I remember a time when the only place you could find me was in the kitchen. No silly…..it wasn’t because I was eating all the time, it was because I loved feeding others. I still do.
In 2014 in a matter of months, I developed sudden food allergies to delicacies I used to love to cook and indulge in. Being a vegetarian since childhood, I was already limited in my food choices. When the list of what I couldn’t eat became longer than what I could eat, the kitchen was the last place I wanted to be.
I didn’t even care to find alternatives to my favorites, I just quit searching.
For health reasons, I took my nutrition one step further and became vegan May 2018. I feel better now than ever before. Over the last couple of months, I have started tip-toeing back to the one room in the house that once gave me solace.
I thought this month we could have a little fun with a holiday recipe. I have been experimenting with the Instapot to see if my life could become any easier with the InstaPot. Verdict is still out!
Enjoy this Indian variation of a holiday favorite of mine.
Vegetable Pulao InstaPot (Main Course)
- 1 cup Basmati Rice– rinsed
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 1 Green Chili Pepper
- 1/2 cup Onion sliced
- 1/2 tbsp Ginger minced
- 1/2 tbsp Garlic minced
- 1/2 cup Tomato chopped
- 1 Potato medium, cut into small peices
- 2 cups Mixed Vegetables (Carrots, Green Beans, Peas, Corn, Edmame) frozen or fresh
- 1 1/4 cup Water
- 1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne or Red Chili powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Salt
Whole Spices (available at any Indian grocery store)
- Turn on InstaPot to saute mode and allow to heat. Add oil and once oil warm add the, whole spices. Sauté 30 seconds until the cumin seeds change color.
- Once the whole spices start to sizzle and sputter, add the green chili, onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onion becomes transparent.
- Add tomato and spices. Mix well with other ingredients. Next add the potatoes and mixed vegetables. Mix until everything is blended.
- Add the rice and water. Mix well. Close the lid with vent in sealing position.
- Change the InstaPot to MANUAL for 4 minutes/high pressure.
- As the InstaPot begins to beep, do a natural pressure release (NPR) for approx. 10minutes. Once all the pressure has been released, open the lid.
- Fluff the rice gently with a fork to mix the rice with the vegetables that may have settled at the bottom.
Pulao is a hot ticket item at any party! Enjoy the warm comforts of home cooking without the unnecessary calories of processed foods!
Wishing you and your families a happy, safe and joyous holiday season!
For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment.
Gratitude. Grateful. Thankful. So many ways to express all that is right in the world.
It seems like the world is always in a race to get to an imaginary finish line. We run at the speed of light, knocking down everything standing in our way, but not quite sure why we are running in the first place.
It’s not our fault. It is just the way the world is, and we are just trying to keep from falling behind.
Work pressures squeeze us like fresh lemons off the tree. Family life spins us from soccer practice to dance recitals, from dinner making to microwave zapping, from fresh sheets to unemptied dishwashers (kids, when you see the little green light come on, that is your clue that you better put away the dishes instead of ignoring it hoping Mom doesn’t notice. 😊)
Even our “Me” time has become a task to cross off.
Before I began writing this month’s newsletter, I sat back for a moment as a spectator to my life and observed the stuff that I let clutter my days. What things was I hoarding in myself that I would be better served without it there? And why was I doing it?
I am beginning to realize that half of the things that I do, I am not even sure why I do it or why I feel like it would be of any benefit. Why do I worry so much over things that won’t even matter in a few days? Why do I become defeated when I feel I can’t help everyone get better?
When I fill this space with things that don’t serve me, it doesn’t help me grow. It only robs me of more. I don’t sleep as well. I am more fatigued. My mood is blah. I find no motivation. Simply put, I feel sicker-physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The analogy is like this. When we binge on our favorite goodies, the first few bites feel amazing. But the more our stomachs fill up, the emptier we feel.
The physical symptoms we experience manifests from our internal chaos. The worry. The fear. The inability to control everything. The sadness. The anger. All of it. They are the leeches that invade our ecosystem and pollute the very fiber of the life we live.
Imagine the overtime the body must do to compensate for this disruption. I can’t even begin to remotely understand the extent of it. Even though we may not understand it, we experience it every time our body crops up with another symptom.
When we know better, we do better.
The neuroscience of gratitude is one of the most powerful areas of medicine making headlines. More and more physicians incorporate gratitude healing into their practice and with their patients, I know I do.
How exactly does expressing gratitude help us to live a healthier life?
According to Positive Psychology, a study done in 2014 by Zahn, Garrido, Moll, & Grafman, showed people who repeatedly express gratitude were found to have a higher volume of grey matter in the right inferior temporal gyrus.
Gratitude increases serotonin and dopamine levels, two neurotransmitters that are responsible for our mood and a ‘feel good’ vibe. Higher dopamine levels can also help improve pain by down regulating pain receptors.
Dr. Alex Korb, author of the book ‘Grateful Brain,’ (2012) said that our brain is conditioned to function in a repeated way. When we continue to respond to situations with worry and fear, we subconsciously re-wire our brain to expect the worst for every outcome. But when we practice gratitude, we train the brain to redirect thoughts and emotions towards positive, hopeful outcomes.
The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA stated that gratitude does change the neural structures in the brain and make us feel happier and more content. Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system. Scientists have suggested that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves.
Establishing a practice of gratitude doesn’t need to be another “thing” we do. It simply means we need to stop running long enough to capture that “selfie”. Translation: Stop and smell the roses.
Here are simple ways to begin incorporating an attitude of gratitude into your life:
- When you see your reflection either in a mirror or window, stop and tell yourself how awesome you are. Before you can give thanks to the world, you must be thankful for who you are. Then take three deep healing breaths before moving on.
- Say ‘thank you’ to inanimate objects. I do this all the time. When I am at the store, I will say ‘thank you cart for carrying the weight of everything I put on you’. I will also talk to the vegetables and pots and pans as I am cooking, or when I am doing laundry. I basically walk around saying thank you to everyone and everything for being on my team and for supporting and providing me all that I need to live the life in the way I choose to live it.
- Gratitude list. If you are not into journaling, it is ok. Simply write down three things daily that you are thankful for. Keep it as simple as on a sticky note or as public as posting it on your social media feed. Where you write it is not as important as that you do. Whenever I write a check, I write “TY” in the note line. TY is my code to say thank you Universe for providing me with the financial means to be able to afford to write that amount.
- Dollar a Day. Much like a penny jar, every time you catch yourself thinking, feeling, or speaking a moment of gratitude, put $1 (or whatever amount) into the jar. At the end of the month, you should have a minimum of $30. With each month, try to do better than the last. Repetition helps re-wire old patterns into new healing.
- Spread the flames. This one maybe a little harder to do than the rest, but I think it is worth trying. When everyone around us is negative, it won’t be long before we join the party. But imagine if we strike the match of gratitude within ourselves and paid it forward, how different the world would look. If things can go viral on Tik-Tok, why not in real life! Everyday tell either a stranger, a family member, your social media groupies, colleague, anyone other than yourself how grateful you are for them, to them, because of them. What do you think that will do for their lives? Wow! A lot! More than we realize. If each one of us did that daily to just ONE person, happiness would fill our thoughts, productivity would dominate the workplace, healing would occur in our body, tolerance and understanding would blanket humanity.
It is possible. It can happen. And it only takes one strike of the match to start! We must not focus on everything that is wrong in our lives, but we must stay present with all that is right with us. You can begin to harness your power of healing in this vast space of stillness and gratitude.
Just be and listen.
Wishing each and every one of you a safe and grateful Thanksgiving.
Food is fuel. Nutrition is a lifeline. Eating is survival.
The one constant that remains with us in each decade of life is the need to exercise and the necessity to replenish things lost during exercise. Our cells thrive or die based on the choices we make.
This is not yet another lecture telling you how bad “processed foods” are or how if you want to lose weight, you must give up everything that excites your palate. No. That is not it at all. When you understand what is happening at the cellular level, you will have no cravings to fight nor will there be any battle of will power, because you will only want to choose what is best for your body and for your health.
Nutrition is a Pandora’s box that I will save to open for another day. All we really need to understand is that nutrition starts early. The habits practiced in our early years is the quality of life we live in our later years.
It is never too late to start healing. How many of you can tell me you actually ate clean as a kid?
I would be kidding if I said I did. Being thirty pounds overweight for most of my life, my breakfast consisted of three doughnuts, lunch was a standing date with the vending machine, afternoon snacks were whatever I could sneak into my backpack, dinner was the only meal that resembled anything close to the food pyramid and late-night snacks were those cute little powdered doughnuts and a whole bag of buttered ACT microwave popcorn, remember those?? If you don’t believe me, you should look at my high school pictures!!!
If I only knew then what I know now. When you know better, you do better. It wasn’t until 2010 that I began to know better. As I learned, I changed. There was nothing easy about it. It is still not. In 2014, fortunately or unfortunately, I developed a gluten sensitivity that helped curb my doughnut addiction. But man, what I wouldn’t give for a chocolate caked doughnut.
I was nearly into my 4th decade of life when I finally realized how I had treated my body. I didn’t dwell on the repercussions of my earlier choices, I focused on how to stop the self-destruction standing in the present and walking into the future.
As we age, just like everything else, our nutritional needs change.
The stomach is a powerful muscle in the human body. Just like other muscles, it also atrophies. Due to the smaller size of the stomach, it is unable to hold the same quantity of food that it once did. Naturally this causes us to eat less. While this may seem like a great thing, but remember by consuming less food we are also consuming less nutrients.
Aging also affects digestion and absorption of important vitamins and minerals. Combine this with the diminished calorie intake, the cells no longer have the necessary lifeline it needs to keep us healthy.
So, what do we do?
First, we take a deep breath. The human body is a machine of epic proportions. It has this unrelenting need to fight for homeostasis. Just because our activity levels naturally decline with age, we don’t become sedentary, right? We just make it a point to put in more effort to keep moving. Same thing with nutrition. While we may not be eating as much as before, we must train our habits to eat foods that are nutrient dense and calorically satisfying.
Here are few simple ways on how you can start to do that:
- Hydrate. It is easy to forget to drink, especially when thirst mechanisms also change. I recommend everyone fill a pitcher of water every morning or the night before. Infuse your favorite flavors if you wish. You can even put time markers on the pitcher reminding you how much you should have drunk by that time. By the time bedtime comes, the pitcher should be empty. When we don’t quantify our efforts, we overestimate.
- Make a weekly grocery list. Pick one day of the week that is dedicated to planning your health needs for that week. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down foods that are around the periphery of the grocery store. Shop only according to the list. If shopping is difficult, most grocery places provide home deliveries. When we plan in an environment that promotes calm and tranquility, our choices will reflect the same. So, do the planning at home and the shopping in the store.
- Be deliberate about protein choices. While protein maybe one of the most important components to health, it is not the most obvious. It is easy to bypass reading the food label. To spend time daily figuring out if you have had adequate protein is cumbersome and well, frankly, boring. That is exactly why we need to be very calculated and deliberate in planning our meals. One of the fastest ways to know you are getting in your protein is with a protein shake. Add fruits or nuts. Make it with water or a milk of your choice (coconut, almond, oat, skim etc). Watch those extra calories that tend to get added. Once scoop of most protein powders offers 20g/serving. Those 70 years and older or those that have difficulty chewing due to dental concerns, can add one can of Boost or Ensure drink per day. Both offer nutrient dense calories to the diet.
- Supplements. As most of you know, I am not the biggest fan of taking or recommending a list of supplements. Personally, I feel it is better to get it from its most natural source, mainly food. As we age, this may not be possible. Taking a good quality multivitamin along with Calcium and Vitamin D offers immune protection and cellular support. Some evidence suggests adding additional B6, Folate, Magnesium Vitamin E, Omega-3 may offer limited benefit, but further research is needed. Take only what you need. Eat real. Eat green. Eat natural.
- Sleep like a baby. Move like a teenager. So simple, yet so profound. The three most important gifts we can give to ourselves are sleep, exercise, and fuel. Sleep to restore. Exercise to rejoice. Eat to replenish. No matter our chronological age, we must do at least this much every day. While we can’t prevent everything, we can go to bed knowing we tried.
To live a healthy life is just listening to where our body is guiding us. Where we get lost is when we listen to the illusionary advice of the outside world. Every webpage, every article, every ad, every corner you turn, someone is giving us advice.
Is advice really what is needed? I don’t seem to think so. Once I was able to answer this question for myself, I began to change how I practice medicine. Of course, I still use all my medical knowledge to diagnose. But I have painted a very different picture for how I treat.
If we just listen for a moment, our bodies are telling us how to heal. Sleep. Exercise. Fuel.
Yes. It really is that simple.
There still lies a doughnut loving teenager inside of me, and she will continue to be with me in my daily choices. But the difference now is, she knows better. She is me. I am her. And together, our future self will remember the memories of enjoying those “sweet” teenage moments, but is thankful for delivering us to a hopeful, healthful, happy future.
Aging is a process of existing. But living is a choice of privilege.
It is never too late to begin. You are only as old as you think you are young!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
The quest for great hair, skin and nails seems a lot more difficult to achieve in the winter months. Dry itchy skin, brittle fly-away whispys, chipped nails – sound familiar? The tell tale signs of winter are in the air! Understanding why colder temps affect our skin can go a long way to help remedy the problem areas, but it is important to understand the role a balanced endocrine system plays as well.
Inflammation is the single most important contributor that affects our skin, hair and nails due to the stimulation of free radicals, which accelerates aging by attaching to and damaging cells. In addition, studies have shown that there is a connection between sugar and inflammation in the body.
The main hormones that play a direct role in contributing to the decline from inflammation include:
I have written in the past about how these hormones become imbalanced, which leads to external changes we see. But for this month, I would like to focus specifically on how colder temperatures become a factor.
As we have understood, the fundamental rudimentary cause for the external changes we see is due to hormonal imbalances. The same carries true during winter months.
The longer, darker days lowers our Vitamin D levels. The waxing and waning of the temperatures directly impacts our thyroid levels. Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone levels ebb and flow to try and keep the body in balance. This endless cycle causes a rise in cortisol, therefore triggering an inflammatory response which leads to cellular inflammation, disruption and malfunction.
Other contributing factors include:
- Drier air from vents
- Poor hydration
- Increase in consumption of comfort foods (mainly sugar)
- Lack of exercise
- Prolonged hot showers/baths
- Irregular sleep patterns
Until Spring can shine upon us, here are some simple tips to help :
- Increase hydration. It is vital to keep the body hydrated with at least 90 oz/water/day. Without the essence of water, cellular healing cannot begin.
- Humidifier. Worth the investment. Having one by the bedside and in rooms that are frequently occupied helps prevent skin dry out.
- Limit hot showers/baths. Skin that is immersed for prolonged periods of time in hot water strips the natural oils causing hair and skin to become dry. It does feel great to stay for extended time in that warmth, but that causes more harm that good. Limit showers to 7 minutes at most.
- Coconut oil/butter. Nothing like solid saturated fats to hydrate the skin. Apply to hair and skin and allow it to soak for 45 minutes to an hour and shower afterwards. Or leave it on overnight for better absorption.
- Limit sugar intake. This is not specific to winter only! Refined sugar causes insulin levels to spike thereby leading to inflammation. Be mindful of this hidden culprit.
These are very simple, yet effective means to help control and possibly prevent winter skin ailments.
As the saying goes, we can’t stop the clock. Spring will be here before we know it as soon as we get through the craziness of St. Louis winter swings!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
The world of nutrition can be just as overwhelming as choosing your pizza toppings.
Keto? Paleo? Carnivore? Mediterranean? Vegan? Vegetarian? Lacto Vegetarian? Ovo Vegetarian? Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian? Pollotarian? Pescatarian? Flexitarian?
I am seriously not making this stuff up. There really are such things, but is there truly only one path that leads to success? Trying to pick just one is like trying to pick your favorite child. The fitness and nutrition industry continues to be a multibillion-dollar revenue stream that promises to FINALLY get you the results when other “diets” have failed to do so.
If we really believe that to be true, how come the US still has the highest obesity rate compared to all other nations? That is because we have created a societal culture of believing there is only ONE right way that is superior to the other. Because we are so desperate for results, we have failed to realize that every time we “diet” hop, we are disrupting the homeostasis of the human metabolism.
There are no bad foods. Let me repeat. THERE ARE NO BAD FOODS! THERE ARE ONLY BAD CHOICES.
THE POISON IS IN THE DOSE!
As part of a Sports Medicine Internship program I am currently in, I have the privilege of learning and being mentored by some of the industry’s best nutrition scientists. The science is clear and the equation is on point: 1 + 1 does equal 2. This means your weight loss journey comes down to one simple formula:
CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT.
It is simple math. If you are taking in more calories than you are putting out, you will gain weight.
It really is just that simple.
We underestimate how much we eat and overestimate how much we workout. This may sound harsh. I prefer to call it tough love. Don’t let the promises of a marketing agenda discourage you from following where science has always had it right.
If you want what you set out to seek, then you must put in the work. Diets are excuses that only take you further away from your goal. Be honest with your intentions. And get real with your expectations. Better yet, don’t have any. There is two parts to the equation. Both are equally important. There is only so much you can succeed with nutrition alone. – and you can never outrun a bad diet.
Blaming aging metabolism is a distraction. You must become comfortable with the discomfort of the process. Face the reality of how much you are really consuming versus how much you perceive to be consuming.
No foods are off limits. There is no need for extreme elimination, unless there are medical conditions that require it.
Our bodies didn’t get here overnight. So, how is it fair to demand change in two months? It is not. That is why we are in this tsunami of failure.
YOU can stop this vicious cycle!!
It is not going to be easy, and the reason it won’t be easy is because you are going to have to do something that you may not have done before. Let go of the idea that the answer is in some best selling book. It is not! It has always been within you.
Would you rather have short term results or long-term success?
This sounds great in theory, but what about in real life? I hear you. I could workout 24 hours a day, no problem, but if you asked me to give up my favorite desserts, you would see a very hangry person.
It has taken me 21+ years to get out of my comfort zone and open up to trying a new way of eating. I was always one of those, ‘I am going to eat whatever I want because I work out hard’ people. While part of that is true, there are so many better ways to do it. You really can have your cake and eat it too. You have to just be willing to try a different approach than what you are used to.
Here are just a few of the things I do for myself that help me stay the course:
- Hydrate. I strive to maintain a minimum of 90oz/water day. Some days are better than others. But on those off days, I do not sulk into self-judgement. I look at it for what it is and remind myself I get tomorrow to try again. And more times than not, tomorrow will be better.
- Measure your food. Uggh! Not going to lie! This is painful. Early on in my journey, I learned about portion control through measuring and weighing food. I was able to visualize what a “serving” looked like. For one month, I weighed everything I ate. I was shocked to see that 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is actually not ½ the jar. It was not easy to do this, but this was the turning point that has kept me consistent for the last 21 years. Unless you are an elite athlete or competitor, you don’t have to do this every single day. But try it for a month. I guarantee anyone that tries it will be reaching out to me after a month telling me how much this experience has changed them. It does take work, but it will be worth it.
- Strength train. In my opinion, this is actually the most important aspect to getting real. There is no other form of exercise that physiologically has as much of an effect on our health like resistance training. Designing a strength training program that incorporates progressive overload and movement pattern exercises will result in weight loss for any person at any level. Cardio is fine if you need a day to zone out, but don’t expect it to get you to the same place that only strength training can. I totally get it. I am a runner and dancer and I love to swim and spin. Until 2002, Cardio is all I used to do. But once I began to understand the power of lifting and its physiological benefits, my physique took a dramatic turn. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I took my lifting to a different level. I lift heavier than I ever thought I could and let me tell you, my blood work results have never looked better. It is not about the number on the scale that matters, it is about getting real on how insignificant that number actually is IF you are putting in the work needed to do this right. Don’t allow yourself to blame external factors. Get real with your intensity. Lift heavy!
- Just Eat Real Food. Just EAT people!!! Don’t be so concerned about searching for the best diet. The best one is the one that is sustainable. If keto works for you, great. Stick with it. If you enjoy eggs, great, stick to a Ovo Vegetarian diet. It doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, it is CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT. Period. Don’t underestimate your intake. Don’t overestimate your activity.
- Sleep. The body needs time in stillness to restore. You may think you can get by with six hours of sleep, but you can’t. None of us can. There is a threshold of time the body needs to adequately replenish. It is like trying to put gas in your car. If you drive off before it has had a chance to fill up, it can only take you a short distance. But you would get significantly more mileage with a full tank. The body is no different. Don’t rush the restoration process. The body will not take any more time than it needs. Just like the gas pump, it will let you know when it is full and ready to go. Turn off the devices. Quieten the breathing. Settle your thoughts, and make sleep a priority. I promise – you will see a difference.
I used to complicate my life by spending so much energy looking externally to the experts who I thought knew so much more than I did. I trusted their opinion because after all, if it was open to the public, there must be some truth to it, right?
After years of disappointments, I came to realize that only I had the answers. It was I who I was seeking. It was me that was holding open the pages that held the secret code of life. I didn’t have to reconfigure the formula, I just had to understand the simplicity of it. One Plus One DOES Equal Two.
I keep my realness simple:
- Daily workouts
- Daily meditation (only few minutes a day)
- Adequate hydration
- Quality sleep
- Eating the way my body guides me, not the other way around
- Letting go of expectations
- Trusting the process
Please remember that it is YOU who is the real thing. You don’t need outside influences convincing you that you need their opinions to succeed. Do your own research. Be your own experiment and find what works for you! Makes choices in your life that is a representation of your authenticity and keep it simple. You may not get there in the time you want. But you will get there!!
You just keep doing you!!
September 2021 will be ten years since changing to concierge medicine. A lot has changed in the last ten years! But the one thing that has remained constant is my belief of how healthcare should be delivered and received.
There was a time in my early years of practice when my patient schedule would be bookmarked with 20+ patients, all spaced in increments of 15 minutes. I barely had time to say ‘Hi’ to them and next thing I knew, I was walking out the door. There was no time to ask them how they were doing or how the family, kids, work were. We had time to address only one problem at each visit, leaving the rest for a future appointment.
I will never forget the day that I decided I needed to make a change. It was March 2011, and as usual my schedule was double booked with no breaks in sight. As a person who is time conscious, I make it a point to stay on time, but one small set back in the day would put me behind by at least an hour. The day started like any other. I was feeling good that I was on schedule and the stars were aligning. By late morning, a quick 5 minute break opened. I felt like I hit the jackpot. I walked into to see my next patient before that break, only to find out her beloved husband had suddenly died. How could I leave her in the middle of her anguished tears just because the timer on the 15 minutes was ticking down? I couldn’t! So I stayed there to be with her.
I was very well aware of the angry patients that began to line up after her. They also had places to go, things to do, people to see. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that our time was finished. I wanted to give her the respect of my time as she began telling me about the special love she shared with her soulmate for over 50 years.
I also knew it was not fair to the others who were waiting after her because their time was just as important and valuable.
The internal tug-o-war was too much for me to handle. Both pulled at my heart strings and I didn’t know what the right thing to do was – stay and comfort or politely excuse myself?
It was in that moment I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. How was I to take care of somebody in 15 minutes when they were placed so much trust in me to help them? I went home that night 2 hours behind schedule only to collapse into a pool of defeat.
When I graduated from medical school, I took an oath “First Do No Harm” NOT “First Do No Harm, but only for 15 minutes!”
This realization left me with no choice except to make the decision to change to Concierge Medicine.
In September 2011, I began my new practice. There was an exponential learning curve during those initial days. I had to give myself permission to take my time. I had to get used to the fact that there was no reason for me to rush. What a feeling of freedom and joy I had!! Nine years later, my patients have become like family. I cherish hearing their stories. I relish in their experiences and I rejoice in their healing.
To me, the most profound experience has been the process of learning together with my patients. I always say I don’t have all the answers, but why not find out together. To engage in dialogue that brings about mutual growth and discovery is the best platform I know how to offer.
The time I now have gives me the chance to earn your trust and I hope it allows you to feel heard.
Why I am writing about this now is because everything around us, outside of us and inside of us is chaos and confusion? When equal trust spans between physician-patient, you know you have an anchor to always hold onto.
Practicing Concierge Medicine is the reason my bond with each of you allows me the space to say “You know what? I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know when things are going to be okay. But together we will figure it out.”
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” “You can only love others as much as you love yourself.” “You are no good to others if you are not good to yourself.”
Golden words that have never been truer. Isn’t that how it was always supposed to be? So how did we get this so wrong?
Ok. Let me stop for a moment. I am not judging anybody. But, let me be clear! By taking care of you, it doesn’t make you selfish. It doesn’t make you greedy. It doesn’t make you arrogant. It doesn’t mean you don’t care.
It just means that you respect yourself enough to do the work to become the best version of YOU. So therefor, collectively as a society, we can all become better!
It took me years to understand this, let alone accept it. I am still not sure I totally get it. But what I do know is that when self-care is first on the to-do list, the list doesn’t seem so daunting.
One of my greatest pet peeves is hearing “I don’t have time.” What do you mean you don’t have time? We all have the same 24 hours. It is how we use that precious commodity that matters. When we get stuck in the notion that time is finite, we lose ourselves in the maze of excuses. Once excuses become part of our everyday vocabulary, health, peace, joy and happiness becomes a distant dream. Then the tsunami of failing health, mental fatigue, hopelessness and desperation hits.
We all HAVE it! We breathe it 24 hours a day. It is in our faces every minute. To say we “DON’T HAVE TIME” seems like a little bit of an oxymoron.
I know! I know! I am usually not this gloom and doom, but when it comes to prioritizing self-care, I have a pretty low tolerance of hearing excuses. Every single one of you is deserving of your “ME TIME,” but it is up to you to seize it. The spectrum of longevity and quality of living is determined by the time and effort you put into you.
It is not a luxury! It is a necessity! Self-care is an act of lovingly giving to yourself what you deserve without judgement or guilt. The path is different for each of us. In whatever way you replenish yourself, remember why you are doing it.
While in that “ME TIME,” remember to allow the flurries of joy to arise within you. Don’t silence it just because the task is finished or the clock tells you your time is up. Stay there. Enjoy that strange feeling, that familiar feeling from childhood when joy was all we knew and has now become a faint distant memory of adulthood. That’s where we are going. Back to that place where self-care wasn’t an option. It wasn’t something we had to choose to do. We just lived it. And we were so much healthier because of it.
Everyone has different ways of getting back there. Take your time finding yours.
The road for me continues to be under construction. Different phases of my life have offered different opportunities and experiences to become healthier. I am learning new ways of healing while unlearning old patterned ways of destruction.
I like to keep it simple.
As many of you may know I am a Friends freak. I watch very little, if any, TV. However, when I see that my fuel tank is getting close to ‘E’, I will watch a couple episodes of my most favorite show! During those 60 minutes or so, I don’t worry about what has been left undone or how much time I am “wasting” in mindless glare of the screen.
For me, those few precious minutes remind me of the 20-something year old girl that is still within me and the carefree spirit she once danced through life with. That memory reminds me that no one has taken anything from me. I had just forgotten that part of me that was buried deep into the caves of other people’s expectations of me.
When I give myself permission to climb out of that burial site and allow myself to experience that joy, an internal glow of warmth takes over and it reminds me that I am enough just as I am – and that all is ok and all will be ok.
And all of this because I gave myself 60 minutes to live, laugh and love. That feeling is what healthy living looks like.
Some of the other ways I utilize self-care in my healing are:
- Strength train 5-6x/wk. If one long block of time is not possible, break it up into 3x-10 minute sessions throughout the day.
- Meditation daily. This is a work in progress. Currently only doing it for 5-7minutes/day.
- Read one page out of any book.
- Look at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself one positive affirmation a day-OUT LOUD. This one is weird in the beginning and will take some getting used to. It is one thing to say it in your head, but it is another thing to say “You are total awesomeness” out loud. But trust me, it will change your day.
- Stretch for 180 seconds before bed. Notice how I didn’t say three minutes? Why? Because our thoughts will immediately tell us we don’t have time. But when we hear ‘seconds’, it is like, ‘oh, I can totally afford to take out a few seconds.’ Outsmarting the mind is the only way to recondition our engraved societal thought patterns of ‘I can’t’; ‘I don’t have time’; or the ‘go big or go home-all or none’ mentality.
- Every month, do ONE thing that scares you. Now why would we do something that is going to skyrocket your cortisol levels? Because when we do what we think we can’t, we realize just how capable we are and this will cause the endorphins to multiply exponentially.
As you can see, I try to keep things simple. It only takes spending a few minutes with yourself every day. Here are some other fun easy ideas:
- Sports games with friends
- At home mani-pedi
- At home spa day
- Diffusing essential oils
- Sleepovers with your BFF’s-Pillow fights and all-nighter movie marathon allowed
- Bubble baths
- Head oil massages
- Sidewalk chalk art
The possibility to be creative is endless. Doesn’t matter what you do. Just do it.
I used to write out complicated timelines and elaborate visions of how I was going to take the ‘best’ care of myself. They often required more time or more planning and if just one thing didn’t go according to plan that day, my whole intention was derailed. I would find myself in a fast tailspin towards mental and physical collision.
I have learned that when healing is kept simple, more space is available for us to learn, play and enjoy the experiences.
If we are patient enough, we will learn that the open grounds of life’s experiences will lead us to health and healing. When we truly begin loving ourselves and all of our perfect imperfections, we begin to love everyone around us just the same.
And that my friends, is what we call SELF-CARE.
Self-care is a mosaic of your best work: a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of infinite potential buried under the misconceptions of other people’s perceptions.
YOU DO YOU! Because there is no one else like you!
Be safe. Stay healthy.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.
We all know it is coming. We fight it tooth and nail. We don’t give into the relentless annoyance of it. But yet, somehow it always seems to have the upper hand. And by “it”, I mean your metabolism or lack thereof.
How is it that three little numbers makes us lose so much sleep?
Before starting yet another dieting spree, let’s take a step back and understand what metabolism is and how it changes through the aging process. If we don’t understand it, we can’t change it.
Metabolism is a “series of chemical reactions that sustain the living state of organisms and cells.” Metabolism can slow one to two percent each year after the age of 30.
Nutrition is the KEY to metabolism! Carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins comprise the majority of fuel needed to keep metabolism operational.
Let’s take a brief look at how each one plays a role.
- Carbohydrates: This includes starch, sugar and fiber. When eaten in moderation, carbohydrates are broken down to fuel metabolism.
- Protein: Proteins are the main tissue builders in the body. They are part of every cell in the body. Proteins help in cell structure and function. They are also vital in supplying nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material and energy production.
- Fats: Fats produce twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or protein. They help form the cellular structure, help absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide a reserve storage for energy.
- Minerals and vitamins: Minerals do not play a direct role in energy needs but play an important role in metabolism. Vitamins are essential compounds that the body doesn’t produce and therefore relies up nutritional intake.
What are some other potential causes of a slowed metabolism?
- Hypothyroidism and other endocrine issues
- Inadequate sleep
- Chronic stress
- Exogenous hormone intake
- Hormonal imbalance (low estrogen and testosterone)
- Medication side effects
- Excess supplement intake
- Excess fat intake
- Calorie deprivation
- Low muscle mass
The good news is that there are ways to naturally increase our metabolism. But first understand something. Chasing after a “goal” weight or “ideal” size is unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment. The scale doesn’t take in to account skeletal density, muscle mass or fat reserves. It only tells you an absolute number, a number which is false and misleading.
Don’t panic yet. We are not doomed forever. Here are some simple ways (many of which we have seen before) to raise your metabolism.
- Assessing the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The Resting Metabolic Rate test (RMR) determines the amount of calories your body is using at rest. The results of a Resting Metabolic Rate test can tell if you have an increased or decreased metabolism, and if your body primarily uses fats or carbohydrates for energy. This information can be used to determine the amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain or lose weight. The testing is done by breathing into a mask that measures your Oxygen –Carbon Dioxide exchange.
- Increase muscle mass. Strength training three to four times a week is mandatory when trying to increase metabolism. Developing and maintaining muscle mass allows the RPR to increase. Every pound of muscle uses approximately six calories a day to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only two calories daily.
- Eat. Calorie deprivation causes the body to go into crisis mode. As a preservation mechanism, the body slows down its metabolic response by storing fat and calories. Adding protein to every meal allows a constant release of glucose and maintains insulin regulation.
- Drink up. Dehydration is the killer when it comes to a slow metabolism. Calories need water to process. Even small levels of dehydration can cause a slowing of the RPR. Try for a goal of 90oz/day. If you struggle to get down your daily water quota, consuming fresh fruits that contain natural water is a great alternative.
- Sleep. Think of sleep like pulling into the gas station. We have to bring the car to a complete stop before we can fuel up. Just the same, sleep forces us to stop so that the body may refuel. If we compromise on sleep, we wake up on an empty tank of gas and expected to go the same distance as if the tank was full. Not possible. To sustain life, the body saves energy by decreasing metabolism.
- Question your medications and supplements. Just because it doesn’t say it on the package insert doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Assume everything going into your mouth is the cause until you proven otherwise. See what lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get off of prescription drugs.
- Maintain zero expectations. Our body will never be how it was in our 20’s and 30’s. So how can we expect it to respond in the same manner? Don’t be disappointed because you lost “only three pounds”. Be happy you didn’t gain three pounds. Body fat percentage, changes in clothing fit, how you feel is the REAL goal.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking for a solution under every advertisement. In the US, the weight loss market is a billion dollar industry! If these companies claim to have the answer, then how come we are still the most overweight nation? These are empty promises. The diet pills, the latest calorie restricted programs that leave you emaciated and crabby, the guaranteed “to lose 20# in 20 days” nonsense. THEY DON’T WORK. Don’t waste your money. Our parents and grandparents didn’t seem to struggle as we are now. So how come it is the topic of almost every conversation? What was once a simple seamless process of aging has now become a race against who can promise the fastest results.
If we stop for a second and reflect, in every moment of life our bodies are in constant conversation with us. The symptoms we experience are the body’s attempt to get our attention. A slowed metabolism isn’t something to become consumed by. It is an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle. Rather than trying to “fix” it, listen to what it has to say.
There is no fast way to lose weight. Let me repeat….there is no fast way to lose weight. Dropping weight faster than the body can handle is a sure fire way to crash the metabolism to an all-time low.
Be gentle and patient with yourself. No matter what the scale says, you will always be worth more than those three little numbers.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.
According to the CDC, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds while one dies every 36 seconds. Coronary artery disease, caused by arterial inflammation and plaque deposits, is the number one cause of heart disease in the United States.
It is so important to take heart health seriously. The greatest risks for coronary artery disease are obesity, significant tobacco and alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle, consuming a diet of processed foods and living in a chronic state of stress. These are the stereotypical images we see in doctor’s offices, magazine covers, pharmaceutical advertisements and even people in our own lives. We are all at risk and we must work to minimize those chances.
While we can’t prevent everything, we can at least try!
The disease process begins with microscopic cellular damage. We may often have no symptoms or mild symptoms, which we will likely dismiss as a nuance. However, as the damage becomes more intensified, the symptoms become more pronounced until we can no longer ignore it. Given the great mechanism of the human body’s ability to heal and regenerate, many diseases can be brought under control and even reversed. But why wait and get to the point of damage control?
February is all about the heart! The heart of Valentine and the heart of YOU!
Making good lifestyle choices has been engrained into our psyche. It is not enough to know that it is important. We must know WHY it is important. Understanding what is happening on a molecular level will make being disciplined in our day to day living a bit easier.
Let’s talk about some of the ways we can minimize our risks of heart disease.
- Physical activity. According to numerous NIH studies, exercising consistently lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Another study showed regular exercise at a moderate intensity decreased platelet aggregation thereby decreasing the risk of clotting. An active lifestyle also aids in vascular remodeling and angiogenesis. This phenomenon allows for greater blood perfusion to all tissues and organs while decreasing the chances of ischemia. Some of the more commonly known benefits to exercising are lower BP, lower glucose levels, better weight control and overall reduction in cortisol. Undeniably, numerous studies and data points show a direct link between sedentary living and increased risks of heart disease. So, lace up and start moving.
- Diet. We all know processed foods are not good for us. But what exactly is happening at a cellular level with consumption of high fat foods? There is still much debate on the “perfect” heart healthy diet, and that is in part because of the varying ways crops are grown and harvested in different parts of the world. Let me explain. Our food system was once dominated by local markets with little modification to the crops. However, our modern food chains, depending on the part of the world, have fallen into the hands of government regulations as a part of a global business endeavor. This transition has led to changes in processing, packaging, and distribution of our food source. Hence the term GMO has become a household name. That is not to say that everything we put into our mouths is bad. We just need to become educated on how our food crops are grown. According to an NIH article, “a large Danish prospective cohort study of the impact of replacing saturated fats with high-GI carbohydrates found that when high-GI carbohydrates replace saturated fat, myocardial infarction (MI) risk increases 33%.” Refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, excessive sugar intake, low protein and fiber diet have been shown to increase blood sugars that can lead to diabetes. Excessive glucose in the blood stream increases the likelihood of platelet aggregation and thrombosis. While we do not need to deprive ourselves of our favorites, we must understand that daily indulgences can increase the risks. So rather than worrying about which diet is the right one, focus more on taking out the processed foods. Remember, shop local and know your crops.
- Minimize supplements. The jury is out on this one. I believe ‘less is always more’. Many ads convince us by taking multitude of ‘natural’ supplements we can ‘prevent’ diseases from occurring. Since most supplements have not been FDA approved, we do not really know how ‘pure’ the ingredients are. And what’s not to say that some of the fillers used to bind the supplements, couldn’t in some way increase our risk to the heart. I see so many patients come in with bottles and bottles and bottles of supplements in hopes of maintaining optimal health. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if that were the case? But the secret to longevity is not by putting more things into our body, it is taking things OUT. Our bodies are equipped with everything it needs to heal and reset and knows exactly what to do. Why jam the process by adding ‘extras’? Vitamin D, Magnesium, Omegas, Aspirin all have their place and do provide some protection. My concern with supplements is while it may claim to help now, what happens in five or ten or fifteen years? What if it is later proven that they do more harm than good? We do not know that. It is a calculated risk. But if we give our bodies a chance to restore and protect with its own natural mechanisms, it won’t let us down. We just need to do our part by making the right lifestyle choices. Exercise, eat clean, sleep, sleep, sleep, hydrate and decrease stress levels.
- Calm the mind. This one will take lots of practice and conscious effort. Stress causes our bodies to mount a defense against the oncoming attack. This defense triggers inflammatory chemicals to be released into the system. While these components play a vital role in protecting the immune system, it comes at a price. The cost, cellular inflammation, and DNA mutation. Translation? The start of a disease process before even a single symptom is felt! We all know what those stressors look like – not getting enough sleep, becoming physically over exerted, staying in constant states of worrying, holding onto to things that are not for us to carry. But all is not lost. Take a step back and ask yourself, ‘how did I get here’? Here – to this place of scurry, hurry and worry. Was it worth it? IS it worth it? Did it get me to where I thought I wanted to go? Or have I dug myself in deeper? My guess is the latter. It is awesome when we become aware of what we have been carrying and even more powerful when we choose to set down that burden. The inflammatory effects of stress are real people! Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it won’t jump out of the closet one day. But we can lower this fury. How? By literally taking a deep breath. Begin to spend time in activities that will help lower the anger of the adrenal glands. It only takes five-seven minutes a day to do this. Try this:—As soon as you wake up, instead of checking your social media posts, sit up in bed for few minutes with your eyes closed and envision your cells happy and joyous. Create how you want your day to look.
—Another way is when you are brushing your teeth or in the shower, choose a mantra and repeat it until you finish that activity. Some of the mantras I have created for myself, “My body is the vehicle that helps me live my dream. And I need to honor that purpose.”
“My health is important because it is through my body that I can serve others in ways they deserve.”
“When I invest in my health, I invest in living my life’s purpose.”
“Healthy living doesn’t have to be hard if I choose to live in simplicity.”
You get the point. These are just some I play around with. Some days, affirmations occur on the spot. Just go with it. We must not underestimate the power of the spoken word and its effects on the cells which will rise up and match those healing intentions.
—Meditation, Tai-Chi, Yoga, Pranayama, Essential Oils are some simple resources that can be utilized. However you choose to focus on you, just choose wisely and lovingly.
Writing this blog was a bit of a challenge because I wanted to include just enough data to convince you and me why we should be doing a better job of taking care of our health without sounding like a medical journal regurgitating volumes of stats and case studies.
With every article I write, I always learn something new. But this month was different. This month, I was inspired.
Reading the extensive NIH studies and the concluding data, I was utterly astonished as to just HOW much our simple choices can make a profound difference, good and bad. I have become inspired to be a bit more conscious of my choices and not take for granted every heartbeat.
While we can’t prevent everything, we can at least try.
Happy Heart Month to you all!
The New Year is often seen as a lighthouse for new beginnings and new possibilities. A time where mistakes of the past year become the lessons for the future. For some, it is a victory lap for overcoming the impossible. It is a new chapter waiting to be written. January 1st represents moments of hope, healing, promises and possibilities. While it is still all of those things, it is just going to look a little different this year. More work will be required of us, but the growth will be magnificent and better than anything we could have ever imagined.
One thing about the New Year I could never understand was the concept of “resolutions.” To me, when I hear resolutions, it makes me feel I have something to resolve. What if I don’t have anything that needs a resolution? Then what? Where do we go next?
My literal interpretation of that word always felt so discouraging so I never made any.
Instead, I began calling them “New Year’s Intentions.” It may seem like such a trivial change, but it holds a much deeper meaning. Intentions have no end or no beginning. They can take on any form and never lose their value. Intentions convey to the Universe that you are ready to receive all that is deserving of you.
New Year’s intentions won’t fade by the end of January, because they originated out of an abundance of your very thoughts, feelings, words and actions. It will always remain with you and a part of you.
Trust me! Try setting intentions this year!
Yours may look different than mine, and that is fantastic! A garden is more glorious when all flowers are not the same!
As I do every December, I spend the last few weeks of the year thinking about not just what I want from the year ahead, but also what I can give back to make the world feel a little less pain.
I have always believed that we don’t need to be on the frontlines to make a difference. When we are centered, the steadiness of our true intentions emits energies of high vibrational frequencies that help in the healing process no matter where we are.
Remember, when creating yours, keep it simple. You don’t have to have an extravagant end point.
Simple. Sustainable. Steady.
So how about we set a few intentions, right now, together? Here are just a few of my intentions for 2021 and beyond:
Affirmations. What we believe, we live. After years of epic failed attempts, I am finally beginning to accept that self-judgment only leads to spinning our wheels further into this incessant pool of negativity. It gets us nowhere! So why do we do it? This year I am choosing to change all of that. Every day, I look in the mirror and tell that reflection staring back at me ONE positive way she is making a difference in the world. When we think positive thoughts, we believe them. Our actions are manifestations from that single thought. That single affirmation results in a surge of neurotransmitters that leads us to feel happy, hopeful and joyous. YOU ARE ENOUGH. Three of the most powerful words. Say it often enough and you WILL believe it. When we believe in ourselves, we will do everything we can to stay healthy and support that awesomeness.
Meditation. When I first stepped foot into the mandala of the meditation circle, I was scared of what I would find within myself. I wish I could say I am as disciplined in my meditation practice as I am in my workouts. I still meditate once a week, but to truly reap the benefits of the practice, I am lovingly guiding myself to a daily habit. It is no longer fear that keeps me off of the mat. It is pure laziness!! Meditation has healing benefits that have been consistently proven time and time again. So why not do it? I think part of it is the uneasiness of sitting in silence with our own thoughts. Not knowing what truths could emerge is a little unsettling. But when we release that control, meditation is ONE of the very best resources we have to living a healthy life. My intention is to sit for FIVE minutes daily and turn off the world. Try it! I promise it will change your life and your health.
One new thing a day. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a diehard Friends fan. I can recite any line from any episode from all 10 seasons. So, this next intention is a tribute to the episode “The One With All The Resolutions” where Ross decides to try one new thing a day. I started thinking about that and thought, why not? We are so used to living in our comfort zones and anything outside of that safe air space scares us. But doesn’t growth, healing, joy and happiness come from new experiences? I decided the “new thing” doesn’t have to be anything big. For example, I put the spoons in a different drawer than normal or I put my left sock on before my right. This seems so silly, especially with everything going on in the world. But just in the last couple weeks of trying “one new thing” I have started appreciating the small things that I so often took for granted. It is doing a puzzle for the brain. I find I have to slow down and concentrate because I am no longer operating on auto pilot. I just smile and giggle at the simplicity of having to think for a second or two before putting on the left sock before the right. How truly simple healing can be if we just move past home base. Finding the courage to trust new experiences leads the way to making greater changes in our lives.
Journaling. This may not excite some of you out there, but hear me out. You don’t need to be holding a pen and paper to journal. Yes, while scripted words offer a cathartic release, any form of artistic creation can do the same. We don’t have to be an artist or master creator to express those visions we dream. A box of 24 Crayola crayons and a $2 coloring book is journaling. Organizing your desk or closet is journaling. Trying spontaneous recipes is journaling. Wearing mix-matched socks is journaling. Typing a letter to Mother Nature is journaling. To me, ANYTHING that allows a passionate expression of oneself is journaling. Dancing, for me, is my everything. I have used the power and grace of movement in dance to convey things that words couldn’t match. But this year, I wanted to learn other ways to speak the language of expression. This one is a work in progress. The perfectionist in me is learning to let go of how I think the outcome should be and just give myself permission to be “perfectly imperfect” in the process of creation. As with all of my other intentions, I wanted to keep it simple. What’s simpler than a box of crayons and a blank sheet of paper? A canvas for unleashing the imagination of all of our thoughts and feelings and being free to express in a way words can’t is the healing power of journaling.
When I was thinking of topics to write on this month, these were the furthest things in my mind.
I could have played it safe and went the conventional route by promising myself to drink more water or get to bed 15 minutes earlier or resist that last cookie, but I wanted to see what would happen if I went unconventional.
I am not saying those things are not important, because they are! I knew that taking a detour through the scenic route would lead to new experiences and greater learning. After all, I was still going to the same place. How I got there was not as important as the fact that I reach safely, even if it takes a little longer.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you this new journey and I hope it inspires you to look at yours in a different light.
All roads lead to the same place.
2021-A year of hope. A time of healing. Here is wishing each of you a very Happy New Year!