Friday, March 20, 2015

Finding My Voice On Kickstarter

"If you never risk to lose, You may never get to win" - Yusuf

When Dr. Beasley illness progressed to the point that he could no longer take care of his dog, Peaches, I adopted her and took her home. How could I not? She is the sweetest Cavalier King Charles rescue dog I have ever met and it also gave Dr. Beasley a chance to still spend time with her during our visits. Peaches quickly adapted to my home of rescues which consisted of a japanese chin, a cocker spaniel-poodle mix, a couple of cats, and an amazon parrot.

Several months later when Dr Beasley's illness progressed further to the point where he could no longer live on his own, I took him home to care for him. Peaches was very happy and quickly attached herself like velcro to her Daddy refusing to leave his side. While Dr. Beasley was very happy to be living in my home as part of the family and to be with his dog again, he was not happy that "I broke his dog" as she learnt how to bark.

Yes, Peaches at the age of six learnt how to bark after I adopted her. She now barked when she wanted to be lifted on the bed, when she wanted to be lifted off the bed, when she wanted her dinner, when she wanted a snack, when she wanted to go out and when she wanted to be petted. I remember explaining to Dr. Beasley that she was not "broken" that she simply found her voice and learnt to express her needs and wants.

Why am I telling you this story? It's because while our Kickstarter project was not 100% funded (I refuse to say it failed); I realized that my attempt at fundraising on Kickstarter caused me to find my fundraising "voice" as I learnt to express my needs and wants for the nonprofit. You see I too, just like Peaches, have found "my bark". 

What did my unsuccessful attempt at crowdfunding on Kickstarter teach me? It taught me that it was ok to try different things even if you might not succeed. I also learnt that even in "failure" there is a blessing. While the Kickstarter project was not funded, just being on Kickstarter did give our blog "Food For Recovery" visibility which resulted in spreading the word on how important nutrition is in recovery. That alone was a win and a blessing.

While Dr. Beasley sadly is no longer with us, Peaches is. And yes, she still rules the household with her mighty bark.

Would I try crowdfunding again for the nonprofit? Yes, And I have already started, as like Peaches, I have found my "bark" :-) .

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

P.S. Thank you to those that did back our project, I am so grateful for the support. While this project did not meet its goal, I promise I will keep writing Food For Recovery on my iPad :-)

Check out our current fundraiser at:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Count Nutrients, Not Calories

"In recovery, we need to focus on the nutrients in our food and then the calories will take care of themselves." - Mary P. Cheney

Before we discuss the nutrients in our food, it's important to get a handle on one of the most misunderstood concepts in nutrition, calories.

What is a Calorie?

Strictly speaking, a calorie is not a specific thing at all but rather a measurement of how much energy a given food provides. When we talk about the number of calories in a food, we are really discussing how much energy the body gets from that food. Calories are not nutrients, and it is possible for a food to provide plenty of calories without many nutrients.

Ideally, we want to have an even balance between the numbers of calories we consume and the amount of energy we expend. But caloric need can vary a great deal among individuals. If you are a professional figure skater who practices six hours a day and competes ten months out of the year, you burn a lot of energy, and you need a fair number of calories to power all that activity and maintain normal bodily processes. If on the other hand, you are an accountant who does a lot of detail work behind a desk and exercises only intermittently, your energy needs are a lot less spectacular. If you eat foods that provide more calories (energy) than your body needs at the time, your body will store it away for later use - in fat cells.

Calories, then, are only the most basic and simplistic of nutritional measures. A food such as sugar or bourbon may provide energy in the form of calories, but it won't provide any of the nutrients that the body needs to help run the "furnace" that burns all that energy. 

The Importance of Nutrient Density

The balance of calories to nutrients in a given food is usually referred to as "nutrient density." Nutrient dense foods provide lots of nutrients in relatively few calories, while low nutrient density foods have far more calories than nutrients. 

Some examples of nutrient dense foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products, nuts, beans, seeds, eggs, turkey, chicken, fish and lean cuts of meats. These foods provide fewer calories while being excellent sources of nutrients such as the B-vitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids. Vegetables, fruits, grains and beans also contain phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural compounds such as beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. Like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, phytochemicals promote good health in recovery.

Some examples of low nutrient density foods include cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, puddings, doughnuts, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, "fast foods" such as fries, fried chicken etc; ice cream, chips, salted snacks, candy, soda, and energy/sports drinks. These foods are high in calories but low in nutrients and should only be eaten sparingly or better yet, avoided in recovery.

Unfortunately, most people with alcohol and/or substance abuse problems, as well as, those with eating disorders tend to consume these low nutrient density foods in the form of highly processed fast foods, junk foods, and so called "convenience" foods that contain huge amounts of refined carbohydrates, artificial additives, and unnatural fats. When this poor diet is compounded by alcohol intake, drug use, or the devastating effects of binging, purging, excessive exercising, and inappropriate dieting it provokes an even greater nutritional crisis wherein the already overburdened body must draw on stored nutrients in order to function. If we really intend to nourish the body, we must give it not only the nutrients it needs to function right now, but also the nutrients it requires to replenish those lost nutritional stores. 

Focus on the Quality of The Calories Not Quantity

If we focus only on our caloric intake in recovery we will set ourselves up for nutritional disaster. For example, while almost anyone could survive and perhaps even loose weight eating 1200 calories a day of low nutrient density foods like soda, ice cream, and chips; you would not only be malnourished but you would feel really lousy doing it. This is because a malnourished brain is a malfunctioning one with the body exhibiting the symptoms of this dysfunction. And for those of us in recovery, a diet of low nutrient density but high in calories foods will not only perpetuate the cycle of nutritional deficiency but could also result in feelings of depression, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, concentration problems, and cravings which could interfere with the recovery process. 

When eating for recovery, we need to start putting the focus on the nutrients in the foods we consume and less on the calories and then the calories will take care of themselves. In other words, we need to focus on the quality of the calories not the quantity. While knowing how many calories a day your body requires is helpful, it need not be a blue print for eating in recovery. 

Practice Portion Size

While those of us in recovery may be free from calorie counting, we are not free from the practice of choosing healthy portion sizes when eating our meals and snacks. As I like to tell my husband, "You can have a grass-fed organic steak but you can't have half the cow." In recovery while many of us are learning what "normal" is for the first time; we also need to learn what healthy normal portion sizes are for our meals and snacks.

Choose High Nutrient Density Foods over Low Nutrient Density Foods

When choosing foods that will nourish your body, mind, and spirit in recovery, you need to choose high nutrient density foods over low nutrient density foods. And in order to do that, you need to know what they are, how to shop for them, prepare them, and cook them; so that you can make the changes that will help your brain (and the rest of your body) heal so that you can experience the joy of a healthy recovery. Our blog and our book, "Food For Recovery" is here to assist you in this journey to wellness. The choice, and the power, are yours.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Symphony Of Nutrition

"You Can Trace Every Sickness, Every Disease, And Every Aliment To A Nutrient Deficiency." - Dr. Linus Pauling

According to the Random House College Dictionary, food is "any nourishing substance that is taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc. Nutrients on the other hand, are chemicals within foods that our bodies use to conduct the myriad biochemical reactions of life. From the killer cells of the immune system to the most delicate reproductive cell, every fiber of our being depends on the presence and balance of nutrients within the body.

Nutrients In Food Work As A Team

In the body, nutrients function like an orchestra. In order for a symphony to reach its full expression, all the instruments must perform together. Similarly, in symphony of human biochemistry, nutrients always act in concert.

If you were attending a symphony and the entire string section went on strike, you would certainly notice the difference. If however, only one violinist chose to walk out you might not consciously notice the difference in sound, but something would be missing.

To take it a few steps further, any nutrient deficiency, no matter how small, is going to have a very wide impact. Like a snowball rolling downhill, a seemingly insignificant nutrient deficiency can grow to enormous significance as its effect spread through the nutritional system.

From a recovery perspective, the thing to remember is that the nutrients in food work as a team, and that it is crucial to your body's health to have all the team members present at all times. This means looking beyond the mere appearance or amount of food and considering its contents.

Being Well Fed vs. Well Nourished

The degree to which a given food is "nourishing" depends on the number and proportion of nutrients it contains. Food, like gasoline, can be either high or low octane. The more nutrients a food contains, the better its ability to sustain life, provide energy, and promote growth.

In these days of ready-to-eat meals, few of us think about where our food comes from, or what it contains, or what it can do. It's easier to just put something into our stomachs to stop pesky hunger pangs or nagging cravings than to think about what our bodies are going to do with the food once it's in there.

But there is a big difference between being well fed (having enough food to fill your stomach) and being well nourished (having the right food to fill your nutritional needs). If you ate a box of cornstarch you might feel full (and a little nauseated), but you certainly wouldn't be nourished. Even very overweight individuals, who seem to have too much nutrition, are critically malnourished as they are consuming the wrong balance of nutrients in the wrong amounts.

Good nutrition encompasses not only the foods we eat, but every aspect of the way we live our lives. It is affected by anything that affects our bodies, including our emotions, our relationships, and the stresses we encounter in day-to-day life. It depends not only on foods, but on our bodies' ability to digest, distribute, use, and store the nutrients contained in those foods. Anything that interferes with the body's ability to carry out these tasks is going to interfere with nutrition.

Using The Principles of Nutrition For Recovery

Addictions, eating disorders, emotional stress, and many other disorders addressed in recovery interfere with almost every aspect of the body's ability to carry out its nutritional tasks. Add to this fact the harsh reality of what most of us are eating, and it's small wonder so many of us in recovery begin our journey as nutritional disasters. If it can be done wrong, nutritionally, most of us have been doing it.

If you are battling an addiction or eating disorder and want not only to survive but thrive in recovery, you must counter the toxic and malnourishing effects of your condition. You need to rebuild your body from the inside out, cell by cell.

The first and best way to start this process is through nutrition. Food truly can work for recovery, when you understand your body's needs and how to meet them. You can give your cells the fuel and tools they require to heal, and build a strong foundation of physical health that will make your recovery a joyous, vital, lifelong process.

In order for you to begin "eating for recovery", it is important to understand what addiction has done to your body and what proper nutrition can do to help you recoup your losses. And in order to do that, you must have at least a basic groundwork in the principles of nutrition and by reading this blog you are one step closer to that goal.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Importance Of Nutrition In Eating Disorders

"Health Requires Healthy Food." - Dr. Roger J. William

Approximately 24 million people in the U.S. struggle with an eating disorder. Eating disorders, just like alcoholism and/or drug addictions don't discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. About 50% of all people in the U.S. either know someone with an eating disorder or have been personally affected by one. Despite its prevalence, major misconceptions about eating disorders are widespread leading to myths and stigmas which sadly can result in either a delay in treatment or not seeking treatment at all; with the result being only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receiving treatment.

Just as an alcoholic doesn't choose to have the disease of alcoholism, obese people don’t choose to be heavy. Likewise the bulimic doesn't choose to purge nor does the anorexic choose to be skinny. Instead, the behaviors of eating disorders are driven by specific biological mechanisms that drive these addictive behaviors. These behaviors rise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower, as well as overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger and appetite.

With eating disorders, whether a person is undereating or overeating; food takes on an inappropriate role as eating becomes the center of the universe. For anorexics and bulimics, food is the enemy, a trap waiting to be sprung. Eating is a failure of will that must be atoned for through purging (vomiting, taking diarrhetics or diuretics) or excessive exercise to burn the hated calories. For compulsive overeaters, on the other hand food is a panacea, a comforter and friend in time of need. Eating is a fix. 

Eating disorders share the following characteristics: Food takes on an inappropriate role in life. Food is consumed at the wrong times. Food is consumed in the wrong amounts. And the foods that are consumed are nutritionally deficient. These factors together with the behaviors often seen with eating disorders such as purging or excessive exercise renders an individual malnourished.

But it's also about more then appetite with eating disorders as the quality of the food consumed is generally nutritionally poor. Compulsive overeaters tend to choose foods high in refined carbohydrates such as sugar; fat, and highly processed "junk foods" which are known to have drastic emotional and psychological effects. During binges, bulimics make similar food choices, sometimes consuming pints of ice cream or boxes of cookies in one sitting. But eating disorders do more than just disrupt the normal process of nutrition; they also reprogram the body's internal thermostat and cause chronic disturbances in neurotransmitter activity.

When individuals with eating disorders get into recovery, they are faced with other issues besides malnutrition due to their eating disorders; they also have the formidable task of both repairing the gastrointestinal damage due to purging and "reprogramming" brains that have become seriously disrupted. And for those persons battling obesity, there is also the stubborn internal thermostat that needs resetting, while for anorexics and bulimics there is the seductive and addictive call of stress-induced brain chemicals.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat these problems and help the body, especially the brain and the organs of the digestive system to achieve a normal balance once again; it's called food for recovery. Food can be a potent ally in bringing the brain back "on line" by tailoring your diet to include the dietary precursors of your damaged neurotransmitters, you can give your brain the raw materials it needs to resume normal production. And by eating a high quality diet at regular intervals you can ensure that your brain is properly fueled to carry out these processes. "Food For Recovery" is eating for recovery so to repair the damage done by eating disorders and to promote optimum health for your recovery journey.

Recovery from eating disorders can be challenging, not just because the substance being abused is food, so total abstinence is not an option but because there are specific biological mechanisms that drive this addictive behavior. Further adding to the challenge is the biological and physical impact of these disorders on the body.  A recovery treatment plan which includes an emphasis on nutrition, using food for recovery, will help a person with an eating disorder fully recover and go on to live a healthy life. While recovery takes time recovery is absolutely possible.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Taming Your Inner Cookie Monster

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food" - George Bernard Shaw

Just like "Gibbs' Rules" on NCIS, Dr. Beasley too, had rules for his team. The first one was "As an author never favor one of your books over another". Well, that one has always been a problem for me, as of all the books I wrote with Dr. Beasley, "Food For Recovery" was and always will be my favorite.

The reason is simple, I love food. I love the sight of food, the smell of food, and the taste of food. I am a "foodie" and left on my own, I have not always made the best choices. When did this love affair start you ask? Many years ago my parents would say when I was introduced to my first arrowroot cookie. My love for these cookies were so great that as a toddler I went on a hunger strike and refused to eat anything but arrowroot cookies. Fearing I would starve to death, my parents along with my pediatrician let me eat just arrowroot cookies until I was so bored with my new diet that I was willing to eat real food again. Yes, I had an inner "cookie monster".

Later in adulthood while pregnant with my first child, I was advised to "eat for two" which I gladly did while gaining 75 pounds. Imagine my surprise when my precious baby was born and I was left with 60 pounds to loose. You see when I was happy, I ate to celebrate. When I was sad, I ate for comfort. When I was bored, I ate to past the time. When I was worried or stressed, I ate to calm myself. And when I was not eating I was focused on food, thinking about new recipes to make, making a shopping list, or shopping for food. I was happiest in the supermarket shopping for food or in the kitchen cooking and/or baking followed by my most favorite thing, eating what I made.

So when Dr. Beasley asked me to read his new book, "Food For Recovery" (the 1st Edition) he didn't have to ask twice. I gladly tried each and every recipe, yes all 127 whole food recipes as it soon became my favorite cookbook. Then I read it from cover to cover and started to incorporate its principals into my personal life. What I discovered was that gradually my relationship with food changed as I learnt more about nutrition and how to put this knowledge into practice. I made small changes at first but as I ate better, I felt better and those small changes became bigger ones and as a result my relationship with food changed.

Later after I graduated from college, I used "Food for Recovery" as my "playbook" while health coaching clients at Dr. Beasley's clinic and I got to see first hand how life changing this book could be when used as a nutritional companion to those recovering from alcoholism, drug addiction and/or eating disorders. 

Although the transition was sometimes difficult for some clients, everyone of these men and women found that once they had enjoyed the tremendous benefits and "natural high" of a good nutrition program it was almost impossible to go back to their old eating habits. In the words of one client: "I had a Twinkie the other day, just for old's time sake and couldn't even finish the first bite. I can't believe I ate that stuff. What was I thinking of?"

Can reading one book really change your life? Yes, if you use the knowledge gained from that book and put it into practice. Education is power. The goal is to use that knowledge to educate the mind and then turn it into action to empower your body. What you will find is simple everyday actions will result in healthy changes in your life. Remember change is a process not an event and action changes things. So the little actions you take each day will change your life in big ways. For example, as you eat better, you will feel better and your spirit will be renewed as a result. 

When individuals in recovery follow the dietary guidelines along with the healthy lifestyle changes that are recommended in "Food For Recovery", recovering individuals can begin to enjoy the natural high of a healthy sobriety. Many of these individuals reported that after making these changes they experienced less mood swings, improved ability to sleep and stay asleep, less daytime fatigue, reduced cravings, and better general health with the end result being a reduction in relapse rates as they continued to work their recovery program.

Why is "Food For Recovery" my favorite of all the books that I have written? Because while I am still happiest in the supermarket shopping for food or in the kitchen cooking and/or baking, I am now making better food choices. I am cooking healthier and I have learnt to make healthy swaps when I am baking. While I still love food, my relationship with it has been changed and now I eat mindfully, using food to achieve my optimum health in recovery. I truly believe that these changes would not had happened if Dr. Beasley and "Food For Recovery" had not entered my life. And yes while I still love cookies, now I can eat just one cookie instead of a whole box as my "inner cookie monster" has been tamed.

Do you have an "inner cookie monster" that you need to tame? Let me know under comments or connect with me at Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

If you are interested in buying a copy of the 3rd Edition of "Food For Recovery", Please consider our nonprofit fundraiser, Thank You!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Kickstarter Potato Salad Paradox

I have decided that crowdfunding on Kickstarter is not like making instant rice, it's more like making long grain brown rice. - Mary P. Cheney

Recently after discovering that our inventory of the book "Food For Recovery" was low, I decided that it was time to focus on an Updated and Expanded Fourth Edition. I made the announcement on social media, launched this blog to share the journey, and then got to work. Shortly after that the computer I was working on died. 

After being told the computer (bought in 2003) could not be fixed, I realized the nonprofit needed a new one or I would be writing "Food For Recovery" on my iPad. That's when I decided it was time to run a fundraiser for the nonprofit. To be honest, I hate fundraising as I would rather be cooking, baking, tweeting, blogging, or writing "Food For Recovery" so I thought I would try something different to raise the funds to make it "more fun". Someone suggested crowdfunding and I thought why not?

All I knew about crowdfunding was the story I read about the man who raise $55,000 for potato salad after asking for ten dollars. I was excited to get going so I went on Kickstarter, set up the account, read the suggestions, submitted the proposal for the nonprofit and once it was approved, I launched the project. I then posted the project on Facebook, tweeted about it on Twitter, and posted it on Google+ as suggested. And then I waited for the "backers" to appear and I waited and waited.

What has happened and not happened since I launched this project was not what I expected. First, let me say in the past when we raised the funds for our nonprofit projects, I would write a grant proposal to a foundation, corporation, or treatment center and give it to Dr. Beasley. He would go meet with them and then we were "funded" with a check arriving in the mail. Now that Dr. Beasley is no longer able to help with fundraising, I am discovering how hard yet very important fundraising is in running a nonprofit.

While I have not raised any funds to date on Kickstarter, I did receive book orders on (the nonprofit's website) for the print version of "Food For Recovery" since launching the Kickstarter project. These book sales resulted in the very few existing copies of the First, Second, and Third Editions of "Food For Recovery" being sold out. I then had to update inventory on the website and return the funds to the customers for the orders I could not fulfill.

The next day I received an email from a physician at a treatment center who was looking for "Food For Recovery" on Amazon but could only find the First Edition which was being sold for $68.35 to $401.85 for "new" copies by "sellers" on Amazon. It appeared that while I (one of the author's of the book) was having a hard time raising the funds for the ebook project on Kickstarter others were using the rules of supply and demand to increase their prices of the print version on Amazon.

With 38 days left to meet our goal on Kickstarter, I would like say that while our Kickstarter project is not for raising funds for potato salad, we do have a very healthy and delicious potato salad recipe in our "Food For Recovery" ebook :-).

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

You Can Learn More About Our Project Here:

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Have a Dream For Addiction Treatment

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King, Jr. – March 25, 1966

When I think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this special day of celebration, my thoughts go back to watching my mother listen to Dr. King's speech "I Have a Dream" with tears rolling down her face.

I remember as a little girl asking, "What is wrong?" as I was very worried as my mother was crying. That is when for the first time my mother explained inequality and injustice. I remember being confused and asking, "But why?" And now, over 50 years later I am still confused and asking, "But Why?"

While I have seen many advances in the field of addictions and recovery over the last 25 years, it saddens me that there is still inequality and injustice in healthcare in regards to addictions.

For example, while recent studies continue to support that "addiction can be defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease" why is there still a stigma attached with the diagnosis of addiction? This stigma and resulting prejudice can be seen in not only the general population but also in service providers as stated by recent studies.

And while studies continue to show that the relapse rates for drug addiction are similar to those of other chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma, why is relapse from drug addiction seen as a "failure of treatment" and not just treated with renewed intervention like we do with other chronic diseases with no label of 'failure" attached?

And why do insurance companies expect people with addictions to be "fixed" after a short stay in rehab, refusing to pay for long-term aftercare while paying for continued care for persons with other chronic, relapsing brain diseases? 

But why when a person decides to seek treatment for their addiction, they can't start treatment because there are no beds available at the facility, while there are beds available for rehab for other chronic, relapsing brain diseases like multiple sclerosis?

And why is it when a person goes to jail for a drug arrest who is suffering from both a drug addiction and diabetes that they receive treatment for their diabetes only while their disease of drug addiction is often left untreated? Why do we as a country complain about the "revolving door" of drug arrests while being too blind to see that making drug treatment part of the prison health system would help to break this cycle?

These are just a few of my "But Whys?" when I think about the injustices and inequalities that I continue to see in the world of addictions in regards to our health care system. While I can see progress has been made over the last 25 years, we still have a lot of work to do.

Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I too have a dream. My dream is to see all persons with addictions treated without stigma in our health care system just like those with other chronic brain diseases. I have a dream that all persons who relapse see their relapse as a learning experience and resume treatment without stigma. I have a dream that insurance companies will realize that not all of us can be "fixed" after one hospital visit & pay for continued care as needed just like they do for other chronic brain diseases. I have a dream that every person seeking care will find treatment and/or a bed available without delay. I have a dream that every person in jail who suffers from addictions will have treatment available to them in the prison health care system. I have a dream that one day addictions will be viewed without stigma and everyone that seeks treatment from our health care system can do so as easily as seeking treatment for the common cold.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., PTA
Twitter: @MaryPCheney



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Memories of a Recovery Health Coach

"I Alone Cannot Change The World, But I Can Cast A Stone Across The Waters To Create Many Ripples"- Mother Teresa

After the sudden death of my grandfather due to years of alcoholism, I decided to return to school for a second degree so that I could help people in recovery. I was young and idealistic. I wanted to change the world.

During the second semester while enrolled in a class called "The Psychology of Addictions", I was asked to pick a topic I would be interested in. After looking at the choices and at the time being a yoga practicing, meditating, organic food eating, holistic hippie; I picked the topic of "Nutrition and Recovery". My professor then suggested that I interview Dr. Joseph D. Beasley, M.D. as he was doing research in the field.

During my first interview with Dr. Beasley, I was in awe, as here was this doctor, who taught at Harvard, wrote several books on recovery & health, was the Director of an inpatient hospital addiction program and here he was taking the time to speak to me at his clinic for my school project. Dr. Beasley's passion for nutrition & recovery was so contagious that by the time I left, I had decided that nutrition & recovery was the career for me but I didn't know how to pull that off as an Certified Alcoholism Counselor. Little did I know how this one meeting would change my life forever.

Several weeks later, Dr. Beasley called to let me know that he heard about a field called "health coaching" and thought it would be what I was looking for. While the local colleges did not have a major in that subject yet, he offered to mentor me at his clinic while I completed my studies in Addictions. The plan was then to transfer to a nearby school for a bachelor of science in Community Health and Human Services. While under Dr. Beasley's guidance, I took the courses that would help me become a Health Coach and at the same time was able to work at his clinic as an intern. True to form, Dr. Beasley was at my graduation to cheer me on holding flowers & ballons.

The years I spent at Dr. Beasley's clinic as a Health Coach were life changing and were never boring. Being a Health Coach means you are at times- Teacher, Guide, Motivator, and Cheer Leader for people who are trying to make positive but often difficult changes in their lives. At our clinic we saw that when health coaching was added to a recovery treatment program, it lead to positive results in thousands of patients- people who suffered from alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, and addictions of all kinds.

Although the transition was sometimes difficult, everyone of these men and women found that once they had enjoyed the tremendous benefits and "natural high" of a good nutrition program it was almost impossible to go back to their old eating habits. In the words of one client: "I had a Twinkie the other day, just for old's time sake and couldn't even finish the first bite. I can't believe I ate that stuff. What was I thinking of?"

In closing, I would like to say that I am still a yoga practicing, meditating, organic food eating, holistic hippie who is still idealistic, just twenty five years older. I still believe we can change the world but now I know it will be with Health Coaching.

Have a Happy & Healthy Health Coach Week,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.
Health Coach

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Recovery and The Three-Legged Stool

"To Keep The Body in Good Health Is A Duty. Otherwise We Shall Not Be Able To Keep Our Mind Strong And Clear." - Buddha

Recovery from any illness involves the body, the mind, and the spirit. Together, these elements make up who we are, and true healing includes all these aspects of the self. Like a three-legged stool, recovery cannot stay upright and balanced unless all three "legs" are equally strong.

In many recovering individuals, the "body" leg of recovery is weak, damaged, or missing altogether. Instead of enjoying the natural high of a healthy sobriety, these individuals teeter on the brink of relapse, battling mood swings, fatigue, cravings, insomnia, and general ill health even as they "work the program". This happens not because these individuals are uncommitted to their recovery, but because they (and often the people treating them) have made the fundamental mistake of underestimating the "body" part of their recovery.

In recovery, the triad of body-mind-spirit is interdependent. Neglect one aspect, and the other two will also suffer. In pursuing the goal of mind and spirit, all too many of us neglect or actively abuse the body- consuming caffeine by the quart, smoking cigarettes by the carton, and eating junk foods on a regular basis. All of this abuse has a definite impact on the mind and the spirit. For many of us our eating habits are not a symptom of our depression and fatigue, they are the cause.

Only when recovery is a complete physical and spiritual regeneration can the seeds of recovery blossom into the vibrant beauty of a restored body, mind, and spirit. I know this from personal experience, from the experience of the clients I have coached, and from hard scientific evidence of the biological impacts of addictions and eating disorders.

With this in mind, I present this blog to everyone- recovering and otherwise- who want to take up the reins and begin the fulfilling journey to a recovered body, mind, and spirit. May you enjoy the adventure as much as I have.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.
Twitter: @MaryPCheney