Tag Archives: Mental Health

Hiking Everest and 450 Miles Across Spain Helps Kay Cherryholmes Find Her Way to Health

By Kay Cherryholmes

One day I googled myself and I was caught off guard by a blog link that had me tagged as one of his Top 10 Most Inspiring Athletes of 2010! I had met the guy while hiking and considered him a dear friend. At first I smiled; feeling like I had somehow been a positive in his eyes, then almost immediately it read that he met me while hiking in Nepal to base camp of Mt. Everest and that my BMI was that of a mack truck!

everest kay

Instantly real tears fell. Not tears of his writing, but tears of truth about my struggle to achieve fitness. Who was I kidding? Mostly myself it seems. I grew up a competitive gymnast. I was always on a scale and measured my success based on a number that ranged between 114 and 119.

Fast forward from age 14 to age 44 and I had been married, divorced, raised two children as a single mom, and was completely disconnected from the fitness I knew as a young adult. My mind, however, continued to crave challenges, even in a 230-pound body. For all the struggle that it took to walk up into the Himalayan mountains 80 pounds overweight,it never began to stop me. He wrote that it was my perseverance that got me on his Top 10 Athlete list.

I always describe myself from the shoulders up as a ‘Michael Phelps type‘ and from my shoulders down more of a ‘John Belushi type’. I am part extreme athlete, part party girl. Too much brie and wine and not enough cardio.

After more than a decade of athletic events where I have fought with the struggle of weight in competition I decided that my next adventure would be a 450-mile walk across Northern Spain; the Camino de Santiago. It is a spiritual pilgrimage that took me through the heart of many regions in Spain. Once again I would carry the extra weight on my body and an additional 30-pound backpack with all the necessary gear I would need in my 40 days of hiking.

camino santiago

I wanted to remove myself from all of the excuses at home that get between me and a stronger, more fit body. I left behind the wine, cheese, friends, family, dishes, laundry, job, dog, television and my comfy new couch. They’d all become specks of home reality in my rear view mirror as I landed on Spanish soil. I would be forced in to my own mind and body for hundreds of miles and countless days. I wanted answers and to be accountable to myself. I would have no other choice but to face the dragons in my head, that for decades have defined my mindset and impacted my choices. (more…)

Take a Chill Pill, Too Much Stress Can Make You Miserable

Odds are you’re reading this article on your phone while standing in line somewhere. Or maybe you’re skimming it while waiting on an email from a colleague to come through. Perhaps you’re sitting on the couch, TV on in the background, checking your phone periodically and browsing this in your pre-scheduled free time. If any of those scenarios sounded accurate, then congratulations, you’re just like the majority of people who can’t help but try to multitask.

stress

Unfortunately for multitaskers, and if I’m being honest I’m one of them, studies show multitasking is a myth. The human brain cannot do many things simultaneously. Instead, focus is shifted from one thing to another extremely quickly. So what does it mean if instead of focusing on many things at once you’re really changing focus rapidly? It means that you are not paying as much attention to everything as you think. Tasks may not be completed as well as if you had focused your attention on them entirely. Beyond the risk of producing shoddy work, the myth of multitasking, and cramming as much as possible in to every day, may be hazardous to your health.

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We Love Yoga Jones and How Orange is the New Black Highlights the Benefits of Prison Yoga

Amidst the cat fights, mind games, racial tension, and sexual promiscuity, there stands one prisoner in Orange is the New Black who seems to bring a much needed zen to the chaotic environment. Yoga Jones is one of our favorite characters on Netflix’s hot new series, which gives a seemingly painful depiction of life in a minimum security women’s prison.

The women are often free to moderately pursue their passions during their incarcerations, and for Yoga Jones, that’s following the tenants of Buddhism with regular yoga practice. And like any good yoga instructor, she shares that practice with all who will join her.

yoga jones orange is the new black

The juxtaposition of the serene yoga practice against the hardened, extreme prison environment may be a surprising scene for viewers of Orange is the New Black, but it’s actually a reality in prisons throughout the country.

Bo Cox told us the benefits of yoga in prison were very evident. Incarcerated in an Oklahoma prison for nearly two decades, the author of God is Not in the Thesaurus, said, “I can say that people who did [yoga] were above and beyond model prisoners. Peaceful and serene in a world anything but. And, not pushovers or victims either. Good examples of quiet strength.”

Litchfield’s women’s prison, the setting for Orange is the New Black, is not the only place where inmates can be found practicing yoga. It’s something available to some prisoners in the US and abroad, like in these Mexican prisons, and coincidentally is being lauded with some exciting new research out this month. (more…)

Binge Eating is Now a Diagnosable Mental Illness in DSM-5

Remember the last time you ate so much that you felt sick, and with dried marinara on your chin you decried, “I’m in a food coma!”? You had been binge eating, and you could be mentally ill.

Binge Eating

On May 18, the American Psychiatric Association released the DSM-5, the most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For the first time in the manual’s 60-year history, binge eating was included. For mental health professionals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, and the legal system, this handbook acts as the official and standard criteria for classifying mental disorders. Since everyone occasionally overeats, the designation of binge eating as a legitimate mental illness almost seems imprecise and excessive, but binging is associated with seriously negative psychological symptoms.

The inclusion of binge eating in the DSM-5 is a contentious issue in the mental health community, because some feel it will be over-applied or linked to common problems with overeating.

To illustrate my point, let’s go back to that food coma. After you’ve overeaten, you didn’t feel well, and you were bummed out, confused as to why you thought six slices of pizza and a two liter of soda was a good idea, and you probably wanted to turn back time and eat a salad. Those feelings are light-hearted representations of depression, guilt, and lack of self control, which are all manifestations of a mental illness. (more…)

10 Essential Foods for Alzheimer’s Prevention

Alzheimer’s: The word conjures up scary thoughts of slowly losing your memory as you become a shell of your former self. Experts project that diagnoses of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the primary cause, will triple worldwide by 2050. But scientists tell us that preventative measures can go a long way in protecting the brain from memory loss diseases, and they are as simple as doing things like making changes in your diet.

Here are 10 super foods that work to boost brain power and, in turn, lessen your chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. No one food has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but healthy eating habits appear to be one of the top factors in lowering your risk for developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

1. Wild Salmon, Tuna, Sardines (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week because it contains vital omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats help the body function properly and may slow cognitive decline by 10 percent, studies show.

“The main concept is that a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids creates BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a protein between nerve cells that helps increase the strength between connections,” said Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, author of “Super Body Super Brain.” Trout, mackerel, and herring are also good choices, and taking a fish oil vitamin can also help your body obtain this much-needed nutrient. (more…)

Find the Right Diet for Your Personality in “Who Are You Meant To Be”

Every year, more new diets pop up claiming to be revolutionary and suitable for everyone. And every year, millions try them out, hoping that they’ll finally find the solution to losing weight.

Dr. Anne Dranitsaris, PhD and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard believe that this model is not how weight loss should be approached. In their new book, Who Are You Meant to Be?, released January 1, 2013, they outline how an individual’s personality affects their behavior and, in turn, their dieting styles.

“We’re looking at [dieting] through a different lens than most. What is it that’s driving our behaviors? Why do we people behave like we do around food?” said Dranitsaris-Hilliard.

The mother-and-daughter team’s book is not a diet guide, but it may be applied toward eating styles as part of an integrated look at human behavior. Through their research, they have identified eight different “striving styles” and find most individuals fall under one of these. (more…)

20 Celebrity Men and Women Who Practice Meditation in Hollywood

When we think of alone time, we often picture ourselves shopping without chasing children, having a quiet pedicure, or simply lying in the bathtub uninterrupted. For some truly quality alone time, you don’t have to go much further than inside your own mind. Meditation is a contemplative state where by you silently remove yourself from the physical and the present to reflect, increase clarity, and find a more serene or deeper state of consciousness.

It’s an ancient practice, often associated with yoga, that’s becoming increasingly popular in our scattered, harried, pressure-cooked society. Business professionals use it to decompress after a tough meeting or even find their center before heading in to the bull pen. Men and women alike use meditation to strengthen their minds, reduce stress, and even attain that “me time” that is so necessary.


It’s something Julia Roberts’ character in Eat Pray Love grappled with during the pray portion of her journey at an Indian ashram. But in real life, celebrities are embracing it seemingly with ease for a vast many reasons.

For instance, Richard Gere says a meditation practice helps him to stay grounded amongst the excess of Hollywood life. Eva Mendes credits meditation for helping her mine her best creativity, according to Well and Good. And Gisele Bundchen, who delivered her second child at home this month, has called meditation the source for her post-baby weight loss.

“A regular meditation practice creates mindfulness. Being mindful helps keep us from feeling distracted and impatient with life when things don’t go our way,” said Jill Lawson, our resident yogi expert. “When we are fully aware of our feelings through the practice of meditation, we can move toward being more proactive, instead of reactive. Taking action versus being frustrated is the first step in living a joyful life.”

We found 20 famous men and women who have dedicated themselves to the art and practice of meditation. If this group can make Power Bracelets, veganism, and the Master Cleanse a storming success, maybe they can serve as models to make us all a bit more mindful out here in the real world. (more…)

100 Ways to Boost Your Energy in Syd Hoffman’s New Book

All-Day Energy: 100 Ways to Boost Your Energy…Now! was written by Syd Hoffman, a former elementary school principal who was fascinated by the endless energy in her students. She started making changes and found a dramatic difference in her energy to the point of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. She found that “it doesn’t take hours of exercise or spending a lot of money on special products to feel energetic. For most people, having all day energy is simply a matter of tweaking what you’re already doing.”

All-Day Energy is 100 quick tips written with a positive spin. It is a way to help you determine which of these exercises you enjoy; however, you may not know what works best for you unless you try each for a period of time. All-Day Energy is missing any plan or advice for integration; it is primarily inspirational with minimal effort at convincing readers to try each tip. While the suggestions are not in categories or any particular order, they do address all four types of energy – physical, emotional, intellectual, and existential.

I believe nearly all of the tips in All-Day Energy could be positive choices to improve energy, physical and mental health. There does seem to be some science and research missing that could explain and convince some people more. For example, there has been research that suggests visualization might actually decrease energy. I am also not sure I agree that taking vitamins is a healthy physical choice based on other things I have read. The variety of tips is interesting to me nonetheless. (more…)

Roy and Lynn Roden Prepare to Cycle 4,500 Miles Cross-Country for Parkinson’s Disease Awareness

In one month I am leaving on a cross-country journey from Seattle to Miami – via bicycle – with my husband and my two dogs, Oliver and Samantha. I am 40-years old and a recent empty nester. My name is Lynn Roden. This is my story.

Ten years ago I was a successful web designer/graphic artist and although I loved my job, I woke up one day to discover I was not the size I remembered. How come my size 6 pants were now starting to feel tight? Some may say “Only a size 6!” but you have to take into consideration that I was thin my whole life leaning between a size 0 and a size 2 – going up to a size 8 would have been the equivalent of going from a size 6 to a size 14 to me, a big difference.

I started with a personal trainer at Olympia Gym in Aventura, FL. working out two times a week. I started watching my nutrition and added cardio into my workout routine. Two days a week gradually became three. I loved this new more confident, stronger me and decided to become a personal trainer myself.

At the gym there was a front desk manager who took his job very seriously. It seemed that every time I came in this man would come out of nowhere to make sure I had signed in. It became a game and I would start coming in just to buy a bottle of water at the juice bar just to defy the need for me to sign in upon entering Olympia. He had a Harley Davidson motorcycle and I had been wanting to ride. One day my trainer hooked us up, we went to lunch, and were married six months later.

On our first year anniversary my husband, Roy, was diagnosed with YOPD – Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. I entered my first triathlon. Somehow becoming stronger physically was akin to being strong emotionally. In addition, my two teenage daughters were grown and independent enough to want to leave home. I found myself 40, an empty-nester, and with a new husband with a degenerative neurological disease. (more…)

The Perils of Food Porn: How Lustful Food Photos Affect Our Appetites

We’ve all been there: It’s late, you’re scrolling through Pinterest and you see a sexy photo of an ice cream-topped brownie with a thick drizzle of fudge running down the side. On top? A hefty mound of fresh whipped cream and plenty of strawberries. Immediately, you’re sucked in: You need that brownie.

Whether this has happened to you or not, you’ve likely heard of the phenomenon that’s now commonly known as “food porn.”

As a food blogger and food gawker myself, food porn has affected me over and over again. Just this summer while visiting friends in Portland, I stumbled across a photo on Pinterest of a chocolate chip skillet cookie. In that moment, I decided I absolutely had to have some for myself. Hours later I was happy as a pig, mindlessly eating my own thick slice of ice cream-topped cookie pie.

Pinterest isn’t the only website pimping out its tantilizing food photos. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Dozens of other food sites like Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Dessert Stalking host a wide array of tempting food photos, with the cheesiest, gooey-est and most comforting shots often gaining the most attention.  (more…)