MountainStar Health - February 10, 2020
by Jennifer James

LILI Newsletter February 2020

The Ogden Regional Medical Center / Heart Center, “Losing It and Loving It” weight loss class and support group newsletter

February,

Love, love and more love. February and Valentine’s Day always remind me of it. It also makes single/divorced/lonely people aware of their relationship status. Love is more than just a romantic relationship. It is our connection with other fellow humans, pets, a possible hobby or calling, our spiritual lives, and so on. We can appreciate all different forms of love. If our lives are lacking in this regard, what can we do to bring more love to ourselves and others? February is Heart Month, and this year we have an extra day. We also observe Presidents’ Day.

In good health and love,

Jennifer James

Success story

I did have someone lined up for this month, but alas, it was not to be. So I get to expound.

I listen and read a variety of things and a theme has emerged… Valentine’s Day can be a hot button for many. The whole premise is generally romantic love for another person. Think about how much you love the most important person in your life. Who could it be?…surprise, it’s YOU. When we love ourselves, flaws and all, our self-esteem gets a boost, our confidence with it, and we can then accomplish some amazing (and surprising) things. Like losing weight!! How can we fulfill all of our talents and abilities if we feel badly about ourselves? When we are filled with shame and guilt? When we hate the way we look, hate everything about ourselves? Think of some of the most influential people in the world. Do you think they hate themselves? Really? Reality check: they have flaws too. When we love and have compassion for ourselves, we can extend that to others whole-heartedly. We don’t feel envious when someone is doing well, we celebrate with them. To take this a step further, when we love ourselves, warts and all, we want the best for ourselves. A healthy body, money in the bank, nurturing relationships and the ability to say “NO" (aka healthy boundaries) are fruits that come from loving ourselves. We also manage our emotions with self-compassion, not condemnation. If you are comparing yourself to others all the time and coming up short… STOP IT. If someone takes potshots at you, they are struggling too. Throw some compassion their way. For the month of February I challenge all of us to work on being more loving to Number One. As Lucille Ball puts it, “Love yourself first and everything falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world”. Amen sister.

After-dinner snacking

A common, and unwanted behavior which many of my patients engage in regularly is after-dinner snacking. It will put weight on a person literally overnight. The snacks are usually sweets, salty snacks and eaten mindlessly in front of the television or computer. And with moi, this can be a problem too. What sets me up for mindless snacking is too busy of a day with all duty and no fun. Treats and snacks in my home don't help, unless I set a limit. What sets you up for mindless, evening snacking? To get some control over this do the following:

  • Eat a healthy and adequate breakfast and lunch
  • Plan your meals and snacks with healthy food
  • Practice mindful eating, eating with hunger only (see below)
  • Limit your evening treats to a set amount of calories (100 or 200 calories for example)
  • Ban the foods from your house that set you up for failure
  • Include enough rest and fun in your life, avoid using food for entertainment
  • If the people you live with insist on treats, have a conversation with them
  • Set a timer and wait 10 minutes before snacking, this will force you to think about it
  • Set your boundaries with others, and avoid using food to smother emotions

Meditate on this

Many of the outpatients I see have a backstory of stress, calamity and chaos in their lives. Most of it is self-imposed. They can’t say no, they stay in a job they hate, they let others take advantage of them…you get the picture. Our inability to manage our emotions, aka stress, can create chronic illness. What I discuss with most of my patients is how to calm themselves with meditation. Meditation lessens the reactivity of the highly skittish amygdala in our brains, which is the seat of the fight or flight response. It is very primitive and designed to keep us alive. Being livid with a coworker or literally running for our life are two different scenarios, but both light up the amygdala. When a threat is detected, up go the stress hormones, and down goes our health, if this is chronic. Simply bringing our wandering mind back to something in the present moment, be it our breathing, listening to our surroundings, or repeating a word will make the amygdala (and us) less reactive. Meditation is very simple. Simply sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Then focus on calming music, your breathing, any point of focus that is in the present. When your mind wanders, gently lead it back to listening, breathing etc. Keep at it. Start with 2 minutes a day, increase to 10, possibly more. It changes our brain, makes us more aware of our thoughts and emotions, helps us focus, calms us down and increases our happiness. It makes us aware of why we eat when we’re not hungry, and helps us make better choices. Give it a go. The YouTube video “Mindfulness and How the Brain Works” is helpful. The smart phone applications Headspace and Calm are good ones to get started. Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra periodically offer a 21-day free meditation series. The next round starts February 3rd. Sign up at chopracentermeditation.com.

Happy heart club

The last time I met a girlfriend for coffee, I noticed the words “You Matter” on a door at Grounds for Coffee (good for them). I realized that often when we meet in a coffee shop, we are chattering like squirrels while most others are on their laptop, sitting alone, even looking sad. It breaks my heart. We all need to appreciate ourselves and enjoy solitude, which is a good thing. We enter this world as a single entity, and exit stage left as a single entity. Unless you are a conjoined twin. Chronic unwanted solitude is not, and can have devastating effects. Like suicide and heart disease. Researchers in the United Kingdom who evaluated 23 studies with 181,000 people found that loneliness and isolation increased the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%. The heart disease angle is due to elevated stress hormones which raise our blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, clotting factors and hamper our immune system. Positive social connections calm us, improving these markers. When I worked for the army, I would marvel at the active duty folks who were masters at meeting new people. They moved every 2 years or so and knew they had to take the lead on this. How can we be like them? Step away from the cookies and get out of the house. Join a local Meet Up group, chat with the cashier or post office clerk. Volunteer. Join a church or spiritual group. Social media does not count, excessive use even contributes to the problem. And for those of us who are cozy and coupled up or with family, reach out to others as well, especially our single comrades. We are all in this together folks. Love and connection are required by all humans. For Heart Month, please make it a point to reach out, for everyone’s heart, including your own.

_Valtorta, Nikole et. al (2016), Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observation studies, British Medical Journal Heart, viewed at https://heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009

_Nobel, Jeremy (2018), Does social media make you lonely? Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, Viewed at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-a-steady-diet-of-social-media-unhealthy-2018122115600

Blood orange sorbet

Blood oranges are a special treat. They are seasonal, only found from November-May, depending on the variety. Originally from the Mediterranean area, the maroon colored flesh is due to anthocyanin pigments which develop during cold nights. Blood oranges have a raspberry-like flavor and the blood color varies, often seen as a blush on the peel, and throughout the flesh. High in vitamin C and vitamin A. A beautiful fruit with a beautiful taste. Try the recipe below for a Valentine’s Day dessert. Yum!

You will need an ice cream maker to prepare this. I compiled this from several recipes I found online. A nice dessert for the month of love! I found good quality blood oranges at Winco.

Look at that beautiful color!! Even my family liked it!

  • 2 cups of freshly squeezed blood orange juice (6-8 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (~2 tablespoons)

Heat the water in a medium saucepan until it boils. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the juices. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours, until thoroughly chilled.

Pour juice mixture into ice cream maker and churn until partially frozen, or until desired consistency.

In the 1.5 quart Cuisinart machine I used, it took 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Entire recipe: ~725 calories

1/6 recipe = ~120 calories

February support groups

Mondays, 2:00pm-3:00pm
Tuesdays, 4:45pm-5:45pm (new time as of February 11th)
Heart Center Conference Room
Free to LILI graduates

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love.”

—Sophocles