The Nutrient We Miss The Most

I spend most of my time (in a professional sense) talking to people about nutrition.  I encourage them to eat right.  To get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  To skip the processed food, junk food and fast food.  To take a good-quality multivitamin.

But most people still skimp on one very important nutrient.  What is it?  What is the nutrient we miss the most?

It’s WATER.

Think about it.  Your body needs about one ounce of water per day for every two pounds of body weight (up to about 100 ounces per day).  For the average person that’s 60-80 ounces of water, or a half gallon or more.

Not coffee, not iced tea, not soda or lemonade.  WATER.

Water helps keep your blood pressure down.  It removes toxins and improves your digestion.  It fights fatigue and keeps your mind sharp.

When you’re a little thirsty, this can be interpreted by the brain in as hunger.  So staying well hydrated helps control appetite and promotes weight loss.

Every organ in your body depends on you staying well hydrated.  From your kidneys to your digestive system to your brain, water is critical for normal function.

So why is it so hard for us to get enough water?  I can’t speak for you, but I know why I have a hard time staying hydrated.

First of all, the most plentiful source of drinking water is the kitchen tap.  And tap water is NASTY.  Have you tasted it lately?  Ew!  It doesn’t help that I know more than is good for my mental health about what is actually in our tap water.  Pesticide runoff, pharmaceuticals, chlorine and other chemicals interact to make me not want to drink straight from the tap (or from the garden hose, but that’s another story…).

Your local water department has water quality reports available for download at their website, for those who use city water.  Cleveland’s water quality report for 2016 is available here, if you’d like to see.

The second problem I have with getting enough water to drink is that when I drink the water I should, I have to pee.  A LOT.  When I’m in the office that’s inconvenient but manageable.  When I’m traveling or pressed for time it becomes difficult for me to get all the water I need.

Honestly, there isn’t a good fix for this problem, I just tell myself to suck it up.  Every time I go, I think of all the toxins being washed away and that makes it easier to just do it.

The last problem my patients report with drinking copious amounts of water is that it’s BORING.  “I don’t like water, it doesn’t taste good.”  Which is silly, because fresh clean water has no taste at all.  It’s clear and cold and wet and refreshing!

What people are telling me when they say they don’t like the way water tastes is that they have trained themselves to expect flavor from everything that goes in their mouth, whether it should have flavor or not.  What I tell them is that their tastebuds may not like it (for now) but their bodies certainly do like water.  In fact, they NEED it, and they do NOT need all the sugar and flavorings and additives in their usual beverage of choice.

So if our tap water is so gross, what water should we be drinking?

Bottled water?  No, that’s not a good choice.  For one thing, it’s expensive.  It also puts tons of unnecessary plastic in the landfill and isn’t necessarily cleaner or safer than drinking tap water.  Often we don’t know where the water comes from or what testing was done.

My choice for lots of fresh, clean drinking water is Shaklee’s tabletop pitcher filter.  It is certified to remove lead (most tabletop pitcher filters, including Brita and Pur, are not) and has a replaceable carbon filter so that everything else is reused.

Do you have a water filter at home?  You can check the Water Quality Association’s website to see what your filter is proven to remove from the water you drink.

And it’s CHEAP!  Just did a price check on Deer Park spring water at Giant Eagle.  Buying bottled water (this brand, anyway), costs $2.25 per gallon and leaves you with lots of plastic bottles to deal with.  Shaklee’s Year of Get Clean Water costs just 52 cents per gallon.  And after the initial investment of the reusable plastic pitcher, replacing the carbon filters gives you clean, fresh water for only 25 cents per gallon.

So what are you going to do about your hydration problem?  For me, there’s only one choice.  Saving money, drinking fresh clean water, and avoiding putting unnecessary plastic in the landfill is a win-win situation!

QUESTION: Do you drink enough water?  How do you get your drinking water?

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The Cost Of Poor Health

This topic comes up in the office all the time.  Patients tell me they can’t afford to eat healthy.  They don’t have time to exercise.  Their medications are too expensive.  There is always a reason why patients have a hard time doing the things they need to do to stay well.

Today I’m fed up.  I’m going to talk about how expensive BAD decisions are, when it comes to your health.  What exactly is the cost of poor health?

Which is more expensive?  Fresh fruits and vegetables, or a heart attack?  The time to exercise, or the time you miss with your grandkids because you died of a preventable stroke?  Your $150-for-90-days prescription for diabetes medication, or the $2,200/year pack-a-day cigarette habit?

Which costs more?  Health, or illness?  Where are you going to invest your time and money?

Now, I’m blessed that my parents taught me good eating habits and helped me learn to enjoy being active.  I’m even more blessed that my husband and best friend knows I’m happier and less stressed when I run regularly and eat right.

But I’m also an adult and in charge of my own health.  If I were not in good health, there are lots of resources I could use to learn what I need to know.  From my doctor to good books to reputable websites on the Internet (like this one, LOL!), there is plenty of good sensible information about how to improve your health.

If you or someone you love is unhappy with their health, suffering with the dreaded “I don’t feel good” disease, overweight or obese, PLEASE do three things.

LEARN

Talk to your doctor and ask for good resources to learn more about what’s going on with your health.  Ask for books, websites, referrals to specialists or nutritionists or physical therapists to skill up.

Invest TIME in learning about what’s going on with your body.  Learn how to eat, what foods are best for your particular health problems.  Ask if you’re able to exercise safely and what the best exercises would be.  Learn how to manage your stress.  Get enough hours of sleep.

LOOK

Check out your budget and track for a month where your money is going.  How much do you spend on junk food?  Do you eat out a lot?  Do you buy fast food lunches during the week?  Do you smoke?  Do you drink soda or energy drinks?  What discretionary money do you spend on things that are unhealthy, and how might you redirect that money to BUILD your health instead of tearing it down?

What money are you spending NOW because you are unhealthy?  Do you spend money on medications and treatments that you might not need if you changed your diet, improved your nutrition, exercised, got good sleep, managed your stress better?  How much is being unhealthy costing you NOW?

INVEST

Now I’m going to ask you to exercise some discipline.  I want you to make a mindful decision about where your money goes.  I want you to redirect some or all of the money you are spending on UNHEALTHY or frivolous purchases and spend it on your and your family’s health.

That may mean eating out once per week instead of three times.  That may mean packing a healthy lunch every day instead of hitting the fast-food drive-through.  That may mean getting up 15 minutes early and drinking your coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks on the way to work.

You might decide to decrease your pack-a-day cigarette habit to a half-pack and spend the other $100 per month on a gym membership and a high-quality supplement program.

After all, which is better?  Spending 2 hours a week in the gym, or spending 10 hours a week in the dialysis center?  (And no, that’s not a stretch.  The number one cause of renal failure requiring dialysis is diabetes which responds beautifully to regular exercise and a sensible diet.)

I have no idea what is going on in your life or in your budget.  However, I don’t know anyone (including myself) that doesn’t spend money on things that harm their health.  Think about how that money could be better spent.

What are you giving up in terms of money, time, and the ability to do the things you desperately want to do, because of your health?  What small changes (or really HUGE changes!) could you make that would pay big dividends in health and wellness?

You deserve it 🙂

QUESTION: Is your health costing you anything?  What are you investing to make it better?

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When Fear Blocks Transformation

One of my patients, let’s call her Anne, is massively obese.  She is a very sweet woman with a supportive husband and family.  Her family is well off financially and she is educated.  Why on Earth would she struggle so with her weight?

She has the means to hire the most expensive trainers available.  She could build an entire gym in her own home.  She can buy potions and pills and exercise videos galore.  Why can’t she lose weight?

I’m not sure, not with any real confidence, because we haven’t taken the time to dig into the whys and wherefores.  I’m not a trained counselor, after all, and it’s not something we can really get into in the confines of a 15-minute visit when I also have to address all her medical problems and refill all her medications.

But if I had to venture a guess, I’d say she’s scared.  Terrified, even.  There is something about the PROCESS of weight loss that has her so frightened it is easier for her to stay massively obese than to tackle her weight.  What can we do when fear blocks transformation in your health, your career, your life?

Lately I’ve been doing some reading in the leadership coaching industry in the interest of skilling up my ability to help patients with behavior change.  I AM first and foremost a coach, after all.  I’m not a surgeon to take out appendices or cancerous growths.  My most effective tool is my ability to help patients change their lifestyle to change their health for the better.

One of the most fascinating insights I’ve had in the reading I’ve been doing is the idea that patients resist change not because they don’t want the results but because they’re scared.  They see the goal, they know how to get there, they’ve gotten practical advice and a roadmap that works.  But there is something about the roadmap that scares them to death.

Even though I don’t know what Anne’s fear is, I know there is one.  Something about weight loss triggers her brain’s threat response and makes her completely UNABLE to move beyond that point in her efforts to get healthy.  We can speculate that maybe as a child her parents withheld food as a punishment.  Now anytime she even THINKS she might get hungry that threat response is triggered and she compulsively seeks to eat to reassure herself that she is not that helpless child anymore.

Maybe she has confined herself to the role of a sick person so thoroughly that if she gets healthy she won’t know who she is anymore.  She’s afraid her husband won’t take care of her anymore if she is able to care for herself.  Maybe she’s afraid if she loses weight he’ll want to have sex with her again and there’s a history of sexual abuse in her past buried so deep she can’t bear to remember it.

I don’t want to speculate about my friend Anne.  I would love to have the time to sit down with her and really dig in with her as a willing participant, to figure out what frightens her so.  I KNOW something does, because she tells me she wants to lose weight but we can’t make any headway.  She’s not weak, not weak-willed, and not self-sabotaging.  She’s afraid.

What about you?  What are you doing that you KNOW is hurting your health?  Do you eat the wrong foods when you KNOW which foods will support your body’s health and even know tasty recipes to cook them for yourself and your family.  Do you continue to smoke even though you hate every stupid cigarette you take out of the pack?  Do you find yourself making excuses about exercise even though when you drag yourself to the gym you feel amazing and sleep so much better?

What scares you?  What’s holding you back?  I would love to have you email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com and tell me about it.  I will let you in on a secret – once we address that fear and make a plan to help you feel safe, you will be able to transform your habits, meet your goals and make your life even more amazing than it is now.

I’m a coach, after all.  This is what I do.  I help people transform their health and, by extension their lives.  But I can’t do it alone.  I need you to be brave, be honest and real and raw.  I will not judge you – I make my living dealing with real people and real problems.  Send me an email at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com and let’s get started!

QUESTION: Would you like to share one of your fears?  I’ll start – I eat too many sweets because they soothe me when I’m stressed (stress = fear).  One of my goals is to find ways to soothe stress that do NOT involve food.  I have good days and bad days with that, like most of us.

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How To Choose A Multivitamin

I get asked all the time “What multivitamin should I take?”  My answer is usually to recommend Shaklee’s multivitamin of course 😉 but sometimes I can’t discuss product brands by name.

This week I got an email from Dr. Steve Chaney, a PhD biochemist and professor emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught nutrition to medical and dental students.  If you’re interested in such things, please subscribe to his website at by clicking this link.  And you can scroll down to see his post from 3/28 which is what inspired me to write about this topic this week!

This week’s email was about how to choose a multivitamin and his suggestions were fascinating and so USABLE!  Here are the three takeaways that struck me most from Dr. Chaney’s email.

Before you read any further, go get your multivitamin bottle.  You’ll want to look at the label as you read this article.

Your multivitamin should be COMPLETE

There are 24 nutrients for which the US FDA has set Daily Values (DV).  The DV is the amount which is judged to be able to prevent nutritional deficiency in nearly all healthy individuals.  Notice this is not necessarily OPTIMAL intake, just what is needed to prevent deficiency in healthy people.  Those who have medical problems may need different amounts.  The DVs also vary based on age, gender, pregnancy and lactation status.

Your multivitamin should have all 24 nutrients (23 if it doesn’t contain iron).  Count them to make sure.  If it doesn’t have all 23/24, don’t buy it, it’s not complete.

Let’s look at two labels for comparison.  First is the label for Shaklee’s Vita Lea with Iron.

All 24 nutrients are present and accounted for.  You’ll also note that most of the nutrients are present at 100% DV (daily value) or better.  For some (like magnesium, which can cause diarrhea, and calcium, which can cause constipation) the amounts are lower to avoid side effects.

There are also nutrients that the FDA believes are important for humans but there isn’t enough evidence to set a DV.  These nutrients have a “dagger” symbol next to them.  If you see the five trace minerals at the end of the label above, those have the dagger next to them.

Let’s look at another label for a very popular brand of vitamins sold at every grocery store and pharmacy in America.

Credit: Walgreens.com

This one has only 21 nutrients in it.  No magnesium (and if you know me, you’ll know magnesium is one of my FAVORITE nutrients to prescribe), phosphorus or molybdenum.  Not complete.

Your multivitamin should only include safe ingredients

If your multivitamin’s ingredient list includes artificial colors or sweeteners, don’t buy it.  This includes aspartame, acesulfame, and anything that has a color plus a number (like Red 40).  These ingredients have no business in a nutritional supplement.

I want to say a word about gummy vitamins for a moment.  Look at your gummy vitamin’s nutritional panel.  I’ve included a popular one for reference.

Credit: Walmart.com

Definitely not complete.  Here’s the ingredient list:

Credit: Walmart.com

Sugar (3 grams and 10 calories per serving), artificial colors and artificial flavors.  NOT healthy.

Gummy vitamins are candy pretending to be healthy.  If you can find one that’s complete and has no added sugar or unnecessary calories, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners or artificial colors, by all means buy it and send me the info so I can put it on my website and issue an official apology.  Until then, if you want candy buy candy, but if you want a high-quality nutritional supplement that will support your overall health, a gummy vitamin is worse than not taking a multivitamin at all.

Don’t fall for marketing hype!

If there is no DV or dagger symbol next to an ingredient in your multivitamin, that ingredient probably does not add anything of value to support your health.  (Notice I’m talking about your multivitamin, not herbal products taken for proven health benefits in addition to your multi.)  Similarly, a lot of multivitamins have marketing buzzwords on the label like “organic,” “natural,” “whole-foods,” etc.  Also be aware that the individual nutrients in a multivitamin are highly purified and contain no DNA or protein so “non-GMO” is meaningless.

Companies also will claim that their products are safer than other companies’ products.  Ask for proof.  How do they know?  How many quality tests do they run on their raw materials and finished products?  How often do they issue recalls?  What is the procedure if a customer has a problem with a product?  Is there a guarantee?

Now that we’ve discussed how to make sure a multivitamin is complete, whether its ingredients are safe, and whether you’ve unwittingly fallen for marketing hype, let’s check in with you, Dear Reader.  How did your multivitamin do?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

PS – If you found your multi isn’t all you thought, please check out Shaklee’s Vita Lea multivitamins or email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com with any questions.

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Money And Health

With all the wrangling and fighting in Washington over the federal budget and also over the future of the Affordable Care Act, I’m feeling philosophical today about the connection between money and health.

What is the connection between money and health?  Can money buy health?  Can lack of money keep you from being healthy?  Well, yes and no.  It has been shown pretty convincingly that, in general, poor people are not as healthy as those who are better off financially.  Whether that is due to educational disparities, differences in access to health care, different diet quality, or other factors isn’t really clear.

Does being better off financially equal better health?  No, of course not.  Look at movie stars and celebrities.  Every week it seems there is another celebrity drug overdose or story about a movie star committing suicide in the depths of mental illness.  Wealthy celebrities struggle with obesity just like everyone else does.  Even access to infinite health resources does not guarantee one will be healthy.

What is money anyway?  Why do we need it?  Money is an artificial construct that makes it easier to engage in trade.  It is a symbol that everyone has agreed in advance has a certain value.  It is easier to trade coins or paper money for foodstuffs than to take a goat or bales of wool or stacks of animal furs to the grocery store.

The only thing that will motivate a person to open their wallet or pull out a credit card (another artificial construct, BTW) is the belief that the thing they are buying will make their life better.  Whether it’s underwear, carrots, legal advice, prescription medication, or a Ducati motorcycle, the thing being purchased will make the buyer’s life better in some way.

(BTW the government is selling you something in return for the taxes you pay – the right to stay out of prison.  There is an interesting thought, right?)

OK.  So if you need money to buy the things YOU need for food, shelter, clothing, etc, you have to have something to trade for that money.  The things we possess to trade for money all fall into three broad categories:  goods, time and expertise.

So what brings money into your household?  We spend an awful lot of time doing whatever we do to earn money.  Shouldn’t it be something that gives us pride and pleasure?

Too many people sacrifice their health in the pursuit of money.  There is a sweet spot where your career and your health are balanced.  Your stress is enough to keep you motivated and energized but not so much that you are at risk of getting sick from it.

Money cannot buy health.  You don’t have to have a lot of money to do the things you need to do to be healthy.

  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies in season, whole grains, nuts and seeds with limited amounts of meat and dairy.
  • Move your body every day in a way that you enjoy.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Drink plenty of fresh, clean water
  • Play and laugh and spend time with people who make you feel good

We all need money, but we DON’T need to be so focused on it that we make ourselves sick in the pursuit of it.  Take a moment today to examine whether your career and health are in balance or whether you need to reevaluate the relationship between money and health in your life.

QUESTION: Do you think you are sacrificing your health in order to earn money?  Why or why not?

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Green Burial

Today is a tough day for me to be writing.  My uncle passed away 3 days ago and I’m writing from Georgia because today was his funeral.

My uncle Don Wissman was my godfather and was an important part of my childhood as well as my adult life.  He and my aunt Sue were a constant, loving, supportive presence as I was growing up.

Over the last several years Don has had a number of challenges, between two cancer battles and an ongoing struggle with COPD.  He died quite suddenly from a respiratory illness on February 1.

My father and my uncle were both members of their parish’s Knights of Columbus council and the council has a close relationship with the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA.  The Monastery also runs the Honey Creek Woodlands, which is a natural burial ground on the monastery property.

My Aunt Sue and Uncle Don had purchased a plot at Honey Creek.  He was cremated after he died and today after the funeral Mass we went out to take him to his resting place.

We laid him to rest under a Georgia pine on a hilltop with the sun shining and the breeze blowing.  After the blessing and the burial we hugged and cried a little and laughed a little and shared memories of a 72-year lifetime of love and family.

It has been a learning process to see what is involved in a green burial and I think I’d like to have a green burial myself once my life journey is done.

A green burial is one in which the body is not treated with chemicals and is allowed to naturally return to the Earth.  There is no embalming if the body is buried intact.  If embalming is performed, the body must be cremated.  Either way, the remains are buried in a biodegradable container (either a plain wood casket or a wooden urn).  The remains decompose quickly and return to the Earth, and soon all that is left is whatever marker the family chooses to place.

Who chooses a green burial?  I seriously cannot see myself taking up a casket-sized chunk of real estate until the end of time.  It appeals to me to have my body become part of the trees and grass and wildlife surrounding the place where it is buried.  Many people who choose a green burial feel the same.

If you are are interested in a green burial, here are a few things to know:

  1. Green burials tend to be a lot less expensive than traditional burials.
  2. If you are considering a green burial, you should consider cremation.  Burying an intact body is definitely an option, with a biodegradable casket, but timing is trickier and should be arranged in advance.
  3. There aren’t very many natural cemeteries.  I’m only aware of one in the state of Ohio, Foxfield Preserve in Wilmot.  If cremation is chosen, there is no significant time constraint, the remains can be interred at any time.

For those of us who feel it is important to walk gently on our planet and treat it with respect, a green burial may be a fitting way to close one’s life in keeping with those values.

QUESTION: Would you consider a green burial?

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Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions! (Here’s What To Do Instead)

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a while ago.  They never last, and they are just a huge source of frustration.

Think about it.  What was your resolution last year?  Did you keep it?  Did you lose weight, start exercising, spend less, save more?

There are lots of industries that count on you NOT keeping your resolution.  The fitness industry charges an annual membership fee but lots of gym members stop going after 4-6 weeks (if that).  Failure is very lucrative for the weight loss industry, right?

Behavior change is incredibly hard.  Why set yourself up for failure?  Use these 4 suggestion to set a goal that IS doable for you!

Short term

A year is too long for a meaningful goal.  Chop that goal up into manageable, bite-sized chunks.  Remember, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

It is fine to say “I want to lose 30 pounds by next Christmas”.  However, that is a HUGE goal and it would be easy to procrastinate.  Set a 1-month and 3-month goal so you can keep the finish line in sight and stay motivated.

Specific

Don’t set vague goals.  Be VERY specific.  In our weight loss example you might say “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of January.”

The next question is “How am I going to do that?”  Easy to say “Eat right and exercise more.”  That is WAY too vague.  A better goal would be “I’m going to sign up for Betty Rocker’s 30-day fitness challenge at makefatcrychallenge.com and commit to 15 minutes per day to get stronger and more fit.”

(BTW New Year’s Eve is Day 21 of my own Make Fat Cry challenge and I am amazed at how much stronger I am.  NO, I’m not posting before-and-after pics, LOL!)

Realistic

Make sure before you set a specific, short-term goal that it’s something you can ACTUALLY do.  If you have chronic foot and ankle pain, committing to run a marathon in the spring might not be realistic.

Do you have the finances to eat all-organic?  Can you commit the time to cook all your meals at home?  Or would it be better to commit to choose grilled rather than fried foods and vegetables rather than starchy sides when eating at restaurants?

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set aggressive goals.  I’m all for shooting for the moon!  Even if you don’t quite make it, you’ll still have made huge progress, right?  It’s all about balance, though.  If your goal is too aggressive you might get frustrated and give up.

Measurable

Part of making your goal specific is making it measurable.  Betty Rocker recommended we take a calendar or white-board and put a big X through each day as we complete our daily workout.  Seeing measurable progress is a great motivator!

If you have a weight loss goal make sure to NOT have all your measuring happen on the scale.  Take your tape measure and write down your inches because in those plateau periods where you’re not seeing progress on the scale, often your clothes will be fitting differently and you can see progress in your inches instead.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions anymore because I’ve seen too many people (myself included) set resolutions and fail to keep them.  Instead I set measurable, realistic, specific short-term goals and do my best to knock them out of the park!

QUESTION: What specific, measurable, realistic short-term goal will you set for yourself for the next 1 to 3 months?  Comment and tell me about it!

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Goal Setting

Happy December!  Now is the time for us all to look back at 2016 and evaluate what we achieved in 2016 and set some goals for 2017.

Remember that old saying, “Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail?”  There is an understanding among highly productive, motivated people that nothing happens by accident.  In order for us to MEET our goals, first we must SET goals.

So how does one go about effective goal setting?

The first step in goal setting is to DREAM.  Imagine what your life would be like if it were absolutely perfect.  What would that look like?  What would your income be?  What would your career be like?  What would your personal life look like?  Your marriage?  Your relationships with the people you love?  Your faith?  Your health?

Everyone’s goals are intensely personal but the process of prioritizing and goal setting is pretty much the same for everyone.  Once you have visualized your ideal life, you can evaluate how far each aspect of your life is from what you have dreamed.  Then you can make a plan to achieve it, or at least to take the next step on the path toward that ideal.

Let’s go over some examples of what that might look like.

PROFESSIONAL

I absolutely LOVE my job.  I love being a family doctor, I love teaching medical students, and I adore my Shaklee business.  Helping people is what gets me up and out of bed every day.

What do you love about your job or your career?  Do you want to do more of that, and less of the things you don’t like?  Do you find that there are aspects of your career that really are a killjoy?  Is there a way to minimize those aspects?  Would you like to see a promotion or other evolution in your career in the next year?

Go ahead and dream.  Dream BIG.  Dream a career dream that is so big it scares you!  Then sit down and think about what it would take to achieve it.  Look for training, look for advice from your boss or HR department.  Do what you need to skill up to add more value to your employer.

Once you know what you need to do to achieve your professional goals, break them down into manageable chunks.  Set deadlines (because a goal is just a dream with a deadline, right?) and work towards meeting those deadlines.

PERSONAL

What do you dream about when you think of your personal life?  Does your home not fit your lifestyle anymore, either because your children are grown and you’re an empty nester, or because your family has grown with a new baby or a parent that needs care?  Do you want to live in a different city, or a different climate?

Do you have some trouble in your marriage that you’d like to resolve?  Is your relationship with a sibling, parent, child or friend not what you’d want it to be?

Would you like to try a new hobby or learn a new skill?  Travel to a new place, learn a new language, play an instrument?

Are you participating in your religious faith as much as you want?  Is there an opportunity to get more involved in your religious community and hang out with those who believe as you do?

Could you explore volunteering for a charitable organization that is important to you?

Think back to when you were much younger and life was much less cluttered with obligations.  What did you dream of doing that has been pushed to the side by job and family and other commitments?  Is there an opportunity to fulfill that dream in 2017?

HEALTH

How is your health?  Do you feel good every day?  Do you have the ability to do the things that you want to do?

Do you move your body in ways that you enjoy?  Do you know how to cook healthy, tasty food that nourishes your body and promotes health and wellness?

What health goals do you have?  If you haven’t filled out a Shaklee HealthPrint yet, please click here and fill one out.  It’s free, takes 5 minutes, and will help point you in the direction of meeting your health goals!

Remember to set goals that YOU have control over.  For instance, you may want to win the lottery, but how much control do you have over that?  You can buy a lottery ticket consistently, but that’s about it.  In the same vein, you can set a goal to find your future spouse this year, but again, that’s not something you have a lot of control over.

You may want to lose 100 pounds next year, and you can do it, plenty of people do.  But that enormous goal could be very intimidating.  So it’s easier to set a smaller goal of exercising 30 minutes 4 times per week, packing your lunch daily and tracking your food on myfitnesspal.com to get a handle on your calorie intake.  See how much more manageable that seems?

I want to help you set new goals for 2017 that will make your life better!  Not just SET goals, but blow them away!  Imagine how different your life could be next year compared to today.  If you can DREAM it, you can DO it!

QUESTION: What big goals do you have for 2017?  If you’re not comfortable commenting publicly, please email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com!  (And you’ll probably give me ideas for blog posts in the next few weeks, so please let me hear from you!)

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Raising Teenagers

I’m feeling thoughtful today.

Last night I drove my son and three other teenagers from our church youth group to drop them off at a weekend retreat.  Four teenagers half-yelling over each other in my car was quite an experience.

Most of the ride was spent discussing music.  They have a wide range of interests, some of which I share (and some of which I sincerely don’t).  Scanning through radio stations and stopping at songs one or another wanted to hear.  At one point someone broke out with “Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy…”

Someone is raising their kids right.  All four of them knew every word to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  There was a very enthusiastic five-person a cappella rendition.  I think I’m a cool mom now, LOL!

When we got to camp and unloaded the pile of bags and pillows and sleeping bags (and food!) from the back of the truck, Chris grabbed his stuff and took off towards the boys’ cabins without a backwards glance.

Finding myself asked to move my car so other parents could unload, I figured the best thing to do was just to head home.  On the one hand I couldn’t be happier that my son is comfortable enough with 100 other teenagers and a few harried (but very dedicated) adults to head off on his own.

A tiny part of me, though, watched as time did that weird telescope thing that time does for parents as their children grow.  I saw myself prying him off my leg when he was two and didn’t want to stay at the day care.  And I wondered, when did this happen?

My son is growing up.  He is 14 now and a freshman in high school.  He tops me in height by several inches.  His hands and feet are bigger than mine.  He is learning things in school that I never learned and never will.

A very large part of me is intensely proud that Chris is doing this growing-up thing so well.  He is smart and caring and occasionally as awkward as a half-grown puppy, all arms and legs that don’t always do what he wants them to do.

He is also beginning to prepare for Confirmation and to try to figure out what path God wants him to take in his life.  Since my primary job as a parent is to get my kids to heaven, this discernment is a very important process to me, but I can’t do it for him.  All I can do is pray for him and encourage HIM to pray and listen for the whisper that will show him the path meant for him.

What I wish all you other parents out there could tell me is, do all parents raising teenagers feel this way?  99% terrified pride and 1% sadness that I will never again be as central to his life as I was when he was two?  Happy excitement that his world is getting bigger by the day paired with fear about all the dangers he will be navigating soon?

Is it normal to want to kiss one more boo-boo?  To tuck him in and try to find his head under the pile of blankets for one more good-night kiss?  To have him reach to hold my hand in the parking lot one more time?

When my mom was my age she was a new empty-nester.  Both her daughters had left for college.  I’ve got quite a few years before both my boys will be out of the house, but this weekend I can all too easily look forward to the day when my firstborn will head off to college and spread his own wings.

I think I need to call my mom.

QUESTION: If you have kids, did you feel this way when they were teenagers?  Any advice for me?

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