Andrea Hall

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If we address the stress that Kelly speaks of we can move towards my idea of a "Healthy Mind = Healthy Body" theory of living.

Millions of Americans are obese--not just carrying a few extra pounds, but obese to morbidly obese. Having lived this myself for 15 years of my life I feel that I can speak to this point, that being, our obesity is not simply about calories in vs calories out and nor is is just about the pounds. The weight we carry is more than just fat. If we start with the stress that Kelly speaks of--which many also struggle with as the cause of their weight gain--we can begin to live a happier, healthier, longer and more sustainable life.

Our "more convenient way of living" society indirectly discourages actually dealing with our lives and we (over time) carry the weight of this with us over the years. By taking a similar approach to Kelly's, in regards to "friending" stress, we could start to shed the weight and the unhealthy habits that lead to our impulse eating that contributes to our weight gain.

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    lea cox

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    Sep 9 2013: A study was done in the last century in the 60" I believe of an entire town named Rose in PA. People were healthier, no heart attack or other diseases even thought their diet included fat and so on.
    The results gave the reason being a closely knit community helping one another in every difficulty from loosing a job, to death in the family. The lesson here is that collective oriented cultures do well, The western culture of individualism is not conducive to resilience but dependency and victimization of ourselves and others.Our bodies were created to heal themselves but what promotes the healing is the love we show to one another...strangers or friends and family.
    To change the world we need to change how we see the world.
    Abundance rather than scarcity, thriving rather then survival and empowered rather than victimized.

    Live, Love and laugh a lot
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      Sep 10 2013: Hi Lea,
      This is a good point that you bring up. This does factor into a healthy lifestyle and in my point/idea of "Healthy Mind = Healthy Body" through your point of "...being a closely knit community helping one another in every difficulty from loosing a job, to death in the family." This type of community/environment nourishes our human need to grieve, celebrate, etc. that is becoming less common in our society today. This is ironic in my opinion. I'm not blaming technology but the (in my mind) evolution of technology would be to bring us closer together but in reality it's done just the opposite. If we embrace our technological advances to 'naturally' expand globalization then I feel that this is helpful. But learning how to integrate the two ways of living is where, I think our Western world (as you call it) is stuck. I think it's great that I can talk to my cousins in Italy via Skype, but I couldn't provide for them the comfort and love that they needed when they lost my cousin (their sister/daughter) to cancer before her 40th birthday. There is where the community that you mention comes into play. It's important; if we can't deal then we don't heal.
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        Sep 10 2013: Hello Andrea, interesting you mentioned Italy, the town in PA was full of Italians and they were a closely knit community partly because they shared the same culture but mostly because of the kind of culture it was. Eventually children left town to work and become afflictied like everyone else by the individualistic way of thinking.
        I have debated as you are on the tech influence and when I sit on coffee shop each is looking at their gadgets, the old way of meeting and talking only exist in some places where older people meet regularly. I have a tendency to engage people in conversations where ever I am and sometime it works.Keep trying and bring your smile. I have family in Italy also. Brothers and sisters and need to visit soon or move there.
        Regarding cancer inform your relatives to watch Doyle I believe , a Ted talk on cancer. fantastic new wave energy cure.. Check it out.
  • Sep 7 2013: I have recently investigated a more "Spiritual" view towards life. The simplified version is that we create our own reality by how we think and act. I find it amazing that science then comes along and does a study that supports this belief. What I took out of the talk was, that if you believe that Stress is not harmful to you, that it just makes you more able to handle stressful situations, that is how it manifests itself in your body. Conversely, if you think that stress is harmful, then that is what you get.

    Is that not the same as "creating your own reality"??? As far as it applies to weight, I agree with Andrea. I was told that much of my stress lead to carrying a few extra pounds. Now that I deal with stress differently, I have actually lost weight, and have decreased my appetite. Especially for foods that are not good for you. Candy, Soda, and Chips.

    It is interesting that stress leads us to want human contact. Is that why face book and twitter are now more popular, as we think we are mores stressed out??
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      Sep 10 2013: Eric,
      Great points! And congrats on the healthy life you are living!

      I too have done work here; my Masters thesis with a Collaborative Inquiry group was focused on my theory of "Healthy Mind = Healthy Bpdy". I appreciated Kelly's TEDTalk because she addressed one common factor of our Mind that hinders many of us in living a healthy and present life. Stress seems to be a very common ailment for many of the Western world and we tend to 'treat' with a band-aid more than actually address the cause and change its effect.

      There is a lot of science behind the chemical mind/body cause and effect--as you mentioned sweets were a trigger for you. I won't go into detail (for one, science isn't my forte), but I wanted to address your point for those that don't know--it has been scientifically backed.

      Thank you for your post and contributing to this dialogue!
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    W. Ying

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    Sep 10 2013: .

    Your "Healthy Mind = Healthy Body" is working.

    But it goes too slowly
    because our brain has not created enough data to make it yet.

    Our brain has enough data created already for "stress".
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      Sep 10 2013: Slow is ok though! Slow can often lead to being more sustainable/lasting change. Shock/quick results don't necessarily result in long lasting or permanent change.

      We don't want to be a yo-yo nation, the "nirvana" goal would be (in my opinion) be sustainable change.

      With our technology driven age we seem to be so focused on quick and convenient but that's not what life is..well it could be if that's what you choose it to be.
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        Sep 11 2013: ..

        "Slow is ok"!

        “Slow” meets the pace of our instincts.
        It gives us real happiness
        (the feeling of things being a-step-better for keeping our DNA alive).

        “Quick” doesn’t meet the pace.
        It gives us invalid (harmful) happiness
        (invalid happiness wastes about 90% of our resources).
    • Sep 12 2013: Could the brain not plasticize to better handle stress? After all, adults have some plasticity in their heads?
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    Sep 9 2013: Andrea, this looks like an interesting conversation, but some of us, for whatever reason, might not want to watch the video. Any chance you'd give us a synopsis of what it says?

    I know the idea if life gives you lemons, make lemonade has come up before on TED. Is it something like that?

    How is it that a more convenient way of living discourages dealing with our lives? For example, having a car makes life more convenient, I can't see how it discourages one from dealing with one's life, although it might make one exercise less.
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      Sep 10 2013: Hi Greg,
      Understood. Kelly's point was that living a life of trying to avoid stress can have just as detrimental of an impact (negatively) on our bodies as stress itself does. Her idea/point is learning how to manage and deal with stress is more healthy than trying to avoid it. That's the cut and dry version of her TEDtalk, I don't think it does it justice but you get the point right?

      To your point of "... a more convenient way of living discourages dealing with our lives?" I don't think that convenience is necessarily the "enemy" here. But if we get too caught up in our modern day, tech age of quick/fast and convenient we can often end up living an unhealthier life--our food choices, lack of physical activity, atc. I'm not that old myself--well I like to think that 30 something is still on the younger end--but I'm shocked when I see a family of four (two kids and two adults) out to dinner and no one is conversing with each other because they are all on their "smart devices" instead. How does this impact health you ask? Well back to my healthy mind point--it's all systemic and I'm keeping it short since you requested a synopsis of Kelly's--if we are unable to effectively communicate with each other (face to face) this can lead to emotional stressors that impact our bodies and our food choices. Which end up to unhealthy living. I'm thinking based on the threads here I need to go more indepth on my "Healthy Mind = Healthy Body" point! I'll keep a synopsis in mind as well for those who seek convenience ;)
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        Sep 11 2013: yeah, technically I should watch the video, but I'd rather talk to you, Andrea. Well, I don't really know whether it's better to accept stress or try to reduce it, I would think you can do both, accept that you have some as you try to reduce it. But I'm not sure how you're thinking about stress. For example, I've struggled with noise from the supermarket loading dock across the street for years. I've had many talks with staff at the market about the noise and sometimes the noise has been reduced. I'm thinking for many people it would be stressful to complain to supermarket staff about dock noise, so they avoid complaining and just live with the noise despite the fact they dislike it. But the truth is they still have stress, the stress they're living with now is the stress listening to the noise puts on them. But that is a slightly different kind of stress from the stress of talking to the staff. I don't really understand people who don't complain, who just live with things they don't like. Do you? Is any of this relevant to your conversation?

        I don't know if convenience really helps one avoid stress. If you went back two hundred years, where people were washing their clothes in a tub over a wood fire, I still think many people would encounter situations they didn't like and just settle, not complain, avoid the stress of what some call "making waves."
  • Sep 8 2013: I Agree that we need to stop overeating, but we also need to not have as much chaos in our lives. I believe that this is one reason for the stress we experience, and I think we need to have a plan ahead type of schedule where we do that--plan ahead for the probable chaosity in our lives. That way, if we have a backup plan like this, we hopefully won't be so stressed out. We always need to think of this backup plan like if you were going to a birthday party, and there was a fire, which broke out in the restaurant at some point. What would you do? You would, of course, plan for the birthday party, but when the fire started, you would have a premapped version of the restaurant, so you'd know where all the exits for emergencies were. As the fire started and, but hopefully not, came into the room you were partying in, you could use the map of that room to get everyone out safely. We also need to be calm in the face of really stressful situations. Maybe I'm just talking nonsense here, but I believe panic attacks are not the way to go. What do you think of all this?
    • Sep 9 2013: Constantly planning for disaster can also cause stress. If every time we enter a building we begin looking for emergency exits that makes it very difficult to relax.
      I understood the message in Kelly's talk differently - when a stressful situation occurs, use your body's natural reaction to help you deal with it.
      And what Andrea seems to be telling me is that next time I panic I should take a deep breath and think instead of reaching for chocolate.
      • Sep 12 2013: I agree that we should think of what to do instead of reaching for food to quell the stressors in our lives. This is not healthy!
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      Sep 10 2013: Hi Ashleigh and Kara,

      Great points from you both! I like the dialogue that's started here because we see how Kelly's one talk is perceived differently!

      You bring up a good point about being proactive and I agree. As a self labelled OCP (obessive compulsive personality) I naturally lean that way--I enjoy planning ahead! But we can't plan for everything in life or in some cases planning takes away from living in the present moment. Here's my example. One of my first "aha moments" was when my Mom's cancer took a turn for the worst. I was visibly distraught. Someone I worked with and had a good working relationship with at the time tried to comfort me. In so many words, he said that I should start planning for my Mom's funeral. I'm not saying he wasn't accurate of that being in the near future. But how was planning for my Mom's funeral going to better my situation? If anything I'd probably have regretted not making the most of the time I had left with my Mom physically present in my life. Living life in the present is part of my "Healthy Mind = Healthy Body" theory. It aids in our reaction of turning to food for comfort and allows us to really understand and feel what is going on with/in our body.

      I couldn't tell you not to turn to chocolate--as a living breathing female I've still turned to chocolate on some days. More often than not, those are days I haven't been listening to the needs of my body and instead get stuck in the negative cycle in my head--negative self talk is so detrimental for me! But you are on track in the idea I'm trying to convey. What might you do instead of turning to chocolate for comfort? We are all different so the answer is right in accordance to the individual. Part of getting to that answer is dealing with and facing whatever has been in our "closet" this whole time. When I was working on myself I was having memories of things I'd barely remembered. My weight was more than LBS.
  • Sep 6 2013: I'm looking for systemic methods - things that operate at the tribal level that influence "healthy mind".
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      Sep 10 2013: Algi,
      I appreciate you need for systemic methods. I've actually studied in this. But I'd like clarification on what you mean by "...things that operate at the tribal level that influence "healthy mind". "? What do you define/mean when you say "tribal level"?

      Thank you!
  • Sep 6 2013: Just wahat I see here now suggests there are many dimensions to this problem beyond what the speaker discussed.
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      Sep 10 2013: Hi George,
      You are right, there are "many dimensions to this problem." Part of the movement towards improving our societal obesity issue is having the discussion. Of course to yield results we need to follow that up with action supporting our discussions. My point in posting Kelly's TEDTalk is that is begins to address the non food/calories aspects to healthy living. Note that I use the term "healthy living" versus weight loss. Yes, this is the need for many of us but the point isn't to be in a loss mode our entire lives. For those battling with weight now, it's about getting started and how to keep it going. For others, who are in a maintenance mode, it's about knowing triggers and how to deal with them when they arise. What I've found is that these "triggers" are mentally rooted/driven and can be managed if we learn how to so they don't result in a destructive result via food or inactivity. Does this make sense? This is systemic and you're right in that there are many dimensions to all this and these systems have loops that yield different results.
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    Sep 6 2013: Hi Andrea,

    I agree. But it's important to know that general day-to-day transitory stressors are not the same as chronic systemic stressors.

    So .. let's focus on the transitory stressor. I have found it to be an effective strategy to take a deep breath and remind myself that it's a challenge that I am equal to - and that the difficulties encountered will make me stronger. It also helps to practice smiling before entering a stressful environment.

    But some environments develop that actively erode such positive attitudes - one needs only so many lessons of humiliation to learn that the "mr nice guy" approach will not work. And then Mr Nice guy becomes another abusive component in the system. This is very common in hierarchies (most notably - families and workplaces).

    I agree that personal matters of "choice" are effective for the individual, but I do not agree that the range of choices is available for every individual - particularly if that individual is very young. That range of choices is dictated by the social environment.
    So it is a balance and a paradox - to have a healthy social environment you need healthy individuals; to have healthy individuals you need a healthy social environment. One cannot assume that the whole thing can be balanced by pushing the whole task to single individuals.

    Simply saying "stress is my friend" will not change the system. It might help a little, but if the underlying system is not also taking on stress as a functional component, then the individual will be ultimately defeated. And that defeat will be a hard one.

    I suspect that the size of the social group has an important influence on this. One can be strong and win-out in a small group, but in a large group, the task will usually be beyond any single individual. In large groups, the only winners will be obsessive personalities. In very large groups, winning requires sociopathy/psychopathy. THese obsessive personality types seem guaranteed to produce chronic stress, not a friend
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      Sep 6 2013: I agree with you, Mitch, that people's environments expose them to completely different amounts of stress. Some people are overwhelmed by stress in situations others can easily handle calmly. Other environments, such as involuntary participation in permanently hostile and abusive situations are a different story.

      Of course people find different ways of surviving or coping, but not all stress should be considered a friend. Bullying is discussed here often, but schools should intervene to create a culture averse to bullying rather than relying on the victims, for example, to consider such stress a friend.
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        Sep 6 2013: It's certainly complex.

        I note that there are some hanging shingles advertising "amygdala management" therapies.
        Hey ho - the oxytocin correlate with stress is a new one to me - .. can you cite any recent papers on it?
        I'm looking for systemic methods - things that operate at the tribal level that influence "healthy mind".
        Sapolsky's baboons are the only real breakthrough I've seen in years - but all that illustrates is several stable social modes. If they exist, they will have some environmental/adaptive value - the question is: What operates to latch-up social modes beyond their use-by date .. and how can such inappropriate latch-ups be re-set? (we can't always get a dumpster full of tuberculosis to do the trick ;)
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        Sep 6 2013: Thanks Fritzie - got it!

        The paper has some good references that I'll follow-up.

        Definitely 2 distinct types of stress response .. interesting how the "perceptional" factor modulates between the 2.

        I think McGonigal should have underlined the pre-existing presence of oxytocin as a factor in perception. The talk gave me the impression that there was a co-expressive factor in stress .. which seemed counter-intuitive.

        Once again, there is a strong socio-systemic component to perceptional precursors to stress.
        Grooming rituals might be one avenue to explore .. but since we are not baboons, attitudes to public displays of affection might be adjusted for the same result. This could be achieved via the mainstream media in lieu of pharmaceutical exploitation.
        Pre-existing "loneliness" states might not be so easily addressed .. I'd assume such states would have early childhood factors.
        The individual choice option might have some affect, but I doubt if those already suffering stress related chronic depression will respond.
        My suspicion is that no one recovers from these states without external social intervention - e.g. meeting someone who goes out of their way to be supportive/affectionate.
        So that might be another avenue for general mind/body/community improvement .. i.e. promotion of camaraderie .. it's sounding suspiciously like the neuro-biological version of the "sermon on the mount" ;) .. would that be confirmation bias?
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          Sep 6 2013: I would guess that chronic depression, for example, is not simply a linear progression from normal depression and that various manifestations and potential interventions do not scale linearly. The same would be true, I think, for stress. The underlying model likely involves ballooning after crossing a threshold.

          As I have no Christian heritage, I do not follow the reference to the sermon on the mount.
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        Sep 7 2013: I agree with the non-linear observation. This would likely be the dynamic along which systemic "latching" occurs - at many levels. The thing about chaotic systems is that one cannot know which part of the "fluff" you are in - there are many points of stability, (cyclic or static), but the intervals are chaotic with different sensitivities. Cyclic stabilities are present both before and after the point of accumulation - this makes it a bit intractable if you don't know the primary driver(s).

        If we assume there are multiple drivers, each with non-linear characteristics, then the task is to identify each driver. Once that is done, you can look at how/when the system passes into chaos by measuring the driver.

        The "sermon on the mount" is in the book of Mathew (new testament) - it deals with social attitude engineering and is likely a good starting place for identifying default tribal system components. Mind you, it is probably a long way out of date. It seems to acknowledge the drivers - and gives tips for interrupting potential overloads. It also has a bit about loaves and fishes .. I assume that is some kind of memory trick .. most miracles in the book seem to accompany key points .. they serve as strong index associations. Very clever authors.
  • Sep 23 2013: I agree with Kelly that we should stop demonizing stress. I truly believe stress is being more and more over-hyped these days.
    However, in my opinion this is easier said than done. How can we, as simple human beings expect ourselves to be (emotionally) strong enough to resist each and every stressful factor in our lives, whether internal or external?

    Correct me if I'm wrong but Isn't this somehow like giving people tips to resist the temptation of adultery and expect everyone to ignore sexual temptations during their whole existence? Or write a handbook for drug addicts and expect them to stay away from drugs. And so on... We could turn this world into a true paradise...wouldn't we?

    I really appreciate her good intentions and I actually find the idea pretty interesting but I do not believe we can program ourselves to "be and stay positive", no matter how. After all, we are no machines. We are just made of flesh and blood.

    Thank you all for your comments and your thoughts. Very interesting subject!