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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Experience Life Magazine

What to Watch Out For, the Number One Type of Motivator

“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” – Barack Obama

Do you ever question what makes you tick? What motivates you? And why you do what you do?


Sure – there’s the type of motivation associated with a great pep-talk or an inspirational speech but I’m speaking of something more fundamental here. I’m referring to the why of the what – the reason for the action. The motive in the motivation.

When it comes to happiness and “Living On Purpose,” there are two main types of motivation to be aware of. In this section, we’re gonna talk about which type to watch out for – the one you’re gonna want to stay away from. It’s a little something I call – sound the horror music – dum, dum, dum…


The word “extrinsic” means to not be part of something’s nature. It’s a force that’s coming or operating from outside of ourselves. When we’re extrinsically motivated, we don’t dictate the meaning behind our actions, but instead, blindly accept that it is what we’re supposed to do.

I’ll give you a few examples:

• When I was working 60 hours a week to keep a job that made me feel miserable in the morning but look successful in the evening – EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION.

• When I was in high-school and spent $150 on Air Jordan sneakers so I would have the same “exclusive fresh kicks” that every other white-boy in Queens, NY was rocking – EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION.

• When I name-drop famous people that I’ve spent time with (out of context) in conversations to make myself seem more connected and cool – EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION.

• And even all the times in my life when I’ve been too chicken-shit to approach a beautiful woman who I’d love to build a healthy relationship with because I may look like a loser if she rejects me in public – EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION!

We don’t need to completely eliminate all extrinsic motivators, but it’s a good idea to identify which ones to stay away from and why. Ultimately, extrinsic rewards don’t last and we can’t build a sustainably happy existence when there’s no substance within what we’re striving for. They’re nice in small doses but only as dessert, not as our main meals.

It’s like thinking that you’d be able to sustain a healthy existence eating crème brûlée, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate waffles for every one of your main meals. You’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell that it’ll work out well.

But instead, if you decided to use extrinsic motivation as “treats” on occasion… I see no harm in that.

Here are three main types of extrinsic motivators to watch out for:

1. Fame
2. Wealth
3. Beauty

Can you identify a time in your life when you were chasing these things?

Take a minute to think about it.

Let’s start with fame. Maybe you weren’t looking to be Miss America or Macho Man Randy Savage, but this nasty nuisance of looking for fame still reveals itself in other ways. For instance, tell me about the promotion you were working so hard to get. Was it because you’d be able to grow as a person, or was it because of the prestige that’s associated with your new title? Or maybe it was to get more money to buy new toys that would cause others’ jaws to drop? I’m not saying the promotion itself is evil, but just be aware of WHY you’re going for it.

Or how about the letters after your name, Miss PhD? Was that because you wanted to be credited with the prestige that comes with your elite title? Or was it because you sincerely cared about helping people and those letters came along for the ride?

Moving on… Wealth. There’s nothing wrong with money. In fact, I’m actually quite fond of money. But – and this is a real fatty – I’m not willing to sacrifice the quality of my life in order to obtain surpluses of money that don’t bring lasting happiness. Money itself is a tool that enables us to be in integrity with our values. If one of your values is eating the most pure and organic foods you can find, money will help with that.

Listen, I’ve seen just as many episodes of MTV Cribs as the next recovering consumerist. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to be ballin in a big-dawg mansion where chocolate squirts from the sink and the floors massage my feet as I walk. I could totally get used to that. But don’t be fooled into thinking that that type of lavish-living is gonna give you meaning in life. Purpose, happiness, and personal success aren’t sustainable by chasing things like that. Those things only have longevity when they’re the byproducts of a deeper purpose and a more meaningful mission.

Next, let’s look at beauty. Hey, I’m not complaining here. I love looking at a beautiful woman with a smoking body and a dolled-up dress on. I’m happy to spin her around and sweep her up off her feet and onto my Friday night calendar. But as corny as it sounds, real beauty comes from the inside and I could never spend a lifetime with someone who isn’t as equally (if not more) beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Hey, Victoria Secret models. I’ve got a little secret for ya. That sexy six pack of yours won’t last forever, and if you base your happiness on how many guys are checking out your body as you’re wearing booty shorts on the beach strip – when that six pack turns to six flaps, your surface shallow happiness will turn into emptiness. From personal experience, I’ve learned it’s smart to watch out for girls who base their identity solely on their beauty.

There’s nothing wrong with a 6 pack, or a chocolate squirting sink, or even a PhD – in fact, they can be absolutely amazing – but if we’re focusing solely on them in order to bring us happiness, I’m afraid we’re gonna find ourselves bent over in a very uncomfortable position one day.

Now that we know what not to focus on, let’s spend some time paying attention to what it is that will make us the most fulfilled. We can call these things INTRINSIC motivators.


Now we’re getting down to the cornucopia’s core. Let’s take some time and talk about the number-one type of motivator. This is the one worth pursuing. This is the one that’ll make all the difference in our lives. This is INTRINSIC motivation!

Intrinsic motivation is the shizznit! The word “intrinsic” means inherent or INSIDE your nature. It comes from within and isn’t affected by outer circumstances. Simply said, intrinsic motivation is something with significant personal meaning to you. It isn’t influenced and persuaded by other people, pop culture, or current trends.

We now know that extrinsic motivation usually comes from a place of lacking. It comes from the place of, “I don’t currently have enough.” Whether it’s money, status, power, love, or approval, beware of extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from the desire to engage in an activity because we find inherent value in doing so. In other words, the activity itself is rewarding – it’s not some laborious task we do in order to someday be happy. Hells no!
The most powerful purpose you can have is one that is intrinsically motivated. When people say things like “follow your passion,” what they really mean is do things you love doing because there’s intrinsic value in it!

When you start to base your motivations for life around things that are INTRINSICALLY rewarding, a big shift will happen. You’ll start to notice yourself feeling fulfilled.
Here are some specific examples of intrinsic motivation:

• When I left my job because I wasn’t fulfilled spending 60 hours a week sitting inside of a cubicle, eating crap carbs to temporarily eliminate my emotional instability – INTRINSIC MOTIVATION.

• When I decided that I was tired of having seductive one night stands with strange women and committed to getting into a healthy long-term relationship – INTRINSIC MOTIVATION.

• When I stopped eating meat because I wanted to boost my energy levels and stabilize my moods – INTRINSIC MOTIVATION.

• And when I spend 1000s of hours consciously working on my personal evolution to become a better man – INTRINSIC MOTIVATION!

Operating from a place of intrinsic motivation is very grounding. It takes your head out of your ass and puts it in a position to see things clearly. When you start to operate in this way, you’ll notice a newfound personal power come into your life because suddenly, you know what matters to you.

Speaking of what matters to you, we can classify most intrinsic motivation into these three categories:

1. Personal Growth
2. Relationships
3. Contribution

Can you identify a time, event, or period in your life when you did something that was INTRINSICALLY meaningful to you?

Take a minute to think about it.

Let’s take a look at each of the above.

Personal growth is something I’ve subscribed to long before I knew what a “Tony Robbins” was. It’s all about improving ourselves and continuously getting better throughout our life’s journey.

Science says that the universe is continuously expanding. I say, so are we! It’s our natural state to grow, to expand, to thrive, to flourish and to be beautiful. That’s amazing.
So if our natural state is continued growth, why is it that we get stuck in life, become stagnant, and feel like shit sandwiches sometimes?

Part of the reason is because we’re frightened and have scars from past experiences. Another part is that we lack imagination and faith in our ideal futures. But here’s where I think it all starts from…

I believe it’s because we’re born into sick societies that don’t give a rat’s-ass about us being healthy. The system is screwed up and it’s in “The Owners” of this country’s best interest to keep us below them. The system is designed to get you sick, keep you weak, and leave you powerless. They want you just healthy enough to keep the machines in motion, but not strong or smart enough to change anything. (The late great George Carlin goes off on this here).

But instead of complaining over a bunch of crazystuff we can’t control, let’s put our locus of control within ourselves and do something.

It’s crucial that we take control and consciously focus on expanding ourselves. We can’t leave this task up to anyone else. We’ve gotta create the conditions for ourselves to grow. And it doesn’t need to be in the sense of reading books and attending seminars.

Maybe it’s getting better at your jump-shot. Maybe it’s developing a new happiness habit. Or maybe it’s learning something which you always wanted to. The point is, always continue to grow!

After studying a ton of remarkable people, I’ve found that if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Did you get that?

If you’re not growing, you’re dying!

I don’t mean to get too heavy here but it’s some deep shit. My suggestion is that you only stop growing when you’re ready to die. But onto a lighter note…

Next up, relationships. This is a cool one. There’s something powerful in having the ability to open yourself up and connect with people. “Why is it so cool?” you ask.

My take is that your relationship with others is extremely indicative of your relationship with yourself. The more love, generosity, compassion, trust, and kindness you can extend to others, the more you’ll be able to feel those things within yourself. It’s not the easiest thing to do because we’ve all got our own struggles.

But there’s something so divinely powerful in being able to cut through the crap and connect with someone on a soulful level. Whether it’s romantic or platonic, living life without connecting with people will eventually feel empty. Spend time focusing on connecting with people. Think about what you can GIVE to them and suddenly the heaviness of life is lifted up off of your shoulders.

And now let’s talk about contribution. This is the granddaddy pillar of a great existence. It’s one of the main reasons why I do what I do – to give!

One of the guys who introduced me to the idea of a personal evolution had the opportunity to ask one-time Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, a single question. It went something along the lines of this:

“How does Google retain all of the world’s top talent?”

And Schmidt’s answer was simple:

“The people at Google don’t work primarily for money; they work to create impact in other people’s lives!”

Question your motive the next time you do something. Does your motive involve growth, relationships and contribution? Or, are you doing what you are to be perceived as famous, wealthy, and beautiful?

Begin to make decisions based on the former and watch a flow of fulfillment start to form as the foundation of your happiness in life.

Jacob Sokol is committed to living an extraordinary life. On August 30, 2011, he released Living on Purpose – An Uncommon Guide to Finding, Living, and Rocking Your Life’s Purpose. You can save 25% off of Living On Purpose it you purchase it by Friday, September 2nd and use the discount code “ExperienceLife”.

View the first chapter of Living on Purpose.

Experience Life Magazine

7 Ways to Green Your Yard with Less Water

Did you know that inside your home could be five times more polluted than outside? So, don’t just let your yard sit there like a pretty picture while you spend summer inside watching Adam Sandler movies. Your yard can (and should!) transform your home in many ways. Yards improve our quality of life–they’re a place for spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air; they can bring an array of beautiful birds and wildlife; and a yard can boost your property value. But, grassy lawns can use far too much fresh water. Read on for tips on greening your lawn with less water.
Plant a garden. While your fruits and veggies will still need water, you’ll be reducing your dependence on fossil fuels from driving to the supermarket (and ever notice how grocery stores are constantly using sprinklers on the produce there?). Plus, what’s more beautiful than a bountiful garden full of edible colors and shapes that taste way better than supermarket offerings and look far more interesting than grass anyway?
Plant succulents and indigenous plants. That means if you live in Arizona, maybe a green grassy lawn should be replaced with a cactus haven, which needs less water. Drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees don’t need to be watered as often as non-native plants, and they can survive dry periods without watering.
Do all of your watering in the coolest parts of the day, such as early morning or before bed to reduce evaporation. You’ll need to water less.
Especially helpful for new homeowners: Preserve what’s already there. Established plants will adapt to lower water conditions. Trees provide natural shade and can significantly improve the value of your home. Work with the texture and terrain of your yard and you might be really grateful that you didn’t chop it all down for plain old grass.
Adding compost to your soil, such as mulch, will improve its water-holding capacity by keeping moisture in and preventing erosion, soil compression and those dreaded weeds.
If you have grass and don’t see replacing it anytime soon, raise your lawnmower cutting height. Taller grass provides shade, which decreases evaporation. You can also use a timing device that will encourage efficient, scheduled watering that’s best for the landscape.
Supplement your water by installing a grey water system from your washer or a rain catchment system, and collect the cold water from your shower as it heats up. Every drop counts!
Organic Authority is your trusted friend and the web’s leading resource for all things (what else?) organic!

Experience Life Magazine

Feel Cared About

When Have People Been Caring?
The Practice: Feel cared about.
Everyone knows what it’s like to care about someone. Remember being with a friend, a mate, a pet: you feel warmly connected, and want him or her not to suffer and to be happy.
On the other hand, you’ve probably had the sense, one time or another, of not being cared about. That you didn’t matter to another person, or to a group of people. Maybe they weren’t actively against you, but they sure weren’t for you.
As soon as you recall a time like that, it’s immediately clear why it’s important to feel cared about – which is to the heart what water is to your body.
Sometimes we feel embarrassed about our yearnings to be cared about. But they are completely normal – and deeply rooted in evolution. Love, broadly defined, has been the primary driver of the development of the brain over the last 80 million years.
Our ancestors – mammals, primates, hominids, and humans – survived and flourished and passed on their genes by learning to find good mates, bond with their young, draw males in to provide for children, create “the village it takes to raise a child” whose brain is quadrupling in size after birth and thus needs a long and vulnerable childhood, and team up with each other to compete with other bands for scarce resources.
In this context, being cared about was crucial to survival. Mammals, etc. that did not care about being cared about did not pass on their genes. No wonder you care about being cared about!
Studies show that feeling cared about buffers against stress, increases positive emotions, promotes resilience, and increases caring for others. Plus it feels darn good. And over time, feeling cared about today can gradually fill any holes in your heart left over from a childhood (or last job, or last marriage) in which the caring felt like a thin soup.
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Let’s start with the hard part: opening to feeling cared about often brings up not feeling cared about. Those feelings are real, and they’re based on real things, like having a disengaged or critical parent, or being left out in school social situations. It’s important to accept those feelings, and hold them as best you can in a large space of awareness so they are not so overwhelming.
Then, take a breath, and turn to the other side of the truth: the ways and times you have been cared about. Those really exist! They do in everyone’s life. The caring may not have been perfect or sustained, so it could be tempting to discount it or push it away as not good enough. (And we have to watch out for tendencies in the mind to hold on to grievances and reproaches way past the point of any value; that harms us more than anyone else – including the people we may want to punish.) But the caring that was present amidst everything else was indeed the real deal. And you, like everyone else, needs to take that in as the living food every heart must have.
For starters, recall being with someone who is (or was) caring toward you. Perhaps a grandparent making cookies, or a parent, friend, teacher, sibling, mate, child, or pet. Or a spiritual being or presence.
Then open to feeling cared about. What does your body do when someone cares about you? What kind of thoughts or attitudes go through your mind? What’s your emotional response to being cared about? Know what it feels like to be cared about so you can find your way back here again.
During this week, look for opportunities to feel cared about. Most of these will be small, passing moments when someone is sincerely thoughtful, friendly, or concerned. Look behind the eyes of people, and see the human caring for you when it’s there – even if it’s masked behind formalities, a prickly personality, too many words, or no words at all.
When it’s there, take it in. Let the feelings, body sensations, and thoughts of being cared about soak into you, like swallowing water on a hot and thirsty day.
And then each night, before you fall asleep, take a moment to call to mind again the sense of being cared about – resting in that feeling as it weaves its way into your breathing, body, and dreams.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.
Reposted from Just One Thing at

Experience Life Magazine

Making a Diagnosis is Less Important than Asking These 2 Questions

After 30 years of practicing Medicine, I have learned that for any chronic illness or ailment, treating underlying imbalances and dysfunctions is more important than making a diagnosis and naming the disease. Ultimately, asking the right questions is more important than giving a label to a set of observations.
This is because most if not all chronic problems, from heart disease to arthritis, migraines to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression to fatigue, usually have multiple factors that need to be addressed – this is called the “total load.” The total load is the sum of the factors that influence a person’s life and health, including diet, exercise, job stress, relationships, state of mind etc. Individually, each of these elements might not cause a problem, but their cumulative effect can overload our normal functioning and cause harm. Everyone’s tipping point is different and each of us manifests or experiences overload in our own unique way.
For example, several patients may all be diagnosed with IBS but the individual factors underlying their illnesses may be varied, meaning that each requires different treatments to address their specific problems. Simply diagnosing these patients with IBS, obscures this critical fact.
When working with patients, I always assess their total load and then try to reduce it by slowly removing the factors that could cause harm. At the same time, I will add new elements that will nourish them in order to enhance the healing process.
Some examples of what may need to be reduced or removed from your diet are: sugar, chemicals, caffeine, or alcohol. Or you may need to lessen the burden of responsibilities, your work load, or how much tension you carry in your muscles. Examples of factors that may be lacking and need to be added are nutrients, sunlight, sleep, down time, play time, love or joy.
To understand the concept of total load, think of yourself as a ship floating in the water. Depending on the load you’re carrying, you are either riding high above the waterline or sinking beneath the waves. And just as you can save a sinking ship by tossing some ballast overboard to lighten the load, your health can be improved by reducing the overall number of factors that cause stress to your system. The good news is that frequently you may only need to identify two or three factors to toss overboard in order to feel better.
Unfortunately, I, like all doctors was never taught this at medical school. Instead, we were taught to name it, blame it and tame it. That is to look at the symptoms, signs and test results, make a diagnosis, name the disease and treat it.
This model works well for the acute or short-lived illnesses that were most common until about 70 or 80 years ago. There is no better model for crisis care management, such as a heart attack or burst appendix, a broken bone or an acute bacterial infection like pneumonia. Due to the incredible success of antibiotics in treating most infectious diseases, we have extrapolated that model, looking for a single cause with a magic bullet treatment, and adapted this thinking to all diseases.
But most complaints today are not acute illnesses, rather chronic problems, which are not served well by this model in which varied complex disease processes are reduced to a single diagnosis. Giving a set of observations a name and treating the named problem does not help us understand the origin of the problem and its causes, which are usually multi-factorial. This name-it, blame-it and tame-it medical paradigm is not particularly effective for the chronic diseases which are so endemic today.
I want to make it clear, a label or descriptive name for a problem is not a bad thing-it is often reassuring to know what we have. I do not want to under-estimate the significance of this. But we have been habituated to assume that if we know the diagnosis and the name of our disease we will know how to not only treat it, but fix it.
Unfortunately, this is not true. Doctors are increasingly practicing from the vantage point of an outdated and ineffective model and are not addressing the needs of the millions of patients who come to them with complicated chronic problems. They give them drugs to suppress symptoms and do not address the underlying physiological imbalances that produce these symptoms. Therefore we do not change the course of the disease and often end up causing more harm than good because the underlying problem persists and many people develop side effects from the drugs.
Luckily for all of us, there is a new little known science-based model for chronic diseases, called Functional Medicine that deals with the underlying causes instead of just suppressing symptoms. It is a true mix of Chinese and Western Medicine. This new medicine is systems-based biology rather than disease-focused. It redefines chronic disease as a functional alteration in the physiological network that requires a systems biology approach to its management, improving both the safety and effectiveness of treatments.
This model helps us understand how the disruptions of molecular pathways cause dysfunctions in various body systems that then result in disease. It is less concerned with a diagnosis and more concerned with the underlying dysfunctions that lead to the symptoms and the disease.
My Chinese Medicine teachers taught me to think of myself as a gardener when I see patients. When a plant or tree is not growing well, when the leaves are drooping and turning yellow, we do not call it yellow leaf syndrome and paint the leaves green or cut off the sick part. The gardener evaluates why the plant is not growing well. He determines whether the plant is getting enough or too much sunlight, enough or too much water, is the soil rich and balanced in order to nourish the plant? And he looks to see if the roots are being impinged upon, and if so, what needs to be removed.
Even though you may have been given a diagnosis, always ask these two questions with any chronic problem:
1. What is harming you and needs to be removed to permit the body to heal?
2. What is lacking or what does your body need to promote healing?

Frank Lipman MD is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine.

Experience Life Magazine

Slow Down to Go Faster

Most of us experience moments of feeling overwhelmed by life. When our daily demands far exceed our capacity. We quicken our pace, draw upon our reserves and, somehow, summon the energy we need to push through another day.
If we’re not careful, feeling overwhelmed can become a pattern that keeps us stuck. When our energy is depleted, even small challenges push us into crisis mode. We react without thinking. We make expedient choices. And we drain our remaining energy until we’re completely tapped.
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Without a daily practice that keeps us feeling positive, inspired and energized we severely limit our potential. We compromise our health. We flood our bodies with toxic emotions. And we make it far more difficult to achieve the goals that connect us to the happiness, meaning and satisfaction we crave in our lives.
Clearly, renewing and sustaining our energy is critical to our success. It requires we slow down and invest in ourselves. It means reflecting and learning from our experiences, so we can see what restores us and what drains us. And it means we put ourselves on To-Do lists each day.
It’s amazing how a few simple changes can boost our energy and transform our experiences.
When we consistently recharge our energy – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – we create the reserves we need for life’s unexpected turns. We gain the strength, happiness, clarity and connection that fuels passion and productivity.
Make it a habit to invest in your energy every day. Start by putting one restorative idea into action and build from there. No matter how small the change, every investment adds up!
Here are a few daily practice ideas to help you get started:
Physical Energy
• Exercise for 30 minutes and lift your mood for 12 hours
• Sleep for 7-8 hours each night
• Eat a healthy breakfast and pack nutritious snacks
• Drink 8-10 glasses of water each day
• Limit exposure to EMFs – cellphone, Wi-Fi, screens
Emotional Energy
• Write down five things you are grateful for each day
• Share the day’s highlights with your family and friends
• Volunteer in some way that inspires you
• Spend time outdoors soaking up nature’s energy
• Create more beauty in your environment
Mental Energy
• Meditate and quiet your mind (5-15 minutes)
• Unplug from technology each day
• Reduce the clutter in your environment
• Practice mindfulness and being present
• Set positive expectations and visualize things working out
Spiritual Energy
• Align your actions with your values
• Commit random acts of kindness
• Set positive, daily intentions
• Read something that inspires you
• Count your blessings every day – write them down
Get good at living™!

Maryanne O’Brien is the founder of Live Dynamite, a life skills program that inspires, empowers and supports people to consciously create the life they want.

Experience Life Magazine

Not Having Enough Food Causes Obesity and Diabetes

Not having enough to eat may cause obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Most of us think the chronic disease epidemic is fueled by abundance, but it may be fueled as much by food scarcity and insecurity as it is by excess. And, right now, America is suffering from the highest levels of poverty and food insecurity that it has seen in more than a decade.
In 2008 49 million Americans–including 16.7 million children–lived in a home at risk of not having enough food on the table every day. After working in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, I learned that one in two Haitians wake up every day not knowing where their next meal will come from. But right here in the wealthiest nation in the world, one in five children live in poverty, one in four children live on food stamps, and one in 10 people don’t know where their next meal will come from.
The Census Bureau recently reported that the nation’s poverty rate increased to 14.3 percent in 2009–the highest level we’ve seen since 1994. 43.6 million Americans lived below the poverty line in 2009, earning less than $21,954 per year for a family of four or $10,956 for an individual. We now have the highest number of people living on the threshold of poverty in the history of government record keeping.
The poorest areas of the country are also the sickest and have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and premature death. These people are dying younger, and life expectancy is plummeting in the poorest states. These states also happen to be the fattest. For example, Mississippi–the poorest state in the union–has poverty rates over 20 percent, obesity rates over 33 percent, and extremely high childhood obesity rates. This is no coincidence.
How does not having enough to eat cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and early death? Let’s investigate.
Food Insecurity: The Root of Obesity and Disease
The Life Sciences Research Office says food insecurity exists “whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies) is limited or uncertain.” This may mean going hungry for some. But for a large portion of Americans floating on or sinking beneath the poverty line this means bingeing on cheap, sugary, starchy, fatty calories in order to avoid hunger.
Many poor people in this country are consuming an excess of nutritionally depleted, cheap calories from sodas, processed foods, and junk food. These folks scarcely eat whole, fresh foods at all, and for good reason: We have made calories cheap, but real food expensive.
Almost $300 billion of government subsidies support an agriculture industry that focuses on quantity not quality, on producing cheap sugar and fats from corn and soy that fuel both hunger and obesity. These calorie-rich, sugary, processed foods are what most people buy if they don’t have enough money. You can fill up on 1200 calories of cookies or potato chips for $1, but you’ll only get 250 calories from carrots for that same $1. If you were hungry, what would you buy?
Processed foods have become cheaper as real food grows more expensive. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that between 1985 and 2000 the retail price of carbonated soft drinks rose by 20 percent, fats and oils by 35 percent, and sugars and sweets by 46 percent. Compare that to the 118 percent increase in the retail price of fresh fruits and vegetables. In 15 years the price of vegetables ballooned six times as fast as the cost of sugary, calorie-rich, nutrient-poor sodas.
This is further compounded by the fact that in some communities in America, the only place to buy food is a local convenience store where fruits, vegetables, or other whole, fresh, real foods cannot be found. Without a car in an urban setting you may have to walk miles to find anything resembling real food.
Social factors like these set the stage for the epidemics of obesity and disease we are facing. This in combination with the nature of human metabolism put our nation’s poor in a trap from which it is very difficult to escape.
How the Biology of Starvation Contributes to Disease
What often happens in poverty-stricken families is a hunger-bingeing cycle that follows the economic conditions in the household. When resources come in, people buy cheap, abundant calories in the form of junk and processed foods that fill them up and stave off hunger. This leads to rapid fat storage–a common biological effect after a period of lower calorie intake or hunger. This is simply how human metabolism works.
When calories are scarce metabolism slows down and muscle is lost. As a result the blood sugar imbalances that drive the process of insulin resistance and lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes worsens, and soon people are caught in a recurrent pattern of bingeing on nutrient-poor calories once resources are again available.
Certainly people can learn to eat better for less as I pointed out in a blog on the topic, and doing so is an essential part of what needs to happen to break out of this cycle of poverty and disease as I will discuss more below. That said, breaking the hunger-binge cycle is easier said than done. Bingeing after food scarcity and the increased fat accumulation and insulin resistance that come along with it are hard-wired biological mechanisms to prevent us from starvation. Once you have diabetes, engaging in this cycle makes blood sugar control that much more difficult and leads to the swings of high and low sugar that drive health problems and their related costs.
Diabetics without access to adequate food have fives times as many doctor visits as diabetics who have enough to eat on a regular basis. The burden this creates in families already struggling to stay afloat is unspeakable. It’s like they are caught in a Grecian hell–pushing the boulder of economic burden up a hill they will never see the top of, reaching for fruit that grows ever further from their reach.
We need to rethink how and what we feed our nation or the epidemics of disease and obesity will consume us. In Haiti, one in two people worry about where their next meal will come from. In America it is one in 10. In order to shift this we need a bold new vision and initiatives that can change our food culture and food availability.
Here are a few initiatives and ideas that may help shift this frightening tide of poverty and disease:
1. Stop or reduce subsidies of agriculture products that allow for the glut of cheap, high-calorie, nutrient-poor sugars and fats from corn and soy into the marketplace.
2. Consider taxing sugar and processed food to support national food programs and community projects, and help cover the hundreds of billions of dollars of health care costs from increasing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
3. Fund community-based initiatives to support healthy eating including community kitchens, gardens, and cooking classes that teach how to make good food cheaply. This is part of the new health care bill, and on the agenda of the Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health.
4. Make school lunches healthy by providing only real food and modeling healthy eating. Food can be both fun for you and good for you. Create national standards based on sound 21st century nutritional science and common sense. Most schools have only a microwave or deep fryer, hardly the tools needed to feed our children real, fresh food.
5. Expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program). Increasing eligibility, helping those who are not aware they are eligible enroll, and creating new programs that support consumption of more healthful foods could shift the tide of the widening socioeconomic disparities in chronic disease. You should not be able to buy chips and soda with food stamps.
Everyone reading could also sign up for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and learn a recipe using inexpensive, fresh, whole food to create a delicious meal and teach that recipe to three people. They, in turn, could teach three more people. After just a few rounds of that, all of America would learn how to feed themselves again.
We need to reclaim our food supply and revive traditional ways of eating. As Michael Pollan says: “If ‘food’ was made in a plant, don’t eat it. If it grows on a plant, then enjoy!”
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD is family physician, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in his field.
Reposted from

Experience Life Magazine

10 Natural Ways to Stay Energized throughout the Day

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by Kristen Conn
Do you feel like you are constantly moving at marathon pace during the day? It’s no wonder you feel exhausted come 3:00 p.m. From the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning to the time you finally fall asleep, it is go, go, go. Here are some easy and natural ways to stay energized throughout the day.
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast: While you may be rushed to get out the door and inclined to just grab a cup of coffee, it’s important to fuel your body in the morning so you have energy throughout the day. Even if you don’t have time to sit down at the breakfast table, make sure you pack something healthy, such as a granola bar or piece of fruit and a toasted whole wheat bagel to go.
2. Grab a Few More Zzzzs: How many hours of sleep do you consistently get at night? If it’s less than 7 to 8, you may be draining your energy supply. Most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night in order to feel fully charged for the day.

3. Exercise
: If you are tired, exercising may seem like the last thing you want to do. However, exercise — even for 20 minutes — can make a huge impact in your energy level. No, you don’t need to go to the gym. Just taking a brisk walk outside will be enough to get your blood pumping and your muscles oxygenated.
4. Step Outside: Make sure to get out of the house or office and into the fresh air for a while every day. Sunlight is an instant mood booster and can pull you out of that mid-day slump.
5. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently: What your mom told you about eating three square meals a day might actually wreak havoc on your energy supply. Large, infrequent meals can cause your glucose level to spike and crash, leaving you feeling wiped out. By eating smaller portions of food more frequently throughout the day, you avoid this yo-yo effect.
6. Try Aromatherapy: Boost your alertness with a little aromatherapy. Certain scents, such as peppermint and citrus, can help wake up your mind. So, light a natural soy or beeswax candle that’s been infused with one of these scents, or open a bottle of essential oil and allow the aroma to waft through the air.
7. Drop the Candy Bar and Reach for the Nuts: Yes, sugar does provide an instant energy boost, but it’s short-lived. Once your body digests the sugary food, your energy level bottoms out and you are left feeling worse than you did before you ate the candy bar. Instead, grab a handful of nuts.
8. Drink Enough Water: Water plays a very important role in the function of all of our systems, including facilitating digestion and flushing waste and toxins from our bodies. If you aren’t getting enough water, you’re likely feeling fatigued. Invest in a BPA-free water bottle and keep it at your desk or in your kitchen. It’s a great reminder to drink water more often.
9. Stick to Whole Grains: Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain foods, take longer for the body to break down, which means you stay energized longer.
10. Laugh: Spending time talking with a friend or co-worker can really pull you out of a mid-day slump. Connecting with others is important for your emotional well-being and can give you the boost of energy that you need to accomplish a mundane task. Laughter just MAY be the best medicine.
Kristin Conn is the co-founder of