Friday, May 31, 2013

The Most Important Step to Healthy Eating

One of the most significant things I learned from my studies with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the notion of “primary food” and that the food we eat is actually a secondary source of energy. Yes, consumable foods are important to our survival, but equally important are Primary foods. These are the non-food sources of nourishment, and they are what really fuel us.

Some call it a thirst for life, others might associate it with a 'full' life; either way, we have all experienced Primary Foods without even taking notice of their importance to our lives. Lovers find themselves lost in their bliss and entrepreneurs are fueled by the passion for their work. Primary foods are what fill our lives with excitement and forward momentum which can feed us more completely than any food.

Before the digital age I can remember playing outside with friends and being called home for dinnertime. My response would almost always be, “But mom, I'm not hungry yet!" Without giving away my age, I will say that I was raised in a time when it was important to eat every bit of food on your plate. “Kids are starving in [insert whatever country here]” they would say! And, of course, I did - not for fear of starvation, but because I was eager to get back outside and play.

Do you have memories of those bygone times when you would return home, exhausted and satisfied from a full day of playing, or exploring life? After a nice bath, it was easy to quickly fall asleep, wasn't it? And, we didn't even think about food at all....

Can you remember the first time you fell deeply and madly in love? Remember how everything seemed lighter; your energy higher, your mind perceived even the subtlest of nuances? Just the thought, let alone being in the presence of your “true love” could sustain and exhilarate you for days. And, food; well, food became secondary.

Contrast that with a time in your life that was dark and depressive. Think of a time you had low self-esteem and didn't feel like you had a friend. At those times, you were experiencing a famine of ‘primary’ foods. You were emotionally starving. No matter how much food you consumed, you never quite felt satisfied. The need for love, life direction, the simple validation of your existence and contribution to the world left a hole in your being. This hole you tried to fill with food.

According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, primary food goes beyond the plate, nurturing us on a much deeper level. They list the four main primary foods as:

Career
Relationships
Physical activity
Spirituality

It makes sense that the more primary food we give ourselves, the more life we experience and the less we depend on secondary food, and vice-versa. The more we fill ourselves with secondary ‘consumable’ foods, the less space we leave for the nurturing role of primary foods.

Here I leave you with some food for thought: Make some time to self-reflect and explore your current ratio of primary to secondary foods. Are you neglecting your primary food intake? If you aren't sure and you need help finding balance between your primary and secondary foods – feel free to contact me. I’m here to help.

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MUFA! What did you call Me?

No, it’s not a curse word or acronym for something dirty, but for some, it can be considered a bad word. It’s a fat. There, I’ve said it: the “F” word… Hear me out, though. MUFA isn’t just any fat. It’s a GOOD fat. It’s the kind of fat you want to get familiar with. The acronym stands for monounsaturated fatty acid.

Are all fats equal? Absolutely not, and that’s why I want to inform you on this essential nutrient! Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) are a type of heart-healthy, disease-fighting "good" fat that should be part of any healthy eating plan.

Used responsibly and in moderation, monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.  What’s more is that they also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.  And, since your brain is comprised of about 60% fat (no I’m not calling you fat-head), early research indicates that consuming this type of fat might help preserve cognitive thinking and reduce or postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

While it is widely known that trans fats and saturated fats (the kinds found in processed foods and fast foods) are a major contributor to heart disease, monounsaturated fats not only respond positively with regard to bodily health and function, they are also typically high in vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant vitamin most of us need more of).

While most foods contain a combination of different fats, examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats would include; vegetable oils such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil.  You can also find it in whole foods such as avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.

That said, you must remember: a fat is still a fat when it comes to calories. So, use them in moderation if you want to get or maintain a trim waistline. You just want to make sure that the majority of your fat calories come from polyunsaturated fats instead of foods that contain saturated fats and/or Trans fats. Good news: Recent studies show that MUFAs can even help reduce belly fat

If you need help sorting through the best way to put your nutrition together, please remember that I am here to help. Just call, email, or fill out this form and get started on your very own 6-month journey toward better health!

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal

Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Remembered


“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.” 
 - ‘We Shall Keep The Faith,’ by Moina Michael, November 1918

I've never fought in a war. As all humans, I have an innate fear of pain, of death. I don’t understand war, but for that matter, who does? Do soldiers? Do politicians? Self-preservation is an autonomic response; sacrifice, honor and personal conviction are not. The latter are the traits groomed into each soldier to strengthen character and resolve in the face of battle.

In regard to war, I am weaker than I will ever care to admit, and for that reason I hold in high esteem those that fought in battle girding themselves in their hopes to preserve posterity. In their efforts, they wage a commodity more precious than imagination can hold. Like me, these brave, strong men and women were also afraid of pain and death, but managed to move through their terror to face an enemy they never personally met.

So when I think of the meaning of this Memorial Holiday, it seems trivial to preoccupy the time with a trip to the beach or a bar-b-que. Officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan and observed on the 30th of that month; Memorial Day was a solemn occasion in which flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

When the US Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, the holiday was officially moved to the last Monday in the month of May thereby insuring a three day weekend for Federal Holidays. Since then, traditional observance of the holiday has shamefully diminished to its present state.

Nowadays, the graves of many of the fallen go neglected and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Most people don’t even realize there is proper flag etiquette for this particular day (On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset).

Starting this Memorial Day I pledge to return to the time when we remembered with sincere respect those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. I think it should be kept as a day of sacred remembrance of those who died serving their country; never letting them be forgotten. If you agree that Memorial Day should have its traditional day of observance restored, please take a moment to sign the petition that will be delivered to Congress, and invite your friends and family to do the same.

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You: Growing Stronger


A lot of people want to change for the better. We've all been there. We take a vow to lose weight, exercise more or spend more time with our family. We start the year with great intentions, but then we quickly relapse into old habits. Well, no more! Here are some ways you can grow stronger as a person and make your positive intentions a concrete reality:

1. Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.

2. Get to the source of whatever is keeping you in a rut. Are you in a stressful relationship that causes you to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night? Are you stressed at your job and feel too tired to exercise after work? If you don’t tackle the root of the behavior, it will be much harder to accomplish your goal.

3. Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If you resolve to go to the gym more, how will this benefit you? Get connected to the result of your action, and you will be more likely to stick with your plan.

4. Share your resolutions with friends and family. Hold each other accountable for achieving your goals. If you want to go to the gym more, have a friend call you two or three times a week to check on you or invite them to join you.

5. Reward yourself with every little accomplishment. If your intention is to lose weight and you lose 1 pound a week, pamper yourself with a massage.

Big changes do not require big leaps. Permanent change is more likely to happen gradually than through one big restrictive plan. Allow yourself to climb the ladder one rung at a time. And, if you ever need help or have questions, I'll be your personal guide to a healthier, happier you. So, please don't hesitate to contact me at any time.

As always – Enjoy Your Life!


John Aaron Villarreal

Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 


Friday, May 17, 2013

Coffee Has Health Benefits


Anyone who knows me knows I love my Joe…. err, “cup of joe” that is. In fact, I’m enjoying a cup as I write this post. However, as a wellness professional that little admission of guilt has gotten me a few sneers and looks of condescension. Caffeine is BAD for you, they say! Well, perhaps abusing caffeine may be “bad” for you, but ‘caffeine’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘coffee.’

Despite this fact, coffee has gotten a bad rep over the years after a few health experts linked it (or rather, linked caffeine abuse) to several diseases. But is coffee actually that bad? Probably not; new research shows that drinking coffee in moderation provides numerous health benefits.

Antidepressant
It might seem a little odd to find that coffee could help with depression, but new research has shown that it does just that. Now, don’t go throwing out your prescriptions or quit counseling just yet though, coffee is not a cure for depression. Rather, the caffeine in coffee helps regulate your mood transmitters. It is also believed the phytonutrients and antioxidant properties of the coffee bean also contribute to keeping your mood in check and helps you feel happier all day long.

Antioxidant
Speaking of phytonutrients and antioxidants; Free radicals are the big bad guys of the health world, causing cancer and speeding up the aging process. Antioxidants work as the good guys, the superheroes of sorts, and work to bring these free radicals down. Foods that are loaded with antioxidants have been heralded as super foods for this reason. Coffee is one of these super foods and its surplus of caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and chlorogenic acid are the big reasons for this.

Cancer Protection
The fact that drinking coffee puts you at a lower risk of cancer seems a little bit odd since it was once linked to cancer, but scientists now say that a few cups per day actually keeps the cancer away. Caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and chlorogenic acid are at work again. They are the reasons that coffee lowers your risk for cancer.

Weight Loss
Another health benefit of coffee is that it helps with weight loss. For a lot of people struggling to lose a few pounds this might come as quite a relief. Thank God I don’t also have to cut coffee out! Well, not quite. Coffee in itself helps with weight loss by burning off excess calories, but once you throw sugar and cream in there, that’s not the case anymore. Keep your coffee black or doctor is with only bit of plain milk or dairy alternative to reap its weight loss benefits.

Diabetes Protection
The caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid in coffee once again lead the charge, this time offering protection from diabetes. They reduce blood glucose levels and also reduce the amount of glucose that is stored in your liver. Combined, this significantly reduces your chance of getting diabetes.

Now, after saying all that, I don’t want you going all coffee-fiend on me! Sure, coffee has a ton of great benefits, but don’t over-dose your consumption. Actually, you should probably lower it. Coffee is best in small amounts (between one and three cups) and, as the case with alcohol, if you drink any more, you could actually be turning its advantages into disadvantages.

And, whenever you are ready to talk with someone about your health and wellness goals, remember I’m here; ready and waiting. Call me and let’s set up a complimentary consultation. I might even pour you a fresh cup of joe just to get the conversation started. ;-)

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Inspiration is Here and Now


“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” This is a quote by Paulo Coelho in; The Alchemist.

Love can be many things, but one of the things I find most important is that it can be an inspiration, the impetus needed to achieve greatness. However, the interesting thing about inspiration is that it is not eternal. Inspiration is a temporary thing. Unlike love,  a constant, an eternal principle; inspiration is fleeting. Think of inspiration as a glass of milk or fresh fruit. If left out too long, it becomes unpalatable and eventually - useless.

So, it amazes me to meet clients with personal goals of losing weight, getting in better shape, gaining control of their health or their career, and then wanting to do it all starting next week or next month. My question is always, “Why not start now?”

If you are inspired to start eating more healthily on a Friday evening, why wait till the following Monday morning to begin? Come Monday you might not be as pumped up about the idea anymore. If you are inspired to perform and act of goodness, by all means do it. And, do it now! Regardless of whether you are doing good for humanity as a whole, or for your own personal well-being, it's a winning situation.

If being struck by inspiration has cause you to discover that the key to your happiness is to love yourself, and you've learned that "loving yourself" means taking better care of your body, mind, and spirit, take action immediately. Left by itself for too long and the idea will wither, the inspiration will wane, and you will remain stagnant.

Inspiration is a magical thing. It can transform your life but only if acted upon. So hurry; it will not wait for you. It has a shelf life and its potency will diminish in time. No, if you're going to improve yourself, do it here and now. By seizing inspiration now, as it ignites a flame within you, you will find the strength, love and passion to grow into your full and best potential. And, in doing so, all that is around you will be better for it, too.

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother’s Day Massage: A How To Guide


So, as a mom, you worry and you multi-task (whether you like it or not). You work - very hard. You are ALWAYS on call. You cook, clean, tend to the wounded… etc., and you only get one measly 24 hour day out of the whole year to get appreciated for it.

Lucky for you someone thought of giving you a massage to mark the occasion and to say, “Thanks. We love you, mom!” The problem is that as a mom, you've probably forgotten all about how to “shut off” your mommy response. So I've devised a few ideas and a plan for you to get the most out of your day and your special gift.

Take time to be nurtured
Remember: this is YOUR time. Whether it's therapeutic massage, reflexology, hot stone massage or something else, you can expect relief from tension and pain. But even more important, your bodywork session can be a nurturing and much needed “time out” just for you. Take this opportunity (for once) to do absolutely nothing! Relish your “me” time by following these two simple steps toward making the most of your gift.

  1. Let the people in your life (spouse, kids, extended family) know that you need their support while taking time from your responsibilities. For example, child care may need to be covered or someone may need to be in charge of dinner, etc. 
  2. Don’t immediately rush back into your routine! Make sure you have a little extra time afterward to take it easy (see number one above). Don't rush off to pick up kids or start dinner! Take a walk, enjoy a tea or coffee at your favorite shop, or lie down for a few minutes once you get home. If that turns into a nap, so much the better. ;-)

The bodywork experience supports your mental and physical health and, in a very real way, extends to the well-being of your whole family. To make the most of your gift, remember to ask for support to let go of your responsibilities even for just a few hours. The time will really be worth the benefit.

As always – Enjoy Your Life.

John Aaron Villarreal

Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How and Why to Be Happy


Happiness feels great! It makes everything in life a little easier to handle, the bad moments don’t seem quite so bad and the good moments feel much better. Your mood gets a boost and your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers seem light and easy. Yep, there’s no doubt about it; being happy will make every part of your life a little bit better.

So, it’s hard for me to believe that there are people out there who don’t know how to be happy or are waiting for happiness to find them - but it’s true. They are content to just sit around and wait in limbo or misery. Well, to them I say; happiness doesn't just “happen!” Like anything else, it is something that you, at the very least, look for. You have to put effort into being happy. Understanding this is one of the key things to do to becoming happier.

With that bit of knowledge, anyone can be happy. Yep, that’s right, you don’t even have to be rich or famous or beautiful to be happy. In fact, studies have found that different situations and circumstances account for barely 10% of a person’s happiness. This means that winning the lottery, for instance, wouldn't actually 'make' you any happier. You are already equipped with all the tools needed for happiness.

There is one thing to remember though, and it's that happiness is different for everyone. There is no exact formula to becoming happy. You have to find the things in life that resonate the “feel good” in you. That said, there are a few things that most people find can improve their mood and lead them on the road to happiness.

One of the things is regular exercise. Simply put, people who exercise are happiest. This doesn't mean that you have to kill yourself with miles of running or hardcore gym workouts though. Instead, find some time each evening for a short walk around the neighborhood, twenty or thirty minutes each time, and get outside on the weekends. Moving around and getting your blood flowing will help you become happier much more quickly than sitting around and doing nothing.

Eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water are two more easy things to do to become happier. Since the brain and body are symbiotic, it only makes sense that a happy body leads to a happy mind. And we mustn't forget that getting enough sleep at night is also instrumental in feeling happier.

Lastly, what if there is a legitimate reason for you to be unhappy? Perhaps you are grieving or lost your job? It’s ok to hurt and take some time to experience and process those feelings. But, don’t forget the power of surrounding yourself with supportive and encouraging people. Human interaction will help you feel better sooner rather than later.

You deserve to be happy, everybody does. It allows you to appreciate and take more out of all that life has to offer you. The above tips should help you on the road to being happier, but, remember, that the biggest thing that you can do is to try!

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program.