My Favorite Health Tip: Top Santa’s Naughty List!

By April Willger, Integrative Health Coach and owner of Wellness N Soul

As an integrative health coach I guide clients to do “nice” things like drink more water, express more gratitude, and clean out that closet that almost kills you each time you open it.

That’s all fun and cute. But when we get about four to five months into the program, I spring a recommendation on my clients that is one of my favorites: I tell them to BE BAD!

My clients usually give me the seventy-five-year-old grandma response in a sweet, “I’m going to run home and bake cookies for you” voice, “Oh I don’t know if I can do that. I’m just a nice person, and it’s so hard for me to be rude, and, and….”

Excuses, excuses, excuses. I’ve heard them all.

Come on, Grandma. I’m not talking about illegal drugs and a night in jail or anything. I’m talking about gently brake checking the person that’s following you a little too close on the busy holiday roads. I’m talking about ignoring an invite to a get-together, that frankly, you never wanted to go to anyway. I’m talking about going to a holiday celebration and purchasing a pie from the store instead of staying up all night and fussing over a decadent dessert. I’m talking about not contributing gift money for your lazy boss’s Christmas present. (Honestly, did he really earn a nice gift this year?)

As I give these ideas to my clients, evil grinch smiles spread across their faces that adorn a new flame in their eyes. The thought of, “Huh, maybe I could handle that,” crosses their forehead.

Don’t worry. There is a reason for my brake checking madness. The purpose behind this exercise is to put my clients back in charge of their life. You always have the choice to do whatever it is that you want in life. You choose to kill yourself the night before a holiday celebration, making that perfect dessert. You choose to attend a get-together that you don’t want to go to. You choose to contribute your hard-earned money to a gift for someone who doesn’t really deserve it.

Despite what you’ve heard and told yourself over the years, this life is about fulfilling your wants and desires. This life is about deciding what your values and mission are and living it with integrity. This life is all about pleasing yourself. It is not about pleasing others. It is actually your responsibility to create a life that you love for yourself.

Do you have the disease to please? Is the disease to please serving you and your health? What does being bad mean to you? Does being “bad” mean brake checking, ignoring holiday invites, or omitting your boss from your gift list? Or is it sleeping in, having an extra piece of pie, or curling up on the couch to relax and watch a movie?

While my sweet clients struggle to find ways to be bad, they usually are so thankful that for once in their life, someone finally told them it’s actually healthy for them, to be BAD!!

How can you implement a little of “bad” into your life this holiday season?

Blue Boxer Arts: Knit Away Holiday Stress

When Jamie Kyser and Erin Klaus, business partners and friends, moved Tangled Up In Hue from 416 Barstow (the current Blue Boxer Arts location) to 505 Barstow, they had an empty store space that was still under a lease. While considering their options, it occurred to Kyser that she and Klaus had always talked about opening a bead store in Eau Claire. Ever since the one on Water Street closed, they had felt that Eau Claire needed one. And in addition, Yellow Dog Knitting used to be located a couple of doors down, and when that closed, lots of people came into Tangled Up in Hue’s former location asking what happened to the yarn shop, so they knew there was a market for it. And if that wasn’t enough, they had an immense amount of beads from jewelry making, so it seemed like an opportunity to give the idea a shot. So, they opened a bead and yarn shop—Blue Boxer Arts!

 

Blue Boxer Arts follows the same format as Tangled in that they support and offer local products. They have a whole section of the store devoted to local fibers, hand-spun and dyed yarn from local farms where the sheep are raised and sheered, and the wool is processed and spun into yarn. They also have roving, locks, and loose fibers. (Roving is a long narrow bundle of fiber that is mainly used for spinning fibers into yarn. It’s been processed and dyed or can be natural colored.  It can also be used in weaving or needle felting. Locks are actual hair locks from, say, an angora goat or llama, and loose fibers are just that—they have been processed from the animal and can be found in a bag or ball.) In addition, the store carries Plymouth-brand yarns and various others, and they currently offer a large selection of “natural” beads: wood, clay, porcelain, bone, nut, etc., but are expanding to also incorporate stone, glass, crystal, pearl, and more. The store also operates as a collective, meaning they have items on consignment as well.

 

A wide range of classes are available, about two a week. All of them are currently focused on the fiber and jewelry arts, as that is the type of product currently offered in the store. All classes can be found on the website (http://blueboxerarts.com/events.html) or the Facebook page, which has the most up-to-date info. The instructors range from store staff to outside experts and hobbyists, but anyone can come in and apply to teach a class here. If someone has a special skill they would like to share in a class, email blueboxerarts@gmail.com for more info.

 

With the holidays coming up, we all tend to brace ourselves for the accompanying stresses. Knitting or crocheting, however, can be a stress-relieving activity. Kyser believes all forms of creativity can be calming experiences: “I personally crochet (I have knit but am not an avid knitter) and participate in many forms of fiber arts and other crafty avenues. Each of these activities helps to sooth my soul and bring me balance and peace. It’s a way for many to reset from the day or take out frustrations. It makes me feel fulfilled and whole.” If you’re new to knitting and crocheting, don’t fret! As a beginner, and as with learning any new skill, knitting/crocheting can be a chore and may even be frustrating at first. But once the basics are learned and the rhythm is found, the fun starts, and it becomes a new way to cope with stress.

 

According to Kyser, knitting and crocheting can be more than just stress relieving: “I believe, too, that knitting/crocheting can lead to a meditative state. In meditation, the goal is to clear your head of all thoughts and brain chatter. In the act of knitting, and the repetitive nature of it, it can certainly lead to this. In some cases, when following a pattern for instance, you need to count your stitches, switch colors, or change stitches (knit, pearl, etc), and this can require more concentration and thought, and it can also be good to concentrate on something other than work and other stresses of life.”

 

She advises: “The concentration involved with these art forms as well as just keeping your hands busy and the satisfaction of completing a project can all be so good for the soul and help with stress during the holidays and year-round. This time of year it can help you check the gift-giving portion of stress off your list, knowing that you are making something for someone that took time and love and effort.”

 

The benefit of shopping locally is important to both Kyser and Klaus. Kyser notes: “With each step, knitting and crocheting with our products can give you the satisfaction and joy of shopping locally, which is so important in our current climate. The community thrives when local businesses do well.  Because we offer products and services that are locally made/produced, a portion of the money spent in our store goes back into the community, which fuels the local economy, and it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Will Work for Food

By Heather Mishefske

Giving your dog a way to work for their food can improve its behavior this holiday season.

Dogs are natural hunters and scavengers. We humans are not good at catering to our dog’s hunting prowess due to safety concerns. We do not allow them to chase squirrels, indulge in road kill, stalk squirrels, or hunt the songbirds at our feeders. These are all activities that they would LOVE to indulge in, but due to the potential for parasites, hunts gone wrong, and safety, we deter them from doing so. And rightly so!

There are safer ways to allow our dogs to bring out their huntress side without the risks. The world of canine enrichment has exploded in the past several years. There are many gadgets, games, and toys that recreate a game that allows your pooch to engage its inner hunter. Our dogs have it pretty easy. We buy baked kibble in perfect little nuggets and deliver them to our dogs in raised feeding stations. While some of us make our dogs “work” for their food, by requiring a skill before their food or treat is presented, eating the food out of their bowl is a very easy task. So, let’s use their food to fill a puzzle or interactive toy and make them REALLY work for it! And use their most highly developed organ, their incredible NOSE! By making your dog work for its food, we utilize some brain power on those days when scheduling or Wisconsin weather makes it tough to get outside for exercise. And why not feed them out of a food puzzle or toy–they have to eat anyway, right? Food puzzles and enrichment toys provide an outlet for dogs to scavenge, root, uncover, and find their food. By doing this, we give our dogs a job, help alleviate boredom, assist with confidence building, and provide a chance for them to do some serious problem solving. Many toys or puzzles are made so that the dog must tip them to get the kibble out, move parts of a puzzle, turn the toy a certain way, or uncover sections to access the food. Once your dog understands how to access the food, he or she becomes a problem solver of all puzzles that you will present them. And there are SO many options out there to explore.

An excellent place to add enrichment toys into your dog’s life are the holidays. The unpredictable days, the added stress of unfamiliar guests, the lack of routine, travel, late nights, and possible lack of physical exercise often lead to increased anxiety in our canine companions. Giving them a simple task like “find your own food” can help. Doing this uses their most developed organ, their nose. Make feeding time into a job.

Some of our faves here at emBARK are:

  • StarMark Bob-A-Lot
  • Starmark Treat Dispensing Ball
  • Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Mazee
  • Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Snoop
  • Omega Tricky Treat Ball
  • Pet Safe Tug-A-Jug OR Magic Mushroom
  • Any of the Trixie puzzles
  • Any of the Nina Ottenson puzzles
  • Kongs (the original stuffable food toy!)
  • Kong Gyro
  • Snuffle Mats – find them on Etsy or make your own!

The main rule of enrichment toys is that they are meant to be used under our supervision. Many are made of plastic or resin, creating parts that could easily be chewed off. If you pup attempts to chew the toy, simply help a bit by moving it until they understand that motion of the toy is the way that food is delivered. Once your dog understands that they have control of the food delivery, he or she will begin to enjoy the game. Dogs who eat too quickly also benefit from these food puzzles, as treats/food is delivered slowly.

For most dogs, their biggest enriching activity is learning new tricks, skills, and going to new outdoor environments to use their nose. Using food puzzle toys can quickly become something that they look forward to. Add some interactive enrichment toys to your dog’s holiday gift list—it will benefit both of you!

Heather Mishefske is a certified professional dog trainer and the owner of emBARK, LLC. She has been involved in the dog scene in the Chippewa Valley since the age of ten, and professionally since 1998. emBARK offers training classes, dog daycare, dog grooming, canine massage, and workshops. To check out the Midwest’s Hippest Hang Out for Hounds, check out www.embarkdog.com.

How Much Is that Doggie in the Window?

By Margaret Meier Jones, DVM, CVSMT, Animal Wellness Center of Bullalo Valley

 

Is it just me or does reading this make you want to break out in the Pattie Page song by the same title? In that song she wants to buy the dog for her sweetheart, singing, “If he has a dog, he won’t be lonesome, and the doggie will have a good home!” We all have certainly been tempted to buy a pet for a loved one, especially during the holiday season, but is this really a good idea? Does our sweetheart have the space, time, energy, and financial resources needed to properly care for that doggie and ensure it will truly have a good fur-ever home?

 

So many considerations must be made when we look to add a pet to our homes, and the family members who will be involved with the pet’s care really need to be part of the decision as to whether or not this should happen. Should we get a cat or a dog? A bird or a lizard? A guinea pig, a hamster, or a ferret? A fresh water or a salt water fish tank? Or should we settle on something even larger, like a pony or a pot bellied pig?

 

Settling on one of these species then brings even more questions such as which breed matches our family best? What health problems is that breed prone to? Does this breed have any special needs or other things that add to our financial commitment? For example, if it is a brachycephalic breed (i.e., Bull dog or Himalayan), the soft palate is functionally elongated so they snore and have increased anesthetic risks during surgical procedures. Or, are we getting a giant breed, such as a Great Dane, that has larger spatial requirements and a shorter life expectancy?

 

Next we must ask ourselves if we are going to get our new pet at the pet store, shelter, rescue group, breeder, Craigslist advertisement, or through friends and family via Facebook? Will they join our family as a puppy/kitten, a young adult, or would a senior citizen work better for us? I know what you might be thinking: does each answer really just lead to more questions? I like THAT doggie in the window I see right now! Why can’t I just buy him and take him home!? You certainly can, but…..

 

Do you have the supplies he needs? Good food and bowls, leashes, kennels, and space inside or outside your home that’s a safe shelter for him? Litter boxes, scratching posts, and age-appropriate toys? Are you ready to deal with accidents that might happen in your new environment with potty training and/or separation anxiety? Do you have friends and family willing to let you bring your new friend with you when you visit them this holiday season or do you need to secure space at a boarding facility? Are they current on the immunizations that the kennel requires and does that facility have vacancy?

 

Have you asked your sweetheart these questions? When you do, and the answers come easily, we congratulate you and look forward to meeting your new furry friend too!

 

The Benefits of Breast Thermography

By Joyce Sobotta

Breast thermography offers the opportunity to detect breast disease earlier than has been possible through breast self-examination, doctor examination, or mammography alone. Breast thermography offers women a valuable imaging tool they can add to their regular breast health check-ups beginning with baseline imaging at age twenty.

Cancer cells can be found in our bodies anywhere. Why do they grow and develop in some people and not in others? It’s an accumulation of factors. All disease grows in an acidic, congested environment. Mental, emotional, and physical stress all contribute to an unhealthy immune system. Stress acidifies the body and contributes to shallow breathing and low oxygen in the body. To help eliminate mind and body stress, take time to rest, exercise, meditate, be grateful, and get quality sleep every day.

Popular Screening Methods
Three popular screening methods aimed at early detection for breast cancer are:

Mammogram – A mammogram uses radiation to detect the internal anatomical structure of the breast and can miss 40-50 percent of breast cancers in women with dense breasts.

Breast Ultrasound – This method uses sound waves to create a picture of the tissues inside the breast. It can show all areas of the breast, including the area closest to the chest wall, which is hard to study with a mammogram. An ultrasound is often used to check abnormal results from a thermogram or mammogram.

Breast Thermography – This digital infrared picture reveals heat and vascular patterns of breast tissue. These patterns change when a breast tumor starts to grow. Breast-cancer cells require new blood vessels to feed them nutrients and oxygen. They grow in abnormal patterns, and they generate increased heat that is detectable by thermography.

A thermography scan can detect subtle physiological changes whether it is cancer, fibrocystic disease, an infection, or vascular disease. It can be used as a tool to monitor breast health and can show a reduction in vascular activity with simple dietary changes, lymphatic breast self-massage, exercise, and stress reduction at all levels. For women who don’t wish to have mammograms, it’s a great option.

Thermography, with its ability to assess risk and monitor breast health, leads to perhaps the most important point that’s never mentioned, which is that breast cancer risk is largely modifiable. Only 10-15 percent of breast cancer cases have any genetic component, which means that 85-90 percent of risk has to do with other factors … diet, stress, and environmental factors being among the most important. A recent study published by the American Journal of Radiology concluded that thermography could help prevent most unnecessary breast biopsies.

Women Do Have a Choice
Dr. Thomas Hudson, a physician, radiologist, and breast imaging specialist, says pseudo-cancers, “cancers that would not cause harm during a lifetime,” tend to get treated through aggressive means such as repeated mammography scans, undue biopsies, and often double-breast mastectomies. Out of fear, and without more information, too many women choose these options. Dr. Hudson says what a person eats, along with how she feels and thinks, affects her health more than one might expect. There are simple, reasonable steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer or to improve chances of recovery if there is already a diagnosis.

For more information, including a FREE PDF of “The Nine Steps to Natural Breast Health,” visit Joyce Sobotta’s website AromaTherapyNaturesWay.com.

Joyce Sobotta is founder/owner of an international business renowned for Healthy Girls Breast Oil — a unique essential oil blend for breast health. Joyce offers consultations, webinars, and presentations to empower women with knowledge and preventive action to free them from the fear of breast cancer. Joyce creates her own formulations using 100 percent pure, authentic essential oils.