to 5.2%; P for equivalence = .04). Among women with 5 or more lymph nodes removed, the proportion who experienced incident BCRL onset was 7% (3 of 45) in the weight lifting intervention group and 22% (11 of 49) in the control group (CID, −15.0%; 95% CI, −18.6% to −11.4%; P for equivalence = .003). Clinician-defined BCRL onset occurred in 1 woman in the weight lifting intervention group and 3 women in the control group (1.5% vs 4.4%, P for equivalence = .12).

Conclusion In breast cancer survivors at risk for lymphedema, a program of slowly progressive weight lifting compared with no exercise did not result in increased incidence of lymphedema.

Panel approves Rx diet pill

8 Dec

December 7, 2010, 4:42 pm

<!– — Updated: 4:14 pm –>

F.D.A. Panel Backs New Diet Pill

By ANDREW POLLACK

12/8/10 | Updated with more detail

A federal advisory committee on Tuesday recommended approval of what could become the first new prescription diet pill in more than a decade.

The advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted 13 to 7 that the benefits of the drug, Contrave, exceeded its risks. The drug was developed by Orexigen Therapeutics of San Diego.

The endorsement is the first positive sign in a long time for pharmaceutical companies trying to develop medicines to treat the nation’s epidemic of obesity.

In recent months, the same advisory committee voted against approval of two other weight-loss drugs — Qnexa from Vivus and lorcaserin from Arena Pharmaceuticals — primarily because of safety issues. Both drugs subsequently were rejected by the F.D.A. itself.

 

Also, the drug Meridia, from Abbott Laboratories, was taken off the market in October after a study showed it might increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. That has left only one prescription drug, Roche’s little-used Xenical, which was approved in 1999, for long-term use in losing weight.

The F.D.A. is expected to decide whether to approve Contrave by Jan. 31. It usually, though not always, follows its committees’ advice.

Contrave would be the first marketed product for Orexigen, which was founded in 2002. Takeda Pharmaceutical, the largest Japanese drug company, will market Contrave in the United States, possibly with Orexigen.

With Contrave, the big issue was that the drug had only modest effectiveness while also causing a slight increase in blood pressure and pulse rate. That could conceivably raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes, though the trials conducted by Orexigen were too small and too short to determine that.

Both the F.D.A. and the company said that a larger trial to look specifically at risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems would be conducted. The advisory committee voted 11 to 8, with one abstention, that that study could be done after the drug was approved.

Requiring such a trial before approval “would kill the development” of the drug, said Dr. William R. Hiatt, a committee member who is a professor of cardiovascular research at the University of Colorado. Such a trial is expected to involve at least 10,000 patients and could take years.

But another cardiologist on the committee, Dr. Sanjay Kaul of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said the trial should be done first.

“We need to make sure that we get it right the first time,” Dr. Kaul said. He voted against approval of Contrave, though he said he might have backed it if the drug were more effective in helping people lose weight.

In four clinical trials involving a total of about 4,500 people, those who took Contrave lost an average of 4.2 percentage points of their weight more than those taking a placebo after one year. That fell short of the standard set by the F.D.A. that a drug should produce a weight loss at least 5 percentage points greater than placebo.

However, in most of the trials, Contrave did meet a second F.D.A. requirement that twice as many patients on the drug as on placebo lose at least 5 percent of their weight. Meeting only one of the two standards is enough for approval.

“I think they made it by the hair of their chinny chin chin,” said Melanie G. Coffin, the patient representative on the committee, who voted in favor of approval. “It’s sad to see that that is as far as they could go.”

Contrave is a combination of two existing drugs that, Orexigen says, work together to quell food cravings. One of them, bupropion, is an antidepressant also known by the brand name Wellbutrin that is also sold under the name Zyban to help people quit smoking. The other, naltrexone, is approved to treat alcohol and drug addiction.

Some panel members said that since those drugs had long been used, the safety risks were fairly well understood. One is that bupropion can cause seizures. Dr. Michael A. Rogawski, a neurologist on the committee, said that because of that risk, Contrave should be used only in special circumstances.

A subtext of the meeting was whether the F.D.A. was setting the bar too high for obesity drugs. Several groups that advocate for obese people, or treat them, testified in favor of approval of Contrave. But their arguments were not so much about the drug itself as about the need for more options and about the attitude of the F.D.A.

“This panel has voted against every obesity treatment that has come before it this year,” said Theodore K. Kyle of Pittsburgh, a former industry executive who is in several advocacy groups for the obese. “I ask you to take the disease seriously and take the benefits of treatment seriously.”

Last Friday, a different F.D.A. advisory panel recommended lowering the weight requirement for weight-loss surgery involving Allergan’s stomach-restricting Lap-Band device.

But regarding Contrave, three groups — Public Citizen, the National Research Center for Women and Families and the National Women’s Health Network — urged the panel to vote against approval, saying the risks were too great and its effectiveness in weight loss too small.

People who are obese have a higher risk of death and of various diseases, like diabetes. Some studies have shown that weight loss of even 5 to 10 percent can reduce those risks.

But a concern was that the increase in blood pressure and heart rate caused by Contrave might nullify any health benefits from the weight loss.

This is what happened with Abbott’s Meridia, which was approved in 1997 despite raising blood pressure and pulse rate in clinical trials. When a big cardiovascular study was finally conducted, it found an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Trading in Orexigen’s shares was halted all day. But the panel’s positive vote buoyed the stock of other obesity drug developers, in part because it suggested they would not have to do lengthy heart safety studies before approval.

Shares of Vivus rose nearly 11 percent to close at $7.80, then shot up 13 percent more to $8.82 after hours. Arena shares rose 2 percent to $1.41 in regular trading and then nearly 11 percent more to $1.56 after hours.

Butter Nut Snow Balls

6 Dec

A wintry holiday treat!

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325º

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Shift flour and salt into creamed mixture.  Add chopped nuts and mix well.  Shape into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 325º for 20 minutes (do not brown).  Cool and roll in powdered sugar.

Makes 6 dozen

Blood Drive at FIT

6 Dec

Please join us in helping to save lives.

FIT, in partnership with Rancho Shopping Center, will be hosting a Mobile Blood Drive on Friday, December 17th.  The mobile blood bus from Stanford Blood Center will be parked near the Rancho 76 gas station from 10AM to 2PM in the Rancho Shopping Center.  Appointments can be scheduled online or drop in.   For more information, please contact the Stanford Blood Center or Kevin English kevin@focusedtrainers.com

Note: Ideally, no workouts for 24 hours after donating.


My Favorite Things

6 Dec

The holidays are upon us.  Halloween.  Costumes.  CHOCOLATE!  Pumpkins.  PIE!  Thanksgiving.  TURKEY!  MASHED POTATOES!  Family gatherings.  Decorations.  Christmas.  COOKIES.  Presents.  More family.  MORE FOOD!!  New Year’s Eve.  ALCOHOL!  “Bright paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!”

I have always been a sucker for the holidays.  I love every minute of it.  It all begins in October (my favorite month) and the fun continues for the next three months.  If you get in my car the day after Thanksgiving, you will most likely hear Christmas tunes.  I can rattle off family tradition after family tradition that makes me smile from ear to ear.  And many of my favorite holiday things involve food.

HEADACHES.  Fatigue.  Joint Pain.  Inflammation.  NAUSEA.  Sugar highs/sugar lows.  Cravings for more carbs.  The infamous “food comma.”  These are a few of the “unfavorable” symptoms that accompany the consumption of my favorite holiday treats.  As an individual with food intolerance, the holidays can be tough.  I am constantly surrounded by everything I love, yet everything my body “hates.”  Some people say I am lucky that certain foods make me sick; others feel sorry for me because I can’t enjoy the holiday favorites.  The reality is that most of the foods I am sensitive to are the foods that many us would benefit from cutting back on, both during and after the holidays: dairy products, grains, processed foods and sugars.

Many people go into the holidays concerned about the excessive amount of food they will be surrounded with.  While my reaction to certain foods may be more extreme than the average, the consequences of over-eating and over-indulging on holiday favorites is something many of us can related to.  Whether you’re trying to lose weight, maintain weight, or have food intolerances, we’re all in the same boat.

So, is there a holiday favorite that you’re willing to give up this year?  Most clients will say, “but it’s tradition”, “I can’t give that up”, or “I can’t not serve that dish.”  We are really good at blaming the food or the tradition for causing our problems.  It’s the bread that makes me feel sick.  It’s the traditional deserts served that adds on the extra five pounds.  It’s NOT our fault, right!?  This thinking gives food the control, and just leaves us feeling mad and annoyed.  There was a point when I did get upset that my favorite breads, cookies, deserts, etc. would make me feel sick; just as I’m sure many of you get mad or upset at the foods that add on those extra pounds.  But every time I got mad or upset and restricted myself from these foods, I just wanted them more, and yes, I felt sorry for myself.   The same often happens for individuals that use food restrictions in an effort to lose or manage weight.  Restricting your food intake and saying things like “I can’t have that” or “I’m not allowed to eat that” usually leaves a person feeling deprived and will most likely lead to a vicious cycle of binging, feeling guilty, and restricting.

This year, don’t give up anything for the holidays.  Allow yourself to eat, drink, and be merry, but also know that you are in charge, you are responsible for how you feel, and for any additional pounds.  I now allow myself to eat whatever I want around the holidays BUT before I eat it, I stop and think about how I want to feel for the rest of the day, or even the next couple days.  It’s my choice.  I know I can have a bite of pumpkin pie and not be affected, but if I have a whole slice, forget about it.  Sometimes I go for it and I do have consequences, but I’m accountable, I’m in charge, and I dictate how I’m going to feel.  I am in control, not the food.  Don’t restrict yourself, enjoy a bite of your favorites here and there, and then move on to the more important aspects of the holidays…

FAMILY.  Friends.  Helping those in need.  Watching the excitement of my nieces and nephews.  Christmas music.  Parties and Gatherings.  Decorating (while listening to Christmas music of course☺).  Did I mention Family?  Giving “bright paper packages tied up in string”…these are a few of my favorites things that are more enjoyable and important than any traditional holiday food and are some of the real reasons I truly love the holidays.

La tavola. A Family Tradition

6 Dec

La tavola de cucina means the kitchen table in Italian.  La tavola is our family tradition.  I grew up in a family of four girls.  My parents both were both full time teachers on top of us collectively working on our ranch.  Whether it was 6:45am, half asleep shoveling tomatoes and eggs in our mouths, before school, or 8:00pm after everyone’s day was coming to an end, we always sat down to eat together.  The holidays bring a beautiful expansion of this tradition, which runs through all of my family on both sides.  Each holiday brings together a minimum of 20 relatives, spanning 4 generations, multiple families, plus in-laws, college friends, and extended family and friends, which have become staples in our lives over the years.

La tavola is a rustic, 50+ year old, beat up table in a funky oval shape.  It was in my father’s house when he was growing up, and is still in my grandmother’s (Noni) kitchen.  La tavola is always covered with a funky tablecloth, salt and pepper shakers (that we never use), a napkin holder, and fake flowers.  It’s funny that her mini-fake flowers bring me such comfort.  I still take a quick smell just in case she converted to real.

In our family, la tavola is not the largest table in anyone’s house.  However, it is where we all tend to sit, squeeze, and spend the majority of our time together.  Just prior to the meal, as we gather to say grace, we always hold hands and form one massive circle around la tavola, even though we will move into the dining room or outside.  Why?  Because it is a celebration of the process, the work that went into the celebration, and it keeps all of us embedded in the joy that is food and family.

It’s a simple thing.  It’s a table.  But la tavola is more than a big piece of wood with a claw bottom.  It is a place of gathering to laugh, to cry, to comfort and to have difficult conversations.  It holds meals, and games, and has sustained many emotional events.  This holiday season, as you gather with family and friends, look around you and soak in the simple things that bring you comfort and joy, whatever they may be.

Mangiare. Rida. Vive. (Eat. Laugh. Live)

My mama loves to make all types of cookies and breads during the holidays.  There are a few that I’m allowed to share.  Follow this link to Mama Nina’s Zucchini Bread

Mama Nina’s Zucchini Bread

6 Dec

Ingredients:
*3 eggs
*2c sugar (yes – plain white sugar)
*1 tsp vanilla
*1 c olive oil or vegetable oil (personally use Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil)
*3c fresh, grated zucchini
*3c flour (white, unbleached)
*1 tsp salt
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325
2. Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla with wire whisk.  Add oil and mix well.  Stir in dry ingredients with wooden spoon.  Lastly, stir in zucchini (and any other dried fruit/veggies ie. carrots, raisins, cranberries, nuts) that you’d like to include.
3. Bake in greased bundt pan at 325 for approximately 1 hour.  Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 Baby Loaves.

Stress and the Holidays

6 Dec

Parties, social events, festive celebrations, and gatherings with family and friends are part of the holiday season.  Entertaining, sending cards, and wrapping gifts are part of the holiday season.  Shopping, cooking, cleaning, and traveling are part of the holiday season.  Feeling over whelmed with additional “Do To” items, strained budgets, and dealing with family conflicts are part of the holiday season? In other words, have your holidays become a stressor?  With a few tweaks, the holidays don’t have to be a stressful season.  Here are a few tips to reduce holiday stress.

Simplify.
Creating the “perfect” holiday can be overwhelming; and attempting to please everyone and do everything can leave you feeling tired and resentful.  This year simplify.  Choose and prioritized the events and traditions that you value most, and cross the rest off the To Do list.  Be open to creating new, less demanding, traditions.  For example, have a potluck or a cookie party instead of a sit down dinner.

Healthy habits.
How often has a cup of coffee made up for the lack of a full nights sleep? Or an exercise session is skipped to fit in another “to do” item?  Many times the vary things that help us reduce stress are the first things off the “To Do” list.

Oh Silent Night.

Stress and sleep (or lack of sleep) is a double-edged sword.  Stress not only interferes with the quality of sleep (all those thoughts and worries that keep us up at night), but lack of sleep also increases the release of hormones involved in the stress response.  So, you’re not sleeping because you’re stressed, and you’re stressed because you’re not sleeping.  If a good nights sleep has eluded you, napping has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, increase reaction time, and even enhance learning.  Studies have shown that a 20-minute nap provides more wide spread benefits than 20 minutes extra sleep in the morning.  If possible, rather than hitting the snooze button once, twice, or (“oh no you didn’t”) three times, opt for an afternoon power nap.

OH OH OH
Physical activity increases endorphins.  Have you heard of the runner’s high; that feeling of euphoria that happens during physical activity?  That is the effect of endorphins.  Endorphins reduce stress and relieve pain.  They are also believed to enhance our immune system and even postpone the effects of aging.  A brisk walk on a cold winters day is fantastic for clearing the mind and reducing stress.  Twenty minutes of yoga or calisthenics have a wide range of physical and emotional benefits.  However, exercise is not the only medium to a healthy dose of endorphins; try a few minutes of meditation or deep breathing, or doubling over with laughter.  Yes, laughter produces endorphins.  Have you ever felt stressed after a really good belly laugh? 

This season, let’s add more laughs and less “To Do” items to our holiday celebration.  I wish you a stress free holiday and a happy New Year!