Conversation, Information, or Dictation?  We live in a very noisy world where it’s difficult to be heard!  It’s virtually impossible to find a quiet spot with nothing but natural sounds of rustling leaves or crickets chirping.  Many people turn off the world with sophisticated sound-blocking headphones and most of us have replaced talking with texting.  The art of real listening and quality, two-way conversation takes intentionality, but exercising our quality conversation muscle is absolutely worth it!

I’m still learning.  My Mayo Clinic Wellness Coaching training program was an incredible jump start to recognizing what a good conversation looks like. Now the challenge is to make that knowledge the norm.  Here are some areas that I’m concentrating on:

  • Ask open-ended questions:  These are the questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.  They call for a longer explanation or story.  For example, “Why are you taking time out of your day to read this blog?” is an open-ended query.
  • Avoid assumptions:  I’m bad about anticipating what someone is going to say and then finishing their sentence for them.  This is a real conversation stopper!
  • Concentrate and observe:  It’s so easy to just wait until the other person stops talking in order to get your own story started.  Make a point to comment on what has just been said before commencing to tell what happened to you.  
  • Pay attention to body language:  When you really listen and avoid planning your own story in your head, you can observe different inflections, eye movements, and body language that will help deepen the quality of the exchange.
  • Have a no-phone zone:  My dad used to always make sure I had pay phone money for an emergency when I was headed out the door.  Most calls and texts can wait.  
  • Embrace silence.  It’s OK for there to be a pause in the exchange.  It’s a superb way to let the other person know that you are really listening and seeking to absorb what they have to say.  

Most people appreciate being listened to deeply, asked a question, and then listened to again.  It’s the hardest listening to do well because it requires extended attention and focus and ignoring what you want to say next.  All kinds of listening get better with practice and we can help each other with these skills.  START SOMEWHERE today with me exercising our quality conversation muscle.  Quality relationships enhance health. We can do it!

#AskDrDebbie from Samantha O:  “Why is brown fat considered the ‘good fat?’  How can fat be good?”  What a fantastic question!  We don’t typically put “fat” and “good” in the same sentence when we’re talking about our body.  But, it reminds me how miraculously we are designed.  Our bodies produce at least two kinds of fat tissue — brown and white.  White fat stores energy in the form of a large, single, white oily droplet and can disrupt some hormones.  Brown fat cells, in contrast, contain many smaller droplets and chestnut-colored beneficial mitochondria.  Mitochondria are a key to energy and health.  In brown fat, they burn up the droplets to generate heat.  Babies have deposits of brown fat in the neck and shoulders to generate heat because they don’t yet have the ability to shiver to stay warm.  Adults have brown fat too and there are strategies to enhance it!  Activating brown fat cells may be a good way to combat obesity.  Here are some things we are learning about brown fat:

  1. It is enhanced by thermogenesis:  This is a fancy word that means “the production of heat.”  The key here is to let yourself get cold so that these brown fat cells have work to do.   
  2. It raises your body’s metabolism:  The more brown fat, the more calories that you burn.
  3. It can fuel itself with triglycerides from the bloodstream:  This lowering of free fatty molecules will decrease the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke.
  4. It can draw sugar molecules from the bloodstream:  Chronically high blood glucose harms the entire body head to toe.  We will all LIVE YOUNGER with more stable blood sugar.
  5. Exercise likely increases it.  Recent studies have shown that a hormone released from muscles after exercise, called irisin, boosts this beneficial fat.  Exercise also increases UCP1, which makes brown fat more active.  

This has been a fun question for me!  Thank you, Samantha, for taking time to ask it.  Increasing brown fat helps maintain a healthy weight, which helps every other aspect of our lives.  Let’s each START SOMEWHERE today getting a little chilly and taking time to exercise and LIVE YOUNGER with more brown fat!

No-Guilt Queso for the big game! (by Camille Styles)

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ cup white cheddar – shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup Chihuahua cheese – shredded (you could also sub Monterey jack here)
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour (Gluten Free is what I use)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • ½ small red onion, chopped, divided
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 small avocado, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Garden of Eatin’ chips

Here’s the drill:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add jalapenos, chopped red onion (reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish), and ½ teaspoon salt and stir over medium for about 4 minutes until onion is softened.
  2. Sprinkle the flour and cumin into pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer, then cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken.
  3. While the mixture is simmering combine chopped tomatoes, remaining 1 tablespoon of chopped red onion, chopped avocado, and half the cilantro. Set aside.
  4. To queso, add remaining half of cilantro and both cheeses, and stir until melted and well-blended. Transfer to serving dish and top with tomato and onion mixture. Serve with Garden of Eatin’ chips.

Today’s health question reminds me of something I heard recently in a lecture:  “Exercise cures everything, but it’s the hardest pill to swallow.”

(Author Unknown)

Exercising Our Quality Conversation Muscle

Exercising Our Quality Conversation Muscle