Pawsitively Tuesday – Escape

We spent many hours lying on a blanket on the lawn, looking up at the clouds in the sky, finding shapes, faces and all kinds of wonder.  

A self-made vacation from all the “demands” of childhood.

What is your self-made vacation?

PA & JW

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Here’s the Best Way to Cope with Family Tensions

The rosy pictures of family harmony is ever-present in the media during holiday season.  

As therapists we were privy to the fact that holidays are stressful and often bring out the worst in family and interpersonal relationships.  

Clients who had no family fantasized about what they were missing and clients with families fantasized about how to miss family gatherings.

Family Dynamics by Peggy

It’s gratifying to know we were on track with how we approached client holiday stress & strain.  The research bears this out:

  • It is not helpful to ruminate on what was, what could be, ruminate over and over about the hurt, anger, injustice of it all.  Rumination leads to depression and/or anxiety.  
  • It’s best to tell the “tale” once, focus on what hasn’t worked and find new ways to cope.

Here’s a synopsis of the research and article:

Family Arguments Over The Holidays? Replaying Them in Detail May Be the Best Way to Cope

“Repeated studies have found that people prone to depression can get worse if they excessively dwell or ruminate on a stressful incident such as a quarrel or a loss. But experiments by Exeter University psychologists have found that when individuals practised running emotional incidents through their head, focusing on sensory details and recalling exactly what happened, how it happened, and even where it happened, it helped them respond constructively and stopped them becoming so upset about a future or past stressful experience.”

“Psychologists at the University of Exeter have found that recalling the detail of shouting matches and disagreements, including exactly who said what to whom and how, may not be destructive and prolong the tension, but could help people keep incidents in perspective and stop the triggering of self-doubt and even depression.”

“After training to recall the details of an upsetting incident including the tone of a voice, the words used and how the event happened, people became more resilient and put the upsetting incident into context, stopping a downward spiral into low mood.”

“The same exercise of focusing on the sensory details of sad experiences and asking “How did it happen?” “How can I do something about it?” was also found to speed up recovery from doing badly on a test in undergraduates, and to improve interpersonal problem solving, such as finding a way to make up with your partner after an argument, in people who were currently or formerly depressed.”

“For people experiencing depression learning to focus on stressful incidents and to re-imagine them in full technicolour asking themselves ‘What is unique about this situation?’ ‘ How did it happen?’ – instead of ‘Why did it happen to me? had an a ‘significant’ impact on helping to alleviate mental ill health.”

Then again, one way to avoid all the holiday tension is to eat out or . . . leave town.

Read the full article:

http://neurosciencenews.com/psychology-replay-arguments-5819/

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Four cups of coffee a day could cut the risk of early death by two thirds.

In “our” never-ending quest not to be bound by time/event constraints this wasn’t posted on National Coffee Day.

(I should say “my” and exonerate Peggy who is punctual and remembers special occasions)

I drink a cup of coffee every morning but according to researchers I need to drink more so I can live a few months longer than I otherwise would . . . .

“People who drank at least four cups of coffee a day were 65 per cent less likely to die during the study than those who never drank it, adjusting for lifestyle and class. The risk of dying early was 25 per cent lower for each extra two cups drunk, according to the results presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona.”

Photo by Betty Rawlings

(Thanks Betty for permission to use your great photo!)

“Although the results do not prove that the drink benefits health directly, they come a month after two large studies found that coffee drinkers were less likely to die of several fatal conditions, suggesting that on average they would live a couple of months longer than non-coffee-drinkers.”

“Scientists said that while they were not recommending a daily brew, it was fairly clear that healthy people did not need to worry about caffeine intake.”

“In the latest study, researchers looked at data on 20,000 Spanish graduates with an average age of 38 at the start of a ten-year study, during which 337 of them died.”

“Coffee drinkers tend to be healthier in other ways which may not have been entirely adjusted for. However, Adela Navarro, of the Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, who led the study, suggested that the anti-inflammatory polyphenols in coffee could play a role.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/four-coffees-a-day-cuts-risk-of-early-death/news-story/ac0895d91096bbdb7fc29cebc67c7ac9

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I hear you!

I didn’t think I was hard of hearing.  My daughter did.  I simply want to hear what I want to hear, not necessarily what others think I should be hearing . . .  

 

Research* indicates that half of hearing loss is due to the brain getting “fuzzy” about discriminating sounds.  There is some evidence that the brain can be re-trained. There are several sites which are based on neuroplasticity and retraining the brain.  I figured I had nothing to lose and could prove to her I my hearing was just fine.   I checked out one of several sites that claim to re-train the brain for better hearing.  

The exercises I chose slowed down sounds. Then two sounds that were very alike and hard to tell apart were speeded up.  I practiced discriminating between them.

I  think it helped.  There is a commercial on TV where I never could understand part of what they said–and after the training I could.  Don’t tell my daughter.  I’m waiting to see if she comments again on my hearing. 

 

Here’s some of the research I read:

“Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences, recently published the results of her dissertation work, “Reversal of Age-Related Neural Timing Delays with Training,” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, carried out at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, focused on the effects of auditory training on the brain’s ability to rapidly process sound. Essentially, auditory training involves teaching the brain to listen. For those with unimpeded hearing, this normally occurs early in life and is part of a young child’s rearing. Later in life, or for those who require additional support, auditory training is usually supervised by an audiologist or speech-language pathologist and involves exposure to stimuli and coaching to help individuals identify and distinguish sounds”.

“Dr. Anderson’s research included 67 adults between the ages of 55 and 70. They completed in-home computerized training for 40 hours over eight weeks. The training involved discriminating between consonant-vowel syllables that were initially spoken slowly with exaggerated enunciation. As they improved, the syllables were compressed in time and were more difficult to distinguish. In addition, participants received memory training that focused attention on the syllables as they were presented in words, sentences and stories. “For most of my participants, the training was quite a positive experience,” Anderson said. “Many of them reported that they enjoyed the challenge and that they noticed the benefits of hearing better in social activities. In fact, I had no difficulty recruiting participants because they encouraged their friends to come in for the study. I was impressed with their high motivation to do activities that might offset the effects of aging.”’

“After training, the study participants had better scores on tests of speech-in-noise perception, memory and speed of processing—demonstrating their improved ability to decipher speech in challenging environments. They also had faster neural timing in the auditory brainstem, indicating that their brain’s processing speed was partially restored to typical timing in young adults. Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University and Anderson’s research partner, commented on the training’s effectiveness.”

“After training, the participants’ neural timing did not become equivalent to that of a young adult…but they were, however, able to successfully hear, remember, and understand sentences in noisy background listening conditions—conditions that prior to training, rendered understanding of what had been said impossible,” Kraus said. In fact, participants that repeated behavioral and electrophysiological tests post training understood about 20% more words and could process about 15% more cognitive items on a timed test, and showed a 50% increase in neural timing. Participants that received no training showed no improvements in any area of their hearing and processing capabilities.”

https://bsos.umd.edu/messaging/Improving-Human-Condition-PSYC  University of Maryland, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

(Peggy A)

Here’s another study from The National Institute of Health

*https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055506/

 

 

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Did you know: Sitting most of the day may lead to an early grave?

 Ai yi yiiiiii.  We spent the majority of our lives as “professional sitter-downers”.  As psychotherapists the only thing we were really concerned about was being sued, stalked or otherwise putting our licenses in jeopardy. Little did we know sitting and listening to people might have led to our early demise.

“Adults who are inactive much of the day may be more likely to die prematurely than people who don’t sit around a lot, regardless of their exercise habits, a U.S. study suggests.”

(Reuters Health)

People may also be less likely to die young if they break up sedentary time by moving around every half hour than if they remain seated for longer stretches of time without getting up, the study also suggests.

For the study, researchers examined data on 7,985 adults, age 45 and older, who were asked to wear accelerometers to measure activity levels for one week.

“We think these findings suggest that it is simply not enough to be active or move at just one specific time of the day, that is, exercise,” said lead author Keith Diaz of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

“We need to be mindful of moving frequently throughout the day in addition to exercising,” Diaz said.

“Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day,” noted Alter. “Conversely, in those whose daily sedentary volumes were low, uninterrupted bout lengths had little if any associated effects on mortality.”

“It’s possible that prolonged sedentary stretches might hasten death by causing what’s known as metabolic toxicity, said Dr. David Alter, head of cardiovascular and metabolic research for the University Health Network-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in Canada.”

“The lack of activity in our muscles affects our ability to metabolize our sugars efficiently,” Alter, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email. “Over time, our body accumulates excess fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and death.”

From now on this blog will be written, illustrated and edited in a standing position . . . the good news is that we didn’t die young.

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Women – The Secret Ingredient to Living Long & Well

Stanford University:  “The lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between 
stress and disease. The speaker (head  of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among
 other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his 
health is to be married to a woman whereas for a  woman, one of the 
best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her 
girlfriends.

Meowie & Friends by Peggy

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

“Women connect with each other differently and  provide support
 systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult  life
 experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to
 create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can 
create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas
men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a
 buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal
lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf?
 Yes.  But their feelings? Rarely.”

“Women do it all of the time sharing from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and
evidently that is very good for our health.  He said that spending time with a friend is just
 as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.”

“There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we  are
 doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with 
friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively
 engaged—not true.” 

The Health Factor – Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.

Interesting Research findings:

  • Longevity – Married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don’t. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.
  • Stress – For decades, stress tests focused solely on male participants, believing that all humans would respond in the same manner. When these same stress tests were finally conducted on females it was discovered that women don’t have the same, classic ‘fight or flight’ response to stress that men do. According to the research presented in The Tending Instinct, women under stress have the need to ‘tend and befriend.’ We want to tend to our young and be with our friends. Time with our friends actually reduces our stress levels.
  • More Stress – A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when we’re with our girlfriends, our bodies emit the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, helping us reduce everyday stress. By prioritizing our female friendships and spending time with these friends, we take advantage of a very simple, natural way to reduce our stress.
  • Self-esteem – A recent study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. It’s no surprise that our self-esteem is highly influenced by our girlfriends; this is important to understand for girls as well as women.

 

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How to fall asleep – Cool It!

Bodies cool down while we prepare to nod off. Our blood vessels expand, allowing heat to escape our bodies quicker. Body temperatures, which fluctuate by about 1 degree over the course of 24 hours, will bottom out in the wee hours of the morning.

People tend to sleep best in colder rooms, between 60 and 67 degrees

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Sleepy, from Maui’s Story by Peggy

Sleep researchers know that right before you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop; in the deepest stages of sleep, your body is at its coolest, about one or two degrees below normal. Some scientists believe cooler temperatures cause sleepiness, and although the pre-slumber cooling process happens naturally, there are a few things you can do to help it along:

  • Take a warm bath right before bed.  When you leave the tub, your body temperature rapidly cools, triggering that sleepy feeling.

  • Drink a warm beverage – works the same way as a warm bath.

  • Turn on a fan.

  • Stick your foot out of the covers.

But why the foot, specifically? The skin surfaces of both our hands and feet are unique – they’re hairless and contain specialized vascular structures that help with heat loss. Specifically, the hands and feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomoses, which — coupled with the lack of hair on the bottoms of your feet — are perfectly designed to help dissipate body heat.

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What is “Over Fat” . . . like me?

I’m writing this post to give myself and my brother Rick (you too, if it fits) more motivation.

A year ago Rick and I made a pact.  Whoever lost 20 pounds first got to choose who visited whom. (He lives in Denver, I live in Southern California).  The first year we did really well, albeit falling short of our 20 pound goal.  The beginning of the second year we both gained back the weight we’d lost the first year . . .

We have very different approaches.  He weighs once a week and I obsesssssively stand on the scale every morning (sometime every night in anticipation of my morning weigh-in).  When I tried his approach I gained 5 pounds in a week.

Neither of us look over-weight by most standards.  We both know that the weight distributed around our mid-section is not healthy, particularly considering we both have heart problems.

Why’s belly fat so bad

“Abdominal fat is one of the most dangerous kinds of fat you can have. The reason it’s so bad is that unlike your love handles — which are the pinchable fat right beneath your skin — the fat that is in your stomach area grows deep inside your body and it wraps around your vital organs. Your liver borrows this fat and turns it into cholesterol that can sneak into your arteries and start collecting there. When it collects, your arteries start to harden, and when they get hard, this can lead you to having a heart attack or stroke.”

 “A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health suggests the number of people who meet the criteria for overfat in the top 30 industrialized countries are more than all of the obese and overweight people in the world. In fact, they estimate that 90% of the men and 50% of the children in the US, New Zealand, Greece and Iceland are overfat. In the top overfat countries, researchers found 80% of the women were overfat, too.
This adds to previous research published in January that first suggested “the term more accurately encapsulates the problem itself.”
And if doctors rely only on the definitions we use to consider someone “obese,” or “overweight,” they may not be helping all the patients they should.”

What is overfat?

Overfat is a term created to describe if you have a body fat level that can actually hurt your health. Even people who are considered “normal weight” or “non-obese” by traditional standards can fall into this category.

 BMI, which stands for body mass index, is determined based on a person’s height and weight. You’re considered overweight if your BMI is between 25 to 29.9 and you’re obese if your BMI is 30 or above.
Chances are, even if you are not “fat,” by definition of these traditional measurements, you may still be “overfat.” And that’s going to have some seriously negative consequences for your overall health.

“If a doctor is relying on BMI to assess your potential danger from your fat, they miss the risk. Earlier studies have also shown that doctors that rely solely on BMI may miss other warning signs for people of different ethnicities put them at greater risk for heart problems and other health issues.

“The authors of this new study argue that BMI misses about 50% of the people who still have dangerous amounts of fat. Those are typically people who have the proverbial beer belly, but are otherwise in decent shape.”
“We shouldn’t be as much worried about weight,” said author Paul Laursen, an adjunct professor and performance physiologist at the Sports Performance Research Institute in New Zealand. Your scale or that BMI calculator don’t know that you could be an athlete and have a lot of muscle mass, or a growing teen. “What we should really be worried about is the fat part and where your fat is concentrated.”

Can apple cider vinegar help with weight loss?

This deep layer of belly fat is also what:

  • Makes your body insulin-resistant, which can lead you to having type 2 diabetes.

  • Cause inflammation, which scientists are finding at the root of many chronic diseases and even cancer and Alzheimer’s.

  • Raise your glucose levels and

  • Decrease your muscle mass. You need good muscle mass to help keep good heart health.

It’s no wonder earlier studies have shown that excess belly fat, even if you are skinny elsewhere, may be even more deadly than being obese or overweight. And that’s saying a lot, since good old fashioned obesity is related to all sorts of diseases and potentially life threatening problems like cancer, heart attacks, stroke, asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and a handful of other problems.

A better measure

“What may be a better way to assess if you are overfat is for your doctor to look more like a tailor and take a tape measure to your waist, the authors argue. If you want to try this at home, measure your circumference at your belly button. If your waist circumference is half your height or less, you are at a healthy fat level. If you are over that number, your fat could put you at risk for ill health.”

“It’s not as perfect a measure as if your doctor were to calculate your fat using an X-ray, but it’s a good indicator, suggests Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist and obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.”

 You could even do something simpler and look at your hip to waist ratio —

“If the waist is bigger than the hips, it tells me that the risk carried with that weight is much higher for that person for premature death,”

All doctors agree that dealing with excess fat needs to be a priority,as it truly can put someone’s life in jeopardy.

Are you listening, Rick?

xxxx jw

Read CNN article Overfat & Obesity Study

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Freddie’s Food Friday

Dear Freddie Followers,

Feeding Peggy and Judy brain healthy food is my mission.  They are getting old . . .er and need all the encouragement they can get from me to eat healthy.  I have a lot of recipes and let them pick which ones they want me to make for them.  

I suspect they choose chocolate so they could have it all to themselves.* They insist chocolate is not healthy for me . . . just for them . . .

I tweaked the original recipe to make it even MORE tasty.  

Espresso Brownie Cake

Brain Healthy Ingredients:

Cinnamon – contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.

Different groups of researchers have shown that cinnamon may prevent the formation of both the plaques and the tangles found in the Alzheimer’s brain.

 Dark chocolate & Cocoa – rich in flavonoids compounds that have been linked to improved cognitive performance in older adults. Studies have shown that cocoa flavanols improve performance in healthy adults during sustained mental effort and may also protect against stroke.

Coffee – contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Many controlled trials in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function. This includes memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general cognitive function 

A single cup of coffee contains:

  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA.
  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA.
  • Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (I didn’t have enough butter so I added coconut butter)
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee (I didn’t have espresso coffee so I made it twice)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk, so I made sour milk adding a tsp of white vinegar to the milk.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped dark chocolate (I didn’t have enough dark chocolate so I added semi-sweet)
Preparation: 
  • Heat oven to 400. Spray an 8 or 9 inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Combine flour and sugar in a mixing bowl
  • Heat butter, espresso, and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Pour cocoa mixture over flour and sugar and mix.
  • Add buttermilk, egg, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon and mix to combine.
  • Stir in chocolate pieces.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Garnish with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

P.S. Peggy and Judy said the cake was good but after eating several pieces decided it needed more chocolate chips.  So they poured chocolate chips over the cake.

P.P.S. Peggy and Judy said the cake was good but after eating several pieces with the extra chocolate chips decided it needed ice cream.   I’m afraid there wasn’t enough brain healthy cinnamon or coffee in the cake because they went to the store to buy ice-cream and haven’t been seen since.

*P.P.P.S.  I found crumbs on the floor (it’s humiliating what I have to endure) and thought it delicious.  You can eat it on a plate with a fork but I recommend using just your tongue.

Here’s recipe site . . . https://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-healthy-foods-nutrition/brain-healthy-recipes/espresso-brownie-cake

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