The Good Life

The Good Life

Are you searching for the secrets to a truly fulfilling and happy life? Look no further! In the latest book review on the Health Geeks Book Club Podcast, Kristen Norton and Eleanor Russell dive into the captivating pages of “The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness” by Robert Waldinger MD, Marc Schulz Ph.D., et al. This delightful book is a treasure trove of engaging stories, practical advice, and key research findings in the field of happiness.

“The Good Life” takes readers on a journey into the lives of some of the participants in the world’s longest scientific study on happiness, the Harvard Study of Adult Development. Drawing upon decades of research and real-life stories, the authors delve into the key factors that contribute to a meaningful and healthy life. They explore the importance of relationships, community, personal growth, and finding purpose.

Top 3 reasons why I loved this book:

  1. Engaging Stories: “The Good Life” is full of compelling stories of individuals with various life choices and circumstances. These stories illustrate that despite various trials and tribulations we might face, we can be protected by the power of relationships, resilience, and finding joy in ordinary moments.
  2. Practical Advice: The book provides practical guidance on nurturing and maintaining healthy relationships, fostering personal growth, and finding meaning and purpose in everyday life. It offers actionable steps for readers to improve their well-being and happiness.
  3. Friendly Tone: One of the standout features of “The Good Life” is its warm and friendly tone. The authors’ approachable style of sharing what they have learned from the Adult Development Study makes the ideas and research findings accessible and relatable.

Bottom line:

“The Good Life” is a must-read for anyone seeking genuine happiness and a long, healthy life. Its compelling stories, practical advice, and friendly tone make it an enjoyable and informative read.

Don’t miss the opportunity to embark on this transformative journey toward happiness and well-being. Grab a copy of “The Good Life” today and unlock the secrets to living your best life.

Hungry for the Good Life?

How to detect food myths like a scientist

How to detect food myths like a scientist

Part of the frustration around nutrition is that we read the ideas and theories of so many different influencers, bloggers, physicians, and nutritionists on every corner of the web. In addition, we see catchy and misleading advertisements trying to get our attention and money. And to top it all off, the news headlines tend to share just a snippet of the latest research studies in a way that can have us questioning what we once knew to be true. This all makes it seem like nutrition science is useless and nobody is right!

Before you throw your hands in the air and give up, listen to what Dr. Chaney has to say. Dr. Chaney is a retired professor of human metabolism who knows a thing or two about the scientific method. He is passionate about helping consumers think more like scientists so we can make sense of the latest news in nutrition and spot the hype.

In his book, Slaying the Food Myths, he writes in detail about how to do this, but I’d like to share some highlights with you here.

How to think like a scientist

First, look at the totality of available research.

You can find a study or two that proves just about anything. This makes it easy for people to cherry-pick one or two research studies that support their theory and disregard the other studies that may disprove it. A good scientist will look at all the research and consider what the majority of high-quality studies show. Never base your opinion on a single study, rather look at the “weight of available evidence.”

Secondly, know that all studies have flaws.

No study is perfect. Some are better than others, but they all will have limitations. Sometimes the study is too short. Sometimes it has confounding variables (unexpected things that influence the outcome.) Sometimes the sample size is too small or not a good representative of the entire population. Because of this, there is no none perfect clinical study that proves or disproves a hypothesis. That’s why it is essential to look at several studies and understand what types of studies are available.

Understand the different types and phases of scientific research.

Third – The art of scientific discovery has different phases; first, we test a theory in the lab. If it shows promising results, then we try the theory on animals. Lastly, we see if it relates to humans. Many new and exciting research that makes the news headlines are done on animals. That is a factor we need to consider when hearing new research snippets. Unfortunately, only 1/10 of animal studies work out to also be accurate/helpful for humans.

Much of what we know about diets and health is from association studies. While these have provided many valuable insights, they have significant weaknesses. Association studies can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship. They also can’t indeed account for all the possible unintended associations that may have influenced the outcome. For example, if you look at diet soda intake and weight, you may find that those who drink diet sodas are overweight. Is there a positive association because diet sodas cause weight gain, or is it because those who are overweight tend to drink more diet sodas to lose weight or control calorie intake?

The gold standard for research is a double-blind intervention study, where participants are randomized into a control and intervention group without the researchers or the participants knowing which group they are in. But unfortunately, this type of research is nearly impossible to conduct when the intervention is diet. So we must understand the limitations of what we know from association studies around diets.

Take into consideration individual variability.

Lastly, although we can gain a lot of good information from research studies, we must remember that we are all different, and dietary results may vary vastly. Research studies report the average response to a particular diet or food. However, if you look at each individual in studies, you’ll see that a specific food or diet works well for some study participants and doesn’t work at all for others. Consider this your reminder to pay attention to how your body responds to foods and dietary patterns and trust what it tells you.

Save some time

If you rather save time and find a trusted resource: check out Dr. Chaney’s books and his blog. You can also check out the conversations between the Health Geeks and Dr. Chaney on the podcast. Lastly, your friendly dietitians can help you make sense of the hype and point you in the right direction to meet your health and wellness goals. Book a free clarity call today.

Understanding Your Metabolism

Understanding Your Metabolism

Do you know your metabolism well? Maybe you wish you could speed up your metabolism. There are plenty of gimmicks and so-called solutions out there promising to boost your metabolism and get you FAST results. But what does that really mean? Are we able to “BOOST” our metabolism? Do we need a fast metabolism? Dr. Jade Teta, the author of Next Level Metabolism, says no. we don’t. Instead, we need a flexible metabolism. Here’s what you need to know in order to better understand the metabolism and keep it flexible.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is the process of turning food into energy. It is a sum of complex chemical reactions that take place within our cells. The energy generated from these reactions is needed for bodily functions that keep us alive. Even if we are lying still, not moving a muscle, we need a good amount of energy for our lungs to breathe, our liver to function, our brain to think, and so on.

    • The rate at which we use energy is called the metabolic rate.
    • The total energy we use at rest is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR).
    • Beyond using energy at rest, we require energy for all movement (walking, activities, exercise) and digestion (the thermic effect of food.)

Any easy way to think about metabolism

Jade starts his book, Next Level Metabolism, with a great analogy. He says we can think about metabolism as a barometer and thermostat. It’s always changing in response to the conditions to which it’s exposed. Much like your thermostat in your house when it is set to 70 degrees, it is constantly striving to maintain that temperature and, to do so, makes adjustments based on what it is sensing in the environment. Your metabolism does the same to maintain balance. It is constantly sensing the environment.

What is your metabolism sensing?

The simplest answer is STRESS. Anything that threatens the status quo of your metabolism can be seen as metabolic stress. Doing the following for a prolonged period of time can result in a stressed-out metabolism.

    • Intense cardio workouts
    • Psychological stress (lots of cortisol)
    • Calorie Restriction/Dieting

Dieting = Stress On Your Metabolism

It’s no wonder, then, that when you are on a diet, your metabolism fights back with all its might to fix the problem. It senses that something is wrong and focuses on helping you survive this stress. Typically by signaling you to move less or eat more. Dr. Jade Teta uses a rubberband to explain this. When we go on a diet that has us exercising more and eating less, it’s like pulling on a rubberband so far that it snaps back, often overcorrecting itself. He goes on to explain that we can look for certain signals that indicate the metabolism is under stress.

How do you know when your metabolism is under stress?

When the following is out of check, the metabolism is likely under stress:

    • Sleep
    • Hunger
    • Mood
    • Energy
    • Cravings
    • Exercise performance and recovery
    • Digestion
    • Libido
    • Menses

How Do You Support a Healthy Metabolism?

Reducing stress (both mentally and physically) can support a healthy, flexible metabolism. Stress-reducing activities like walking at a comfortable pace, deep breathing, yoga (with a focus on breath work), meditation, tapping, getting a good night’s sleep, and so forth may be far more beneficial than hitting the gym for that 1-hour cardio session.

Monitor your hunger, cravings, mood, energy level, and so forth for any major disruptions. These will provide feedback that you’ve pulled the rubberband too far. Instead of intense workouts coupled with way too few calories, try…

A) eating enough to fuel your workouts


B) swapping out the intense workouts for more relaxing movements/walking while eating a reasonable amount.

Want to explore this topic further?

Tune into the Health Geeks Book Club Podcast, where Eleanor Russell and I (Kristen Norton) share many more tidbits we learned from reading Next Level Metabolism.

(Listen on Spotify)

Are you friends with your nervous system?

Are you friends with your nervous system?

The nervous system is at the heart of our daily experience and works in the background outside of our conscience awareness. It can shape the way we experience the world, including how we think and feel about food and our bodies. It also can affect our digestion, heart rate, and immune system.

You’ve likely heard of the gut-brain connection. Part of that connection includes the vagus nerve, which carries an extensive range of signals from the digestive system and organs to the brain and vice versa.

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Did you know there are 3 modes that your nervous system supports and will switch between throughout the day? According to the polyvagal theory, they are:

  • Safe and Social mode – feeling comfortable, connected, and safe in our environment
  • Fear or Flight mode – feeling anxious, threatened, fearful, or wary of surroundings
  • Shut Down mode – feeling dissociated, numb, disconnected, tired, shameful

All modes are helpful in some way for our survival, but as you can probably guess we feel and function our best in that safe and social mode.

A high level of stress/anxiety or unresolved trauma can make it hard to stay or get in the safe and social mode. This can make eating mindfully and being in tune with your body quite challenging.

That is one reason why your Well Balanced dietitians encourage you to build up your self-care toolbox. These activities often build resilience and support a calmer nervous system. It’s part of the mind-body connection that can improve your well-being, support a healthy digestive system, and make it easier to build healthier eating habits.

4 ways you can support your nervous system.

  • Listen to your favorite music while paying close attention to the lyrics and instrumentals.
  • Breathe in slowly to the count of four and release to the count of seven. Do this for 5 minutes.
  • Do some gentle stretching, even if it’s for just a couple of minutes.
  • Watch something funny.

Hungry for more info about your nervous system?