Let's face it, this weekend you are going to do indulgent and potentially stupid things. But, a new year starts on Sunday. So, once you have gotten all your hedonistic compulsions satisfied on Saturday night, and taken Sunday to recover and repent your excesses and idiocies, consider what you want your new year to look like and make some changes.

No matter what your health and wellness plan is in 2023, here are some tools and resources to help you.

Download the FINCH app for setting daily, weekly, and one off goals. This gamified app keeps you accountable to your avatar, a virtual pet bird. There are journaling and mindfulness tools embedded, all free.

Read "Atomic Habits" to learn easy ways to change habits. It's concise and well written. It has lots of Jedi Mind Tricks to help you manifest your best self.

OK. Good luck!





It's the final week of 2022, which means it is time to contemplate Resolutions for the New Year.

Most of mine are mostly the same: Practice Dark Magic*; learn languages (mainly Spanish, but also Welsh) using the DuoLingo app; five minutes of upper body weight training daily; reading daily; writing daily; and practicing music at least weekly.

I'm adding a Resolution to take online continuing education courses for personal development (I already do this for professional development, as mandated by my job). I'm going to mainly use the Coursera app (free online classes) for this, but may also use the Udemy app (not free, but very inexpensive, online classes).

The End.

*Note: Dark Magic comprises daily exercise and mild caloric restriction, in the context of a plant based vegan diet, toward health and wellness goals (mainly weight loss, but also feeling great and sleeping great).



On this site, I share tips and tricks for improving your life. My credentials are several degrees - in psychology, biology, public health, science journalism, and psychotherapy - as well as certification in functional nutrition counseling.

When it comes to health and wellness, everyone is a little bit different, although not nearly as different as many people like to think. There are some universals when it comes to living a high quality life (defined as a long life, largely disease free, and a fairly painless death in old age).

One of these universals is eating a healthy diet. The challenge here is two-fold. First, there is a lot of information AND misinformation out there about what defines a healthy diet. Second, because everyone is biologically and physiologically a little bit different, an ideal dietary pattern for one person may not be as ideal for another. But, again, there are some universals here too. For example, no scientific study has ever found that eating more whole food fruits and vegetables is bad for your health. Ever. The more whole, minimally processed plant foods you can eat, the better your health will be. You may not be in perfect health, but plant foods will improve your health no matter what your existing health issues.

When I do functional nutrition coaching (separate from my marriage and family therapy counseling practice), I conduct a comprehensive intake assessment with clients to get a better understanding of their presenting health issues, life history, and nutritional patterns and deficits. There are three "non-negotiable" interventions that all clients start with. This is the removal from the diet of gluten, refined sugar, and dairy for at least a fortnight (and ideally three months, if they can manage it), followed by sequential re-introduction of these foods, to assess any health and wellness impacts from these dietary components. If health improves when these dietary components are removed, it tells a story about what is going on in the body, and leads the functional nutrition counselor (me) down the likely correct path to what the underlying health issue is.

Clients are also encouraged to add some universal elements to their nutrition plan, including, but not limited to, a source of omega 3 essential fatty acids (that the human body needs, but cannot make, and so can only be obtained from the diet, which is often deficient in these fats), B vitamins (essential for many healthy functions in the body), and magnesium (a mineral that aids digestion and sleep).

The mainstream media contributes to a lot of the misinformation the public has about nutrition. They like to simplify and sensationalize the science, which is often complex and nuanced, in order to make it more entertaining and digestible (pun intended) for their audiences. They often make leaps of logic that are not supported by the data, such as suggesting that red wine is healthy because it contains resveratrol, a substance shown to improve health outcomes in rats. First off, rats are not humans. Secondly, rats do not drink wine. Thirdly, to get the amount of resveratrol equivalent to that used in the rat studies, a person would have to drink so much red wine that they would LITERALLY die from alcohol poisoning. As it turns out, a simple apple provides an incredible amount of healthy phytonutrient antioxidants and soluble fiber that benefit health - the apple a day adage is actually based in fact.

Exercise is also universally beneficial for human health. As with diet, exercise type may vary from person to person. But universally, getting one's heart rate up daily and building muscle slows the aging process and can prevent disease.

The End.



There is a lot of controversy and drama about eating a vegan diet. A lot of it is in the form of microaggressions toward those of us who choose to eat vegan. We get snide comments sometimes about how "challenging" it is to get together to eat because of "the vegans." Right back at ya, omnivores! Notwithstanding that the Standard American Diet is 70% plant based already, putting vegans on the right side of nutrition, and that no scientific study has ever concluded that more fruit and vegetables is bad for health, people still tend to over-focus on the food and nutrition part of the equation, while missing out entirely on the ethical basis for eating only plants.

Once you go to a plant based vegan diet, the blinders come off. You no longer have to selectively hide from the environmental costs of eating meat or the horrendous suffering of animals that the meat/dairy/poultry industry causes. Once you become aware of those facts - and they are incontrovertible - eating animals becomes a moral and ethical impossibility (assuming you have ethics and/or empathy). Eating animals and caring for the planet are mutually exclusive, by definition [SOURCE]. Eating animals and preventing animal suffering are also mutually exclusive [SOURCE]. Believing that you meat, milk, and eggs are humanely sourced is delusional in this age of industrial agriculture. Eating local and organic does not help and unless you never eat at restaurants, it is 100% certain you are causing some animal somewhere to suffer.

A good day to you.


Another perk of my healthy living is that I now find that I do not require as much sleep. I fall asleep quickly and stay asleep. My sleep is solid, restful, and dream filled. I wake up restored after about 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep. It's given me about an extra hour of time each day to be active and accomplish more. At first I thought that waking up too early was a sign of insomnia, but I'm never tired or exhausted when I wake. I am full of vigor and my cortisol cycle appears to be in balance (energized in the morning and relaxed at night).

I'm going to experiment with my mood lamp and see if I can use it to increase sleep time a little bit. I read in "The Depression Cure" that for people who wake up too early it is beneficial to have some intense blue light exposure around 4 to 5 PM each day. So, I'll try that and see if anything changes. But as far as I can tell, my early waking time is not a pathology, because my mood is surprisingly great and I feel rested and energized all the time. In fact, this is one of the first winters where I have not noticed much Seasonal Affective Disorder. I attribute this to both whole food plant based eating AND daily aerobic exercise (which keeps my endogenous endorphins consistently elevated). And, contrary to what my wife Deborah believes, my cognitive function and memory are much sharper too.



Why are some people so threatened by someone's choice to eat a vegan diet?

There are basically two reasons:


Both reasons create cognitive dissonance for some people who eat a typical omnivorous diet.

It's liberating when you go vegan and can finally stop avoiding reality.



I didn't realize how improved my brain power is, since going whole food plant based vegan, until recently. Fairly average people seem dopey to me now, like they are drunk or high on the brain damaging Standard American Diet. Conversely, maybe they are just drunk or high and I'm wrong about my improved brain power, since I also don't drink or do drugs much anymore (in fact, not at all...though it's not entirely off the table if the occasion warrants it).

I realized recently too that one of the reasons I have lost my enthusiasm for rocking is NOT the rocking itself, but that I really don't care for the shitty bar scene anymore. Once you've tasted a house concert performance setting, shitty bars just can't compete. It's house concerts from here on out for me. Notwithstanding the infrequency of such gigs, the quality of them is exponentially superior to shitty bar gigs.

I hope HIATVS comes off hiatus soon, so we can start house partying again.



BOOK REVIEW: Skinny Bitch


I read (via audiobook) "Skinny Bitch," by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. After getting past the fat-shame-y and somewhat caustic first chapter (to be clear, some people do enjoy being ridiculed and cajoled into action, but it's not for everyone), the rest of this fairly short and concise book is informative and entertaining. The casual parlance of the prose can get a bit annoying after a while, but the book covers a lot of ground on nutrition, health, and the toxic food industry. I didn't need or want the food planning recommendations at the end of the book, because I'm already compliant of this way of living. 

Read this book if you are looking for forthright, yet acerbic, guidance on how to eat right and adopt a healthy lifestyle toward weight loss and wellness.