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Patricia Ronzio

How to Lose Weight by Changing Just One Habit (A Big Promise for the New Year)

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I keep a file of articles that make big promises for health and wellness. Here is an example. The article, “Best Way to Lose Weight” suggested that we can shed surplus pounds to become healthier, happier, and feel better by changing a single habit.

Ready for this?

Tada! “Turn off the TV and take a walk.” Hmm, let’s think this through. If watching less TV, and walking more could guarantee weight loss, who wouldn’t want such a simple solution?

Most would agree that walking is a healthier lifestyle choice than sitting down watching TV (and munching on snack food). But should we jump on a single activity as the “best way” to get rid of holiday weight gain?

Can It Be Okay to Watch TV? Many of us watch TV to unwind. When alone, we may find watching TV a source of companionship. This does not make us guilty of a “poor choice.” After all, TV viewing can be a form of self-care.

Is Walking a Surefire Way to Lose Weight? The second recommendation presumes we can begin a walking program. But what if it’s too cold or rainy. Maybe we feel unsafe outside. Maybe we find walking boring. Perhaps walking alone could make us feel isolated (and…. more stressed).

Simplistic solutions for major health challenges are quite common. They come under the guise of: “Exercise more,” “Get rid of stress,” “Eat more fiber,” “Use portion control at meal times,” or “Stop doing it,” where “it” is a questionable habit or lifestyle choice.

General advice for perennial problems fall short. Simplistic advice ignores individual circumstances, life stories, desires and goals. General prescriptions guess at the nature of the central problem. In our example, identifying a sedentary lifestyle (TV viewing) as the focal health problem may miss what’s really bothering us. Why are we feeling stressed, drained, bored or anxious?

An Alternative to Simplistic Health Advice. How about taking a moment to reflect on our choices. Insight problem solving provides a powerful way to explore options.

As an example, before I turn on the TV, I may ask:

o    What am I thinking, what am I feeling? Do I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated or sad?
o    Can I come up with a healthier, more empowering way to deal with those uncomfortable feelings or thoughts right now?
o    And if I choose to watch TV, how does that choice serve me?  

The Bottom Line:
Whether it’s finding optimal ways to lose weight and keep it off, or finding effective ways to relieve stress, we learn from our choices to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves so we can select a healthier lifestyle.

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7 Ways to Survive Turbulence in the "River of Life" ... and Restore Peace and Balance

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If life is a river, then I have flowed gently along its banks. I have struggled against the current. I have been caught in its eddies. I have been hurled over the waterfall. And I have emerged to flow gently down the river once more.

How about you?

Immersed in the river of life, have you watched how events seem to flow with little effort, then comes unexpected turbulence – when rapids or even waterfalls seem to grip you?

At times we may have struggled against currents or whirlpools, feeling at the mercy of events beyond our control. Worries about the past or uncertainty about the future crowd our consciousness, challenging us to stay afloat. We struggle for balance. We may feel stalled out.

How can the feeling of peace and balance – a sense of flowing gently down life’s river - be restored?

Faced with problems and disturbances, we may simply freeze up. We can’t think and we can’t take action. Alternatively, we may grasp at straws, temporary solutions at best. Blame, anger or defeat can threaten to overwhelm us, blinding us to new opportunities. Fearful thoughts direct the mind where the ego wants to go – absorbed in rapids, eddies or waterfalls.

Answers are close by – they can be found within the heart.

Listening to our hearts, inner wisdom and inspiration can help us negotiate the rapids and flow peacefully down life’s river. At a deep level, we know this is possible: We have experienced joy and happiness emanating from the heart when it is nurtured by peace, acceptance and harmony.

How can we avoid becoming trapped in turbulent waters?  The answer lies in discovering fresh insights and new perspectives.

Insights provide the key to seeing beyond turbulence.

I have used the following approaches to help reconnect thoughts and emotions and generate new awareness, fresh insights and unique solutions to restore balance.

Spiritual Practice

Spiritual masters throughout the ages have written of forgiveness, love and peace. Their guidance and insights can be invaluable sources of inspiration. In quiet times, as well as during turbulence, we may seek divine intervention to move beyond or to take charge of a troublesome situation. Meditation can help focus attention, or help open up attention - withholding judgment. This type of mental exercise can promote beneficial physiological and psychological changes that help restore health and balance.

Movement Programs

A variety of well-established practices combine physical movement with contemplation and meditation. Examples include Tai Chi, several types of yoga and QiGong. These ancient spiritual practices are believed to open a heart connection, to allow intuition to flow freely and thus provide a counterbalance to an ego preoccupied with fear and uncertainty.

Celebration of Each Day

When we choose to see each new day as a fresh opportunity to break free of old, confining thoughts and feelings, we open ourselves to new ways of seeing, unlimited by the past or uncertainty of the future. Such a fresh perspective becomes a fountain for new health-promoting habits. As Goethe said, “Nothing is worth more than this day.”


Acknowledging our blessings can dramatically change how we view our situation. Being grateful for what we have, need not deny reality. Rather, we can learn to appreciate what we do have. Expressing gratitude lays the foundation for forgiveness.

Nature as a Teacher

Setting aside time to observe natural surroundings offers another channel of internal communication. Mountains, prairies, beaches, gardens, streams, forests, flowers, birds, sunsets and sunrises, moonlight, clouds and snowflakes– All can open the heart, when we are willing to listen.

Personal Journal

Expressing your emotions, thoughts, concerns, and wishes on the pages of your journal can open the door to fresh understanding. This is an opportune place to record your blessings and personal affirmations. Your journal can record each small victory, providing milestones of growth.

Companionship and Community

The loving, non-judgmental support of family, friends and communities is a foundation upon which to build new healthful habits. Changing old patterns that are no longer beneficial can be challenging, however the task can be simplified through unconditional love.

The above suggestions have helped me and can assist you with insights to return to balance, allowing your heart to guide you in the flow of life.

I would love to hear what approaches work best for you to restore peace and balance when you are caught in the turbulence.

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New! Launch of YouTube Channel

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To help solve chronic stress that busy women face, I just launched a YouTube Channel

Each video is a “How To” in less than 3 minutes – “How to stop late night snacking without will power” – “How to break free of stressful negative self-talk” are examples.

Would love your feedback/comments on my YouTube channel!

Thank you!


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The Bad Rap on Sugar

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Paging through a book of nursery rhymes, a legacy from a grandmother, was like traveling in a time machine to a distant past.

This passage caught my attention: “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice!”  Ouch! at many levels, but let’s stay focused on sugar.

Sugar in many forms is added to most packaged and processed foods, even in foods we assume are sugar-free – like ketchup and salad dressing. Because our DNA and taste receptors are hardwired for sugar, many of us are attracted to such foods. Food manufacturers have capitalized on that!

Refined sugar is not a food, and the body does not treat it as such. For one thing, it provides only empty calories, devoid of any nutritional value. Depending upon your constitution, you may experience wide swings in blood sugar levels, or your body might trigger inflammation.

Some people find sugary foods and drinks addictive. During my 30’s I felt addicted to a soda called TAB. It was hard to stop drinking it and I felt withdrawal symptoms when I avoided it.

A disease connection: Refined sugar consumption, together with refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners, increase the risk of nearly every disease you can imagine, including diabetes.

We are eating way, way too much sugar, though exact figures are hard to come by. According to a US estimate, the average American ate 60 pounds of added sugar in 2005-2010. The average for men was about 22 tsp per day and the average for women was about 16 tsp per day.  The daily maximum amount of added sugar recommended by the American Heart Association is 9 tsp for men, and 6 tsp for women. Yikes!

It’s unrealistic to completely avoid added sugars. Food Labels make it even trickier to determine what is “added,” since total sugar, not “added sugar” is listed. Here is a tip. Be aware of all the code names for sugar, which can be listed separately. Some of them are: agave syrup, barley malt, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, corn syrup, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, sucrose, etc.

Insight Builder:

Take a look at the ingredient label of a snack or treat you like. Do sugars appear as the first or second ingredients? If so, consider chucking it for a healthier alternative.

Easier said than done? I’m with you!

If you have been eating or drinking a sugar snack on a regular basis, (M&M’s and Ginger Ale come to mind), can you isolate the particular quality that is emotionally satisfying? Then experiment to find a new “ritual” without the added sugar that replicates the same “satisfaction.”

My clients come up with many creative solutions. I’d love to hear what food or drink substitutions and fulfilling rituals you have found to limit added sugar.

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NEW! Insight-empowered Weight Management ... for a Healthy Body in 2016


Are you tired of losing and regaining the same weight … over and over again?

If you have lost and regained weight for years, you know that achieving and maintaining optimal weight at the age of 40 and beyond is not easy. You know that effective weight management needs to be a holistic process, (diet, stress, sleep and exercise all come into play), which includes building a healthy relationship with food.

A decades-long weight problem

I began dieting when I was 11 years old. At one point my weight crept up to 230 pounds. The yo-yoing up and down, the on again/off again diets seemed to indicate I was weak-willed.

I thought I was to blame for repeated weight cycling and that I didn’t have any willpower. The pivotal moment came when I realized I didn’t fail diets – diets failed me!

If weight loss and long-term weight management is your goal, my wellness coaching service, New Paradigm Coaching, can help you with two steps:

Step 1: Insight-Empowered Stress Management [IESM]

If you are living with high levels of stress, IESM helps you create unique insights and take new action – confidently – for lasting stress relief.

Unhealthy habits are simply ways to comfort yourself when stress builds up and these can be changed:

The dynamic Wellness Blossom helps you counter the impact of recurring stress in four key areas of well-being:

  • Healthy Body:  Enjoy healthy eating, joyful physical activity and restorative sleep
  • Peaceful Mind: Change negative thinking and self-limiting beliefs and attitudes
  • Vibrant Spirit:  Reignite your ‘pilot light’ with self-acceptance and gratitude
  • Balanced Emotions: Identify and express your feelings in healthy, empowering ways


Step 2: Insight-Empowered Weight Management [IEWM]

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IEWM is a versatile, customized and holistic plan specifically designed to help you:

•    Achieve long-term effective weight management
•    Reduce chronic inflammation and chronic pain
•    Reduce your risk of age-related diseases and premature aging
•    Optimize nutrition to boost energy levels and improve mood
•    Promote optimal health at any age

The IEWM plan goes way beyond counting calories or measuring every portion of food you eat.

Most calorie-restricted diet plans aim for weight loss (even though muscle is often lost along with fat.)  Yet the success rate for keeping lost fat pounds off is dismal.

The IEWM plan is customized with you and emphasizes:

  • Limiting or eliminating “Health Stealers” in meal planning
  • Rebalancing and restoring sound nutrition for meal choices using a tailored-to-you food plan to meet your needs and preferences.
  • Incorporating Five Action Pillars to bring together a Healthy Body, a Peaceful Mind, a Vibrant Spirit and Balanced Emotions.
  • Choosing to eat consciously and listening to your body wisdom.

2016 can be your year for optimal health, optimal weight and long-term weight management

I want this to be a different experience for you, with positive and empowering outcomes so you can focus on living your life and not worrying about your weight.

Achieving this goal requires your time, energy and commitment. Are you in?

Give me a call at 512-244-6292 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about the Insight-empowered Weight Management plan.

Insight Builder

•    What specific steps can you take beginning today to enhance your weight management efforts to assure a Healthy Body in 2016 and leave the diet/stress roller coaster behind you for good?

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Stressed? A "Grown Up" Coloring Book Can Help!

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How to find calm …. when meditation is too much of a stretch

It’s a busy day. There’s lots on the agenda but you are handling it. All of a sudden your smart phone dings – your doctor wants you to make an appointment to discuss the results of a baseline blood chemistry profile.

Anxious thoughts flood your brain:

•    Fear thoughts: I hope this doesn’t mean I have heart disease!
•    Judgmental thoughts: I should have done better with my eating and exercising!
•    Worry thoughts: If it’s serious, how will I handle my job and family responsibilities?

Anxious, you can feel your heart thumping in your chest and your blood pressure rising.

Meditation might help to calm the sympathetic nervous system….. but it’s too much of a leap to go from where you are – stressed and anxious - to inner quiet and calm. What else can you do?

Consider “grown up” coloring books

While it’s something you did as a child, coloring can be a powerful practice. Meditative, soothing, creative and focused on the present, coloring offers an opportunity to bridge the gap to calm anxious thoughts and supplement usual go-to stress relief practices.

Coloring detailed patterns to relieve stress

Coloring detailed patterns represents a rhythmic, repetitive action, which can be relaxing. Applying colors helps direct negative thinking to color pattern recognition – right brain domains.

A recent article in Art Therapy, reported that individuals who colored mandalas – meditative images – decreased their stress levels, compared to those who colored plain patterns or who doodled on a blank page.

Choose your favorite colored pencils and purchase a “grown up” coloring book from your craft or hobby store, or order online. And… who knows? By coloring to take care of stress, you may find yourself expanding into other forms of art and creativity!

Insight Builder

•    How does your mood change after you have colored a mandala?
•    How quickly can you move from anxious thinking to relaxation?

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Do you measure up to the media's version of how you should be?

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Magazines directed toward women are filled with teasers about weight loss, the “right” diet and life and body makeovers.

•    Lose Every Bulge: Flat Belly, Toned Legs, Great Butt!
•    Exactly What to Eat to Get Slim! Secret Weight-Loss Soup!
•    Feel Amazing 24/7: Burn More Calories, Boost Brainpower, Sleep like a Baby!

Magazines tend to exploit our inner concerns that we are not inherently good enough and there is something wrong with us. Articles, adverts and celebrity endorsements can leave us filled with self-doubt.

To live up to the media’s vision of success, we would need to be at a perfect weight, have perfect skin and the body of a 20 year old. We would be totally confident, fearless and successful at work and at home.

Apart from scanning popular health magazines to keep tabs on what is happening in the health industry for my work, I choose to read magazines that empower, inspire and help me grow. (Send me an email if you would like my recommendations).

When considering self-improvement, are you starting from a baseline of “I’m a failure and there’s something wrong with me?” If that's the case, try out this statement instead: “I am powerful and there is nothing wrong with me.”

Insight Builder

•    After reading a particular magazine, do you feel empowered or do you feel that you will never be enough or have enough?
•    Does the magazine encourage you to achieve your own goals in your own way? Or does it promise cookie cutter quick fixes that eventually fail? If it’s the latter, perhaps the magazine is at fault … not you!

I would love to hear your view on this!

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Can Insights Slow or Prevent Premature Aging?

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Adults can experience very different rates of aging, setting the stage for either premature or delayed aging.

Recently published research focused on the rate of aging among young adults in New Zealand. Investigators measured changes in 18 different biological markers related to immune health, cardiovascular health, gum health, lung, kidney and brain functioning, metabolism and physical fitness, among others.

By the age of 38, approximately 24 percent of participants aged faster than average and about 30 percent experienced significantly slower aging. Individuals who aged faster also perceived themselves to be in poorer health than peers. In other words, people who were aging faster physiologically and metabolically, recognized they had a problem.

Are you aging fast or aging slow?

Put another way, do you consider yourself to be in excellent health, poor health or somewhere in between?

If you see yourself less than optimally healthy, and have not been able to reduce stress, lose weight, eat healthier or be more physically active, then you may be aging prematurely.

Your insights, a starting point to slow the aging process?

Perceptions represent ideas, and those can be changed. In this light, shifting negative thoughts about health and well-being become a starting point for changing unhealthy habits.

Cognitive flexibility and insight can provide you with solutions for your unique challenges. Insights can help you resolve health-related problems when you see them in a new light. As an example, “I never realized it before, but I overeat when I feel controlled.”

Let insights help you break free of old ways of doing things that no longer serve you – and make healthier choices.

Not only can you begin to reduce stress, eat better, exercise more, and manage your weight, using insights you can also elevate your mood, energy level and self-esteem.

What helps stimulate insights?

Look through the lens of the Wellness Blossom and explore the physical (body), mental (belief, thought patterns), spiritual (the bigger perspective) and emotional (feelings) dimensions of your unique life for a fresh awareness that may have eluded you.

Insight Builder

Imagine standing at the center of this beautiful flower. The center of this flower represents your freedom from old, non-supportive habits.

Looking outward from your center, can you see yourself surrounded by an array of glowing, colorful petals? Which petal will you explore first, to open the door to seeing and living your life in a new way?

[Source: Belsky, DW et al. Quantification of biological aging in young adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. E pub ahead of print, July 6, 2015]

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Are You Caught in a Global Epidemic?

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No surprise that the World Health Organization has recognized chronic stress as a global epidemic. But what does this international, cross-cultural crisis actually look like?

Three faces of chronic stress

•    An interviewer asks a successful business person, “What are your favorite things to do when you're not at work?” Response…. “I don't understand the question.”

•    A holistic healthcare provider confirms exercising 10,000 steps and eating nutritiously almost every day to sustain good health. She then confides that she feels stressed most of the time and does not get enough sleep.

•    A software executive plans to take an annual beach vacation with her family, then decides she has too much to do. Her vacation becomes a “workcation” that combines a swimsuit, a beach towel and a laptop.

An indicator of chronic stress: “I’m okay”

When I asked an adult evening class how they ranked their stress levels, I got typical responses, such as “I’m so-so” or, “I’m doing alright.” In exploring this idea further, individuals realized they commuted 2 hours to work, they hated going home to repeated conflict, or they faced a troubling financial burden… Sounds like stress to me!

Situations such as the above often reflect emotional tugs and multiple responsibilities at home and at work. There is a common denominator underlying chronic stress: maladaptation.  In other words, this awesome body of ours can make physiological adjustments to keep us functioning in the face of stressful events.

So what if I’m stressed …. I’m handling it!

When unresolved stress goes on for months or years, the endocrine system, the immune system, the nervous system and other amazing systems communicate and interact with each other to compensate for real or perceived challenges. This imbalance takes a toll.

A further complication: Making unhealthy choices in response to stress, such as overeating, smoking, overindulging in alcohol or repeatedly losing your temper may be a red flag indicating stress may be harming long-term health and well-being.

Insight Builder

•    What changes in your body help you realize that you are stressed?
•    How rapidly can you become aware of these stress responses?
•    More importantly, what do you do to counter them to give yourself a little breathing room?

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Chronic Stress and Comfort Foods - A Risky Formula

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Overeating is surprisingly common

Nearly 40 percent of Americans report stress eating or eating unhealthy foods when stressed (The Impact of Stress, American Psychological Association, 2014).

Many of us have identified “comfort foods,” as foods that can help us find relief from emotional stress. These are often high fat-high sugary treats, such as ice cream and chocolate, or highly processed fatty foods (junk foods).

Although stress eating can provide temporary relief, there is a well-known downside to comfort foods: excessive calories plus unwanted weight gain. Diet plans often call for the elimination of high fat/high sugar foods – No more chocolate brownies!

However, the picture is more complex.

Women seem to handle high calorie foods differently, according to their stress levels.

Preliminary research found that among postmenopausal women, those who ate high fat/high sugar foods when chronically stressed, set the stage for serious illness, such as diabetes, compared to low stress women consuming such foods (Kirstin Aschbacher, et. al., Psychoneuroendocrinology 2014, 46: 14-22).

Among study participants, the combination of chronic stress and high fat/high sugar foods strongly increased the odds of increased belly fat, together with high blood sugar levels. This condition, known as “metabolic syndrome,” increases the odds of diabetes by 500%, while increasing the odds of cardiovascular disease by 200%.

The implication of metabolic imbalances is profound: not all calories are the same.

The body may handle high fat/high sugar foods differently, according to the stress level. With low stress, excessive fatty foods can cause fat to accumulate with unintended weight gain. No surprises there.

In contrast, with chronic stress the nervous system releases signal molecules that increase abdominal fat in response to junk foods. In turn, abdominal adiposity creates oxidative damage due to free radicals, and metabolic imbalance, such as reduced ability of insulin to lower blood sugar after a meal.

Stress management may be more important than changing a diet pattern.

Experts have warned about the dangers of chronic stress – increased odds of diabetes, cancer, heart attack, stroke, obesity and more. Beneath those health threats may be a hormonal imbalance due to chronic stress, leading to free radical damage and oxidative stress promoted by increased belly fat.

Chronic stress can change how the body manages high calorie foods. Has the time come for you to resolve persistent problems that stress you out?

Does your stress management tool kit contain a couple of quick remedies, such as slow deep breathing, together with a life changing habit, such as regular meditation or prayer?

Insight Builder

Does dieting resolve your chronic stressors and stress response? After following a diet plan, what in your life has fundamentally changed?

P.S. Thank you for sharing this blog with your friends and family and inviting them to subscribe!

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What is the impact of stress on the brain?

Guest Blog Post from Bob on Aging Well

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Short answer: Stress has a major negative impact on brain health. There is good news: Stress management is one of your most important strategies to reduce the odds of premature brain aging.

Chronic stress, a perennial villain

We are not talking about the immediate response to a stressor, such as a car swerving into your lane, or running a stop light. The immediate adrenal rush triggers sweaty palms, a rapid heart rate, nervousness and a queasy stomach. Symptoms like these tend to go away after the crisis disappears. No harm done.

With chronic stress, you keep the stress response turned on. Imagine experiencing stage fright day after day - not good! Chronic stress nibbles away at your energy and health, robbing you of energy and optimism.

How can you tell if you have chronic stress?

At the end of the day, are you too frazzled for self-care practices?  Do you end up telling yourself:  “I’m too tired to meditate,” or “I don’t have enough time to exercise?”  Do you head to the fridge for a snack, instead of going for a walk?

Does an old worry keep you awake at night? Perhaps it's a money problem. According to the latest stress survey by the American Psychological Association, money is the number one stressor among working adults.

Perhaps chronic stress reflects expectations and obligations? Is there competition between your head saying you ‘should’ attend an event and your heart saying, ‘Don’t do it! You are maxed out at home and at work?'

Chronic stress: bad news for the brain

Chronic stress shrinks the brain. Whatever the cause, chronic stress alters nerve center connections, leading to decreased memory and thinking (cognitive impairment.) And that’s not all: Chronic stress also increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some forms of cancer.

Too much stress alters nerve growth and repair, and changes connections between different brain centers. As an example, we know that overproduction of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can alter fragile connections between the hippocampus, which regulates memory and emotions, and the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for wisdom and judgment.

Can the brain heal itself?

The brain does not stop developing after childhood. Research in animals and humans suggests that brain structure can change and adapt throughout the lifespan (a phenomenon called neuroplasticity).

It is not clear which brain mechanisms can be repaired. However, neuroscientists recommend as a baseline at least two approaches that may promote neuroplasticity and a stronger brain: regular physical exercise and effective stress management.

So it’s not too late to nurture your brain!

Take a minute today and check-in to see how you are doing:

•    Does your physical activity program incorporate regular flexibility, strength and endurance? If not, what one step can you take this week to take it up a notch?

•    Are your stress relief strategies robust enough (deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga, prayer, service, etc.) to reverse chronic stress?

Commitment to these practices will, over time, help keep your brain at peak performance. Please remember that perhaps as much as 50% of premature brain aging is under your control.

Thank you for all the compelling and important questions I received via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – do keep them coming! I plan to answer them all!

Thanks for reading and take care of yourself,


Robert A. Ronzio, Ph.D.

Biomedical Researcher, Educator, Board Certified Nutritionist

Author: Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health

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Aging Well: Do You Have a Road Map that Works?

My husband Bob has an extensive career as a PhD biomedical researcher, educator and board certified nutritionist. Intrigued by his new project linking nutrition, stress and lifestyle change to healthy aging, I suggested he contribute to this blog.

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It’s easy to find men and women in their 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and older, whose lives serve as role models.

The Canadian athlete, Olga Kotelko, passed away last year at the age of 95. An elite track and field star, she earned a huge collection of gold medals…after the age of 77. The dancer Carmen De Lavallade, who is almost 84, is currently performing solo. Her performance, “As I Remember It”, features excerpts from her decades-long career.

Invariably each has evolved an individual lifestyle that reflects personal choices. As an example, a colleague mentioned that he had just ordered a radar detector as a birthday gift for his 81 year old mother. I learned that she regularly drives to a gym and rehearsals for a musical, as well as helping elderly neighbors with their shopping. Impressive!

“What is the secret to her success over aging?” I asked. “That’s easy: Mother says that when she looks in the mirror first thing in the morning, she always greets a 35 year old woman.”

What will be your “secret” to staying mentally sharp, active and healthy?

The Keys to Abundant Good Health and Longevity Await You

We need to combine two different approaches: the selective use of the healthy aging data base, together with insights and creative problem solving, i.e. the F.I.C.A Formula: Facts + Insights = Choices + Actions.

As valued clients, friends and colleagues who have supported our work, I want to provide you with a ‘sneak peek’ of a new project which combines the F.I.C.A Formula and flows naturally from the 3rd edition of my Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health [Facts on File, NY, Spring 2015].

It is also a natural fit with Patricia’s work. Many of her clients have requested guidance in achieving personalized nutrition and lifestyle ideas to maximize their full health potential and manage aging successfully.

The Road Ahead

To support you on the path to abundant good health and longevity, I plan to highlight key facts from the tsunami of information we face, offer cutting edge research, and convey updates from colleagues in the areas of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Specifically, this new project can:

•    Answer your questions about how to stay mentally sharp.
•    Help you manage stress and pesky energy drains that slow you down.
•    Alert you to the potential benefits of breakthroughs in neuroscience.
•    Provide you with easy-to-understand explanations of current concepts and controversies.
•    Layout the pros and cons of “anti-aging” advice and popular “brain health” strategies.

Plus a featured highlight:  I will share Insights on “What Works for Me.” These are steps I take, along with recommendations that I would suggest to my family.

I believe that you can find holistic answers for a healthy lifestyle that works for you. I am convinced that insight-based stress management solutions can empower you to prevent premature aging. And I know that your insightful choices for a healthy lifestyle will help you for decades.

Your Input is Important

I will elaborate on the above ideas via this blog and other highly useful formats. Patricia and I will keep you posted on new developments!

I welcome your comments on these blog posts.

Do you have specific questions related to healthy aging? Please send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll do my best to reply in future communications.

Thanks for reading, and take care of yourself,


P.S. Coming next: Stress and the Aging Brain!

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Announcing ...The Busy Women Stress Less Series ... Now Available in Print

2014 was very exciting… I published two books to help busy women discover relief from chronic stress – the kind that drains our energy day after day - using my insight-empowered approach for long-lasting solutions.

The first two volumes of this 4 volume set appeared as eBooks on Amazon:

Quotes from the Back Covers

 “Written by a woman who truly “walks the talk” … her guilt free, nonjudgmental approach is revolutionary and refreshing.” …. Dr. Andrea Black

 “What does a Peaceful Mind have to do with stress and overeating? Everything! Highly recommended! This is a must read!” ... Merrily C. Jones, MEd, MS, LPC

By Popular Demand …..

We listened to your feedback. Many of you prefer print books. Done!

As one of my clients put it, “I definitely like the “real” book over the digital version. There’s something so much more real about a book that you can hold in your hands. It’s ready to be underlined and dog-eared!”

Print Editions Available on Amazon [in multiple countries]

Small enough to fit into a handbag [purse] or find a place on a night table - they can serve as daily sources of inspiration and guidance. The books are full of illustrations to show how I applied insight building to manage stress roadblocks that so many of us face.

Coming Soon ….

The two remaining volumes – Breaking Free to a Vibrant Spirit and Breaking Free to Balanced Emotions – will be out in 2015. I will let you know when they are available through this blog.

Your Feedback is Welcome

If you enjoy the books, please consider leaving a review on Amazon to inspire other busy women to Stop Stress without Overeating.

Thank you for your continued support on the journey!


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Winter Holiday Blahs

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“Honestly, all I want to do is eat, curl up by the fire and sleep 10 hours”

My companion, Sherry, expressed this sentiment as we surveyed a small miracle: It was one of those rare (for me) occasions when everything needed for a festive meal were ready at the same time. The main course, vegetable dishes, pies - everything had come together.  Mouthwatering aromas filled the kitchen, defying the chilly outdoors. Yet she was moved by something deeper.

Winter blahs crept in anyway

Soon it became apparent that Sherry was experiencing a winter down-time with reduced mental and physical energy, feeling a little blue, along with a longing for soothing foods. (She was not referring to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a full-blown winter depression).

Does our mood come from thousands of years of seasonal change?

I can imagine that our ancient forebears were tuned into winter as a time of dormancy, of introspection, to which they added a uniquely human element, a promise of renewal.

Research suggests that winter down time reflects an altered circadian rhythm, a change in the body’s internal clock, due to reduced brain levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, in response to decreased sunlight.

Managing winter-induced energy dips

What never fails for me is to go outside, move my body and connect with nature. Then again, I sometimes accept that a low energy winter day offers an opportunity for contemplation and curling up by the fire with a good book.

Insight Builder

How do you know if your answer to a winter energy dip is to move into activity or to hunker down and get some serious down-time? What has worked for you in the past?

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Three Ways to Grow Gratitude

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Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.  – Oprah Winfrey

Thanksgiving is almost here! While it is not a holiday in England, my childhood home, I appreciate this national celebration and the importance of giving thanks and being grateful.

Here are three ways to grow gratitude:

Focus on kindness

The local supermarket already feels the pressure of holiday shoppers. Long lines, full parking lots and exhausted shoppers can be wearing. Despite handling umpteen food items and impatient shoppers, a checkout clerk is still able to sincerely wish me a happy Thanksgiving. Where will I put my focus?

Be grateful for what you have

Waking up with a plateful of worries? One way to deflate them is to go through a mental checklist of what you can be grateful for right now, and keep adding to it until you feel some release from the overwhelm. If this is particularly challenging, you may begin by being grateful for your eyes that can see the light of a new day, and your hands that can reach out lovingly.

Reach out to friends and family

We will spend this holiday with some of our family of three grandchildren living 190 miles away. Ours is an age when family members often live far from home. Ditto for life-long friends. Yet long distances shrink with the blessing of technical connectivity. How special it is to see and speak with each other - in real time - by touching a couple of buttons!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate every blessing. As Oprah suggests, gratitude can help nurture us throughout the rest of the year!

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Are You Surrounded by "Energy Drainers" or by "Rocket Boosters?"

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It’s been many years now since I went through my list of friends and acquaintances and culled the “energy drainers”.

People who were more interested in putting me down than building me up. Individuals who were unable to have a two-sided conversation where my opinion could be heard and respected. Relationships in which people tried to control or manipulate me, keep me small or insist I hear their complaints and gripes and agree with them. Long gone!

Friendships - sources of stress?
Our circle of friends may include just a couple of people, or it may include many more - chosen because of shared experiences, backgrounds and values, or expectations. Regardless of the numbers, optimizing a friendship network can help manage stress. In this context, it is useful to examine whether friends are energy drainers or rocket boosters. 

Energy drainers offer conditional friendships. “I will be your friend if you… listen to all my complaints.” Such individuals tend to ignore your feelings and preferences. They are insensitive to your progress and growth. It is uncomfortable to be around this person.

Rocket boosters are very different: These friendships lift your spirit, encourage your goals, and validate your moods and ideas. They honor your path without holdback. Through active listening, they can help you discover creative insights.

Insight Builder
If friendships become more stressful than they are worth, know that you can choose differently. 

•    Do some of your friends leave you feeling emotionally drained?
•    What if you valued yourself so highly that you weeded out the energy drainers? How would your life change?
•    How might you end a draining friendship in a way that honors both you and that friend?

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How to Discover the Best Exercise Solution

The speaker at the podium eyed the audience, took a deep breath and then somberly addressed us with these words: “Ladies, if you do only one thing… Keep your commitments to yourself. Do what you say you are going to do. Always!”

All well and good! However, this admonition may not always apply to exercise advice. Here is an example:

A wellness coach related that a client had agreed to increase her exercise level by going to the gym directly after work. The client found this difficult to do. The moment when she needed to turn into the gym parking lot, she drove on home instead.

The coach’s remedy? “Don’t go to the restroom before leaving work. Instead, stop off at the gym to use the facilities. Once there, you might as well exercise, right?”  Even so, the client continued to resist stopping at the gym. The coach concluded that non-compliance showed a lack of willpower. Now guilt was added to a complex emotional mix.

Certainly, expert advice and mentoring can be useful in developing an exercise regimen. Yet reliance on shortcuts and tricks to overcome apparent resistance indicates a yellow flashing light. If you’ve been working with me as your coach, you probably can pick out trouble spots in this "hard love" approach to lifestyle change:

When the only way you can get to the gym is by forcing yourself to visit its restroom, what kind of message are you giving your Self? If you are having difficulty following up with an agreed upon plan, perhaps it's not the “right” option for you because it did not come from your heart. Rather than accepting the criticism of being “weak-willed,” can there be a more helpful and loving resolution to your challenge?

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 Like many women, I’ve listened to those who believed they knew the "best" way to get more exercise. I sometimes ended up agreeing to their advice instead of listening to that inner voice saying, "this doesn't feel right!" When I couldn't keep my commitment, I considered myself a failure, even though the advice failed to honor all of me – body, mind, spirit and emotions.


Attempting to reboot an exercise program can be challenging. Rather than seeing resistance to exercise as a failure, or feeling guilty about it, this can be a wonderful opportunity to make new, more loving choices.


Here are questions to help develop a realistic exercise regimen:

  • Are you a full partner in developing a plan to improve your health along with your chosen expert?
  • Does the resulting plan honor your values, preferences, and needs?
  • Does it make you feel happier? Does it build your self-confidence? Does it refresh your spirit?

I would love to hear how you have discovered your best exercise solution!

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How to say "No" and Actually Mean It!

“A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.” … Mahatma Gandhi


I just finished reading “The Power of a Positive No” by William Ury. The author addresses a problem that blocks clear and open communication in all relationships: how to use the tiny two letter word [no] effectively.

According to Ury, the great gift of “no” allows us to create what we want, protect what we value and change what no longer works.

Ury believes that at the heart of the difficulty in saying No is the tension that exists between exercising your power and tending to your relationship. Exercising your power may strain a relationship, whereas tending to your relationship may weaken your power.


To help readers evaluate their response patterns to requests, demands, confrontations and expectations, Ury offers a simplified three step check list which he calls the “Three-A Trap”:

•    Accommodate mode: We say yes when we want to say “no”.
•    Attack mode: We say “no” poorly
•    Avoid mode: We say nothing at all

Personally, while I now rarely get caught in the “Three-A Trap” – I can say no - sometimes I may fret about whether a response might hurt someone’s feelings. This book reminds me to switch focus to what I’m saying “yes” to:

•    Yes! to who I want to be
•    Yes! to speaking what is deeply true for me
•    Yes! to honoring my Self.


What’s interesting is that once you find the burning “yes,” it is also easier to deliver the positive “no”.

The Power of a Positive No takes you through the stages of preparing for a positive no, delivering a positive no and how to follow through.

I highly recommend it!

Are there books that you would recommend on this or a related topic? I’d love to hear from you.

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Are you a Multi-Tasker? What is your Problem Solving Style?


A lot of people describe themselves as “multi-taskers.”  Doing several tasks at the same time would seem to save precious currency: Time. But does the quality of the end product suffer? It depends. It seems to me that it boils down to questions of productivity and in some cases, safety.

Elementary schools in our school district hold annual science fairs. I find it stimulating to see how creative children can be when their ideas are supported. A study by a fifth grade girl was outstanding.

Her research question: Does text messaging interfere with safe driving by high school students. The way she approached this question was to have volunteers play a video game in which “drivers” avoided obstacles. Participants ran the course without distractions, and then they repeated the test while sending a scripted message on a hand held device to simulate multi-tasking.

What results would you have predicted?

The study found that teenage reaction times were 2-3 fold slower and the probability of “accidents” increased by more than 4 fold when multi-tasking. Granted, the study was limited to a small sample of high school students, nonetheless it confirms other reports of the dangers of texting while driving.

Rubenstein, Evans and Meyer reported as long ago as 2001 that simultaneously performing demanding tasks can reduce workers’ productivity by 40 percent or more.

Research in this area seems to indicate that individuals may be able to tackle two routine activities that do not require a lot of brain power and complete them reasonably well. However, for successful completion of important projects, "sequential tasking" may be the wiser choice.

In writing this blog, I give it most of my attention. When it’s done, I move on to the next task. Productivity and quality of work are not compromised when I also converse with my partner, track emails, and make myself a cup of tea. I think of myself as a "multi-tasker" even though I'm a "sequential tasker" when it comes down to it.

Do you consider yourself to be a multi-tasker or a sequential tasker? Have you assessed your productivity and the quality of final products or activities when multi-tasking or sequential tasking?

I’d love to hear your view on this issue.

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Stop Worrying and Stressing: The First Step?

A client sent me this insightful story [I am unable to give credit since there was no reference]:

“A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the ‘half empty or half full’ question. Instead, with a smile on her face she inquired, ‘How heavy is this glass of water?’ The answers called out ranged from 8oz to 20 oz.

She replied, ‘The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.’

She continued, ‘The stress and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them for a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.’ Always remember to put the glass down.”

She was inferring that worries are as important as we make them; they get heavier the longer we hold onto them. Does this match your experience?


Remembering to “put the glass down” especially when worried is the hard part, isn’t it? Here are a couple of options:

Identify what you are worried about

Take an inventory of your current worries. Without bothering to prioritize them, record all your worries that bother you right now. For example: I am worried about ___, and the worst case scenario is ___; I am also worried about___, and the worst case scenario is___.

Then, consider this list of worries as thoughts that can be challenged, rather than as facts to be lived. Is the imagined worst case scenario real?

Block out a time to worry…. Then move on

To interrupt a worry cycle, designate a block of time today to worry about your concerns. At the end of the allotted time, say, “That’s enough!”, and move on with your life. You can always choose another small block of time devoted entirely to worrying. When the time is up, pull the plug on it.

Please share what have you found helpful to interrupt a worry cycle.

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