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Walk Park

Natural Prescription – An Alternative Approach

One of the best things we can do for our bodies is to “get out of the way”! Believe it or not, our body can actually do a great job of healing itself, or functioning quite optimally when it’s allowed to do so. The body does this by reacting to what “stresses” are put upon it and finding homeostasis through temporary changes or more permanent adaptations. Even the brain will make quick reactions to things in the form of neurotransmitters and neural firing or long term adaptations in adopting new ways of perceiving things or hard-wiring changes.

A statement capturing the above sentiment is from Goodheart (1989) on healing, “People are healed by many different kinds of healers and systems because the real healer is within. The various healing modalities are merely different ways of activating the inner healer.” 1

Are you of the Mechanist (Rationalist) or Vitalist (Empirical) Approach?

The standard or “orthodox” medical practice in the U.S. follows a mechanist approach, where symptoms are perceived as bad and should be minimized or suppressed through surgical or pharmaceutical means. This seems great at the surface level. If something is causing me pain or discomfort let me do something to relieve or eliminate that pain. If I am having nausea or diarrhea because of something in my gut, let me take something to stop the vomiting or diarrhea. Underlying this “quick fix” of symptom alleviation, is THE PROBLEM.  The body is trying to rid itself of the “problem” by expelling if forwards or backwards!  There are many medical conditions for which it is okay to consider treating symptoms, and for some this is vital.  However, it is preferable for this to be done in conjunction with identifying the source of the problem, so a long-term fix can be explored.

ChirocopractorA Vitalist approach views symptoms as part of the healing process, not a problem that should be hidden. Many branches of health care use this philosophy including: chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, and practitioners of Chinese or Indian medicine advocate this Vitalist approach. By suppressing the symptoms, the practitioner may actually be extending the illness or exacerbating the problem. Researchers at the University of Maryland found taking aspirin for the flu may prolong the illness up to 3 days. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin interferes with the normal fever response that fights the infection (Burke, 2000).

Listening to the Symptoms tell you Where the Problem Lies

Rather than reducing or eliminating the symptoms, what if we tried to increase our sensitivity to it. For example, if we took antibiotics to fight a bacteria, are we enhancing the body’s immune response to this foreign agent or “giving it” something to help, much like a crutch. A quote from unknown origin:

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

This is at the heart of the Vitalist approach. The body is great at adaptation but we have to let it “learn” to adapt- not “feed” it some drug that forces it to do something. A quote from the Nobel Prize winner, Rene Dubos, Ph.D. remarks, “Good health is a process of continuous adaptation to the myriad of microbes, irritants, pressures and problems which daily challenge man.” This is also at the heart of exercise training. You must “overload” a system in order to get an improvement in function. You literally must stress it, and let it endure that strain in order to get the adaptation. Likewise, by putting your body in destabilized environments, you will gain a better sense of balance, in order to stabilize yourself.  Recent evidence has found that anti-inflammatory agents actually weaken the endurance training effect.

Fortunately, medical advances have allowed us to treat many illnesses effectively and safely, and it is always advisable to follow the advice of your doctor.  Allowing your body to adapt to certain stresses can be very positive in certain scenarios, but it is important to recognize when this doesn’t come at a risk of increasing morbidity, mortality, or increasing the likelihood of illness complications.

To Drug or Not to Drug- that is the Question

Prescription drugsNo one likes being depressed. About one in 10 Americans takes some sort of antidepressant medication. It is the most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S. according to a report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (2009).  While the U.S. may not be a Prozac Nation, as popularized in 1994 by the author Elizabeth Wurtzel, the rates almost doubled from 1996 to 2005 (5.84% to 10.12%). A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found it to work best in only severe cases of depression and exercise had similar effects in the short term treatment and better effects in long term treatment!The difficulty lies in getting someone to exercise when they are depressed. Thus, an integrated approach is often the best, and this includes psychological counseling as well.

Sometimes Less is More

A take away from this article should not be that standard medical care is bad. Far from it. Many M.D.s are very knowledgeable in areas outside of their standard practice and advocate expressive, rather than suppressive therapies. The take away should be to not rush for a drug to hide or mask your symptoms, but focus on what is the root of the cause, and take action to address this. The term iatrogenic is used for the inadvertent problem caused by a medical treatment. In fact, reports estimate it to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. with 225,000 to 250,000 dying from iatrogenic diseases annually! While it is hard to say how many of these deaths could have been avoided, it is quite obvious that minimizing invasive treatments until they are necessary is the best plan of action.

Complementary or Integrated medicine can possibly have the answer to a majority of the health issues presented. The Medical Fitness Network believes those professionals are the future of health care.


Dr. Mark Kelly Ph.D., CSCS, FAS, CPT has been actively involved in the fitness industry spanning 30 years as a teacher of exercise physiology at academic institutions such as California State University, Fullerton, Louisiana State University, Health Science Center, Tulane University and Biola. He was an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, a corporate wellness director, boot camp company owner and master fitness trainer.

finger-touch

Success in Life & Business… It’s a Matter of Touch

I am sure you would agree that effective communication plays a significant role in relationships with clients, customers, patients, partners, family members, colleagues, friends, etc. But what about when those individuals are away from you? Do you fill that void effectively and systematically or do you leave it to chance?

Maximizing success in life and in business is dependent upon a complete relationship. To optimize your success you must see your time away from others just as important as the time you spend with them.

Let me explain. Your spheres of relationships are continually changing from both your perspective and from the perspective of others. As a result of these shifting viewpoints, the strengths or weaknesses of these bonds fluctuate and unless you systematically inject yourself into the relationship, you leave success and happiness to chance.

So how do you step-up and make sure you are not rolling the dice when it comes to your success? Simply put, by implementing real, honest, and effective “touches” you can maintain your presence the way that you want it to be. These “touches” are small, short, targeted, and balanced communications that fill the relationship gap that will maintain and even grow trust, loyalty and commitment. Found in various forms, these individualized gems can be phone calls, text messages, video calls, written letters, cards, etc. And the frequency? This depends on each situation but I recommend 14 to 21 days as the sweet spot to offer the best balance.

Remember, to maximize your success, “touch” everyone regularly in a way that will positively inject your influence and not allow chance to control of the outcome.

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Steve Feyrer-Melk.


Steve Feyrer-Melk, MEd, PhD, is a powerful, passionate, and trusted authority in Lifestyle Medicine who is bringing an innovative, refreshing, and successful approach to proactive health care. Dr. Steve co-founded the Optimal Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center where he crafts and hones real-world programs for immediate impact. Dr. Steve also serves as the Chief Science Officer of Nudge, LLC, a lifestyle medical technology company.

aging-hands

The Objectification of Our Aging Population

Some nonagenarians compete in triathlons while other ninety-year-olds face jail time. Some octogenarians study the game of Chess on the streets of New Orleans and others in their eighties travel across the country headed for baseball diamonds. Some septuagenarians are affected by dementia, live in memory care centers and receive aid with their daily activities; meanwhile, others in their seventies can be found in University lecture halls, sitting on faculty council, and contributing original research. This might read as part of scripted entertainment, however, it’s not. Rather, these images are even funnier when we see them floating in a sea among the tide of what we think of as “the elderly.” Why so funny?

I am not concerned with entering into the conversation about who is elderly, or these new hip ideas about saying 100 years young (this expression can be equally oppressive as the objectification of “the elderly”).

If we travel back to Britain in 1875, we can read in the Friendly Societies Act, where old age is defined as “any age after 50.” We can also turn to our nation’s leader in aging research and health promotion, The National Institutes of Health and Aging, where many topics are geared toward those of us ages 50 and greater. And so, it’s not a matter of age classification that concerns me, rather it is the objectification of a marginalized group that is of far greater importance. I’m also not particularly interested in developing a categorical understanding of the precise age of the person we are referring to when we say, “The elderly.” Rather, I’m fascinated by some peoples’ use of “the” when referring to a single person and then also ascribing a set of assumptions based on a singular experience or interaction. Yesterday, while standing in line at a local print shop, I heard one person remark to another, “You know how the elderly are…slow and crochety.”

Slow and crochety are common adjectives used to describe people who are elderly. In the Oxford English Dictionary you will find worse-for-wear, moth-eaten, and long in tooth as synonyms for elderly. What happened to using respectful, kind and caring words to define someone who is your elder? We needn’t live in extremes where we ascribe words such as venerable, esteemed, wise, grand or dignified. Although this might apply to some people who are our elders, using these words without license can be just as damaging as the objectification of “the elderly.”

Although common place in the body of literature on aging; the terms “the elderly”, “the old” and “the aged” are frequently used synonymously. What is it about the use of the word ‘the’ that rolls off our tongue so easily when referring to some groups, yet is incredibly offensive when used with other groups? ‘The’ creates a rigid and inflexible view of lives that are dynamic, complex, multidimensional and ordinary. ‘The’ presents a watered-down version of people based on caricatured qualities. ‘The’ creates an assumption of similarity among members. Also, the last of these, “the aged” suggests a past tense, a process having been previously completed. A life already lived. As far as I know, we are continually aging unless we are dead and in which case our subject of interest becomes “the dead”. ‘The’ is embedded in an otherness, a separation, no longer living. And since I’m living, then “the elderly” must be the other.

By saying “the elderly”, we are reducing defining features and valuable contributions of members of our community to singular stereotyped anecdotal evidence. ‘The’ suggests a devaluing of humanness or a perception of less than. Use of the word “the” is paramount to maintaining the age binary: young-old. Yet, this concept of binary is ill-informed. We have coupled two parts of the lifespan that are not guaranteed. Just because you are young, this does not suggest you will be old. It is only when you are old that you can say, “When I was young…”

Age categorization can create a space, a chasm, a divide between us and them. We are gripped by fear of them because we fear we too will become like them, when in fact, becoming elderly is a gift. Not everyone alive now, reading these words, will be so privileged to receive this gift of age. One of the greatest accomplishments in the past 150 years, according to University of California, Berkeley and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Human Mortality Database, is an increase in life expectancy from birth. If more of us are becoming them, then why does a looming fear lurk in the air? Is it because there are more of us alive now than ever before who are adding to the collective fear? Plausible. Is it as Zygmunt Bauman articulates on fear, that aging is a process that happens and so we desperately grasp at the air for psychological consolations? Perhaps.

It’s purely a matter of shifting times that allows us, as a nation, to acknowledge the disrespect in using people as instruments for, in the case of “the elderly”, a continued glamorization of youth. It was not long ago when the proverb “children should be seen and not heard” was quite popular indeed. Dating back to the 15th century, children, and particularly young women, were understood to stay silent unless spoken to or asked to speak. First appearing in Mirk’s Festial , published by a clergyman about 1450, “A maid [young woman] should be seen, but not heard”.  In present day U.S. culture, we can see a similar treatment being delivered to our elders to an even greater extent. People who are elderly are not seen and not heard. We don’t want to see them for fear of becoming them, because we have learned to equate aging with death.

All living matter experiences aging from the moment of entering this earth. Just as surely as we age, we too experience death. The two are not correlated, birth and death, yes but age and death, no. Yet, in a culture that denies death, age masquerades as death. Age and death are two distinct processes that are both gifts bestowed upon anyone who is born. In order to untangle these webs of death and aging, fear and loss – we must extract ourselves from an obsession with youth.

By maintaining such strict adherence to youth standards, we further objectify people who age and who are unable to perform youthfully. Conversely, when we are ridiculed, or do the ridiculing, for “acting old”, there are many damaging effects this can create, one of which is internalized ageism.  The idea that the only interesting elderly people are either “dazzling or drooling” further reinforces this age binary and a fetishizing of youth. Tina Turner sings, “we don’t need another hero”, but what we need is a recognition of the diversity among people who are elderly. Old comes in many forms.

As well-intentioned measures are created to protect people who are elderly from abuse, flu and fraud, sometimes these very policies further objectify the people they are intending to help. Headlines read: “How to care for the elderly” Really? There’s a one-size-fits-all approach for caring? I didn’t realize all members of the elderly needed caring for. According to Education First, world leaders in International Education since 1965,“Use the [emphasis in original] with adjectives to refer to a whole group of people.” One of three examples given on their website is: “The elderly require special attention”. How would our world be if we offered special attention to everyone?

On a broad scale, we have witnessed a linguistic shift when referencing minority groups, by many people dropping the definite article ‘the’. Further, some find offense to hearing references like: ‘the blacks’, ‘the gays’, ‘the whites’, ‘the Muslims’, etc.  Let us continue with our inclusive practices and start referring to people who are elderly as the individuals they are. If you have the privilege to be compassionate, then please adjust your word order the next time you refer to a vital member of our community and emphasize the person rather than a group to which we assume they belong. If you are involved with policy development, consider suggesting a rewording using more inclusive language. Encourage your local transportation company to entertain ideas of changing stickers on mass transit to read “please reserve the seats for anyone who looks like they need a seat” instead of “for the elderly and the disabled.” And please, omit from your language the phrase: “Wow, you look good for your age.” We all age differently. And some, don’t age at all. They die.

And so, in this massive sea of wonder, awe and possibility, some stay ashore, some wade into the water clinging to their raft of thanatology, while others playfully splash about with exuberance and glee. Come splash with me and people who are elderly. Soon you will see there are differences and similarities between you and people who are elderly.


Adrienne Ione is a cognitive behavioral therapist and personal trainer who integrates these fields in support of people thriving across the lifespan. As a pro-aging advocate, she specializes in the self-compassion of dementia.

Website: yes2aging.com
Guided Meditations: insighttimer.com/adrienneIone
Facebook: silverliningsintegrativehealth

 

Psychological consultation

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Programs: Finding Hope and Help through Dual Diagnosis

It is frustrating enough to experience the hopelessness, despair and other negative feelings associated with a substance use disorder. A co-occurring mental health disorder can lead to even more confusion. You know you need treatment, but do not know whether to turn to a mental health program or substance abuse program. Discover how you or your loved one can find help and hope at a dual diagnosis treatment program.

Psychological consultation

Mental Illness and Psychology

The term mental illness is quite broad with multiple connotations. Individuals who suffer from “mental illness” are often stigmatized and denigrated for their difficulties and struggles. According to the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the term mental illness can be defined as a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Still other sources define mental illness as a “psychiatric disorder, that is a mental or behavioral pattern or anomaly that causes either suffering or an impaired ability to function in ordinary life (disability), and which is not developmentally or socially normative. Mental disorders are generally defined by a combination of how a person feels, acts, thinks or perceives”. The NAMI definition is a very important definition in that a mental illness has an organic and genetic etiology, similar to diabetes or heart disease.(1) However, for someone who suffers from mental illness the changes in behaviors, perception, and thinking must also affect one’s functioning. This is critical as we all have had times when we have been sad, extremely happy, or made inappropriate decisions. However, when those changes begin to consume the individual to the point of affecting one’s functioning and those around him/her then these changes may be defined as a mental illness.

Worried womanUnfortunately, science has not advanced in the domain of mental illness as it has in other medical specialties. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals do not have the means of laboratory tests or imaging to diagnose illness, as compared to other specialties in healthcare. Consequently, the diagnosis of a mental illness idealy utilizes a team of professionals that has been in contact with the patient over time.
The diagnosis and evaluation of an individual who suffers from mental illness can be very elusive which may require the collaborative effort of more than one health care professional. Psychologists and psychiatrists have been formally trained in how to understand an individual’s symptoms, to narrow the diagnostic focus of the underlying disorder. This understanding of the presenting symptoms is usually not only provided by the patient alone but also other family members or friends. Unfortunately, the patient alone may not fully understand his/her current symptoms as they sometimes lack insight into their symptoms and impact on their functioning. It is important to note that the etiology of mental illnesses can be due to various sources. Within the medical community, it is now well understood that genetics play an important role across various mental illnesses from psychotic disorders, to mood disorders, and even substance dependence. However, no mental illness is 100% genetic as the environment also plays a significant role. In regards to environment, many mental illnesses can also be caused by other organic insults such as traumatic brain injuries, brain masses/tumors, or neurodegenerative illnesses (such as Alzheimers Dementia) that may induce changes in mood or even psychosis (i.e. suffer from hallucinations or delusions).

Psychologist having session with her patient in her private consulting roomThe modalities of treatment for mental illness are not just limited to pharmacological intervention, but may also include a multitude of psychotherapies. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and primary care physicians usually rely on each other to provide a continuity of care. Many studies across multiple mental illnesses have found that therapy in concordance with pharmacological treatment is more effective compared to just medication alone.(2)  Having a knowledgeable psychologist as part of the healthcare team provides a breadth of treatment that best treats the disorder. The psychologist helps to change behavior by identifying and working with the individual’s cognitive distortions. It’s these distortions that disrupt the individual’s functionality. Understanding the symptoms can help improve function.

Whatever the treatment may be, the patient must trusts his/her healthcare team members with complex and personal information. CLICK HERE, to find a trusted Medical Fitness Network psychologist.

Psychologist having session with her patient in her private consulting room

Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, and Psychology

By treating pain from a biopsychosocial model you will maximize not only your pain relief, but your ability to engage in life to your fullest potential. But how can you treat pain from a biopsychosocial model? How do I target the psychosocial aspects and incorporate that into my overall pain management treatment plan? Enter, the psychologist.