Posts Tagged ‘Blum Center for Health’
I don’t know about you, but my Friday the 13th was way more fun than freaky.
First I jumped rope (2003 jumps, yay!) while watching The Today Show, then I zipped into Gotham for a yummy, chatty lunch with my hyper-groomed friend Jenny, the one I’m always writing about, the one who could win Olympic gold for pulled-togetherness.
Après roasted Brussels sprouts, and as soon as l’addition was settled, I hightailed it back to the wilds of Joisy. But first I had to stop at the magazine store because I accidentally left my new Vanity Fair at the resty and felt the need to replace it instantaneously.
Crazy, right? I could have just as easily turned around and gone back to Blue Water Grill for my precious February VF, thus saving myself $5 or whatever. But I’m like a shark; I move forward or die. Plus, I also wanted to nab the new issues of Oprah, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country. Magazine-junkie, thy name is Momover Lady.
Happily, I made it back to Casa Moi just in time to scamper up to our family room and click on Dr. Oz. I had already gotten the heads-up that my Mama Guru and go-to holistic mentor Susan Blum would be making her first appearance, and I didn’t want to miss a second of it.
It was such a great show. She was one of four “disease detectives” Dr. Oz feels are really upsetting the traditional medicine applecart in completely positive way. Specifically, she discussed the underlying causes of fatigue, and how she and her crack team treat the root causes in addition to the symptoms. (If you missed it, you can read Dr. Blum’s article about fatigue and functional medicine on the Dr. Oz website right here.)
Afterward, Dr. Blum also appeared on Fox 5 News. So of course I watched that too.
I took notes on both of these fatigue-centric telly segments – please, we all know what a wellness geek I am – and here are my 4 key learnings:
1. If you have thyroid issues, as I do, get your T3 level checked. Apparently, many traditional docs just hone in on the more-standard thyroid-function markers, namely TSH and T4. Dr. Blum calls T3 the “gas” hormone, aka the one that revs us up. So know your number.
2. Yes, vitamins are important. But if you’re tired all the time, minerals are even more crucial. Dr. Blum’s big three are zinc, selenium and iodine. Previously, I’ve blogged about Dr. Blum’s easy ways to get iodine into your diet. Please read that before gulping down a handful of iodine pills.
3. Food is medicine. We hear this so much lately – and I have to say I think Dr. Oz is doing this country a huge public service with all his chatter about about eating well – but do we really know it? According to Dr. Blum, not only do we need to determine our own unique nutritional deficiencies, we all need to steer of certain items that are universally horrible. Enemy Numero Uno? Sugar.
4. When it comes to de-stressing, knitting is great. I turned a massive cartwheel when I heard Dr. Blum say that on Fox 5 News. J’adore knitting, even though I’ve only recently re-discovered it and am firmly stuck in scarf-mode. Essentially what Dr. Blum was saying is that stress-relief is incredibly important to our health. Meditation is a great method for that, obvi, which is why her Blum Center for Health offers lots of how-to classes. (I took one and loved it.) But don’t discount other de-stressers and mood-improvers, be it “knitting, painting or going for a walk in the park.” Loved that. Loooooved that.
Forgive me, dear reader, as I toggle back and forth between two super duper important topics today: 1) The painfully slow, but actually happening, redecoration of my home office and 2) my newly re-upped discipline around meditation, and how it’s already having a positive impact on my life.
Why the toggling? Because, as you’ll soon glean, the two super duper important topics are entwined, much like turkey and stuffing. (I didn’t go too nutso on Thanskgiving, by the way, and I’ll trust you didn’t either. A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips…)
First, stare hard at the gorgeous image above. That, I’m happy to say, will soon be mounted on my office wall. It’s called “Storm Rolls In” and was shot by photographer Jodi Cobb off the coast of Alabama. If you’re into gloomy, dangerous ocean – as I obvi am – I think you’ll agree that it is a stunning picture. Bad things are about to happen, and the muddy navy and gray hues are spectacular.
I bought the 40 X 30 version, and as soon as Hubby paints the “accent wall” behind it (in “Geyser” by Martha Stewart Living, a decidedly uncheerful teal), I will bid adieu to the current artwork residing there – a quartet of watercolors of Duchess of Devonshire types nabbed from Tepper Galleries – and put it in storage for our eventual move to the New England version of Barbie’s Dream House. I’ve loved having my fashionable, fan-wielding ladies around to keep me company while I work, and in the future, I can envision a chic little sitting area with them as the backdrop. But right now, it’s time to pack them up and dive into the ocean.
Which brings me to my meditation practice.
I’ve blogged previously about my borderline addiction to ocean meditation CDs, as well as my tendency to gaze at the crashing surf on YouTube. As much as I dig those, however, and as much as I consider meditation to be a prime source of mental and physical health, my own “practice” has been spotty in the past year. Thus, endless guilt. I know meditation is incredibly healthy, so exactly why haven’t I been doing it on a regular basis?
Well, for my birthday earlier in the month, I made precisely one resolution: To meditate every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes before my concentration sputters and I’m mentally rocketed back into my busy life. From researching the meditation chapter in Momover book, I’d learned that it’s very much about ass in seat (or on a schmancy meditation cushion) every day. Better to meditate a little daily than to attempt some monster session once a month.
The everyday approach helps you to get into the zone that much more quickly, and also to provide a tiny dose of the relaxation that meditating is so great at imparting. Breaking up your daily stress cycle – that constant churn of having to do this, and having to do that – is key to building your immune system, and just generally helping you feel like you have the world by the you-know-whats.
My daily practice entails listening to my current fave ocean meditation CD while I move through a number of sea-themed tableaux. I’m at the top of a gorgeous, Architectural Digest-worthy lighthouse, with a 360-degree view of a roiling Arctic Ocean; I’m in Hawaii, watching the surf crash into a cave formed by lava flow; I’m sitting on the beach at a resort in Bora Bora, gazing out at a thatch-roofed hut; etc., etc.
There are more images I “visit” – beaches I’ve actually been to, shoreline I actually know – and sometimes those work their way in too. And since I’ve been keeping a log (I know; I’m so OCD with my logs and journals), I can see that I’ve been steadily increasing the time I spend moving through these “seascapes” in my sessions. (I don’t set a timer, although I know many other meditators do.)
But here’s what I’ve been pondering: Is what I’m doing meditating? Or visualizing? And should I care? Is one somehow “better” than the other?
When I field-tripped to the Blum Center for Health a while back, and took a guided meditation with Elizabeth Greig, director of the Mind Body Spirit program, she told me that what I do is basically a mashup of meditating and visualizing, “and it sounds great.” I was encouraged by that, and still am.
If we’re splitting hairs, meditation is “passive” thought awareness, and visualization is “active” thought awareness. But visualization, as I’m sure you’re aware, can also help you achieve goals by helping you form an intense vision of something you want to manifest. (This is the best book of all time on visualization; if you don’t already own a copy, buy one stat.)
But what I’m doing in my walk-in closet, eyes closed and earphones on, isn’t visualization in the classic sense. Why? Because I don’t really want to live in a lighthouse, even one as posh and luxe as the one I’ve created in my head. And maybe I’ll get to Bora Bora with Hubby at some point, maybe I won’t.
Nope, I just like to visit every day. Surf in a little stressed or distracted, and surf out relaxed, refreshed and Zen.
Last weekend, on our way to an early-bird Saturday night dinner, Hubby and I popped into a health food store in the West Village. “Maybe we should stock up on iodine pills,” he said, scanning the shelves, “before they’re sold out.”
Though I’m generally a big ol’ fraidy cat about natural disasters, terrrorism and crashes of all stripes – and a biopsy can send me cowering under the blankies for days – for some reason I haven’t really glommed-on to the universal fear du jour: radiation wafting over to the States from Japan.
But since lots of other mommies are understandably freaked, I wanted to share some insights from health smarty-pants (and Mama Guru) Susan Blum.
Dr. Blum’s stance is that, for lots of people, iodine tablets are fine – with one BIG caveat: If you have thyroid issues (as I do, sadly), ramped-up iodine via pills can spell trouble.
“In these cases, and also in some normal-thyroid people, the high dose of iodine can actually cause your thyroid to become worse,” she says. “For this reason, it is important to make the decision [to take iodine supplements] based on your personal health history.”
A safe alternative, per Dr. Blum, is to boost your iodine levels through foods, including:
· sea vegetables such as dulse, kelp, nori and haziki
· seafood including ocean fish and shellfish
And the good doc is so keen on us mamas going the natural route, she even had Marti Wolfson, the in-house chef for the Blum Center for Health, whip up an easy-peasy, sea-vegetable condiment recipe for you:
Dulse and Sesame Seeds
1 cup dulse
1 cup sesame seeds
Toast the dulse until it turns purplish and crispy and let cool. With a mortar and pestal or in a food processor, combine sesame seeds and dulse until coarse mixture. Sprinkle as a condiment in soups, salads, sandwiches and cooked vegetables.
Last week, I hopped a train outta Grand Central to Rye Brook, to visit Blum Center for Health and gather lots of groovy, wellness-oriented info to file away for future use.
Of course it isn’t surprising that I’d learn so much on my little field trip. Faithful readers of this blog know that I’ve recently featured the center’s founder – integrative doc Susan Blum – as one of my Mama Gurus.
(If you haven’t already read that piece, in which Dr. Blum chats about her holistic approach to treating chronic illness, do so now. I can wait…)
So in between inhaling a yummy dish of quinoa prepared by Director of Nutrition Marti Wolfson and descending into a deep state of relaxation during a guided meditation with Elizabeth Greig (Director of Mind Body Spirit Programs), I gleaned the following health tidbits:
1. A lot of the cruelty-free fake meats I’ve been trying contain a crummy ingredient that should be avoided like the plague: hydrolyzed protein. According to Elizabeth, who is also a Nurse Practitioner, I need to stick to products that are as natural and veggie-based as possible. And on that note, Dr. Praeger’s is a good bet.
2. Traditional cleansing can starve the liver of the food it needs to do its job of detoxifying our bods. Dr. Blum offers a very different – medically supervised – plan of attack, at three different levels: The 5-day “Bang,” the 10-day “Boost” and the 21-day “Beyond.” It all sounds very smart, slow and safe. Read about it here.
3. Being stuck in a meditation rut is better than not meditating at all. Before she kicked-off our guided session, Elizabeth asked us about our current practice. And immediately, I found myself apologizing for my total addiction to Zen-ing out to ocean meditation CDs. I described how, in my sessions, I “travel” to different settings – the rough, rocky Atlantic, the Carribbean, Malibu, etc. “It’s like a mix of meditation and visualization,” she said, “and it sounds great.”
Though I kept up with my movie-going (Black Swan: macabre, sinister, incredible costumes by Rodarte and for the first time, I found Vincent Cassel pretty hot…), I spent most of this past weekend hacking, wheezing and sneezing – and thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have anything really wrong with me.
But if I did have a major illness, or a chronic ailment, I would most definitely head up to Rye Brook, New York to visit the latest Mama Guru – Susan Blum, M.D. As founder and director of Blum Center for Health, she helps women look at their health from a 360-degree, soup to nuts angle.
And in so doing, not only is there real help to be found, but the path to getting there is less painful. That’s because Dr. Blum makes it her business to give her patients the lifestyle tools they need to find a bit of day-to-day peace. Whether it’s stress-management techniques, guided meditation or focused breathwork, she has you working on your mind and spirit along with your body.
I really respect this holistic approach to wellness. It just seems to make more sense than merely throwing a lot of meds at a situation. And for all you mamas who may be suffering, my positive get-better vibes are beaming right out to you.