Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Fun Fact Friday

  • You have a 96% chance of surviving a plane crash.

  • Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup.

  • Crying is good for your health, flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.

  • Adding salt to pineapple will actually cause it to taste sweeter.

~Happy Friday!~
source: @faccccct 


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Signs of a Food Addiction

A lot of us eat a little more than we should and want to stop eating so much, but it’s not as easy as we’d like. Some of us have a food addiction. Did you know there are foods that make you hungrier, and other foods that can suppress your appetite?

For example, the following foods can make you hungrier:

  • White bread
  • Juice
  • Salty snacks
  • Fast food
  • Alcohol
  • White pasta
  • The flavor enhancer MSG
  • Sushi rolls
  • Artificial sweeteners

White bread and white pasta are considered simple carbs. When we eat these foods, our pancreas goes into overdrive, causing an insulin spike. A short time later, our blood sugar levels drop suddenly and as a result of this “crash,” we’re hungrier than ever.

When we look at fast food, it has a high salt content, and can make a person dehydrated. A person may think they are still hungry and eat more, when they are really just thirsty.

Do You Have A Food Addiction?

When people think of addiction, they may immediately think of drugs like cocaine, heroin, alcohol, or even cigarettes. What many may not realize is food can be addictive as well. In addition to making you hungry, some foods can make us crave them as well. The following foods are considered the most addictive:

  • Pizza
  • Chocolate
  • Potato chips
  • Ice cream
  • French fries
  • Soda
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Popcorn
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Cheeseburgers

 

Studies indicate these foods (and many others) release “feel good chemicals” in the brain like dopamine in a similar fashion to the brains of those who use alcohol or cocaine. Studies also indicate refined foods can lower the blood sugar and trigger the release of serotonin. Serotonin is believed to affect our mood, appetite, memory and other functions.

In other words, there could be more to you constantly eating or craving foods than you originally thought. So, instead of eating those foods, try break the cycle and eat foods that can suppress the appetite instead:

  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Apples
  • Spicy foods
  • Mint
  • Avocados
  • Greek yogurt
  • Water

If you notice, the foods that increase our appetites and have addictive qualities are not good for us. They are high in fat, sodium, and believed to cause a variety of health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. On the other hand, the foods that suppress the appetite are considered foods that are good for our overall health.

This is very important information for all of us to know, but it’s especially important for parents. It’s critical we instill good eating habits in our children and avoid feeding them foods that are addictive and could be detrimental to their long-term health.

The foods we eat can either help us or hurt us. Make an effort to avoid minimize foods that taste good but aren’t good for you. Next time you’re hungry, resist the urge to eat the processed foods and junk foods that are high in salt and artificial ingredients and eat something healthy instead. Your body will thank you. Or, just drink water. You may not be hungry after all!

source: holisticlivingtips.com       JULY 21, 2017


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This Fruit Reverses Brain Ageing

A natural compound found in strawberries can reduce the mental effects of ageing.

The antioxidant fisetin, when given to mice, was found to reduce their mental decline with age and inflammation in their body.

Fisetin is also found in many other plants, such as apples, onions, cucumbers and persimmons.

Dr Pamela Maher, who led the research said:

“Companies have put fisetin into various health products but there hasn’t been enough serious testing of the compound.
Based on our ongoing work, we think fisetin might be helpful as a preventative for many age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, not just Alzheimer’s, and we’d like to encourage more rigorous study of it.”

Previous studies in the same lab have found that fisetin can reduce age-related memory loss.

The study was carried out on mice that had been genetically modified to be susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Maher said:

“Mice are not people, of course.
But there are enough similarities that we think fisetin warrants a closer look, not only for potentially treating sporadic AD but also for reducing some of the cognitive effects associated with aging, generally.”

The mice were given food with fisetin in it for 7 months and compared to a control group.

Dr Maher said:

“At 10 months, the differences between these two groups were striking.”

Those given the fisetin had hardly suffered any age-related deficits.

The study was published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A (Currais et al., 2017).

 
JULY 16, 2017
source: PsyBlog


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The Trendiest Diets Of 2017 And What Nutrition Experts Say About Them

It’s hard to cut through all the diet noise today.
Here, the experts weigh in on the trendiest diets of 2017 to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Canadians pay billions of dollars a year to the diet industry, with some estimates putting its revenue at $7 billion. And while names like Weight Watchers and Atkins have become immediately recognizable (and celebrated or vilified, depending on the results they’ve yielded), new diets pop up all the time with promises of offering life-long changes.

But how many of them are actually effective and sustainable?

“The problem today is that people are so concerned with losing weight quickly, they don’t care about sustaining it six months down the line,” says Abby Langer, registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto. “They want to be able to do something today and wear a bikini tomorrow, but you want to make changes that will last for the rest of your life.”

There seems to be a careful formula needed to create hype behind diets today — and that includes a doctor’s seal of approval, celebrity endorsement and health claims backed by self-serving science.

At the end of the day, Langer says, finding a diet that will work is as personal as finding the right swimsuit. What might work for one may not work for another.

We’ve examined the six most popular diets today and asked the experts to weigh in on their claims and effectiveness.

#1 The Whole30

What it is: A diet that claims to “re-set” your body, and rid you of any food, skin or seasonal allergies by eliminating foods that cause inflammation and cravings. It’s a hardcore program that needs to be followed for 30 days with no interruptions. “Just a small amount of any of these inflammatory foods could break the healing cycle,” the website states. “One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the ‘reset’ button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.” Bonus: the diet strongly advises people against weighing themselves to measure progress.

What you eat: Moderate portions of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, natural fats, herbs, spices and seasoning. (Coffee and tea allowed.)

What you eliminate: Real and added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy and soy.

What the experts say: Langer calls this “basically a cleanse,” but says the rationale behind cutting out healthy foods like dairy and whole grains, is based on poorly done research, and its restrictions make it virtually impossible to follow if you follow a plant-based diet. In addition, it sends a problematic message.

“What’s very disturbing about it is the insulting and punitive way it treats people. The people who wrote the diet claim it ends your relationship with unhealthy food, but I think it will start a new unhealthy relationship with food. It’s unforgiving, and if you don’t follow it, you’ve failed,” she says.

#2 The Dukan Diet

What it is: Created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French neurologist and general practitioner, the diet consists of four phases that are meant to change your eating habits forever through a high protein, and low-fat and carbohydrate program. It boasts a list of 100 foods that are allowed on the diet and claims “no frustration and no starvation.” In phase one (“Attack” phase), you eat pure protein foods; phase two (“Cruise”) introduces non-starchy vegetables; phase three (“Consolidation”) gradually re-introduces starches; and phase four (“Stabilization”) allows all foods but requires consumption of three tablespoons of oat bran per day and one pure protein day per week.

What you eat: Lean meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetarian proteins (soy, tempeh, tofu), fat-free dairy, eggs and vegetables. (Coffee, tea, unsweetened drinks and no more than one can of diet soda is allowed. No alcohol.)

What you eliminate: At the beginning, you only eat pure protein and other foods are re-introduced slowly throughout the phases. Oat bran is required every day through the entire program to boost fibre intake.

What the experts say: Thrust into the spotlight after it was revealed that Kate and Pippa Middleton followed this diet leading up to the Duchess’s wedding (“it got popular thanks to Pippa’s butt,” Langer quips), the experts once again take issue with Dukan’s restrictiveness.

“To be balanced and healthy it needs to have more focus on plant-based foods,” says Andrea Hardy, a registered dietitian in Calgary and owner of Ignite Nutrition. “Eating all that meat means you’re missing an opportunity to get phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients from fruits and vegetables.”

She also points out that the absence of fibre means you’ll lack healthy gut bacteria, which can lead to long-term health problems like anemia, high cholesterol and osteoporosis.

#3  The Paleo Diet

What it is: Created to mimic the way our ancestors ate (like in the Paleolithic period), this diet claims to lead to weight loss, optimize health and minimize the risk of chronic disease. This is another high protein, low carb diet that emphasizes non-starchy fruits and vegetables that won’t spike your blood sugar, and promotes moderate to high consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It especially vilifies whole grains and dispels the notion that they are a rich source of fibre. In other words, if the hunter-gatherers before us didn’t eat it, neither should you — with the exception of the three non-Paleo meals per week that you’re allotted. (That’s when you can have wine.)

What you eat: Meat, poultry, fish, (non-starchy) fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. (Moderate amounts of green tea allowed.)

What you eliminate: Grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed food, salt and refined vegetable oils, coffee.

What the experts say: Ultimately, Paleo is a sustainable diet for some people and is especially attractive to meat lovers. But, Hardy warns, a lot of people do Paleo wrong and fail to round out their protein-heavy meals with fruit and vegetables. In addition, its highly restrictive nature could end up driving people to consume unhealthy grains for a “cheat meal” which in turn muddies the relationship with healthy carbs.

“If it’s too restrictive, people will end up feeling like they’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’ when they consume grains, and will, therefore, gravitate to something unhealthy like a doughnut because they’re ‘cheating,’ instead of choosing a wholesome grain product,” she says.

#4 The Mediterranean Diet

What it is: This predominantly plant-based diet draws from the traditional foods consumed by Mediterranean dwellers (like Italians, French and Greeks). It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol, and is associated with reduced incidences of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It promotes healthy fats as well as lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, some fish and very little red meat.

What you eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be eaten in moderation, and red meat should be eaten rarely. (Wine, coffee and tea are allowed.)

What you eliminate: Added sugar, refined grains, trans fats, processed meats, refined oils, highly processed foods.

What the experts say: This diet scored top marks for being sustainable, healthy, and well-researched to prove it lowers cholesterol and has anti-inflammatory effects.

“The idea is that you’re eating less animal protein, and less protein in general,” says Jessica Begg, registered dietitian and owner of Shift Nutrition in Calgary. “The protein powder industry has put so much emphasis on protein and we’re eating too much of it.”
She lauds the Mediterranean diet for focusing on sources of healthy fats and for not being restrictive.
“You’re not going to find a hack on Pinterest for a ‘Mediterranean chocolate cake,’ because it pushes a healthy balance of whole foods and allows almost everything,” Hardy says.

She says it’s not necessary to completely adopt it, either. People can slowly incorporate elements of the Mediterranean diet into their lives, like swapping out peanut oil for olive oil and eating pulses once a week, and they’ll still reap some benefits.

#5 The Alkaline Diet

What it is: The premise of this diet is that it will neutralize and balance the body’s natural pH by eliminating acidity. Our kidneys are responsible for maintaining our electrolyte levels, but chronic exposure to an acidic environment will cause those levels to deplete and result in acidosis. This acidity “robs” essential minerals from our bones, cells, organs and tissues, and accelerates the aging process, leads to a gradual loss of organ functions, and degenerates tissue and bone mass. By eating alkaline foods (like fresh fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed plant-based protein) you’ll stave off chronic health issues like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and low bone density. It also pushes organic foods because research says the type of soil plants and vegetables grow in can influence their vitamin and mineral content.

What you eat: Fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic and raw), plant proteins (including soy and tofu), limited quantities of meat (preferably organic), alkaline water, green drinks made from green vegetables and grasses, and some dairy (like probiotic yogurt and kefir).

What you eliminate: Processed foods, processed cereals, eggs, lentils, fish, oats and whole wheat products, milk, peanuts and walnuts, pasta, rice, bread, alcohol, caffeine.

What the experts say: This one is plain bunk, experts say.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to support that this is a thing,” Begg says. “The premise is that you’re trying to maintain an alkaline system but our pH levels are tightly controlled by our bodies.”
Langer echoes her sentiments and calls this diet “a mockery of basic physiology.”
“This diet claims that cancer grows in an acidic environment, but in actuality, cancer creates the acidic environment,” she says, therefore the research has it backwards.
Hardy agrees that there’s no scientific evidence to back up the diet’s claims of alkalinity — “your kidneys and lungs act as a buffer for you and help maintain your pH regardless of what you eat” — but appreciates its focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.

#6 Intermittent Fasting

What it is: The concept of this diet is to “feast” and then fast for an extended period of time. Its roots date back to the 1930s, when researchers were trying to determine the benefits of reducing calorie intake by skipping meals. During that time, a scientist noticed that significantly reducing calorie intake helped mice live longer. Since then, more studies were conducted (on monkeys, fruit flies and roundworms) and in all cases, a reduced calorie diet was linked to longevity and lowered risk of common diseases. It is credited with burning fat, since during the extended fasted phases, your body doesn’t have food to burn for energy so it will naturally burn your stores of fat. As a result, it will promote weight loss and build muscle.

What you eat: It’s not what you eat, but how you eat. The 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and eating all your calories within an eight-hour window. The 5:2 plan involves eating normally for five days and consuming no more than 600 calories for two days. Eat-Stop-Eat involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week; alternate day fasting requires you to fast every other day, although some plans allow 500 calories on fasting days; the “Warrior” diet involves eating a small amount of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and a large meal at night; and spontaneous meal skipping allows you to decide which meals to skip and when. In all cases, it is recommended to eat a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods, and to avoid processed and junk foods as they aren’t filling.

What you eliminate: Food.

What the experts say: This diet sounds rigorous and outlandish, but it has “good scientific evidence” to back it up, Hardy says. The main issue is eating the right things during the “feasting” phase.

“I’ve had clients do this and end up gaining weight because they eat whatever they want within that time frame without honouring their hunger and fullness,” she says.

The other concern is that it could trigger an already tenuous relationship with the way a person eats.

“Emotionally it can be very triggering for a person who struggles with an eating disorder because it promotes starving and bingeing,” Langer says.

She says it could be beneficial for anyone who has “lost their hunger cues” due to over-dieting (this can happen to people who diet all the time and are accustomed to always being hungry) because it’ll become very clear what real hunger feels like.

“But if you aren’t able to control yourself when it’s time to eat because you’re so hungry, that’s a problem.”

By Marilisa Racco  National Online Journalist, Smart Living  Global News


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The Fruit that Protects Against Colon Cancer

While there has been a lot of controversy surrounding resveratrol supplements in recent times, new research from Pennsylvania State University closes the book on fruit containing the compound and its ability to protect against colon cancer. That’s promising news for the 95,500 Americans the American Cancer Society predicts will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year alone.

The new study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that resveratrol—a plant nutrient known as a phytonutrient—may actually suppress colon cancer stem cells, giving researchers and sufferers of the disease alike hope for a new prevention and treatment strategy. Cancer stem cells are cells that are believed to drive the creation of new cancer cells and cancer tumors. The researchers found that in addition to suppressing colon cancer stem cells, resveratrol found in grapes also significantly reduced the number of cancer tumors—a whopping 50 percent reduction in the number of cancer tumors.

The same researchers also found that resveratrol in food combined with grape seed extract was an even more potent anti-cancer mixture than just resveratrol alone. They found that grape seed extract seemed to increase the potency of resveratrol.

Resveratrol has also shown great promise in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases, due to its ability to protect the brain from damage. In this capacity, resveratrol mops up harmful free radicals and protects against plaque that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

While it remains to be seen whether resveratrol supplements offer the many health benefits of the compound that is naturally found in foods, it is clear that the food sources of this plant nutrient may offer protection against diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Some research even links the nutrient to the protection against damage from the heavy metal cadmium. Cadmium is found in cigarettes, black rubber, burned motor oil, some ceramics, fungicides (like those sprayed on apples, potatoes and tobacco), some refined wheat flour, tires, silver polish, some water and some soft drinks (from vending machines with cadmium in the pipes). It may also protect the kidneys against damage from the antibiotic gentamicin.

The food mixture used in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine study involved a blend of grape skins and grape seeds. This combination offers both resveratrol and grape seed extract. I use a high-powered blender to blend whole purple grapes that contain seeds into a drink so it is easier to obtain the health benefits of grape seeds, without the unpleasant texture so many people dislike. Stir periodically as you’re drinking the grape juice blend to ensure the seed and grape skin pulp are mixed.

Experts have been recommending high amounts of colorful produce in our diet for years. Research like this new study offer greater insight into the rationale for doing so: colorful fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest amounts of phytonutrients. Purple and blue foods tend to have the highest amounts of resveratrol, but the plant nutrient is high in many foods, including: purple grapes, purple grape juice, red wine, raspberries, mulberries, blueberries, peanuts, grape seed extract, eucalyptus and spruce.

While many people tout red wine as the best source of the nutrient, the alcohol (and frequently sulfite) content offset some of its health benefits. Fresh purple grapes and grape juice tend to be the best sources of resveratrol.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook    July 1, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook


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Depression: This Tiny Change to Diet Has Protective Effect

This small change to your diet could be enough to reduce the risk of depression.

A Mediterranean diet including fruits, vegetables and legumes can prevent depression, a large new study finds.

People only had to make relatively small changes to see the benefits.

The scientist think that depression could be partly down to a lack of essential nutrients.

The study included 15,093 people who were followed over 10 years.

People who reported eating more nuts, fruits and vegetables were considered to be following the Mediterranean diet more closely.

Those who ate more meats and sweets were considered to be moving away from the healthy diet.

The benefits of the diet are likely related to higher levels of omega 3 and other essential nutrients.

Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, who led the research, said:

“We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds.
These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health.
The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression.”

Relatively small dietary changes were enough to reduce depression risk, Dr Sanchez-Villegas explained:

“A threshold effect may exist.
The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet.
Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression.
However, we saw no extra benefit when participants showed high or very high adherence to the diets.
So, once the threshold is achieved, the reduced risk plateaus even if participants were stricter with their diets and eating more healthily.
This dose-response pattern is compatible with the hypothesis that suboptimal intake of some nutrients (mainly located in low adherence levels) may represent a risk factor for future depression.”

The research was published in the journal BMC Medicine (Sánchez-Villegas et al., 2015).
source: PsyBlog


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The Best Health Advice Ever

The Best Health Advice Ever

Keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape is essential for living your best life. It’s difficult to attain success when you’re dragging yourself through the day, feeling stressed out, anxious, and generally unwell. That’s why you need to make yourself a priority. Focusing on your wellness is not selfish, it’s necessary for you to be able to give your best self to others. The Cheat Sheet spoke with six leading health experts about the best health advice they’ve ever received.

1. Let go of unforgiveness

Learn to forgive! At the heart of many chronic diseases is stress. At the heart of much stress is a lack of forgiveness. Not being able to let go of the past produces a lot of stress in our lives. This stress increases the incidence of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and more.

My advice for men: Don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor if you ever have an episode of erectile dysfunction. After your first episode of ED you have a 25% chance of having a stroke or heart attack in the next five years. See your doctor immediately and start to change your lifestyle with diet change and exercise to reduce your risk.

Dr. Chidi Ngwaba, Director at the European Society of Lifestyle Medicine

 2. Get enough sleep

Medical training can be grueling with some weeks lasting 110+ hours on the job. The lecture I had on sleep hygiene and making sure to set aside time for sleep was the best health advice I’d ever received. All-nighters or just neglecting sleep creates havoc on your health and happiness.

Dr. Jared Heathman, Psychiatrist

3. You are in control of your health

The best health advice I ever received is to recognize that I am the expert in my own health. I will meet many professionals and hear many opinions, but I am the only person who will have to live with the consequences, and I am the one who knows my body and my mind the best. So it is up to me to listen to the input and decide what will serve me best. This has allowed me to live my life with amazing freedom and to let the outside judgments roll off of me as I know that I am doing what is best for me.

Crystal Johnson, MSc, MCP, RSLP, RCC, Registered Clinical Counselor

4. Take preventative health measures

Be able to do 25 push-ups. This doesn’t sound like very profound advice, but it may have changed my life. I tried out for the wrestling team at age 13, never having thought about exercising before. At try-outs, the coach said we should all be able to do at least 25 push-ups (and a certain number of sit-ups). I tried, and found I could do about five! I started working out that day — and have worked out almost every day for the 40 years since. I can do considerably more than 25 push-ups now. I think it’s idiosyncratic that this had such an affect on me, but the clarity, the specificity, and the practicality of it really resonated. It suggests we might all benefit from specific, actionable goals related to our health and fitness.

My advice for men: Think beyond your own skin. As a son, brother, husband, and especially father — what you do about your own health will influence others. The most important reason to protect your own health may be somebody else — like a son or daughter who will emulate you. It has always been ‘guy stuff’ to defend hearth and home. These days, the wolves at the door are diabetes, obesity, and so on. We can best defend against them by walking the walk ourselves — and leading our families toward vitality. So I’m calling on my fellow sons, brothers, and dads to step up accordingly!

Dr. David L. Katz, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital

5. Eat real food — and then take a walk

The best health advice I’ve gotten is eat food, but not too much — mostly plants. It comes from author Michael Pollan. I love this advice because it’s so simple and clear, yet so incredibly effective. If this is the only eating advice you follow, your diet will be fantastic!

Second, move. If you have a desk job, get up every hour and move for at least two minutes. While working out is great, our bodies are designed to move throughout the day. Sitting all day, even if you exercise, is bad for your health. Studies show that sedentary behavior can lead to death from cardiovascular issues and cancer and cause chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, Psychologist, Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach, Founder, SmashYourScale.com    Twitter: @eralbertson

 6. Don’t forget mental health

Stress, anxiety, episodes of sadness, and depression are very common and can have a negative impact on physical health. Healthy eating, sleep, and exercise are all crucial. [Practice] daily mindfulness or meditation — even 5 to 10 minutes a day. End each day recognizing the positive and the things that make you happy. Increase your brain’s receptiveness to positivity. I like using the idea that we go through the day collecting negativity in an imaginary “BAG.” At the end of the day you can empty the BAG and refill it with the letters BAG by answering these three questions: B — What was the Best part of the day and why? A — What did I Accomplish, why was it important to me today? And G — What am I truly Grateful for?

Cara Maksimow, licensed clinical social worker, speaker, and owner of Maximize Wellness Counseling & Coaching LLC

Sheiresa Ngo     October 27, 2016