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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Well Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Moderation this HolidayThere is a Christmas list circulating and the writer (a little girl) has asked for a string of very expensive items. This early installment of the January 2014 Wellness News You Can Use proposes some alternative ways to celebrate the holiday season that focus on spiritual, social, intellectual, physical, and emotional wellness.

Remember those less fortunate. From coat drives to giving trees, from soup kitchens to elderly neighbors…is there someone who could use your help this season?

Create, don’t buy. Ever watched children open gifts to the point of exhaustion? These instances make us question the point and spirit of the holiday season. Instead of buying this year, what if everyone had to make gifts or donate services/chores? From cookies to hats, memory albums to poems, and from cleaning bathrooms to shoveling…there is something we can all create that has value.

Donate. With all of the money you and your friends and family saved creating and giving personal services…there might be a little money left over. Is there a charity that might benefit during this season?

Focus on activities together, not gifts. Caroling, baking and cooking, sledding, board games and puzzles, ice-skating (surfing for those in warm climates); Make the holidays about enjoying friends and family. You may just start a new beloved tradition.

Moderation. Often times during the holidays we forget about moderation. It is a celebration after all, right?! But between less sleep, more food, more drink, and lots of presents, it is easy to lose ourselves, our goals, and our sanity. Have fun…but remember your roots. Your body and psyche will thank you.

Make time for the spirit. No matter your spiritual bent or religion, the end of a year and beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect, pray, give thanks, and center yourself.

Remember how things have changed. This letter was from 1938. The Adirondack Almanac published it in December of 2010 to remind us how simple things once were:

Dear Santa,
I would like a new pair of shoes for Christmas. -

Tags:  Emotional  Holidays  Intellectual  January 2014  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness 

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Quotes for the New Year

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

Follow the Yelloe Brick RoadThis is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.

- Taylor Swift


And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.

- Rainer Maria Rilke


No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!

- C. JoyBell C.


Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

- L. Frank Baum


Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

- Carl Bard


Now I've gone for too long
Living like I'm not alive
So I'm going to start over tonight
Beginning with you and I

- Hayley Williams


Even seasonal situations can bring with them lessons that last a lifetime. If the love doesn’t last, it prepares you for the one that will.

- Mandy Hale

Surrender...sacrificing my life or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed.

- Rick Warren


It took me a very long time to accept that an ending was really just a new beginning.

- Charlene May


I read about history I don't repeat it.

- nechantenique

Tags:  Behavior Change  Inspiration  January 2014  New Beginnings 

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Wellness In 10: New Year's Resolutions Better Than Losing Weight

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

Small StepsAt one time or another many people have wanted to lose weight. Some even go so far as to dump that one wish on a hopeful January 1st (or very late December 31!). If resolutions were all it took to accomplish what we wanted, we would make resolutions every day. As it is, most of us be-grudge the annual time of year when we are supposed to vow to do better, knowing that accomplishing those lofty goals are easier said than done.

What we know from years of study is that smaller goals are often easier to accomplish than large lofty goals, so here are 10 goals that are better than "I want to lose weight.” Just pick one. If you "master” it, add another one.

1. I will eat a high protein, low-fat breakfast.

2. I will not have a second helping (at least on weekdays).

3. I will try one new healthy recipe each week. (allrecipes.com has a great selection)

4. I will make sure each meal includes a green vegetable.

5. I will drink water throughout the day.

6. I will replace a half hour of TV time with movement (The TV can still be on!).

7. For those who sit at desks = I will get up and move around at least once an hour.

8. I will learn about strength training and how to do it safely. Here’s a great site: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/02/28/strength-training-101/

9. I will reward myself when I accomplish little goals.

10. I will look for at least five opportunities each week to move more.

Tags:  Intellectual  January 2014  New Beginnings  Physical  Weight Loss  Wellness In 10 

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14 Tricks for Motivation for 2014!

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013
  1. DisciplineFocus on one specific goal.
  2. Get excited about that goal.
  3. Start small.
  4. Build on little successes.
  5. Focus on the benefits, not the difficulties.
  6. Recognize why you don’t feel motivated:
    a. You don’t really want it.
    b. You lack some resource to get it (so how do you get that resource?)
    c. The cost of getting that resource is too high.
    d. Habit.
  7. Focus on getting disciplined instead of motivated.
  8. Allow only so many excuses a day.
  9. Create new routines.
  10. Don’t think, just do. Put your shoes on and walk outside…don’t think about if you want to go for a walk. Just go through the motions to get there. See, now wasn’t that easy?
  11. Set a reward if you accomplish your goal. Vegetables at every meal this week, check. Great, you have earned yourself a bottle of nail poilsih or a new fishing lure. Bigger accomplishments, bigger reward.
  12. Anticipate bumps. Motivation ebbs and flows, that’s natural. Staying on course after a "bump” is the secret.
  13. Incorporate learning something new. It could inspire you!
  14. Have support systems. Make sure you surround yourself with individuals that want you to succeed.






Tags:  Discipline  Emotional  Goals  Intellectual  January 2014  Motivation  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual 

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Smoking Changes Human Genes

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

GenesA December 2013 journal article in Human Molecular Genetics describes how smoking alters several genes that can be associated with health problems for smokers, such as increased risk for cancer and diabetes.

The original research was done by faculty from Uppsala University and Uppsala Clinical Research Center in Sweden.

While we know that smoking is bad for many of the systems in our body, this new research points to an underlying change in the way we as humans are composed at a basic level.

Nature or Nurture: Humans inherit genes from their parents at birth. But, we can change those genes with chemicals that alter DNA (think steroids). While certain changes in human DNA are caused by normal chemical processes (such as aging), environmental and lifestyle choices can also impact our DNA.

Through their study, the researchers identified large numbers of genes altered by smoking. According to the researchers, this means that the gene changes are not likely caused by the tobacco itself, but by the elements produced when the tobacco is burned.

Why does it matter? Smokers are not only at risk for the diseases associated with inhaling/ingesting tobacco products, they are also altering their genes in a way that puts them at a higher risk to actually contract the diseases associated with smoking. Essentially, it is a double whammy.

Welisane Besingi and Åsa Johansson.Smoke related DNA methylation changes in the etiology of human diseas. Human Molecular Genetics, December 2013

Tags:  Intellectual  January 2014  Physical  Quitting Smoking 

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Meditation: A Needed Gift After the Holiday Rush

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

MeditationGo, go, go! Slowing down seems like the last thing you want to do when you have so many things on your plate, but it may be the best answer. Sometimes you have to move slow to move fast. Or remember the old saying, measure twice, cut once? Meditation allows us to measure (or take stock of and collect) ourselves and our surroundings before we act.

The following are some great reasons to meditate:

Meditation counters the brain’s natural negative bias. The negative bias isn’t bad; it is an evolutionary tool that allows us to avoid danger and bad situations. For some folks, it can be in over-drive. Meditation as a tool can help individuals to counter this natural bias and focus on what is good and positive. And in doing so, it reduces our stress levels. Here’s the research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118731/?tool=pubmed published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal in 2011.

Meditation practice also leads to decreased blood pressure and hypertension, lowered cholesterol levels, more efficient oxygen use by the body, increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA, improved immune function, and decreased anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Meditation enhances concentration, memory, and the ability to learn. Here’s the research: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/ published by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2011. The research showed that after only eight weeks of meditation, participants experienced benefits associated with memory, learning, empathy, self-awareness, and stress regulation. In addition, the meditators reported decreased feelings of anxiety and greater feelings of calm.

Meditation helps to create better relationships through its ability to allow individuals to focus on what is "present” (in front of them such as their partner, friend, or family member) rather than focusing on unrelated worries or concerns. See the research from Harvard above.

Meditation improves creativity and problem-solving skills. Ever been stuck in a thought rut where you can’t let go of something? Ever have so much on your mind that you can’t think? Meditation helps individuals to slow down and focus on specific thoughts, goals, or feelings. See the Harvard research above.

Meditation decreases depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Without being too technical: Tthe process of slowing down our brains triggers the release of neurotransmitters (Chemicals including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins) that are linked to happiness, calm, pleasure, and exhilaration. For more on this effect visit http://www.chopra.com/ccl/why-meditate#sthash.xlpVBzU9.dpuf.

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  January 2014  Meditation  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Stress  Wellness 

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Summary: How Early Should Obesity Prevention Start?

Posted By NWI, Sunday, December 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013

Baby!An article published November 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at the issues surrounding obesity and when its treatment is most effective.

The article’s authors make the following observations:

  • Obesity is linked to Type 2 diabetes, which will affect at least half a billion people worldwide by 2030.
  • A majority of U.S. women of childbearing age are overweight or obese (a body-mass index of more than 25). The weight these women gain during pregnancy is often more than non-obese women, often does not come off, and increases the initial weight of these women prior to subsequent pregnancies.
  • Weight of the mother is a risk factor that can alter fetal growth and metabolism.
  • Research on animals shows that the time to treat obesity is the prenatal period and the first postnatal year.
  • After birth, rapid weight gain in the first 3 to 6 months of life is a potent predictor of later obesity and cardiometabolic risk.
  • Perinatal Risks: Research on humans also shows a critical perinatal period for treating obesity. Perinatal weight gain and smoking are the largest risk factors for an obese child.
  • Postnatal Risks: Among formula-fed infants, the introduction of solids before 4 months was associated with a six-fold increase in the odds of obesity three years later. In addition, infants who get less than 12 hours of sleep a day are more prone to obesity later in life.
  • Due to when the development of microorganisms occurs in infant guts (in transit through the birth canal), cesarean sections may be linked to elevated risks of obesity in children.
  • Other factors that make the prenatal and postnatal periods the best time to address obesity:
    • Women tend to be more willing to change behaviors if it will benefit their children.
    • Pregnant women and newborns go to the doctor more often than other general populations which increases the possibility of interventions.
    • The prenatal and postnatal periods are short. Behavior change interventions are most successful in the short term.
    • If interventions begun during pregnancy are maintained after birth, maternal obesity risks for future pregnancies will be reduced and the cycle might be broken.


Reference: Gillman, M.D.,M.W., and Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., D.S. (2013, November 13) How Early Should Obesity Prevention Start? New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1310577


Tags:  December 2013  Diet  Exercise  Nutrition  Obesity  Physical  Pregnancy 

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Once Again…Balance Wins Over Extremes on the Path to Wellness.

Posted By NWI, Sunday, December 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013

This is balance?

A new Dartmouth study, released November 2013, found that chronic dieters are more likely to overeat than non-chronic dieters. The study mapped the regions of the brain that monitor impulse control. These regions were disrupted by frequent feelings of deprivation.

The findings, which appear in the journal Psychological Science, may translate to other addictive behaviors such as substance abuse. Previous studies, according to the published findings, suggest that people have a limited amount of self-control that dwindles when used to cope with stress, temptation, and other challenges to our willpower, leaving us vulnerable to impulsive and undesirable behavior.

What does this mean for wellness? Extreme and constant dieting, quitting smoking cold turkey, and extreme exercise, make difficult long-term lifestyle behaviors. To become healthier, take a series of small steps that can be integrated into your everyday life. Once you incorporate the small changes, add a few more. Balance is key to long-term change.

D. D. Wagner, M. Altman, R. G. Boswell, W. M. Kelley, T. F. Heatherton. Self-Regulatory Depletion Enhances Neural Responses to Rewards and Impairs Top-Down Control. Psychological Science, 2013; 24 (11): 2262 DOI:10.1177/0956797613492985

Tags:  December 2013  Diet  Exercise  Intellectual  Physical 

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Wellness in 10 Doubled!: The 20 Most Expensive Health Conditions

Posted By NWI, Sunday, December 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ugh uh!

A report released in August 2013 provided a ranking of the most expensive health conditions based on the aggregate cost of hospital care in all U.S. hospitals in 2011. Keep in mind that many chronic conditions have cost considerations that are outside the hospital.

The report, released by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), quantified costs from 2006-2013. The original data set is from 2011. HCUP, a family of health care databases and related software tools and products, is made possible by a Federal-State-Industry partnership sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). For more information visit: http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/

Here’s the test: Of the health issues listed below, which do not have a lifestyle-related cause in their list of possible risk factors?

20: Acute and unspecified renal failure (kidneys stop working)

19: Mood disorders

18: Fracture of neck or femur/hip

17: Biliary tract disease (involves the gallbladder and bile ducts…can involve the liver due to bile ducts in that organ)

16: Diabetes mellitus with complications

15: Rehabilitation care, fitting of prostheses, and adjustment of devices

14: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis (COPD)

13: Complications of surgical procedures or medical care

12: Cardiac dysrhythmias (irregular heart beat)

11: Acute cerebrovascular disease (brain dysfunction related to blood vessel disease)

10: Respiratory failure, insufficiency, arrest: adult

9: Coronary atherosclerosis (heart disease)

8: Congestive heart failure, nonhypertensive

7: Pneumonia (except that caused by tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases)

6: Spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders, other back problems

5: Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

4: Liveborn (birth)*

3: Complication of device, implant or graft

2: Osteoarthritis

1: Septicemia (except in labor)

Answer: 3 & 15. All of the above conditions have at least one, if not more, possible cause that relates to lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, smoking, etc. *Livebirth (having a live baby, number 4) is made more possible if the mother has a healthy lifestyle.

Tags:  Costs  December 2013  Emotional  Health  Physical  Wellness In 10 

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Inspiration: New Beginnings and Passing On

Posted By NWI, Sunday, December 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013

to life!This month’s quotes are dedicated to the end of a year and new beginnings. Because the cycle of life is inevitable and all of us will have to one day deal with losing a loved one (if we haven’t already), sometimes our outlook on loss can be our saving grace (our own gem of wellness). The following quotes remind us to celebrate those who pass and to cherish life.

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
Mother Teresa

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.
Pope Paul VI

Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Stephen King

Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.
Helen Keller

Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.
David Gerrold

I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand.
Benjamin Franklin

You can change your world by changing your words... Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Joel Osteen

As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
Leonardo Da Vinci

There are stars whose light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen apart. There are people whose remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.
The Talmud

If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death, since it comes from the hand of the same master.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in a manner so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.
Native American Proverb

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.

Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.
David Searls

A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.
Maya Angelou

That we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.
Helen Keller

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
George S. Patton, Jr.

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.
Bernice Johnson Reagon

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.
Rabindranath Tagore

In one sense there is no death. The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond departure. You will always feel that life touching yours, that voice speaking to you. He lives on in your life and in the lives of all others that knew him.
Angelo Patri

Tags:  Comfort  Death  December 2013  Emotional  Intellectual  Physical  Spiritual 

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