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Eliciting Motivation

State of Being Goals 
Specific Goals


        Mindful and Intuitive Eating: is there a difference? What do these practices even mean? Is it something I should concern myself with ?The short answer is yes, there is a difference, and practicing both forms could substantially improve your health and well-being. Especially if you feel like food controls your life.

     In short, mindful eating is simply becoming aware and present to your intake and use of food without judgement. It can help you understand the reasons for your “hunger”. This can include reasons such as lack of food, emotions, culture, traditions, boredom, schedules, habits, etc. A mindful eating practice can help you to develop a much-needed awareness regarding your intake that becomes the cornerstone to an intuitive eating practice.

      An intuitive eating practice includes mindful eating. It’s about understanding the unique needs and goals of your mind and body and how that is connected to food. It allows you to eat without judgement and respects your body regardless of how you feel about its shape.

Intuitive eating embraces 3 core concepts:

• Eating for physical reasons, rather than emotional reasons

• Relying on internal hunger and satiety cues to guide when, what, and how much to eat

• Giving oneself unconditional permission to eat

     When these mindsets are practiced regularly, you will begin to recover your innate instincts for hearing your body when it tells you truthfully, “I’m hungry” or “I’m full”. Which in turn allows you to respond accordingly. Over time, this process of building a stronger mind-body connection and its relationship with food translates into improved health and sense of wellbeing. It is the art of listening to your body judgment free and giving it what it needs. When was the last time you really paid attention to how your body felt and used that info to make a food choice?

      Many people find that working with a functional medicine certified health coach on mindful and intuitive eating provides an invaluable source of support, education, and accountability towards building this much needed mind-body-food connection as it relates to their health and wellbeing goals. If you’re interested in building a stronger relationship with your body and food, and you have health goals you are ready to work on but feel you need support, contact me for a consult. “There is no time like the present to begin, for the present is all we have.” ~ Carly

What is this pre/pro-biotic nonsense I keep hearing about?


The human digestive track is home to more than 500 species of bacteria that equal out to 100 trillion or so bugs busy working. To remain healthy, we need probiotic bacteria or the “good” bugs to perform their daily tasks. We trade housing (our digestive track) and food (prebiotics and other food sources) in return for services on their part.

Probiotics play a role in our immune defense system, they synthesize certain vitamins (B and K for examples), secrete little bits of anti-biotics and anti-cancer substances, and produce important short-chain fatty acids to keep the gut lining healthy. They help to break down and digest food so that we can absorb the nutrients they contain. These are just a few examples of the role probiotics (and pre) play in our health.

So, what are these bugs and what do they need to eat to do their job well?

The good bugs need specific types of food or substances to flourish and maintain a healthy gut environment. This is where “Pre-biotics” come in: they are the food for the good bugs (probiotics). Notice that prefix is “pre” for the food, and not “pro”. This is an important distinction that is often confused. Prebiotics are the soluble fiber food sources we provide through our diet or supplements for the Probiotics to feed on to help them survive and flourish.

A prebiotic is a soluble starch or fiber that the human digestive system cannot digest on its own, but instead is fermented by gut bacteria. All prebiotics are classified as fiber, but not all fiber is a prebiotic. Insoluble fiber does not get broken down at all, by either our digestive system or gut bacteria. Insoluble fiber acts as roughage and to help bulk up our stool.

Prebiotics, however, are digested via fermentation by the microbes or “bugs” in both our large and small intestine as they pass through. Much in the same way we convert macronutrients like fat, protein, and carbs into energy for our muscles, brains, etc., the good bugs use prebiotics for the energy needed to function well at their job and fulfill the role they play in maintaining a healthy “microbiome” in our gut. Because of the role probiotics or the “good bugs” play in our health, if we don’t have enough probiotics, or they don’t have enough prebiotic food to eat, it is impossible for “us” to be healthy without “them”.

Wait, back up. Did you say something about a microbiome? Yep, sure did. It’s a term that most people have heard of at least once by now but stop short at understanding. Trust me when I say it’s important, so allow me to give you a quick snippet.

From the lining of the inside of your nose, mouth, lungs, genitourinary tract (the private lands south of the border) your entire digestive system, essentially on every epithelial surface of our body (type of body tissue that forms the covering on all internal and external surfaces of your body, lines body cavities and hollow organs, and is the major tissue in glands…whoa, that’s a lot of stuff!) a microbiotic world exists.

It is an “unseen by the naked eye” densely populated miniature world of an interactive network of microbes, viruses, and in some cases parasites that functions much like our world does currently: good guys vs. the bad guys where everyone plays a role in who ends up as the winner monopolizing all the resources. Peace, freedom, and overall wellbeing with happiness; or dictatorship with death, starvation, and destruction.

Our microbiomes have a direct impact on our hormones, brain and mental health, digestive health, endocrine health, skin health, metabolic health… the list is vast. Healthy microbiomes are a big deal, and it starts in the gut.

We have 5-6 basic types of microbes that can exist in this microbiotic world that we currently know of: Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, Protozoa, Helminths, and Prions.

Probiotics are specific strains of bacteria or a yeast (one that we know of) that have KNOWN HEALTH BENEFITS FOR HUMANS. Therefore, they are considered the good guys. There are also bad bacteria, or pathogens, that can make you sick and disrupt the microbiome if they are allowed to flourish. The Putin and his henchmen of the microbiome if you will.

We also have commensals. Research is still ongoing to try and understand the role they play in our microbiome, but one role they have found is to potentially help regulate our metabolism. Our goal for our microbiomes should be to have optimal numbers of probiotics and commensals and minimize the number of pathogens as much as possible.

So how do we do that?

Welp, firstly, it’s important to understand that probiotic supplements that we take are transient employees in our digestive system. They have contracts for up to 2 weeks. If well fed and housed, they bust their butts doing odd jobs in our intestinal infrastructure to build new roads and housing, repair old roads, borders, bridges, plumbing, etc. They replenish, restore, and create vital nutrients desperately needed by all our other systems. They supply weapons to our immune system. Then, after about 2 weeks, we literally poop them out. This is an ongoing process, which is why it is important to not only continually take in probiotics through our food sources, but also through supplements. We need to keep the good guys out numbering the bad guys.

Ideally, we should try to get in pre & probiotics from food as much as possible. However, for some folks (such as myself) with certain food allergies, that might not be possible. We also must consider the current state of agricultural practices (toxic) and soil composition(depleted), that are growing the foods available to us. Honestly, its not pretty. This is where supplementation comes in.

It’s not just the allergy prone that need help with daily supplementation. Folks with leaky gut or autoimmune conditions (except for people with severely depressed immune systems), or that are sick from random funk floating around. Remember, probiotics help to bolster your immune system.

If you are taking antibiotics, and after finishing a course of antibiotics, consider probiotic supplementation. The type of probiotic you use depends on whether you are currently on antibiotics or if you are finished with treatment. The whole point of antibiotics is to eliminate the bad bacteria or pathogens that are causing infections and making you sick. However, antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad bacterial microbes. They wipe out both throughout the course of treatment. Supplementation with probiotics can help to replenish the supply of the good bacteria. This can then help increase your immune systems’ ability to heal.

This is extremely important because it can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year for your body to build back up a balanced microbiome after just one course of antibiotic treatment. Yikes! Furthermore, replenishment only happens if you are doing all the necessary steps to have that occur, including a diet that provides the appropriate nutrition targeted to your needs. How many people do you think are out there doing that? Yea, not many. What does your nutrition look like, hmmm?

If you are currently on antibiotics, then you would want to take a probiotic that is not bacteria based. Instead, look for one that contains the yeast probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii commonly listed as S. boulardii. Because it is based on yeast rather than bacteria, it can be used while on antibiotics and it won’t be wiped out.

This keeps some of the good guys in play doing good work while you are being treated. It can also help with the diarrhea that commonly arises from antibiotic use. Post antibiotics you would resume a mixture of yeast and bacteria-based probiotics. Yeast based probiotics S. boulardii favor prebiotics with Mannan-Oligosaccharides (MOS) and beta glucans. If you have a yeast allergy or are currently on an antifungal medication, then S. boulardii is not for you.

Other things to think and speak to your medical provider about are the various types of bacteria probiotics available and which ones would be best for you to take. The two main probiotic bacteria that reside in the digestive track are Lacto bacilli and Bifido bacteria, but there are others that we need. If you are going to take supplements, don’t be brand loyal. Mix it up from month to month to be certain that you are replenishing with various strains.

Each product has different microbes even if it contains the L. bacilli you usually take. However, there are various types of probiotics available, and you may or may not need the types they contain. Perhaps you already have an abundance of L. bacilli but are depleted in another type. Like in all things, variety is the spice of life!

Bacteria based probiotics could cause significant issues if you are someone that is sensitive to histamine. Histamine is a fermentation byproduct of many types of probiotics as they feed on prebiotics. An option could be yeast-based S. boulardii or a single strain bacteria-based probiotic such as lactobacillus plantarum in very low doses. Always speak with your provider to get an informed recommendation based on your medical history.

Which brings me to another important point to consider: Be MINDFUL of how quickly you increase your intake of pre and probiotics. As a reminder, prebiotics are the food that probiotics feed on, which in turn allows the probiotics to flourish and do their jobs. As a result, how much and how many microbes we have in our gut is based on what we eat all the time.

Different foods contain different microbes (probiotics). Different soluble fiber foods (prebiotics) feed the microbes (probiotics). So, if you haven’t been taking in a lot of prebiotics for the probiotics to feed on, then the likelihood of you having a robust army of probiotics in your gut is slim to none. Essentially, you gave them shelter but no food.

Slow and Steady wins the race.

You might think the answer is to just eat a crap ton of prebiotic type foods to correct this. DON’T DO THAT. Your stomach and gut will hate you, and then you’ll probably hate me. Nobody wants that, right? It’s a terrible plan because there needs to already be probiotics in the gut to eat and ferment the prebiotic. In decent numbers. Prebiotics without probiotics = painful, bloaty, gassy belly. Not cool.

Remember that prebiotics are soluble fibers that cannot be broken down by OUR innate digestive system. However, this fiber source is a fine cuisine that the probiotic microbes love to feast on. It is the probiotic microbes that break it down and use it. First, build up your good guy transient work force by offering shelter (eating probiotic food sources or supplements), and then slowly offer enough food for them to eat without leaving leftovers to stink up the place. GO SLOW, feed according to need.

Now you might be thinking, heck Carly, I’ll just take in a high dose of daily probiotic supplements. Bring in a whole country all at once to go to work and war. Again, DON’T DO THAT. When replenishing the stores of the good guys, most folks will find that they feel worse before they feel better. Sometimes horrible and flu like. Also not cool, and makes it unlikely for you to continue to use probiotics. We don't want that to happen, we want happy gut to happen. 

Lots of things can get broken down and displaced when the good guys start to overpower the bad guys. Bad bacteria are not gracious losers and might kick and scream on their way out the back door. Sometimes this is referred to as the “die-off”. Ever hear of "too much of a good thing"? Yea, that.  Everything in moderation.

If you find probiotics are causing you discomfort, pain, or ill feelings, back off of the dose. Instead, increase it in slow increments, along with the slow increase in the prebiotic soluble fiber to match the need of the feed. This might look like taking ½ of the capsule or serving size of the probiotic for several days or a week, mixed in with your food. If you are feeling okay, then start slowly increasing your soluble fiber or prebiotic supplement in the same way. As always, talk to your medical provider about what would be best for YOU. 

None of the above information is to be taken or understood as medical advice. Instead, it is simply educational information in one area about an important topic that many are interested in. I hope that you found it helpful and that it sparked some thoughts about conversations you can have with your medical provider or dietitian about your current gut health and wellbeing status. My next blog entry will be discussing the different types of fiber and food sources of pre and pro biotics. Thanks for stopping by and reading my rambles! 

Quality Sleep is a Skill.

The following  is a series on suggestions for improved sleep. Some of the info comes from many years of coaching health behaviors with clients, and my own journey with sleep struggles. The vast majority of the info comes directly from the healthcare ​professionals at The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), that is provided to the Health Coaches in the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy Program.  This is not medical advice. This is readily available information from professionals that is being compiled in one place. It is merely a means for starting a discussion with yourself and your healthcare provider, if needed. As always, discuss any changes you wish to make or issues that you are having with your healthcare provider. 

Light, Noise, Temperature, and Environmental Issues


     There is more needed than “the appropriate time and reduction in stressors” that a Sleep Prep Plan should have for ultimate success. Some other areas to take into consideration are ways in which the brain is stimulated to help induce sleep/or awaken it.

     The first and most important area is “Light”. Different colors on the light spectrum have different effects on the brain. Light creates more than just a “vision” or “image” in the brain. For example, retinal ganglion cells respond to blue/green wavelengths (lights) by sending signals to the central part of the brain called the hypothalamus, an area separate from the visual cortex (where we make/process images). The hypothalamus sends out several different hormones that are secreted out to specific areas in the body to regulate functions like temperature, sleep, hunger, and circadian rhythms to name a few.

     In this case, blue light wavelengths stimulate the hypothalamus to secrete CRH which in turn stimulates an increase in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that will stimulate and awaken us amongst several other functions. Blue light also inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and our 24hr clock circadian rhythms. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland when our brains are exposed to the dark.


     Blue light serves its purpose in the morning to help us wake up and increase alertness and arousal during the day. However, decreasing our exposure to blue light in the late afternoon onward will help to set the brain on the path towards a gradual shut down at bedtime. Blue lights are found in electronic devices from smart watches, tv’s, laptops, cellphones and even in energy efficient lightbulbs, LED’s, etc. Consider investing in a quality pair of blue light blocking glasses to wear when working on your electronic devices or watching television. Limit how much time you spend a day using these devices..


      All light stimulates the brain to a certain degree. So beyond limiting the blue light exposure, here are some other tips for a better night sleep: Noise, Temperature, Environment.

  •  Turn down your lights in the entire house at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
  •  Consider dimmer switches in your bedroom and bathrooms. Keep them on the low settings when using those rooms to prepare for bed.
  •  Investing in a pair of amber glasses and using them at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime to further reduce your light exposure, or if you live with family members that are less agreeable to keeping the lights low.
  •  Black out window shades and curtains to block out outside light from getting into your bedroom.
  •  Try using sleep fabric coverings for your eyes when you’re trying to fall asleep, or if you struggle to stay asleep.
  •  Eliminate accessory noise as much as possible. Close the windows and door in your bedroom. Use earplugs. Consider a white noise generator, HEPA air filter machine, or fan that can block out noise.
  •  Make sure your temperature is in the correct range. These temps vary based on age. Doctors recommend temps between 60-67 degrees for adults. Read this article for more important information:
  •  Keep anything electromagnetic away from your sleeping area by at least 8 feet. This includes electrical outlets, clock/radios, computers, smartwatches, cellphones, etc.
  •  Avoid sleeping with electric blankets turned on. If using to heat up your bed, turn it off when you retire for the night.
  •  Use hypoallergenic pillows, mattress cover, and bedding.
  •  Invest in a side sleeper pillow to help align your hips and shoulders, which in turn stabilizes position of your spine, shoulder, and hip joints
  •  Sleeping on your side, and backwards at a slight angle (supported by body pillow) can help to reduce the pressure pain associated with hip or shoulder bursitis.
  •  Consider replacing your mattress if needed.

It’s a lot, I know. Start small with the area that you find the easiest, then continue to build from there. In the last part of this Sleep is a Skill series, we will discuss tips for when we struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Until then, turn down those lights in the evening!


Prepping For Sleep

Sleep Prep Plan

Success is typically credited to having a solid plan and following through with it on a continuous basis. This concept is no different when it comes to practicing good sleep hygiene and benefiting from a good night’s sleep… every night. Good sleep and its benefits do not magically happen. It occurs because a person has developed solid sleep skills that come from a consistent routine that works best for THEM.

Let’s create a plan by following the same guidelines that we used for other plans that we successfully executed.

  • Schedule it in as a priority appointment, much like any other important event that occurs in your day. Most of us have a dedicated time during the week that we must wake up to start our day off for work, etc. Working backwards from that scheduled wake-up time, allow for at least 8.5 to 9 hours in bed. Now you have a baseline place to start. For example: if 6am is your wakeup up time, schedule your bedtime appointment for at least 9:30. I know, I know, that is an early time for bed for most of us. More on that later.
  • Famous line my clients hear me say frequently: “Saturday is no different from Tuesday when it comes to your sleep schedule.” Continuous means just that, continuous. Having a completely different sleep and wake time Friday night through Sunday night will do you no favors on Monday morning. Or any other day for that matter. Our bodies and brains crave consistency and efficiency. “Every day is the same” will help to regulate your biological clock, which in turn can have profound effects on other systems in your body. Also, we all function from the perspective of survival. That means using the least amount of energy to get through each day. Consistent positive sleep schedules help to give us that daily fill up on recovery fuel and reduces cellular inflammation in the process. Our brains and bodies will happily get behind that.
  • Start prepping approximately 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. If you are a nighttime shower person, perhaps an hour is a better amount of time to give yourself. BTW, if you have children, this also works (MUCH earlier start time for them, of course) . So, if 9:30 pm is the time you should BE in bed for that 6 am wake up time, then 9 pm is the time to START prepping.
  • A bedtime after 11pm is not as helpful as getting to bed at an earlier time. Studies have shown that late sleep schedules are misaligned with the needs of our biological clocks, and health problems can occur as a result.  
  • Naps are not completely on the “no” list but avoid them in the late afternoon or early evening. 10-20 minutes work best, no longer than 30 minutes if you need to be alert following the nap. Longer naps run the risk of interfering with your nighttime sleep schedule. If you are sick or significantly sleep deprived, nap and sleep as much as you need to or can, to recover.
  • Try to finish all eating 3 hours prior to falling asleep. Avoid large meals or spicy foods before bed.
  •  My personal favorite: soaking in a hot tub filled with Epsom salts and aromatherapy oils specific for helping to induce sleep. Why? Raising your body temperature prior to sleep helps to induce sleep. Ever notice how being outside in hot weather leaves you feeling lethargic? The heat and salts also help to relax and reduce tension in your muscles. If pain is an issue that affects your sleep, then this step can really help to improve your chances of getting comfortable and falling asleep. A recipe that some find helpful is 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate is relaxing once it is absorbed through the skin) ½ to 1 cup baking sodium (sodium bicarbonate helps a stressed-out acidic body environment by making it more alkaline) and several drops of a calming essential oils such as Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Clove, Ylang Ylang, and Clary Sage for example. Bringing our body and mind to a calmer state allows for our cortisol (a stress hormone) level to drop down. Cortisol levels can have profound effects on our sleep.

  • Thanks for continuing this journey for improving your sleep hygiene! So far, we have discussed how stimulants, nighttime tension and anxiety, and a sleep time prep plan are all important areas for established quality sleep. Next up in the series: LNTE issues. See ya soon😊


Nighttime Tensions and Anxiety

 Don’t Provoke your Mind at Night!

•Anxiety provoking activities should be left to the morning hours, or better yet, avoided all together through reduction and elimination techniques.

•DO NOT watch the NEWS. Seriously, is there ever anything uplifting or relaxing reported in the news? This includes talk shows (particularly of the political nature…).

•I love a good book as much as the next worm, but it is wise to avoid reading interesting, exciting, or stimulating materials in bed or before bed. Anyone else out there hide a flashlight, and use it under the blanket to keep reading that book after bedtime as a kid? Yep. Me too. The next school day was always rough.

•Video Games…. Just, no. The very nature of video games is to stimulate, hello?

•Pay your bills or work on finances during the day. Particularly in this economic time of uncertainty, nothing good will come of stressing over bills at night. That bill or those stocks/crypto will still be there in the morning.  Greet them with a refreshed brain that is more capable of strategizing and problem solving.

•Avoid arguments at bedtime. With your spouse, family, kids, the dog. Again, we don’t reason well when we are tired. Bedtime is not the moment to hash out a compromise or treaty. That issue, just like those bills and the stock market, will still be there in the morning. Great Resolutions come from Great Minds. A tired mind is a tired mind. Period.

•Set a time during the “day” that is the least stressful for all parties involved in the discussion. Sketch out an action plan that all feel comfortable agreeing to as a next step. Go about the rest of your day.

•You are what you think. This holds true for the type of judgement and self-talk you use when you do struggle with falling or staying asleep. Be as kind to yourself as you would to a child that is upset because they awoke from a scary dream. Soothe yourself back to sleep with confident thoughts such as “I can fall asleep” “I can relax” “I am safe” “I am comfortable”.

•If repetitive negative thoughts ARE running on loop in your mind, try getting them “out”. Physically write in a journal whatever disturbing thoughts are protesting loudly at the gates of your mind. Read it aloud. Be the Devils Advocate to the thoughts. Advocate for Yourself. Pick one positive thing or trait that you align with. Calmly repeat that to yourself. Counter protest for your right to sleep.

•Schedule a time during the daylight hours within the next few days to approach and possibly create an action plan for whatever is troubling you. If this has been an ongoing mental issue, consider seeking out help by setting up a time to see your healthcare provider for a referral to counseling or therapy. The strongest and most resilient folks are those that know when to ask for help.

•There are a number of activities and even apps that are specific for relaxation and stress reduction. I have several clients that use the Calm” app and swear by it. Guided meditation, breath work, evening CARs routines, stretching, yoga, soaking in hot tub or shower, are all stress reduction techniques. The key is to find what works for you. Don’t give up if the first few things aren’t your jam. Some of these techniques require practice and skill. It’s also part of the reason why they work. If you are focused on learning a calming activity, then you are not focused on all the life stressors that might be keeping you awake. Which is, ya know, the point 😉


 Are You Stimulating your Brain

 with Chemical or Physical Stimulants?

•Avoid all forms of Al​cohol within 3 hours of bedtime

•Avoid caffeine-containing beverages or foods after 2pm. If you are sensitive to caffeine avoid it after noon or eliminate all together. Caffeine is found in both food and beverages so be sure to READ LABELS!!!

•Avoid Sudafed or other decongestant cold medicines at night. Talk to your pharmacist about the best option to take for when decongestants are needed.

•Some medications may have stimulating effects. Particularly “psychiatric meds”. Consult your pharmacist or doctor to determine whether any of them might be contributing to sleep problems. NEVER discontinue any medication without permission from your doctor!

•Complete any aerobic exercise before 6pm or at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. Physical activity is stimulating to the nervous system. (pg. 9-11) If your schedule allows for no other time of day to be moderately to intensely physically active other than the evening, be sure to follow it up with an activity that cools you down and calms your nervous system to a restful state. 

Cleoisms and ramblings...

For those that like to know.....?

Gratitude Journaling

December 20, 2019

 Now I'm fairly certain I will catch some flack from professional mental health workers that will say, " but that one study showed that people had more positive outcomes with journaling 3 times a week instead of every day...." Yea, I hear ya. However, I would counter that with questioning the brain functioning and plasticity level of the population in the study.

I recommend daily gratitude journaling in the beginning for my wellness clients that struggle significantly with depression and anxiety. I recommend they do it at night, right before they go to sleep. Why? Because want to begin training the brain to be in a positive place before drifting off to sleep. It increases the likelihood of establishing improved sleep hygiene. Bedtime, in most cases, is the time period that my clients are stuck laying in bed, trying to go to sleep, but their ruminative thoughts are extra loud, so they can't fall asleep. They are listing and going over all of the "negative" things about their day. Their worries, the things they didn't get done, things they think others are thinking about them, etc. Its also the last thing they are thinking before they do fall asleep. Ya think maybe the subconscious is on repeat and storing away and focusing on the last few things it was working on before sleepy sleepy time? Yea. Not the kind of repetition exposure we should want for our brain.

Many clients are currently in professional therapy, and have been for a significant amount of time. It takes a lot more to create appreciable change in their life compared to others. After all, those behaviors, thoughts, and actions that make up their life, are at a negative volume that is much higher than folks that do not struggle in the same way. The premise for only journaling 3 times per week is based in part on the thought that the individuals in the study found that to be more positive than everyday journaling. One possible assumption given for that was based on how quickly we pick up new positive habits and thoughts, and so if it is too repetitive, we become numb to its effects.

On the other hand, other studies have noted that those of us that have MDD and TRD have been shown to have brains that are less plastic compared to those from "normed" population. Whatever "normed" is, lol. That could translate into taking longer for new synapses to be formed. New patterns to be formed. For learning to take place and hold. For new habits to be formed and to stick around., etc. I have thoughts on why that could be the case, but that is not really important for this post. The point is, if depressed brains are indeed less plastic, then it would take more repetitions to get the same effect. Potentially. I'm not a scientist or a professional mental health worker, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. All I know is what I have seen over the years with one to one interactions, and personal struggles with anxiety and depression from a young age. I've learned some things over the years. 

Again, we need to look at the big picture of what is going on, what the root cause is, and what an individual is currently doing to maintain their current level of functioning. MDD, TRD, and anxiety is much larger than a persons mood or thoughts. I challenge all of the providers and the therapists out there to dig deep and go beyond medication assisted treatment and therapy including CBT, and try to pinpoint what collective dysfunctions are allowing this disease to continue to manifest.

A cardiac or diabetic patient would be asked to change a number of things about their life beyond medication and maybe diet. Hopefully, anyways. The same approach should be taken with those that live with depression and anxiety. Treat the disease from all directions.

Psychosocially, biologically, physiologically, etc. Attempt to discover the root cause. Is it physiological? Trauma? Is it anxiety that manifested over time into depression? If so, what approach needs to be taken to deal with what causes increases in anxiety for your patient that may now just look like negative coping techniques for their depression? What can they do with their behaviors to help decrease their anxiety? They will most likely need to be taught skill development in this area. Create well devised plans for them, with a back up. TEACH them. Skills have to be developed, but first, they need to be taught.

Be honest with your patients. Let them know that unless they are willing to make considerable changes in all areas of their life over time, then sustainable change is unlikely to occur. They will probably struggle significantly for life. Like it or not.

What needs to change? What is contributing to maintaining the current status quo?

Man, haha, this little rant was long! Any who, that's my 2 cents. Sprinkle some salt.

Series: Effective Goal Setting:  Part III, Goal Setting Principles

December 13, 2019

Goal Setting Principles: there are several so we will start by picking just 2 for this entry of the series 😊

For wellness and fitness related goals, being objectively specific (with regards to a quantified amount that can be measured) will produce higher levels of task performance than having no goals (duh, right?) or having subjective goals (goals that rely on personal opinion, "I want to feel good"). So, one important goal setting principle is Goal Specificity.

Remember from the previous post that when there is actual concrete feedback to measure your progress, you will be more likely to perform well and reach your goal. Feedback is an important part of the process. It allows us to focus our attention on what needs work so we can progress accordingly. Goal Specificity will give you that. 

From a "wellness/behavior change, nutrition, and/or physical fitness perspective", goal specificity examples could look like the following:

          You establish a long-term Outcome Goal of losing weight and getting healthier physically and mentally. 

So, let’s begin with picking specific goals in the area of "wellness/behavior change, nutrition, and physical fitness."

1.Wellness/Behavior Change Discovery Task: What are your baseline behaviors? Begin by tracking your current daily vegetable and fruit intake and maintain consistent tracking for a week. Do not change your behavior regarding how you eat. Eat as you normally would so that you can get a good idea about your baseline behavior. The only thing you are doing is accurately tracking what you are eating. You must track every day.

2.Nutrition Goal: After tracking for a normal week, you take that information and discover that your current average daily intake for fruit and vegetables is 1 serving of each, so you will create a specific nutrition goal to increase each by 1 serving per day so that the goal is to get 2 servings of veggies and 2 servings of fruit everyday for the next week. A total of 4 servings per day.

3.Wellness/Behavior Change Nutrition Tracking Goal: You will continue to track every day, creating a consistent habit with staying accountable to your intake. You should log whether you met the goal, what type of veggies and fruit (including the serving size amount), and how you prepared it.

4.Wellness/Behavior Change Discovery Task: track your current baseline amount of weekly intentional fitness workouts, and the total amount of daily activities (typically found in the form of “steps”). After a typical week of tracking, you establish that your intentional work out time for the week is 20 minutes for only 1 day, and your daily average step total is 6000.

5.Physical Fitness Goal: increase daily average step count from 6000 to 8000 and bump up the number of times you intentionally workout out from once per week for 20 minutes, to twice per week for 30 minutes.

6.Wellness Behavior Fitness Tracking Goal: track your daily steps and your workouts including the duration, and type of workout, what day you did the workout, and what time. Track everyday. Remain consistent.

Specific, measurable goals = Goal Specificity. This is made easy for my clients because it is all set up in the app for them to track on a daily basis. Whatever system you use, it needs to be simple and quick.

Effective Goal Specificity requires the next principle: "how to determine the “amount” with regards to the specific goals". This is a great question and another important principle in goal setting. The art of setting the appropriate challenge level for your goals.

The appropriate level needs to be considered a "realistic but challenging goal" for each individual person. Establishing baselines is helpful to understand the needed starting point and for the end point. What is considered challenging to one person, could be  relatively easy for another. The goal you are trying to reach needs to be enough of a stimulus that it pushes a person to stretch out into a moderately uncomfortable zone, that requires effort.

 But it cannot be so difficult, that it is impossible to not only attain, but to repeat.  Most behavior goals require consistent successfully completed attempts. So, the challenge level has to be able to be maintained  with consistency. So, can you do it more than once?

At the other end of the spectrum, goals that are set at levels that are too easy to reach, will provide no stimulus to motivate you, and would not require any adaptive learning strategies on your part. Real change is hard, right? It takes work. If we want change to occur, then we need to stretch out and challenge ourselves to find new ways to adapt to complete the task. We must evolve.

It is within that need to adapt, that real change occurs. Once you are capable of repeatedly performing a task at a new level, the change is capable of solidifying to become a new habit or baseline set point.

To recap, one principle of effective goal setting is that “specific measurable goals” need to be set: goal specificity

Goal Specificity allows for focused attention and the feedback to assess progression and direction towards the goals.

Another principle is related to the challenge level of the goal. How many vegetables do I choose? The number/amount/weight/time spent/etc., should encourage the goal setter to find ways to be forced to adapt to the goal and likewise set it at an attainable level. Not so hard that it is impossible, or that you can’t sustain it. Not so easy that no change is required to attain it.

There are still several other principles for effective goal setting to discuss, so I hope you come back again to continue on this journey with me. See ya soon! As always, thanks for reading my ramblings...

Series: Effective Goal Setting:  Part II, the 3 Types of Goals

December 12, 2019

So, what kind of goals can you set that would enhance motivation and adaptive learning strategies, while simultaneously direct and maintain your attention towards goal completion?

Research has shown that in order to reach goals regarding improvement in areas such as productivity, behavior, and/or performance; the right “type” or “kind” of goal needs to be set. Goals that specifically enhance your motivation and are focused directly on the parameters needed for completion are the best way toward goal completion.

The last post we talked a little bit about the “Why’s” of goal setting. So, the focus for this entry is to be more specific about what a goal is defined as historically and the different types of goals that we can utilize to begin setting specific types of goals for ourselves.

In general, a GOAL is something that you are attempting to accomplish through various means with specifically directed actions. In most cases we are trying to achieve somethingor become better at something, typically within a certain time frame or limit. There are both objective and subjective aspects to goal setting.

When something is OBJECTIVE, it is based on facts. Goals for the most part should be objective. Objective goals can be quantitatively measured, and that becomes extremely important for reasons we will delve into.

When something is SUBJECTIVE, it is based in opinions, so you cannot quantitatively measure it. Lack of quantitative measurements make it difficult to track progression towards your goals. 

Because of that, subjective aspects are more difficult to consistently set goals around. Subjective thought processing limits your ability to maintain specified, controlled, and focused attention to detail regarding the goals. However, that doesn’t mean that subjective goals shouldn’t be placed in the overall map. Subjective goals can still be utilized.

There are 3 main “Types” of goals:

1.OUTCOME based goals are the results of some type of behavior and can be thought of as a type of winning or losing scenario in most cases. Outcome goals are not under the complete control of the individual, so when goal setting, they should not be the main focus. For example: a weight loss challenge at work to encourage employees to adopt a more positive behavioral approach regarding their health, which will in turn reduce healthcare related costs for the company. The Outcome goal is for an individual employee to win the weight loss challenge.

2.PERFORMANCE based goals can be thought of as the end product of performance but are typically expressed in terms of personal achievement. The performance goal can be tracked quantitatively and are typically found in the short-term goal scenarios. Employees participating have a long-term outcome goal to win the weight loss challenge. 

Say, Carly the employee wants to win the challenge so she sets a personal goal to lose 50 pounds by June 1st deadline and she wants to achieve that by using both exercise and nutrition (great idea!) So, her performance goal would be to personally achieve a 50-pound weight loss by exercising a predetermined number of times each week and by reducing her current intake of calories by a specified amount every day. The performance numbers she uses would be based on realistic goals that would help create the results she is looking for long term. Maybe she wins the outcome goal of the weight loss challenge, maybe she doesn’t. She cannot control the variables of that. 

What Carly can do, however, is set personal performance goals that she does have control over, that can make the likelihood of reaching the outcome goal more achievable. The point of the performance goal(s) is to be specific about actions needed to reach the goal. For Carly the specific actions are to lose 50 lbs by exercising X amount of times per week and by reducing her current calorie intake by X amount per day.

3.PROCESS based goals will outline the specific processes that the person needs to follow or adhere to perform the above performance goals in an appropriate way to reach their goals. For example: If Carly were my client, she would receive a very specific cardio routine from me. The routine would be to complete X amount of cardio X amount of times per week (performance goals). If you have read any of my other pages, you would know that I do heart rate-based training specific to the client. I also require that my clients check in to their app to track their assignments and workouts to see if they have been completed. 

So, Carly wants to lose 50lbs by June 1st. I give her performance goals for specified number of times to workout, and I give her process goals related to where and for how long I want her heart rate to be during the workouts. I also want her to track and check off in the app if she attempted and accomplished the goals: Both maintaining the heart rate and the daily tracking in the app are process goals.

So, to wrap up this part of the series, the 3 types of Goals we will focus on are OUTCOME, PERFORMANCE, and PROCESS.

You need to pick goals that are predominately objective and capable of being measured, some subjective goals can also be included to help provide a different means of motivation. 

While OUTCOME goals can be a good idea, from a wellness and fitness perspective, OUTCOME goals should not be the main focus. Remember, OUTCOME goals are NOT within the CONTROL of the individual. Winning and losing can be affected by numerous variables well outside of the control of one person. Due to this, solid effective goal setting should mostly revolve around focusing on variables that ARE within control of the individual: PERFORMANCE and PROCESS goals

Performance and Process goals can be objectively quantified. This provides valuable feedback to the individual and the coach (if utilizing one) as they progress on the journey to achieve their goals. These two types of goals ARE under the control of individuals and as such, make it more likely for someone to reach their OUTCOME goals.

The next part of this series on effective goal setting will delve further into setting specific goals within specified parameters considering the 3 types of goals listed above. Hope you come back to check it out. See ya soon!!!

Series: Effective Goal Setting:  Why?

December 11, 2019

Setting a Goal does NOT ensure reaching that Goal…

In order to be able to achieve and receive the benefits of goals, one must approach goal setting in a particular manner.

Goals are important because they have the capability of boosting personal growth, they can aid in changing behavior and establishing the new behavior for the long haul, and they can potentially enhance both performance and productivity in profound ways.

One of the ways that setting appropriate goals can benefit you, includes influencing your performance on certain tasks or life in general, by helping you to develop new learning strategies. These newly developed strategies are specific to what works best for YOU and YOUR life to achieve and maintain the positive habits that will allow you to reach your goals.

For example: 

Some people specifically hire trainers for the accountability to begin working out if they have fitness or weight loss related goals. They have learned from previous attempts on this journey, that if they are left to be their own source of accountability, the odds are high that they will not consistently work out. Consistency is paramount to success regarding goals. They have now learned this, and now must develop new strategies to make them consistent.  They discovered that if they committed to another person verbally and monetarily, the likelihood of maintaining a consistent workout schedule increases substantially, which may in turn have them reach their weight loss or fitness related goals.

Some people recognize that self-accountability is not the blocking issue, but rather the time of day is the issue. These folks may need to make working out a priority in the morning, and they must treat it as a scheduled event, just like all their other required morning routine actions. They know that they are the type of person that will not workout consistently if they leave the workout to the evening hours after a long workday. Just not going to happen for them. They have learned that about themselves over time from multiple attempts at evening workouts that never materialized. Again, consistency with positive habits is paramount to success. Making time in the morning at home or in a gym allows them to consistently workout.

Some people need a combination. They need a specific time of day AND someone to hold them accountable. The point of these examples is to illustrate that appropriate goal setting influences you to learn what strategies are needed for you to be able to consistently work in a manner that supports YOU reaching YOUR goals. You also learn valuable information about your personality that can in turn help you in other areas in your life.

Setting goals in an appropriate manner will provide you with valuable feedback. Why is feedback important? Well, feedback will create an atmosphere that allows you to increase your effort and persistence towards reaching your goals. It also provides information about whether you have strayed from your goals, or if your goals have changed over time. Where does the feedback come from?

Feedback arises from goal setting with short-term goals that are specific for helping to obtain your long-term goals. This feedback provides valuable motivation to stay on course. How does it do that, and why are both needed? Short-term goals will allow you to see your progress towards long term goals. So, short-term goals provide the necessary feedback that keep you motoring along with a continued desire to achieve your long-term goals.

 It is a continued way to track your progress.

In other words: long term goals provide you with the needed destination direction towards what you are ultimately trying to accomplish. I always like to say these are the “eyes on the horizon” goals. They keep the focus on where you ultimately want to end up or what you want to achieve.

Short-term goals provide you with the continual feedback that you need concerning the type of progress that you are making towards your long-term goals.

And finally, appropriate goal setting will allow you to focus your attention on the task at hand, arguably the most important reason why people set goals in the first place, and how they then successfully obtain those goals.

1.Appropriate goal setting works because it will direct your attention and action to the task at hand. 

2. Focused attention will allow you to mobilize the necessary efforts for short- and long-term goals and enhance your persistence towards achieving those goals through valuable feedback regarding progress. 

3. Throughout the goal setting process, you will begin to gain a considerable amount of self-awareness and in turn develop new valuable learning strategies to not only reach your specific goals, but also to apply to other areas in your life.

Creating positive change in your life via healthy habits begins with appropriate goal setting. The rest of this series will outline the different types of goals and how you will be able to begin to outline or map out appropriate goal setting behavior for whatever you need to set goals for in life. In the new year, I will be offering small group classes that focus on wellness and fitness goals, combining both an accountability and educational session, followed up with a specific progression of joint mobility and midline related workout that meets once per week. If you are interested, drop me a line via the contact info page and let me know. 

Series: Power of the "I Am" Statement