Resolution Inspiration

GoalsIt’s almost impossible at this time of the year to avoid the concept of making positive changes in your life through myriad New Year’s resolutions.  Whether or not you declare them publicly, write them down privately or just give them fleeting thoughts, those improvements you’d like to see in your life come from deep inside and represent areas of your life you “wish” were different.  What is it then, that transforms these “wishes” into reality?  The answer is simply…..MOTIVATION!  The evidence for this can be seen in your own life.  What are some of the personal accomplishments in your life of which you are most proud?  Typically they will stem from having overcome formidable obstacles, having expended extreme effort or having put another’s needs above your own.  There was most likely a sacrifice to be made and we humans are wired to need some type of motivation to make meaningful sacrifices.  Whether it’s to avoid pain or seek pleasure, mentally or physically, there is some trade-off to be made in order to effect change and transform a wish to reality.  Success may be measured in the results, but the true personal reward is in having driven yourself to a new level, in knowing that you were tested and rose to the challenge.

One of the most effective ways to stimulate motivation is through example.  In the interest of trying to help you accomplish whatever resolutions you may be contemplating at this time of year, I strongly encourage you to take 15 minutes to watch the TED presentation by Diana Nyad below.  Although perhaps an extreme example, it demonstrates the power of the human spirit and should provide you with encouragement in accomplishing your own personal goals in 2014.

(If the video doesn’t load, go here)

God bless


Dealing With Family

frustrationHere’s some particularly insightful advice on how to make your holiday family gatherings more enjoyable and peaceful.  Wayne Dyer’s premise here is critical in that the most effective way to change the dynamics of any relationship is to work on the only thing over which you have control…..yourself!

Relative Bliss


Many years ago, when the holiday season arrived and certain relatives were due to make their annual appearance, I felt a sense of increasing dread. Far too many of us suffer from the pain of family get-togethers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Somehow we allow the expectations and demands of our family members to be the source of so much unhappiness and stress, when what we really want is to be authentically ourselves and at peace with our relatives. The conflict seems too often to be a choice between being authentic, which means no peace with certain relatives, or having peace at the price of being inauthentic. Being peaceful and authentic can define your relationship with your relatives. First, though, you may have to assess your relationship with the closest relative of all—you.

In order to change the nature of family relationships, you’ll have to change your mind about them and consider that you are the source of the anguish in your relationships, rather than the individual whom you’ve pegged as the most outrageous, the most despicable, or the most infuriating. Over the years, all of these individuals have been treating you exactly as you’ve allowed them to with your reactions and behaviors. This can miraculously change when you choose to be at peace with everyone in your life—most particularly, your relatives.

If the focus of your inner dialogue about your family members is on what they’re doing that’s wrong, then that’s precisely how your relationship with them will be experienced. If your inner speech centers on what’s annoying about them, that’s what you’ll notice. But if you’re thinking, I am authentic and peaceful with this relative, then that’s what you’ll experience—even if that relative continues to be exactly the way he or she has always been.

group hugThe key to having peace in all your family relationships is forgiveness. Your relatives are simply doing what they’ve been taught to do over a lifetime, and the lifetimes of many of their ancestors. Shower them with understanding and forgiveness from your heart. Rather than being in a state of non-peace concerning any family members, say a prayer of gratitude for their presence in your life and all that they have come to teach you.

MerryChristmasThe likelihood is great that you’ll see dramatic changes in your relatives as you teach them with your own persona how you intend to be treated. But if they don’t change, and if they continue their nonpeaceful ways, let go of your need to see them transformed. It all works in divine order, and the saying Let go and let God guarantees your own peace, and you dramatically increase the odds of helping others to do the same.

Merry Christmas and God bless

Christmas & The Fruitcake Lady

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to get some sage advice from the “Fruitcake Lady”?

God bless


“Miracle-Gro For Your Brain”

brain healthThis title is actually a quote from John Ratey, a neuropsychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, who is making the case that fitness has a long-term influence on a wide range of cognitive abilities.  It’s generally accepted that exercise is effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  Recent research by Ratey and others now suggests that the physical exercise in which we engaged as children helped power the brain through the many changes into adulthood and the subsequent decrease in physical activity as we age is partially responsible for the onset of dementia.  One German study, published in 2010, tracked 4,000 people older than 55 for two years. It found that those who rarely took part in physical activities were more than twice as likely to suffer from a cognitive impairment by the end of the study than those who engaged in exercise such as gardening, swimming or cycling a few times a week.  Another study, which followed 1,500 people for 20 years, showed that those people who exercised at least twice a week during middle-age were less likely to develop dementia in their 60s and 70s.

There are three possible explanations for the link between exercise and brain function.  One is the euphoric effect and clarity of mind felt after exercising which produces a drop in stress levels, long recognized as an impairment to cognitive function.  The second is the effect on blood pressure.  High blood pressure, especially in the arteries that feed the brain, has been linked to a slump in mental performance.  Regular exercise tends to lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the stress and damage to these arteries.  The third, Ratey describes, is “exercise also prompts the brain to send out growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  BDNF is like ‘Miracle-Gro for your brain’ because it creates an environment where neurons can flourish and promotes the formation of new connections between cells.”

exercise and the brainMost importantly, you can produce this beneficial effect at any age, even with moderate exercise like walking.  Ratey suggests starting slowly with an exercise regime that is not likely to produce injury or initial discouragement.  However, in concert with the most recent exercise theory, he goes on to stress that the most dramatic effect will be through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  Aside from producing the best physical results, HIIT seems to also produce the best mental conditions as evidenced by a German study in which participants incorporated two three-minute intervals of high-intensity sprinting into a 40-minute run. They produced much higher levels of BDNF and noradrenaline, and the runners performed 20 percent better in a post-run vocabulary-building exercise than those who had taken more leisurely exercise.

The only benefit to dementia is that you meet new friends and family every day.  It’s a horrendous condition, but science is now suggesting you have some control over it manifesting in your life.  Start moving!

God bless

Virtues Of The Vine

Not surprisingly, this was one of the most popular posts last year so, as we move into the holidays, reminding you of red wine‘s powerful medicinal properties seemed an appropriate gift……….Cheers!

Red Wine:  Health Benefits

  • Decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease
  • Lowers risk of heart attacks
  • Maintains muscle mass, strength and bone density during extended periods of inactivity
  • Prevents harmful cellular damage
  • Decreased incidence of colon, lung, prostate and breast cancers
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces the risk of cataracts
  • Reduces the risk of brain decline or dementia
  • Increases levels of good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Decreases levels of bad cholesterol (LDL)
  • Reduces anxiety and tension
  • Aids in digestion
  • Hardens your enamel to prevent tooth decay
  • Aids with sleep
  • Increases life-span and has anti-aging properties
  • Reduces the incidence of colds
  • Exhibits anti-inflammatory properties

red wine health benefitsThat’s an impressive list, but remember, these benefits are associated with moderate and consistent consumption.  Excessive imbibing and binge drinking can lead to a whole host of health problems including  increased cancer risk, liver disease, high blood pressure, heart failure and addiction.  Wine also contains empty calories, which can lead to weight gain in the absence of exercise and proper nutrition.

So go ahead and enjoy your red wine over the holidays…….responsibly and in moderation.

God Bless

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Get The Message Yet?

The Plant-Based Lifestyle Is the Best Medicine I’ve Ever Prescribed

RobertOstfeld 570x299 The Plant Based Lifestyle Is the Best Medicine Ive Ever PrescribedAs a cardiologist, I am delighted to share the many ways Forks Over Knives has been an incredible resource for my patients, my students, and for me. I recommend the movie multiple times each day when explaining to patients how they can dramatically improve their health by embracing a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Outside of an emergency medical condition that requires an urgent intervention, I have never seen anything come close to providing the breadth and depth of benefits that this lifestyle offers.

However, ten years ago I would not have been writing this post or otherwise extolling the benefits of a plant-based diet. During my training at Yale and Harvard with many outstanding physicians and scientists, I learned little about this approach. For years after my training, I applied evidence-based medicine, recommended a “healthier” lifestyle, which typically included a Mediterranean-style diet, and watched as my patients’ diseases often progressed. I became frustrated. There had to be something more.

Fortunately, I was introduced to the work of Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn. Based on their research, I started a Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, where we encourage patients to embrace a whole-foods, plant-based diet. The results have been amazing. My patients’ chest pain and shortness of breath have dramatically improved. Their cholesterol has plummeted, they have lost weight, and they are able to eliminate or reduce the need for multiple medications for problems such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and chronic pain.

I’d like to share a real-life example: A patient in his late 50s began to develop chest discomfort. It progressed to the point where he would feel it even as he sat still. Cholesterol blockages in his heart were the cause. He did not want any cardiac procedures, and he was started on all of the appropriate medications. However, he continued to have discomfort even walking a block or two. He then changed his lifestyle, embracing a whole-foods, plant-based diet. His cholesterol fell dramatically, he lost weight, and after just a few months he could walk over a mile. Now, two years and no procedures later, he is jogging over two miles and says he feels 30 years younger!*

Patients also describe benefits they may not have originally expected, such as more energy, improved complexion, clearer thinking, better sleep, fewer colds, improved erectile function, increased stamina, and more! In fact, patients have cried tears of joy from the results they have achieved. Frankly, I have fallen in love with being a physician all over again.

I am grateful that you are reading this, as the need for this type of lifestyle change is only growing. Heart and blood vessel disease is the number one killer of adult men and women in the United States,(1, 2) and approximately two out of every three twelve-year- olds in the US has early signs of cholesterol disease in the blood vessels that feed their hearts with blood.(3) We are literally killing ourselves from diet-driven disease.

Each of you influences many people in your family and community. Please join the Forks Over Knives team in helping to spread awareness about the benefits of the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle.

In my years of practice I have learned that it is never too early to make this change, and it is never too late. When we are born, our bodies are like turbo engines. A few decades of animal products and processed foods later, we turn those bodies into clunkers. Let’s turn back the clock … because we can!

*Patient identifiers have been changed.

1  American Heart Association. Heart disease and stroke statistics–2004 update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association, 2003.

2  Heart disease and stroke statistics–2010 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2010;121:e46-e215.

3  Stary HC. Evolution and progression of atherosclerotic lesions in coronary arteries of children and young adults. Arteriosclerosis. 1989 Jan-Feb;9(1 Suppl):I19-32.

– S Castle and A Goodman. Rethink Food: 100+ Doctors Can’t Be Wrong. Two Skirts Productions, Houston, TX, 2014.

Robert Ostfeld, M.D., M.Sc.

Robert Ostfeld, M.D., M.Sc.

Cardiologist Robert Ostfeld, M.D., M.Sc. is the founder and director of theCardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, where he encourages patients to embrace a whole-foods, plant-based diet. He earned his M.D. at Yale and his M.Sc. in epidemiology at Harvard, and he is an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Death By Sweet Tooth

Take the 15 minutes to watch this video, it could substantially reduce your chances of heart disease and cancer………

(If the video doesn’t load, go here)

God bless