Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Perfect Weight and Wellness

I'm very excited to be included with a group of wonderful teachers who are getting ready to offer a new class series: "Perfect Weight and Wellness: Bringing Balance to Your Relationship with Food and Your Body."

This series starts Wednesday, May 27th, and promises to be both great fun and a fantastic learning experience. The first class will be taught by Patty Peterson RN of Keweenaw Natural Wellness. If you know Patty, you know she's a delightful, popular and accomplished energy healer who has taught previous holistic wellness and intuition classes. I've taken some of these and have loved them.
Here's Patty Peterson (right), teaching one of her previous
natural wellness classes at the Jutila Center in Hancock, Michigan.

Kim Menzel LMSW of Indigo Creek Counseling is another superb teacher who'll be part of Perfect Weight and Wellness. Kim is my charming next-door neighbor at the Jutila Center who specializes in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and prevention of eating disorders.

Also teaching will be Vicki Usitalo RN of Preventive Health Maintenance. I've used Vicki's excellent services and think we are so lucky to have her practicing Field Control Therapy – a sophisticated form of internal cleansing that releases deep toxicities using homeopathy and herbs – here in the Keweenaw.

All three of these women are very talented healers, and believe me, I feel honored to find myself in their company!

The Perfect Weight and Wellness classes will be held on Wednesday evenings at the Jutila Center in Hancock, with presentations from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and informal discussion among participants after that. Each class is $10 at the door. You can attend the whole series or pick and choose. Here's the spring-summer schedule, showing who teaches each class:

May 27- Introduction: The Physical Body and the Energy Body (Patty)
June 3- Tapping for Wellness (me with my spouse Kraig)
June 10- Mindfulness and Body Image (Kim)
June 17- Internal Cleansing of Toxins for Vitality & Weight Loss (Vicki)
June 24- Eating Without FEAR (Patty)
July 8- Journaling for Perfect Weight and Wellness (me)
July 22- Overcoming Self-Sabotage (Kim)
August 5- Conscious & Unconscious Beliefs and Body Weight (Patty)
August 19– Pop Diets vs. the Unique You (me)
September 9– Food as a Metaphor (Kim)

If you want more information, drop me a message or call 906-487-7451. And I will post about these classes again!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beyond Diet: Acid-Alkaline Balance, Part 3

In previous posts, I've written about the importance of eating plenty of alkalizing foods, like fresh vegetables, and avoiding foods that acidify us, like sweets. But diet isn't the only thing that affects the body's acid-alkaline balance. Too much stress, for instance, can make your pH more acidic; getting plenty of exercise can help alkalize your body.

How does this work? In the case of stress, the acidity comes from the release of fight-or-flight hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Our bodies need these substances to function properly, but if we're always stressed and releasing too much cortisol and adrenaline, it can lead to chronic acidosis over time.

A good basic antidote to this is deep breathing. This aids relaxation, stems further fight or flight reactions, and helps to counter the acidifying effects of previous stress. Deep breathing delivers more oxygen to the blood, which helps to alkalize it.

Exercise, too, oxygenates the blood and thus helps alkalize our bodies, especially aerobic exercise as it generates deeper breathing. In addition, exercise helps pH by stimulating lymph movement and sweating, which increases the movement of acid wastes out of the body. However, some authors warn against exercising too much, since excess exercise can acidify the body by creating more lactic acid than our systems can remove at one time.

Massage, saunas, and baking soda baths can also help restore acid-alkaline balance. So can fostering a positive outlook. Michelle Schoffro Cook, for instance, recommends keeping a gratitude journal to help your outlook. Write down a few things you're grateful for each day, she suggests. As she says in her book, The Ultimate pH Solution: "By focusing your attention on the positive aspects of your life, you'll be helping to restore hormonal balance to your body, which in turn helps restore alkaline balance."

That sounds good to me. I've kept a gratitude journal on and off for years, and after reading Cook's statement, I'm inspired to write in mine more often.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Big Acidifiers: Acid-Alkaline Balance, Part 2

I cut way back on eating refined sugar in my mid-thirties. This one dietary change made me feel so much better that I've continued to eat little sugar to this day. I wasn't measuring my pH back then, but based on what the books tell me now, it's likely that reducing my sugar intake improved my acid-alkaline balance, and that, in turn, contributed to my improved health and well-being.

Here's a little more about how this works.

To keep the bloodstream healthy, the body strives to keep the pH of blood in a fairly steady range. Most books will tell you this is between 7.35 and 7.45 on the pH scale of 0 to 14, where pure water ranks a neutral 7; anything below 7 is acidic, while above 7 is alkaline.

The body works hard to keep the blood in its narrow and just slightly alkaline range. If we eat acidifying food such as refined sugar, the body will buffer and excrete the excess acid produced as the sugar is metabolized. The kidneys will filter out at least some of this excess acid and excrete it in urine. Excess acid also leaves the body through sweating and breathing.

If needed, the body can pull minerals such as calcium out of the bones to help buffer the acids – which is why chronic overacidity can contribute to conditions like osteoporosis. If our bodies become too acidified for our buffering and excreting systems to keep up, then acids will build up in our tissues. Over time, this will nudge our cells into chronic acidity and out of the range of optimum performance, setting us up for more illness.

Sugar is one big contributor to the chronic overacidity that often results from a typical western diet. As Michelle Schoffro Cook writes in The Ultimate pH Solution, "Sugar makes our bodies' pH very acidic, and with the average North American consuming 150 pounds of sugar annually, that's a great deal of acidity to overcome."

One reason we eat so much sugar is that it's a major ingredient in processed or "faux" food, as Cook terms it. In fact, as the Global College of Natural Medicine reports, "Three-quarters of the sugar Americans consume today comes from 'hidden' sugars found in processed foods."

These processed food products are acidifying for more reasons than just the sugar. The grains that often form the basis of processed foods – wheat, rice, corn – are themselves acid-producing in the body. Most saturated animal fats -- another common ingredient in processed food -- also contribute to acidity. And, as Michelle Schoffro Cook notes, the chemicals added to so many foods are also likely to add to acid levels in the body.

I'll mention one last thing you're better off avoiding if you want to maintain a healthy acid-alkaline balance, and that's soda pop. As Sr. Susan Brown and Larry Trivieri Jr. state in The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, "Carbonated soft drinks are among the most acidifying substances found in the supermarket."

Primary pop ingredients include phosphoric acid, carbonic acid, caffeine, sugar, and corn syrup, all of which are considered highly acid-forming. Drinking diet soda doesn't help, because artificial sweeteners like saccharin or aspartame will also acidify us.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of such bad news to any pop lovers reading this! I did go through a Dr. Pepper period myself, but fortunately it was a long time ago, and it was short. Now I'm convinced that my body is better off as I stick with drinking water and herbal teas, unsweetened.