Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to be Happy and Stay Happy

It is so easy to get caught up with the busyness of life until we forget to take the time to enjoy it. As a result, it leads to not being happy. The question that must be ask, “Can you determine your happiness?” The answer is a resounding YES!!! It is not as difficult as you might think it to be. Happiness is that euphoric feeling of obtaining self-worth either through accomplishment or being content in life. However, happiness is something to which you must choose to have and not waiting for it to choose you. This means having to make decisions and choosing attitudes and behaviors that will have the outcome of being happy. You will need to take a personal inventory of yourself and your surroundings to which you must truthfully approach all areas of your life with honesty and examine each item and to see where it falls into the category of happiness or unhappiness. There is an old saying, “You are the company that you keep.” If you want to have positive friends then it must start with you having a positive disposition. During the meantime, you want to surround yourself around people who are also positive thinking then this will likely increase your level of happiness. Another approach to being happy is having the willingness to forgive others. Forgive or not to forgive is the question? Studies have shown that when people harbor bitter feelings towards someone who have hurt them then it has an impact on your happiness. You must find peace within yourself to forgive others in order to achieve happiness.

Do you want to find other ways of being happy? Stay tune for the next article…….

Written by
Dr. Shantel Anderson BA, MA, DHEd

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Starting a diet change

*6 tips*
Starting a diet change…

To pick back up where we left off, I was counseling our friend on making a dietary change to a vegan diet. He wanted to go cold turkey, starting the day he got home. That was fine with me, some people adapt better to dietary changes that way. But, many of us do not and we need some easy ways to gradually make that leap to a complete diet change. So, if any of you have been thinking about making a lifestyle change to a vegetarian, semi-vegetarian or vegan diet, here are some simple tips you can follow:
  1. Start small. Gradually reduce the portion size of the meat and/or animal products you are consuming. Replace them with non-animal based foods.
  2. Incorporate one or two meatless meals a week. Meatless Mondays! Tofu Tuesdays! Wok Wednesdays! You get the drift!
  3. In the beginning, focus on familiar foods that can be modified to be vegetarian/vegan. An easy way to modify foods, is by simply omitting the meat. Try black bean empanadas for example. You don’t have to eat tofu in every meal to be a vegetarian/vegan. J.
  4. Try new foods. Ever heard of jicama or dragon fruit? The more exposure you have to a variety of foods, the more well-rounded your diet can be.
  5. Tell friends you are following a vegetarian/vegan diet and engage in a recipe exchange.
  6. Have fun and be adventurous. There is a whole world of flavors that the typical American diet doesn’t even touch. Following a vegan/vegetarian diet gives you “permission” to try new flavors!
List adapted from: Burt, E., Goldberg, K., Rhodes, K. (1996). High Fit Low Fat Vegetarian. Ann Arbor Michigan, Regents of the University of Michigan.
Emily Boldrin PhD, RD

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Going, going, Vegan!
Emily Boldrin, PhD, RD

We had a friend visit over the weekend. Let me clarify, we had a number of visitors over the weekend. At one point there were 6 people staying with us in a space of about 600 square feet. It was delightful, fun, charming and…cozy.  J One of our visiting friends was in town for a long drive competition. For those of you not familiar with long drive competitions (I sure wasn’t!!) – It is where the competitor tries to hit a golf ball as far as they can, while staying in bounds.  Participants in a long drive competition can hit the golf ball up to 465 yards. To put it in perspective, golfers on the PGA tour drive the ball on average, about 280 yards.  So, those who participate on the long drive competition are incredibly strong and very fast.

Anyways, our friend is absurdly athletic, strong and just an overall big, muscular guy. Along with participating in the long drive competitions, he is involved with CrossFit. According to their website “CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide” (What is Crossfit). Needless to say, he demands a lot from his body. Both physically and nutritionally.  

While he was here, we got into a discussion one night about nutrition. He was very interested in following a vegan diet (for those of you who don’t know, a vegan diet eliminates all sources of animal products. No meat, cheese, dairy, eggs, etc…). He asked me, given his physical demands, was this kind of diet suitable for him? It was a good question! A vegan and even a vegetarian diet is not without nutritional “risks”. But I talked to him about well known, high profile, athletes who have competed at the professional level following a vegan diet. The well-known track and field star Carl Lewis was one worth mentioning. There have been numerous other athletes as well. Football stars, boxers, MMA fighters, cyclists and hockey players have all followed a vegan diet and been successful at what they do.

So… to get the point… if well-known high level athletes can compete at a professional level and still get the nutrition they need, why is there such a stigma about vegan and vegetarian diets not getting enough protein and/or not being able to meet nutritional needs? Is it our societal norms? Thoughts?



n.d. What is Crossfit. Retrieved from



Beat the Heat: Foods to Help you Keep Your Cool

Every wonder why late summer brings such delicious and refreshing foods?  The melons, the grapes, the cucumbers.  The tomatoes!  Mother nature knows that during the peak of the summer heat, we need those fresh fruits and veggies that can cool down our body temperature.

Fruits and vegetables that contain more water content can help slow digestion and metabolism, helping to lower core body temperature.  They are also refreshing, and contain a host of vitamins and minerals that can help replace electrolytes.

When the mercury is rising, try this recipe which combines some of my favorite summer fruits to help keep you cool.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad                               


  • 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups seedless cucumber, cubed
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • Zest from two limes
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 cup Feta Cheese and/or 1/4 cup Blueberries
  1. Cut the rind off the watermelon and cut into medium-sized cubes. 
  2. Peel the cucumber and cut into small cubes.
  3. Slice the mint leaves thinly. 
  4. Combine these ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. In a smaller bowl combine the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Pour over the watermelon and cucumber and stir well.
  6. Add Feta Cheese and/or Blueberries if desired.
Bon App├ętit!
Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT
Sunday, August 16, 2015

Beat the Heat: Hibiscus Cooler

There are few things better than sitting outside with a nice cold beverage during a hot and sultry summer afternoon. Taking the time to pause and refresh yourself isn't just good for the body, but for the mind and spirit as well.  Instead of going for the more traditional high sugar iced tea or lemonade, why not choose a cooling drink that has additional health benefits?

Hibiscus has a strongly cooling and refreshing nature.  It's also a great anti-inflammatory, and shows promise in reducing high blood pressure and high cholesterol*.  And it's delicious!  Here's a recipe that will make you think twice before you choose that next sweet tea.


  • 1 cup Hibiscus Flowers
  • 4 cups Water
  • 2 cups Ice
  • Optional: 1/4 cup honey
  1. Boil 4 cups of water and remove from heat
  2. Add 1 cup of hibiscus flowers, stir, and cover
  3. Steep for 15-20 minutes
  4. Strain, then add honey if desired
  5. Cool for 30 minutes, then add ice
  6. Add mint leaves or orange slices for added taste and color

As always, be sure to talk to your health practitioner when adding a new herbal remedy into your daily regiment.  

Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT

*Hopkins, AL et al. (2013). Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies. Fitoterapia,85, 84-94.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Beat the Heat: 6 Yoga Postures to Stay Cool

It's August, and for many parts of the country that means spiking temperatures.  I know more than a few friends who are ready for the Fall, dreaming about hoodies and hot cocoa.  Until the first whisper of those cool breezes do hit, finding ways to stay balanced in the heat is key to our overall health and wellness.

Yoga can be a great way to stay balanced throughout the seasons.  According to yoga's sister science, Ayurveda, summer is when Pitta (think hot, fiery, volatile) energy is in full force.  We tend to be more active, social, and have an irregular schedule.  Those who already have a Pitta dominant constitution (motivated, sharp-witted, fiery) need to be especially vigilant to stay in balance this time of year.  If you've been having skin outbreaks, heartburn, or have been especially impatient or angry lately, you need to take a step back and cool down.  Here are some yoga postures to help you do just

Cat/Cow: Place your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips.  Inhale as you arch your back, drawing your chest slightly forward and lifting your tailbone up towards the sky (Cow).  Exhale and push deeply into the earth as you round your spine and release your head towards the earth (Cat).  Repeat 3-5 times, integrating movement with breath.  Moving with the breath helps to regulate the body temperature.

Puppy Pose: Take a deep breath in, and keeping the belly engaged start to walk your hands forward.  You can drop to your forearms or keep them slightly lifted as you exhale and drop the chest down towards the floor.  Keep the thighs vertical as you draw the breath deep into your belly.   Allow yourself to get grounded here, drawing the cooling, nourishing breath in and releasing heat with each exhalation.

Cobra Pose: Draw yourself forward through the crown of your head and come onto your belly.  Place the hands under the shoulders, elbows in closely to your sides. With a deep inhalation pull the chest forward and through the hands, coming up any amount that feels good.  Keep the tops of the feet grounded behind you to stabilize the lower back.  This gentle backbend can apply beneficial pressure to the belly to release heat from the abdomen. Press back to Puppy pose to release the lower back.

Seated Forward Fold: Come to a comfortable seated posture.  Extend the legs long, about hip distance apart, and ground down through your tailbone.  Engage the deep belly as you extend up through the crown of your head. Inhale and reach up, elongating the spine.  Exhale and slowly fold forward, bending the knees as much as you need to.  Place the hands on the thighs, shins, or feet.  Let each inhalation come in like a wave, lengthening the spine, and each exhale softening into the posture.  Forward folds cool the mind and body, allowing yourself to go inward in a time of transition.

Bridge Pose: Make your way onto your back.  From here, bend your knees and place your feet about hip distance apart, fingertips just grazing your heels.  As you exhale, push down and away through your feet to lift your hips off the ground.  You can stay here, or inhale and reach your arms up and over your head, hips still lifted.  Slowly draw the arms back up, through center, and down to the ground as you slowly melt the hips down.  Integrate this movement a few more times, pulling cooling breath up to the top lobes of the lungs.

Reclined Twist:  Extend both legs long, and reach up and over the head.  Extend through fingers and heels. As you exhale, curl into both knees, hugging them into you.

Let your head and shoulders rest on the ground, arms out wide to the sides, palms facing up. Take a nice deep breath in, slowly lower your bent knees over to the right as you exhale, shifting your gaze to the opposite hand.   Hold for 2-3 breaths, and repeat on the other side. Twisting helps to cool the blood, releasing heat from the intestines and the liver.

Stay Cool!

Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT
Monday, August 10, 2015

Backyard Chickens

     Chickens are popping up in backyards across the nation.  With the price of eggs and chicken increasing, many have decided to decrease their grocery bills and start raising their own flock.  Chickens are resourceful and can eat many vegetable and fruit items that may be considered spoiled in our refrigerator.  In addition to recycling produce, chickens eat bugs, worms, and vegetation found outside. 

    My family is doing an experiment this year with chickens.  We wanted farm fresh eggs and several broilers, so we ordered 14 chicks online (plus a bonus exotic chicken with our purchase!) and started the process.  We are lucky enough to have almost 5 acres of lands, so our chicken pen choice was a “tractor” or mobile pen that could be moved every week to provide fresh grass, bugs, and worms for the chicks and fertilizer for our yard. 

     The chicks, only a few days old, arrived late in the season on June 23rd.  We set up an old dog crate with a chicken water can and fresh chick food.  Since our grass clippings a saved, these were added to the bottom of the crate.  Evenings are chilly in Iowa even in June, so the chicks lived in our garage in their dog crate for several weeks receiving fresh food and water daily, in addition to frequent grass clipping changes.

     While the chicks ate and grew in the garage, we started building their perfect home with 10 foot by 4 inch lumber, chicken wire, a 10 foot by 3 foot piece plastic siding, screws, and lots of staples.  At last the masterpiece was finished and placed in the backyard in a great grassy location.  My family moved the chicks to their outside paradise chicken tractor, complete with chick feed and water container. 

    With a sigh of relief, I started cleaning up the chicks’ mess left in the garage, cleaning the cage and recycling the grass clipping on my garden.  My family went to movie in town and arrived home two hours later to a murder site.  Three of the beautiful black chicks had decided to explore outside the chicken pen sticking their heads through the chicken wire to be found by a hawk.  After wiping tears and cleaning up, the chicks moved back into the garage hideaway until we could provide a hawk-safe location.

    Back to the drawing board we went to find a safer solution for our chicks.  My husband came up with a great idea to wrap the outside of the chicken pen with a finer gauge chicken wire.  Another trip to the local farm store provided us with the necessary wire and more staples to secure it. 

     Several weeks have passed now, with our fabulous 12 chicks growing and eating outside.  My children delight in seeing them run and fly (yes, chickens can actually fly short distances) around their backyard oasis.  Who knows, in a few months we might actually be eating our own farm fresh eggs for breakfast!

Written by:  Angela Ask MPS

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pets Can Increase Your Health

       As I sit typing this article with a purring cat on my lap and two snoring pugs on my feet, I understand how pets can increase your health.  Pets have been found to decrease depression and lower your blood pressure.  Cats and dogs are supposed to reduce stress in owners and decrease the effects of cortisol and norepinephrine.  Taking your dog on a walk provides additional exercise and playing with your pets elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine, giving the feeling of pleasure.
     A growing number of research studies have found that children who grow up with furry friends have less risk of allergies or asthma.  Years ago pediatricians encouraged parents to rid their house of animals and not expose their child to pets if they were found to have allergies.  Exposure to animals with fur is now found to help children have fewer allergies.   Plus, another benefit to children growing up with a pet, allows the child to have the responsibility to care for an animal.  Both my children started with feeding the dogs and cats around the age of 4 years.  As they grew older, their responsibilities for their pets increased to walking the dogs, changing the litter box, and giving the dreaded baths.

      Next time you are cleaning up after your cat’s hairball or your dog’s “oops, I forgot that my bathroom was outside”, remember all the health benefits your pet can give you!


Davis, J. (2004, January 1). 5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from     of-pets

 Written By:  Angela Ask MPS

Monday, August 3, 2015

Have you been served a feedback sandwich lately?

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

You may have heard of the term “feedback sandwich”. If you have not, you may be wondering if this type of sandwich comes with a dill potato salad and a large drink; at least I did.

Unfortunately, it does not.

The feedback sandwich is a type of feedback that is practiced by doctors and managers who have a hard time providing negative (but useful) feedback to their patients or employees. The basic recipe for a feedback sandwich consists of one specific criticism “sandwiched” between two specific praises. In this case, the praise could refer to a positive comment (e.g., something that was done well); the middle (or meat) of the sandwich could refer to an area that needs improvement; and the bottom slice of bread would be another positive comment, to end the session or meeting on an upbeat note.

However, some opponents of the feedback sandwich argue that it is absurd and that it unveils and exposes doctors and managers who are fearful and meek as opposed to assertive and self-confident. Instead, a more direct and transparent feedback strategy should be provided. This more transparent strategy consists of

·       Telling the patient or employee about one area that needs improvement.

·       Addressing how the patient or employee could possibly improve in that particular area, i.e., provide realistic examples.

·       Linking their failings to their real impact on their health or on the business.

Have you been served a feedback sandwich lately?


Schawrz, R. (2013). The “sandwich feedback” undermines your feedback. Retrieved from:

Healthfield, S.M. (n.d.). Ban the feedback sandwich for employee feedback. Retrieved from:


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