Get Started Resources
There are many excellent resources for emotional, physical and spiritual healing for obese people available in print and video and on the internet; many more than can be listed here.
These are tools I use myself and suggest to my patients. There is a range of expenses – many of these are available in abbreviated form for free; many are downloadable. A few are very expensive, and are marked as such. There is no formula here other than experimentation. If you find something that works for you, go with it. Keep looking for the next resource that will help you and the next and the next. Remember, this is a process, not a procedure.
OVERALL HEALTH AND NUTRITION (Click Title to Open/Close)
Mark Hyman, M.D., www.drhyman.com is a leading expert on “Functional Medicine”, a medical philosophy of disease prevention and healthy living. In The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First, Dr. Hyman identifies the causes of many mood and memory symptoms, and suggests inexpensive and easily implemented changes. If you are extremely obese, start with minor changes and adjust to them slowly.
Daniel Amen, M.D., www.amenclinic.com has brilliantly used neuroimaging to identify areas of the brain that are overworking in obesity via SPECT scanning. You can find this information in his new book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. It’s not all in your head, it’s all in your brain!
Sandra Cabot, M.D., www.liverdoctor.com has a wonderful program for obese persons with fatty liver disease and/or hepatitis. A very clear explanation about why your liver gets sick from your weight, which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, and what kinds of supplements will help.
Esther Sternberg, M.D., www.esthersternberg.com is an icon in the field of psychneuroimmunology and endocrinology. Her books offer clear, understandable explanations of how your mind-body-spirit is connected with your health, and what this means for your immune system, in particular.
Andrew Weil, M.D., www.drweil.com is the father of alternative medicine for the masses. When I do not know what a supplement is, or which supplement to choose, this is the place. Good sound medical advice, comprehensive alternative treatments.
EMOTIONS (Click Title to Open/Close)
One of the best overall books for understanding how your emotions intertwine with your body and spirit is by psychiatrist Judith Orloff, M.D. I recommend that patients begin with Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love. Her newest book, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life addresses how to deal with parts of your life that drain your energy. www.judithorloff.com
The next two books can help you to see how much energy is used by different levels of emotion. Using these books, you can view emotional ladders from depression to joy, and step up, one step at a time. Normal is a range of emotions, not one single emotion all day long.
David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Power vs Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior 1995: Veritas Publishing. www.veritaspub.com
Esther and Jerry Hicks. The Astonishing Power of Emotions: Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide. I am more interested in the very great wisdom of material in this book than whether or not Esther Hicks is really channeling a consciousness from spirit. www.abraham-hicks.com
ANXIETY AND PANIC (Click Title to Open/Close)
Belleruth Naparstek, LISW www.healthjourneys.com
The mother of guided imagery provides comprehensive audio programs and lots of free downloads. Listen to the audio any way you can – if you cannot set aside an hour of relaxation or if you are very stressed or anxious, listen in parts and pieces through the day – 10 minutes at a time, while getting dressed, working, etc. Try and get through the entire CD once a day – I have one lady who listens 15 min in the morning while getting dressed, 15 minutes at lunchtime, and 30 min at night after she gets into bed. She is relaxed at work, and no longer struggling with her supervisor, and tells me she’s never yet heard the ending!
Master Chunyi Lin, www.springforestqigong.com
When you feel overwhelmed with too much energy it generally means you have too much energy in your head. Try this technique: drop your shoulders, place your hands on your belly button and take long gentle deep breaths. Dropping your shoulders is very important – actually it’s a trick. Remember to drop your shoulders. Good luck!
When having an anxiety attack drink a glass of cold water, take long gentle deep breaths, step outside and get some fresh air and try not to focus on that emotion. Instead, feel how good you feel.
DEPRESSION (Click Title to Open/Close)
If this is a crisis and you or someone you know is in danger, please call
USA National Suicide Hotlines
Toll-Free / 24 hours / 7 days a week
TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
James Gordon, M.D., former Chair of the National Institutes of Health Office on Alternative Medicine, www.jamesgordonmd.com has written a wonderful 7-step approach to dealing with depression called Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression.
Carol Tuttle www.caroltuttle.com is a faith-based energy practitioner who has spectacular tapes on depression, anxiety, parenting and money woes. Her description of interrupting her negative thoughts while walking around in her kitchen is the best I’ve heard.
CONNECTING WITH SOUL (Click Title to Open/Close)
Here is the famous rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ by Israel ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’Ole on YouTube. This was a great inspiration to me – Thanks IZ!
If you can only look at one resource, this is the one. Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. A Stroke of Insight – www.drjilltaylor.com -This Harvard neuroanatomist discusses what happened when she had a nearly fatal stroke and lost her left brain function. Here is the famous 18-minute video of her talk at the TED meeting www.TED.com
CREATIVITY (Click Title to Open/Close)
www.playingforchange.com Music producer Mark Johnson takes street musicians from all over the world and connects them in music, in spirit and in hope in this amazing documentary and set of videos.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer. What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul Harper San Francisco, 2005. www.oriahmountaindreamer.com
Mark David Gerson. The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. Santa Fe, NM: Light Lines Media, 2008. www.markdavidgerson.com
ENERGY HEALING (Click Title to Open/Close)
Energy techniques include acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, EFT, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and many others. Some practitioners are very experienced and well-trained. Spend time online researching the technique you are interested in, and talk to others who have experienced and benefited from both the technique and the practitioner.
Emotional Freedom Technique http://www.eftuniverse.com/ Invented by Stanford engineer Gary Craig, an efficient, effective way to deliver full meridian acupressure tapping on yourself in times of distress. Impressive series of thousands of case reports. Can be learned online for free.
Donna Eden and David Feinstein www.innersource.net are experts in the fields of energy medicine and energy psychology. Their training offers a comprehensive explanation to the meridians, but may be too detailed for some non-practitioners.
Healing Codes – Invented by Alex Loyd, Ph.D, this is a focused energy technique that works on areas of the brain that contribute to distress and disease such as the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, frontal lobe regions, etc. Nice testimonial from co-owner Dr. Ben Johnson about how his Lou Gehrig’s Disease remitted using these codes. They do work, but they are VERY EXPENSIVE and require diligence to do the codes three times daily for weeks to months, even though they are short. www.thehealingcodes.com
EXERCISE, MOVEMENT and DETOXIFICATION (Click Title to Open/Close)
Your body is designed to move. Even if you are hundreds of pounds overweight and unable to ambulate, you will find some movement here that you can do.
Walking – start by walking 5-10 minutes at a time. As you build up tolerance, increase THE NUMBER OF TIMES A DAY, not distance. It is better to do three 10-minute walks a day then one 30-minute walk with sitting the rest of the day when you are very overweight.
Master Chunyi Lin – Spring Forest Qi Gong – www.springforestqigong.com – The first QiGong DVD is for beginners and can be used by those who are extremely sedentary or ill, even bed or homebound or oxygen-dependent. You can begin in a chair or lying down.
For DETOX, I recommend Francisco and Daisy Lee Garripoli’s QiGong for Cleansing DVD. Once you learn this program, it is only 9 minutes and you can identify areas of illness that need additional work.
www.bigyogaonline.com is the yoga of choice for obese persons. I love yoga, but every time I tried to do yoga, my stomach got in the way or I couldn’t bend over. Check out the FAQ section for pictures of Meera demonstrating the Sun Salute.
GRIEF (Click Title to Open/Close)
Most Hospice and Palliative Medicine programs and many religious institutions have bereavement coordinators or groups – you can begin to work with a bereavement counselor before someone dies or years after. Professional grief counseling organizations on the internet will have lists of providers in your area.
Neale Donald Walsch For people who believe in life after death, I recommend Home with God In a Life That Never Ends, part of the Conversations with God series. www.nealedonaldwalsch.com
If you are a family survivor of someone who committed suicide, connect with a fantastic organization called Survivors of Suicide. There are groups and online support available. The reality of losing someone to suicide is that only people who have also gone through this will fully understand your experience. www.survivorsofsuicide.com
Pet Loss – famed animal communicator Elizabeth Severino has a lovely book The Animals’ Viewpoint on Dying, Death, and Euthanasia. www.beyond1.com
ILLNESS (Click Title to Open/Close)
Illness requires medical care. Anyone who tells you otherwise puts you at risk. However, illness prevention and resolution of chronic illness requires identifying underlying physical issues and correcting them through lifestyle, medication and monitoring. The Institute for Functional Medicine represents a growing group of physicians and health-care providers who incorporate prevention and lifestyle into disease management.
LIFE PURPOSE AND SPIRITUAL HEALING (Click Title to Open/Close)
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. There is more to life than being on a treadmill all day long trying to keep things under control. I love the CD’s in my car – listening to them transforms my ride, and thus, transforms my day. Thank you Dr. Dyer! www.drwaynedyer.com
Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., revives a classic meaning-of-life exercise in his book Five Wishes: How Answering One Simple Question Can Make Your Dreams Come True. If you were on your deathbed, would you consider your life a success? And if not, why not? www.hendricks.com
Martha Beck Ph.D., Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. If there were awards for common sense, this would be the winner. www.marthabeck.com
Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishing, and driving force in mind-body-spirit psychology for years. In her book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise correlated illnesses with emotions. I always read the correlations aloud to patients with chronic illness to see if it rings true. Her affirmations are simply beautiful and always uplifting. www.louisehay.com
MEDITATION (Click Title to Open/Close)
Prayer is asking for help; meditation is listening for the answer
An easy place to begin to learn about meditation is www.meditationsociety.com
For people who have a hard time quieting their minds, assisted meditations are helpful. They incorporate sound, movement and video, and provide the benefits of relaxation and meditation. You don’t have to work to quiet your mind; you can just put your headphones on. It works for me.
Meditainment www.mediheaven.com – computer guided audio and visual meditations that will transport you from 4 minutes to 30 minutes. Try “Rapid Relaxation” while at work, or during the day when you only have a few minutes.
Centerpointe www.centerpointe.com – You can retrain your brain to stop the cycle of automatic thinking and worrying and overreacting by using this method. Holosync technology involves the same sound entering your ears at two different frequencies – something the brain finds very confusing. In order to make sense of the discrepancy, your brain actually grows new neuron connections in underused areas. I play it every night when I get into bed, and the next morning I am positively serene. Needs headphones. EXPENSIVE OVER TIME.
PATHS Mind Energetics – A computer guided visual and audio meditation that uses binary code to suggest positive changes to your brain. Fun to watch and listen to. Honestly, I have no idea why it works, but I can tell you from both personal and patient experience that it absolutely does overcome resistance and allow healing. CAN BE EXPENSIVE TO BUY WITH ADDITIONAL MONTHLY SERVICE FEE.
(DISCLOSURE – This is my personal page)
EVOX by Zyto – Clearing Emotional Roadblocks Using Voice Repatterning. This is an amazing biofeedback type machine using voice recordings and lights to feedback and eliminate emotional blocks. It got me writing this book again! VERY EXPENSIVE to buy, look for a local practitioner. www.zyto.com/Products/Evox.aspx
MEMORY AND BRAIN HEALTH (Click Title to Open/Close)
The most frequent complaint I hear from obese patients is that they are losing their memory. Here are some steps you can take immediately to regain your normal brain function.
Begin by visiting Daniel Amen M.D.’s website www.amenclinics.com and view the pictures of SPECT scans of different brain conditions. A SPECT scan is an image of how your brain is functioning – areas that look like holes do not mean you are missing a chunk of brain – it means you have very little activity there, as if it’s asleep.
Look at the normal brain – this is a healthy younger adult resting in the scanner. Blue activity is relaxed baseline. Higher activity levels are red. In the resting normal scan, a little bit of red activity may be associated with dreaming or daydreaming.
Once you understand what is going on in your brain, you will be better equipped to select supplements and regimens that will help you. Here are some brain treatments that are both effective and affordable:
Brain exercise has been shown to slow and even arrest certain types of age-related memory problems. They certainly improve menopause or disease-related brain fog.
www.happy-neuron.com These folks will show you the areas of your brain where you are having problems and let you exercise them extra!
Physical exercise is your single best defense against dementia. See the movement section.
Brain anti-inflammatory: Here’s the great news. A food supplement has been developed that appears to influence inflammation in the brain and may slow down progression of various dementias. The active ingredient is a protein isolated from colostrum – the first breast milk that is rich in immune-helping proteins. The US version is Cognisure from Metagenix – side effects are minimal. About $50 per month, but how much would you pay to get your memory back? Works on brain fog too. (and seemed to help my husband’s plantar fasciitis!). Look on the internet for a supplier near you.
Two easily affordable and easily obtainable supplements for your brain health are Vitamin D3 (the “sunshine” vitamin) and 3-omega fatty acids (fish oil). Talk to your physician about having your D levels tested, particularly if you have depression or anxiety, live in a low sun climate, have renal disease, or are African-American.
Regarding 3-omega fatty acids, look for the no mercury or PCB brands, and try the “no-burp” type if possible. Unless you live in Scandinavia and are eating sardines three times a day, you probably don’t have high levels of 3-omega fatty acids. This is the “lube and oil” of your brain. 1000 mg twice daily if it’s okay with your doctor.
MEN (Click Title to Open/Close)
Dave Romanelli describes his book Yeah Dave’s Guide to Living in the Moment: Getting to Ecstasy through Wine, Chocolate and Your IPOD Playlist as Deepak Chopra meets Cheech and Chong. It’s a great guide for anyone, but men seem to really understand it. www.yeahdave.com
PAIN (Click Title to Open/Close)
Qi Gong: The Lotus Exercise for Self Healing – Acupuncturist Michael Costa has this You Tube video that will stimulate your energy and relax your pain in only 3 minutes. I recommend that you go through this 2-3 times in a row for maximum benefit.
Tai Chi, Qigong, Reiki, EFT, acupuncture, acupressure, and massage are also excellent treatments for pain. Chronic pain requires chronic treatment. The benefit of these treatments is that your body does not become resistant to them, and the treatments continue to work, unlike painkiller medications.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent is the gentlest of all current devices under the TENS classification. Works well for neuropathic pain such as shingles, fibromyalgia. May be difficult to find a practitioner in every area. www.frequencyspecific.com
RELAXATION TECHNIQUES (Click Title to Open/Close)
There’s no escaping this. Every book and magazine you read, every therapist you ask, every program you watch – everywhere you go, you will be told to work on relaxation. That’s right WORK on relaxing. It takes planning and practice. It’s your next best addiction.
When we are upset, we unconsciously hold our breaths or breathe extra-shallowly. Figures, doesn’t it? Just when you need to slow down and take a deep breath, your anger/anxiety/depression/stress has you doing the opposite.
Calming breaths – Yoga breaths – inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this at least 3 times.
Massaging breaths – From Tai Chi or Qi Gong, squeeze your stomach/abdomen in at the end of an exhale and imagine your internal organs being massaged.
“Five Breaths” from Mark Hyman, M.D., The UltraMind Solution…5 deep breaths – inhale slowly to the count of 5, exhales slowly to the count of 5. Do this 5 times a day.
“Soft Belly” from James Gordon, M.D., Unstuck….inhale slowly into your abdomen to the word “soft”, exhale slowly and relax your abdomen to the word “belly”. For as long as it takes to relax.
Connected breathing – natural breathing has a “catch”, or pause, between the inhale and the exhale. In connected breathing, you move yourself from inhale to exhale without that pause. Kind of like hyperventilating, except you are breathing slowly. Do this 20-100 breaths once daily. If you get dizzy or tingly, slow it down.
SING – the best breathwork in the world – singing at the top of your lungs will increase your oxygen and your energy, and will increase your creativity too. Ok, I admit I have to keep the windows rolled up in the car or someone would call emergency
LAUGHTER – Norman Cousins wrote about his own healing experience with laughter in Anatomy of an Illness, where he talked about his pain remitting after watching Marx Brothers movies. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep”.
EVERYTHING ELSE – Massage, aromatherapy, reiki, relaxed walking, yoga, tai chi, stretching, meditation, prayer, reading, petting your animal, gardening, painting, listening to music, sex, a cuppa tea, sitting outside on a beautiful day….pick your relaxation, invent your own, share your pleasure with someone you love. Your brain chemicals will thank you.
SEX (Click Title to Open/Close)
Dr. Mia Rose has a terrific website that will help you learn about the physical, the emotional and the spiritual sides of sex. Don’t be fooled by the name; there’s a men’s section also. www.better-sex-4-women.com
A lot about sex is in your mind – these will help you get in the mood. Sex takes concentration:
- Guided imagery and meditation tapes (www.mediheaven.com has a nice one)
- Tantric sex (see Mia’s site – the ultimate mind over matter)
A lot about sex is in your body – start to work with your physical sensation using these:
- Yoga www.bigyogaonline.com
- Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor and work equally well for men and women. The basic exercise involves squeezing pelvic muscles sufficient to cut off a flow of urine 200 times a day. Well, at least you won’t be thinking about how depressed you are!
Two sites with good instructions –
- Cushions – you may need support for a comfortable position during sex due to obesity or pain – these folks make great cushions – www.liberator.com
- Vibrators – patients with obesity, diabetes, back problems or medical illnesses may need more intense stimulation. There are a number of sites that sell sex toys and vibrators – this one is both reliable and discreet – www.freddyandeddy.com (an independent husband and wife operation)
- look for brands that specifically state they’re phthalate-free, like Je Joue -http://jejoue.com
There are also approved medical devices available for men and women with sexual dysfunction that may require prescription such as www.eros-therapy.com . Most urologists and gynecologists are familiar with the available devices and their indications.
TRAUMA (Click Title to Open/Close)
For patients who have been traumatized, I recommend a combination of anxiety and depression treatments centered on stopping a cycle of repetitive thoughts. Reframing psychotherapy is crucial. Some patients will also need bereavement resources. Multiple treatment modalities are available, and should be discussed with your therapist or psychiatrist.
Any person who experiences an overwhelming trauma such as a hurricane, fire, car accident, or violent or war crime needs crisis counseling. You may also need crisis counseling if your loved one experienced the trauma. Most police and fire departments have local crisis counselors they can recommend, as does the Red Cross and other rescue organizations. Look online for specialized treatment groups.
For victims of violent crime, contact NOVA, the National Organization for Victims Assistance 1-800-TRY-NOVA. Online at www.trynova.org
For returning veterans, contact the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs www.ptsd.va.gov . From their website: If you are in crisis, please go to your nearest Emergency Room, call 911, or call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk to someone right now.
For rape trauma, look for a local rape crisis center or contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673). Online at http://centers.rainn.org
For domestic violence, look for a local domestic violence center or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY). Online at www.ndvh.org
I DO NOT RECOMMEND OR ENDORSE ANY QUICK WEIGHT LOSS PRODUCTS INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: DIETS, SUPPLEMENTS, EXERCISE PROGRAMS, OR MEDICATIONS.
None of them worked for me.
GO FORTH IN GOOD MENTAL HEALTH!