Editor’s Update

black calendar close up composition

Anyone who follows this Journal may notice (another) very long gap between posts. This  year has turned into a steady sequence of issues involving computer problems and Internet service, household maintenance problems, caring for an elderly parent, and going to many doctor appointments for both of us. The stress of it all resulted in a fibromyalgia flare-up which has slowed me down considerably.

Last month, I started going to a Pain Management Program (herein, PMP) to work on the fibro flare. I go twice a week to a clinic 60 miles away. With travel time, I’m gone about 9.5 hours a day and when I get home, I just need to rest. So with all this going on, my writing has fallen by the wayside.

One of the emotional-psychological-spiritual health goals I’ve set in this PMP is to turn this Journal into a regular “day job”. That’s actually been my plan for several years but now I have a support staff to help see that I do it.

Over the past few weeks, it’s been a pleasant surprise to discover that I’m already familiar with many of the topics, readings, and therapies covered in the PMP from my past studies. My mission now is to apply the things I’ve learned, with the additional support of clinical professionals and medical documentation.

I’m inviting everyone who’s been following or is just discovering this Journal to join me on this expedition into natural whole-person healing.

I hope you’ll also share stories, comments, questions and suggestions about your experiences with chronic illness or pain conditions, whether it’s yourself, family members, or friends. What have you tried or would like to? What’s worked and what hasn’t? What would you like to know more about?

Let’s get together and compare notes!

Editor’s Page: March Forth!


Today is March 4th–a perfect day to take time to renew the New Year’s plans and goals you set that maybe are starting to fall behind.

The middle to end of February seems to be the time when the shiny newness of your plans begins to tarnish a little.

You may start falling back into your same old routines and ‘forget’ that you gave up sweets or working out.

If you’re dealing with a chronic pain and fatigue condition (as I am), then you know how cold temperatures and dark days can bring on symptoms that can sabotage your wellness goals.

And if you live in a cold, snowy climate–say anywhere in the upper Northern hemisphere–then you know that it’s still Winter out there, maybe til the end of April. Even though the Spring equinox is just two weeks away, we here in the tundra have a hard time envisioning that.

Let’s March Forth!

So, what I am proposing is to make today–March 4th–a day to renew our commitment to our Wellness Plan and–March Forth with it. Make this the day you say, “I am going to do this!”

This is something I need to do myself. The fibromyalgia I deal with threatens to flare up with each weekly major snow storm. I know I have to work to keep it from knocking me down, like the strong winds that are blowing today want to do.

My other challenge is being the sole proprietor of a business with no one else to staff it. Even though it’s an online business and all I have to do is write, I still have days where I just need to “call in sick”. That is why there are so many long gaps between articles.

I have no doubt that anyone following this page in the past three years since it was put up, has given up on me by now.  I’ve been told that I need to add new content daily and it’s been closer to quarterly for me.

That’s another reason for my March Forth” Campaign. Along with being a re-dedication to my wellness plan, it’s also a re-dedication to this virtual wellness center:

“I pledge that my readers find new things every week”

(Rather than every three months!)

Now, I ask you all to hold me to this. If you don’t see something new in two weeks running, then check in at the Center’s Community Hub at Facebook and give me a “poke”. Say something like “Hey, Kat–where are you? I haven’t seen anything new in two weeks!”

Another thing you could do is post a comment to an article in the Journal, even if it’s just “good article!” or even “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Knowing people are seeing what I post is a great motivational tool.

So, what do you think? Are you with me on the ‘March Forth’ toward a fabulous rest of the year?

Great! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Post a comment about your plan to March Forth

Introduction to Lifestyle and Behavior Change


Talk of lifestyle and behavior change is scary for a lot of people.

There may come a time when the realization hits that the only way to feel better is to become aware of your health behavior and move toward changing your lifestyle.

That’s what happened to me when I developed fibromyalgia. I’d been caught on a merry-go-round of prescription medications and physical therapy that would work for a while and then have no effect at all.

After about four years of this, I said “ENOUGH!” and decided to undertake some research and create my own treatment plan.

Fortunately at that time, a new physician’s assistant arrived at my clinic and I was just able to get in as the last of his quota of patients. He was the first practitioner I’d met who believed in natural healing and he supported my do-it-yourself wellness plan.

The more I learned and practiced, the better I began to feel. After awhile, it was wonderful to start feeling “normal” again that I wanted to keep it going.

Starting a lifestyle and behavior change plan can be hard but it does get easier with every success you achieve.

In this section, I’ll explain what I’ve learned about lifestyle and behavior change. It’s not as scary as it seems and surprisingly easier than you might think.

Making Lifestyle Change Easier

Discussions of lifestyle and behavior change can sound complicated, but these topics are so important to the entire DIY Healthy Lifestyles program that this is the first of the “5 Essentials for Healthy Lifestyles.”

Nothing else can happen until you understand lifestyle and behavior change.

My goal for this section is to try to explain behavioral psychology in a way that everyone can understand.

By the way, if there’s ever anything you have a question about in this section or any of the others, click this link to Raise Your Hand and ask. Don’t be afraid because “the only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.” That quote was posted by a Facebook friend who said a high school teacher of hers used to say it. I thought it was cool so I stole it to use here.

Health Behavior Explained

Health Behavior is defined as “the actions we take to keep ourselves healthy” like eating right and exercising. It can also refer to negative actions that harm our health, such as smoking cigarettes or eating too many high-calorie foods on a regular basis.

Our health behavior is formed by beliefs, values, motives, personality traits, behavior patterns, and habits as they relate to health. Here’s a very simplified explanation of how health behavior is formed:

It begins as children when we’re told that fruit and vegetables are good for us and that candy is bad for us. But, as children will, we decided that most vegetables didn’t taste so good and that candy did.

As we grew older, that belief may have stayed with us and it turned into the idea that anything that we were told was good for us tasted awful and whatever was bad tasted great.

That’s why as adults, we often balk at trying out health foods. We’ve prepared our minds from childhood to believe that healthy food tastes bad and junk food is great.  

Do you see how that works? As children, we form the beliefs that drive our health behavior for years to come. The behavior we formed from the belief that junk food tastes better is what lies behind our troubles today with overweight, fatigue, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other ailments. Many people are reluctant to change their diets because of the popular belief that “all health food tastes like cardboard”. This is a very common complaint that I hear whenever I talk about lifestyle change.  

I agree–there is a lot of cardboard out there, and styrofoam too (think rice cakes).

When I started venturing into a whole foods diet, I tasted a lot of very bad stuff. My belief is that food manufacturers tried to jump on the “health food” bandwagon without really knowing much about whole food nutrition.

They figured they could just make the same stuff the way they’d always made it but remove the fat, salt and sugar. And not replace it with a healthy alternative that would still make it taste good. Fortunately, health food manufacturing has advanced and now there are some great products out there.

In future lessons, you’ll learn the secrets of great-tasting health food. We’ll look at reviews of really good-tasting, pre-packaged foods you can find in almost any grocery store, plus recipes for making your own healthy foods at home.

You won’t believe you’re actually eating stuff that’s good for you! You’ll even learn not to miss sugar or salt–two of the biggest contributors to obesity, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease.

Behavior Change Models

Health behavior theories have been laid out in concise models, or simplified illustrations that show us how the theory works.

The DIY Health Lifestyles program taps into five behavior change models. (There’s that ‘five’ number again!) We’ll look into those models in detail in future sections. The discussion today is to make the term “behavior change” sound less scary and complicated.

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you’re interested in making lifestyle changes. I’m also going to assume that you’ve read books and articles, watched videos or tried different programs but they were too hard to understand, too complicated to follow, or they just didn’t seem to work. That’s what most of the people who join the Center say when asked what they’ve done before.

The reason why so many wellness plans and programs don’t seem to work is that many don’t address health behavior or health beliefs.

They don’t ask about your personal reasons for wanting to change or the beliefs you have about your ability to make changes. They just tell you that you have to do this and eat that without helping you find out why you balk at doing what they want.

Learning a little about health behavior helps you discover why something doesn’t work for you or what you can do to make it work.

It can help you see where your beliefs and feelings about what is or isn’t good for you come from. It can help you learn how you can change beliefs that have been working against your health.

An understanding of health behavior and behavior change models goes a very, very long way toward helping you overcome past “failures” and succeed in finally making lasting changes.  

Personal Responsibility & Choice


In my studies of health and wellness management, a professor made an interesting statement in a lecture about taking personal responsibility for our own wellness:

“To talk about health only as a matter of individual choices and personal responsibility assumes that we are always aware of the choices we’re making and that we are always free to make them. The truth is that not everyone is in the same position, and there are differences in how we live and the context in which we make our decisions.”

I had to think about this. In this world of information-overload, how can we possibly be unaware of choices?  In this land of the free, how can we not be free to make those choices?  How does this affect our personal responsibility?

First, how can we be unaware of choices? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Lack of facilities, businesses or services that offer health information or healthy choices in small or rural communities
  2. Limited access to health information for low-literacy and non-English speaking populations
  3. Limited computer or Internet access to find online health and wellness information
  4. Belief that natural wellness products and services are very expensive and only available to wealthy people
  5. Confusing information about the safety and trustworthiness of wellness information and products
  6. Medical professional bias that encourages patients to discredit natural health and healing as fake or ‘just a fad’.

From the above list, we can see choices are limited by a lack of quality information in formats and places where people can easily find it. You’re not free to choose if you don’t know you have choices.

Second, what could limit the freedom to make those choices? Here are some things that can limit the freedom to make healthy choices:

  1. Health conditions that prevent eating certain foods, such as trouble digesting vegetables, fruits, legumes, or grains, or mobility conditions that limit movement
  2. The over-availability and convenience of processed packaged foods, junk foods, and ready-to-eat microwave meals that encourage convenience over healthy nutrition
  3. A steady diet of convenience foods that contain chemical additives that may promote carbohydrate addiction, or strong cravings for sugary and starchy foods, which are often mixed with unhealthy fats and oils. This addiction may cause an inability to choose healthy foods because of the strong physical cravings.
  4. Influence from family or friends who believe  natural healing is “bogus” and discourage talk about it, practicing it, or using natural products or treatments.
  5. Lack of sources for quality information and ‘how-to’ instruction.

These examples serve to show that “not everyone is in the same position, and there are differences in how we live and the context in which we make our decisions.”

Take some time to think about whether any of the things I listed affect you, your family or your friends. If you have any of these limitations, think about ways you can overcome them.

If you live in a choice-limited community, get together with others and brainstorm ideas for getting more natural health information and services. You may find ways to create some do-it-yourself healthy choices that can empower you toward taking personal responsibility for your health and wellness.

If you’re stumped for ideas or things to do, the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Journal can help you and your groups to discover ways to get around the limitations that keep you from exploring natural health.

Please use the comments box below if you have questions, comments, or would like more information.

Make This Your Best Year EVER

JackCanfieldWithin the last couple of months, Jack Canfield has become my favorite motivational “guru”.
One of the greatest things about Jack is that he fits the DIY Healthy Lifestyles criteria of ‘simple’ and ‘frugal’ by sharing his coaching free via YouTube and downloadable guides and workbooks.
The best part is that his freebies are usable and helpful. You don’t get teasers full of hints, unusable information, hype about the program  and links to “learn more now in the full program–yours for only $500+.” Jack gives you complete information and workbooks you can really use and will help you transform your wishes into workable goals.
 I’m inviting everyone to join me this year in working with Jack by following his YouTube page and getting on his email list so you can access his wisdom, webinars, workbooks and guides.

Old New Year’s Resolutions


Welcome to Procrastinator’s Anonymous!

Deciding vs. Doing

Believe it or not, living a healthy lifestyle does not mean just deciding to eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise more. There’s a catch. It’s that gap between deciding to do something and actually doing it.

Raise your hand: How many of you have a series of “New Year’s Resolutions” that involve just changing the goal date from last year’s resolutions to this year’s?

I’m going to estimate that nearly 80% of you have your hands up now–either physically or mentally. Of course, I can’t see you but if you’ll click the link below to actually ‘raise your hand’, we’ll find out if I’m close or not.

Click here to ‘Raise Your Hand’

If I am close, then we could make this a ‘Procrastinator’s Anonymous’ group. I guess there aren’t any because no one’s gotten around to putting one together yet. 😉

Ongoing motivation is a Challenge, with a capital C.

We want to do it. We have the knowledge and at least some of the skills. We’ve maybe even invested money, certain that if we spend that much on a weight loss program or piece of fitness equipment, we’ll really do it!

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. If it were, we would know many more healthy and fit people than we do. Behavior change isn’t as easy as buying a product and hoping it does the trick, or like Nike says, “Just Do It”.

Behavior change involves changing your mind. That doesn’t mean deciding to do or not do something. It means changing the way you think about and interpret things. That takes a little time and effort but it can be done.

The way to begin is to take the focus away from the bad habit. It’s common to tell ourselves “I have to stop/quit/get rid of this habit.” Instead you turn that thought into, “I enjoy being/having/doing this (good thing) because it’s helping me achieve (goal).”

For a procrastinator, this could be: “I enjoy the satisfied feeling of getting things done.”

The experts in behavior change say that we should phrase our goal statements–the things we want to do, have or achieve–in the present tense. Saying “I am/have/do” rather than “I will” sets our brain to acting as if we are already doing that.

When your brain believes you are/have/are doing something, your body naturally follows. This is also one of the principles behind the Law of Attraction or “what you think about becomes real”, which we’ll be examining in future lessons.

Switching Gears

Thinking in ‘present tense’ helps shift the brain’s gears away from what we don’t want toward what we do want. When you find yourself beginning to do your bad habit (reaching for another cookie or putting off a task), stop and remember your “I enjoy being/having/doing (this)” statement. You’ll find it difficult to carry out the old habit while thinking of the good one.

Sit down and write out a list of positive things you can do instead of the bad habit. Phrase them in the positive, present tense:  “I am enjoying walking outside in the fresh air instead of inhaling cancer-causing smoke”, or “I love eating fresh fruit more than I do sweets “. Follow that thought with a mental review of the benefits, visualizing how good you’ll feel making the healthy choice over the bad one.

You can learn to change your thoughts through techniques such as visualization, meditation, cognitive therapy and mindfulness practice, all of which we’ll learn about in future lessons.

Getting Started on “Just Doing It”

Just remember to make the effort to follow up the thought with action. Another trick that behavior change experts suggest is called “Do It For 2-Minutes” (or 3 or 5 or 10, it varies between experts).

The way it works is that you choose a number of minutes from 2 to 10, set a timer, then you do the task on your list for the set number of minutes. When the timer goes off, you can choose to stop the task and go to the next one.

You can also decide to do another few minutes on any task later on or the next day. Often, however, once you’ve started, you may become absorbed in the task and want to keep going. You can reset the timer for another round and repeat it until you want to stop. Or you may choose to set the next round for a half hour, an hour, or even two.

Remember, putting things off does not make them it go away.  Focusing instead on the feeling of already being/having/doing the thing you want and then working on it for at least two minutes each day will move you toward achieving your goal--this year instead of three years from now.

Happy Holidays AND Merry Christmas!


The past year has been pretty crazy for many of us. Therefore, it seemed good idea for the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Journal to publish a guide for keeping the peace among groups of politically- or socially-divided people getting together for the holidays.

This guide will help hosts prevent arguments and create fun and enjoyable festivities, whether in their own homes, at family/friends homes, workplace parties or community gatherings.

The Holiday Season is upon us, and before anyone complains about my using “Holidays” instead of “Christmas”, let me say that it really shouldn’t be a major issue, although some Facebook users have tried to make it one.   

Holidays–some holy, some cultural–are celebrated all over the world in December. The majority of them, and Christmas is one of them, embrace peace, love, and goodwill toward all as their tenants.

It is a time of gathering to celebrate events of religious, ethnic, or cultural events with church services and/or gatherings of family and friends with much food, drink, good cheer, and gift giving.

There may be occasions where family, friends, and guests may share different beliefs or customs so it’s seems odd that anyone would expect them to adhere to someone else’s.  

We’re really not so very culturally different from one another. Therefore, it’s puzzling (at least to me) why there must be this attitude demanding that Christmas be recognized and called so by everyone, regardless of their faith, ethnicity or cultural beliefs.

And then there’s the idea that the greeting of  ‘Happy Holidays’ somehow dishonors Christmas. It truly does not and here’s why:

It has to do with the word “holiday” itself. Judging from the “Christmas vs. Holidays” debate, it appears that not many people realize that the word “holiday” comes from “holy day”. Christmas is a holy day, isn’t it? So why the offense over “Happy Holy-days” or “Holidays”?

Doesn’t it seem just a little ironic that those demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas” are at the same time not practicing the sentiments of peace and goodwill  connected to their own holy day?

To those who belligerently shout “It’s Merry Christmas NOT Happy Holidays!!!….” stop and think about how it sounds as though you don’t believe your own faith’s tenants.  Just sayin’.   

 So, on that theme, we’re ironically now coming upon our days of celebrating peace and goodwill in an atmosphere of ever-increasing hostility, primarily stirred up by world political events.

It’s very sad that it’s come to this. Now we need to think about how we’re going to celebrate Christmas, holidays or holy days with others in our own friends, family, neighbors and co-worker circles who come from opposing sides.

Over this past year, I have seen for myself and heard about what are supposed to be happy family gatherings–wedding receptions, anniversary parties, birthday parties. baby showers–completely fall apart with people stomping out and leaving in a huff because someone brought up politics or world events.

My advice for everyone this holiday season is: A) Just don’t bring it up, and B) forgo forcing your beliefs on others, just for this couple of weeks at least.

Just agree to disagree and pass the eggnog, the wine or the Tom n’ Jerrys and have fun!

But that might be too much to ask. So, I decided to sit down and think of a few ways to keep the peace amongst diverse groups.

My ideas are outlined below.

STEP 1: Party Games 

  • Sit down games are best, but not board games requiring a table unless you have fewer than 8 people present.
  • Standing games can be hard on some and if there are adult beverages being consumed, there may be wobbling and things could get broken, but if everyone is capable then standing games, like charades or passing objects from person to person in challenging ways can be a hoot.
  • Games usually get everyone laughing and focused on their task for the game and gets their mind off of world news or personal issues.
  • People who are having fun together are less likely to bring up hot topics or downer subjects
  • Download the FREE Holiday Party Game Ideas booklet here   

STEP 2: The Old $1 “Cuss Jar”

  • Remember these? They were usually found at home (often at Grandma’s house) or at your place of work.  
  • The rule was that for every cuss word uttered, the cusser had to put $1 in the jar. It might have been a quarter when you last saw one but we now have to adjust for inflation.  

STEP 3-A: Turn the Cuss Jar into a $1 “Hot Button” Jar.

  • You’ll need a container to hold $1 bills–possibly several of them if adult beverages are served
  • You can use this Jar for any occasion and decorate it for the occasion with paint, feathers, beads, sequins and glitter in the appropriate holiday colors.
  • Or not. If you just aren’t the artsy-craftsy type, you can skip this step.
  • But at the very least write “$1 Hot Button Jar” on it with a felt-tip marker so no one confuses it for an empty coffee can and tosses it in the recycle bin with all the money inside.
  • NOTE: This is likely to happen after guests have run out of cash and the process is abandoned or after several rounds of beverages have dulled memory of what was going on.

STEP 3-B: How This is Supposed to Work 

  • Anyone who starts talking about a ‘hot’ topic pays $1 to the jar
  • For each infraction after that, payment doubles to $2, then $4 and so on. People will likely start feeling the pinch and find safer topics to move on to.
  • You may set your own prices and increments accordingly, but keep this in mind:
  • The Cash is donated to support a charity or program that helps those who have been threatened or harmed by the related topic.
  • In the case of politics, the cash is donated to the general state political party fund the hot button pusher is bashing. Meaning, the Democrat-basher pays to the Democratic Party fund and vice versa.
    • That would probably shut me up–how about you?
  • Keeping the cash for yourself is not recommended; that would constitute a con game which guests would tend to not view lightly
  • ANOTHER OPTION: If you have elderly, ill, or struggling family members or friends in need, donate the cash to them or to a local charity that personally helps them.
    • Anyone else who argues with that idea pitches in double the amount in the Jar.
    • If giving directly to a person or persons present, you may wish to do this privately so as not to embarrass the recipient and/or invite protest from anyone disagreeing with this option.

STEP 4: Choose one or more ‘hot button’ topics based on what could come up come up. Some suggestions:

  • Politics
  • Sexual harassment
  • Child harassment
  • Racism/Ethnic harassment
  • Gender Harassment
  • Bullying
  • Firepower control (not just ‘gun control’)
  • Substance abuse (pro or con)
  • Behavioral Health care
  • Any other topic that annoys, embarrasses, harasses or makes a majority of guests unhappy and uncomfortable – Hosts or guests decide the topics

STEP 5: For Arguments That May Get Out of Hand:

  • First, get everyone to SHUT UP!
  • Clap your hands, use a bell, a whistle, a gavel, beat a spoon on a kettle, use an air horn–whatever it takes to get their attention and firmly tell them to JUST STOP.
  • Bring the Jar around and double the fine (if guests still have cash left)
  • If you’re still using the Hot Button Jar, you can implement this game after the Jar has gone around four or five times without satisfying results
  • If everyone has already donated all their cash, then play this new game:

    • You can also use it without the Hot Button Jar if people are being downers about something outside of the list above.
    • The rule is that the topic is still  offensive and could spark anger and sniping but it’s not as volatile as the above topics.   
    • Examples:
        • “What in God’s name made Susan buy that horrendously ugly sofa?”
        • “How could you have let Lucie pierce her face like that? She used to be so pretty”
        • ”What possessed you to buy that make of vehicle? Don’t you know they’re junk?”
        • “You really support that team? My gawd–they can’t buy their way to a championship!”   
        • “So, I hear Joey got caught at that high school drinking party. Can’t you control your own kids?”
    • You get the idea. You know what you’re likely to hear so prepare a list of your own as a guide
    • Use your noise-maker (explained above) to stop the complaining or ranting
      • Set a time and tell everyone:
      • “No one speaks for the next minute.” Then say:
      • “For the first :30 seconds, everyone think about how this isn’t the time for complaining or disagreements and how this should be a joyful celebration of peace on earth and goodwill toward all.” Or words to that effect.
      • Then, after the first :30 seconds is up, say: “Now for the next :30 seconds think about the past year and good things that happened to you or about something you like, or something fun we could all do or talk about, then tell us about it.”
      • Go around the room and give each person up to one minute to share their good warm-fuzzy thoughts.
      • Hopefully, some will have feel-good or funny stories to share that will uplift everyone and squelch the downer atmosphere.
      • If no one comes up with anything, then the host(s) tell a happy story–make one up if you have to, or tell a good joke. Anything to lighten the mood.
      • Someone should catch on to your scheme and come up with another story or joke and keep the ball rolling, or you can pre-arrange this with your spouse, kids, or a co-host to help out.


If you haven’t already, download your FREE Guide to Holiday Party Games here   

The Guide contains this article for you to keep and refer to, plus a list of game and prize ideas for you to use in planning your holiday gatherings. 



Good News from the Food Industry

grocerystoremomentoftruthA couple of years ago, I posted a video link to the ABC News documentary, How to Get Fat Without Really Trying.  In that video, the late Peter Jennings interviews the president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

His responses so blithely dismissed the needs of the consumer in favor of the needs of the GMA, which are increased sales without regard to food safety or the negative effects of marketing junk food to kids.

The GMA is one of the largest and most powerful lobbying groups that wields great influence on food policy in Washington, D. C.  Most often, not to the benefit of the consumer.

I was totally disgusted by the GMA president in the video. That documentary, along with a few others, was one of the biggest influences for me to quit eating popular brand-name processed food.

If you haven’t seen How to Get Fat… you can access it here.   It’s several years old but the message is timeless–especially in light of the news I read today.

My favorite food policy guru, Marion Nestle, via her blog, Food Politics, tells us that many national food manufactures are feeling the pinch of the public demand for better food. I say its about time.

They’re caught between the consumer and the GMA, which opposes anything that would make food safer and more nutritious. In their mind, that translates to “less profitable.”

Professor Nestle tells us that several national food manufacturers have now left the GMA over disagreements on many issues. Some of those companies’ products had been old favorites of mine that I gave up buying after watching the ABC documentary.

I’m happy to hear of their defection from the GMA but it remains to be seen if they change the nutritional profiles of their products.

Here’s Professor Nestle’s report:

I’ve written many times about the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an organization so locked into the interests of its food-company donors that you can count on it to vehemently oppose every consumer-friendly measure that gets proposed. A couple of weeks ago, Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich and Catherine Boudreau wrote what they discovered about the unraveling […]

via Defections from the Grocery Manufacturers Association: Rats leaving a sinking ship? — Food Politics by Marion Nestle

Do You Suffer from Excessive Stuff Syndrome?

It is guesstimated that nearly 48.9% of the U. S. population suffers from this condition!


Excessive Stuff Syndrome (ESS) is a debilitating syndrome that has been known to cause mild to severe anxiety, elevated stress levels, and a sense of overwhelm and despair.


It is estimated that nearly 48.9 percent of the U. S. population suffers from ESS, more than half female aged 40 to 80+. Common contributing factors for developing this syndrome include:

  • Strong desire for creativity
  • Interest in arts, crafts, or special hobbies
  • A love of reading and learning new things
  • Special interest in collecting
  • Underdeveloped or non-existent storage and organization skills


ESS often begins in childhood with the onset of SSS or Saving Special Stuff, typically in small-to-medium sized containers or special drawers.

Those afflicted by SSS experience strong tendencies to save things that interest them, based upon one or more of the contributing factors listed above:

  • Books about interests (common to all forms of SSS)
  • Post cards
  • Mail advertising packets
  • Postage stamps
  • Magazine photos
  • Badges and buttons
  • Magnetic cards to stick on fridge or file cabinet
  • Keychains from trade or home shows
  • Notebooks
  • Calendars
  • Any items containing attractive visual representations of the interest focus.


As children grow, so too do their interests. Often, growth and expansion of the interest will lead to the next stage of development, SSNS or Saving of New Stuff. The further the syndrome develops, the more precise, sophisticated, and necessary the Required Stuff becomes.

The books become larger or more accumulated and here now may be subscriptions to magazines that must be saved. Posters and charts become valuable and cherished.

Friends and family members, often unknowingly, enable the development of SSNS through gifts of activity kits or implement sets. Once the activity is adopted, there follows a need for more supplies and implements.

Other Contributing Factors to ESS

SSNS can also develop from interests that necessitate the need for special clothing such as uniforms, costumes,  identity apparel (special clothing for meetings or events), footwear, head gear, and equipment. As the child grows, the need for larger spaces in which to store it all increases.

If the contributing factor of a love for reading and learning is involved, there may be the added tendency toward accumulation of:

  • More books
  • Magazine subscriptions (as noted above)
  • Mail-order kits and learning programs
  • Notebooks
  • Binders or scrapbooks for collecting loose pages, instruction booklets, and clippings from magazines and newspapers.


The leading contributor to ESS is the attachment to keeping the things collected from the onset of SSS into adulthood.

A primary triggering factor of ESS begins to emerge in the teen years, from about ages 15 to 21. This is the time when teens begin to consider moving away from home to attend college, go to work, or explore their options. It is a time when one must consider what they will take with them and what can be parted with.

This is also the time when the patient becomes highly susceptible to the  triggering factor of ESS known as TIIS or This Is Important Stuff.

The main symptom of TIIS is an inability to discern the Truly Important from the Possibly Unimportant. The patient may begin to experience feelings of great attachment to the Special Stuff Saved from the blossoming of their special interests as a child.

That first activity kit project becomes symbolic of their life-long love of their interest of choice. The young adult feels a great need to keep this object either on display or in a place of safekeeping.

There may be collections of instructions and how-to clippings still to be tried out that cannot be parted with yet. There may still be activity kits not yet assembled. There are still things to be explored.


The TIIS factor plays a large part in the decision-making process that arises out of the SSS and SSNS phases. Each and every item, piece, part, document and scrap must be put through the TIIS test. Is This Important Stuff or Is It Not?

The more the interest has established itself in the young person’s mind, the more difficult it becomes to determine Important from Not Important Stuff. Typically, the patient undergoes such stress and sense of turmoil that a decision is made: This is ALL Important Stuff.

All the Important Stuff is then boxed up and moved to the new location, and often, to new subsequent locations.

It is at this point that a definite diagnoses of Excess Stuff Syndrome can be made.


There is no known cure for ESS. Treatment can include Resolve Development where the patient decides to close the eyes and toss things out, or seek the help of a trusted friend to support this treatment.

Another form of treatment is to develop the skill of Storage and Organization.  which can be both a solution and the trigger for a secondary from of ESS known as CSC, or the Collection of Storage Containers.

CSC can mask the manifestation of ESS by creating a false sense of control by appearing to have organized and controlled the spread of ESS by having a Place For Everything, and Everything In Its Place. This can lead to an aggravation of the original trigger of SSS (Saving Special Stuff), which in turn exacerbates CSC. This can develop into a self-perpetuating and chronic ESS condition.

Chronic ESS can be a very debilitating condition. It can develop into an actual behavioral health diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder manifesting as a condition known as Hoarding.

This could ultimately require Professional Psychological Treatment if your ESS goes beyond this tongue-in-cheek article describing the condition in a  light-hearted manner. (See Disclaimer below).


With that in mind, there are other milder treatments that really could be applied in less serious cases of ESS:

  • Scanning paper documents and photographing childhood projects and saving them to computer, discs, jump drives or cloud drives
  • Building and dedicating a small museum or section in your local public library or community center devoted to your interest for the education of friends, neighbors, and future generations
  • Donating your collection to a youth group or club
  • Cashing in on your stash by offering it for sale at an online sales website
  • Holding a special garage sale for others interested in your stuff

These treatments could trigger one beneficial side-effect. Seeing your Special Stuff going to people who will greatly appreciate it and give it a good home can bring about positive results, and possibly even cure your ESS.


There are also some mind and brain balancing techniques that can help:

  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also called ‘Tapping’
  • Support Groups and Talk Therapy – explore your thoughts about your  stuff and its meaning with others who have ESS
  • Home Organization Coaching
  • Journal Writing Therapy – working out your thoughts about ‘stuff’

The last one has worked well for this article’s author. It was an ESS near-meltdown during a studio organization session that sparked the article. Writing it out led to the list of suggestions for help with this insidious syndrome, and possibilities for its treatment if not a permanent cure.

If you suffer from ESS or its trigger or secondary conditions of SSS, SSNS, TIIS, or CSC, try out some of the suggested treatments to see if they help.


This article is not intended to diagnose or suggest treatment for OCD or any other related disorders, nor is it intended to belittle or ridicule such disorders. The “conditions” described above are not real conditions but developed out of the author’s imagination.

This article is strictly intended as satire and actually pokes fun at the author herself. Suggested treatments are based upon the author’s research into mind-body healing techniques that can help to deal with the issues of Saving Special Stuff and Excessive Stuff Syndrome.

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2017 Fall Edition


Wow–the first two weeks of September literally blew right by me!

For us living in the U. S., Labor Day Weekend signals the end of Summer, although the official end is the 22nd, and that’s the date I go by although Labor Day has its influences as well.

For me, Labor Day signifies the beginning of my Fall Quarter: September, October, November. Even as a child, my calendar ran a bit differently than the usual January to December. To me, a year always begins around the Fall Equinox because that’s when I was born.

Several years ago, I started making New Year resolutions on my birthday rather than on January 1. That way, I didn’t feel so bad about starting my “new year” work nine months late. But that’s not the real reason I changed the New Year cycle.

The real reason is that, over the years, I noticed that my energy level was so much more ‘up’ in the Fall than in the middle of Winter. I’m another year older, another year wiser (hopefully!).

But then–I also live in Northeastern Minnesota, about 90 miles south of the Canadian border. Here, Fall means digging in for the Winter and being prepared not to go out too much. To work, home from work. A few trips out for groceries and supplies.

So Fall is a time of wrapping up the Summertime lifestyles and preparing for the Winter ones. Our winters run about six months: October to March. We’re kind of like Scandinavia that way. That’s why so many of them settled in this area in the 1800’s–it reminded them of home.

Those are all reasons why I operate on a seasonal schedule rather than the typical yearly calendar of the Gregorians. It might also explain why I gravitated toward work in sales and marketing after community college. Retail runs on a seasonal year too.

The sad part about that is it means preparing for Fall halfway through Summer. In those days, we used top-most shelving (called a ‘riser’) to put up displays of large items like seasonal yard ornaments or home décor. The year I found myself draping a Halloween spider web on the back side of a Christmas tree was the year I started getting depressed about holidays. Well, not so much the holidays but by the seemingly rapid passing of time from one season to the next. If you work in retail or marketing, you know about this.

So here I had my nice Fall schedule all laid out and ready to plug in right after Labor Day and WTHeck, it’s already the end of the second week. Time flies when you’re not looking.

What about you? Does your New Year run from January to December or do you operate by seasons? If you’ve never thought about it, take some time to do that now. Try to notice the times of year that your energy peaks or falls off.

When you discover your peak season or months, that’s the time to start new behavior or lifestyle change programs–when you’re energy is higher and you feel more positive.  But if your season is Winter and that’s when you want to make changes, and you’re able to dodge all the goodies that come with Winter holidays–then please share how you do that in the Sharing Box below:

  1. S.– September is also Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month. Help me out by leaving a comment in the box on your thoughts on this article or to ask a question.
  2. P. S. — I’ve been working on ways to change sweet-baking recipes into healthier ones. I’ll be sharing those as I work on a new recipe book, The DIY Nutrition Kitchen.

If you have healthy Fall/Winter holiday meal and snack recipes to share, please email them rather than posting in the comments box to make it easier for us to collect and compile them.  

Send your recipes to editor@healthylifestylesmedia.com

NOTE: Your own original recipes are preferred, or your healthy changes to existing recipes. If you post a recipe from another site or blog, please be kind to the editor/writer of the site and credit them in your post.