Monday, April 17, 2017

Pong Night in Maine

When I moved to a small town on the coast of Maine over ten years ago, I had the good fortune to be invited to Monday Night Pong by a local farmer. I've been going almost every Monday since.

Monday Night Pong has been a mostly male local institution for over twenty years. Held in the same 2-story barn all that time. No matter what holiday that Monday falls on, the doors are always open and somebody always shows up. The tables (2 tables: one upstairs and one downstairs) are usually clean enough to play on unless, the owner of the barn, has been doing wood projects and needed a large table to work on.

We clear the table of the dust and chips and ready the net. We make sure the unevenly placed six working lights are all plugged in. Occasionally somebody mutters about fixing the weirdly placed burnt-out florescent bulbs, but we make do. Our pong-playing fierceness lights any dark corners in the barn.

Usually there's about six to twelve guys that show up, ranging in age from twenty to sixty. Our eldest player will turn eighty-eight in May! We ask him, "You gonna make it to Pong this Monday?" He always replies with either "Is the Pope Catholic?" or "Does a bear shit in the woods?”

As with most of us, it is just too much fun to miss. We almost always play doubles, switching partners often. There is zero trash talk. We deal in compliments! We are there to be playful. It's simply a chance to play no matter our skill level. Play doesn't happen so much for a lot of us after we 'grow up'.

We are unleashed for a few hours into the world of simple play, unfettered by anything more important than just getting the ball back over the net. We prove to ourselves by showing up, that we're young enough to still have abandoned fun, one more time yet again. At the end of the evening, we feel tired, yet refreshed knowing we showed up and give our all to play well.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Recovery and Bacteria - Health with Terry M. Cross

Bacteria came first in evolution, way before people, there was bacteria. Bacteria even created oxygen (through stromatolites), before plants evolved.

Our bodies wouldn’t function properly without the hundreds of favorable varieties of these little buggers placed throughout the many folds, crevices and surfaces of our skin, never mind in our guts, our intestines. There is an estimated 4.5 pounds of bacteria that live just in our adult digestive track alone.

Ideally there should be a ratio of 85% beneficial bacteria to 15% ‘bad guys.’ This ratio keeps us healthy and our immune system strong. Processed foods that contain high amounts of sugar, bad fats, salt and simple carbohydrates, create an environment for bad bacteria to flourish. The ratio between good and bad becomes reversed and the consequences are far reaching and numerous.

This was brought home to me most painfully after taking a 2 pill dose of doxycyline antibiotic to combat the possibility of Lyme Disease. I had a particularly nasty tick bite where the tick literally embedded most of it’s body into my shoulder. Lyme symptoms haven’t emerged but I’ve been suffering from a devastated gut for months: inflamed bowels, hemorrhoids, constipation. The double edged sword of modern medicine has left me Lyme-free but my tummy and gut are traumatized.
Improving my diet to support the good bacteria has included:
  • Removing simple carbs, grains and sugars
  • Increasing raw and slightly cooked veggies
  • Taking prebiotics to set the right environment for favorable bacteria
  • Taking regular amounts of broad spectrum probiotics

There are several swell books on this subject of maintaining favorable microbes, here’s a few that I can recommend:

All of us owe it to ourselves to understand what is arguably the single most important aspect to maintaining health. The healthy gut is over 80% responsible for the strength of our immune system.

“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” – Mike Adams

“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” -Anonymous

And from the original medical big thinker recorded from history:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Armaid Staff's Favorite Movies

These are the films each of us has watched over and over, or can quote whole scenes from, or can sing entire soundtracks to. Movies are like music, in that they are deeply personal in their connection and transformative for each individual at that point in their life, forever changing the way the viewer sees the world.

Garden State - “You know that point in your life you realize that the house you grew up isn’t your home anymore. Even though you some place to put your shit, the idea of home is gone…you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist.” So many great lines in this movie. And a kickass soundtrack too boot

Prime - “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - “Our love fern, it is dead. Are you going to let us die? You should think about that!”
Girl Fight - kickass lady fighter!
Arrival - A.M.A.Z.I.N.G Time is completely arbitrary human construct. #mindblown
Camden International Film Festival - the whole weekend of awesome documentaries

A&E 1995 production of Pride & Prejudice

Jazz, Ken Burns - documentary
The Buddha - PBS documentary

Cast Away - “I have made fire!” “Wilson!”

Friday, March 3, 2017

Interview with Ryan Tillotson - Filmmaker, Producer, Writer, Director

Ryan Tillotson is a young writer, director, producer living in Los Angeles, CA. He has produced a number of short films, music videos, a few feature films and attended the Cannes Film Festival. His career has taken him all over the world. Ryan is also a beloved family member of The Armaid Company and is an all around cool dude.

Ryan’s IMDb page:

Ryan grew up in San Diego, CA and started making short skating videos with his friends and eventually started writing and producing short films. Last time we connected with Ryan he was making promotional marketing videos for a few craft breweries around San Diego. Craft beer is another one of Ryan’s passions.

AA Co: How long have you been living in LA and has the move greatly changed your film industry options?
RY: I moved to LA around a year ago and it has completely changed the opportunities available to me. I’ve already worked on 4 films and I continue to receive many opportunities and meet a lot of people in the industry. So much of living in LA is the networking. Every time I go out I end up talking to someone who is an actor, producer, writer, director or knows someone to build a good connection with. The opportunities are more readily available. I am not so sure my career would have grown in the way that it has here, if I were still in San Diego. I still have family, friends and even a few clients in San Diego, so I visit often. In fact, I am there now. I just got a coffee. After this interview I am driving back to LA.

AACo: Coffee is the best! A morning is just not the same without it.
RY: It’s not! Man, coffee is the best. I couldn’t make my own this morning, but this one is pretty good [I can hear him take a swig out of his lided take-out paper coffee cup)

AACo: What are you doing in San Diego?
RY: I had a meeting with one of my remaining craft brewery clients here. I really enjoy working with them and they make really good beer too! Mother Earth Brew Co. in Vista, CA They are one of just a few clients I still have in San Diego who I make marketing videos for.

AACo: Is craft beer still a passion of yours?
RY: Totally! I love good beer! I am actually working on a bottle shop concept with a business partner and brewmaster. We have a business plan and some collected capital. We want to open a place in Long Beach. I am really interested in having a ton of bottles and people bringing their own and everyone tastes all the different bottled beers available. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as we had hoped to get licensed. We wouldn’t exactly be a brewery because we may or may not make beer. I am more interested in the tasting environment and trying different bottles, like you do at a house party. The cities are basically giving away brewery licenses and permits in Southern California, but you have to brew 100 barrels of beer to be a brewery, which really isn’t that much. 1 keg is a half a barrel, but my brewmaster doesn’t want to do something on that small level. So were are still figuring out the details, looking at spaces and trying to figure out the remaining funding of the bottle shop concept.

AACo: What is are you currently working on?
RY: To make money and pay the bills I work with businesses producing and shooting visual reels and marketing videos. My personal project I am currently working on is a 10-episode web series. We actually just shot the first episode a couple days and tomorrow I am editing. I am really excited about the project. We are going to complete a couple episodes and then start pitching to a couple of web series production companies, like Amazon and Netflix, in hopes that it gets picked up and we can fund the remaining episodes.

AACo: What is the web series about about?
RY: I worked for a self-help publishing company producing videos for 2 years. I traveled around the world interviewing self-help authors, healers and gurus, the web series is inspired by this time. The concept is a comedic mockumentary fictionalizing the many unique personalities of the self-help publishing world.

AACo: Tell us more about those 2 years traveling for the self-help publishing company?
RY: I traveled all over the world, staying in awesome Air B’nBs, interviewing amazing people in the self-help industry. I was able to hire my own crew to come with me, so I had buddies with me doing the audio and shooting. Although it was a work project, I was with my best friends. We shot in really cool locations and fancy rented Air B’n’Bs. We had an expense account and had our travel and accommodations paid for. It really was an amazing experience, but it also didn’t provide me the time to create my own projects. I was unable to write, direct or produce much of my own passion projects during that time, and I also did not have much of a life outside of my responsibilities to the publishing company. While I really appreciated and enjoyed the experience, I was okay stepping away to focus on my projects.

AACo: In those 2 years was that when you went to Cannes?
RY: Actually, I have been 2 times. The first was when I was working for the publishing company and they were looking to buy films to produce. I didn’t actually submit anything for competition that first year. I was surprised to learn that Cannes really is about buying films, screening films, and networking. Cannes is more like a convention where the booths are production houses looking to pick up films. So as a filmmaker you have to go around constantly pitching your next project. There are screening of those films that were entered for the competition. I went to a lot of screenings. I learned about how much of a business movie making is and I met amazingly influential people. It was funny because you collect so many business card in the night and you stick them in your pocket, at the end of the night they blur together. I wish I had taken notes on the cards, I found myself asking, “Who is this?”

AACo: We didn’t know you went to Cannes twice!
RY: The second time I went, I went for myself with a short. I was pitching as a filmmaker. I learned so much from my first experience at Cannes. It was such a huge achievement to even be there, but this time around I knew the tricks of what to do. I knew how to get my short film “in”. I was there for 2 weeks the second time. The festival is much longer than is perceived. There are so many films, production companies, screening and networking events that happen beyond just the public red carpet event. I knew the second time around that being at the Cannes convention center was not the best way to network, but instead going around to all the neighboring hotels. Having a drink, sitting around, chatting in hotel lobbies and bars was the way to build meaningful connections that could develop as your project develops.

AACo: It is interesting to hear that Cannes has that business element. We only see the red-carpet fancy Hollywood event. What do you love about being a film maker and what do you dread?
RY: I realized since I have been talking to you, the thing I dislike most is the constant networking and selling yourself and the next project. At Cannes they don’t care what your current project is, they only want to know about future project, so you always have to be thinking about those projects, how to pitch them, how to network to get them picked up, and networking/pitching for funding. It exhausting and I really don’t like talking about myself that much. Cannes is the only film festival I have been to, but I am pretty sure that is how all festivals work, selling, pitching for future films.

As for what I love….I love the whole process of filmmaking. I also, surprisingly, like the scheduling, organizing and managing the process. I thought I wouldn’t like those parts because they are not the creative parts, but I like seeing it all happen and collaborating with people I trust. I love being on set, there is nothing like it! That constant energy, enthusiasm and momentum. There is always a problem or there will be a problem. So there is the anticipation of the problem and also I really like the struggle to figure out the problem. There are so many things you are working against in film making - time, budget, personalities, actors, technical issues, materials, etc.

Actually for the first episode of the web series we searched for weeks of a set to shoot, and eventually we found this perfect warehouse. We got everything in motion to shoot, setting the date, getting equipment, coordinating with the crew and actors. We show up to the warehouse and there are signs everywhere saying no trespassing and very scary warnings about fire marshals and the police. The signs were not there when we scouted the location; we didn’t know what to do. We were all ready, everyone was there, so we decided to set up and start shooting. In the middle of shooting the fire marshals and police showed up and forced us to leave. They were serious and threatening, we had to stop everything, pack up and leave. We had budgeted 3 days to shoot at that location, and now we didn’t have the location and we had lost a day of shooting. We figured it out, finding a new location, one of the actor’s had a connection. We completed the shooting in 2 days and on budget. Nothing ever works out time wise, but we made it work! I love that scrambling energy on set, where everyone is there to make this great thing come together.

I also love post production. It is tedious to assemble audio and different video footage, but I love the process of making it all come together. You spend so much time in the editing room combing through footage and audio to create the best experience. It can be a pain because syncing is not always smooth and there is constant organization, by shot, audio, and take, and then reorganized again. But I start from the beginning and circle the takes I like. Once we’ve gone through all the footage, circling the takes I like, we go back and start compiling and editing those takes. You have 2 cameras shooting the same scene from different angles so sometimes you have to choose which view you want to use in scene. For the first episode of the web series we will comb through 7 hours of footage for around 20 minutes of final footage. It is a lot of rewarding hard work.

AACo: What is your goal, to make feature-length films and be a big Hollywood filmmaker/producer?
RY: I think that is the goal. I mean, yeah, I would love to be making big box office features, so long as it is a passion project. I don’t want to make films for the business of making films. I want to make films that I believe in. In the perfect scenario I would be able to continue to make my passion projects and they would get big recognition.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Musings on Movies by Terry M. Cross

What is film, video and TV but the flickering of connected images imitating life. How it can satisfy at times!

“I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room & read a good book.” – Groucho Marx

Overall if I do watch TV, I tend to want the truth. Nothing like a good documentary well presented. Like a good segment of the PBS series ‘Nova’ or ‘Nature’. Also anything with David Attenborough as presenter, I swoon with the visual beauty and his narration.

I’ve learned recently that when brain activity is scanned while watching a PBS documentary type of program, our brain neurons are making new connections that keep us young and brain-healthy.

The same positive brain growth happens when learning a new activity or hobby, or reading a thought-provoking book. Basically anything that exercises the brain. The more we ask Why? What? Who? How? and Where?, we get smarter. The resultant flood of feel-good endorphins makes us feel like we’ve just been uplifted a bit and justifies the effort, like a successful trip to the gym.

Healthy film and TV content means we’re questioning our current thinking and the way we see reality. We seek and find better and more truthful answers.

Here’s an enjoyable blog that shows the journey of a young woman out of the TV wasteland.

The average American watches TV and visual media over 5 hours a day. That equates to approximately 2.5 months out of the year.

Most of that time is spent viewing crap that takes time but leaves us empty and our brains worse off. Most of the content that has commercials in it is meant to dull us into a state of consumerism. After all, it’s the commercials that drive the programming, and it’s not the intent to create thoughtful and helpful content so we grow as humans.

“Everything in moderation. Even moderation.”  – Oscar Wilde

On the days when I don’t want to watch another science documentary about black holes and the importance of appreciating ethnic diversity, or I’m in between books, I’ll watch a movie, preferably with narration. I prefer the lone-underdog-against-the-system movie.
Some of my favorites with narration:
Without narration:

Friday, February 10, 2017

What Inspires the Armaid Staff?

"Inspiration is inherently personal, both in the abstract and in the particular."

swimming in ice cold water - going for a walk - bees - birds - night sky - Maine - nature
"Perhaps not originally from, but drawn to, we all call Maine home. She is abundant and ever-encroaching here. Inspiring, daunting, overwhelming at times, but forever larger than us and awe-inducing. We turn to Her daily for warmth, solitude, inspiration, adventure, creativity, nourishment, fun and a sense of belonging." - A
"When I am in a car, or a crowd, or in my house, in my mind I endeavor to hear the silence of the outdoors that I know from my walks; and then through that silence, the small sounds that make up the natural world. I am distinct and yet connected." - J
"Nature humbles me, comforts me. I love how big, strong, capable and giving it is." - M

family - kids - partners - dogs - cats - 'hugs from my kids'
"I feel blessed daily to have the abundance of love that surrounds me." - A
"Obviously it's love, but less obviously, for me, the hug is a reminder of how connected the kids and I are and how vital it is that I respect and protect that connection by being the most loving parent I can be. It's also a reminder to be in the moment, and really feel the hug." - J
"A tribe, a pack of sentient beings that wakes the ordinary into extraordinary. Compassionately taking one another by the hand, all-for-one and one-for-all." - M

"Peace. It does not mean to be in place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." - Unknown
"Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that is." - Mandy Hale
"Show up for this very moment." - Pema Chodron

waking up in the morning
"The stillness, the newness of the day, the groggy shuffle of waking the body for the day, yoga, locally roasted coffee with coconut oil, bathrobes, puppy cuddles, morning kisses." - A
"I truly feel reborn in the morning, clear-thinking and joyful." - J
"In the dark and silence of a new day, waking my body with quiet reflection and meditation, I am reminded to be present in the groundlessness." - M

playlists of 20,000 songs - 58 Main Street - Pandora - ellacappella - singing in the car with the windows down
"I am a top Billboard diva driving on a summer day with my windows down and the volume turned to 11. Can't turn me down ;)" - A
"Singing with other people opens your heart. It is a profoundly spiritual act, even if the song itself is banal. You are making a doorway with your voice." - J
"Life would not be the same without music, period." - M

self-discipline in a spiritual context
"Those who can stand calm in the face of aggression, anger and hatred, providing stillness, love and acceptance, even in the most tense situations…there are no words, only complete awe and amazement. The power of love and compassion emanating from that being is beyond my ability and comprehension. I aim to achieve the slightest ability to manifest that love in the face of anger in my lifetime." - A
"I am inspired by those who are committed to intense self-discipline so as to reduce human mind-sets (shenpa, "triggers"), physical body limitations and spiritual obstacles in the equation." - M

creative approaches to food to preparation - farm to table - BonApp├ętit magazine - craft beer and wine - growing one's own food
"Food is life. And it rocks. The end." - A
"We share food in the office, something we cooked, something discovered, something we grew, something we caught and we merge our lives around this sharing." - M

painting - sculpture - photography - art monographs
"I am humbled by the manifestation of creativity by others, and aspire to one day know myself well enough to put me into a medium others can see, feel, touch and dare I dream, be inspired by." - A
"The infinite perceptions and perspectives of art, created or found, amplifies my humanity." - J
"Heather Lyons, Jeffery Becton, Goody B. Wiseman, David Graham Baker and Paul Trowbridge, to name a few local artists, they freeze frame a moment and by looking at their art I am able to see and feel the Divine." - M

The Power of Now - Buddhism - daily meditation - Non-Violent Communication
"We are all one. And there is only love. The sooner we all hold compassion in hearts with love as our intent, healing can take place."- A
"Remove distractions and complacency, look at my baggage, allow myself to be vulnerable, stop my struggle against the changes in life, live my truth, accept others and enjoy the ride, what a rush." - M

Friday, January 27, 2017

What Inspires Joe Daniels? He Inspires Us!

It is nature and interaction with people that gives me the most inspiration. I do most of my work in the kettlebell and functional fitness world, and when I can help someone in my gym - who is perhaps in physical pain, dealing with depression or anxiety - get back to doing physical activities outside, this makes me feel wonderful. The fact that this person can enjoy all the beauty and relaxation that being immersed in nature can provide, this inspires me to continue helping people.

Getting people back to hiking and biking after 20 years…or getting them participating in kettlebell sport competitions or obstacle races for their first time. Training each person to overcome prior injuries or day-to-day stresses is my passion.

I also love working with companies that inspire myself and others to do their best. 

Joe Daniels
Think Tank Flotation 
Learn more on how a more active, less stressed and nutritious lifestyle can benefit you at

Joe has been with The Armaid Company, Inc. since 2011. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of Armaid and Rolflex since they came into his lives, and he into ours. He was one of our top selling affiliates for years and just recently became an Armaid and Rolflex wholesaler. Follow him on social media for daily inspiration from him.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What Inspires Terry M. Cross, Founder & Inventor of Armaid and Rolflex

Inspiration doesn’t come easy to me these days. The world is changing so quickly that it’s tough to hang onto much that is positive and fortifying for long.

Over ten years ago I moved to Maine because I couldn’t take the hustle, bustle, pollution and human institutions and constructs of the city.

With so many people on the planet and stuffing our cities with more, it didn’t make sense to labor and live along side millions of other fellow beings in Southern California. The innocent thrill of sunshine and beaches was gone.

So what is inspirational to me these days? Nature, always. It is Nature that brings sanity to my body, mind and spirit.

The Mother of Us All, and yet we forget from where we gain life and a sense of our true place in the Cosmos. Nature. My biggest inspiration is the creatures of the surrounding forest who exist without complaint in any weather and in lean times. Living in the wild is harsh and unforgiving, it appears easier to get by in a city by comparison. Their ability to make a life and thrive is an inspiration. I admire the squirrels, black bear, moose, birds, and all the creatures (I call them the forest “people”).  

Humans have tried to escape Nature out of fear, seeing Nature as a nasty, dangerous place; full of things that could ‘get you’.  Yet, it will always be our true home and Mother.

When I can see the clear stars at night and realize that we are so insignificant in the infinity of forever, I say, “Thank you.” My job becomes clear, be grateful for my little human dance and bow before the mystery of existence.

The great biological scientist J.B.S. Haldane said:   

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

My overriding job is to always remind myself to be a witness to the dance of Nature during my short stay in this body. To remind myself that there is peace in the unknowable. It’s really a relief to allow myself to be humbled by the enormity of what we don’t and can’t know. Humans didn’t make the rules, we are merely discovering them and learning. That is exciting.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Prevention of Chronic Diseases by Addressing Chronic Inflammation

Interview with Alix Sarain, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach

Alix is a Health Coach living Maine. She has a degree in Philosophy and pre-med from UC Davis and a certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Starting with personal experience, she expanded her knowledge and certification to better address her own health issues. She works with clients one-on-one, as well as facilitates a 5-month group lifestyle program sponsored by a local non-profit, Healthy Island Project. Alix has chronicled her journey with health, nutrition, wellness, balance, her dogs and what’s growing in her garden, at since 2013.

What exactly is a Health Coach?
A Health Coach is a certified, supportive mentor and wellness authority who takes a holistic approach to help clients make lasting lifestyle changes, focusing on the key factors of nutrition, relationships, exercise, career and spirituality. So much of the way we eat is affected by non-food related factors. I have a particular interest in working with clients suffering with autoimmune disorders as well as reducing chronic inflammation by identifying food allergy triggers.

What drew you to being a Health Coach?
I always knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field. I find health, wellness and anatomy/physiology fascinating, but I realized that the traditional path in medicine was not for me. Several years ago I experienced some chronic health issues. The journey I went through to address them expanded my interest in nutrition, health and self-care, inspiring me to get a certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the USA.

Are you willing to tell us more about your health issues?
About 6 years ago, I was experiencing symptoms that neither my doctor nor alternative practitioners could remedy or even diagnose: all-over body aches, shortness of breath, excessive joint pain during exercise, inability to stay asleep, bloating, and depression. The pieces didn’t add up: I was young, fit, and I was eating a balanced (enough) diet; and yet, I felt unhealthy and miserable. It was a very scary time. I felt helpless.

That sounds very scary. What did you do?
I was unable to breathe, and had gone through my rescue inhaler in less than a month, and I found that I didn’t want to eat. Eating exasperated my respiratory issues. After doing some research on an Elimination Diet I followed my intuition mostly in the initial phases. I put myself on a very strict Elimination Diet for 3 months, of no gluten, dairy, caffeine, sugar, citrus, soy and eggs. I intuited that the respiratory issues, along with my diet, and possible, unknown, trigger foods, was exasperating the inflammation causing all of my symptoms. The goal was to decrease my all-over inflammation and figure out what the culprit was. Over time my symptoms lessened and I started to feel “normal” again, actually better than I had in years.

What exactly is an Elimination Diet?
An Elimination Diet is a method in which you remove all the standard allergy-triggering foods from your diet. Generally, a person will remove wheat/gluten, dairy, citrus, caffeine, and eggs. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, we may also remove all forms of sugar, soy and corn. 

Typically, you will start seeing a reduction in symptoms within 2 weeks, but some people may stay on the Elimination Diet for up to 3 months, to really flush out whatever the trigger(s) are.

That sounds tough! When do get to start eating normally again? 
At the end of the elimination period, you begin to introduce each trigger food, one at a time, starting with the least offensive food first. You eat the trigger food and wait a few days. If you don’t have an inflammatory response, you move on to the next trigger food. Sometimes even without eating the food your intuition and body will identify your trigger food, and you know from then on to avoid it. Once you’ve determined your food triggers, you can go back to eating “normally” – your new normal that does not include the identified trigger food(s).

Throughout the Elimination Diet process, part of what you are learning is how to “listen to your body.” Our bodies have simple, amazing ways of telling us something isn’t working, from mouth and tongue itchiness, sneezing, hives, rashes, respiratory problems, even digestive upset - all signs that something isn’t working internally. Often we don’t think much of these signs, or brush if off as a fluke, when in reality, if you are tuned into your body’s needs, these signs are clues that you need to make an adjustment, often in what you are eating.

Let’s talk about chronic inflammation – what is it?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a threat, injury or infection. A normal inflammatory response, is a complex chain of events where blood vessels leak fluid into the site of the injury or infection, causing swelling, redness and pain, as a protective mechanism. Typically, this inflammatory response goes away within a few hours or days. However, over time, chronic inflammation is when a body is continually on high alert, potential causing lasting damage. 

Chronic inflammation is prolonged by many factors in our lives, from diet, exercise, genetics and environmental factors. Chronic Inflammation can be greatly relieved by diet and exercise habits, which are things we can control. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with too many non-foods that cause inflammation. When our diets are comprised mostly of inflammation-inducing foods the body’s immune system is continually compromised and the inflammatory response becomes cyclical and dangerous.

Is chronic inflammation a common problem?
Yes. In fact, a large percentage of people suffer from all-over body, organ, joint, stress and chronic inflammation unknowingly. Chronic inflammation over time can lead to chronic diseases, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.

Why do so many people have chronic inflammation?
Most Americans have chronic inflammation because of what they eat. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is laden with processed sugars, chemicalized fats and artificial flavors, high amounts of refined wheat and carbohydrates, lots of red meat and processed dairy (The average American consumes more than 160 pounds of sugar and 200 pounds of white flour per year!). Americans also consume a mostly acidic diet with too high amounts of “bad fats” like omega-6s and not enough omega-3s.

The SAD leads to a multitude of health issues, in particular a rise in allergies. It is estimated that 1 American in 5 suffers from allergies and asthma, both of which are inflammatory responses.

The SAD is aptly named! What is a better diet from the standpoint of managing chronic inflammation?
Eat real food. Eat food as it is grown naturally with as little modification or processing as possible. A nutrient-dense, healthy-fats, vegetable-based diet, with some fish, and a minimal amounts of grass-fed meat and poultry, and small amounts of high fat dairy, is ideal. Avoid sugars, grain-fed meat, lots of dairy and processed foods. A diet full of nutrient dense, real, whole foods allows for the immune system to improve leading to less inflammation.

Some specific recommendations include increasing the amount of omega-3s in your diet (omega-3s are naturally occurring anti-inflammatory, healthy oils found in nuts, seeds and wild caught fish), and also increasing your intake of fermented foods, like homemade sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchee and kefir.

I also recommend two dietary supplements to most of my clients. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is nature’s alternative to ibuprofen. Take it daily, but consult with your doctor first, in case of any medication conflicts. I also recommend taking a daily multi-strain probiotic, providing a necessary boost of good bacteria to support gut health. 

If you are eating a diet of mostly veggies and real foods, you are getting the proper amounts of fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants where the foods you eat heal from inside, in turn reducing inflammation.

Are there other things one can do to reduce the inflammatory response?
Yes. Stress is a part of our lives and stress can induce an inflammatory response throughout the body. Finding ways to reduce stress in your day-to-day is crucial. 

Some lifestyle techniques to reduce stress include meditation, breathing techniques, and, yes, even a glass of red wine. Moderate exercise - such as walking, swimming or yoga - is also a great stress-reducer.  Intense exercise actually causes little tears in the muscle fibers, which can induce inflammation - most people just need to incorporate movement to their daily lives.

Also, there are two techniques I swear by to reduce body inflammation and also to improve circulation: oil pulling and dry body brushing. 

Oil pulling is the ancient Ayurvedic oral health practice of swishing oil in the mouth for 10-20 minutes per day. It is recommended that oil pulling be done first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything. You can use sesame, coconut, sunflower or olive oil. The swishing removes bacteria from between the teeth and gums, and helps to reduce plaque and decay, while gently whitening and strengthening your teeth. Oil pulling is also believed to reduce inflammation in the mouth, and improve allergy symptoms and sinus issues.

Body brushing your skin with a dry natural fiber brush right before you bathe. Do long strokes towards the heart with the brush to invigorate your skin, slough off dead skin cells, and improve circulation. This technique is relaxing and helps reduce inflammation under the skin. 

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Even if you don’t have inflammation, autoimmune disease or allergy issues, everyone can benefit from lifestyle choices that reduce inflammation.  Diet, movement, helpful supplements - even giving the unique tools of oil pulling and dry brushing a whirl – these are helpful instruments of inflammation reduction and general well-being to have in your healthy-tool kit arsenal.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Alternative Therapies List

1. Ayurvedic Medicine (Ayurveda) - Yoga's sister science, is the oldest continually practiced health-care system in the world, originating in India more than 3,000 years ago. Key concepts of Ayurvedic medicine include universal interconnectedness, the three life forces (doshas), and an individual’s personality and physical constitution (prakriti), composed of the doshas. Using these concepts, Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, including compounds of herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations.

2. Breathwork - The way you breathe affects your whole body. While short, shallow gasps of air restrict blood flow and cause your muscles to tense, full, deep breathing relaxes the body and mind. Breathwork is comprised of a variety of stand-alone breathing techniques, as well as techniques that are integral to other mind-body practices such as qigong, tai chi, and yoga.

3. Cupping – An ancient Chinese therapy, cupping uses heated cups applied to the skin to improve circulation and the flow of energy around the body. Most commonly, it's used for aches and pains and respiratory problems, but it has also been shown to help with digestive and menstrual problems.

4. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, aka Tapping) - A type of Meridian Tapping that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping can help people overcome many issues: chronic pain, childhood traumas, self-limiting beliefs, weight concerns, negative body image, food cravings, anxieties, PTSD and phobias, research shows, more effectively than talk therapy.

5. Hyperthermia Therapy - When cells in the body are exposed to higher than normal temperatures, changes take place inside the cells which studies show may boost the body’s immune system function. Although most commonly associated with cancer-related diagnoses, hyperthermia is also suggested for individuals suffering from inflammatory diseases and depression.

6. Oil Pulling - An age-old remedy rooted in Ayurvedic medicine, in which oil (usually sesame, sunflower or coconut) is swished in the mouth for up to 20 minutes to clean, whiten, and detoxify the teeth and gums and improve oral health. Additional benefits from oil pulling include help with skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more.

7. Sound Healing/Tonal Therapy – In Sound Healing, a specific, stable frequency or tone is used to synchronize fluctuating brainwaves. Once the brainwaves are synchronized, it is then possible to down-shift the brain’s normal beta state (normal waking consciousness) to alpha (relaxed consciousness), theta (meditative state) and even delta states (sleep, where internal healing can occur). Sound Healing can provide results for a variety of issues including: sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, stress management, PTSD and pain management.

8. Structural Integration (Hellerwork and Rolfing) - A holistic system combining soft tissue manipulation and movement education to restore the body to its natural state of alignment and balance - lengthening, restoring, and reorganizing the fascia, the connective tissue matrix of the body, which becomes shortened in response to injury, chronic tension and habitual movement patterns.

9. Yamuna Body Logic - One-on-one body manipulation with a trained, certified Yamuna practitioner focusing on skeletal structure alignment, where muscles are elongated and toned and your range of motion is restored.

10. Yamuna Body Rolling - Developed by Yamuna Zake, the Body Rolling technique, using the specially designed Yamuna balls to improve posture, alignment, range of motion, muscle tone, flexibility, organ function, circulation, and even bone tissue.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Personal Journey

I was having heart palpitations, heart ache, high blood pressure, constipation, very poor sleep and a tired lethargic body. And this was all before the election.
I'd been mostly worried and stressed about business partners and personal relationships for the last year and I began going downhill in all departments: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. The stress of poor daily rituals and bad habits (poor food choices, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and negative thinking) were killing me or at least turning me into a classic middle-aged man who becomes another statistic under a doctor's pharmaceutical care. Shit. I got scared enough (I've learned that's a very important point) to make changes.

So now after 2 months I've built a series of positive outcomes in the process of 'control what I can control and create new outcomes' and do the best job I can in each needful area of my life. One day at a time. Clean up the flow of my present and future by no longer wasting my creative time and energy on people and situations (past or present) that I can't change or influence directly.

Can't change the past, only learn from it. In order to survive my crisis I needed to go basic-school on my ass and take no prisoners by being honest with myself and acting daily on that honesty. Socrates would be proud, by asking better questions of myself, I can hear my inner wisdom reply with better answers. My personal Socratic method at work. Ask and listen to the answers. I've found that I know a lot more than what I give myself credit, the answers are usually already within or at least hinted at to give a direction, listen and respect the answers. Haven't I ignored the truth in order to maintain my living in righteous pain?

Do what I know to be good for me and only act on that, if I truly want to escape from the growing gravity from my personal black hole. Black holes are good for only one thing, dark oblivion, and a metaphor for death.
  1. I've used the "Whole 30" program to evaluate what foods cause me inflammation and then have developed a food program that suits what my body needs.
  2.  I've gone through 4 sessions of a 'Hyperthermia' treatment to elevate my body temperature to 102 degrees. Much like having a fever, this raising of the body core temperature helps to eliminate toxins and dislodge viruses and bacteria from their bodily crevices. I imagine this is also similar to why there is such a strong tradition of saunas worldwide. Inner stimulation, toxin elimination and deeply relaxing at the same time. I feel all the better for it.
  3. Exercise…walking…and more walking. I'm getting my old 'Total Gym' back from a friend and going to start using that for joint and muscle strengthening.
  4. My blood pressure has gone down by an average of 20 points on both the diastolic and systolic, all without medications.
  5. Removed over 20 lbs. of weight.
  6. Most important: me-reminding-me to keep the right attitude. That's the most fluid and toughest to nail down…but I'm getting better! And I've results to show for it!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Potential Abundance

We are tied to the seasons. 

If you have a garden, large or small, it reflects your hope for new life. Each plant is an idea of a new beginning with potentially abundant outcomes. Flowers to please your eye and nose. Vegetables to remind you of what fresh taste means and what it means to be an active part of the abundance that one seed can produce. As one friend put it: "Come and see what me and God (nature) made!" Every year she gets so excited by what happens; what a seed, dirt, water, sunlight, time and hope can produce. 

To be a part of the creative mystery of nature by acting on even just a little knowledge changes the way we feel about ourselves in relation to the bigger world. We've created a path, an inroad to something bigger than ourselves. 

I suppose the analogy of a garden holds true as we talk about planting the seeds of potential growth in helping someone with a task, chore or idea. Helping someone see things a little more clearly, taking the time to do anything that is wholesome, contributory and linked with things outside of ourselves, somehow we all grow in the process. We are giving ourselves another chance to grow and produce something so much more than the tiny seed would ever indicate. More than we can know. 

It is always worth it to plant any kind of seed, metaphorical or real. You just never know how that seed will grow, how that seed will turn out. What kind of abundance will make us once again stop and think how crazy-good life can be. Taking the time in invest in something in an outcome that's uncertain. You never really know what will grow. Potential abundance can be enticing. Hope is a wonderful thing to cultivate. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Who's in charge of your arms & hands?

The most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has printed a study of the failure of traditional Physical Therapy treatments and Cortisone shots to relieve or improve 'Tennis Elbow', lateral epicondylitis. In fact, the shots showed degeneration of the tendons at the elbow, and the PT had little short, or long term effect.
If the medical establishment can't get it right, it's up to each of us to find our own way. Ways that may not be "normal or traditional" treatments. Ways that may include a half dozen ways of looking at your problem. Diet, water intake, general exercise that includes yoga or Pilates type range of motion, reducing unhealthy stress levels, practicing mindfulness, trying different ways of seeing and reacting to your condition.

In other words, we are in charge and happy to be in charge when we tap into what works for each of us and can put a name to our new ways. That's our personal journey. Good luck and perseverance to us all.