• Can You Think Yourself Well?

    June 5, 2013

    Good morning! Happy Hump Day! 8-)

    Breakfast

    Yesterday, I started my day with my favorite breakfast of the moment: peanut butter and banana on gluten-free toast with freshly pressed green juice. I would honestly eat this breakfast every day if I could! Delish!

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    While I was eating breakfast, I read this month’s issue of Health and stumbled upon an article called “Can You Think Yourself Well?,” which was written by a doctor, who explains how you can use your mind to improve your health and feel better. I really enjoyed reading it, and I could totally relate.

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    Can you think yourself well?

    This is actually a question I’ve been asking myself for many months now. I often get frustrated with my autoimmune disease (why am I not better? why won’t it go away? why won’t my health insurance cover anything?), which often turns into a negative downward spiral. I used to focus a lot of my attention on what UC prevented me from doing, but, in recent months, I’ve really tried to flip my thinking and focus on all of the things I can do and appreciate my health as much as possible. I know there are a lot of people in this world, who are struggling with much worse than me, so I make it a point to feel grateful for all of the things in my life that I am able to do.

    “The body is a mirror of how we live our lives.”

    Being more positive and grateful for all of the wonderful people and opportunities in my life has also done great things for my mental state. I can’t say my body is healthier or my colon is fully healed, but I feel happier— more positive, upbeat, lighter, relaxed—which is helping me better manage all of the not-so-fun things that go along with UC. I dunno. I guess I’m in a better place now. It took awhile (I really didn’t want to accept that I had a chronic disease), but I’ve come to terms with it, and I am living my life with a much more positive outlook, so, hopefully, it will translate to better health.

    Question of the Day

    What do you think? Can you think yourself well?

    P.S. I heard a rumor there’s a deal for Canyon Ranch Lenox on Ru La La today!

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    { 53 comments… read them below or add one }

    Shana June 5, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I don’t have a serious chronic illness but I have been trying to think away a very frustrating chronic annoyance that I am dealing with. To date it has not worked but I’m not hopeless. Like you said, I think acceptance and management becomes the most important factor in how you deal with your health. Part of that acceptance is knowing there will be good days and bad but just trying to roll through it anyway. That and being grateful for all the things that are still possible.

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    Lisa June 5, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I’m not sure you can think yourself well but I very firmly believe people can think themselves much sicker than what they really are! My husband is a firm believer in thinking yourself well and he uses it even for simple things like the flu. If he is feeling bad he will not say he is sick. He will act like he is fine and I must say…the man is hardly ever sick and if he does he gets over it very quickly!

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    Shel@PeachyPalate June 5, 2013 at 7:34 am

    The mind plays a big part, if only for the strength and positivity to get ourselves well or even just to get through tough times. Stress has such a huge impact on the body and is a huge contributor to health problems so if our minds are positive, well, balanced and relaxed then I definitely think it has to help!

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    sara @ fitcupcaker June 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I love pb and banana for breakfast and I could eat it every day too! I’m out of my vans power waffles though I need to pick up some more!

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    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh June 5, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I think positivity in times of distress or trying to let go of the things you can’t control because of how much stress it puts on your body can only make things better.

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    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } June 5, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I’ve thought a lot about this as well and with everything I learned getting my MA in Psych I can promise you your mind is capable of incredible things. I definitely think positive thinking can impact health!

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    Emily @ The Swallow Flies June 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I am not sure if we can literally think ourselves well, but I strongly believe in only worrying about things we can control. If I am eating well and exercising and sleeping as I should, I have no control over how fast my body heals from whatever is ailing it; therefore, I should not worry about it. And, since I think that stress and attitude play so much into how our body reacts to everything (whether it is a mild cold or a mental-health disorder or a chronic illness), I try to stay relaxed and positive, hoping that will help heal me quicker.

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    Jess H. June 5, 2013 at 8:57 am

    @Emily @ The Swallow Flies: This is how I feel, too. Well said!

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    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats June 5, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I don’t know if you can completely think yourself well, but I do know that having a good mindset can have a positive impact, not only on how you mentally feel and handle things, but on stress and stress has a BIG impact on our bodies, especially our digestive systems! I know my digestive issues are a million times worse when I’m dealing with stress.

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    Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio June 5, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I think there’s a lot to be said about where your mind is at and your health. I do think having a positive attitude can heal people. I have lots of theories about what stress and doubt do to our bodies.

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    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat June 5, 2013 at 8:21 am

    The mind is a powerful tool in my opinion, and I think perhaps you can “think yourself well.” Positive thinking can make a huge difference in your life. It relieves stress, clears the mind and overall, just makes life so much easier and happier. Negative thinking just causes stress and stress wreaks havoc on the body.

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    Beth @ Mangoes and Miles June 5, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I definitely think mental health, attitude, and mental strength are one of the, if not the, most important things in getting healthy and staying healthy. Your body follows your mind, so if your mind is adamantly against getting and staying healthy, your body will probably be, too.

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    Eating 4 Balance June 5, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I’ve really found a correlation with my attitude for the day and how I am feeling. I do not think that we can “think ourselves well.” However, I do think that we can make the best of a situation with how we think, AND I truly think that along with the right diet/medicine/healing protocols, the only way to get better is to THINK that we are going to get better.

    Bahaha. Bacteria thrives in a negative environment ;)

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    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness June 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I absolutely believe we have the ability to think ourselves well, but I don’t think it’s as easy as just thinking positive thoughts. I think it’s a mixture of real medicine, positive thoughts, positive actions, loving oneself and having a real outlet for all the negative things in life so they don’t build up in the body. I also think it sometimes takes the body a little while to catch up to the mind.

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    Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom June 5, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I think you can think yourself well..to an extent. I mean, hypochondriacs can think themselves ill, so why not the opposite? I know that if I’m not feeling well during the day, I take a second and think about what the issue is and then try to treat it (naturally). Sometimes I’ll treat it with a run or a snack…or a nap. I think you’re right, if you think positive thoughts, your mental state will improve and that will help you not to focus so much on your physical ailments.

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    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More June 5, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I’m all about positive thinking and the MANY benefits of changing your thoughts to change your life (whether that be your physical or mental health, or something else). DECIDING to be happy and seeing the positive in a situation has seriously changed my life!

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    Tara | Treble in the Kitchen June 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I think having a positive attitude helps tons!!! I know it makes me feel better when I look positively on things. I used to have horrible allergies most of the year and would suffer chronic sinus infections. Now, I am not sure if this has anything to do with it, or if I grew out of the allergies, but I made the decision that I didn’t want to live my life on medicine. I would just drink more water (lots of water) and have a positive attitude…and honestly (call me crazy) but the allergies have gone away!!! Good luck with your UC, I know that has to be a tough journey.

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    Catherine June 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Hi, Tina –

    I have been a faithful “green smoothie” eater for about 4 years now, and on Monday, I finally bought a juicer! I know that you just got yours as well. What is in your green juice? I am in a rut. I just keep re-creating the same juice that I always get at the Whole Foods juice bar. :-)

    Thanks so much!

    -Catherine

    Reply

    Tina June 5, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Fun!! I love my juicer! Here’s my go-to recipe, which makes approximately two 8-ounce servings: 1 apple, 1 cucumber, 4-5 celery stalks, 2-3 carrots, a hunk of fresh ginger, and a TON of greens (spinach, kale, collards). Sometimes I add half of a lemon or orange too.

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    Catherine June 5, 2013 at 10:12 am

    @Tina: Thanks!

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    Jamie @ Sometimes Healthy Living Blog June 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

    This is a great post! I absolutely feel that mindset has a great deal to do with your health. I have a lot of minor stomach problems, which started up years ago after I graduated from college. In the beginning, I was upset all the time and seeing doctors to figure out what was wrong. Eventually, we realized that a lot of the issues were stemming from stressing about my stomach. Now, I approach it by accepting that stomach issues are just a part of my every day life. Every now and then, I’ll have a bad week with my stomach, and instead of getting upset, I adjust accordingly and lighten up my workouts. It’s made the issue much more manageable!

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    beth June 5, 2013 at 9:43 am

    what gluten free bread do you use for toast?

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    Tina June 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I buy whatever is on sale, but I think that’s Udi’s. They make some good products!

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    joelle (on a pink typewriter) June 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

    @Tina: LOVE Udi’s! Their buns are especially yummy, and I don’t even have a gluten problem (just like the taste).

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    Becky @ Olives n Wine June 5, 2013 at 9:45 am

    To a certain extent, I do think we can “will” and “think” ourselves better! Determination and willpower can go a long way :)

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    Beth Sheridan June 5, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I know a man that has a ton of health problems, and I’m not trying to say he doesn’t, but his mental state is one that is very negative, and I’ve seen him go downhill way quicker than I believe his actual health problems would’ve taken him. I truly believe a positive outlook on things can make a TON of difference :)

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    Jolynn @ Lift Pray Love June 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

    The mind is a very powerful tool. If you think you can’t, you won’t. Is it possible to think yourself well? Not entirely. Some things are out of our control. But is it possible to make the best of the situation and have a positive outlook? Always!

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    joelle (on a pink typewriter) June 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I LOVE that quote – “The body is a mirror of how we live our lives.” – and it jumped out at me when I was reading that mag too. I think it’s so true!

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    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance June 5, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I read this article over the weekend and thought it was an incredibly interesting way to look at illnesses. The article suggested, and I agree, that outside factors in our life like work, relationships, family, etc. can impact our health. Part of it is how we perceive these issues and then how we act on them. Like you point out, it can be so hard to focus on the good when you feel there is something so negative in your life. Forcing yourself to think of positive things, even when you feel negative about them, is essential to your health. Sometimes though I think making a change in your life is necessary so that you can think positively. I know I’m going to make a greater effort to both think more positively and change the things I perceive as negative.

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    Rebecca Jo June 5, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I like to think a positive attitude makes a difference – so thinking yourself well? I think its possible…

    I know my grandma & an aunt for YEARS – YEAARRSSSSSS – just ‘knew’ they had cancer… guess what? Down the road, they both got it… my grandma only lived 2 weeks with it. I always said that I hate she didn’t get to enjoy it… she so badly seemed to want it :(
    Attitude is everything

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    Danica June 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I don’t think the mind can control all of our health “issues,” but I absolutely think it plays a major role!

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    Jackie June 5, 2013 at 10:32 am

    You go, girl! I love your outlook.

    I have always been someone who has focused too much on the negatives in life, but recently I decided to change things — I started running a few months ago (and am now training for a half marathon in September!) have started to try to focus on the POSITIVES, and to do a few nice (small, simple) things for others each day. I feel about 1,000 times better than I ever have before. Positive thinking — in all aspects of life — really DOES make a difference.

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    Ashley Lynch June 5, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Hey Tina,

    What kind of Gluten Free Bread do you eat? I LOVE Banana and Peanut Butter and you got me HOOKED on Teddies… thanks :)

    Reply

    Tina June 5, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I buy whatever is on sale, but I think that’s Udi’s. They make some good products!

    Reply

    Fizz @ fizzsbizz.com June 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

    This is actually something I think about a lot! I do think that the power of positive thinking can have amazing results in many areas of life including sickness. I am still not sure if you can actually ‘think yourself well’ but I know that you can think yourself to be sicker than you are. A lot of that is in simply allowing yourself to be sick. Yes sometimes you need to ‘be sick’, take up on the couch etc and just rest but there’s also a time when you need to work with your brain and your positive thoughts to get up, get out and get going.

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    Bret June 5, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Great topic! I have been fascinated with the Think Yourself Well theory for some time now. I believe stress really takes a toll on our bodies. The lifestyle our society encourges creates a multitude of stressors which in turn wreaks havoc on our health.

    An interesting read is the Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan. It takes a look at the difference between the Western and Aborigine mindset. After reading it I really started paying attention to how my health is impacted by my thoughts. There are many differences between the Aborigine tribe and our Western lifestyle (environment, way of life, medicine, food, etc); however, their take on how our minds are responsible for our health is worth consideration.

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    Miranda @ Miranda Runs June 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Peanut butter. Banana. Carbs. My fave combo ;)

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    Chelsea June 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

    We call it ‘nanner toast at our house, and it’s a family favorite without a doubt – especially with chunky peanut butter! I think that it’s an interesting point you bring up because it doesn’t necessarily matter, to me, whether or not you can think yourself to an actual state of physical wellness as long as you can think yourself to a place of appreciation, gratitude, and, through that, a relief of some of that pain and discomfort. The bottom line – the mind is a very, very powerful thing!

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    Mary@Takes Guts June 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t believe you can think yourself well. But I KNOW that my my psychological state of affairs can have a major impact on my health. When I’m stressed, not only am I unhappy, but I tend to get colds more often and eventually the IBD flares. When I’m calm, my guts are happy. I consider managing stress as an important part of my overall treatment plan, just like taking a pill or going to the gym. But I can’t just think about being well, I gotta work for it by learning to say no and finding time for myself.

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    Annette@FitnessPerks June 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    The mind is definitely powerful, and I truly believe that! I think that if you emit positive thoughts & emotions, it often brings more positive results. I don’t know if it’s true for every scenario, but I think for a general ‘wellbeing’ and health it is!

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    Ali June 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Lissa Rankin’s book Mind Over Medicine is great! You should get it. My IBS symptoms are much better since I started doing a daily healing meditation (i.e. encouraging healing hormones to do their work!)

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    Holly H June 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    If you can stress yourself sick, I’m sure it can work the other way around, too – I deal with autoimmune issues too and I think that you can think yourself well or at least better and outlook has a lot to do with quality of life.

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    bree June 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I think you meant “healed” not “heeled” when referring to your colon. sorry- 2nd grade teacher and always noticing phonics rules! lol!

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    Tina June 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Ha! Thanks!

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    Amelia June 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I used to suffer with atrial fibrillation and had two cardiac procedures to “fix” it. After the 2nd one, I decided that I was just going to believe it would never happen again. That was back in 2008 and I haven’t had another a fib episode again!

    I also have ADHD which mean daily struggles and frustrations. It also means I’m interested in a lot of things (mostly never bored!), usually have lots of energy (great for working out!) and because I’ve learned how to do it along the way, I’m super organized. Sure – I can be a space cadet sometimes, talk (or write! :)) too much, forget the last thought I had while I was having it and impulsivly do things I wouldn’t do if I had thought things through but there are so many great, amazing things in my life too! You can’t let the bad weigh down all the very, very good! It’s all about practicing the positivity baby!

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    Jennifer June 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Whenever I think of “think yourself well” I think of Steve Jobs :-/ So I guess my answer is no, I don’t think so, at least when it comes to something serious.

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    Kristi June 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    This is something that I think about on an almost daily basis. I suffer from anxiety disorder. I carry some sort of anxiety everyday. Some days aren’t as bad as others, but on the bad days I sit and try to think myself well. I now can recognize when I am on the verge of having a panic attack and most times I can calm myself down, so in that case I definitely think you can think yourself well.

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    Brooke June 5, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Me! I am a believer that you can think yourself not necessarily “cured”, but better. It’s certainly helped with my MS–other than being run-down now and then, I hardly notice any symptoms.
    I think some of it has to do with eating better and treating our bodies better when we think better about ourselves, and that *can* have tangible results!

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    Lillian @ Seize the Latte June 6, 2013 at 12:08 am

    I’ve been wondering about this a lot lately too. Lissa Rankin’s book is #1 on my “Books I Want to Read as Soon as I’m Done Reading the Five Books I’m in the Middle of Now” list, and it earned that spot after I started wondering if a lot of my (and my husband’s) health problems are related to chronic stress, unhappiness with our jobs, missing our families, viscerally disliking where we live, etc.

    That said, I like your approach to dealing with UC. Focusing on what you CAN do makes things feel considerably more manageable!

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    Emily June 6, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Tina, a GREAT book along these lines is Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra. It is a basic, introductory book about ayurvedic medicine, written by a Western-trained neuroscientist and licensed physician. The tone of the book is light, warm, and comforting, and there is so much fascinating information. I highly recommend it for the sections on thought and health alone. It really changed the way I look at the relationship between my emotional well-being and my health. Check it out! :)

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    Tina June 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Thanks for the recommendation! :)

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    MelanieF June 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

    The mind is powerful! I think that if you start to think that you are sick, you eventually will be. My father-in-law is the worst in that he complains all the time that he’s sick, he cannot walk, he cannot do this or that…and he’s 67. I’m not saying he doesn’t hurt somewhere in his body, but I think that it hurts much more because he’s really negeative and his focus is on that.

    My father is the same age, 67 and he flys like the wind! He keeps busy, and he exercises everyday and eats lots of fruits and veggies. But, he’s positive, and does not focus on every part of his body that may be hurting!

    So yeah, I believe positivity and the way you think plays a great role!

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    Jolie June 7, 2013 at 10:27 am

    The way I think myself better is always knowing that things can be worse and by being grateful for what God has given me.

    Reply

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