Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Bioluminescent Bays and a new perspective on the phrase "getting into the weeds" - Stacy Phillips


This morning I was reading a story about bioluminescent bays and how the recent hurricanes have effected them. The thought provoking article interested me for several reasons. Firstly, I have kayaked in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico at night, and was in awe at the display of beauty and life before me as my kayak buddy and I literally bounced into mangrove trees. I was a newbie at both kayaking and mangrove trees.

Secondly, the mechanism behind these tiny glowing bacteria and the conditions in which they give off their beautiful light can offer some parallels to our own experiences, our own journeys.

Let me explain. No, too long, let me sum up.

In the article (see link), scientists admit that these bioluminescent bays are still a bit of a mystery to them. They've studied how and why they have success, what conditions they thrive in, and truly don't have all the answers.

In the Caribbean, there are a few such bioluminescent bays or lagoons that glow year-round: three in Puerto Rico, one in St. Croix, one in Jamaica, and one in the Cayman Islands. That this combination of unlikely, astounding factors comes together to create a perennial nursery for a diverse community—fish, mollusks, birds, insects, reptiles, and more—is remarkable. Bioluminescent bays are vastly understudied, says Michael Latz, a research biologist at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. But they shouldn’t be.

“They’re excellent natural laboratories to look at ecosystem competition, the effect of nutrients, and the impact of environmental conditions,” he says. “Why are they so successful? It’s a scientific mystery. We don’t have the full answer.”

Embedded in the mystery of bioluminescent bays is their extraordinary resilience. Hurricane Maria tore through both Laguna Grande (the bioluminescent lagoon at Cabezas de San Juan) and Mosquito Bay, on the nearby little island of Vieques. But nature varies in its resilience, as people do—as such, Mosquito Bay and Laguna Grande responded differently to Hurricane Maria.

One thing they DO know about the mechanism of the tiny single-celled aquatic phytoplankton, a species of dinoflagellate called Pyrodinium bahamense which produces bioluminescence (light produced by chemical reactions in the bodies of living things) is that the bioluminescence is activated when this organism is "agitated".

Yes, it's environment of change activates the glow! No change, no glow! Isn't that similar to our own lives? It is through adversity, change or challenges that our inner light can glow for others to see!

The second thing of note I took from the article was that we can learn from studying that ecosystem with respect to "the effect of nutrients and the impact of environmental conditions." You see, we all have our own little "ecosystems" that we call "us". Nutrients and the impact of environmental conditions effect our individual ecosystem also! My individual ecosystem is called "Stacy". What conditions am I putting in and around my ecosystem for its benefit, and to encourage my ecosystem to thrive? Sounds like philosophy, but it truly is something to think about. Am I feeding my bioluminescence?

When the hurricane came in and lowered the salinity of the water these glowing phytoplankton lived in, it was as if the bay experienced it's own blackout. The little guys contained everything within them to shine, yet they weren't shining because of the conditions around them, the salinity of the water. They still had the capacity, but their numbers were dwindling and thus, their net bioluminescent effect. More phytoplankton in the bay, more shine. One shining phytoplankton is good, but billions are better!

What environment do WE shine in? Do we do what we can day in and day out to protect that environment?

The third thing that caused reduced shining was weeds. Yes, weeds. When things stagnate, and weeds or Sargassum proliferate, the population of bioluminescent phytoplankton decrease. How often are we living life in the weeds? What are we giving our attention to that is sucking our bioluminescence right out of us? Keeping us from shining?

Lastly, it's all still kind of a mystery, which always makes things exciting!

“The lagoon is a fresh book to read,” she says. “Sometimes you can have bioluminescence when the conditions are not supposed to be good for it. And sometimes you have the good conditions but you don’t have bioluminescence.” Biologists hope to figure out how and why these anomalies occur. What do these strange and beautiful phenomena have to teach us about the dynamics of tropical ecosystems, and just how resilient are they? Scientists are still on the hunt for answers, but one thing’s certain: It’s hardship that brings to life nature’s capacity to repair and renew.

So what I've learned today is the following:
Keep shining.
Encourage GLOW.
Protect your ecosystem with the proper nutrients and environment.
Maintain your ecosystem.
Keep the weeds out and stay out of the weeds.
Know that hardship and adversity can bring renewal.

Monday, June 4, 2018

"I Could Never Eat Processed Foods" - Really?

"Oh I could never eat packaged foods"? 
There is a difference between "processed foods" and "foods that have been processed". The functional fuelings we use in the program we coach falls into the SECOND category. Would you call baby formula processed food? "Oh, my baby doesn't do processed food" - said no one, EVER. Even breast milk has been "processed" and scientifically designed to be delivered in the appropriate form for that baby to grow, with everything that baby needs to thrive in his/her health. So, processed cannot be deemed "good" or "bad" absent the CONTEXT of the how/why/purpose of the processing. 
Our fuelings are functional foods designed for the PURPOSE of sending our bodies the instructions to utilize the long-term energy that it has stored, WHILE providing us nutritionally with everything we need for the PURPOSE of creating health in our lives. The FOOD industry has purposefully created "hyper-palatable" processed foods designed to trick the body into craving more so we will over-consume them because the high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, fat and salt are added in such a way to make us want MORE. Athletes, astronauts and military who are deployed overseas ALL eat "processed foods", but again it is because they are scientifically formulated to allow for maximum performance and nutrition in a form convenient and practical for them to achieve their mission/goals. MRE's in the military are "packaged", sports nutrition is "packaged", astronaut food is "packaged". You've got to look at purpose and context. Heck, when someone is in the hospital do they receive "packaged/processed" nutrition? 100% yes. So it isn't the fact that it is packaged/processed that makes it good/bad, you have to look at WHO designed it, and the PURPOSE it was designed, and WHAT it is comprised of. Also consider the following "processed" foods: Multivitamins, pasta, tofu, probiotic capsules, fish oil capsules, olive oil, wine, tea sachets, ANYTHING EDIBLE IN YOUR PANTRY OR REFRIGERATOR THAT HAS BEEN PURCHASED AT A GROCERY STORE OR SENT TO YOU THROUGH THE MAIL. Just because it has a list of ingredients and comes in a package does not mean it is good OR bad in and of itself. WHAT are those ingredients? WHY were they put there? WHAT is the effect of those ingredients, either alone or in combination with each other, on the body?

Even fresh organic fruit and vegetables that you purchase anywhere other than the farm stand on location at the farm it was picked at is "processed and packaged". Things must be processed and packaged in order to transport them to where they need to go so the end-point consumer can purchase them. "Oh, no, that's not what I'm talking about, I don't want to eat anything that's not in the form it was grown in."  That is awesome, and I applaud you! So tell me, is that philosophy your regular practice right now? Today? And further, are you practicing healthy habits routinely and daily in your life in ALL the areas of physical health? Do you have a clinically healthy body mass index? Are you physically active at least 150 minutes per week? Are you getting at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep? Are you able to manage stress in a healthy way? This is the global view of the aspect of our program regarding "healthy body". How about habits of health for the mind? How are your relationships? Do you have a spiritual practice? Do you serve in your community? Do you have hobbies you engage in that allow you recreational time? Do you enjoy your job? What brings you meaning and purpose in your life?

Creating optimal wellbeing is much more than whether you eat food from a package or not. People do not change their lifestyle overnight, and our process baby-steps you from where you are now to where you want to go by setting up the structure for you to progress and bring in habits of health to set the foundation for lifetime transformation, one healthy habit at a time. That's the purpose. 

Random Thoughts on My Relationship With Food...

Some random thoughts on my relationship with food....and why the program I coach was the golden key I used to unlock the life I wanted to create!

Food is important, yes, but it isn't my focus. It is fuel. The program we coach is a GOOF PROOF system which delivered exactly what I needed in the right amounts at the right times, and shocker, yes, it comes in a package so that the science can take over and I don't inadvertently throw a monkey wrench in the whole process! I didn't need to become even MORE of an EXPERT at weight LOSS, I let the nutrition program do that heavy lifting for me while I got busy learning the healthy habits which have allowed me to become an expert (but still learning for SURE) in my own HEALTHY LIVING! These baby steps taught me how to FUEL my body in a way that encouraged it RIGHT AWAY to begin using my "long-term energy reserves" it has so considerately being storing up for my use, and to do that, yes, there is a science behind it and we have to send it specific physical instructions because it's about biology and chemistry. Before I discovered our program, I had been holding on to concepts about what I could or couldn't do, and was basing my decisions and actions on "but what does it taste like?" or "I could never do that" or "but I need to eat yummy food and I don't want to give that up right now".
That FEELING of panic I felt was simply my survival mode limbic system kicking in and telling me I'd be miserable without my "fix", how could I possibly "deprive myself" of the "yummy food" (that was making me unhealthy and killing me slowly - physically - and sapping my goals and dreams - mentally and emotionally), I just "couldn't do that".
Well, if we keep telling ourselves that enough times it becomes our narrative, and our story, and so much so that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It keeps us from taking action. Sure, we have that choice. And believe me, knowing what to do and NOT doing it is a choice nonetheless, we are saying "no" simply by not saying "yes".
When I realized that I had a SOLUTION in my hands to something I had been searching for my entire life - which had eluded me no matter how many nutrition classes I took, how many degrees I got, how many things I researched or books I read or talk shows I listened to - man I was EXCITED to step into that and the hope that came from that belief, that faith that yes this WOULD WORK, because I was the variable, and I WAS GOING TO WORK IT without modifying it, and without making excuses, MAN I dove in.
Part of me panicked "but what about the yummies?" Yeah? What about them? I've tasted them before, and frankly I'm TIRED OF WANTING THEM. I was read for a new life. I was read to BECOME a healthy person, and so I made the decision and DID it. My outsides reflected my insides eventually, and now I LOOK like the healthy person I BECAME when I began to DO THE THINGS that healthy people DO.
OK Yeah I might offend a person or two when I say hey, if your deal-breaker for getting healthy is a question about the TASTE of the FOOD and is it YUMMY, I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise, food has a hold on you and you might very well be its servant because you are asking IT for permission to create health in your life. Tell me what it says, if it grants you that permission or not. So I'm not going to argue with you about you needing your yummy food. Nor am I going to tell you how yummy the fuelings are, except that they are pleasant but I won't go on and on about the flavor one way or the other since if THAT is your determining factor then that is a red flag and I may point that out as such if you are open to hearing it. You can realize it is, and DO IT (the program) ANYWAY because you want this more than ANYTHING (health) knowing and trusting that this is a process, OR you can choose yummy food over your life, your health, even your freedom to do the things you want to do. Unless food has such a numbing zombie-like hold on you that you can't think of anything else you want to do but be able to eat the yummy foods you want to eat, while remaining in bondage, as a willing captive, in that jail cell you are in. The door is open, it has been all along, so WALK OUT OF THERE and never look back!
When I learned, adopted and began to master the ACTIONS that, over time, became HABITS, which led to my body shedding 135 pounds of "long-term stored energy" that it no longer needed to hoard "for a rainy day".
But I needed a system, a guide, a destination, and a community of people to journey there WITH me. And now I understand the destination isn't the destination, there isn't a "Destination: Health". It doesn't exist. There is a "Direction/Orientation: Health" and that is a FREAKING FUN journey, one that will end when my expiration date arrives.
So, what is your plan? What is your strategy? Do you have a trustworthy GUIDE? Do you have an evidence-based clinically proven nutrition component that has been recommended by over 20,000 physicians nationwide? Are you getting healthy with healthy food, or are you using DIET food? Or, are you gonna set out on a wing and a prayer, hoping you can change your health trajectory?
It just isn't.
HOPES/DREAMS written down with a DATE behind them and a solid START DATE ("Today" is always a good one, I highly recommend "Today") become GOALS.
GOALS listed stepwise become a STRATEGY/PLAN
So tell me, what's it gonna be? Dreaming and hoping for another year (which is actually just an escapism fantasy if you never intend on truly taking action towards making your dreams a reality) or is THIS the year you take control and rediscover, or discover for the first time, who HEALTHY YOU is?