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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Crown Point, IN

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August 18, 2022

Mr. Non-Compliant vs. Mr. Corn

It’s that time of year when my dear cousin, Roger, aka Mr. Corn, and his wife Barb, come to Indiana for a visit. They now live in Florida, where swe

August 11, 2022

An Herb that Helps Reduce Anxiety, Induce Sleep, and More

I find it fascinating when one single food, or in this case, an herb, can contribute so much to our health. Cilantro is one such herb. While it’s no

August 4, 2022

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day may inspire some baking… While preparations have begun for those going back to school, there’s still lots of su

July 28, 2022

A Summer Meal with a Kick

While many of us would like to add more vegetables to our diet, it can be challenging to come up with new ideas. Discovering main dishes that are vege

July 27, 2022

Spicy Mushroom Tacos

These vegan tacos have a kick, so if you’re not a fan of spicy foods, cut back on the cayenne or omit.  Serves 4 Ingredients 1 lb. mixed mushrooms

July 21, 2022

Are They Eggs or Just Eggs?

In an effort to help those who are allergic or choose not to eat chicken eggs, this blog’s for you. And if you love chicken eggs, biscuits and gravy

July 13, 2022

Lipstick on a Pig

For any of my new blog followers, cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that I’m not fond of.  I’ve tried it all sorts of ways. Readers have s

July 13, 2022

Super Simple Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

After rinsing the head of cauliflower, cut it into florets, remove the thick stem portions, and slice it very thin. Arrange in a single layer on a sto

July 7, 2022

Vidalia Onions, Salsa, and Qigong

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s still possible to find Vidalia onions in local stores. I’m not sure how long they will last, so now is the tim

June 30, 2022

Navigating the Holiday Weekend Deliciously

Happy almost 4th of July weekend! The celebrations are about to begin. Parades, barbecues, picnics, watermelon, fireworks, adult beverages, and probab

Celebrating Easter and Forest Bathing

For those of you who are doing some sort of Lenten fast, you are almost complete. We have much to celebrate this Easter Sunday!

Whether you’ve given up sweets, alcohol, toxic people, television, Facebook, meat, or a multitude of other possibilities, you’ve had the fortitude (and faith) to stay the course, or most of it, for 40+ days.

Great work! You now know what is possible—what you’re capable of—when you set your mind to it. 

Before Sunday, take inventory of how you feel. Has your life become richer in some way because you chose to fast from something that may not be serving you?

Are you more at peace? Do you feel better physically, mentally, spiritually, and/or emotionally?

Periodically, it’s important to “check-in” and look at what is, and isn’t working, in your life.

This does not need to be involved and take lots of time.

When you are finished with your assessment, decide what makes sense for you moving forward.

It’s always good to simply name (what you did) and notice (how it has changed your life). You may not notice any difference, and that’s okay.

If you have, you may choose to continue the fast you’ve been on, at least to some degree.

For those of you who have been actively doing something different, instead of fasting, you may choose to continue your new habit.

Need help creating a plan to stay the course? Send me an email and we’ll set up a call.

My focus has been to embrace the habit of generosity. I plan to continue this, as it creates more happiness for all those involved. It’s fun to think of creative ways to be generous, and there is always room for improvement.

If you’d like to check out The Generosity Habit by Matthew Kelly and discover lots of ways to practice generosity, here’s a link to his book.

The Generosity Habit

Forest Bathing

As we celebrate Easter, spring, and new life, you may like to try nature or forest bathing.

Hint: You won’t need soap and water for this type of bath.

Forest bathing is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, using your senses to derive a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health

In Japan, the practice of immersing oneself in the forest is called Shinrin-yoku. This method of stress reduction has been practiced for centuries, though it was only given a name in 1982.

Forest bathing helps diminish anxiety and depression, boosts immunity, improves heart and lung health, and is known to increases focus, concentration, and memory.

Spending time in Nature is good for body, mind, and soul.

You may not be able to hide in the woods for days, however you can probably find time to take a walk on a quiet path. Leave all the electronics behind so that you are fully immersed in the experience.

I wish you and your family a blessed Easter. Oh, and careful not to over-indulge on the chocolate bunnies.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” – C. S. Lewis 

Making Memories: Ways to delay, lessen severity of Alzheimer’s, dementia

(The following article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Get Healthy magazine, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.)

Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a subject that hits close to home.

My mom died of it at age 86 after what was about 20 years of progressive symptoms, the last decade or so in a care facility.

Having a first-degree relative (mother, father, sibling) puts me at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s. And though causes are myriad and treatment complicated, there are things I can do to at least delay the symptoms.

Dementia is a general umbrella term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is a progressive decline of cognitive memory over a period of time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible. 

The Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures report states: more than 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; irreversible, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States; women are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s than men, comprising two-thirds of the patients.

Sarah Milligan, Care Consultant NW Indiana, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, states “Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis that the Alzheimer’s Association is poised to address at all levels, in Indiana and nationwide.  We are the 3rd largest funder of research behind the U.S. and Chinese governments.  The Association has $161 million invested across 25 countries working on a solution.  Indiana currently has 7 active awards totaling $1.8 million.”

According to Dr. Stuart Zola, a leading neuroscientist and an expert in the study of Alzheimer’s disease and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, a brain with advanced Alzheimer’s is smaller than a healthy brain. Cell function in the diseased brain is disrupted, keeping neurons from communicating and impairing normal cognitive function. Cognitive impairments—problems with language, memory, thinking, and judgment beyond typical age-related changes—are related to the development of abnormal protein deposits in the brain. This typically develops gradually with the decline varying from person to person.

Risk factors

There are a number of risk factors, none of which mean that you are certain to get Alzheimer’s.

Starting with heredity, at least 27 genetic variations underlie Alzheimer’s. And though the presence of the gene apolipoprotein E e4 (APOE e4) linked to Alzheimer’s does not mean the person will get it, “those who have a mother, father or sibling with the disease, are at a 60 to 80 percent higher risk,” says Dr. Jaswinder Singh, Neuropsychologist at Mid-America Psychological and Counseling services, with offices in Merrillville and Munster.

That said, age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, showing up in the largest numbers after 60-65. The Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures report states that one in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.

“Head trauma may possibly exacerbate the disease in those who are already prone,” states Dr. Singh.

“Alzheimer’s is greater among the illiterate, making the case for intellectual activity. The theory behind this is that when we learn, we lay down more networks and connections in the brain. The more layering that occurs, the better equipped we are to fend off the effects of the disease.” Dr. Zola notes, “There is still memory loss, however the person has more reserve to draw from.”

Dr. Singh suggests that those who have an increased risk take a simple baseline assessment at age 50-55, and repeat the test every two to three years. He is firm in his belief that none of us needs to be afraid of doing this, since the earlier a correct diagnosis can be made, the better for the patient and their loved ones.

Disease links

According to Dr. Zola, numerous health risks increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. For one, metabolic syndrome, including obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, and high triglycerides, contribute but can be controlled with diet and exercise.

Chronically elevated blood sugars (and blood insulin) seem to increase inflammation, as well as influence the size/development of the hippocampus, a brain structure essential to learning and memory. “There are many similarities in the brains of people with diabetes and Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Zola.

Diagnosis

The Alzheimer’s Association states: “While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed: depression, medication side effects, excess use of alcohol, thyroid problems, and vitamin deficiencies.”

When it comes to diagnosing Alzheimer’s, Dr. Singh offers simple tests that assess whether the symptoms are those of depression, anxiety, medication related, or actually Alzheimer’s. Especially with males, a change in personality may indicate the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Other clues are: word finding difficulty, agitation or confusion that occurs around sunset, and loss of short-term memory.

Dr. Singh states, “As we age, it is normal to forget conversations, names of people, the name of that movie we saw last week, or the restaurant we dined in. That’s what we refer to as episodic memory.”

Dr. Zola says, “If we are wondering if we have Alzheimer’s, we’re probably fine. It’s when our family wonders and we aren’t aware of a problem, that there could be one.”

Ounce of prevention

Now that you know what you’re up against, there are some things you can do.

According to Dr. Singh, “Non-interrupted, restful sleep is one of the most important components of our lives and one which we often neglect. It is critical to rule out sleep apnea in those who snore or are overweight, since long-term untreated sleep apnea can lead to mild cognitive impairment. If you have sleep apnea, use a CPAP machine.” Power napping for a maximum of 20-30 minutes is beneficial, especially if you get 6 hours or less a night. Dr. Singh suggests developing good sleep habits: go to bed the same time each night; no TV in the bedroom; and couples may consider sleeping in separate rooms if one is restless, snores, or gets up several times a night, disturbing the other.

Change your diet to one that reduces inflammation, such as the Mediterranean diet. This includes foods that are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, anti-inflammatory fats, plant nutrients, and lean protein. Think multicolored vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts, fish, poultry, eggs, herbs, and spices. Dr. Singh recommends eating fish three times per week, cooking with turmeric and ginger, consuming lots of fruits and vegetables that are dark blue, dark green, and dark red, and cutting out three white foods: sugar, salt and white flour. He believes that the Mediterranean way of eating is best for everyone. 

Exercise. Individuals who exercised one hour, three times a week for three months increased cerebral blood flow, enhanced memory, lowered blood pressure, and increased development of nervous tissue. Any activity—cooking, gardening, and walking—helps. “Even a 10-minute walk three days a week will increase blood flow in the frontal temporal region of the brain,” reports Dr. Singh.

Another big factor is social engagement. Those who are closely connected to others, have confidants, and solid people skills, can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Learn new skills such as a foreign language or music, try new hobbies, and challenge yourself. Dr. Singh suggests that everyone follow the “twenty-second rule,” wherever they are, whatever their cognitive ability. “Before you leave your home, the restaurant, my office, take twenty seconds to scan the area to make sure you have all your belongings. It keeps you sharp, and you’re not running out the door and back in again to grab your car keys.”

Manage your stress by meditating, relaxing, having fun, being positive, spending time outdoors. Don’t smoke. Be mindful of alcohol use. While some people believe that doing crossword puzzles help prevent Alzheimer’s, Dr. Singh reminds us that those puzzles tap into long-term memory, not the short-term memory that is affected by the disease.

Sarah Milligan states, “With the current number of those affected and those who will be affected based on the present disease trajectory, everyone will know some one who has the disease. This is why it is so important for everyone to understand what Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is, the warning signs, and their potential risk of developing the disease. Especially given strong and growing evidence that maintenance and management of physical health and lifestyle factors is impactful in reducing risk.”

Note: Dr. Singh’s book, “How to Keep Your Memory Sharp in Old Age,” will be available early 2019.

10 Random Tips for Today

Here are 10 interesting tips for you. Perhaps at least one of them will help you have a happier day.

  1. As we age, the amount of acid in our stomach decreases. Drink most of your water between meals, and drink only minimal amounts (8 oz. or less) while eating, to aid in swallowing. This will improve digestion and help to avoid bloating and nutrient malabsorption. Eating slowly, spending about 20 minutes to enjoy your meal, chewing thoroughly, and being relaxed, will also help with healthy digestion.

 

  1. Father Mike Schmitz’ Bible in a Year hit the #1 podcast on iTunes for 2 consecutive years. Listeners are of every religious denomination, as well as atheists. In case you’d like to see the recent CBS clip about it, Here’s the link. This podcast may offer hope to you or someone you know. 

 

  1. In last week’s blog post, I mentioned that I was trying a sleep mask. I’ve decided that it does improve my sleep quality and have continued using it. Increasing melatonin with the darkness is a good thing.

 

  1. Easter is just a little over a week away. For those of you who assemble Easter baskets for loved ones, it’s time to begin collecting those special treats. If you need to mail them, best to do so sooner than later for on-time arrival.

 

  1. A generosity challenge: next time you enjoy a meal out, over tip your exceptional server and make his or her day. Notice how you feel when you do.

 

  1. Increasing your steps by 1,000 in a day, no matter how many you typically do, benefits your health. And don’t feel pressured to hit that 10,000 number. If you are currently doing about 3,000 and hit 4,000, that’s a win! Take the stairs, walk during a 5 or 10-minute work break, vacuum, park farther away from your destination.

 

  1. If your climate is still unpredictable and you have gardening fever, pansies like cold weather and would probably survive a big chill. 

 

  1. Have some goals but not feeling motivated to move toward achieving them? Take action first in order to drive your behavior. Even doing a little something builds positive momentum.  Here’s a worksheet to help you.

 

  1. Scheduling specific times to enjoy a serving of “junk food” may prevent binge eating and lead to long-term success when it comes to practicing a lifestyle of healthy eating. You don’t need to eat perfectly 100% of the time to make progress. Food restriction may lead to anxiety and stress. Work your way to eating nutritionally dense food 70% to 80% of the time and you’ll probably be in your happy place.

 

  1. Success is showing up. Congratulations!

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”– Arthur Ashe

Produce Baby is One, and a Way to Improve Your Sleep

For those of you who have been following my blog for the last year and a half, you may recall my weekly posts about the size of my friend’s baby in utero compared to various fruits and vegetables.

Baby Angelos celebrated his first birthday, and I thought it would be fun to share his latest stats. 

Yes, it has been a year already.

At 30 pounds, he’s especially fond of his dad’s chicken noodle soup, grilled and rotisserie chicken, steamed veggies, strawberries, mango, and apple sauce. His favorite fruit is the Sumo orange, and he can knock down over half of one for a snack.

I must say, he’s off to a great start with his eating habits.

His vocabulary consists of mama, dada, duh (that’s Angelos for dog), banana.

He keeps his parents busy and highly entertained.

My dad once grew a pumpkin about the size of Angelos. He’s come a long way since I first wrote about him at week #17 when he was as big as a turnip. 

Happy Birthday, and birth month, to Angelos!

The Sleep Secret of Major League Baseball Players

I read an article recently about a top sleep doctor, Dr. Chris Winter, who is also an adviser to the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Minnesota Twins.

He’d recommended wearing a sleep mask to a friend who works for the Twins. A couple players tried it, loved it, and now everyone wants to wear one.

“Most people who really get into a sleep mask, or who can really black out their room, will tell you their sleep’s a lot better,” says Dr. Winter.

By eliminating ALL light, even light from those tiny bathroom night lights or a red light on a smoke detector, your brain ramps up its production of melatonin.

This is a hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Light signals your brain to stop making melatonin, so that you wake up and feel alert.

 For best results when using a sleep mask, turn off all electronic devices and bright lights about 30 minutes before bedtime, so that you can ease into your sleep mask darkness.

They aren’t for everyone since they can feel cumbersome on your face. I’ve tried it a couple nights, and I’m still getting used to it.

Since I have a senior citizen dog who often wakes up during the night, I’m not sure if it helps me sleep better, since I still hear the dog. I do know that with the mask, it is very dark. Maybe I need ear plugs too…

Sleep is critical for good health and maintaining proper weight, so you may like to give the sleep mask a try. Let me know how it works for you.

Sweet dreams,   
Health Coach Carol

“Sparkle and shine, it’s first birthday party time.”