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•April 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

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World Autism Awareness Day: April 2, 2010

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

April 2, 2010 will mark the third annual celebration of World Autism Awareness Day.  While recognition of Autism Spectrum Disorders continues to increase; so does the incidence.  Here are some facts:

–  Estimated prevalence 1 in 110 children have an autism spectrum disorder
–  67 children are diagnosed per day
–  1 in 70 boys is on the autism spectrum
–   57% increas in just 4 years
–  A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes
–  More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
–  Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
–  Autism costs the nation over $35 billion per year, a figure expected to significantly increase in the next decade
–  Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
–  There is no medical detection or cure for autism

Despite not having any known medical cure, early recognition and intervention have been shown to be effective in improving outcomes.  We were lucky; we recognized the signs of Autism in my son early (at 15 months) and began intervention at 18 month.  April 2nd is my son’s 3rd birthday.  After 18 months of working with our wonderful treatment team: including a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and child psychologist, my son now is able to communicate most of his needs (through a combination of words & sign language) and even asks for me to “wok” him at night.  He still has far to go; he is more than 50% delayed in areas of communication, social interaction, and adaptive functioning, but the changes we have witnessed have been phenomenal and have occurred as result of diligent intervention by all members of our team.

Please join with us on this 3rd annual World Autism Awareness Day to help raise awareness for Autism.  There are many ways to participate including joining with Autism Speaks to “Light It Up Blue” for Autism.

Lose It: Tips for Successful Weight Loss

•January 7, 2010 • 1 Comment

Weight loss is a simple mathematical concept: consume fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis.  This equation can be manipulated on either end: by reducing intake and/or increase expenditures.  None of this is new, special, or revolutionary.  The trick is how to motivate yourself to do this, how to be consistent in your efforts, and how to deal with the inevitable challenges to your plans that occur in day-to-day life.

Dr. Judith Beck, Ph.D has a novel and effective approach to this problem.  By utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy principles, she instructs the reader how to change their thoughts and change their behaviors leading to a healthy approach to food and exercise that is for life.  In her most recent book, The Complete Beck Diet for Life, a follow-up to her How to Think Like a Thin Person, Dr. Beck expands on her tools for dieting success by suggesting options for healthy eating.

Dr. Beck’s CBT approach has been an effective tool, when employed, for dealing with the “sabotaging thoughts” than can occur while dieting: Permissive-thinking, “All-or-None” thinking and others.  When combined with accountability, support, and appropriate (non-food) rewards/motivations, weight loss success can be realized.

  • Plan your meals and record everything that is consumed.  Use a digital food scale to weigh or measure food.  Lose it is a free iPhone app (or is available through their website) to log calories consumed.  Websites such as and provide wonderful information on calories of various food including foods from restaurants when available.
  • Exercise is not optional. Although some weight loss can be realized by calorie restriction, our bodies were created to move.  There are multiple health benefits of exercise including reduction of depression and improvement in blood sugars.  Some exercise is better than none…get moving!
  • Your body is not a trashcan. Excess food is wasted whether you put in on your waist or throw it in the trash.  Do not eat unplanned food & count every bite.
  • Give yourself credit.  By recognizing what you have done right or well, you give yourself a basis to improve from.  We act on what we believe and we believe what we tell ourselves.  Believe that you can be successful!
  • Find your motivation.  Write out your reasons for losing weight and review them often.  Set incremental goals and reward yourself along the way with non-food rewards.

These are some of the tips and resources I use.  How about you?  What have you found to be helpful or not? I would love to hear what has worked or not worked for you.  Please feel free to comment and join in the conversation.

Better living in the New Year? There’s an App for that…

•January 1, 2010 • 2 Comments

Happy New Year! If you’re like most, you embrace the New Year by resolving to improve your life. I am no exception. This year I am focusing on making SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) instead of making vague resolutions. I have enlisted my trusted iPhone to assist me in my endevors.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle.

By this logic, it is necessary to create and maintain useful habits. The Habit Factor ($3.95) is nice in that it allows you to set both Goals as well as Habits to achieve your goals. It tracks your daily progress and gives some accountability as well as serves to organize your goals/habits based on certain areas: Body, Mind, Spirituality, and Social. Another goal setting app is 43 Things (free) which allows you to set goals and track progress made.

Following the Body, Mind, Spirit model, I have set specific goals for each of the areas. In Body: to lose weight/exercise more. As noted in the New York Times article on 12/31/09 a multitude of apps exist to aid in the pursuit of better physical health. Some that I have used include: Weightbot, Lose It, iPump Lean, and Yoga Stretch.

In the area of improving the Mind, I look to read more in the New Year. This is easily done on the iPhone with Apps for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and book readers such as the Kindle. I also intend to be more regular with my postings.  I welcome any ideas you may have for topics.

For Spiritual growth, I plan to continue reading the Bible daily using YouVersion’s The Bible which has multiple translations, allows bookmarking of verses and sharing through Twitter and email, and is free. I also will get back to meditating, using guided mediations from iTunes or the Mayo Clinic Meditation app.

I was pleased to see that the Habit Factor included a category of Social growth. This year I aim to improve my relationship with my family in several ways: I will be doing The Love Dare and playing more games with my boys including UNO and LIFE. I continue to enjoy the socialization available through Twitter and Facebook; I’ve made some great connections and look forward to the insights and entertainment. However the biggest resolution that I am making this year may require only one button on my “trusty iPhone”: the power switch. The most meaningful thing that I will work on this year is being present….and that requires the removal of distractions and banishment of partial attention. Wish me luck!

The SAD time of year

•November 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

2129252744_14946f56beIt’s that time of year, when the days get shorter and the amount of sunlight we are exposed to decreases dramatically. In some individuals who are predisposed to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this corresponds to an increase in depressive symptoms. While the cause of this disorder is not fully understood, many believe that changes in our neurochemicals may be responsible: specifically changes in Melatonin levels. Melatonin is a chemical that is produced during the hours of darkness; it is involved with regulation of sleep, temperature, and release of other hormones. It is thought that individuals with SAD produce an excess of Melatonin that leads to depressive symptoms.

Symptoms of SAD can sometimes mimic hibernation: tendency to sleep more, eat more (especially cravings for high carbohydrate items), weight gain, irritability, fatigue, social withdrawal and isolation (in addition to other signs of depression: sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of interest and pleasure, and difficulty concentrating and focusing. SAD is more than the “winter blues” and requires a full diagnosis of Major Depression with the seasonal specifier for timing.

If you suspect that you might have SAD or Seasonal Depression, please see your doctor for full evaluation and discussion of treatment options. Many treatments are available and may include Light Therapy, medications, and psychotherapy. Light Therapy (with a specialized lamps using 10,000 Lux bulbs) should be initiated in early November and continued on a daily basis, for 30 minutes daily, until March or otherwise instructed by your healthcare professional. It’s not too late to address the cycle of moodiness and loss of motivation that may occur this time each year.

Should Christians Take Antidepressant Medications?

•November 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

antidepressantsThe decision to seek treatment for any condition can be a difficult one.  The decision to seek treatment for depression and anxiety can be made significantly more difficult by current social stigmas and also by one’s interpretation of religious beliefs.  This question represents so many other questions that can become barriers to treatment: If I seek treatment, does it mean I don’t have enough faith in God’s healing power?  If I seek treatment, does it mean that there is something really wrong with me?  If I seek treatment and someone finds out, will they judge me in a negative manor?  I have lost count of how many believers have delayed or avoided treatment for these very reasons; not to mention how many stop treatment prematurely so they can “get back to thinking that there’s nothing wrong” with themselves.  These same people generally would not hesitate to seek treatment for high blood pressure or diabetes.


My response is this: Our bodies are temples that we are entrusted with caring for.  We are an incredible collection of cells, nerves, chemicals, and more that are continually changing in response to biologic, psychological, and social factors.  Sometimes our chemistry can become unbalanced necessitating the use of antidepressant medication to correct states of depression and anxiety when they cause dysfunction in our lives.  Depression and anxiety are not punishment; they are real medical conditions that can respond to specific treatments.  To not take the steps needed to maintain our bodies would be far more wrong and damaging; sometimes this might mean taking medications in addition to doing therapy and other activities.  Have faith that the God of the Universe is not limited in His capacity to heal: that healing may very well be accomplished through any variety of treatment modalities including medications. Find a physician, who understands your beliefs and listens to you, but don’t avoid or delay getting the help you need.

Book Review: Find Your Stongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

•October 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

_225_350_Book.88.coverDespite unprecedented opportunities in all spheres of daily living, women are becoming increasingly unhappy, less satisfied, and less fulfilled in their lives. Somehow on the path to “having it all” women got lost. By believing that the only way to “have it all” was to be perfectly balanced and accomplished in all areas: wife, mother, career, civic, and social—women have experienced feelings of failure, self-doubt, and shame. In his book, Find Your Strongest Life, Mr. Buckingham provides a different model for “having it all” (defined as “drawing enough strength from life to feel fulfilled, loved, successful, and in control) then provides a set of different “Strength” based tactics to accomplish this.

Find Your Strongest Life reads and feels like being at a motivational seminar, complete with Power-point style recaps at the end of each chapter. He utilizes an online strength assessment to help determine “the role you were born to play.” Overall, the book is very accessible, addresses numerous real-life situations faced by today’s women, and provides workable solutions and suggestions for all. The shift in focus from “Balance” to “Fullness” by focusing on “capturing moments” that bring strength feels both intuitive and empowering. This book will be beneficial for all women who are stuck in the search for “elusive perfection” amid the bounty of choices available to us.