Wellness – What I Know Now

Wellness – What I Know Now

Salon Topic given with Victoria Maizes, MD

Executive Director, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine


Twitter: @vmaizes

Belizean Grove Annual Retreat

January 22, 2014, Buenaventura, Panama


Chemicals are Ubiquitous  


  • Skin is your largest organ. Any doubts, put a piece of garlic between your toes, and within 30 minutes you will taste it!
  • Pay close attention to your personal products – you can now use the skindeep app to scan barcodes (0-2 low risk, 3-6 moderate, 7-10 high)
  • Also attend to the chemicals in food, water, air pollution
  • Re cleaning products, switching to Seventh Generation cleaning supplies is an easy step.
  • Organic is a good step – however – the number of allowable synthetics in organic keeps growing. Ewg.org can help you sort.
  • Other products to watch for on labels:
    • Carageenan, an emulsifier in dairy and soy products
    • MSG (which can go by many names)

For more on Avoiding Environmental Exposure, Check out Victoria’s blog post:


MicroBiome –

  • From a genetic perspective we are 99% bacteria.
  • We have disturbed our microbiome through antibiotics, c-sections, not breast feeding, anti-microbial cleansers, processed food.
  • One result is increase in food sensitivities.
  • Taking a probiotic may help when on an antibiotic or when traveling. Culturelle is a good brand.
  • Also increase yogurt and other foods with live bacteria (fermented foods.)
  • Consider whether food sensitivity may be impacting you.  Most common are wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, citrus.
  • Food Nation worth seeing.

Habit Change –

  • Look for easy change and make them smallest items can be tied to existing habits and are easy. (ie, buying 7th generation products and using them). This begins the process of change, and can build momentum.
  • Habits take more effort to change and take an average 21 days.
  • Limiting habit change to 2 items per month maximizes effective change. Most people can only change maximum of 2-3 things at a time.

Beware of Anxiety/Avoidance of Change – 

  • It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we face a sea of change, and doubt that we have the mettle to handle it all. The anxiety that gets generated by this can tempt us towards avoidance all together, as we just don’t think we can handle taking on a big project, or don’t know where to begin. Being mindful of our temptation to avoid is an important first step in recognizing, facing, and harnessing your anxiety towards generating change that is manageable.
  • With these bigger list items, start with those that are most important and take on no more than 2 in a month.
  • Schedule out goals in your calendar to 1-2 changes per month.
  • Once you have a list of things to adjust/change in a month, break goal into small pieces.
  • For items that feel harder, define the goal (ie. avoiding chemicals, improving microbial health, increasing exercise)
  • Break each goal into pieces so small that starting is easy (ie. download “skin deep” app, buying a probiotic, looking at schedule to find exercise window)
  • Follow up first steps with next steps that are small (ie. scanning favorite skin items with app, scheduling a time to take the probiotic, scheduling increased exercise time)
  • Momentum will take over once positive new behaviors are implemented. Follow next steps with next steps until routinized.

“What I know now, and wish I did earlier” –

  • Pay attention to your health. Attend regular screening appointments, and make note of health changes.
  • Have an exercise routine – Research shows that exercise is the most important thing you can do to improve overall wellness, including physical and emotional health.
    • Fitness Buddy is a good app for use while traveling.
    • Also Yoga Journal has an App to generate yoga routines when on the road.
  • Adequate Sleep is key to being able to implement most of above. Research on mental and emotional benefits of sleep is compelling.


Looking for more help in understanding anxiety? Learn more about my book Hack Your Anxiety and access free tools to help you manage the fear and anxiety going around the world today.

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD