THRIVE

You are so worth it

 

Want to be part of something big?

See, I have this thing… and I’m so passionate about this thing, and I know that this thing is something big.

And I want to share this thing with you, so badly.

It’s a project that is far reaching… I’m on a mission that could add quality years to your life, and tens of thousands of dollars to your bank account. I’m currently trying to quantify exactly what that would mean to you.

But for now, I can give you some rough estimates. I’ll use myself – 5 years ago to give you an idea of what I mean…


5 years ago, I was on 2 prescription medications: cabergoline for elevated prolactin & consequent infertility, and a beta blocker called nadolol for wonky heart beats.

I think that these were generic meds, and I had some insurance to help cover the costs – so my out-of-pocket cost was something like $10/mo ($120/year) for these prescriptions, I was pretty lucky. Without that coverage, I would’ve paid more like $300/mo ($3600/year!).

But the larger cost of taking those prescriptions stems from the fact that those medicines were designed to relieve my symptoms. And they did. My prolactin levels came down, I got my period again, and my heart stopped randomly flipping out. A fun side effect of both of those drugs was low blood pressure. No matter how hard I worked out at the gym, I could not get my heart rate up above 140 bpm. That was interesting for sure. I wonder what the long term effects of that would have been. Hmmmm.

My doctors were content with this drug solution – and I was too. Hell, it didn’t cost me much and my problems were solved.

Anyway, back to the larger cost. There was something going on in my body that was causing my prolactin to elevate, and my heart to flip out. And for sure, it wasn’t a cabergoline and nadolol deficiency. While my body was screaming at me loud and clear that something was wrong, I was busy trying to silence it instead of listening to it.

Here’s where I get to be arm wavy – because I know how this story really ends ;)

If I had stayed on that path of medicating my (not life-threatening but scary) health issues, I might have set myself up for some more serious health issues. If you can’t tell if your body is sick (because you’re treating the symptoms), then you sort of run the risk of actually having compound health issues.

But in my case, I had a wake up call. Somewhere between my doctor failing me and my instinct telling me that I wasn’t designed to be medicated, but I WAS designed to heal.

I also looked around me – observed the health issues that my family was tackling – and decided that the various thyroid diseases, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and gall bladder disease that is prevalent in my family – was not going to take me down. There must be things that I could do to decrease my chances of any of these diagnoses.

Because 75% of chronic disease…. it’s preventable.

AND $3 out of every $4 spent on health care are attributed to chronic disease management. Here are some estimates for the cost of chronic disease:

(I have a hard enough time saving for retirement – these numbers are scary)

So there’s a huge potential cost for our health care – and an even bigger cost to our quality of life down the road… that we have a whole lot of control over.

More than you may realize.

My own health journey has me pretty fired up to share. So fired up to share that I’ve found new purpose in life.

Which is actually a huge positive feedback thing for me… and my health. HUGE.

Here’s where the something big comes in. I’ve started a group coaching program that I call THRIVE. It’s a program for women who are tired of feeling shitty. For whom conventional medicine & dietary advice is failing. Who have open minds and are ready to make change. For women who aim to gain health in a way that makes perfect sense.

And when you do gain health – and you’re ready to pay it forward – I have you covered too. For me, part of thriving means having more to give – and I hope to give back to our community in some way.

I know that life is expensive today. We all have lots of bills. This part of the reason why a group coaching approach makes sense. The individual investment is relatively low, and the rewards can be enormous.

And the community, support, and accountability – well, it’s super nice.

Right now, and through the end of April 2014, I’m offering 2 for 1 if you enroll in the THRIVE program with a friend. That’s 50% off.

It is currently offered in 2 locations in Madison.  The group at Jules Pilates Studio on the west side of town meets every other Wednesday from 5:15-6:45 pm, and the group at Chrysalis Hair & Body on the east side of town meets every other Sunday from 2:30-4:00 pm.

AND if you’d like to try it before you invest – just RSVP to me… I’ll set you up.

Bring a friend :)

You are worth any investment really… You are so worth it.

 

 

 

 

Just Leaping.

Leap with From This Day Forward Health Coaching

Most of us live in a box of some sort. The foundation for your box was made with support from friends and family, and the rest of this box was crafted by you with the things that you’ve learned and the resources that you’ve gathered.

And you made this box, because that’s just what humans do, we make boxes. From the moment you were born, to the day that you are reading this crazy message – you’ve been in the business of building, renovating, and re-decorating this box of yours.

There’s another name for this box. You can also call it your comfort zone.

And boy is it comfortable in there. Damn cozy. It’s got all of the niceties. It’s wired with all of the modern conveniences you’ll ever need to get by.  And as a bonus, you have complete control over who has access.

Let’s look at this comfort zone of yours from a different perspective.

How often do you peek outside it? Do you know who’s hanging around outside this box? What’s going on outside of those walls? Have you ever climbed on top of this place to see what it feels like up there?

I think it’s safe to say, opportunities in life, they are found outside of the box – outside of your comfort zone.

If you envision everything and everyone that has made you who you are today, I bet the biggest changes in your life have happened because of some leap that you’ve taken. A time when you’ve moved outside of your comfort zone.

Conversely, if you’re seeking major change in your life (ie. relationship, career, body image, health, fitness, dietary), you are quite unlikely to find it in that box of yours. Because, it’s business as usual in there so how will things change?

How do you move away from your comfort zone?  Think about standing in front of a giant, cold, swimming pool.  Are you the type of person who slowly inches in, or are you the just jump in and get it over with kind of person?

Me, I’ve never been a ‘just jump in’ person – always favored the slide-into-the-pool-and-freak-out-the-entire-time approach. <<<That right there is my comfort zone. And that right there is the reason why, I need to start jumping in with wreckless abandon.

Yes, there is fear involved. Sometimes what you need to do is to face that fear… and do it anyway.

I’m happy to let you into my brain on this one – because I’m in the process of leaping as we speak. I have a whole pile of fears, and I’m about to face them head on.

Meredith’s Comfort Zone: I’m sooo comfortable behind my laptop, writing, creating, virtually socializing… I can literally wake up in the morning and sit down in front of this machine and just go to work.

Meredith Wants Major Change: Yes, yes I do. I’m building a new business, and I want to make an impact on my local community. ^^^ Ergo, Meredith’s Comfort Zone is not going to cut it.

Meredith’s Leap: I realize that to meet my goals, I need to literally get out of my house and meet face to face with people, I need to run workshops, I need to offer classes, I need to get out of my jammies in the morning :)  This means networking events, this means figuring out how to market myself, this means just starting my group coaching program.

Leap with me!

Tell me in the comments – What is your comfort zone? What is the major change you’d like to make? How can can leap out of your comfort zone to make that change?

 

 

 

 

Cultivating Neurons.

I’m a big fan of cultivating things.  Soil, hobbies, knowledge, food snobbery… brain cells… health, you get the drift :)

From Merriam-Webster:

cul·ti·vate transitive verb \ˈkəl-tə-vāt\

: to prepare and use (soil) for growing plants

: to grow and care for (plants)

: to grow or raise (something) under conditions that you can control

I’m not about to go into gory detail about how to literally cultivate neurons, that’s a topic for another day.  But I am going to help you to figuratively cultivate some neurons today by explaining a bit about what “THEY SAY”.

Who are “THEY”?  You know who they are… THEY are the researchers, scientists, and academics that we opt to put our trust in, because it’s not our job to do what they do. How the heck could we possibly know enough to evaluate their science?

THEY are the people who brought us such common knowledge / blanket statements as:

  • ‘saturated fat causes heart disease’
  • ‘keep your cholesterol below 200′
  • ‘eggs are bad’ or ‘eggs are good’
  • ‘GMO’s are not harmful to humans’
  • ‘you have to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight’
  • ‘meat is unhealthy’
  • ‘dairy causes cancer’
  • ‘low-fat products are healthy’
  • ‘artificial sweeteners are zero calories and therefore are better than sugar’

etc…

Fundamentally, these claims are damn near impossible to support.  The first and foremost reason is that you can’t isolate one particular food or random isolated food element (cholesterol, calories) as being a cause for disease when we don’t live in a bubble. Our individual risk tolerance is dependent on everything from how healthy your grandma was to how active, non-toxic, rested, content, and mindful that you are today.

In fact, it is difficult to do nutrition research and draw meaningful conclusions at all, unless you do experimental studies.  These don’t happen too often, because that would require human guinea pigs.

We CAN get some IDEAS by looking at correlations in large populations.  This has been the standard for nutrition study.  There are some high profile studies out there, that you may know of, things like ‘The China Study‘  & ‘The Nurses Health Study‘ & ‘The Framingham Heart Study‘.  These study are what is known as ‘observational’ studies, where data is collected from large groups of people, people are given questionnaires to assess their lifestyles, and are asked yearly or so to recount their diets over the past year.  And then the statistician comes in to find correlations in those groups. Things like ‘red meat is correlated to colon cancer’ pop out.

The problem with these studies, is that correlation can not prove causation. Here’s what I mean. Umbrella use is correlated with rain.  Makes sense, right? We tend to use them more often when it is raining.  But do umbrellas CAUSE rain?  Nope.  This same logic applies to observational studies.  Here’s a fun look at some other interesting correlations.

Not that all observational studies are a waste of time of course, you CAN make statistically significant correlations.  But, you can’t prove causation.  You’ll see words like ‘likely’ or ‘linked to’ in the conclusions.

That said – you DO have it in you to question and evaluate these claims further for yourself – and I’m going to give you a quick primer on just what to look for in the ‘science’.

Step 1: Read the claim.  If you come across an article that claims that eggs are unhealthy for you, like I just did, read it through with an open mind, as opposed to simply disagreeing with it right off the bat because you have some dogmatic view of what is the right food for humans.  I run across this a lot in my line of work.  There are a lot of emotions tied to food.

Step 2: Seek the references.  If you read an unreferenced claim, you have no way to know what sort of data the claim was based on.  You might consider googling this claim to see what references are out there – if you’re really interested.  If there are references attached to the claim then it’s time to locate them to see if they support the claim.  A lot of information is made available to the public online, in some cases, you’d benefit from having access to a University library system.  Pub-med is a great place to search – also Google Scholar.

Step 3: Identify what kind of study it is.  Is it an observational study or an experimental study ?… Note the size of the study – what is the data pool… and also if anyone has access to the data.  The China Study (which concludes that animal protein causes cancer) cited above, is an observational study of enormous proportions – they made the data public, so that anyone who was interested could evaluate it for themselves.  Others have, and have drawn different conclusions.

Step 4: Identify who funded the study.  Or do the authors have any affiliations that could create a bias?  This is important, because if – for example – a study is released that says ‘Nutrasweet is health promoting’ and the makers of Nutrasweet funded the study… then you might question whether or not the data was cherry picked to support the most favorable outcome.  Horrible yes, but this happens.

SO, yeah.  This health stuff, it’s hard to know what to believe – but be skeptical of health claims about individual foods, or food groups.  There’s not a lot we know for sure, and there’s a whole lot that we have yet to discover. My approach is to go back to basics, eat real, whole food raised/grown naturally… to listen to your body, to realize that anything can be toxic to your body if you eat too much of it, and to opt-out of our modern day science experiment.  It’s working for me.

Let me know if you’re in.

 

 

I’ve got some work to do…

I just returned from my first day at the Well Expo here in Madison – and I’m walking away realizing that I have some work to do.

But first – the goodness.  I’m so proud to be working with Julia McConahey of Chrysalis Hair & Body – Madison’s only non-toxic salon.  I watched her educate people – by having them educate themselves. Winning approach.  She had a ‘skin deep’ challenge, where she asked people to look up at least one of their own personal care products on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to see exactly how toxic the ingredients are.  This was eye opening to a lot of people… Lucky for them though, Lisa Brill from Qet Botanicals (right here in Cross Plains, WI) was close by to help them discover all natural replacements for their favorite bath and body products.

Yes – this is indeed goodness.

I had a chance to walk around the Well Expo and see who was there… it was a pretty busy place, full of vendors who are trying to make a living in the health & wellness industry. I couldn’t help but notice the that the ‘quick fix’ people were still out there – suckering women into buying their shakes or supplements to lose weight.  I guess there’s a market for anything.

I picked up one of the freebie bags full of ads and samples from the vendors at the Expo.  There were a couple of things in that bag that I found particularly counter to good health.  Here’s one:

zero calorie fizzy 'water'

It’s called ‘Klarbrunn Vita ICE’, orange mango

(+ antixidants, 0 calories, + vitamins)

Wow.  It could also say + preservatives, +artificial colors, +artificial flavors, +artificial sweeteners… but I guess that wouldn’t help it to sound healthy.

Yeah, this stuff does in no way contribute to wellness.  Just don’t kid yourself.

Also, I received a copy of a magazine called ‘Nature’s Pathway’ – advertised as ‘Nutrition, Fitness, Organic & Sustainable Living, Balance, Wellness, Community’.  Sign me up!  It has a ton of health promoting words in it… with one egg-ception.

eggs are evil

This article warns that eggs are not healthy.  The author is stuck on their cholesterol content as a major negative. She cites that eggs may increase your risk for diabetes, that eggs have similar effects on your arteries as smoking cigarettes, that egg consumption is linked with heart failure, that they can be a public hazard, that they can increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer, and that they may increase mortality.  Yikes!

And not the advice that I would give – I would say most people have an egg deficiency – but that’s another story :)

This article is referenced –  I intend to check out those references to see what sorts of studies they are… I suspect we’re looking at correlations and food recall – which are not so much science as they are data massaged to come to a specific answer.  There is nothing that we can learn about causation from such studies.

Maybe I’ll write them and set the record straight(er).

It is very true that wellness is in the eye of the beholder – that we’re all at a different starting point – and that we need to question what we hear and what we read.

 

My Paleo, is more than Paleo.

My personal health gains began when I learned about and implemented a Paleo-ish diet.

Paleo is a funny word, with a lot of connotations attached to it. A Paleo diet has been misunderstood by people to be a carnivorous diet, even though the bulk of the Paleo diet is vegetables.

It has been ‘de-bunked’ as an approach that is somehow unachievable – because we no longer have access to the food that our paleolithic ancestors ate.  But, that’s not the point of this approach.

Paleo is sometimes seen as a re-enactment even. I suppose there are people who’d rather go back in time and live as our ancestors did, but we’ve got some pretty sweet advances these days… that have extended our lives significantly.

The media routinely puts Paleo through the mill for some reason. Maybe it’s just fun for them to do. It generally stirs up some excitement – and that makes good press.

But let’s sift through the BS, shall we?

There is nothing inherently dangerous about a Paleo approach – except that if everyone did it our grain-based economy would crash.

There is a lot that is inherently dangerous about our current industrialized food system, which supports our economy just fine.

Paleo has become a movement of sorts. A real food movement in my estimation. A real food movement with the added bonus of factoring in lifestyle. It’s about eating, moving, sleeping, and connecting in a way that is inline with our human-ness.

Here’s what I learned from MY Paleo-ish approach. I learned that our modern industrial food system is not designed to deliver fresh food to the masses. That most of the products in the grocery store are made with preservatives to make them shelf stable, artificial ingredients, to make them taste better to you, and refined seed oil (cottonseed, soy, corn, canola…) that is most likely oxidized.

I’ve learned that a lot of conventional produce is full of pesticides (see the Environmental Working Group for info on the safest conventional produce).

I’ve learned that GMO crops that are sprayed with Round Up ready herbicides incorporate those herbicides into the cellular structure of the plant.

Ergo, you consume preservatives, artificial ingredients, herbicides, pesticides, and oxidized fats… disguised as food. And a lot of people consume a lot of these things.

I’ve also learned that the 90% of your cells that aren’t human (your microbiome) probably don’t play nice with preservatives, artificial ingredients, pesticides, herbicides… we are crappy hosts.

I’ve learned (first hand) that you can make yourself sensitive to certain foods. This is interesting.  If you remove something from your diet long enough, and then reintroduce it, you’re likely to notice it.  Sometimes you’ll notice it in a big way.

I’ve learned a lot more about my body, I’ve learned to respect it more… and that’s been life changing.

I’ve learned to look at our modern world through an evolutionary lens and to try some different things, unconventional things.

Mostly, I’ve learned that we all have a choice to make when it comes to what we eat, how we move, how much we sleep, and how often we take a break and enjoy the company of others.  We can step back and view the human population from a broader perspective and learn a thing or two about the giant social experiment that we’ve got going on right now.  We can compare and contrast the human population at many different points in time, and speculate about how different foods and environmental conditions shaped them – and then try different things on for size.

While I credit the Paleo movement for shifting my perspective, I am not dogmatic about this… I’m always a skeptic… that’s the scientist in me.

I don’t follow anyone’s prescription for life – except my own.

If you’re interested in learning more about this Paleo movement and then personalizing this approach to fit you… I’ve created a 90-card deck of tarot cards called Teach Me How-To Paleo.  It’s full of resources that’ll help you get out of your own way, so your body can do what it’s supposed to do.

Let me know if you check it out!

Learn cover-01

 

 

Holiday Giveaway – Lavazza Espresso Point

Lavazza Espresso Point Giveaway | From This Day Forward Health Coaching

 

Truth be told, this particular Lavazza Espresso Point machine has been sitting in a box, in my house, for a couple of years now.

It was given to me, and I’ve never used it.  It’s time to find a good home for it.

SO, I’m giving it away.

Use the rafflecopter widget below for a chance to own this Lavazza Espresso Point machine.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it.

This giveaway will start  on December 4, 2013 at 12 am central time and end on January 1, 2014 at 12 am central time.

U.S. residents over the age of 18 only for this one – while I get my giveaway swerve down.

The winner will be chosen at random, and notified via Facebook within one week after January 1, 2014.

I will ship it to the verified winner anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

This giveaway (sweepstakes) is sponsored by From This Day Forward Health Coaching and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, MailChimp, or Rafflecopter.

Holiday Giveaway: Lavazza Espresso Point | From This Day Forward Health Coaching

Black Box

Let’s talk about the Black Box.

When I was busy studying geochemistry, I put all of my faith into science. Here’s what that faith looked like… I would:

  • Micro-sample limestone
  • Dissolve it in acid
  • Put that dissolved rock through cation exchange columns (that are essentially tubes filled with tiny plastic balls) to strip all but one particular element out of it
  • Evaporate the liquid – that contained that particular element – into a solid dot the size of a pencil tip
  • Re-hydrate that sample to load it onto something that looked like a staple
  • Put that staple into a machine that looks like the future
  • Cross my fingers/trust science that the heat + vacuum + magnetic field in that machine would hurl invisible isotopes of that element down a tube, around a corner, and into a cup that could keep track of the size and number of those isotopes

I always joked that I was doing ‘black box’ geology. I couldn’t see a damn thing… I was working on theory, trusting my equipment, and constantly measuring samples of known composition to confirm my science.

Even though nobody can physically see chemical isotopes, our ideas about what was going on in that machine were confirmed time and time again by reproducible results.

What I was doing was not technically ‘black box’ geology – because we have a pretty good idea of the internal workings of that particular system.

Direct from Wikipedia:

“In science and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings.”

If there’s one system that is indeed a black box, it’s the human body.

Sure, we think we have some good ideas about what goes on in there… we can study human bodies to physically identify parts, and we can all agree that toxic things are no good for human bodies – but that’s about where it ends.

What is a ‘toxic’ thing anyway? ‘Toxic’ – or something that is poisonous to us in some certain amount – is in the eye of the beholder.  I mean, we all have different opinions on what can be toxic to us.  But toxicity is also functionally different for everyone – depending on the (epi)genetic cards that you are dealt and how healthy you are to begin with.

Not only that, but – it turns out – we’re not a closed system at all – by any stretch of the imagination. Our overall health has been shown to be influenced not only by our diet, but physical, emotional, and mental stressors in our lives… by how content you are with your life.  That means that we can’t be sure that any one particular thing is ‘the thing’ that makes us healthy or sick. Shit. That really screws with what we think we know. How do you test variables in an open system.  <<< This is the crux of the problem, if the problem = nutrition & health research.

Here are a few statements that you should chew on (the ages are randomly chosen, just to get my point across):

  • Some people eat meat, and live to be 100 years old.
  • Some people eat meat, and only live to be 40 years old.
  • Some people don’t eat meat, and live to be 100 years old.
  • Some people don’t eat meat, and live to be 40 years old.
  • Some people smoke, and live to be 100 years old.
  • Some people smoke and die young of cancer.
  • Some people run marathons, and live be 100 years old.
  • Some marathon runners have heart attacks and die young.
  • Some people walk everyday, and live to be 100 years old.
  • Some people walk everyday and only live to be 40 years old.
  • Some people eat more fat than anything, and live to be 100 years old.
  • Some people eat more carbs than anything, and live to be 100 years old.
  • Some people drink alcohol and live to be 100 years old.

Have I made my point?

Yeah. We are much more that one particular thing. There are so many variables in our lives and in our health.

What the hell do we do then?  How are we supposed to know if we are headed in the direction of health or not? <<< That should be your call, friend.

There are several approaches. They are holistic approaches to health, to better understanding your own human biochemical factory…

The first approach is for each and every one of us to become a scientist, and for each and every one of us to become experts in our own bodies. We all need to understand that the current size, shape, and health of our own body is the end result of all that has happened to it in life until now.

This means that to some extent – you should question what you think you know, you should keep an open mind, and understand your own role in your health. In this approach, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take full responsibility for your health, from this day forward.

N=1 as they say.  You are your own experiment, remove as many variables from your experiment as possible.

Another approach is to seek to understand human health from an evolutionary perspective. This approach is perfect for the curious, creative, or romantic person. If you can manage to imagine ‘the dawn’ of human life, and set up some visualizations in your head that subtract the influence of modern life (primarily technology) from the picture, you’ll have a better understanding of the conditions under which successful human life was created.

Let me help you a bit.

While there is a lot we can’t be sure of (like what was the diet of the early human exactly?), there is a lot we CAN be sure of. Early humans did not have artificial blue light in the evening. Early humans did not have the same transportation options that we have today – or indoor climate control. Early humans did not have treadmills. They did not have high fructose corn syrup… or television. Early humans did not have processed foods. They did not have the stressors of ‘the-mostly-negative-and-often-misrepresented-news-media-on-demand’. Early humans were intimately connected to nature.

If we participate in a few thought experiments – it begins to inform us about how far removed we are from the conditions under which we (successfully) evolved. And it gives ideas on tweaks we can try in our own lives to help us to gain health.

I’m not suggesting that we all escape from society and hide under a rock somewhere. I’m suggesting that we question how our current environment and its stressors are influencing our health – and that we realize that we can opt to take control over our environment and its stressors to improve our own well being.

Let me know if you’re with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art of Being Human

This post was originally written for my friend Kathryn at Primal Bliss. Reposted here for posterity :)

social life 700

That banner that says “Social Life” up there is from the Smithsonian’s webpage on ‘What does is mean to be human?

Take a moment to really soak in that image… take your time. It’s worth a ponder.

What is your primal instinct telling you right now?

I’ll cut to the chase. According to the Smithsonian, there are specific traits that, over geologic time (from ~6 million years ago to the present), uniquely identify certain primates as human beings. Those traits include:

  1. The ability to walk upright as a primary mode of locomotion
  2. Increasing brain size through time
  3. The use of tools to make other tools for hunting and cooking
  4. Complex language & written history
  5. Evolution of specific body morphologies
  6. Complex Social Structures

It’s no secret that we have come a loooooooong way. Our human-ness today is very different from that of our early ancestors. Technically, we still fit the definition of human-hood – we should, we defined it. But on a more emotional and physical level, are we losing the art of being human? Let’s gain some perspective and review these traits.

1)  Walking UprightThis is a very important distinction for human beings. We are the only primate that walks upright as our primary mode of locomotion.

As a result of human ingenuity, we have homes, offices, cars, electricity, we have a global transportation and e-commerce network to bring everything easily within our reach. We now have to go out of our way to NOT live sedentary lives. Fact is, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Our ancestors evolved a specialized mode of locomotion – and today, our health suffers, our muscles are atrophied, our bones weakened, our circulation sluggish – primarily because we aren’t fully utilizing those fine legs and curved spine that make us human.

Opportunity: Increase your functional movements. Use that body more often like your ancestors did.

2)  Larger BrainsScientists interpret from the fossil record that early humans evolved larger brains, starting around 6 million years ago. The largest relative increase in brain size occurred during a period of extreme climatic fluctuation AND during a time when our ancestors began to use fire to cook food.

I now call your attention to this article, entitled “If Modern Humans Are So Smart Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?” from Discover online. And I quote John Hawks, a University of Wisconsin Anthropologist:

“Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion.”

So what’s going on here? Popular theories for brain shrinkage include global warming selecting for smaller skeletons, malnutrition due to the advent of agriculture & the introduction of a grain-heavy diet, changes in population density, and the domestication of the human species. Whatever the actual cause, we are now seeing a dramatic shift in the long-term brain-size trend that characterizes human evolution.

Is there an opportunity here?: Maybe. Although it depends on what brain size means. Is a bigger brain evolutionarily advantageous? Does it matter what your brain size is if your neurons aren’t firing? Of the theories of brain shrinkage listed above, you have the most control over your nutrition and perhaps how ‘domesticated’ you are. Go get some fresh air, follow your primal instincts, and then donate that brain of yours to science. :)

3)  Tools & FoodEarly humans used hand-crafted tools to make other tools. Early humans – as early as 2.6 million years ago – made tools to hunt for and butcher animals for food.

Early tools were created & powered by early humans. Their own functional movements (running, jumping, throwing, climbing, sawing, digging…) were key to utilizing those tools. Our modern tools are still created by other tools – but are powered by clicks, swipes, switches, or even more fundamentally by electricity and gasoline. These technological advances create an entirely new set of human functional movements – capitalizing instead on our fine motor skills.

As far as our food supply – well, this is one of the main drivers of Paleo/Primal/Ancestral Health movement. The short story is that in an attempt to maintain a healthy human population, we have decreased the diversity, nutrient density, and microbiota of our food supply, all while increasing the quantities of food we ingest and our toxic load. Ironically, only the healthiest humans (who are probably the most primal of the modern humans) can withstand this burden. The increase in our overall toxic load (whether it be from processed food, pesticides, herbicides, fragrances, household & industrial chemicals) coupled with our decrease in movement has, over multiple generations, resulted in our offspring being weaker & weaker (increase in diabetes, obesity, behavioral problems, asthma, allergies, chronic illness, you name it).

Uh-oh humans…

Opportunity: There is a great opportunity to get crafty. Use your human ingenuity to solve problems. While we’re not all out hunting for food these days, we can increase our functional movements through play – and manual labor around the house.  And finally, decrease your toxic load by opting for whole foods and by avoiding man-made chemicals aren’t native to our bodies.

4)  Language & SymbolsHumans are unique among primates because we have developed so many different ways to communicate with each other. We also have the ability to write it down, to leave a written historical record.

This is one aspect of human-ness that we’ve capitalized on pretty well. According to Wikipedia, there are at least 7000 different human languages. Modern humans are now busy creating computer languages too. Our diverse physical and virtual communication skills are awesome.

That said, the bulk of our written language/history these days is in the form of data.  One estimate (as of 2010) is that we create as much data every 2 days, as we did from the dawn of civilization up to the year 2003. Every minute, “YouTube users upload 48 hours of video, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, Instagram users share 3,600 new photos, and Tumblr sees 27,778 new posts published (Neil Spencer, 2012).”

If this trend continues… our personal communication skills are likely to atrophy right along with our muscles.

Opportunity: Take it offline. Bone up on your story-telling skills. Use your imagination.  Create artwork to share. Exercise your verbal communication skills every now and then. Practice physically writing – perhaps a hand-written note to a friend or family member.

5)  Evolving BodiesHuman bodies have changed in size and shape from short & wide to tall & narrow.  Scientists speculate the change in morphology is based on changes in diet and/or changes in climate. Based on the short size & wide shape of their bodies as well as their skull structure, the earliest human species (around 6 million years ago) are interpreted to have had a plant-based diet. By about 1.9 million years ago – our human ancestors were taller & narrower, coincident with warming climates and a change in diet to include meat and other more quickly digestible foods. Taller, narrower bodies are thought to dissipate heat more readily, an adaptive strategy for life in warmer climates, whereas more compact human species were better suited for colder climates.

Today, we can live in all climatic conditions thanks to insulation/shelter, heat, light, and transportation. For the most part, we’ve eliminated that physical stressor. But by doing that, we’ve also eliminated a pretty major evolutionary force – our interaction with the outside world. We’re changing our relationship with the sun, with the earth, with day & night. Who knows how we’ll eventually adapt to this…

Today, humans of all sizes and shapes have vastly different dietary approaches. We have the luxury of choosing what food to eat – nevermind whether or not it’s actually fit for human consumption. When in our evolutionary past did we have this opportunity?

Opportunity: Get outside more often, spend time in nature, get some sun.  Challenge yourself to be a locavore, you’ll be eating whole, seasonal foods like your ancestors did.

6)  Social LifeWhile most primates have social structures, humans have developed an extreme social structure with its roots in human child rearing. Human babies take nearly twice as long to mature to independence as our closest living relatives (chimpanzees). To ensure survival of the species, humans developed communities to work together for the benefit of the group. There is evidence of campfires or early hearths beginning around 800,000 years ago. This may have been an important place for socialization.   

Our ancestors may have been a part of 1-2 different groups in their lives. There were strong bonds in those groups. Their lives depended on those groups.

So, how many groups do you belong to these days? The social structure of modern humans is so incredibly complex, informed by our diversity, and it’s getting more complex every day. Our social structure now involves families, extended families, and step families, hundreds (if not thousands) of religious groups, countless local community related groups… and then we get to virtual communities… I personally belong to 26 groups on Facebook and I’d bet that’s well below average. Our expanded definition of ‘community’ today is dizzying.

Opportunity: Trim some fluff. Focus on building & maintaining meaningful relationships.

Which brings us full circle. Take another look at that image at the top of this post. From that page, you can ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ or ‘email’ to all of your peeps and their peeps about the importance of the social network of early humans from the comfort of your chair in a one-way electronic conversation. The new story telling.

We are human – and we are not exempt from the process of evolution. Our human-ness today is very different from that of early human species.

Maybe being human is not so much a lost art as a new media. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic. But let’s not forget about our uniquely human traits and consider a wider, deeper perspective to inform our lives – and our health – going forward.

 

FREE 52-Week Email Series

This FREE resource is for women who are ready to regain control of their health, of their LIFE.
 

Because somewhere along the way… you LOST CONTROL.

Yeah, when was that exactly? For me, it wasn’t until my mid 30′s.  And boy did I have a wake up call.

What happens to us when we’re not feeling right?  When our brain is foggy, when our energy is drained, when we lose interests in taking care of ourselves, maybe our hair is falling out, or our period is wonky, we can’t seem to lose weight.  We seek medical attention, that’s what happens to us.

We’re often medicated to fix what ails us.

Turns out, we were taught that someone else is the expert in us.  We are convinced that we need medical diagnosis and second opinions, convinced that we need conventional testing and dietary advice from people who are taught that there is only one way to nourish yourself.

That, my friend, is bullshit.

You are, in fact, the expert in you… or you should be… and I’m about to help you to see that.

You have a primal instinct… and this instinct is fighting to be heard.  You also have a unique set of circumstances that has shaped your mind and body everyday since you were born. It is my challenge to meet you where you are, and to help you to hear and to trust that primal instinct of yours.

I have created a free 52-week email series that is designed to help bring clarity to your health goals, to get you to question your particular approach to health, to get you to try a few new and unconventional things, to help you to celebrate yourbadself, to help you appreciate the you-ness of you, and to literally evict what YOU decide to be toxic foods, thoughts, relationships, and habits from your life so that you can create an environment where your body can heal from all that life has thrown at it.

Only then will you gain health.

And I’m sooo excited for you, because if you follow this approach – you’ll have regained control, and you’ll want to pay it forward so badly it hurts.

Click the header above, or the image below to sign up.

Hurry up too, before I decide that I’m crazy for giving it all away.

To your health!

Meredith

Free 52-Week Kick-In-The-Ass (Health Coaching) email series | From This Day Forward Health Coaching #free #healthcoach

 

 

Success

I see a lot of ‘success’ infographics out there.

What is success?  Success is very sought after – it means that you have met a goal, or have achieved wealth, it means that you have attempted to do something – and have completed the task it in a way that was desired.

But what does it mean to YOU?

Did you realize that YOU get to define success?

Let’s run through some logic statements…

Example 1: Success to me is losing XX pounds.  Therefore, I am not successful unless I lose XX pounds, and I am unsuccessful every day until I have met my goal.

Example 2: Success to me is doing something that makes me physically stronger, each day.  Therefore, I can be successful today by doing 5 push ups.

See the difference?  Set yourself up for success friend – you can make your journey highly successful by setting the right goals – and celebrating your awesomeness more often.

And while we’re at it… let me throw my infographics into the mix.

 

Also… this is also perfectly acceptable: