Contributor's Corner

New ideas and thoughts from some of our very favorite health and wellness experts.

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Experience Life Magazine

Goodbye, Mother Guilt: The Secret to Staying Committed is Letting Go

If you’re like most moms, it takes more than good intentions to stay committed a fitness routine. Don’t let that occasional cookie get you down. What’s really standing in your way is an overdose of something much more toxic: Mother Guilt.

Overcoming Mother Guilt–maybe just locking her in the closet for an hour at a time–is essential if you want to carve out time to get fit. First you need to free up a little mental space so you are strong enough to make the appropriate compromises.

Lose the Preconceptions and Misconceptions
Start by identifying your preconceptions of motherhood; you’ll probably realize what you thought were parenting no-no’s might actually have a place in your life. For example, maybe it’s not so bad to let your kids watch television if it means you can jump on the treadmill or tune into FitTV for an hour. Junk food might be okay if it gets your kids into the jogging stroller. Perhaps you can miss a soccer practice to go for a quick power walk or run. The point is to challenge what you’ve accepted as parenting truths and get realistic about what life is really like.

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Take Inventory
Take some time to write down what’s important to you, what values you want to impart on your children (hopefully health and fitness are near the top of the list). Then, take inventory of one or two typical days and see where you’re actually spending your time. Like it or not, top entries for your day translate into your top priorities. Work to make health and fitness an actual, not just perceived, priority. Then, remember who is watching because, like it or not, we lead by example.

Protect Your Priorities
Once you’ve established what your actual priorities are, it’s easier to fight to protect them. Allocating the right amount of time to each of your priorities leads to a certain type of contentment; the alternatives are resentment and (you guessed it) guilt. Saying “no” to something that isn’t a priority starts to feel good when you use the time freed to attend to something that is. You’ve likely fine-tuned your ability to say “no” walking the aisles of Target with your kids. It’s time to put those skills to good use and clear a little clutter from your life.

Remember it’s a Balancing Act
Learning to say “no” is important because sometimes we have to say it to something that is a priority–including fitness. When life throws you a curve ball, make a decision on how you will react. If fitness doesn’t fit in during a particularly hard week, let it go. In making that decision, you stay in control–there is no resentment, no anger, no feeling like the victim. Keep those priorities in check and realize it’s okay to experience temporary imbalances. Sooner or later, you’ll find equilibrium again and your fitness will return.

If you’ve had a hard time maintaining a regular fitness routine in the past, try focusing some attention on the mental components first. Physical fitness requires mental training; knock Mother Guilt out of the picture and the possibilities are endless.

Laurie Lethert Kocanda is an endurance athlete, mom and co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.

Experience Life Magazine

Time Crunch Christmas Workouts

Tis the season to scramble for last minute Christmas gifts, put up the remaining decorations, plan a big family dinner, attend parties, and engage in the other festivities that come along with Christmas and the fast approaching New Year.


Because people are busier than ever during this time of year, they have trouble sticking with their training program or worse yet, they skip the gym all together. Just because you have minimum time available during the busy Christmas season does not mean you should stop working out. What you need are some Time Crunch Christmas Workouts that get you in and out of the gym in 20 minutes while still allowing you to make progress.

Yes, you only need 20 minutes to get in a great strength training workout.

Time Crunch Workout Tips

Before you get to the time crunch workouts, you must understand a few important tips if you want your training sessions to be effective.

1) Just get to the gym! The hardest part of sticking to a training program during a busy time is just getting to the gym. Schedule a time to train, and just get there. It’s not about “having time” to train, it’s about making time. Do it!

2) Make the most of your time in the gym. Once you’re there, make the most of every second. You can do that by performing big compound movements that work the greatest amount of muscle possible. And, please, lift something heavy while you’re there. Strength training for 20 minutes will provide better results than spending 30 or more minutes on a cardio machine.

3) Work hard. If you’re only going to train for 15 to 20 minutes, you better work hard. Just so there is no confusion, my definition of work hard means you will train with intensiveness. For example, if you are going to perform five reps on the deadlift, you better use a heavy enough weight that allows you to perform five perfect reps, and no more. Using a weight you could perform for 10 reps but only doing five is not training with intensiveness.

Yes, this means you will have to really focus on what you’re doing and push yourself. However, if you work hard and stay focused, you’ll get more out of a 20 minute workout than most people do from a 60 minute workout.

Sample Time Crunch Christmas Workouts

Workout 1 – Barbell & Bodyweight
1a) Deadlifts 3×5
1b) 1 Arm DB Push Press or Parallel Bar Dips 3×8

This workout is very simple because it contains only two exercises. After a warm-up for the deadlift and push press/dips, select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed number of repetitions with perfect form, but no more. As an example, you should use a weight for the deadlift that allows you to complete five reps without your form breaking down, but another rep should be almost impossible. This is working hard.

Do the same for the push press or parallel bar dips.

You will superset the exercises, meaning you will perform a set of deadlifts, rest 90 seconds, and then perform a set of push presses or parallel bar dips. Rest for about 90 seconds and go back to the deadlifts. You will repeat this format until you complete three sets of each exercise.

Workout 2 – Barbell & Bodyweight
1a) Squat 3×8
1b) Neutral Chin-ups (or pull-downs) 3×8

The same guidelines from Workout 1 apply to this training session. Remember to train with intensiveness!

Workout 3 – Dumbbells Only
1a) Dumbbell Goblet Squat 3×8
1b) 1 Arm DB Row 3×8
1c) 1 Arm DB Bench Press 3×8

This workout uses dumbbells only and contains three exercises. Perform a set of exercise one, rest 60 seconds, perform a set of exercise two, rest 60 seconds, and then perform a set of exercise three. Rest 60 seconds and repeat until you complete a total of three sets per exercise.

So there you have it; three time crunch workouts you can use during the busy season that will get you in and out of the gym in minimum time while still allowing you to get results.

Remember – train hard!

Nia Shanks is a personal trainer and author of Fat Loss Detour and Beautiful Badass, which includes 16 different training program and no-nonsense, stress-free nutrition guidelines.

Experience Life Magazine

The Gift of Presence

The pace of life can easily leave one feeling depleted, especially around the holidays. As we try to pack it all in, we tend to feel overwhelmed rather than jolly and bright.

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Here are three simple tips to help you get good at living and enjoy each day. They always work when put into practice. Pick one idea to experiment with and experience how much more happiness, peace and satisfaction you can access when you’re fully present.

1. Unplug from technology.
While technology provides great freedom and flexibility, it can also keep us tethered to our work. The constant interruptions of our devices often distract us from what really matters and drain our energy.

When we’re constantly plugged in part of our energy and focus remains fixed on the future. The anticipation of what’s to come quickly overshadows the moment we’re in. This makes it challenging to actually connect with the people we are with.

• Unplug from technology once a week for 24 hours
• Create technology free zones where you unplug during the day

2. Give your undivided attention.
Multitasking as a means to productivity is a myth. Science has proven that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. The research shows that multitasking actually reduces our productivity and increases mistakes.

Focus is our real friend. When we focus our attention, we absorb more information and get more done. We also tend to enjoy our experiences more and feel greater satisfaction.

• Offer someone you love your full attention
• Focus on one task at a time

3. Set daily intentions.
Given that we live in a highly visual world that moves at warp speed, it’s no wonder our attention wanders so readily. Without daily rituals that keep us focused, aligned and intentionally directing our attention, it’s easy to get off track.

Setting daily intentions provides the clarity we need to align our attention, actions and responses. By simply writing them down we deepen our commitment and create a visual reminder to support us throughout the day.

• Make it a morning practice to set intentions
• Check in at the end of the day and measure your progress

Give yourself the gift of being present this holiday season. Fully experience your life and enjoy how time slows down when you’re in the here and now.


“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Happy Holidays,

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

How Dietary Supplements Reduce Health Care Costs

Spending just pennies a day on healthcare can reduce our expenditures by $24 billion over five years.

New research from the Lewin Group has shown that spending pennies a day on a few key nutritional supplements can dramatically reduce sickness and chronic disease — and greatly decrease healthcare expenditures as a result.(i) How did they come to this conclusion? And why haven’t we heard about it?


The Lewin Group looked only at rigorous scientific studies that documented the benefits of nutritional supplements. They used the Congressional Budget Office’s accounting methods to determine the economic impact of supplements. And they kept their analysis specifically to Medicare patients and women of childbearing age.

Today I will review the Lewin Group’s research, explain the remarkable conclusions they came to, and outline the supplements I recommend you take every day if you want to optimize your health and possible reduce health care costs in the process.

Reviewing the Research: Supplements Have Dramatic Health Benefits
Although nutritional therapies can help a broad range of illnesses, the group only looked at four supplements and disease combinations because of the rigor and validity of the scientific evidence available for these nutrients and diseases.

While there are many other beneficial nutritional therapies that have been proven helpful in studies, the ones in this particular study are only those that are unquestionable, beyond scientific doubt, well-accepted, and proven to help. Yet they are also under-used and not generally recommended by healthcare providers. The study looked at:

1. Calcium and vitamin D and their effect on osteoporosis.

2. Folic acid and its ability to prevent birth defects.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids and their benefits for heart disease.

4. Lutein and zeaxanthin and their benefit in preventing major age-related blindness, or macular degeneration.

In this study, the researchers were extremely strict and only looked at nutrient interventions that met three criteria.

1. The supplement had to produce a measurable physiological effect.

2. This physiological effect had to create a change in health status.

3. The researchers only looked at health problems where a change in health status is associated with a decrease in healthcare expenditures.

…a whopping 92 percent of us are deficient in one or more nutrients at the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) level, which is the minimum amount necessary to prevent deficiency diseases like rickets or scurvy…

Now, most of us hear the refrain from our physicians that nutritional supplements just produce expensive urine, that you do not know what you are getting, or that there is no scientific proof to support their claims. Based on this study and many others like it, my advice to these doctors is to do their scientific homework. Let’s start by looking at the effects of calcium and vitamin D.

First, I want to point out the vitamin D research referred to in The Lewin Group study is older research. Newer research, as I discussed in my vitamin D blog, suggests that higher doses of vitamin D3, such as 1,000 to 2,000 IU a day, have even greater benefit.

Yet even by focusing only on the older research, this study’s authors determined that providing Medicare-age citizens with 1,200 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D would result in reduced bone loss and fewer hip fractures. The researchers estimated these supplements could prevent more than 776,000 hospitalizations for hip fractures over five years and save $16.1 billion.

Next let’s look at omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent cardiac arrhythmias, improve cell membrane function, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and have many other benefits.

The Lewin Group found that giving the Medicare population about 1,800 mg of omega-3 fats a day would prevent 374,000 hospitalizations from heart disease over five years. The Medicare savings from reduced hospital and physician expenses would be $3.2 billion.

This is pretty convincing data, but it doesn’t stop there. The Lewin Group also analyzed the economic effects of lutein and zeaxanthin-carotenoids that are found in yellow and orange vegetables. I recommend taking them in combination with the hundreds of other carotenoids found in yellow and orange foods.

Taken as supplements, these have been shown to treat macular degeneration, which is the loss of central vision, a major reason people over age 65 require nursing home care. The study found that taking 6 to 10 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin daily would help 190,000 individuals avoid dependent care and would result in $3.6 billion in savings over five years.

Lastly the Lewin Group looked at the effects of taking folic acid. 44 million women of childbearing age are not taking folic acid. If only 11.3 million of them began taking just 400 mcg of folic acid on a daily basis before conception, we could prevent birth defects called neural tube defects in 600 babies and save $344,700,000 in lifetime healthcare costs for these children. Over 5 years, this would account for $1.4 billion in savings.

Taken together, these four simple interventions, which cost pennies a day, could produce a combined savings of $24 billion over five years. This does not even include benefits to people younger than 65 or any of the other benefits of nutritional supplementation, such as improved immunity, cognitive function, and mood.

The Lewin Group’s study is intriguing. The economic impact of investing a few pennies a day in nutritional supplements is compelling. But what’s downright frightening is that studies by the US Department of Health and Human Services prove that the typical American diet does not always provide a sufficient level of vitamins and minerals — meaning we are at greater risk for conditions like those outlined above.

Because of our consumption of low-nutrient, high-calorie foods that are highly processed, hybridized, genetically modified, shipped long distances, and grown in nutrient-depleted soils, many of us are nutritionally depleted.

In fact, a whopping 92 percent of us are deficient in one or more nutrients at the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) level, which is the minimum amount necessary to prevent deficiency diseases like rickets or scurvy — diseases that are the result of not getting enough vitamins and minerals. The RDA standards do not necessarily outline the amount needed for optimal health.

What’s more, our government’s nutrient guidelines ignore the fact that many Americans, because of genetic variations and unique needs, may need higher doses of vitamins and minerals than the RDA. Vitamin deficiency does not cause acute diseases such as scurvy or rickets, but they do cause what have been called “long-latency deficiency diseases.” These include conditions like blindness, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more.

What all this adds up to is clear. Nutritional supplements do not just make expensive urine. Based on mounting evidence and confirmed by the Journal of the American Medical Association (ii) and The New England Journal of Medicine (iii), I strongly believe that we should all be taking certain basic supplements.

Supplements You Should Take Every Day
Here are the supplements I recommend for everyone:

1. A high-quality multivitamin and mineral. The multivitamin should contain mixed carotenoids, which include lutein and zeaxanthin as part of their mix, as well as at least 400 mcg of folate and a mixed B-complex vitamin.

2. Calcium-magnesium with at least 600 mg of calcium and 400 mg of magnesium. The calcium should be calcium citrate or chelated versions of minerals. Do not use calcium carbonate or magnesium oxide, which are cheap minerals that are poorly absorbed.

3. Vitamin D3, 1,000 to 2,000 IU a day (people who are deficient in vitamin D will need more).

4. Omega-3 fatty acids that contain the fats EPA and DHA, 1,000 to 2,000 mg a day.

The cost is low, the benefit is high, and the risk is non-existent for these nutritional supplements. Not only will you feel better, have better immune function, and improve your energy and brain function, but you will also prevent many problems down the road. So, eat a healthy diet — and take your nutritional supplements every day. It is essential for lifelong vibrant health.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

What supplements do you take every day?

How does your doctor feel about nutritional supplements?

Which of these nutrients do you typically get from your diet?

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.


(i) The Lewin Group. (2006). An evidence-based study of the role of dietary supplements in helping seniors maintain their independence. Prepared for: The Dietary Supplement Education Alliance.

(ii) Fairfield K.M., and R.H. Fletcher. (2002). Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: Scientific review. Journal of the American Medical Association. 287:3116-3126.

(iii) Willett W.C., and M.J. Stampfer. (2002). What vitamins should I be taking doctor? New England Journal of Medicine. 345 (24):1914-1916.

Mark Hyman, MD is family physician, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in his field.

Re-posted from