<![CDATA[Christine Austin - Coach, Speaker, Author - Blog]]>Mon, 29 Jan 2018 06:14:37 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[To "D" or not to "D"]]>Wed, 24 Jan 2018 23:37:29 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/to-d-or-not-to-d
Optimizing vitamin D levels is thought by many to be a very important step in support of long-term peak health. The reason may lie in the fact that it is actually a neuro-regulatory steroidal hormone which may affect thousands of various genes in the body. Long term vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many common chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, infertility and cancer.

There are, however, different forms of vitamin D. The form of vitamin D we get from food, diet, supplements and sun exposure is called D3. D3 is converted by the liver into a storage form 25-D, which functions as a steroid. 1,25-D, the activated form of vitamin D, functions as both a steroid and a hormone. It is produced inside various types of cells, including those of the immune system and the kidneys, as well as in response to sunlight.[i] Unfortunately, most doctors only test for the storage form of D and not the activated form, leading to an incomplete picture of actual vitamin D status.

The vitamin D that we get from the sun is a sulfate form and is water soluble. It is able to travel freely in the blood stream, strengthens the immune system, protects against cardiovascular disease, helps fight depression, assists with detoxification, and nourishes the brain. The supplement form of vitamin D is un-sulfated, and not water soluble, which is why taking too much can be harmful. Additionally, vitamin D supplementation directly lowers potassium, and vitamin A status, while raising calcium levels. As the Ca/K ratio increases, the thyroid gland slows down. With the loss of potassium, the sodium to potassium ratio (Na/K) increases, causing an increased stress response and loss of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to heart attacks, diabetes, anxiety and unstable blood sugar levels. The loss of vitamin A impairs the body’s ability to decrease inflammation and also negatively affects the utilization and transport of iron, which in turn can potentially lead to anemia.[ii]

The question that we should be asking with respect to vitamin D is whether low test results are a cause or effect of chronic disease and is supplementation a cause or a cure for disease. Furthermore, the methodologies of a specific research study should be examined when determining the merits of the conclusion. For example, there is published research claiming, “Findings from this study suggest that higher intakes of calcium and vitamin D may be associated with a lower risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.”[iii] What is not made clear from the conclusion of the study is that women in the group who consumed higher levels of vitamin D were 67% less likely to be a smoker, burned over 39% more calories in physical activity, and drank about a fifth less alcohol. [iv]

A recent study by the National Cancer Institute, the first study to actually look at the relationship between measured vitamin D in the blood and subsequent total cancer deaths, failed to show an association between baseline vitamin D status and overall cancer risk in men, women, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Mexican Americans, and in persons younger than 70 or 70 years or older.[v]

So why are doctors recommending vitamin D supplementation? If you review research studies that follow subjects for only a few years, researchers find that vitamin D seems to be “preventing” cancer. What they are actually picking up is the temporary decrease in cytokine production that results when 25-D slows the immune system and less L-form bacteria are killed. Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma. So in the short term, as less bacteria die, less cytokines are released into the tissues, resulting in a temporary decrease in inflammation. But in the long run, L-form bacteria will take full advantage of the subjects’ weakened immune system by increasing in number and spreading to new tissues and organs.[vi]
What to do: Do not take vitamin D supplementation blindly. Ask your doctor to test for both the storage form of vitamin D 25(OH)D and the activated form (1,25(OH)2 D3). To naturally optimize your vitamin D levels, consider exposing large parts of the body to the sun in midday, if and when possible. You want to do so in a safe manner, limiting exposure to about 20 minutes per side or until the skin turns the lightest shade of pink.
 If you do choose to supplement your vitamin D, research shows D3 to be 87 percent more potent in raising and maintaining storage levels than the synthetic D2 form and D3 seems to convert to the active form 500 percent faster than D2. Drisdol is the prescription form of vitamin D2, which is in fact different than what is produced by the body in response to sun exposure. Vitamin D2 is made by irradiating fungus and plant matter.[vii]
​ If you have been supplementing with vitamin D for some time, consider doing a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMAtest.com) test to determine your current mineral status. After recently learning about the darker side of vitamin D supplementation, I have had the analysis, only to find that indeed, my potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A levels are low and not surprisingly, my thyroid is slow requiring hormone supplementation. You must make these decisions for yourself, but I have chosen to stop supplementing D3 while adding minerals recommended by the HTMA results. A retest in several months should shed interesting light on my vitamin/mineral status.


[i]  Marshall, T. G. (2006). Molecular mechanisms driving the current epidemic of chronic disease.
[ii] www.integrativehealthcoaching.ca/vitamin-d-1.html
[iii] Marks, R., Foley, P. A., Jolley, D., Knight, K. R., Harrison, J., Thompson, S. C., et al. (1995). The effect of regular sunscreen use on vitamin D levels in an Australian population. Results of a randomized controlled trial. Archives of dermatology, 131(4), 415-21.
[iv] http://www.medicinabiomolecular.com.br/biblioteca/pdfs/Biomolecular/mb-0439.pdf
[v] Nedelman, J. (2003).
[vi] http://www.medicinabiomolecular.com.br/biblioteca/pdfs/Biomolecular/mb-0439.pdf
[vii] http://www.liveinthenow.com/article/vitamin-d-news-new-meta-analysis-reveals-the-truth-about-d2-vs-d3

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<![CDATA[7 Days to JOY]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:59:02 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/7-days-to-joy
Happiness may be based on circumstance, but Joy is a choice. According to Brene Brown, Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary. It is quite possible to lament on daily drudgery only to envisage joy and happiness as being somewhere in the distant future. Author Greg Braden calls this thought pattern “preoccupation destination addiction.” But if happiness and joy always originate in the future, how will we ever achieve it? With this commentary, you are encouraged to seek out joy every day for a week. In doing so, we can learn to appreciate the small things in life that are all around us and the magic that we are capable of producing for ourselves and the souls we encounter.  A journal will help facilitate this endeavor.

Day 1:
The Smile Project: Choose this project on a day that you plan to be out and about, running errands. You will make an effort on this day, to make eye contact with anyone who comes near to you and when you do, you will greet them with a deep and conscious smile. In doing so, you give them a very special gift, a piece of you.  Giving is a fundamental way of providing joy not just to you, but to the receiver as well. Joy that is shared is joy made double. Open your heart to receive what is mirrored back to you. And take a moment at the end of the day to journal the experience.
Day 2:
Count your blessings: Joy is what happens to us in any and every moment when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. Research has shown tremendous benefits to the practice of gratitude. Daily gratitude results in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, and sleep quality. What you will do on this day is set the timer on your phone to alert you every hour. At that time, you will take out your journal and write down something that you are grateful for. You may start superficially, but try to dig deep at some point and dig up the gems.
Day 3:
Use Visualization: Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “if you can see it, you can be it.” Mental images can be seen as the seed of all ideas, all progress, and all future development. The importance of this tool is understood by anyone successfully applying the Law of Attraction. Studies actually show that our minds/bodies don’t know the difference between visualization and actually having or doing a thing, so it will respond in the same way it would if you were actually experiencing that which you visualize. On this day you will find a quiet place to sit comfortably. You will think of an experience or thing that you wish to achieve. Now play it out in your mind, feeling in your heart all that the achievement provides. Try to elicit as many senses as you can. Enjoy the realization of having this thing or experience and stay in this state of bliss for as long as possible.
Day 4:
Learn / Create: This will be a day of creativity and expansion. Creativity is one of the greatest virtues anyone can be blessed with, yet many of us never allow our true creativity to be expressed. What do you long to do or learn? On this day you will use Youtube.com to search out a video to teach you something new or to do something creative. Perhaps it is dancing (ball room or line dancing), it could be painting, writing, yoga, or anything else you deem appropriate. The key is to open yourself up to new opportunity and experience. Creativity is about living life as a magnificent journey. Embrace your creativity and your ability to learn new things that sound exciting to you.
Day 5:
Clear a space: A crowded closet or overflowing table may seem like a trivial thing, yet an orderly environment can make you feel more in control of your life, affecting your mood. The more things are in order, the more joy you may feel. Today you will choose a drawer, cabinet, area, or closet to attack. You may need to remove everything to begin, then sort out what you need, discarding what you don’t need. It may be helpful to buy instruments or tools to help organize what you choose to put back. For example, I recently organized a drawer in my bathroom vanity. I purchased plastic organizers from the dollar store to allow me to “put things in their place.” Now every time I open that drawer, I feel joy at the tidiness of it.
Day 6:
Watch your thoughts: Today will be a day of introspection. Thoughts matter. Our thoughts are the soil from which springs our words and actions. Using our mind to compare ourselves to others wastes precious energy and depletes our joy. Research shows that it breeds feelings of envy, low self-confidence, and depression while compromising our ability to trust another. Today you will make a point to notice any time that you compare yourself to another. It may be as simple as the comparing your looks and/or clothing while in line at a store.  Comparing yourself to another is a form of judgement, a judgement of yourself. When you catch yourself in action, make a point to replace that thought with a positive affirmation starting with the words “I am…”
Day 7:
Embrace self-care: Caring for self is one of the most essential things you can do and one of the easiest to dismiss. Self-care is important to physical health, yet we should also practice emotional hygiene, taking care of our emotions, thoughts and feelings. If you consistently neglect yourself for the sake of others, contrary to what you might think, there may not be kudos at the pearly gates and you will likely deplete yourself of happiness and joy. What do you need? Today you will choose an emotional need and a physical need that would fall under the genre of self-care. For example, you may know that you need to set boundaries with someone emotionally. Now is the time. On a physical note, you can enjoy a walk in the park, a hot bath, a massage or simply quiet time in a special place. Take the time for self-care. Your health and happiness depend on it. And above all, allow yourself to be loved.

Experiencing joy is our natural state and is available to all of us. It can be experienced when we make a conscious decision every day regarding our focus. The greatest honor that you can give yourself and those you love is to live in joy. Stay close to anything and anyone that makes you feel glad to be alive. Make a conscious choice to focus on joy, since only by being happy can we have the necessary faith, courage, and strength to face our sorrows and overcome them.
 

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<![CDATA[What a Woman Wants]]>Mon, 22 May 2017 23:19:38 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/what-a-woman-wants
​Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10-11
A good loyal woman is one of the greatest things a man can have in his life. She is not defined by outward beauty but by an inner essence, her strength, her imperfections, her resilience, her laughter and her tears. Beauty is not in the face but in a light that glows in the heart.
Winning a woman’s heart is one thing, learning to treasure it is another.   To treasure a woman’s heart, you must know it. What makes it bloom and what makes it wither? What are the whispers of her heart? What does she want? Now, with respect to ‘wants,’ we are not talking about generalities like wanting cream cheese on an ‘everything’ bagel. Specifically, what does a woman want from her man?
Ob·liv·i·ous: (adjective) Not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one.
We are defining the word oblivious here because, to be honest, that is what many men are when it comes to understanding their woman. They don’t have a clue about how important it is for a man to ‘tune-in’ to his partner, to know when to lead and when to follow, to know when to talk and when to shut-up, to know when to help and when to let her be independent. All these things require that a man know his woman and to know her, he must pay attention to her thoughts, actions, needs and desires. To be oblivious to these things, gives the signal “I don’t really care,” -whether this feeling is real or implied. So here is a list of things that a woman wants from her man:
A partner that is willing to partner. If either person in a relationships feels like they are doing all the work, mentally, emotional, and /or physically, it cannot be sustained. The titanic was beautiful in its infancy, but a sinking ship loses all its glory. For a relationship to be healthy, there should be the sharing of ideas, decisions, as well as household tasks. Treat her as an equal partner in all ways.
To feel Seen and Heard. Do you know her favorite color? Do you know what makes her tick, what makes her feel vulnerable, what makes her unique and special? A woman doesn’t want to be in a relationship where she is willing to be vulnerable to someone who is not willing to mirror a thoughtful response. Let her feel that she has a voice and that it is meaningful.
To speak her language of Love. According to author Gary Chapman, there are five basic love languages. Knowing and expressing love via your partner’s love language, allows you to meet the other’s deep emotional need to feel loved. The five languages are: Words of affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Keep in mind that she will likely have more than one, yet, one will be dominant.
To be a friend.  A true friend will support and inspire their partner to live up to their best potential. They will willingly pick them up when they fall down. They will make them feel valued and accepted, no matter the scars, imperfections or shadows. A true friend is available and dependable at any time of need, even if in silence. Being a true friend will allow her to feel comfortable just as she is. It is acceptance sprinkled with a layer of unconditional love.
Giving a woman these things is not overindulgent. You will not spoil her. To honor and respect a woman is to give her the gift of wings while allowing her the freedom to expand them. She is worth being loved and she is worth being cherished. She is worth the effort. She is worth being someone’s everything.
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<![CDATA[   Low Estrogen vs. Estrogen Dominance:                   A Case for Progesterone]]>Sun, 02 Apr 2017 16:47:32 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/-low-estrogen-vs-estrogen-dominance-a-case-for-progesterone
In our struggle to get ahead or even keep up, women are busier than ever. Pushing through the obstacles and driving ourselves harder to accomplish our goals can lead to exhaustion, adrenal fatigue and a plethora of negative physical symptoms. What you may not realize is how critical your estrogen levels are, the symptoms of unhealthy levels and what might be causing the imbalance. Definitive causes may be hard to pin down, however, we will offer tips here to help balance estrogen and progesterone which will likely lead to a decrease in the negative symptoms discussed here.

Estrogen dominance is a term that refers to an unhealthy ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Meaning, there is much more estrogen present versus progesterone. Interestingly, it is possible to be considered estrogen dominant even with low estrogen metabolites present because progesterone levels can be critically low. Testing your hormone levels can be done by virtually any health care provider via a blood sample. The physician will base the results on where you reside in your menstrual cycle when the serum is collected.

The symptoms of estrogen dominance are quite lengthy and include the following:
-Breast cancer, fibrocystic breasts and or tenderness
-Mood disturbances: depression, anxiety and agitation, mood swings
-Brain fog and memory loss
-Premenstrual Syndrome: edema, headaches, and abdominal pain
-Deficiencies in zinc and magnesium
-Uterine fibroids, uterine cancer and cervical dysplasia
-Cold hands & feet
-Dry eyes
-Autoimmune disorders
-Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
 
Estrogen dominance is becoming one of the more common hormone imbalances among both men and women. Genetics may play a role in unhealthy hormone metabolites yet other likely factors may include lifestyle habits and your personal environment. After all, neither our food supply nor our personal care products are what was experienced by our ancestors. Our current environment is filled with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, xenoestrogen and BPA producing plastics, and chemicals in our cleaning and building products to name a few. In fact, it is quite amazing the chemicals allowed in US products that are not permitted in other countries due to health concerns. These chemicals can be considered endocrine disrupters. They are known to interfere with development and reproduction and may block hormonal signals in your body or interfere with the way the hormones or receptors are made or controlled.
 
So what can you? You can consider having your hormone levels checked and supplementing with a bio-identical progesterone, compounded by a local pharmacy. A compounding pharmacy can provide many options for hormone replacement, a pill or cream for example. And if your libido is low, they may be able to compound testosterone and progesterone in one cream. Here are some additional health habits to consider:
 
-DIET: Eat a nutrient rich diet with a variety of anti-inflammatory foods
-LIMIT Alcohol, caffeine, and refined vegetable oils like canola, sunflower, soybean, and corn.
-AVOID processed foods that contain hidden additives like preservatives, sugar and salt.
-Purchase organic produce, meats and dairy when possible, otherwise peel non-organic produce or soak in a 10% vinegar mixture.
-READ ingredients: Avoid parabens, phthalates, BPA, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and benzophenone in personal care products. Also read lists on cleaning products avoiding things like alkylphenol ethozylates. Consider making your own cleaning products with vinegar, lemon, salt, and essential oils.
-StTORE food in glass containers. If you use plastic, do not place in microwave or dishwasher.
-REDUCE stress by choosing your reaction to potentially volatile stimuli while finding modalities that you find relaxing like meditation, yoga, music therapy, exercise and or journaling.
-REST: Shoot for 8 hours of sleep per night to insure cell regeneration and emotional well-being.
 
It is difficult to completely isolate ourselves from the chemicals in our environment and yet we cannot simply trust in our government to keep us safe and healthy. It is imperative that we monitor ourselves and make good choices when possible. I encourage you to start reading labels and researching ingredients. I am confident that even a few simple steps may be beneficial. After all, our children and grandchildren may be affected by the choices we make today.
 
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<![CDATA[             Are you full of it?                  Benefits of the Coffee Enema]]>Tue, 14 Mar 2017 23:35:42 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/-are-you-full-of-it-benefits-of-the-coffee-enema
Whether or not you realize it, the human body can be a refuge for toxins. They can accumulate in our system and overwhelm natural bodily functions, including the immune system. They come from the foods we eat, the drugs and alcohol we consume, personal care products, cleaning products, pesticides, and much more. In our modern world, we are inundated with toxins and a potential for negative conditions like fatigue, chemical sensitivities, even cancer. Specifically, organic gold roast coffee enemas can drastically improve one’s health and overall sense of wellbeing. Here are some additional reasons to start a coffee enema regiment today:
TO CLEANSE THE COLON: Waste is stored in the colon and this waste likely contains toxins that the body is trying to void. Unfortunately, it may sit long enough to be reabsorbed into the body. If you are experiencing constipation, a coffee enema is likely to bring some relief. Coffee enemas are also said to improve peristalsis, the muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract.
TO CLEANSE THE LIVER: The liver detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs and supplements. While doing so, it secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. As the body’s largest gland, it supports nearly every other organ in the body. Signs of a toxic liver include fatigue, the inability to lose weight, and various emotional issues. Coffee enemas are thought to stimulate bile flow and the production of glutathione, a detoxifying antioxidant. Heavy metals and other toxins can bind with the glutathione and get excreted from the blood to the colon.
IMPROVE METAL CLARITY: I don’t know about you but I’m digging this potential advantage. Mood improvement and clarity can be heightened due to the stimulant nature of caffeine and its detoxifying properties. Many have claimed to have improvements in depression and anxiety. Coffee enemas are said to calm the sympathetic nervous system whose primary process is to stimulate the body’s fight-or-flight response.
TO PREVENT CHRONIC ILLNESS: There are many cancer programs that endorse the use of coffee enemas. Regular treatment can provide relief and healing without the need for drugs or synthetic chemicals. Some even call it the most effective way to maintain a clean body, free of disease. The Gerson Therapy is comprised of juicing, a plant based diet, supplementation, and detoxification with coffee enemas. Their whole-body approach to healing activates the body’s ability to heal itself.
Even with all the testimonials, there is strong opposition to coffee enemas. You can find literature that denies its merits. There are reports of negative consequences such as rectal burning, electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. The Merck Manual has dropped the therapy from their book, claiming lack of space. Has it lost credibility or is big pharma on the prowl? There is plenty of evidence either way. As I like to say, the proof is in the pudding. Test the practice for yourself.
How to proceed:
Purchase an organic gold roast coffee from a reliable source. In a non-aluminum saucepan or pot:
Add 4 cups of filtered or distilled water with 3 rounded tablespoons of coffee
Stir in the coffee then bring to a boil and cover
Continue boiling for 15 to 20 minutes, stir occasionally
Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

​You can strain into an enema bucket or bag and add a bit more water if needed to regain 4 cups. It is recommended that you do two enemas of two cups each and hold each for 12 to 15 minutes, voiding in-between. You may experience cramping, especially the first time. I held my first one for about 10 minutes. You may feel the gall bladder releasing fluids during or after the practice.

 Some recommend a daily practice for detox and weekly practice for maintenance. Please comment and let me know how you are doing with it. From either way you choose to partake of coffee, it’s an antioxidant with implications to positively affect well-being.
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<![CDATA[                 6 Reasons to Laugh,                                   Even when you don't feel like it.]]>Sun, 05 Mar 2017 01:01:12 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/-6-reasons-to-laugh-even-when-you-dont-feel-like-it
Let’s face it, life has its ups and downs. There are times when you may not feel like smiling, let alone laughing. But if you abstain, the joke is on you. Laughter is shown to be so healthy that it should be added to your wellness regiment.  There are many reasons to laugh at the world around you. Here are six of those motivators to encourage you to laugh at yourself, others, and the goofy things you experience.
  1.  MITIGATES AGING: Researchers at Loma Linda University have discovered that laughter or even the anticipation of a good laugh, will produce an increase (as much as 87%) in the level of a specific anti-aging hormone called HGH. Human growth hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, stimulates growth in childhood, but as we age, the released amount tends to decrease.
  2. IMPROVES HEART HEALTH: Laugher oxygenates the blood and stimulates its circulation. In addition, it has been indicated through research from the University Of Maryland Medical Center that laughter causes the tissue that lines the blood vessels to expand, allowing for improvement in blood flow. Interestingly, persons with heart disease were found to laugh 40% less often than those without heart disease.
  3. SPURS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Laughter creates a double whammy here. Not only does laughter reduce stress hormones, but it assists the immune system to function at higher efficiency. Laughter helps immune system components like natural killer cells, B cells, T cells, and lymphocytes.
  4. IT’S EYE-CATCHING: If a smile makes you more attractive, what might a good laugh do for you? Research actually shows that by laughing, you will increase your attractiveness as viewed by others. When you are laughing, you appear comfortable with your surroundings, leading others to also feel safe.
  5. FOR THE HEALTH OF IT: Laughter truly may be the best medicine. According to Mayo Clinic, laughter actually produces physical changes in the body. It is very helpful for pain management, enhances digestion, relaxes tight muscles, stimulates many organs and releases endorphins, the feel good hormone in the brain.  Laughter has even been found to increase longevity or lifespan by 7.8 years on average.
  6. IMPROVES RELATIONSHIPS: Although you can laugh at yourself, laughter is usually shared with at least one other person and shared laughter contributes to bonding with others. In fact, we are 30 times more likely to laugh when we are with someone else. In general, couples who laugh more together tend to have higher-quality relationships. It is considered a supportive activity.
Laughter is a social sign of affection and affiliation. By sharing life events through laughter, we seek to find greater meaning in ourselves and others. We can enhance current relationships and make new ones. And when it comes to stressful situations, a solution via laughter, can change everything, promoting immediate feelings of well-being. The art of laughter requires no pre-requisites nor fancy credentials. It’s simply about living in the moment and enjoying the people and places that you frequent. It’s about enjoying the life you live no matter the circumstance. So, ..when was the last time that you had a good laugh?
 
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<![CDATA[The Art of Grieving]]>Sat, 25 Feb 2017 16:57:17 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/the-art-of-grieving
WHAT IS GRIEVING?
Grief is an emotion that everyone will likely experience at some point in their life. It can be expressed as mental suffering due to the loss of someone or something. The expanse of the grief that might be felt can vary from person to person and also with respect to the actual event. For example, two people may both lose their jobs from the same employer at the same time, yet one may experience more grief as a result. Everyone’s walk is different yet there are strategies that may be helpful to all.

1)      ACKNOWLEDGE THE PAIN: Hiding your emotions, avoiding the feeling of pain or loss can only prolong the process of grieving. Sit with them. Although we may be wired to run from pain, this natural instinct cannot lead us to a place of healing. Accept the event or loss. Tell yourself, “Yes, I recognize, understand, and accept that this event happened to me and I feel _____.”
2)      LABEL THE EMOTION(S): Investigate your feelings at a deeper level. You labeled a feeling in step one. Are there more? Has the event left you feeling shame, guilt, anger, sadness, fear, worry, rejection, envy, hopelessness, distress, sorrow, disappointment? With introspection, you are likely to uncover more than one feeling or emotion tied to the occurrence. The more of them that you can acknowledge and label, the more hope you will have in healing them.
3)      HAVE INTENTION: At some point, you will decide that it is time to end the grieving process. You will be ready to be done with it and move on. When you are, say to yourself several times a day, “I intend to express and release this emotion (feeling) from my body.”
4)      EXPRESS THE PAIN: Studies have shown that negative emotions actually weaken the body. Suppressing them utilizes high amounts of energy, robbing our bodies of useful, vital function. There are several safe methods that one might use to express negative emotion.
a.       Exercise: Physical movement provides for elimination of physical, emotional and mental toxins while triggering the release of endorphins that make you feel good. Exercise need not be taxing. Walking near moving water can be especially soothing.
b.      Writing: Journaling allows you to tune in to your true feelings. It has no impact on others and allows you to express yourself in a safe environment. Start with a description of the event, then turn your focus from the external to the internal. Express your feelings with as much detail and fullness as possible. And if you choose to write a letter to someone else, it is a means of catharsis, whether you ever actually deliver it.
c.       Art therapy: Art therapy has been very useful for the expression of feelings in children. There is no reason why it could not be equally useful in adults. Create a sketch of what you are feeling. It need not be museum quality. Only you need see it. Freedom of expression and self exploration is the key.
d.      Verbal Expression: You can confide in a close friend or relative. Just be mindful that this form of expression may challenge the relationship over time. Another option might be to acquire the service of a therapist, counselor or wellness coach. Feeling safe to express yourself honestly and without judgment is critical. As crazy as it might sound, talking to yourself in the mirror may also be helpful.
e.      Aggressive Expression: This may sound a bit strange but I have found screaming to be quite helpful for expressing my emotions. You can find a remote area, put your hands over your ears and just let it rip. Screaming into a pillow may also work. Just don’t try it in a confined space, like your car, it is damaging to the ears. You might also consider breaking something, something of little value of course.
f.        Music Therapy: You could say that emotions resonate at a certain energy level or vibration. For example, hopefulness resonates at a much higher vibration than hopelessness. There may be a certain type of music that you are drawn to during the grieving process. Music that aligns with your energy. Music can be very healing. Continue to seek out music that makes you feel good during your journey.
5)      RELEASE THE PAIN: Releasing the pain is similar to expression yet one step further along our path. When we are ready to release, we understand that the grieving process has served its purpose. It no longer serves us and we are willing to let it go. Do not place judgment on yourself or others with regard to the timing of this step. There is no right or wrong, no pre-set timeline when it comes to grief. You will know when you are ready.
a.       Breath work: Sit or lie flat in a quiet, comfortable location. Breathe gently through the nose while placing attention on the heart. Imagine that with each inhale you are taking in grace, love, and acceptance. With each exhale, imagine that you are releasing those negative emotions that no longer serve you. Continue with these deep, long, slow inhalations and exhalations for a minimum of 10 minutes. Breath work is especially helpful when done outdoors in the “fresh” air.
b.      Meditation: Meditation has been shown to improve psychological balance and enhance overall health and well-being. Sit or lie comfortably and focus your attention on the breath. Try to clear your mind of any thoughts and just focus on your breathing. Counting each breath, counting during each breath, or humming might be helpful. Try to stay in this space for a minimum of twenty minutes. You may find that after practicing mediation, certain insights become more apparent.
c.       Laughter Therapy: You will reach a point when you are ready to laugh again. Laughter therapy promotes overall health and wellness by relieving emotional stress. It can lift the heavy burden of loss and provide a welcomed respite. In fact, I know of a woman who believes she successfully treated her cancer by watching comedies on TV. Laughter is not only a form of expression, it is a form of healing. Give yourself permission to laugh.
d.      Emotional Freedom technique (EFT): This is a wonderful technique that utilizes the combination of talk therapy and acupuncture meridians. You basically say out loud, “Although I feel ____, I love and accept myself.” And you say this while tapping through several acupuncture points. You can find specific guidance if you search this topic on-line.
Grieving is a process and everyone’s journey is different. Feeling uncomfortable with someone else’s journey through grief is normal, but placing a deadline or judgment on someone else is unhelpful. Each of us needs to set our own pace. With respect to you, allow yourself to feel your feelings and walk through the stages of expression and release. You need not feel alone during the process. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for love, comfort and acceptance. But always keep in mind that ultimately, total acceptance can only be found in self. Find the good in your situation, bless the event for what it provided, then release it and move forward into the light of your grace.
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<![CDATA[        8 Strategies to Build Confidence]]>Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:39:32 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/-8-strategies-to-build-confidence
What does it mean to be confident?
When you experience confidence, you exhibit and elicit a positive mindset, free from the negative perceptions of worry and doubt. The fundamental essence of confidence is trust. With confidence, you have a firm belief that an event or person can be relied upon and when that person is yourself, it is termed self-confidence.
8  Strategies for building up confidence:
  1. TAKE ACTION: Lacking confidence can make you feel stuck, like a poet without a muse. Moving forward with some type of action, even if small in scope, creates a new sense of freedom. Any action will likely expose you to new possibilities and as physics dictates, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” The action will be a catalyst for more action, fostering a “snow ball” effect. Making a commitment to move forward is key, so make a list of potential first steps, then choose one and do it.
  2. USE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: We tend to think with a negative bias. Another words, unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social events have a greater effect on one’s psychological state than positive things. This can lead to adverse contemplation and information processing. To counter this effect, we can make a conscious effort to think good thoughts and value what is working in our lives. The use of positive affirmations (statements) are a proven method of self-improvement. Simply state the positive affirmation out loud and with conviction, several times a day.
  3. ACT CONFIDENT: Just as smiling can make you feel happy, acting confident can generate the feeling of confidence. You can fake it til you make it. This may require dressing for success and observing your body language. Make a point to maintain a straight, erect posture while maintaining good eye contact with others. Consider the traits of someone you deem confident and adopt them. 
  4. JOURNAL FORMER SUCCESSES: The act of laying down one’s thoughts to paper is an ancient tradition dating back hundreds of years. Writing can eradicate those blockages of the mind while providing a more positive understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Procure a notepad or booklet that speaks to you, perhaps with a special design. Choose a comfortable location that is peaceful and private. Begin a list accomplishments and positive outcomes from the past, then make a point to review the list every day.
  5. VISUALIZE: The human brain can lack the ability to differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. Seeing is believing and believing is seeing. Creative visualization is a process that can rapidly accelerate any achievement and take our potential to a whole new level. Take the time to imagine an optimum scenario and let it play out in your mind bringing you a sense of clarity and purpose. Practice your “dress rehearsal” several times a day and allow the affiliated emotions to flow.
  6. HIRE A PERSONAL (LIFE) COACH: A personal coach will be an advocate and will focus on strengthening the personal perspective. A coach can help to “raise the bar,” enabling the client to increase expectations of themselves and the situations they encounter. A coach will fortify a client’s foundation, providing a revised sense of focus and understanding. With the advent of the internet, coaching can be done remotely. Do a bit of research and make contact with a reputable, certified coach.
  7. LOSE THE FEAR TO FAIL: Fear of failure is a powerful emotion that can stop you in your tracks.  But what if we look at it differently? What is failing was simply a powerful catalyst for change? If we can reframe failure as the opportunity to learn and grow, we can view life as an adventure in contrast, accepting what is. Losing attachment with an outcome and trusting the flow of life, enhances our ability to feel good about ourselves and our world.
  8. VALUE SELF: Self-love and self-care are not egocentric, narcissistic, arrogant, or conceited. Love of self is not just a feeling but an action. It requires a kindness and nurturing of body, mind, and soul. Think of someone that you truly adore and let the feeling of love permeate you. Now take that blissful feeling and turn it towards yourself.
Confidence isn’t easily achieved over night. Confidence can ebb and flow with the tides of life. It can take years and even decades to develop. You can be on top of the world until a situation or person sucks the life right out of you. It is similar to trust in that both beliefs are aligned with firm foundations in the traits of ability, reliability and strength. Confidence in someone or something familiar may be based on similar past events. For example, if a friend has enacted a betrayal of any sort, the natural human instinct is to mistrust that person or lack confidence that they have the ability to provide for your safety. In the latter case, confidence or trust in that person must be rebuilt. And although promises are nice, a new pledge of allegiance may not suffice. The proof is in the pudding. After a betrayal, consistent action is required, along with accountability, honesty, and a compassion for forgiveness.
Yet, confidence in a new situation or person may be more ingrained in the personality, likely learned in childhood. There are a variety of childhood experiences that may contribute to a child’s mistrust and lack of confidence. These absorbed core beliefs learned in childhood can be easily carried into adulthood. Any painful past event, even just one, can leave scars that cause a person to build walls around their heart for a lifetime, to protect themselves from future pain. This makes it difficult to trust, to have confidence.
The good news is that confidence for yourself, another, or a situation can be healed and rebuilt. The key to confidence is always trusting that you have your back. Whatever situation occurs, you have the ability to not only adapt, but to thrive. Using strategies outline here, we can have hope in a future free of doubt and worry.
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<![CDATA[Exposing TV Exposure]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2017 16:44:20 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/exposing-tv-exposure
 Can TV (too much) be a negative influence?
The human body is built for motion, not the sedentary lifestyle that so many of us have become accustomed to in the past 50 years, due in many ways to the innovation of the computer and television set. Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time has an increased negative impact on the body versus standing. With the average American watching 5.1 hours of television per day, a sedentary lifestyle has become commonplace, leading potentially to compounded occurrence of obesity, increased blood pressure/sugar and type two diabetes among other negative conditions. Watching TV excessively can also negatively impact the mind. Inefficient physical inactivity certainly plays a role in cognition as does the viewing content. In fact, television content has been shown to elicit adverse thought patterns like inadequacy, shame, fear, and grief.
 
6-8 things that might happen if you quit watching TV & why?
 
1.       MORE CASH:   With the rise of programming costs, ditching traditional cable and satellite providers is gaining momentum. If your current programming costs you $100 a month, $1200 can provide a pleasurable annual vacation or the opportunity to invest in that home improvement project that you have been contemplating. And there’s another monetary potential; just think of the cash you will save by avoidance of annoying and manipulative advertisements, especially if the kids are watching.
2.       BETTER RELATIONSHIPS:  Let’s face it, relationships can be challenging enough without diversion tactics. Sitting next to someone and sharing a viewing event is not the same experience as meaningful communication. Unfortunately, in long term relationships, the former becomes prevalent or even a substitute to the latter. Research also shows that viewing can impact expectations in marriage and families as TV shows depict unrealistic views of relationships and situations.
3.       BETTER PHYSICAL HEALTH:  Many research studies have correlated adverse negative outcomes to prolonged sitting time. A US study of 7744 men who reported more than 23 hours of combined television time and automobile time per week, had an 82% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Substantial, consistent movement at relevant intervals is crucial to our wellbeing. Adults may meet public guidelines for physical activity, but if they sit for prolonged periods of time, their metabolic health is compromised.
4.       MORE TIME:  How often do we say or think, “I just don’t have time for that?” In fact, 75% of parents claim to be too busy to read to their children at night. Being ‘busy’ has become part of modern expression, but we have more control of our time than we realize. The cutting back of meaningless tasks to accomplish the meaningful is empowering. Managing your time better can directly reduce your stress level thereby reducing your need for mindless TV gazing.
5.       BETTER MENTAL HEALTH:  Much of the programming available these days is negative, violent, worldly and frankly, unrealistic. Watching TV in excess can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anger, problems with self-control and the inability to think for oneself. You may not even realize the impact that it is having on you. Some may even lose touch with reality. Heavy viewers report feeling considerably more anxious and less happy than light viewers do.
6.       MORE REST:  Although it can seem impossible at times to keep your eyes open, TV viewing can be a stimulating activity for the nervous system. Cognitive stimulation creates electrical activity in the brain, causing neurons to race. When watching an action drama, the body can get stressed and go into a ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing cortisol. The light emitted from the TV may also play a role in delaying the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.
7.       WITHDRAWAL:  A researcher has shown that TV viewing creates twice the brain activity in the right hemisphere versus the left. This neurological anomaly releases a surge of endorphins, creating the ‘perfect storm’ for a habit-forming condition. In fact, even casual viewers may experience opiate-like withdrawal symptoms when they stop watching for any length of time. If you are using television to escape from reality or if you have developed an addiction, a journey of self-actualization may be helpful. Not unlike food for example, moderation and self-discipline may be the key. 
 
 Minimal amounts of TV viewing, with the right content, may provide opportunity to boost creativity or relieve stress. These things, however, can be accomplished in other ways. Being aware of how you feel during and after certain programming can lead to a path of understanding. Self-discovery may be key and that path to understanding need not be a scary thing.
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<![CDATA[Mammogram: Should you worry about    radiation exposure?]]>Fri, 23 Dec 2016 20:10:06 GMThttp://christinemarieaustin.com/blog/mammogram-should-you-worry-about-radiation-exposure
​Patients’ exposure to diagnostic radiation has been increasing steadily over the past 4 decades. Medical procedural x-rays provide a dose of radiation at the time provided, but they also have a cumulative (building) effect. So this begs the question, how much exposure is considered healthy per treatment, per year and even per lifetime? X-rays, PET scans, and CT scans all use ionizing radiation, which can damage DNA and cause cancer. Although CT scans are an essential diagnostic tool, the Food and Drug Administration reports that an estimated only 30 to 50 percent of imaging tests are believed to be medically unnecessary. [i]

Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend yearly screening for women age 45-54. Starting at age 55, the recommendation changes to once every two years. Women younger than 45 should be able to obtain screening if they wish. The United States Prevention Services Task Force (USPSTF) has slightly different criteria. They recommend that women in the 40’s NOT necessarily have yearly mammograms and carefully weigh the risks while women age 50-74 should have the procedure every two years. The more cautious position is likely due to two reasons:

1)      The inaccuracy of test results in younger women
2)      The risks involved in premature testing

The risks of radiation exposure are often downplayed or not clearly communicated to patients. One single bi-lateral screening can create a lifetime risk of cancer in 1.3 to 1.7 persons per 100,000.[ii] Age seems to play a critical role. For example, breast tissue of women under 40 years of age is highly sensitive to radiation. In fact, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, during reproductive life, the female breast may be one of the more radiosensitive tissues of the human body.

Digital mammograms are now an option in at least 95% of cases. They don’t necessarily increase exposure unless more images are taken. The diagnostic mammogram is done when a suspicious occurrence needs further scrutiny. In lieu of that, more images are generally needed to obtain views from different angels which increases overall exposure. And it is not uncommon for a diagnostic mammogram to be ordered immediately after a screening mammogram.

The standard, 2D, two view mammogram emits roughly .7 millisieverts of radiation. The 3D mammogram takes pictures of thin slices of breast tissue from different angles. They tend to emit radiation levels at about twice the standard 2D, 2 view method, or 1 mSv, depending on the age of the machine. As a comparison, a chest x-ray emits approximately .08 mSv of radiation (about 100 times less). Although exposure seems to be much less, you may have heard that you should limit chest x-rays when possible. And on a further note, heart tissue, large veins, and muscle cells tend to be radioresistant, whereas breast tissue is considered radiosentitive.

The average person acquires roughly 4- 6 mSv of radiation per year, 3 mSv of that via background radiation and 1-3 mSv via man-made radiation. Those that habitat at higher elevations receive roughly 1 mSv more per year than those at sea level. The radioactive elements in our food and water contribute about .3 mSv per year. If you live in an area where radon gas is present, it can contribute 2 mSv to your overall annual exposure.

The current federal and state regulations limit radiation workers' doses to 0.05 Sv/year (50 mSv/year). The limit for the unborn child of a female radiation worker is 0.005 Sv (5 mSv) per 9- month gestation period. For the general public, the limit is 0.001 Sv/year (1 mSv/year), with provisions for a limit of 0.005 Sv/year (5 mSv/year) under special circumstances. The public dose limit is set at least 10 times lower than the occupational limit to give the public an extra margin of safety. A factor of 10 is also used for public protection in other industries.[iii] In 1994, a lifetime maximum exposure limit was specified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to be age x 10 mSv.

According to Clark University, there is strong evidence that breast cancer may be associated with exposure to ionizing radiation. How ironic is it that the device developed to save us from cancer may actually increase our tendency to develop it? Ionizing radiation has been labeled a carcinogen, even www.cancer.org  states that repeated x-rays have the potential to cause cancer. A survey of patients noted the following:

·         42% stated that they had received no explanation or insufficient explanation of risks & benefits of a     mammogram
·         28% were unsure about or disagreed with the statement that the mammogram’s benefits out way the risks
·         58% were unwilling to accept more radiation in exchange for higher diagnostic accuracy.

With the increase in radiation exposure in recent years, it would be prudent to strive to limit exposure whenever possible and to order imaging involving radiation only when perceived benefit would outweigh potential risk. All women, especially younger women, should consider getting a thermogram either in addition to or in lieu of the mammogram. The latter test is invasive, emits no radiation, and can detect abnormal tissue (inflammation) many years before a mammogram would.


[i] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-much-to-worry-about-the-radiation-from-ct-scans/2016/01/04/8dfb80cc-8a30-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html?utm_term=.f985dba62e26

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20736332

[iii] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=482&tid=86
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