Fast and Steady Wins the Race – Center for Couples and Families

In speaking with Jared about his race experience, it turns out that he was not utilizing his statistics knowledge to determine his race pace.  It was more about how he felt during the race.  Jared said, “I went into the race knowing what pace I could run.  When they (Tyler Pennell, Galen Rupp, and Meb Keflezighi) took off faster, I realized I couldn’t run that pace and decided to not cover their move completely hoping at least one of them would come back to me.”  However, Jared did increase his pace from around 5:05 to 4:50, then back to around 5:00 for a while to not let them get too far away.  There are so many physical and psychological factors that go into performance that being too set on a specific pace will often lead to hampered performance.  Jared tries to combine what he knows about his ability and what occurs during the race, “I focus on balancing what others are doing in their strategy with the pacing strategy that I’m hoping for on that given day.”

Among amateur racers, we often see more of a focus on reacting to what others do more than what is best for an individual strategy.  While watching the 2016 Utah High School State Championships for track and field in May, I noticed how many different strategies there were for pacing.

Lap splits are included in the results for the Utah State Meet.  Browsing through those makes it clear that pacing mistakes were made.  In some cases, a fast early pace leads to very slow final laps.  Other athletes begin the race very slowly and even with finishing fast, end up many places beneath their potential.

Overall, a nearly even pacing strategy through the majority of the race will lead to the best possible times.  In the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon, Paul Pilkington was paid to be a rabbit through 25km.  He went out at the correct pace, but the other athletes did not stay with him.  He felt strong and decided he might as well finish.  With a two-minute lead, he continued on at a similar pace.  He crossed the line in 2:12:13 winning $27,000 and a Mercedes.  After the race he had to rush home to teach his writing class at Washington High School the next morning and trade in his family van that had 100,000 miles on it.

Motivated runners can push themselves to the limits of performance.  Starting a race too fast and finishing with great effort, but a slow time is not nearly as fun at racing at the right pace and achieving a personal record.

Jared learned from his master’s thesis that even experienced runners tend to start too fast.  He studied split times from the Saint George Marathon and found those that achieved their time goals had the third quarter of the race as the fastest, while the majority that failed in their time goals ran the first quarter as their fastest.  So, choose the right average pace from training results with a coach’s help, run that pace early on, and see how your body responds in the final stages.

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Ian Hunter, PhD

Well Fueled Family Fun

Footloose and schedule-free sunny days are the hallmarks of summer living for many families. Your children and neighborhood friends bustle in and out of the house, you stretch out the evenings basking in the summer skies, and

you relish the slower pace of life and the longer daylight hours.

But then, you schedule a family vacation.

You work and re-work schedules, sleeping arrangements, entertainment, campsite reservations, and credit card points. You beg and plead with the powers above that no one will fall ill, fall injured, or fall out of favor with other members of the family.

We all want to get a good return on our vacation investment in the form of fond memories. One way to improve your chances of a fun-filled trip is to feed your family so they are well fueled.

Sure, vacations are the embodiment of leisure and indulgence, but our food choices may spoil our celebrations if they make us sick or over-indulged.

Here are a few tips to stay safe and well fueled during your summer travels:

Fuel for Fun

Hot dogs, s’mores, snow cones, and cheeseburgers are all essential parts of an American family summer. However, in between these “essentials,” fuel your family with nutrient-rich whole foods to keep them running at their best.

Here are a few nutritious on-the-go options:

Homemade or wholesome trail mixes – Think whole grain cereals, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. A bit of chocolate can top it off nicely.

Nuts and seeds – Seasoned, spiced, or plain, if trail mix isn’t your favorite.

Fresh veggies for dipping – Sugar snap peas, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery dip nicely in hummus, guacamole, homemade greek yogurt ranch dip, or any store bought dressing in small to-go cups.

Low sugar, high fiber granola bars – like Kind Breakfast Bars.

Hydrating drinks – Water, 100% fruit juice boxes, V8 vegetable juice,  Kefir, and ready to eat smoothies like Naked Juice. Be sure to watch portion sizes on beverages other than water. Without the bulk of fiber, a little juice goes a long way.

Yogurt cups – Aim for low-sugar alternatives. Try plain yogurts with fruit mix-ins and granola.

String cheese or cheese wedges

Homemade or Healthy Choice popcorn

Peanut butter and almond butter to-go pouches

Fruit cups and pureed fruit pouches – You can purchase ready-made or make your own at home with reusable plastic pouches and cups. Try mandarin oranges in a pop-top can. Aim for choices packaged in 100% fruit juice instead of heavy syrup.

Fresh fruit – Clementines and apples are resilient travel fruits. Wash your fruits, except berries, ahead of time for convenience. Bring along nut butter or fruited yogurt for dipping.

Low-sugar dried fruit leather – like the Stretch Island brand that Costco carries.

Whole grain pitas, tortillas, and breads – for spreads, rolls, and wraps.

Flavored tuna foil packets – like the lemon dill or Thai-style from Starkist.

Follow Food Safety Protocol

Avoid dreaded food sickness downers by abiding by these food safety rules whether you’re creekside in the canyon, car pooling with the kids, or curbside at the Ritz this summer:

  1. Separate

Keep raw meat…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Erica Hansen MS, RD, CD

Raising Confident Kids – Center for Couples and Families

In post-war England, most children’s hospitals had a visitor’s policy that may shock you: children in long-term treatment for serious conditions were only allowed about one hour per week of visiting time from their parents. The prevailing thought was that too much “molly-coddling” would weaken the child.

A psychologist named John Bowlby didn’t agree. He did research to demonstrate that when parents visited, kids did

better – they were happier, and their physical well-being improved during the short visits from parents. Dr Bowlby went on to develop the theory of attachment, which states that children rely on a secure base (usually their parents) to feel safe, gain confidence, and thrive in a difficult and complicated world. Ongoing research showed that kids who were given lots of attention and unconditional love were happier, healthier, and grew up to be more successful in many ways.

Parent-child bonds grow in both good times and bad times. Positive moments between kids and parents are memorable and important, but so are the caring responses parents give to kids who are physically or emotionally hurt. You might remember going to your parents after falling off the jungle gym or being bullied. They couldn’t always “fix” your problems, but injuries and disappointments were somehow magically repaired with hugs, kisses, and kind words. The sense of security and love you felt took the edge off the pain, and increased your overall confidence.

Recognizing and reinforcing your role as a secure base for your kids might be the greatest gift you can give them as a parent. Here are four ways you can build on this relationship:


One of the big questions in parenting, which is more important: quality time, or quantity time? How about both! Quantity is important – spending time with someone leads to a feeling of comfort and safety, which inspires open conversation. The precious moment when your child opens up to you only comes after hours of seemingly mundane shared time. Quality time is also important: this doesn’t have to be fun parks and ice cream, it just means giving that person your full attention. We all know what it feels like to be with someone who isn’t really there. Rolling the ball along the floor with your toddler is one of the best ways to connect with them, unless you’re talking on the phone with someone else the whole time.


To some this comes easily, but to others…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Finding Balance and Happiness in Life – Center for Couples and Families

I am an education specialist for Zumba, aka ZES. Here’s a little sneak peak into my job: I work as a presenter at Zumba’s yearly conventions and events, both domestic and abroad. I have choreographed and performed on a number of consumer products, as well as continuing education DVDs. I am a Zumba spokesperson, having represented Zumba on a dozen or more TV shows: Martha Stewart, So You Think You Can Dance, The Biggest Loser, and The View, to name a few, as well as selling our products on television networks QVC and HSN.

The reason I tell you this? I see my biggest calling in life to be a good wife and mom. When you add a career to the plate, it has the potential to get overwhelming and spin things out of balance. Not to mention, I have to get on a plane every time I go to work.

I have found my path to a happy, balanced life through a few tips and tools:

  1. Keep priorities in check.

Family is always first. Zumba is what I do, it is not who I am. I am a wife and mom first. My husband and I discuss our weekly plans, set goals, and have a weekly date. This date is often times during the day—lunch or a matinee, and not overly glamorous. The purpose is to connect, connect and connect. Without teamwork everything else falls short.

  1. Take one task at a time.

Putting your energy into what you have going on that day helps you be present, live in the moment, and eliminate regret. Overwhelming yourself with unchangeable details down the road only gets you…overwhelmed. If all I do is worry about my work, the flights, hotels, exhaustion, the time spent away, the things I will miss…I kill the joy of today due to the worry of tomorrow. I take one thing at a time and give it my best.

  1. Create the life you want.

No one will…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Pornography Addiction: An Epidemic By Dr Matt Brown and Dr. Mike Olson

Pornography is a big business. Americans spent 97 billion dollars on pornography over the past five years. The monetary cost of this epidemic is only a part of the real cost of this problem in our country. Over the past decade, increasing attention has been given to the damaging effects of pornography on the brain and, by extension, the lives of individuals and families. The accessibility of pornographic material and the multitude of technologic means by which it comes into our lives has brought this issue increasingly into the spotlight. In fact, you may be reading this because pornography has impacted you, personally, or someone you love.

There has been controversy in the psychiatric literature about whether those who struggle with pornography are “addicted.” Whether or not it is formally designated in the professional literature as an addictive disorder, it certainly has been shown to affect the brain and the lives of its users in ways consistent with other addictive disorders. As with any addiction, an understanding of the process is key. Let’s start with how the brain responds to pornography. Our brains are designed to catalog our experiences with the end goal of preserving life and eliminating threats to our safety. Essentially, our brains are effective at remembering what feels good and what doesn’t. While this process is complex, a basic understanding of a few key brain chemicals is critical.

stress 1The brain responds to pornography by releasing a powerful chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is released whenever we have pleasurable experiences. The release of dopamine and another powerful chemical called epinephrine (adrenaline) floods the brain in connection with pornography. With repeated exposure, a neural pathway in the brain is created that links arousal and associated neuro-chemicals dopamine and adrenaline with pornography use. As pornography exposure and dopamine release increases, dopamine receptors are eliminated. This “flooding” of the brain creates habituation or tolerance, resulting in the need for even greater stimulus (more explicit and “hard-core” pornography, novelty and intensity) to achieve the same effect.

Dr. Donald L. Hilton, Jr. MD, a neurosurgeon at the University of Texas, has written extensively about the effects of pornography on the brain. His research and other reviews conclude that the effects of pornography on the brain are comparable to potent drugs, such as cocaine. He also explains that when the body orgasms, the brain produces a particular neurotransmitter called “oxytocin” which creates bonding. Oxytocin is also secreted in the brains of babies and moms during breastfeeding. So we are literally bonding to pornography (a digital image) when we reach climax. In an article published in the Harvard Crimson, Dr. Hilton states that “pornography emasculates men—they depend on porn to get sexually excited and can no longer get off by having sex with their women alone. What happens when you are addicted to porn is that you crave it. Real sex even becomes a poor substitute for porn, and you lose interest.” ¹

A final neurophysiologic effect of pornography is the damage created to the impulse control center of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex. With constant flooding of the brain with dopamine and epinephrine, there is a reduction in size and control of this area. Essentially, the ability to self-regulate and exercise impulse control is reduced until, ultimately, the addiction drives appetites, desires, and behaviors. As individuals fall into the grip of this addiction, they often experience other effects, such as isolation, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and relationship distress, among others – all of which spiral the individual away from resources that can lift and help them toward recovery and healing.

As awareness of this issue increases, so do resources aimed at educating and assisting those affected by pornography addiction. A relatively new campaign called “Fight The New Drug” ( is an excellent resource for those seeking more information regarding the impact of pornography. There are also many religious/spiritually-based programs available², many of which are based on the twelve-step program utilized by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).



mattAbout the Author: Dr. Matt Brown is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He holds a doctorate degree from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree from Brigham Young University. He is currently Assistant Professor and Program Director in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a therapist at the South Shore Center for Couples and Families.

Compassion by Dr. Victor S. Sierpina, MD

?????????????????Compassion, a universal cure to what ails us as individuals, societies, and nations, is the response to the suffering of others that creates a desire to help. This attribute, essential to the optimal practice of medicine and healing, gives the healer an understanding and appreciation of the effects of suffering and sickness on the attitudes and behaviors of others. More than mere tolerance, it creates a feeling similar to love, in the universal sense of that word.

While browsing my library recently, I noticed a paperback by the Dalai Lama called Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World. A skilled, heartfilled local meditation teacher, Terry Conrad, uses it when he teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and it found its way to our library through my wife’s work there.

The Dalai Lama, a Buddhist by tradition, pointed out that the compassion lived and espoused by the founders of all major spiritual traditions is often lost amongst their followers. In the name of religion and the defense of various ideologies and creeds, people across time have often violently departed from the teachings of their revered scriptures and teachers. They visit upon others what they would not want done to themselves. Compassion has often been abandoned, leaving the world a worse place.

The philosophically practical Dalai Lama points out that we all share a common humanity. We are not necessarily born into a religion or belief system, but are all driven by a desire to be happy and to avoid suffering. Acknowledging that all other humans share that same basic drive is the basis of compassion. This means seeing others as more like us than different from us, seeing their suffering as our own. Compassion is a necessity to the survival of humanity. Without it, we turn on each other like wild and undisciplined animals.

How do we develop compassion? It is an intrinsic human trait universally encouraged by all major spiritual traditions. Meditating on compassion for others and ourselves helps us bring it into our daily lives and consciousness.

I wrote awhile ago about the “Loving kindness Meditation” which I have found helpful in bridging the compassion gap between me and those I see as different from me. While there are many versions, here is one to consider. I keep it taped onto my dashboard and my phone.

May you be happy.
May you be well.
May you be safe.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be filled with loving kindness to yourself and all others.

balanceConsider this kind of compassion building meditation/prayer exercise daily with a focus first on compassion for yourself. As you continue, channel it mentally toward someone you greatly respect and honor such as a spiritual teacher; then to a dearly beloved person such as a spouse or family member; then to a person whom you know but feel neutral toward; and finally direct your loving kindness meditation toward someone who you consider hostile or even hateful.

Do your part in building a more compassionate you and a more compassionate world.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist! -Martin Luther King, Jr.

*Previously published in Galveston county daily news.

Sierpina_Victor_5x7About the Author: Dr. Victor Sierpina is currently the director of the Medical Student Education Program at UTMB, Galveston. He is a WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine, and also a Professor in Family Medicine. He is a University of Texas Distinguished Teaching Professor. His clinical interests have long included holistic practices, wellness, lifestyle medicine, mind-body therapies, acupuncture, integrative oncology, nutrition, and non-pharmacological approaches to pain.

Local Food: Good For You, Good For Utah

Since the 1950s, processed food has been touted as more convenient, easy, and,

in some cases, healthier for us.  However, as we’ve seen obesity surge in the U.S., many have started to question, “What actually is good for us?” The recent focus on local foods may provide an answer and a path for Americans to return to healthier eating habits. Local ingredients are almost always more fresh, less processed, and less likely to contain chemicals that none of us know how to pronounce, much less what they do to our bodies.

Beyond the health benefits of buying local ingredients, there are a number of benefits to not only our bodies, but our economies.  At Communal, we are glad that we can get really fresh ingredients, but we’re also happy to be supporting the local economy. Restaurants, consumers, and producers mutually benefit from buying local ingredients.  Most of these producers are small businesses owned by Utah natives.  Snuck Farms in Pleasant Grove, Christiansen Farms in Vernon, as well as Clifford Farm and La Nay Ferme in Provo are just a few of these smaller businesses that rely on local restaurants and consumers to continue to be successful.

In our restaurant, it is also notable to see the authenticity of the connection we have made to the ingredients we serve.  It is easier to treat an ingredient with care and respect when there is a real connection to the land.  I’ve been to these farms and met the families that run them.  When that connection exists, there is a certain thoughtfulness put into the preparation of an ingredient that has this sort of an origin story. In turn, that connection to the ingredient extends to the guests we serve. It’s a way to show that there are indeed lots of great local producers, and that Utahans have access to them.

At home, buying and using local ingredients is easier than most people think.  During the summer, head to your local farmers’ market, and you’ll find that the produce is entirely affordable and usually more fresh than what you’ll find in the grocery store.  Also, supermarkets like Harmons have been working harder to bring in local items.  Keep an eye out the next time you visit—local cheese, meat, and produce is available and usually marked. Making those thoughtful purchases to support Utah producers is good for our economy and good for your family.

As more businesses and local residents support the return to local food, we’ll see healthier communities, and we’ll also strengthen Utah’s economy.  It’s a win for all of us.

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Andrew Hansen

“It’s Only One Drink…Right?” By Alyssa Baker

Stressed Businesswoman“It’s only one drink.” How many times have we heard that statement from others or told it to ourselves? For some, it actually does mean one drink; however, for about 16 million adults and almost 700,000 adolescents in the U.S., one drink turns into an alcohol use disorder (SAMHSA, 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health). Alcoholism can develop through many different avenues, such as, genetics, upbringing, social stressors, and mental health. Some cultures and families are at a higher risk of developing alcoholism based on their genetic makeup.

So, what’s the difference? Why can I stop at one drink, but my friend cannot? Do I have an alcohol problem? How do I help my Mom realize that she has a problem? There are so many questions surrounding alcoholism, and the important thing is to ask them. Let’s be brave and keep the conversation going.

I’m “normal,” right?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines normal use as:
Women: No more than 3 drinks per day, and no more than 7 drinks per week
Men: No more than 4 drinks per day, and no more than 14 drinks per week

Okay, so maybe I’m not normal…
Alcohol abuse takes place when drinking is creating problems for someone, but there is no dependence on the alcohol, and there are no withdrawal effects once the use subsides. Alcoholism, on the other hand, means that the person is having negative effects from alcohol, is dependent on it, and when they are not able to drink, they experience uncomfortable withdrawal effects.

Am I at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder? Here are a few indicators, thoughts, and behaviors that could lead to problem drinking.
1. I have a family member who struggles with alcoholism.
2. I struggle emotionally, and sometimes alcohol “evens me out,” or “makes being around other people a little easier.”
3. I have a difficult time stopping drinking once I’ve gotten started.
4. Sometimes I just feel the need to drink.
5. My loved ones keep bringing up my drinking. Sometimes I feel so ashamed and guilty about it.
Most importantly, if alcohol is making your life more complicated and difficult, then it has become a problem.

Now what?
So, after reading a few signs and symptoms, you may have realized that you or someone you know may be experiencing this struggle. Congratulations on taking the first step of making yourself aware of the issue. There are treatment facilities, support groups, meetings, and counsellors who are trained and ready to help. Take control!

??????What I’ve learned through my loved ones’ addictions:
1. Know that we cannot force our loved ones to address their alcohol problem.
2. There is more to the alcoholic/addict than the substance. Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, or Bipolar Disorder could be going untreated.
3. Know that the more you push your loved one to change, the further they will push you away. Come alongside of them and meet them where they are.
4. “Sobriety” is a temporary state, while “Recovery” is a lifelong process and battle.
5. Love them, even when it’s difficult. Tell them.

View More: the Author: Alyssa Baker is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. Along with practicing at the South Shore Center for Couples and Families, she works as a Behavioral Specialist as a part of an Integrative Medicine fellowship with UTMB Family Medicine in Galveston. Alyssa has experience working with individuals, couples, families, and groups with a variety of stressors; including, mood disorders, chronic medical conditions, substance abuse, and relational struggles.

A Simple Trick to Save You Money – Kerry Robinson

For many people, the hardest part of saving money is making the decision to go without something they want right now. In a study by the Brookings Institution, findings showed that Americans are largely living paycheck-to-paycheck. Surprisingly, sixty-six percent of Americans who are living paycheck-to-paycheck are considered middle class. The team involved in the study suggested that these people have a harder time weathering income shocks, such as illness or unexpected unemployment.

If you are one of these sixty-six percent, or if you feel you should do more to save money, there are some simple things you can do now to avoid the stress that comes with unexpected expenses. One way to make saving easier is to set up savings accounts and automatic transfers to save for these types of bills.

I had a coworker who recently did this and expressed how good it felt to be prepared and have the money when it was needed. “In the past when these kinds of bills came up, it caused a lot of stress because I had to figure out where to get the money, or it triggered austerity measures for the next month or two,” he said. “This time, paying the bills was a totally different experience because I had money set aside.”

You can do the same thing, or something similar. Here’s how:

First, consider a way you can cut back on your expenses so you can set up an automatic transfer to save a little each month for unexpected expenses. For example, if eating out costs your family $40, and eating in costs your family $20, you can eat out one less time per month, saving $20. Decide where you’ll cut back now, instead of on Thursday night at 6:00 p.m., when you might be more likely to spend more money on dinner…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

The Hype on HIIT – Kelli Jolley

The number one excuse I hear from clients for not exercising is “I don’t have time.”  One of the best things about high intensity interval training (HIIT) is that you don’t need a lot of time. You can get great results with as little as 10 minutes of HIIT training.  In fact, a study done at McMaster University showed that 10 minutes of HIIT could burn the same amount of calories as 50 minutes of steady state cardio. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t have at least 10 minutes a day to spare?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. However, when the intensity level is increased to a more vigorous level, the recommendation is reduced to 75 minutes per week, making HIIT training much more time efficient.

So now that we have eliminated the excuse of not having time…

What is HIIT?

HIIT is short bursts of high intensity intervals where you push your body to at least 80% of its max up to all-out effort, followed by short periods of active or complete rest. The great thing about HIIT is it can be done almost anywhere! You don’t need any equipment do to it. The main focus is pushing your heart to its max and keeping your heart rate up, which is often easier to do without equipment. You can use your body weight as resistance doing plyometric exercises or even just running…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness