Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Measure a Women's Intelligence...

By her hips?!  We all know the stereotypical hour glass figure that men find so attractive.  Think Marilyn Monroe here...she was know for her beauty, but by today standards some would consider her over weight or plus size in the modeling world.  What evolution is doing to our body image is a little scary, especially once you realize why those curvy hips were once so attractive to men!

According to Psychology Today, it's the unusually small waist that makes these women look so curvy. "The other part is having relatively normal- size hips and legs that are well endowed with fat. Even a thin woman carries an astonishing amount of fat in her legs and hips—about a third of her body weight. Men everywhere admire the fat located here."

The research done by Psychology today also found that "The total amount of fat a human female carries is seven times that of other animals, and much more than men! Only bears ready to hibernate, penguins facing a sunless winter without food, or whales swimming in arctic waters have fat percentages that approach those in normal, healthy, trim young women."

Well, I could make a case for hibernation but I'm pretty sure I don't plan on going an entire winter without food or swimming in arctic water!  So what gives?  Why were we "blessed" with all this extra fat.  Extra fat that many women spend a lifetime trying to get rid of and refuse to accept as part of their genetic make up?

According to the research, "Just as human mothers have seven times more body fat than other animals, human babies have a body part that is seven times larger than the one in other animals—an enormous brain that grows fastest in the first two years of life. Other than water, the human brain is mostly fat and has a lot of a particular kind of fat: an omega-3 fat called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). We can’t make omega-3 fats; they have to come from what we eat, and women tend to stash their DHA in the same hip and leg fat that men value."

So although most of the time men seem to know nothing about women.  It appears that subconsciously they know a lot!

"That’s what men’s brains are telling us—that a woman’s figure signals the abundance of her DHA supply. Studies show that women with curvier hourglass figures have more DHA stored in their body fat. And because DHA makes brains work better, these curvier women also tend to have smarter children and, contrary to what you might expect, to be smarter themselves" 

Hold on, hold can't use the excuse of intelligence to go packin' on the pounds with chocolate cake and chips and dip!  As time passes, American women actually have developed higher fat percentages but with lower DHA levels.  So the quality of your diet is super important in getting these healthy fats.  Focus on getting the omega-3-rich fat we evolved to eat—"fat from green plants, wild fish and seafood, and the meat, milk, and eggs of animals eating their natural diet of grass."

And whenever you get the urge to say something demeaning to yourself about how big your thigh's are, or how much you hate your hips stop and think about why you were made that way.  Every part of the human body has a purpose, even the fat in our thighs!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Baby it Real?!

I thought I would do a fun fact post for ya since it's Friday and all.  So what could be more fun that learning about the psychology behind baby fever?!  Not much, right?  Well I know I hear people talking about it all the time so you must too..."I'm getting baby fever"....or "My wife has baby fever".  Sometimes you will hear that it's like a switch that just gets flipped on all of a sudden.  So me and my scientific thinking mind started to wonder...what causes this?  Is it our biological time clock ticking?  Is it telling us on some unconscious level that it's go time?!  If I don't ever get that overwhelming urge am I not supposed to be a mother?  It actually turns out to be much more simple than that....and guess what?  Men get baby fever too!!! 

The researchers started by applying three different theoretical viewpoints about why baby fever might exist and where it came from:
  • The sociocultural view: People want to have a baby because they are taught gender roles. Women think they should have children because society says that is what they are supposed to do.
  • The byproduct view: Humans experience nurturance. When they see a cute baby they want to take care of it, and that makes them want to have a baby of their own. Baby fever is a by-product -- it is nurturance misplaced.
  • The adaptationist view: Baby fever is an emotional signal -- like a suggestion sent from one part of the mind to the other parts -- that this this could be a good time to have a child.
So what do you think the verdict was?  I personally was all about the biological clock theory.  My body will tell me when it's time to have a baby right?  Wrong!  The research showed that it was something much more fundamental than that.  So here it is...

The more you are around babies and find it to be a positive experience, the more you will want to have a baby.  The more you are around babies and find it to be a negative experience, the less you will want to have a baby.   


Men can catch the fever the same way.  But the research did look at how frequently a desire for a baby occurred varied according to gender. Women more frequently desired having a child than having sex. Men were the opposite and more frequently desired sex than having a child.  (Funny how those two things go together, right?!).  

For those of you who aren't ever around babies and you are starting to worry why you don't have the overwhelming urge to be a mother.  (I mean what is wrong with you?) You can relax, it's simply because you aren't getting the positive exposure that research shows leads to that "baby fever".  The research also shows that sometimes people just don't get the "fever" and will make the decision based on the trade-offs that come with having children -- education, career, money and social life.

Feel like you caught the fever too early and you aren't ready to actually become parents? Find someone with a very fussy baby...that should do the trick! The outcome of this research also made me think of parents that only have one child.  I mean once you have a are bound to get that baby fever again with all of the baby exposure that follows.  So I guess this means all of you only children out there were very difficult babies ;-) 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Convenience = Consistency

I am constantly telling my patients to find healthy meals that are convenient.  I know, I know, there are TONS of healthy cookbooks out there with these amazing recipes that take hours to prepare.  And if you have time for that, even better!  But for most of us, we need something we can throw together after a busy day and feel confident that our family enjoys a homemade meal while being healthy at the same time! This is one of my hubby's favorites so I thought I would share.  Plus, it is SUPER easy!

Here are the ingredients!  I used pork chops, a sweet potato, a yellow onion, two apples (because they were so little, you could use one if you have a larger apple), a tomato,  and a packet of Roasters seasoning.  I like the classic herb flavor the best.  Go ahead and preheat your oven at 350 F.
The sweet potato bakes in the microwave! SCORE! So just pop this baby in the microwave for 7 minutes while you chop up the rest of the veggies.  Feel free to use whatever veggies are your favorite or just what you have laying around the house!  You could also use chicken instead of pork chops!
Now you have everything cut up (10 minutes tops)! Throw it all (pork chops, seasoning, veggies) into the roasting bag that comes with the seasoning.  It comes with a little zip tie that you will close it with and place it in a shallow baking pan. (Another plus, no pots and pans to clean up with this meal).

Your oven should be done preheating by now so put it in and in for 30 minutes you will have a nutritious, healthy, delicious (in our opinion), home cooked meal!

Convenience and consistency are two of the most important things when trying to change your lifestyle.  If something feels convenient, you will be more likely to do it consistently.  For those things that don't feel convenient, it is up to you to find a way to make it feel that way! Take a look at your priorities and find a way to fit in the essentials of a healthy lifestyle.  Remember, if you can't control the circumstances simply change your perspective!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mommies and Mommies to be...

We all seem to go through stages in our lives.  Once out of college there is a wave of engagements and, of course, a series of weddings.  A few years later, it seems everyone is beginning to have babies.

I mean everyone knows when you get pregnant, you gain weight…so women should be prepared for that and accept it as just part of the process, right?  Wrong! No matter how prepared you are for the changes that are going to take place in your body, it will more than likely still be a struggle.  No matter how “natural” and “normal” the changes are, it’s a stressful aspect of having a baby.  So as opposed to sitting in the closet crying, because you still can’t fit into your jeans a month after the baby is born, here are some tips to drop those pounds and stay healthy mentally and physically.

According to Farel Hruska who has over 16 years experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor,

“Rebounding from pregnancy and delivery is a process. You think that you should lose the baby weight and be back where you were before. Here is the reality of the postpartum woman: It took nine months to gain the weight, allow at least that long on the way back.”

Aside from gaining weight, several other changes occur in your body during pregnancy.  Your joints loosen when a hormone called Relaxin is released.  This is what helps your pelvis adjust for that growing baby, and just because that baby is no longer in your belly, doesn’t mean that your skeletal structure returns to its previous position.  Your body also goes through muscular changes, such as a lengthened trapezius and tightened pectorals.  In addition to these physical changes, caring for a new born can drain you of energy and lead to fatigue and muscle pain.

Exercising will probably be the last thing on your mind, but once you get into a normal routine you will see several benefits, aside from physical changes.  According to Jennifer Wider M.D.

“Exercising after having a baby can speed a woman’s recovery time after delivery.  In addition, a recent article in the journal Birth reveals that exercise can lessen the severity of depression in new moms. Other studies have also suggested that exercising can lower a woman’s chances of postpartum depression. Postnatal exercise can also increase a woman’s energy, which can be quite beneficial when she is exhausted by all the changes in her life”.

Exercise doesn’t have to be something complicated.  One of the best forms of exercise is simply walking–or even better:  Walking with a stroller!

A study by the American Council on Exercise showed that using a stroller burned approximately 18 to 20 percent more energy at 3 mph and 3.5 mph than walking without a stroller (on average 6.2 calories per minute and 7.4 calories per minute respectively)!

Schedule your workouts like you schedule your child’s doctor’s appointments.  Write them down and don’t miss them.  You can do at home fitness DVD’s, take long walks or do some relaxing yoga, while baby takes a nap.  It’s all about setting your priorities, and in the end you won’t only feel better physically, but mentally as well.

Nine Months Off

Here are some month-by-month tips for getting back into shape after baby by Farel Hruska:

Month 1

Focus on reconditioning your core–abdominal's and pelvic floor muscles–with gentle pelvic rocks and kegels.  The pelvic floor can actually drop up to one inch just from pregnancy.  These exercises can begin in the hospital bed (barring pain).

Month 2

Start gentle walking.  Start with a 5 to 15 minute gentle walk and slowly increase time and intensity.  Exercise at this point should be stress relieving not stress producing.

Month 3

Take baby out for a stroller workout.  Include hills, intervals with changing your speed, and focus on good posture.  Good stroller walking form includes leading with your chest, keeping hips close to the stroller handles, shoulder blades pulled back and down, abdominal's engaged and wrists in neutral alignment with the arm.

Month 4

Use your baby as a weight and work out with baby.  Try crunches with baby on your belly or hip bridge with he/she on your stomach as resistance.  Even wearing the front carrier can be a workout.  Try scapular retractions–pulling shoulder blades toward spine–with the weight of the carrier as resistance!

Month 5

Even if you are not nursing, continue to eat as if your food is still fueling your baby.  Chances are you’ll make better choices for your baby than for yourself.  Remember to choose whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.

Month 6


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! You should be drinking eight 8 oz glasses of water a day.  Add another glass for each hour of activity.

Month 7

Make sure you are eating often enough…instead of a few big meals a day, try to eat five to six mini meals throughout the day.

Month 8

Consistency is key.  You should be working out 30 to 60 minutes on most–if not all–days of the week.  It doesn’t have to be a traditional workout to count as activity.

Month 9

You are a role model mom.  Focus on health and wellness instead of a size or a number on the scale.  Your children (especially your daughters) are watching and they understand sooner than you think!

New Year...New You!

 New Years is a time when people reevaluate themselves and set goals they hope to accomplish over the next year.

 These days we tend to have a very “make-it-and-break-it” attitude toward resolutions–but wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually stick with it and accomplish the goals we set?

 It has almost been a month since New Years day and some of you may have already fallen off the resolution bandwagon; or maybe you are about to accomplish an entire month of doing whatever it is you set out to do this year.  Either way, tomorrow is another day and as long as the sun keeps rising and setting you will continue to have the opportunity for self-improvement.

 Here are five simple tips that can help you stick with it and get back on track when life gets in the way of your New Years resolution.

Be realistic:

This is the simplest tip.  When January 1st rolls around we all have huge aspirations.  The sky is the limit…until January second…or third..then you start to think “maybe I was being a little overly ambitious”.  If you haven’t worked out in an entire year don’t try to force yourself to be at the gym at 5:00 a.m. seven days a week.  Set smaller goals that you are more likely to keep.  If it’s a fitness related goal, start out by taking a walk three times a week and see how you do.  If you want to quit smoking, try cutting back to half a pack a day instead of a whole pack.  You get the picture.  Even accomplishing small goals feels good, and it feels way better than setting unrealistic goals and feeling like you failed when you can’t stick with it.

Treat Every Monday as if it’s New Years Day:

Sometimes life gets in the way.  Let’s say you fall off the bandwagon after a few weeks, or have a super busy week at work and just can’t stick with your resolution.  Don’t beat yourself up and call yourself a failure.  Simply start over each week and readjust your goals, if needed, to something that is more attainable.  There are 52.18 weeks in a year.  When I ran the NYC Marathon in my head I told myself, “All I have to do is run 7 miles, then 6 miles, then 5 miles, then 4, 3, then 1.2″!  To me that seemed much more doable than focusing on running 26.2 miles.  Doing something for 7 days seems much easier than doing it for 365 days, so break it down and take it week by week.

Remove the Word Failure From Your Vocabulary:

Failure is actually a learning opportunity.  If you slip up, look at what preceded the event.  If your goal was to stop smoking and you give in and have a puff, look at what happened that led to that behavior and find ways to prevent it in the future.  Did something stress you out?  Was it being around a certain person?  Take note of these things and set up precautions from now on to prepare yourself for those situations.  To tell yourself “you failed” creates all kinds of emotions, but to think to yourself  “Ok now I know how to keep this from happening next time” shows that you just learned from your mistake and became stronger because of it…now “failure” doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Set Goals With a Friend:

Having someone to hold you accountable is always helpful.  Who will know if you don’t get out of bed for your workout?  Who will be there to show disappointment when you give-in to the urge to smoke?  If you have somebody depending on you, it will be more difficult to ignore your goals.  If your goal is something like being more organized or saving money and you don’t really need a buddy, be sure to tell your friends and family about your goals.  Telling others about our plans gives us all the more reason to stay accountable and succeed.  Even using social media, like Facebook and Twitter, can help hold you accountable.  So whether it be with social media strangers or family and friends…share your goals!

Be specific:

“This year I am going to start working out” is a pretty general goal.  Set a goal like running a 5K or 10K race.  Signing up for the race holds you accountable.  All the work that goes into training probably meets the actual fitness goals you had in mind, and you can’t beat that feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line.  Even if it’s not a fitness goal set up your goal so that you have tangible results.

Ok, I know I only said I was going to give you 5 tips but here is one last suggestion:  Get yourself out of the way!  If your goal involves dieting, don’t leave all that junk food and ice cream in your house.  Throw it out!  Taking steps like this will make it easier for you to succeed.  Don’t try to rely on pure willpower.  We are only human and sometimes it’s hard to resist temptation.  Again, if you do slip up it’s not the end of the world…just start over the next day!

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other”. -Abraham Lincoln

Alter Your Thinking to Transform Your Eating

Are you tired of fad diets?  The type of diets that help you lose a significant amount of weight in the beginning, and then inevitably gain it back (plus more).  You may then decide to move on to the next new diet and repeat this cycle all over again.  Or maybe you give up for a while, feeling like a failure that just can’t maintain a healthy weight.  What most people don’t know is that initial weight loss is most likely water weight.  And by restricting calories you are slowing down your metabolism for when you go back to eating normal amounts of food.  This slowed metabolism is what leads to weight gain after the fad diet is over.  You can’t live on grapefruit forever!  This process can take a toll on your body–both mentally and physically.

Finally, there is a solution–a solution that doesn’t involve  radical and unrealistic changes like consuming only 300 calories a day!

It’s as simple as this…alter your thinking to transform your eating.
Are you saying to yourself, “What in the heck do my thoughts have to do with my diet?”  At times it is easy to forget that eating is completely voluntary.

It’s not like your heart beating to keep you alive, or your lungs taking in air so you can breath…eating is something we consciously think about and decide to do.  Eating is a voluntary behavior.
Hunger is something we think about.  When we are hungry our thoughts about it influence our eating behavior.  If you are trying to lose weight and constantly have thoughts such as:
  • “I feel so deprived that I can’t eat that”
  • “It’s not fair I have to diet and other people can eat whatever they want”
  • “I’m so hungry, I just can’t take it anymore”
…these thoughts are what lead to unhealthy eating behaviors. They determine what type of food, the quantity, and how often you consume calories.  When you think your hunger is an emergency and you can’t take it anymore, you are more likely to make impulsive and unhealthy decisions.
It seems so simple to say that changing these thoughts to a more positive alternative will help you lose weight, right?  What people don’t realize is that your thoughts turn into behaviors.  By changing your thoughts, you are in turn changing your behaviors.

What if your thoughts were more along these lines:

  • “I am so glad that I have learned to eat healthy and take care of my body, I feel so much better”
  • “Life isn’t fair, but so what? The advantages of eating healthy will last much longer than the momentary satisfaction I will get from eating that cookie”
  • “I feel hungry, but lunch is in a few hours… I know I will survive”
With thoughts like this, you are more likely to feel proud of yourself for being healthy and having self-control.  The most important change is that it will lead to more conscious and controlled eating behaviors, and that is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Not only will this program help you change your thinking patterns, it will also teach you behavioral techniques and skills to deal with the daily ups and downs of eating healthy in a world where you are surrounded by unhealthy food along with people encouraging you to eat it.

As a mental health professional, I use cognitive behavioral therapy on a daily basis to help people change their thoughts and behaviors.  It helps change thoughts and behaviors related to depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, body image distortion…the list goes on.  Eating behaviors can be changed through the same process.

Why not give up the unreliable fad diets and try something that has loads of research to back it up.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective across many different disciplines, including weight loss and weight management.  

If you are interested in making changes in your life that can last a lifetime, then changing your perspective on dieting is essential.  Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a real, scientific, researched method that is used to change behavior.  Once you accept that eating is a voluntary behavior, you will see that you have the power to change it.

I am offering a 6 week program that teaches you these skills.  It can be combined with any nutritious diet. 

This program will include:
Weekly sessions (offered in an individual, group setting, or via skype)
Daily activities you will do on your own
Behavioral strategies to change your perspective on what being “full” really means, how to deal with hunger, how to resist cravings, and how to motivate yourself when it becomes difficult to exercise and stick with your diet plan.
Daily communication via the website and through email to keep you on track and accountable

This is Not a Diet…It’s a Way of Life! 

If you are ready to make the change, contact Barton Behavioral Health Solutions at (806) 418-2285 today to set up a FREE consulation today!

No More Excuses!

What is your go-to excuse skip your workout and relax on the couch instead?  The thought process of why it’s okay to skip your workout may seem harmless, but those thoughts directly affect your behavior.  In other words, once you start that internal debate of whether or not you should hit the gym; you then end up exhausted by the internal struggle and more than likely with a thought somewhere along the lines of “maybe I will start tomorrow”.  Finally coming to the decision to skip the workout may lead to a feeling of relief, bringing you to believe you made the right choice.  However, the decision to NOT skip your workout can lead to this feeling of relief as well.  That emotion is based on the fact that you made a decision and the internal struggle is over.  So don’t give yourself a choice.  Make your decision to stay active, and stick with it.  Eliminating that internal argument immediately alleviates a lot of the stress!

Here is a list of some common excuses and a more positive alternative to replace it with.  Next time you find yourself looking for an excuse, stop yourself and replace it with the helpful alternative.  Make note of your behavior after you do this.  Did your behavior change based on the fact that you simply changed your thought? 

I have more important things to do…
“Making time for myself is as important as anything else.  I can work more efficiently if I exercise and stay healthy”

“I can even think about my work while exercising to jump-start it when I get back
I’m too busy
“What’s more important to me?  Exercise deserves to be a high priority in my life.  It does take time.  It takes time to invest in myself, my health, my well being and my future.”
I don’t feel good enough…
“Unless I have a fever or I am deathly ill, I know it’s safe for me to exercise”.

“I can always exercise at a lower intensity than usual.  I can walk instead of run, or I can jog slowly instead of at my usual pace.  I can do at least 15 to 20 minutes of something.”
I’ll do it later (tomorrow!)
If I convince myself to do it later, I might no do it at all.  If I get it out of the way, I’ll feel better”

It’s not a big deal if I miss one day
“Every day counts.  If I don’t make today count, what makes me think I will make tomorrow count?  My commitment is a commitment to every day.  EVERY DAY COUNTS.”
The 9 Truths about Weight Loss by Dr. Kirschebbaum

I like to remind my patients that they will NEVER regret working out.  Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.  I doubt you wake up every day elated with so much joy that you can hardly wait to brush your teeth! Exercise is the same way, there is no magical motivation that some people get and others don’t.  It’s simply something you need to put into your daily routine and do it whether you feel like it or not.  I mean after all…what if we skipped brushing our teeth every night we felt too tired and just didn’t want to?  Make it a habit!