Best masks to keep you safest?

The science is irrefutable: the vaccine, masks, social distancing, and ventilation are all essential for curbing the spread and mutation of this damn virus. Unfortunately, lacking any one of those precautions puts a person at risk. This posts focuses on masks because, while something is better than nothing, disposable surgical masks & your average cloth mask just doesn’t cut it against the delta variant. The best choice is a respirator mask: N95, KF94, or KN95. Unsurprisingly, there’s a grey market for respirator masks, which is lousy with no-good counterfeiting scammers. So, how do you find a mask that actually keeps you safe?

My sincerest of condolences to everyone who’s lost a loved one to covid, is struggling with long covid, cannot get vaccinated, and/or is feeling threatened & abandoned by people whose decisions are motivated by politics or conspiracy… And enormous gratitude to healthcare workers, teachers, and all the essential workers who’ve kept us safe & fed, and who’ve single-handedly prevented this country from collapsing.

*None of the links I share on this page benefit me financially or otherwise.

HIGHLIGHTS (scroll down for more detail):

  1. Trusted suppliers of N95, KF94 &/or KN95 masks:
  2. Masks for kids (unfortunately many are sold out):
  3. High-quality reusable/washable fabric masks (scroll down for more detail):
  4. Fixes for disposable surgical masks (demonstration of leakiness below):
  5. Scroll down to the very bottom for tips on safely reusing masks.

<~> <~> MORE DETAIL <~> <~>

  1. The efficacy of masks is sometimes questioned because a covid virus is 0.1 microns, while most masks have openings of 0.3 microns or larger. Wouldn’t a virus just slide through a mask? The answer is NO, and the reasons include:
    • 1–> Viruses never float around on their own— they’re always bonded to something, such as a water droplet or aerosol. Particles generated while talking and breathing are around 1 micron.
    • 2–> Viruses don’t follow a straight-line trajectory. “Brownian motion [is] the name given to a physical phenomenon in which particles smaller than 0.3 microns move in an erratic, zig-zagging kind of motion.”
  2. Details on each type of respirator mask:
    • N95:
      • Particle Filtration Efficiency (PFE) = 95% at 0.3 microns
      • Attaches to the head with: head straps
      • Ideally reserved for healthcare workers, but a good source is ProjectN95.org
      • Regulating country: USA
    • KN95:
    • KF94:
      • Particle Filtration Efficiency (PFE) = 94% at 0.4 microns
      • Attaches to the head with: ear loops
      • Good source: Any KF94 from BeHealthyUSA
      • Regulating country: South Korea
  3. Aaron Collins, aka Mask Nerd, is a Mechanical Engineer who specializes in aerosols. He’s tested dozens of masks and shared the results with us in an incredible spreadsheet.
  4. The New York Times article about buying masks is behind its paywall (is that ethical?… www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/technology/personaltech/buy-real-n95-mask.html) Here are its takeaways:
    • Say you find a mask on Amazon that gets a thumbs up by someone like Mask Nerd or Wirecutter… well it may still be a counterfeit. The article’s author, Brian X. Chen, learned that Amazon claims to keep an eye out for scams but they’re still out there.
    • What to do? Buy directly from the manufacturer.
      • This nonprofit “buys bulk orders of masks and breaks them up so people can buy smaller batches”: ProjectN95.org
      • Trustworthy manufacturers include the following, but usually only sell in bulk: www.Bonafidemasks.com (also recommended by Mask Nerd) & www.demetech.us.
  5. Wirecutter, the New York Time’s review site, has tested many masks and recommended four (but two of them are surgical masks, which are problematic per the next item): www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/where-to-buy-n95-kn95-masks-online/
    • *You might consider crosschecking these picks with Mask Nerd’s testing data in #1, above.
  6. What about masks for kids!?!
  7. Are reusable cloth masks over? Not necessarily– these fabric masks have high quality certifications:
  8. Disposable surgical masks, though more comfortable & cheap, are just too loose as demonstrated by this video from Professor of Chemistry Dr. Jose-Luis Jimenez (@jljcolorado) & shared by Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Fiegl-Ding: twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/1425509411267690500
  9. The Masks4All Reddit community shares thoughts, tips, and hot sales: www.reddit.com/r/Masks4All/
    • The folks in this community are gems… but it can’t hurt to double-check any suggestions to ensure you’re buying from a reputable source. And, you might consider crosschecking any suggestions with Mask Nerd’s testing data in #1, above.
  10. If you’ve already bought a slew of masks and suspect they’re not up to par, toss a cloth mask over top to breathe easier (metaphorically).
  11. How to reuse masks!? I wish this topic were discussed a bit more…
    • Here’s one of the better explanations I’ve seen from arstechnica.com/science/2021/03/mask-up-how-to-choose-and-maintain-the-best-masks-for-use-against-covid-19/#h14:
      • Do not reuse disposable surgical masks.
      • “…The CDC says N95 masks can be used for up to five total uses, not to exceed eight hours collectively.”
      • “…After five uses, the integrity of the mask (its fit in particular) has degraded beyond a safe point for use. The same goes for anything above eight hours of total use. To ensure integrity, users should perform a seal check with each reuse.”
      • “If you’re following these procedures, then a rotation policy that allows for at least a week between each mask’s use, while storing them in individual breathable paper bags in the interim, is highly advisable.”
    • If you buy a high quality fabric mask, be sure to read its specific washing instructions. For example, some masks are machine washable, others should not be submerged, some have a filter insert that cannot be washed, and others can be wiped or sprayed with alcohol every night.

Creativity and play are healing!

It’s impossible to feel creative or have fun while the fight or flight stress response is activated. It’s also impossible for your body’s cells to heal or detoxify during stress.

It makes sense that the opposite is true: when the body is not experiencing a stress response, it’s able to heal, repair, detoxify, digest and rebuild. To that end, being creative and scheduling fun is preventative medicine! It’s healthy for the body and for the mind. Many artists feel surges of inspiration after difficult situations and experience emotional healing through artistic expression.

Play and fun for the sake of having fun is severely underrated and may even be looked down upon, unless you’re a child or a dog. But grown-ups really should to have fun, too, ideally offline and outside! Just like trauma can inspire creativity and healing, fun can create a buoyancy that triggers kindness, generosity and compassion.

Here’s an example of a grown-up who combines healing and fun in her writing. Nancy Alexander from Orange, Virginia writes a blog, Alexander’s Ark. Her pieces often feature one or more of her eleven dogs, who are experts in play! Check it out for her writing, as well as pictures of her pups.

Here’s something that Nancy wrote, and gave me permission to post, that’s both fun and healing to read:

The Visits

A very tiny, very proper little lady lives in a plastic box in my bedroom. She pipes up every time one of the security sensors gets in a snit.

In her modulated voice, she announces “master bedroom, window two.” She doesn’t articulate an event, she doesn’t raise her voice. She just politely announces the offending sensor under potential attack.

I should just unplug her, but that feels rude. And I am yet to convey to her that if ten dogs aren’t noting a breach, we likely don’t have a bad guy with his big toe over the property line, much less coming in to avail himself of dirty dog beds or long forgotten leftovers.

At night, she generally sleeps like the rest of us. Except for the last Wednesday this past May, two days before I was leaving for my mother’s memorial service. About 2 AM, she announced, a bit of panic in her voice, I thought, “back door, back door.” I bolted up, heart pounding, as she repeated herself in that persistent chant. “Back door.”

I grabbed my baseball bat, ready to defend my castle, and then realized that the dogs were yet to lift a lazy eye lid. I crept to both my back doors. All secure. All quiet.

As my mom prepared for her journey from this life, I asked her to send me a sign when she arrived safely to her new being. I always ask this of my loved animals when there is time, and I always get that sign. A clock that hasn’t worked in months will leap to life with a loud “tick-tock” for a few hours. A wind chime will sing out on a perfectly still day. What I didn’t expect was my mom to dive through the security system and scare the bejesus out of me. I swear it was her because this never happened before the day she died.

It has happened since. The dogs never react. The system is not set because I primarily have it for the fire protection. Last night, Ms. ADT chirped out again about the back door. This time I didn’t even get up. I smiled, wished my mom well, and rolled over knowing she was watching over me.

So, at your earliest convenience, consider sitting down with a pen and paper… or paint and canvas… or charcoal and parchment… or needle and thread… or needles and yarn… or fingers and clay… or fingers and paint… and create! Or, grab your dog, friend or family member and go have some fun, just for the sake of having fun.

Toxin-free coffee (review of Purity Coffee)!

I have a quirk (well, a few, if we’re being honest with each other.) The one that pertains to this blog post is called “supply chain flood.” It involves the tendency of this brain of mine to look at an object and immediately imagine the process that it followed to arrive in my world. For example, sometimes when I look at a loaf of bread, I imagine wind through a wheat field, the rumble of a combine’s engine and the snapping of plants being harvested. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen all the time. I’m far from a synesthete– I just have a very active imagination. But it does happen almost every time I’m in a coffee shop!

While waiting for my Italiano (which is an Americano with half the amount of water), I almost always experience a quick little run through of the beans’ path from stem to grinder. It might go something like this:

A lush mountain is covered with coffee shrubs, which shake slightly while fairly-compensated people collect the red fruits. The messy extraction of beans from pulp sideswipes Star Wars style into trays of green beans drying in the sun. A light breeze stirs as microbes on the beans commence fermentation. When the beans are poured into trucks, they make the sound of 1000s of Kit Kat bars being snapped in half. The trucks rumble their way to the roaster, which churns and rolls them in a gentle heat. There’s a plastic flick as the “open” sign on the door of my local coffee shop is flipped, then murmuring, grinding and steaming. The coffee’s volatile oils evaporate into an invisible cloud of invigoration and finally the barista calls out because my drink’s on the bar.

Another quirk of mine is that I continue to drink coffee despite its sometimes-negative effects on my nervous system (I’ll get into detail below). The imagined process of coffee production provided by my aforementioned mental quirk is always much more idyllic than realistic. All too often, coffee production involves chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers), oxidation, mold/mycotoxins and bad karma via poorly-treated farmers and laborers. These inappropriate ingredients result in the adulteration of a healthful, medicinal, magical brew! For shame!

There’s no doubt that coffee has extraordinary medicinal benefits. Science has demonstrated this very clearly, as has history (humans have been consuming coffee forever-ish, and we’re still here!) There are decades of research behind coffee’s beneficial effects (see this overview from GreenMedInfo.com.) If you do see a study that condemns coffee, consider that a) perhaps it’s a badly done study… unfortunately, they abound because of money, b) a news medium is just trying to catch your eye by stirring up fear, or 3) negative effects reported by quality studies could be due to confounding variables, such as toxins/chemicals/other tagalongs in the bean, and not the coffee itself.

It’s regretful that modern technology and capitalistic-corner-cutting has degraded such a superfood as coffee… but, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I was lucky enough to have connected with Andrew Salisbury, CEO of Purity Coffee, and learn about an exciting exception! Andrew sent me a bag of Purity Coffee and I am so grateful that I had the chance to try it. Andrew and his family run this business from their heart. They have created a product that does not compromise quality or safety and I admire that.

I wholeheartedly recommend Purity Coffee because it delivers the medicinal components of coffee without tagalongs that may negate its effects. As confirmed by very impressive 3rd-party lab testing of 100 different coffees representing 46 different brands, Purity Coffee is a rare find! Notable finding include:

  • Purity Coffee contained 65% more antioxidants, on average, than the other organic brands that were tested.
  • Purity Coffee ranked the highest in antioxidant levels out of all the coffees tested.
  • Purity Coffee was free of mold and mycotoxins.

This testing is extremely impressive, but there is one result that is of primary importance: your personal experience. In scientific studies, “n” is the variable used to indicate the number of subjects included in the study. Usually the higher n is, the more relevant the results are. However, when it comes to studies of food, there are way too many variables to generalize. So, in many cases, since you are a dynamic, long-term, 100% unique study in which n=1, the only thing that really matters is the results of your independent study of you and yourself. I know that Purity Coffee is true to its name (pure!) because of my personal n=1 study. Since you’re completely different than me, the following details about my personal experience are irrelevant, but I’ll share just as an FYI:

  • Detoxification is something that every human body is doing constantly, especially while we sleep. We detoxify car exhaust, pesticides, preservatives and additives in foods, chemicals in cosmetics, inhaled gasses like bromine from our cars’ upholstery and chlorine from our water (more exposure from showering than drinking, so please get a shower filter!), first or second-hand cigarette smoke and strong cologne (such as on date nights). We’re also detoxing the biochemical byproducts of stress and emotions like anger, sadness, grief and frustration. Anything that adds to our toxic load is undesirable and counterproductive.
    • Coffee contains legions of antioxidants that support detoxification! Since Purity Coffee doesn’t add any toxins to the mix, all of its antioxidants can be used to lower the toxic load of the lucky body that’s consumed it.
    • I happen to be encoded by a few genes that make my body much less efficient at detoxification. I get by, but when I overdo it, I falter. When I consume coffee that contains a bunch of toxins, I feel it right away. Specifically, I feel sludgey and dumb and sweaty and keyed-up and off-kilter and wired-yet-tired… and I don’t sleep well. Gas station coffee is notorious for this… but I love road trips and don’t sing along to my road trip mix as well if I’m not fueled by caffeine. I know it’s dumb of me to knowingly poison myself. My body screams at me to “just don’t!” and yet I still do… Spoiler alert: it turns out I am flawed!
  • Inflammation causes or contributes to nearly every single health issue, whether acute or chronic. It’s not the enemy, though. The act of digesting food and extracting its energy causes inflammation. Inflammation is required and okay because there are mechanisms in place to keep it in balance. It’s when inflammation gets out of control that we’re in trouble. Balance is the name of the game and imbalance is the enemy. Living in our modern society is a challenge. As mentioned in #1, above, we are surrounded by sources of inflammation. So, to maintain balance, we need to do the antioxidance (I hope I made that word up!) Green vegetables and good fats are sources of antioxidants that also deliver crucial vitamins and minerals, but do you eat enough veggies? Honestly? Honestly. Most people do not. But even if you do eat enough colorful vegetables, you may need to step it up to maintain balance! Coffee to the rescue!
  • Some people are not great at metabolizing caffeine, yet they consume it anyway. I happen to be one of those people. If I drink coffee or tea after 2pm, I will witness the subtle movement of moonlight across my bedroom ceiling from midnight to 4am. (My Dad, on the other hand, can drink a double espresso at 11pm and then immediately fall asleep. Grrr.)
    • If you are caffeine-sensitive, you certainly already know it. Gauging by actual life experience is the golden rule (studies in which n=1=you), but you could also refer to your genetics (via 23andme). A gene called CYP1A2 codes for caffeine-dismantling enzymes. If your CYP1A2 status is anything but “normal,” your caffeine metabolism skills are likely less efficient. (Find my primer on genetics here.)
    • Because I’m a Master (Mad) Scientist, I drank a cup of Purity Coffee at 2PM and guess what: my sleep was not disrupted! I will not be repeating this experiment because some of Pandora’s boxes should remain closed, but I was excited by the results. My conclusion is that caffeine is only part of my problem and other factors (such as toxins found in most other coffee beans) either further impair my CYP1A2 enzymes’ ability to degrade caffeine or kick off other unrelated physiological cascades that result in sleeplessness.

 

In conclusion

  • Coffee is good for you as long as it doesn’t come along with toxic stow-aways! Purity Coffee is a great option to maximize antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds without taking on a greater toxic load.
  • Moderation is key! One cup of coffee is great, two cups might be great, too… three might be pushing it, four of five is definitely something that shouldn’t happen every day. More is not always better!
  • Storage of coffee is important! Heat, light and air will oxidize your beans and degrade the antioxidants. Minimize by storing whole beans in an air-tight container in your freezer. If you like convenience in the AM, feel free to pre-grind small amounts, but store them in air-tight jars in the freezer. (Same deal for other fragile foodstuffs like flax seeds and nuts.) When I see bags of beans sitting on coffee shop floors, or open bags of ground coffee in AirBnBs, I cry a little inside.
  • Consider cutting out the sugar… I know, I know… at least consider decreasing it? Sugar is not great. Science is as sure about sugar’s ill effects as it is about coffee’s healthful effects!
  • Try cold-brewed coffee. It tastes smoother than hot-brewed because it has a completely different chemical profile. (Read about that here) Bonus: it is very, very easy to make (Put fresh coffee grounds in a large mason jar, fill with water, put in the fridge, let it sit overnight, drink, repeat.)
  • Consider adding fat to your coffee (using a blender)! Oh, it’s so delicious and has health benefits, too. (Read about that here (same link as info about cold-brew, above.))

Image credits:

Meal Replacement Drinks That Don’t Contain Folic Acid or Cyanide

Recently, I saw an ad on Instagram for a really delicious-looking meal replacement drink. I’m always looking for excellent options in this area, and so are many of my clients, so I clicked real quick! Let’s be honest: real, unprocessed foods are always preferred but when time or digestive function are lacking, you still gotta eat.

I burrowed into the ingredient list and frowned to see this product contains “folic acid” and “cyanocobalamin”. These are the cheap, synthetic forms of the B vitamins, folate & B12, respectively.

“Cheap” sounds okay until you realize that, on a molecular level, synthetic vitamins are slightly different from the natural vitamins found in food. “Slightly” sounds acceptable until you realize our bodies have grown used to recognizing and using specific molecules for millions of years!

Imagine that the building blocks of food and the micro mechanical parts of our bodies are made out of Legos. When you eat an apple dunked in almond butter, your teeth, stomach acid and digestive enzymes break that food into tiny pieces of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. When those tiny pieces are escorted from your Food Tube into your body, they click into cell receptors and become part of you.

Now, imagine you eat food that’s made of an off-market brand of building blocks, called Schmegos. You can force a Schmego to fit into a Lego, but it’s either gonna be a bit wobbly or a bit too tight. Schmegos cost less than Legos, but when you’re talking about your inner bits, the extra money is well worth it.

Sometimes a Schmego (synthetic vitamin) can be swapped for a Lego (natural vitamin) as-is. But most of the time small changes must be made to the Schmego to turn it into a Lego. This requires the body to do extra work and use up some of its raw materials.

The small differences between Schmegos and Legos can be tolerated by most people, but for others, such as those with MTHFR flaws, these synthetic B vitamins can create long-term havoc.

More on Folic Acid:

More on Cyanocobalamin:

  • The ideal forms of B12 are: methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Cyanocobalamin and hydroxycobalamin must be converted into these ideal forms. For each molecule of cyanocobalamin that’s converted, a smidge of cyanide (yes, cyanide, the poison) is released into the body. Obviously, since cyanocobalamin is still being used, it’s not responsible for any widespread injury or death, but.. I mean… how many steps below ideal is it to purposely consume cyanide at any level when there are other options?

Meal Replacement Drinks That Don’t Contain Folic Acid or Cyanide

The following meal replacement drinks contain natural ingredients and no folic acid or cyanocobalamin! No Schmegos! (I’ll add more discussion about each product… didn’t want to delay providing this list.)

You could drink these plain, after adding water or diary/nut milk, or you could add them as a boost to any smoothies you already make and love!

I’ll update this as I find new products. Do you have a favorite that I missed? Do you use and like any of the ones I’ve listed? Please leave a comment to let me know!

  1. Elemental Heal by Dr. Michael Ruscio.
    • https://store.drruscio.com/products/elemental-heal
    • This is a semi-elemental formula which means there’s no food, just vitamins, minerals & broken-down carbs & proteins. I add fat to mine, in the form of Bulletproof Brain Octane.
    • This is often used by people with digestive issues to give their Food Tube a rest for a couple days. It can also be used by those with a chronic condition aggravated by multiple food sensitivities.
    • Personal recommendation: I give the chocolate two thumbs up (I’ve never tried the vanilla)! The taste might not be a crowd-pleaser because it’s not very sweet. But that’s just fine for me because sugar is not something I want my body to crave!
    • $6.50 per serving (not including shipping cost)
  2. Raw Organic Meal from Garden of Life
  3. Ambronite Supermeal
    • https://ambronite.com/pages/ingredients
    • **Contains some grains & nuts
    • I’ve never tried this one, but I’d like to!
    • Plant-based with a limited ingredient list: Oat protein, almond, oats, apple, coconut sugar, oat fiber, nettle leaf, spinach, flaxseed, chlorella, spirulina, cranberry, bilberry, black currant, sea buckthorn, nutritional yeast, mineral salt, guar gum, natural flavors.
    • $6.58 per meal with big bag, $6.80 for ten 400 kcal bags
  4. *Protein only* Designs for Health PurePaleo
  5. *Protein only* Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein
  6.  RSP TrueFit

Honorable Mentions:

A) Ample Meal

  • https://www.amplemeal.com/products & Overall detail on the ingredients.
  • Made with whole foods = no synthetic vitamins.
  • CONS: contains sunflower oil, stored in plastic bottles & pretty prices…
  • Three different formulas: Keto, Vegan and Regular.
  • No gluten anywhere, Keto contains whey & egg protein, Regular contains whey protein.
  • I have not tried this one…
  • $5.65 per serving with monthly plan for regular (400 kcals), $6.84 for large (600 kcals) (other pricing structures available)

B) Huel

 

*I do not get any benefit from these recommendations unless you shop via my online dispensaries, but in that case we both win because you get a 15% discount!

Image source: https://gratisography.com/photo/ice-coffee/

 

The benefits of CBD

Hype abounds because it sells. Luckily, the hype around CBD is legit. But, unfortunately, CBD is shrouded by ignominy because some think it’s the same as marijuana (not that that’s a bad thing!)

CBD could be a Game Changer for people in physical or psychological pain.

What is CBD?

  • CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of more than 100 compounds in a class called cannabinoids. THC is another cannabinoid.
  • CBD supplements can be sourced from hemp or marijuana. Federal law stipulates that any CBD product must contain <0.3% THC.
  • CBD oil is not the same as hemp oil.
  • Phytocannabinoids are found in plants, endocannabinoids are made by the body.
  • Most studies have been done on CBD, but other cannabinoids & terpenes have proven to have health benefits as well.
  • As with other herbs, the plant confers benefits that isolated components cannot.

Photo by ukagriculture @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/48631399@N07/36354012583

Will CBD get you high?

  • Nope.
  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound in marijuana that causes a high. It is not physically addictive.
  • CBD is a completely different compound than THC and will not get you high.
  • Both CBD and THC are “psychoactive.” Since CBD can have positive effects on mental health issue, it is literally psychoactive. But it is not intoxicating.
  • CBD products may smell like marijuana if they are full-spectrum extracts, but that’s because of compounds called terpenes, which do not have psychedelic effects.
  • Both marijuana and hemp are hybrids of a plant called Cannabis sativa.
  • The CBD and THC found in these plants are exactly the same molecule, but marijuana and hemp have significantly different amounts of each.
  • Personal note: I’m clarifying that CBD is not the same as marijuana, but that doesn’t mean that marijuana is bad. I personally believe that marijuana and hemp are both very effective and beneficial medicinal herbs that should be accessible to everyone.

What can CBD do?

  • CBD has a variety of impacts on the body
    • Analgesic (pain-reducing), Neuroprotective, Calming/Sedating, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-emetic (anti-nausea), Anti-spasmodic, Anti-epileptic, Antidepressant, Antianxiety, Antimicrobial, Anti-insomnia, Anti-proliferative (r/t cancer), Antipsychotic, Bone stimulant, Immunosuppressive, Vasorelaxant and more
  • CBD may positively impact a wide array of health conditions:
    • **This is not a health claim!
      • My statements made about CBD, hemp and marijuana have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.
    • Chronic pain, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, arthritis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cancer, glaucoma, diabetes/insulin resistance, epilepsy/ seizures, heart disease, stroke/traumatic brain injury, migraines, nausea, skin conditions (acne, psoriasis, eczema), sleep issues (insomnia, narcolepsy), autism, anorexia, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s, antibiotic-resistant infections (Lyme), PMS + anything else caused by inflammation or an overactive immune response.
  • Generally, CBD balances the stress response, which reduces inflammation.
  • Resources:

How does CBD work?

  • All cannabinoids interface with the Endocannabinoid System, which maintains balance among the body’s other systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, integumentary, nervous, elimination, musculoskeletal, immune, reproductive & endocrine).

How to choose a CBD supplement?

  1. Choose full-spectrum or isolate.
    • Full-Spectrum is a whole-plant extract, isolate only contains CBD.
  2. Choose the delivery form best for you
    • Oil/tincture, capsule, vaporizing liquid, lotion/salve, suppository, patch, nasal spray)
  3. Choose a legitimate brand:
    • Provides transparent testing records, uses safe extraction process and does not use harmful additives (such as propylene glycol in vaping liquid).

Resources for legitimate CBD products:

How to use CBD?

  • Partner with an informed practitioner to determine a CBD strategy (see below for sample dosing schedules).
  • Symptoms of too much CBD: dry mouth, low blood pressure, dizziness.
  • If symptoms flare, decrease dose.
  • “Start low, go slow.” Take 2-3 times per day for consistent blood levels.
  • **Take CBD 2 hours away from medications & consult with your doctor.
  • CBD is biphasic. If a low dose is good, more is not better. (Think: Goldilocks)
    • CBD biphasic bell curve
  • Dosing is highly individualized and can change over time.
  • **Take CBD 2 hours away from prescription drugs because it can interfere with the Cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver.
  • Sample dosing strategy for tincture:
    • Start with dose of 10mg per day (5mg in AM, 5mg in PM) and increase by 5mg every 3 days until symptoms improve.
    • If negative symptoms arise, back down the dose.
    • If drowsiness occurs, keep in mind it could be good!
    • Symptoms of too much CBD: dry mouth, low blood pressure, dizziness, lightheadedness.
    • **Take CBD 2 hours away from prescription drugs.
  • Here’s a tool to help determine dosing: CBD Dosage Calculator
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page for more detailed dosing schedules.

Is CBD a magic solution?

  • CBD is part of a full-spectrum of health-promoting strategies:
    • Anti-inflammatory diet, resolution of nutrient deficiency, hydration, sleep, movement, massage, mindfulness techniques, detoxification, exposure to nature, involvement in community…
  • For someone experiencing a medical condition, even small changes can be paralyzing.
  • CBD may soften the barrier between how someone feels and how they’d like to feel. It helps balance the body and encourages it to use its own resources more efficiently.
  • The action of any supplement is enhanced by:
    • Clean water
    • Non-inflammatory diet
    • Resolution of nutrient deficiencies
    • Mindfulness techniques
    • Movement/exercise
    • Exposure to nature
    • Involvement in community
    • Physical touch

Image credits:

Mastering emotions

emotions“Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him {or her} at the moment.” -CS Lewis

Right?

In a calm, quiet place where nothing provokes, a person may feel a hint of the pure flame that burns inside each of us: an unflickering, satisfied benevolence. But when a bird poops on this person’s head, their gentle inner flame– a peace-invoking totem of the best we humans have to offer– rages into a burgundy bonfire that causes that plop of shit to sizzle. Benevolence instantly shifts to a desire to kick that bird. Any bird. And to watch the feathers fly.

Aggravating triggers abound and it’s very, very easy to let them pop us into turmoil. The likelihood that we’re in pushed-button mode more often than gentle-calm mode is quite good (since sleeping doesn’t count). So which is the real version of a person? Do we really have a “best self” deep down inside, or is that just some Santa Clause level hogwash?

Well, I think we definitely do host a “best self.” If I’m right, what’s piled on top of it? Why doesn’t it wrestle its way out from under our reactive emotions? We’re humans in 2018, for goodness sake… why the hell aren’t we more freaking sophisticated!?

The above words are the thoughts this article conjured for me:

A new way to look at emotions and how to master yours” by David Robson
www.bbc.com/future/story/20171012-how-emotions-can-trick-your-mind-and-body

The following bullet points are snippets from that article that might be fun to skim:

  • SUMMARY of article:
    • Our emotions are learned, not programmed.
    • It’s ideal to identify nuanced emotions, using the physical sensations as relating to the unique environmental context in which they occur, in more granular terms (ex. “defeated” rather than “sad”).
    • A more insightful relationship between our emotions and our bodies can allow us to keep our hands on the wheel when emotions try to take hold.
    • How? Jump to this bullet point below.
  • “the sensations of anger, anxiety, hunger, or illness are not nearly as distinct as we assume”
  • Recognizing this may help us lead a calmer life
  • Ideas explored in book by Lisa Feldman Barrett, psychologist at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, called How Emotions Are Made.
  • Darwin’s well-accepted theory is that “we display emotion “fingerprints”. This theory suggested that each emotion creates a specific combination of facial expression, body language, and other physiological cues such as heart rate or sweaty palms.”
  • But, it’s likely not that clean cut!
    • “Each emotion may be represented by a whole range of reactions in the brain and the body, and there is a huge amount of overlap between each one.”
    • “….the way we interpret our body’s signals … depends entirely on context and circumstance, and it can be easily shaped by our expectations.”
  • Context comes into play when we’re interpreting our emotions. Your brain constructs your experiences.
    • Ex. You’re on a first date and you feel lightheaded and slightly nauseous. While you’re actually coming down with the flu, you’ll likely assume you’re falling in love.
    • Ex. You’re at a “gross foods party,” where you’re served pizza dappled with green food coloring to make it look moldy and pureed food served in a clean diaper. The food is delicious, but your brain has used context cues to decide it’s toxic, disgusting and potentially life threatening. You force yourself to taste it, eventually get beyond the revolting visuals and ask for seconds.
  • Emotions are constructs of the brain, but may also be constructs of society.
    • “Particular concepts like ‘anger’ or ‘disgust’ are not genetically pre-determined.”
    • What does determine our relationship with our emotions? “Our parents and friends, TV and books”
    • “Other cultures can and do make other kinds of meaning from the same sensory input.”
      • Darwin “argued that emotions like ‘anger’ and ‘disgust’ are universally expressed and recognised by everyone across the globe.”
      • But Barrett found something different!
        • Himba people from Namibia: whereas a wide-eyed stare might be identified as “fearful” by Westerners, the Himba saw it merely as a “looking face”.
        • Utka Eskimos: “no clearly defined concept of anger”
        • Tahitians: do not “share our concept of sadness.”
        • Ancient Greeks and Romans: “did not seem to smile spontaneously with big broad grins,” which suggests “their expressions of pleasure and positive feelings could have been quite different from ours. (Apparently, the word smile does not even exist in Latin.)”
          • “It appears that the smiles we recognise today – broad, toothy, and with crinkling at the eyes – only became more common in the 18th Century, as dentistry became more accessible.”

How about some action steps!

  • “Barrett’s book suggests some ways that we could all ride the tides of our emotions a little more wisely.”
    • If “hunger, fatigue, or illness, all produce the same signals as emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, or anxiety,” this “emphasises the importance of looking after your body as a way to stabilise your mood.”
      • Ex. healthy diet, regular exercise and massage.
    • Mindfulness meditation can help your rational mind interpret your body’s signals.
      • “Many things that seem unrelated to emotion actually have a profound impact on how you feel, because of the porous boundary between the social and the physical.”
    • A “good emotion vocabulary” helps a person discern the nuances of their emotions. “Rather than simply describing yourself as happy, for instance, you may distinguish whether you are “blissful” or “inspired”; rather than just feeling “sad”, you might say you are “dejected” or “disappointed”.
      • A better grasp on the context of your emotions might help “you to savour your pleasure with new relish, or, conversely, to reframe your unhappiness so that it no longer feels so all-encompassing. It may even cause you to reconsider the source of your discomfort, and remind you of ways that you have righted your mood in the past.”
    • Practice!
      • “…there are many ways to learn new emotion concepts, such as reading widely or watching stimulating films.”
      • “You could also try out new experiences, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and then observe how it makes you feel.”
      • “Try on new perspectives like you try on new clothing,” she says. “Just like painters learn to see fine distinctions in colours, and wine lovers develop their palettes to experience tastes that non-experts cannot, you can practise [emotion] categorising like any other skill.”
      • Explore “terms from other languages. “Each word is another invitation to construct your feelings in new ways.”
        • Schadenfreude: “encapsulates the bitter-sweet feelings that we may feel at another’s misfortune.”
        • Gezellig: “the Dutch ‘feeling of togetherness’
        • Age-otori: a Japanese word, which describes “the feeling of looking worse after a haircut”
        • Litost: “from Czech culture, which refers to “the torment over one’s misery combined with the desire for revenge”.
  • “People with greater “emotion granularity” (as Barrett calls it) tend to do better at school, drink less and recover from a stressful situation more quickly. They also seem to be in better health: they visit doctor less frequently, take less medication and are less likely to be hospitalised for illness.”
  • The concepts introduced in this article are meant for long-term work.
    • “Barrett recognises that these steps may seem a little simplistic for someone in the midst of an emotional crisis, and she doesn’t claim that they are an immediate solution to any problem. “Can you snap your fingers and change your feelings at will, like changing your clothes?” she writes. “Not really. Even though you construct your emotional experiences, they can still bowl you over in the moment. However, you can take steps now to influence your future emotional experiences, to sculpt who you will be tomorrow.”

Photo credit: paintings by Alexej von Jawlensky, clockwise from top right: Seated Woman, 1909; Portrait of the Dancer Aleksandr Sakharov, 1909; Portrait of a Girl, 1909; Girl with red ribbon, 1911

Butter.

Who likes Seinfeld? I do. I’ve been slowly rewatching it and find that I like it even more than when it first ran in 1989… Twenty-nine years ago(!?), back when TV shows played at specific times… on a TV. They were on and then they were gone (unless recorded on a VCR). Now it’s so convenient. I can watch whenever I want, without commercials.

One day, I was watching while eating my breakfast.

–> I’m about to admit some rather controversial, personal information that may degrade my registered dietitian credentials… <–

I was eating my breakfast while watching TV (not very mindful!) of bagel (yikes! so much carb and no protein!?) and butter (oof?)

Not just “butter,” copious amounts of butter. As much butter as earthly physics would allow my bagel to hold (uuuuuhhhh…) An amount of butter that, to look at it, would make your arms ache in sympathy for whomever milked the cows.

This heavenly experience was set to the backdrop of Seinfeld. As Kramer came barreling through Jerry’s door about to share his latest crazy scheme or skewed world view, I chewed. In amazing synchronicity, while I wiped butter off my chin, Kramer peeled the paper off a stick of butter, as if it were a banana, and rubbed it on his face as an aftershave. Soon all the men were doing it. And they loved it. (Except Newman, who was plagued by hallucinations of Kramer as a juicy turkey.)

For years I’ve been trying to convince people that butter is not bad. Saturated fat is not bad, cholesterol is not bad. Beyond “not bad,” it is GOOD (depending on the source & animals’ health, of course).

In order to vindicate cholesterol and saturated fat, I’ve employed scientific facts, thoughtful metaphors, image-packed power point slides and enthusiastic gesticulations. My very first attempt was a presentation to my fellow Dietetic Interns (who turned their noses up at the samples of crispy Polyface Farm bacon that I supplied). But after all that, I see now that all I really needed was to screen Seinfeld’s Episode 1, Season 9 (with the warning not to use butter as a tanning lotion.)

Beaver Butt Juice… delicious!?

13201721771084422017Simple Beaver Cartoon.svg.medI recently received this question from a client named Dora: “When a label says ‘Natural Flavors’ or ‘Artificial Flavors”, what does that mean? Why wouldn’t it just say what the flavoring is? Makes me suspicious.”

Dora, I think you’re quite right to be suspicious. “Natural flavors” is an umbrella term for ingredients that are added for flavoring rather than nutrition. “Natural flavors” are derived from actual foods*, whereas “artificial flavors” are built using chemicals.

Another way to look at it is that natural flavors are working backwards from food to a specific minute flavor, while artificial flavors are working forwards using chemicals to simulate a food’s flavor.

Whether natural or artificial flavors are used, processed foods are like science fair projects… merely simulations of Real Food. I’m not kidding about the science fair thing: scientists who develop these flavors are called “flavorists”!

All ingredients & flavorings used in foods are on the GRAS list, “generally recognized as safe”. This means that they have been deemed safe and will not cause you harm. Not immediately, at least.

But, just because a flavor is “natural”, doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from a terrifying place. This is one of the most disturbing examples:

You’d expect a raspberry-flavored product to have “raspberry” on the ingredient list, right? Or a vanilla yogurt to have vanilla listed? If not, they’re covered under “natural flavorings”. Most of the natural raspberry & vanilla flavorings come from…

A beaver’s butt. 

I’m not kidding. “Castoreum” is an extract from a beaver’s anal gland. After you think “yuck!”, you might ponder “who the heck first realized that beaver butt juice tasted like raspberries!!!???”

How do you avoid eating Beaver Butt Juice? The only way to know what’s covered under “natural flavors” on a food label is to call the manufacturer. The most sure-fire way is to put crushed raspberries in your own homemade iced tea. Or pure vanilla extract in your own homemade yogurt.

That’s the scoop, Dora. I hope it helped!

*FYI: The definition of natural flavor under the Code of Federal Regulations is: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

Put that cold bug on ice!

hippo-sneezing-mdGroaning, I fight into a sitting position, look around and breathe deeply into my dizziness. “Wow, I’m so hung over… looks like I threw quite a party! I hope everyone got home okay.” Then I remember. That confetti scattered all around my feet is not confetti at all, it’s balls of tissues glued together with buckets of my yellow snot. I remember I’m not hung over… I have a wicked cold.

Ironically, when I get sick, I completely forget how to unsick myself. All the tips and tricks leave me as abruptly as a sneeze. My brain’s not trying to sabotage me, it’s just been assimilated by a million microbes– viruses that are giving it their best shot. They must know they’re going to lose. We’ve been through this before, they and I. They must know I will always prevail because I am my immune cells… my neutrophils and macrophages and my Natural Killer cells… they are me and they always win.

And if those viruses are destined to die, why shouldn’t they have one last party? Maybe that’s why I forget my health-promoting know-how. Maybe it’s not incompetence or self-sabotage… maybe it’s compassion.

For those who are harder of heart and want to deny viruses their final bash, here are a bunch of way to unsick yourself:

  1. Wash your hands with soap (not hand sanitizer, since it trains bacteria to become resistant to antibacterial chemicals). Soap literally tears apart the outer surface of most microbes.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Your body needs to be fully hydrated for immune cells to reach battle sites, for waste & free radicals to be carried away and for nutrients and anti-oxidants to be delivered. The blood and lymph need to be flowing like fervent rivers. The drier the skin (especially nostrils and throat), the more easily bacteria & viruses gain entrance into your body.
  3. Sleep. This is more important than most anything else. During sleep a body rests so it can fight bacteria and viruses more vigorously. Detoxification also happens during sleep (clearing out harmful chemicals produced during battles with microbes).
  4. Antioxidants through food: Antioxidants produce the bright color, strong taste and vivid smells that we love in our fruits and veggies. In every single case, there is more than one chemical to thank- antioxidants never work alone. For example, oranges contain at least 20 compounds, only one of which is what you usually see in vitamin C supplements (ascorbic acid). Ascorbic acid in supplements doesn’t even come from oranges… it is made in a lab… and one of the ingredients is nail polish remover. Good food sources include: citrus fruit (orange, lemon, kiwi, grapefruit), guava, cantaloup, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts), tomatoes, red/green bell peppers and seaweed. For those who want a supplement, rose hips or camu-camu are excellent choices.
  5. Laugh! 🙂 When you laugh, your thymus (the endocrine gland seated above your heart) releases a burst of immune cells! Do this with a good friend, Will Ferrel, George Carlin, or a Laughing Yoga class. You can also lightly tap on this area for a couple minutes, three times per day (aka, the Thymus Thump).
  6. Bone Broth delivers gelatin & a full spectrum of minerals. Gelatin nourishes the gastrointestinal tissue (where 80% of your immune system is!) and minerals allow the body to keep all of its chemical reactions humming and popping. As a bonus, bone broth also contains glucosamines, which promote bone & joint health AND collagen which makes for healthy and sexy hair, skin and nails AND the amino acid glycine, upon which the liver relies to do its detoxifying duties… AND it’s delicious! Sold? Wanna know how to make it? Here’s a recipe. Do please try to make your broth with bones from animals allowed to roam free to eat their natural diet of grass & are not given hormones, antibiotics or steroids.
  7. Avoid foods that distract or hamper the immune system, like sugar and gluten. Sugar disrupts communication between your cells– your immune system is a team that needs to talk to each other. Sugar is like static between walkie talkies. Gluten in itself is a trigger of the immune system, whether or not you’re officially allergic or sensitive to it. It’s a very difficult molecule to break down and often gets confused as a foreign invader. (See more at www.GlutenGlut.com)
  8. Chillax. Isn’t it annoying when people say that? Sadly it’s great advice when you’re ill. Any stress, whether caused by relationships or work or as a result of an overly-pushy internal voice, is detrimental to your health and immune system. A study by the University of California discovered that couples who calmly discussed a relationship problem increased their white blood cell count within 15 minutes. That phenomenon surely also occurs at work between coworkers and between the voices in your head.
  9. Meditation allows the body and mind to sync… not the rational to-do list mind, rather the subconscious mind, where the real brain power lies. Meditation also lowers inflammation, which allows the immune system to focus on any invading microbial freeloaders. Meditation is tough. Really tough. But like anything, practice pays off.
  10. Echinacea contains chemicals that stimulate immune cells (called phagocytes) that physically dismantle bacteria and cells infected by viruses. Echinacea can also be taken to help heal cuts and resolve fungal infections.
  11. Netti pots are really awkward… but that warm salt water flushes out the disgusting gunk lodged in your sinuses, along with entire colonies of illness-causing microbes that are thriving in it! Just take it slow at first to get the hang of turning yourself into Noseagra Falls.
  12. Probiotics. You have 10x more bacterial cells in and on your body than you have human cells. (Are you really human?) As long as the “good” ones outnumber the “potentially bad,” you’re golden. For example, e. coli is known as a nasty pathogenic bacteria, but it’s natural and healthy for human guts to contain a little bit of e. coli. In small numbers, they actually do good things for us! They cause harm when their population blooms and that is enabled by what you eat, drink, do and feel. Taking a good probiotic and eating fermented foods freshens up your supply of beneficial bugs and keeps the “potentially bad” ones under control.
  13. Elderberry Syrup boosts your immune system with phytochemicals that dissolve viral proteins. The berries are poisonous raw, but when simmered into syrup and spiked with honey, they will keep you rocking and rolling all winter long.
  14. Fire Cider will kick a cold’s butt, but you have to plan ahead. Fire Cider has to brew for 4-12 weeks to reach full strength. Find some specific recipes for Fire Cider here. In the shorter term, blend any/all of the following ingredients into a paste, mix it into a base of coconut oil and warm water and shoot it down like it’s 1999:
    • Garlic
    • Fresh lime/lemon
    • Raw honey
    • Turmeric (fresh root if you can find it)
    • Minced raw onion/garlic
    • Minced ginger
    • Chopped fresh hot peppers
    • Add raw apple cider vinegar, or chase with a shot of diluted vinegar (to protect your esophagus and enamel).
    • *Some of these ingredients are not appropriate for people with certain conditions. Also, some of these ingredients could exacerbate an autoimmune condition while it’s flaring… contact me for more info on this. Kids younger than 2 should not be given raw honey.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

If you have a growth mindset, you see life as presenting you chances to learn and develop into a more mature, happy human. This makes sense because we are each a work in progress. You have potential and are not limited by who you were as a child, a teenager, or even yesterday. A success in your life is a chance to smile and congratulate all involved. A failure hurts but you’re resilient and persevere… it’s a wake-up call! You’re motivated to improve and to do better next time. This is all possible because you can trade in any cards you’ve been dealt.

If you have a fixed mindset, you’re motivated to demonstrate what you know and that you’re a very accomplished, socially limber, <more adjectives>, capable person. This is logical because you were born with what you got and it’s up to you to make the best of it. Every success is a chance to hone your set of skills and prove that, whatever you were dealt, you’re absolutely killin it. You’re worthy of all the good things in your life and everything is justified. But… a failure… oh, a failure is shameful. It feels best to blame other people to distract from your indelible flaws. Failure makes you exposed, vulnerable and lame, the kind of person who will and should get left behind and eaten by wolves.

In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.

In a Brainpickings article, Carol Dweck identifies two ends of the mindset spectrum: fixed and growth.

Fixed = I am what I am. I’m fixed. My qualities are written in stone. My talents & capabilities hang from me like shingles… they’re how I display to others who I am and what I can do. When I’m born, my personality and talents are brand new. As I age, they deteriorate, warp and rot. I might change, but it’s just to compensate for things that happen to me… I don’t really ever change… not really. “Risk and effort are potential giveaways of” my inadequacies. Failure means I am a piece of shit. I can only love someone who will both ignore and compensate for my faults… and basically worship me. If we have a misunderstanding, it’s a sign that we’re not meant to be together.

Growth = I am always changing. I have potential. The grandiose “I can do anything” is a sham… the truth is I define my own destiny and can change it at any time. My talents and capabilities define me, but only in one moment in time, and only in the context of my entire experience. I change all the time in response to so many opportunities I’m given to learn– strangers, family, friends, my dog… everyone is helping me. One unsuccessful effort does not invalidate me as a quality human… it actually makes me better. I catapult towards my potential… it’s hard work, but why would I aim for anything else? I can only love someone who will help me improve on my faults as compassionately as I help them improve on theirs. When conflicts arise, we’ll talk about them and our bond will be even stronger.

The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.” ~Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

If you have a fixed mindset, but wish you had a growth mindset, don’t worry. You can change! It will be scary, but worth it.  All you need to do is change your definitions of success and failure…. and you’ll also likely need to find new friends…

Having a forward-focused, positive mindset is healthy, while the opposite is not. A growth-focused mind is like a healthy digestive system. It metabolizes thoughts and experiences, extracts what’s good and evacuates what’s bad, then flushes. A fixed mind is constipated. It holds on to worries for too long until they overflow all over everyone else.

More in this BrainPickings article.

Highlights of the article (all modified quotes):

  • A mindset is an interpretative process that tells us what is going on around us. In the fixed mindset, that process is scored by an internal monologue of constant judging and evaluation, using every piece of information as evidence either for or against such assessments as whether you’re a good person, whether your partner is selfish, or whether you are better than the person next to you. In a growth mindset, on the other hand, the internal monologue is not one of judgment but one of voracious appetite for learning, constantly seeking out the kind of input that you can metabolize into learning and constructive action.
  • One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality.
  • A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
  • A “growth mindset” thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
  • Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.
  • Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset— creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.
  • Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . .
  • In the “growth” mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. It’s based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
  • No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.
  • creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning.
  • The mindsets change what people strive for and what they see as success. . . they change the definition, significance, and impact of failure. . . they change the deepest meaning of effort.
  • These mindsets form very early in life. In one seminal study, Dweck and her colleagues offered four-year-olds a choice: They could either redo an easy jigsaw puzzle, or try a harder one. Even these young children conformed to the characteristics of one of the two mindsets — those with “fixed” mentality stayed on the safe side, choosing the easier puzzles that would affirm their existing ability, articulating to the researchers their belief that smart kids don’t make mistakes; those with the “growth” mindset thought it an odd choice to begin with, perplexed why anyone would want to do the same puzzle over and over if they aren’t learning anything new. In other words, the fixed-mindset kids wanted to make sure they succeeded in order to seem smart, whereas the growth-mindset ones wanted to stretch themselves, for their definition of success was about becoming smarter.
  • In another experiment, after having their brains scanned, those with a fixed mindset were only interested in hearing feedback that reflected directly on their present ability, but tuned out information that could help them learn and improve. They even showed no interest in hearing the right answer when they had gotten a question wrong, because they had already filed it away in the failure category. Those with a growth mindset, on the other hand, were keenly attentive to information that could help them expand their existing knowledge and skill, regardless of whether they’d gotten the question right or wrong — in other words, their priority was learning, not the binary trap of success and failure.
  • Growth mindset: “personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best.” Fixed mindset: “success is about establishing their superiority, pure and simple. Being that somebody who is worthier than the nobodies.” For the latter, setbacks are a sentence and a label. For the former, they’re motivating, informative input — a wakeup call.
  • And how does this apply to love? Those with a fixed mindset believed their ideal mate would put them on a pedestal and make them feel perfect, like “the god of a one-person religion,” whereas those with the growth mindset preferred a partner who would recognize their faults and lovingly help improve them, someone who would encourage them to learn new things and became a better person. The fixed mindset, it turns out, is at the root of many of our most toxic cultural myths about “true love.”