Welcome to Health and Happiness!

Happiness is the highest form of health.

— Dalai Lama.

Each week I’ll be sharing wellness tips, science truth bombs, funny stories, book reviews and maybe even a healthy recipe or two! As a mom of 3, military wife, family physician, cattle rancher and wannabe athlete, my life is full of adventure. Sometimes hectic, but usually fantastic! I’m here to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, and some of the failures too, so that you can live your best life. Stay tuned and subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. You won’t want to miss any of the fun.


A Thrill of Hope – The Weary Doc Rejoices!

Well its finally 2021… Can-I-get-an-Amen?!? You’ve probably noticed (or maybe no one noticed) the Blog took a bit of a back seat these last several months… my sincere apologies. Like most of the healthcare professionals I know, I was busy, stressed, depressed, surviving, huddled in a dark, cold, corner, watching “Tiger King”. Thankfully in the last few weeks the sun has come out and I can feel its warmth on my shoulders (not literally, I live in Montana, it was 7 degrees here this morning). But seriously, It finally feels like there might be a light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel we’ve all been stuck in for nearly a year!

Two COVID Vaccines are now available and being distributed to the general public. Whoop Whoop!!! I literally shed tears of joy when I got my second dose! (Pfizer for the inquiring minds) For the first time in months, I have real, palpable HOPE. Hope that we might be able to combat this giant beast that has ruined, and taken, so many lives. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been affected by the COVID pandemic in some way. Many of my friends and neighbors have lost their jobs, businesses and livelihoods. Several of my patients and acquaintances have died. And all of us have lost our sanity! But with the vaccines here, we can finally claw back from the brink of madness and reclaim some of what we have lost. (Well, I can’t get back those three days of my life I spent binge watching “Tiger King”, but that’s neither here nor there)

Unfortunately, almost as quickly as that hope rose up in my chest, so did the negative comments on social media. Conspiracy theories, political agendas and very real fears from the general public seemed to be everywhere. I realized that while I was quick to put my trust in the scientists and doctors who developed the vaccines, many of the people around me put much more trust in what they heard from their friends on Facebook. Years of toxic Anti-Vax agendas and a general distrust of the mainstream media have made it hard for people to know what the right answer is? Fake news is ubiquitous, easy to produce and sometimes easier to believe than the truth. And to be honest I don’t blame folks. The medical community, myself included, have had to say “I don’t know” a lot more than we’d like during this Pandemic. And its much easier to believe a conspiracy theory that seems concrete and full of itself, than the doctor telling you, “we really aren’t sure”.

So here is my plea… Before you refuse the vaccine, before you spread misinformation on the internet or chastise your friends for getting it, please talk to your doctor. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, please read on, I will lay out my cliff-notes version of the COVID vaccines as I understand them. (disclaimer – I am not an immunologist but I did get 12 years of higher education focused on medicine, public health and the diagnosis and treatment of disease…for whatever its worth.)

COVID Vaccines – Quick and Dirty

Pfizer – available for 16+, must be kept really cold (colder than Montana in January), two doses given 21 days apart. 95% effective
Moderna – 18+, cold but not as cold, two doses 28 days apart. 94.1% effective.

Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines and were developed very efficiently. Yikes, aren’t mRNA vaccines brand new and untested?? Well sort of, but not really. They have been in development for over 30 years, and scientists were already working on Ebola, Zika and Influenza vaccines using this technology when the COVID pandemic broke out. So it was really good timing! Yay Science!!! But yes, these are the first mRNA vaccines to reach mass distribution.

How were they developed so quickly? Most vaccines take years!

  • #1 – Money, Lots and Lots of money – these vaccine companies and scientists had way more funds thrown at them from the start. Cash is King $$$
  • #2 – Volunteers, Sooo many brave volunteers – most vaccines trials take months/years to recruit enough participants, thankfully not this time.
  • #3 – Loads of active COVID cases in the community- to be sure a vaccine is efficacious you have to test vaccinated subjects against unvaccinated subjects to see who gets the disease. Unlike Ebola or diphtheria, we had abundant COVID-19 cases in the community during the study and unfortunately many of the unvaccinated cohort got sick after just a few short weeks of observation because the local transmission rates were so high. (95% of the Vaccinated cohort DID NOT GET COVID!!!)
  • #4 – Operation Warp Speed allowed vaccine makers to streamline the Phases of the trials and run them simultaneously, not skipping any safety steps, just going through them much more efficiently.
  • #5 – mRNA vaccines are just generally much faster to produce and manufacture than other types of vaccines, getting them to market faster.
  • #6 – Emergency Use Authorization – allowing distribution of the vaccines while Phase 4 trials were still happening, due to global health emergency.

Safety – Short version, these vaccines are Very Safe!

Longer version – local injection site and systemic reactions (fever, chills, muscle aches) are common. Expect to feel a little crummy after your second dose, this is your immune system doing its job, learning about this vaccine and prepping to fight any future real COVID exposures. It’s like a tiny super hero factory being turned on inside your body!!
Severe reactions were very rare – like 5 in a Million Rare!
For Comparison – about 1/59 people with Symptomatic COVID will DIE
Anaphylaxis rates – 2.5 Moderna-11.1 Pfizer/1,000,000 doses – treatable with epinephrine.
Rate of Anaphylaxis from Amoxicillin = 5/10,000 – and you know you didn’t even hesitate to beg me for those antibiotics when you had a man cold, so don’t start with me bro.
Will it cause infertility -NO
Will it alter your DNA – NO

Safe to get the vaccine while pregnant/breastfeeding – we think yes, but be sure to talk to you own doctor. This is an evolving topic.
Safe to get the vaccine if I’m on an immune modulating medication like Humira or chemotherapy – also yes, but again talk to the doctor prescribing those meds.

Good news, they do appear to be effective against the new, scarier COVID-19 variants circulating the globe.

Do I have to wear a mask and continue to keep my distance from friends and family after I get the vaccine? Short Answer – Yes, but hopefully not for too much longer – we need most of the country to be vaccinated against COVID before it will be safe to stop wearing masks and practicing social distancing, especially with the new variants emerging that spread more easily and may prove more deadly. So if you want to ditch the masks, hug grandma, put those kids in summer camp and get a little sloppy at happy hour with your friends, get vaccinated asap!

For more great info go to https://familydoctor.org/covid-19-vaccine/

Disclaimer- this blog is my opinion and mine alone, I make no money of the products discussed. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any of your ailments or serve as medical advice, for that you should talk to your own doctor.

Ode to the Avocado

Its been a minute since we did a fun food post! The weather is getting warmer and the promise of back yard chips and guacamole is just around the corner. So, who better to feature than the Lean-Green-Healthy-Fat-Machine himself, Mr. Avocado! Or in science speak, the fruit of the Persea Americana tree.

The health benefits of avocado have been touted for generations. They are rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid to be precise, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can lower your cholesterol. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and contain more potassium than a banana. Avocados also contain the antioxidants carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that are important for eye health. The high fiber content of an avocado makes it great for digestive health, keeps blood sugars from spiking and can even have weight loss benefits! What’s not to love?

Until the 1960’s they were an expensive, seasonal food, limited mostly to California, Florida and Hawaii where they were grown. A luxury item for the tan, rich and famous, beautiful people. Then Mexico started to export avocados to the United States and Montana housewives could enjoy them on their salads year round! (don’t get me started on the avocado wars in Mexico, its not pretty, so buy American grown if you can, but I digress) Sadly, their popularity didn’t really take off until the 2000’s, stunted by the “low-fat” diet craze of the 80s and 90s. Mr. Avocado – “but I’m healthy fat…” Now we know better and it feels soooo good! I don’t care if it makes me look like a hipster, I love Avocado toast and I’m not afraid to show it!

Avocado’s are a newfound love of mine. Growing up they weren’t a regular part of our diet, and it wasn’t until after medical school that I really started to enjoy them. I was introduced to the usual, safe, Avocado-food pairings, some slices on my cheese burger or salad, an avocado crème on my fish taco… Then, a friend made Chocolate Avocado Mousse at a dinner party and my world view exploded! What dark magic is this delicious, creamy, stone fruit from the gods?! And where has it been all my life? Who knew avocado could be dessert!? This is the recipe I like from the Food Network. Its really flexible, you can use whatever form of sweetener and chocolate you have on hand, and is dairy free. Best yet, who care’s if the avocado is bruised and brown? Its getting mixed with chocolate! https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chocolate-avocado-mousse-recipe-2110024 Find the chocolate mousse recipe here.

Next came smoothies, green smoothies to be more precise. I had often lobbed a banana into my Magic Bullet to give my smoothie that creamy texture I wanted, but had never thought to try avocado. Then I started paying more attention to my macro nutrients and needed creative ways to get more healthy fat, fiber and greens into my diet and less sugar. Avocado Green Smoothies for the Win! Big thank you to Kelly Leveque of “Be Well by Kelly” for teaching me how to make a great smoothie. Her Fab 4 method is awesome – Greens, Protein, Fiber and Fat – make sure you check all four boxes and you are good to go! I love adding chia seeds, “Collagen Fuel” protein powder and a handful of spinach to my almond milk and avocado over ice. Pro-tip, you can pre-slice and freeze avocado chunks for use in your smoothies later and get the same great texture and creaminess. https://kellyleveque.com/recent-posts/2015/7/9/the-bewell-smoothie

There are so many great avocado recipes out there, but my recent favorite is a simply lunch letting the green health food really shine! I take a half of an avocado and top it with simple tuna salad or canned chicken, prepared with a little mayo, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil. I serve mine with mixed nuts, whole wheat crackers or a side salad. It’s simple and delicious! For a fun twist I mixed a teaspoon of buffalo wing sauce with my tuna salad today and it was dynamite!

So there you have it! Some of my favorite recipes and fun facts about the Awesome Avocado! Now get out there and get some of that tasty, health food! Yes this is an excuse to have a margarita with your guacamole, a doctor told you too 😉 jk

Remember, this blog is the opinion of its author, and i make no money off the products and recommendations i make, It is produced for the sole purpose of entertainment, and should not be used as medical advice. Instead, talk to your own family doctor about healthy diet and lifestyles.

Its not all COVID all the time!

OK ya’ll, we need to talk… Dr. H has something very important to say, and I want your full, undivided attention. Listening ears on…and…here.we.go – THERE ARE STILL HEALTH PROBLEMS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD OTHER THAN CORONA VIRUS!!!!

There, I said it. Was it clear enough? Did you catch the full emotion of the statement? Guys, I can’t even tell you how many times a day I have to tell my friends, patients, staff members, even myself, “It is not all about the Rona’ all the time”. Sooo many other health problems and chronic conditions are going unrecognized and untreated because, #1 People are afraid to come to the hospital or doctors office. #2 Healthcare centers have shut down non-essential service lines. #3 People are being forced to self isolate and change their routine, which causes all sorts of new health problems.

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

People are avoiding the hospital and ER for their very real medical emergencies.

I can’t even believe I have to say this…. If you are having chest pain and think you might be having a heart attack, please GO TO THE ER!!! Same goes for you fools ignoring your stroke symptoms! Emergency Rooms and hospitals around the country are taking every possible precaution to keep you safe and COVID free, and they are still open for all of your other health care emergencies. Please don’t staple your own leg back together after a firewood cutting incident. Stop treating your gallstone attacks with healing crystals, and for the love of all that is holy, do not, I repeat, DO NOT deliver your own baby at home. It is not safe, it just isn’t, Facebook is lying to you again. Your husband did not go to medical school and he will be of NO help to you when you start bleeding out, even if he was a Boy Scout. Post-partum hemorrhages don’t care how many merit badges you earned Jeremy!

We are delaying elective procedures and important cancer screening.

As healthcare systems around the country try to navigate the ever changing rules of social distancing, and do their best to keep patients safe, they are being forced to cancel elective surgeries and procedures, including cancer screening like mammograms and colonoscopies. Now, I know some of you were just devastated when your colonoscopy got cancelled, I mean you had been looking forward to that clear liquid, poopin’ shootin’ good time for Months! But in all seriousness, we are delaying the diagnosis of cancers every day that we stay in this quarantine. And the longer we push off that boob squeeze from H.E.DoubleHockeySticks, the less treatable that breast cancer becomes. So just because your screening test is being delayed for now, that does not mean it can be delayed forever. Be your own advocate here, call your PCP’s office, find out when/if they are seeing people for routine physicals again, and ask about rescheduling your screening labs and tests. Colon cancer doesn’t care about Corona virus, colon cancer is just gonna keep on growing, growing, growing.

Quarantine is bringing on a whole new set of health problems.

Being stuck at home with your spouse and children for days on end is not good for anyone’s health. (My children have never been more annoyed with me, and I’m sure they are plotting my death by 1000 Lego wounds) But in all seriousness, for those who are in abusive marriages, or living in homes with child abuse, this is an incredibly dangerous time. For some, being isolated at home alone is unmasking mental health challenges, bringing depression and anxiety rates to an all time high. Humans weren’t meant to go for weeks and weeks without any social contact. If you are struggling with panic attacks, overwhelming sadness or suicidal thoughts, or an abusive partner, you need to call your doctor! Most offices are offering virtual health visits over the phone or computer and they are here to help.

I know quarantine rules are different than every day rules, Happy Hour is any hour, Netflix is Life and cookies are a form of currency. But don’t forget to put on your real jeans every now and then, just to make sure they still fit… I’m not judging, stress is a terrible thing for the waste line. I’m calling it my COVID-5… but at some point we all have to stop eating like its Fat Tuesday every day and put away the sweat pants. People are actually developing blood clots from sitting around so much during their self isolation! You know what’ll kill ya a lot faster than the Corona Virus?? A blood clot straight to the heart! So get moving, do some laps around the block a few times a day, instead of just from the TV to the fridge and back. Do some arm curls that don’t involve a beer can, and for the love of Pete, drink some Water. Then you won’t have to pass a kidney stone all alone in quarantine!

Remember kids, its not All COVID, All the time. There are many, many more things that could kill you. (said with a smile in an inappropriately cheery tone) Don’t forget to call your friendly Primary care doctor if you need us, eat a vegetable every now and then, and try to get some movement into your day that doesn’t involve disguising your wine as hot tea during your office zoom meeting. (never mind, keep doing that, just go for a walk at some point).

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

This blog is solely the opinion of its author, and not meant to be used as medical advice. You should always talk to your own family doctor.

Dr. H’s Book Club! Round 3 – “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

Quarantine is slowly killing all of our souls. I miss happy hour and play dates and Target runs soooo much!! But we are doing the right thing and staying safe at home. So I’ve had to re-discover things I could do at the house to bring me joy. Guys! There is this thing called “reading for pleasure”, I know, I was skeptical too, but turns out it’s actually pretty great. You get to imagine you are somewhere else! Any where else!!! (I think I’d even voluntarily go to the DMV right now… jk I wouldn’t do that, but you get the idea). Well here it is, Book Club round #3 and our first recommendation!

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. OK, so I might have been the last person on the planet to hear about this book….Apparently its a national phenomena and my friends couldn’t fathom that I hadn’t read it yet… But you know, 3 kids, Primary Care practice, ranch life, sleep… all those things that keep me from reading for pleasure had me in the dark about the literary wonder that is, “Where the Crawdads Sing.” Then COVID happened, and suddenly I needed a distraction from the news and work, and this was just what the doctor ordered! Hahaha I crack myself up.

Guys, this book is a revelation!! Its soooo good. I think I finished it in just under a week. Which by mommy terms means, I couldn’t put it down. It usually takes me a month to get a book read when I’m sneaking in 5 minutes here and there, between all of life’s interruptions. “Mommy I’m hungry. “Mommy Ella stole my crayon!” “Mommy I have to poop…. mommy, I need a wiiiiiiiiiipe.” Some day I’ll teach these tiny urchins to cook and wipe their own butts. Until then, I’m stuck reading in my car when pretending to not be home from work. Shhh that’s my little secret, no need to tell my husband.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

“Where the Crawdads Sing” has been on the New York Times Best Seller’s list for months and months and months (30 something weeks, but who’s counting). And for good reason. With elegant pros and poetry, It tells the captivating story of a young girl, Kya, who is left to fend for herself in the marsh lands of North Carolina at the tender age of 6! Inter-woven with her story of survival and perseverance, is a love story and murder mystery! Turns out the perils of a wild, coastal marsh pale in comparison to the complexities and evils of social prejudice. This is a fierce coming of age story, with plot twists and turns that will keep you up until midnight reading “just one more chapter.”

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

You guys, did I mention there is a love story, and I just. can’t. even. Its so beautiful and heartbreaking and unexpected. It will give you allll the feels. I love a good romance, and I refuse to read non-fiction without one, mamma doesn’t have time for any of your serious, melodramatic, artsy books.

Photo by Vu0103n Thu1eafng on Pexels.com

Owens also manages to interject a whole lot of -ology into the story and it makes my science nerd heart oh so happy! There is ornithology (the study of birds), conchology (the study of shells), agrostology (the study of grasses), and my personal favorite, ethology (the study of animal behavior). She also makes quite possibly the best ever literary reference to the female praying mantus, who lures a male mate and starts eating the mate’s head and thorax while his abdomen is still copulating with her… “Female insects, Kya thought, know how to deal with their lovers.”

So, get going! Order it online from your favorite book seller, borrow it from a friend (they can drop it on your front porch no need to break quarantine), or have it delivered from your public library. Just find yourself a copy and snuggle in to you favorite couch cushion. You know you have one now. Right cushion, next to the arm rest, you are my happy place.

Combating Stress and Anxiety During a Global Pandemic – COVID19 edition.

Well folks, I’m back, not better than ever, but alive. I know you were worried, thanks for sending the kind notes of concern… jk no one sent notes. It’s almost like you didn’t even notice I was gone?? The blog has taken a back seat these last few months, apologies for that. Life’s been crazy, you know, global pandemics and sh**.

I’ve wanted to get a COVID-19 post out to you for weeks, but I just couldn’t seem to wrap my head around what to write. The world is so full of new information right now, coming in at light speed. The news is like a dumpster fire, you just can’t look away from all the chaos. And social media isn’t much better. I mean, at least Instagram has some cute dog pictures and funny memes between stories of death and economic collapse. I just wasn’t sure what sort of information, education or opinion I wanted to send out to you all during this trying time.

I have had incredibly heightened anxiety and stress in the past month (shocking, I know). And didn’t want to transfer any of that worry and panic onto you, my lovely readers. So, I just didn’t write anything at all. You know, toddler style, “nope, not gonna do it” arms crossed, pouty faced. I let myself wallow in fear and sadness for about 10 days, until finally kicking myself in the a** and getting it together. Then it came to me, while running over lunch today, maybe some of you are feeling this same way? Maybe what everyone needs, is the same stuff I needed? Maybe you all want to hear, just as much as I did, some thoughts and strategies for combating anxiety and fear during the COVID-19 era?

Who else struggles with anxiety?? No one, just me? Ok, well for the sake of this post, I’m going to pretend at least a few of you also find yourselves a little more on edge than normal right now…. picture me breathing in and out of a paper bag between patients and then going home and eating All the carbs and wine, so much wine…. Turns out, a global pandemic is really stressful. Not just for those of us in healthcare, but for everyone. And believe it or not, most of us, myself included turn to alllll the unhealthy coping mechanisms in times of this much stress. (cue the wine train, toot toot)

The future is uncertain, heck the present is uncertain, and with all this uncertainty comes fear and anxiety. We are all wondering what will be left of our lives when this is over. Will we have jobs to come back to? Restaurants to visit? Friends and family to hug? How can we navigate these incredibly murky waters and come out the other side without it turning into an episode of “Intervention” or “My 600 Pound Life”…. cause lets be honest, if this quarantine lasts much longer I’m going to need some sort of reality show to get my crap back together.

My 5 Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety – COVID19 style

#1 – Journaling – Start by writing down what you are going through and end with gratitude.

Journal writing can be incredibly therapeutic, and in times like these really helpful at illuminating just what exactly is eating you up inside. Starting a journal is a great way to get some of that anxiety out of your head, and record for posterity sake. Set out with the intention of writing out your feelings and having a cool diary to look back on in 20 years. Start with some “I feel” and “I wish” statements and just go wherever your brain takes you, maybe 5-10 minutes per day. Its ok to vent and complain a little in here, but at the end of each journal entry, finish with a gratitude statement. It can be 1-5 things that you are thankful for in these hard times. Little things, like funny memes, the smell of coffee, or that you’ve managed to keep your office plant alive!  Just writing them down will instantly lift your mood, and it also sets the intention for the day, encouraging you to look for the good and positive in the world.

#2 – Exercise – Get your body moving every day to melt away the anxiety.

Exercise, in all of its forms, is an incredible stress buster. I’m sure you are picturing me doing some kick a** high intensity interval training, punching bags and roundhouse kicks included! Hopefully I look better in your imagination than I do in real life. But seriously, moving your body, in any way you can, will squelch your anxiety on the spot. I love me some good cardio and strength training, but you can make this into whatever your ability level allows. A brisk walk in the sunshine, sit ups and push ups on the living room floor, or a quiet yoga session after the babies go to bed can be incredibly rejuvenating. Almost every major gym in the country, and many home fitness companies are offering Free in-home trials right now. Yes Free! And most of their workouts require little, or no gym equipment. You literally have no excuses. So get out there and move!

#3 – Create Community – Find ways to virtually connect with your people.

Its pretty tricky in the era of social distancing to feel connected to others. But it is vital we find ways to make it happen. Humans are innately social beings, meant to live in community and in relationships. Thankfully, in 2020, there are more options than ever for connecting with your friends and family using technology. Pick your favorite video chat platform, and set up some dates, happy hours, book club meetings, virtual “teachers lounge” for all of us newly appointed home-school parents, whatever floats your boat. And here is the most important part, you have to hold each other to it. How many times have you said to a friend, “we should really get together soon” knowing full well you won’t see that person for months. So set a date and time, make it a regular thing, and make those human connections.

#4 – Meditation – Use some mindfulness techniques to help clear your brain of stress and worry.

Meditation is an amazing tool for clearing your mind and letting go of some of the anxious thoughts you are carrying around. Like my friend once said, “Inhale the peace and exhale the bullsh**” In this COVID-19 era, there is so much crap that we can’t control, and our minds are filled with endless fear loops, worst case scenarios and unhelpful shame spirals. Using some form or meditation or prayer to let go of these things we can’t change or control, can be incredibly helpful. Remember sleep? Yes, sleep! I know, I’ve been missing it too. But 5-20 minute nightly meditations, using any of the popular apps on your smart phone, can allow your brain to get some much needed rest and rejuvenation.

#5 – Set Goals – Put your time and nervous energy to good use to accomplish something you can be proud of.

With all this time at home in self isolation its easy to lose sight of our goals and let ourselves get pretty complacent. (This is your daily reminder to get out of your night time sweat pants and put on some day time sweat pants.) Setting some short and long term goals is a great way to stay on track and focus your anxiety towards something positive. Start with setting a schedule and routine. Wake up to your alarm, get ready for the day, like actually shower and put on clothes, and keep regular business hours for working on productive tasks. Maybe now is a great time to tackle your meal planning for the next few months, or organize those photos into scrapbooks. Start the novel you’ve always dreamed of writing, or set a goal to run a half marathon and use this time to train. If you are suddenly homeschooling 3 wild honey badgers, maybe its just a goal to drink more water than coffee in the day? You are going to need a routine, and daily goals to get through this without becoming an alcoholic or gaining 20 pounds of Hostess Cupcakes. Maybe that’s just me?

I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite resources right now. These are apps, tools and websites I have found really helpful at combating my stress, calming my anxiety, and setting my intentions and goals for the next few months. (I make no money promoting these apps and sites, but if they’d like to pay off my student loans, that’d be great.) Remember, this stress is not infinite, things will get better! Life may never go back to the way it was, but you will find a new normal. So commit to making your new life even better than it was before!

Some resources for you.

This blog should not be used as medical advice, if you have concerning symptoms you should talk to your own family doctor. Dr. Hathaway offers this information without any commercial bias or disclosures.

Dr. H’s Book Club Round#2 “Girl Wash Your Face!”

OK Friends! Its time for Book Club!!! The next book on my list is a great read to start your year off right and get motivated for some personal growth! Time to lock up the pity party, throw away the excuses and start living your best life! — This months selection is “Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis.

“Stop believing the lies about who you are, so you can become who you were meant to be.”

A neighbor lent me this book when I was pregnant with my third baby, wallowing in mom guilt and self pitty, and I can honestly say it has been a life-changer for me. Rachel Hollis is a fire breathing, truth bomb dropping, bad ass mom-boss, with an almost magical ability to kick you in the ass while simultaneously holding your hand and crying with you like your best girlfriend would.

It has become a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more languages than I can count. The book catapulted Rachel Hollis and the Hollis Co. to new heights, spawned 4 podcasts, two more books, an empire of personal and professional development conferences, life coaching program and the “Start Today” brand now available at Target. Check them out at https://thehollisco.com

In the book she walks you through 20 lies that we have all told ourselves, and dispels them one by one, freeing you from the negativity and opening your heart to a better way of living!

Here is a sneak peak at the Table of Contents. I can honestly say “Me too” for 19/20 of these, (I’ve never wanted to marry Matt Damon, more of a Jason Momoa girl myself)

  • Introduction: Hey girl, hey!
  • The lie: Something else will make me happy
  • The lie: I’ll start tomorrow
  • The lie: I’m not good enough
  • The lie: I’m better than you
  • The lie: Loving him is enough for me
  • The lie: No is the final answer
  • The lie: I’m bad at sex
  • The lie: I don’t know how to be a mom
  • The lie: I’m not a good mom
  • The lie: I should be further along by now
  • The lie: Other people’s kids are so much cleaner/better organized/more polite
  • The lie: I need to make myself smaller
  • The lie: I’m going to marry Matt Damon
  • The lie: I’m a terrible writer
  • The lie: I will never get past this
  • The lie: I can’t tell the truth
  • The lie: I am defined by my weight
  • The lie: I need a drink
  • The lie: There’s only one right way to be
  • The lie: I need a hero.

“Life is not supposed to overwhelm you at all times. Life isn’t meant to be merely survived–it’s meant to be lived”

I just love her positive attitude and growth mindset. She will convince you to take charge of your life and gives you tactical tools to make it better. Its not just a bunch of sunshine and roses, she spells out that having a great life is hard work, but worth it, and that you can literally do anything as long as you put your mind to it.

“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”

One of the best take-away’s from the book is to stop giving so much weight to other peoples opinions! I am a self proclaimed “People Pleaser” and am crippled by the thought that someone might not like me or approve of my decisions. She convinced me to Stop trying to be like every body else, Stop mirroring my parenting style after some random person on Facebook that looks like they have it all figured out, and start living My life for Me!

Probably the most important thing that I have incorporated into my life since reading this book, and her follow up book, and subscribing to her Podcasts (yes I drank the Rachel Hollis Cool-Aid hard core and I have the blue raspberry mustache to prove it) is the practice of Gratitude.

‘’You must choose to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled. If you make that choice every single day, regardless of where you are or what’s happening, you will be happy.’’

I write in my Start Today gratitude journal nearly every day, and in times of struggle and frustration I try to always pull myself back to what I am thankful for, what has brightened my day, what makes me smile. Honestly, it has made me a better wife and mom, and I’m sure a better friend and co-worker as well.

So go check it out from your local library, get it on audio book, or borrow it from a friend. Just get your hands on a copy some how, any way you can. Maybe listen to it in the car on your way to your in-laws, and convince 2-3 of your friends to read it with you, because believe me, you are going to want/need people to debrief all these life changing truth bombs with!

This is not an add. I have no personal affiliation to Rachel Hollis or the Hollis Co, and make no money recommending their products, but if they’d like to throw some cash towards my student loans, that’d be great 😉

Is Breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

For years I was told by well meaning grandparents that I had to eat a hearty breakfast before getting the day started. “Its the most important meal of the day!” they would say, while lovingly shoving pancakes and syrup into my mouth.

So, I lived my childhood and most of young adult life forging around the pantry every morning for something quick to munch on as I ran out the door. It would be a Pop Tart of muffin on the bus (Pop Tarts Without frosting mind you, yes they make them and they are terrible.) I’d slam one of those chocolate flavored “Instant Breakfast” drinks on my way to calculus in the name of fueling my brain. Weekend mornings were more luxurious and I’d be lucky enough to enjoy a breakfast that required utensils like cereal with milk or waffles!

When I got into college and could sleep in or arrange my classes later in the day, I’d often skip breakfast and go straight for lunch, but then be chastised by my classmates in pre-med and exercise science. “You can’t skip breakfast, your metabolism will slow down!” So I’d once again force some sort of simple, added sugar, carbohydrate laden convenience food into my mouth first thing in the morning and pat myself on the back thinking I had just “kick started my metabolism” thanks to Peanut Butter Captain Crunch…. (insert face palm emoji here)

It wasn’t until adulthood and 45 extra pounds later than I discovered the life changing truth about breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day. But its not about WHEN you eat breakfast, its about WHAT you eat for breakfast

Its not When you eat breakfast, its What you eat for breakfast!

Breakfast literally means, to Break your Fast. Most of us sleep at night, (sorry to all my night float and noc shift friends) and hopefully when we get a full nights sleep we are fasting for a solid 8-10 hours. Unless you are on Ambien, in which case you might be sleep eating your way through that leftover birthday cake in the fridge. Anyway, our bodies need periods of fasting to reset our hunger hormones, lower our insulin levels and recharge our metabolic drive.

A big trend lately is to prolong this overnight fast even further to 12, 16 even 18 hours to extend the benefits of lowering insulin levels. We won’t get into the nitty gritty of intermittent fasting today. But here are some links if you want more info. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634 And my favorite video by Dr. Fung. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nJgHBbEgsE who you already love if you’ve read “The Obesity Code”.

So, after laying dormant for several hours, your metabolism is ready to work, ready to digest, ready to fuel your muscles and brain with nutrients and make you the best version of you possible! And you feed it crap…. yep, I’ll say it. The “Breakfast food industry” is full of crap. High in simple carbs, tons of added sugar, and all of this propaganda that you have to fill your pie hole mere moments after your head lifts off the pillow. I’m looking at you Eggo.

I suggest a better way! How bout we wait until we are actually hungry, be that 30 minutes or 3 hours after waking up. And how bout we feed ourselves real food, high in protein and nutrients and….gasp… vegetables. I know I know, vegetables for breakfast, gross! But hear me out. If we are agreeing that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then why wouldn’t you include the most important, nutrient rich food groups. Protein and Veggies!

For me this looks like a late morning or early afternoon break to my fast. Because like you, I can’t really stomach spinach at 8am. And most days I’m not even hungry that early in the morning. (Stay tuned for future installments about intuitive eating.) Now, this doesn’t mean I start my day with a triple shot of syrup caramel latte to tide me over until lunch. See earlier note about breakfast food industry filling us with sugar. Stop putting sugar in your mouth first thing in the morning! This tells your body to make more insulin (the hormone that helps metabolize sugar), leading to insulin resistance (aka pre-diabetes) and obesity. So just STOP. Stop it!

Stop putting sugar in your mouth first thing in the morning! Stop it!

I love donuts and cinnamon rolls and syrup filled waffles just as much as you, maybe more. But save those sugary carbs for the occasional weekend brunch with mimosas and treat them like the indulgence they should be. Think of them like Birthday cake, Special occasion type foods, not every day foods.

Think of your first meal of the day like the first day of the new year! An opportunity to make good choices, kick starting your day with boldness and positivity. Start with water! We all need more water, and getting it in the first half of the day sets you up for success, and bathroom breaks during waking hours, which is nice too. Maybe some black coffee or tea if that’s what you are in to. And when you are ready, and not when Big Breakfast tells you that you are ready, but when you are really actually hungry, find something healthy to break you fast and start the day right.

Some simple, healthy, Break-Fast ideas.

  • Whole grain toast with avocado and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and olive oil. Better yet, top it with an over easy egg. One of my all time favs.
  • Whole milk unsweetened Greek yogurt, mixed with banana slices and dried coconut flakes for crunch.
  • Morning scramble – mix eggs with spinach, diced cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
  • Breakfast burritos with eggs, meat of your choice, diced bell peppers and onion and a sprinkle of pepper jack cheese wrapped in a warm whole wheat tortilla. Topped with sour cream and salsa.
  • On-the-go smoothies with ice, 1/2 cup almond milk, a scoop of high quality protein powder (Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel is my favorite) handful of spinach, avocado or peanut butter, fruit of choice and a tablespoon of chia seeds or hemp seeds for fiber.
  • Breakfast bento box on the road- hard boiled eggs, whole wheat English muffin or toast wedges, peanut butter, apple slices, nuts, string cheese and celery sticks.
  • Weekend oatmeal – https://healthandhappinesswithdrh.com/2019/11/16/weekend-morning-oatmeal/
  • Or my personal favorite way to break my fast…. with a mid-day Salad of mixed greens topped with chicken breasts, cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs and sunflower seeds and avocado ranch dressing!

The only real ruleS here is that your breakfast shouldn’t be mistaken for dessert, or coming from a package with a shelf life longer than you last relationship, or have a cartoon character on the label…. sorry Toucan Sam, I miss you too.

Lets Get Physical, Physical – I wanna get Physicaaaaaaal

The benefits of regular exercise are undeniable. But I think most people only associate exercise with weight loss and muscle gain. They picture the classic Olivia Newton John video of sweating off unwanted pounds and inches, and getting back into “shape”. Insert dad-joke, “round is a shape!” Well, I’d like to make a case for the less celebrated, and I would argue, more important benefits of exercise.

Exercise is good for your soul –

It really is. Science says so. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299048 , https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0515/p620.html Millions of us struggle with anxiety and depression every day, and stress is taking over our lives! I don’t know about you, but I feel like stressed-out is the new normal. Our lives are getting busier, more demanding and exponentially more complex. Thankfully, study after study has shown that people who struggle with their mental health get very real, measurable benefits by exercising. With or without ever losing a pound. It has nothing to do with “physical fitness” and everything to do with hormones and endorphins being released into the brain. When you exercise, you are taking a moment to yourself, For yourself, and that is empowering and energizing!

Exercise makes you smarter –

A good sweat session will help boost your brain power by releasing chemicals and proteins needed to build brain cells. It is also one of the few ways we have to avoid dementia. Regularly getting your heart rate up and flexing those muscles, along with the social interactions and mental stimulation of learning new things provided by exercise, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s!

Exercise helps you get your beauty rest –

Working out can improve you sleep in many ways. It builds a routine into your day and releases hormones to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It stimulates your mind and muscles, so that when your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Exercise reduces your risk of cancer –

It has been widely published that people who work out on the regular, have lower rates of breast, colon, uterine and lung cancer. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet So, along with your yearly mammogram and every 10 year colonoscopy, add a 30 minute per day sweat sesh to your preventative health to-do list!

Exercise makes you more successful –

If you ask the most successful entrepreneurs of our time what their secret to success is, many of them would sing the praises of daily exercise. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/276760 Its not just looking good in a tight pants suit that keeps the likes of Jeff Bezos, Melinda Gates, Richard Branson and Michelle Obama hitting the gym, its the mental clarity, discipline, competition and self esteem building that comes from exercise!

Exercise will improve your sex life –

Ooooh scandalous, But true! Regular cardio and resistance training can improve erectile dysfunction and increase stamina. For women, there is the benefit of raising testosterone levels ever so slightly, to help boost your libido. And of course, with better cardiovascular fitness and flexibility, you can enjoy sex for longer, and in more…ahem… interesting positions… ok now I’m blushing.

Well, if you weren’t already motivated to exercise, I bet you are now! It was that last one wasn’t it 😉 So what are you waiting for! Get out that yoga mat that’s collecting dust in the closet, take the dirty, but not so dirty I won’t wear them again, clothes off the treadmill, head on over to your local 24 Hour Fitness, and get to it!!

  • Improve your mental health
  • Build some brain cells
  • Sleep better at night
  • Lower your risk of cancer
  • Increase your financial success
  • Improve your sex life

Its scientifically proven, and science is the best!

(The views expressed in this blog are not to be used for medical advice, instead talk to your own family doctor about your heath concerns. )

New Year, New You?!

Alright folks, get your hearts and minds ready. Dr. Hathaway is back with more snarky mom jokes, science truth bombs, and terrible grammar, just in time to ring in the New Year! Who’s ready for 2020?!?!?

Its December 31st and I’m sure you’ve already started planning your New Year’s Resolutions. What’s it going to be this year? Hitting the gym 5 days a week, cutting out all traces of sugar, eating 3 salads a day, spending every Wednesday with your mom, no more yelling at the kids? Whatever it is, I’m sure you are going to crush that shizznit for about 6 days, and then the wheels are going to fall off, the Oreos are coming out and the shame train will run its way through your life, again, CHOO CHOOOOOO…. sound familiar?

Why do we do this to ourselves?? Why do we wait until January 1st to decide we want to be a better version of ourselves, make these ridiculously lofty goals with no plan as to how we can achieve them, just to beat ourselves up for the rest of the year because we didn’t make it?

Lets make one, and only one New Years Resolution this year?? You ready for it? We are doing this together…. drum roll please……

Progress, Not Perfection!

I know, I know, its not very glamorous, or sexy, and its not gonna sound all that great in the office break room when Larry is spouting off his fancy resolutions. But hear me out on this one. (Larry is a jerk anyway and you know he’ll never manage to go more than 2 days without Diet Coke)

Why do we fail at keeping our New Years Resolutions? Well, I think comes down to one of three reasons.

  • #1 – We bite off way more than we can chew. (Lose 100 pounds by Spring break, write a 500 page book when we’ve never written an essay) we pick something that sounds amazing, but is way outside what is realistic or achievable.
  • #2 – We choose something we aren’t actually invested in, but sounds fancy to impress our friends. (no more single use plastics, go Vegan, bench press 250lbs) unless you are truly committed, you’ll never stick with it.
  • #3 – We take and All-or-Nothing approach. (Eat zero added sugar, No swear words, Never leave dishes in the sink) and then, when we mess up once, we say F*** it and throw in the towel for the rest of the year.

So instead, I propose you choose some small area of your life that could use some improvements and vow to embrace the process, start loving the journey rather than dreaming about the glitzy finish line. Don’t get me wrong, I love lofty, over the top, audacious goals. I love dreamers and the Big Dreams they come up with. I have big dreams for my life too! But I want you to start appreciating the little wins, the little moves you make in the right direction, so that you are less likely to crash and burn and give up when times get tough.

When I decided to run a half marathon in 2019 I had never run more than 3 miles before, ever, but it sounded fancy and hard and like something I could brag about later, (and there was wine involved which is how most of my best/bad decisions are made). But here’s the secret, I hated running! Every training run was a chore, I dreaded the weekend when my long runs were scheduled. It wasn’t until the week before the race, when I literally told my husband I was giving up because everything hurt and I hated it so much, that I finally had a breakthrough. My good friend is a triathlete so I called her in a panic, “how am I going to finish? I can’t do this, its too far…” She told me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. “Stop focusing on the finish line, stop picturing that 13.1 miles, and start appreciating the journey, one mile at a time”.

“Stop focusing on the finish line and start appreciating the journey.”

She recommended I run/walk, who says you have to run the whole time? Who says you have to be 100% on plan, on your A game the whole time? Just you! You make up the rules. No one who has every achieved anything great, has Been Great every single day of the process. There will be good days and bad, so just give yourself grace and push through the bad days, even if that means you have to walk for a while. And even when you drink too much Gatorade at mile 12.5 and you throw up in front of 200 people, wipe your dang mouth and Just Keep Moving!!

She told me to take pictures, selfies, and celebrate every mile on the race route and cheer on the other competitors like they are your best friends. You got up this morning and made a plan to make your life better, so every time you make a move in the right direction, celebrate it! Commemorate the 2 pounds lost with a selfie instead of waiting until you’ve lost 100. Give yourself a high five when you’ve gone 3 days without cursing, you are crushing this! Just reorganized your closet that you’ve needed to do for 2 years, throw a parade you are a Queen!! Everyone loves a good pat on the back, so the more you cheer on your friends and family the more they will help you Celebrate the Little Wins!!

And finally she reminded me to Thank every volunteer, every water cup hander-outer, every supporter along the way and to be grateful for the process and the progress you have made. Meeting your goals will require the help and support of those around you, a lot of luck, and if you are inclined to believe, the grace of God. So start saying thank you like its your job! Especially to the guy coming out of the porta-potty for putting the seat down, tip of the hat to you sir! Never miss an opportunity to write down the little things you are thankful for and Practice Gratitude Every Day!

So there it is. Your formula for a great 2020! Seems simple enough right? You can do this, you are a rock star!!! And Larry is cool too, good luck to him on cutting out Diet Coke, that stuff is terrible for you. 😉

Progress Not Perfection

  • Just keep moving in the right direction and if you slip and fall, get the heck back up and start again.
  • Celebrate the little wins along the way with gusto and sincerity, both for yourself and the people around you.
  • Write down what you are grateful for every day, and thank the people who are helping you reach your goals.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, White Carbs, Red Carbs, Everybody loves to eat Carbs!

Apologies to Dr. Sues, that was terrible, but I think I’m funny and that’s all that matters. To wrap up Nutrition November, I thought we’d do a quick run down of everyone’s favorite food group, CARBS!!! Carbohydrates used to be king in these lands. Remember the food pyramid of our childhood, with that giant trapezoid at the bottom full of grainy, starchy deliciousness…well they lied to you. I know, I’m sad about it to. I spent years of my life telling myself 8 helpings of grains and potatoes a day was just fine because that poster in the lunch room told me so!

This food pyramid of our childhood was based on a few misguided studies in the 50s and 60s telling us Fat is Bad and causes heart disease, so Carbs must be good. Then we followed that up with the “Low Fat” and died pill craze of the 80s and 90s. (If you haven’t already read “The Obesity Code” get it now, it explains all of this craziness.) Anyway, for years and years we told the general public to eat their weight in carbohydrates and avoid fat at all costs. Then we increased portion sizes like crazy, (thank you Extra Value Meals) stopped working active jobs, and what did it get us??? Obesity, loads and loads of obesity.  

The tides turned a little bit in mid the 2000’s, everyone remember the Atkins Diet? More recently we have seen a trend into Paleo (eating only what cave men could eat) and Keto (low carb-high fat), both of which restrict the carbohydrates you eat, most specifically the processed/simple carbohydrates. And they do work, I’ve seen people lose great amounts of weight on these diet plans. But every “Diet” will eventually fail you, because its too restrictive and because people cheat their way out of it. And the truth is humans do need some carbohydrates in our diet for good brain health, digestive health and overall balance and happiness.

So, what’s the real answer to Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs? I like to keep it really simple – “Eat Colorful Carbohydrates that come directly from nature, Avoid the white fluffy processed stuff, and eat twice as many greens as you do carbs”. One term to look for is “Complex vs. Simple Carbs” Try to cut out the most refined or “simple” carbs in your diet first. These come in the form of white sugar, white rice, white bread, potatoes, tortillas, boxed cereals, donuts, soda… you get the idea. This is hard to do ya’ll. Sugar is an addictive substance, so start small and pick one or two things to swap out for a healthier, less processed version.

My quick “Eat this, not that” List to give you some ideas.

  • Oatmeal or a banana with peanut butter vs. processed box cereals
  • Nuts and dried fruit vs. chips or crackers to snack on
  • carrots and hummus vs. pretzels or Chex mix
  • Lettuce wraps vs. potato skins as an appetizer
  • Zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash vs. white pasta
  • sweet potatoes or butternut squash vs. white potatoes
  • No bun on the cheese burger and instead enjoy the sweet potato fries 🙂
  • Black beans vs. white rice on the side of your taco salad
  • cauliflower fried rice vs. traditional white rice
  • Berries with heavy whipping cream vs. ice cream for dessert
  • A square of dark chocolate and strawberries vs. cookies

Now before I go any further, just know that sometimes you’ve gotta eat the delicious pasta and enjoy the birthday cake. This is real life, and I live by the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time you stay on plan, eat the vegetables, avoid the sugar and drink All the water. Because 20% of the time its going to be Thanksgiving, or the Super Bowl, or your 21st birthday and you should get to enjoy those delicious carbs without guilt or shame, and just plan to get back to eating whole foods tomorrow.

Carbs are not the enemy. They are a macronutrient essential for life.

Here is an example of the carbs my grocery list to give you some inspiration!

  • old fashion oats
  • almond flour
  • garbanzo bean pasta
  • mixed nuts
  • dried fruits
  • sweet potatoes
  • spaghetti squash
  • butternut squash
  • canned black beans
  • canned red kidney beans
  • frozen riced cauliflower
  • frozen mixed veggies
  • carrots
  • hummus
  • bananas
  • apples
  • berries
  • dark chocolate 🙂

As always, please ask your questions, post your comments and share this with your friends! I had fun with Nutrition November. We will be heading into a series I’m calling “Ask your Doctor December” So lets hear your questions, What topics would you like to hear more about???

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of its author. This does not substitute for medical advice, instead seek care from with your own family doctor.