The Season of Eating

The Season of Eating

    Halloween starts the Season of Eating laden with oodles of candy on display at all stores. Businesses put candy bowls on the counters. Parents and grandparents buy the “ little  something extra” for the kids. Before we blink, the Thanksgiving and Christmas food products are in the grocery aisles obstructing any safe path for passage. Every year, we are aware of the onslaught and the marketers are keen to our over consumption. They giddily smile because, each year, we succumb and eat more than we need to. January brings the weight loss resolution ritual. It is a perpetual cycle of defeat and negativity.

If I hit my thumb with a hammer and it hurts me, would I continue to hit my thumb with a hammer? No. So, why do we continuously harm ourselves with the holiday food binge? Part of it is the social and family gathering. Every gathering involves food. Even book clubs; “Books and Brews” is one example. Because of the variety of families; one might celebrate two to three “Thanksgivings” involving in-laws, grandparents, step-parents and children. That’s a lot of great potato dishes that I would hate to miss! It is wonderful that food brings us together and that is one of the joys of holidays.

Our personal relationship with food is challenging. And it is different for each of us. Some individuals are addicted, some eat due to stress, some are anorexic, and some just eat for survival not caring about taste. Consider a different perspective; think of food as medicine. It is not a huge leap as it is common knowledge that most of the medicines developed are plant based. What about our daily meals? Can that be medicine as well and keep us healthy? Yes.

Mark Hyman, MD, author of the book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?,  writes “food is medicine.” The research he cites is recent and valid; it is not sponsored by food corporations attempting to sway the consumer to buy its’ goods. The book is written succinctly, it is easy to follow and it is a extensive referral source. It does tout a eating plan and I confess that I did not read those chapters because every individual has a specific nutrition plan that works with the chemistry of his/her body. A programmed “diet” may not be appropriate. Research demonstrates that “diets” are only successful for the short term which is why every January there is a new fad diet on display. It is a marketing scheme.

The chapters in the book are divided as such: Meat, Poultry and Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Fats and Oils, and Beverages to name a few. At the end of each chapter is a resource guide filled with useful information. For example, did you know that “the phoney olive oil trade is three times more profitable than the trafficking of cocaine.” Much of the olive oil purchased is not true olive oil but oil mixed with nut or soybean oil.  Thus, there is a list of real olive oil brands. Reading this book reveals the path to obesity in America shaped by food manufacturers paying off scientists and our government to publish faulty data leading to decades of misinformation to the consumer. Our country is now at an elevated risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. All of which is preventable.

     Did I change my entire nutrition plan after reading the book? No. But I altered a few simple things.  I purchased true olive oil recommended from the list. I reduced my sugar intake even more. More than ever, I am paying attention to what I eat and where I shop for food. Shopping takes special effort especially with teens because I am a pescatarian and they are omnivores. And, we live in a rural region. It takes extra time but I may shop at two to three different places for groceries. It requires planning and utilization to conserve time and gas so I am not making an extra trip to the grocery store. I buy meat from a local farm where the animals are grass fed and don’t receive hormones or candy. Yes, candy manufacturers give the candy surplus to large cattle farmers to fatten the cows which is then passed along into your system. Life long habits of eating poorly wreak havoc on our bodies. The sugars and chemicals from processed “food-like” products accumulate in our systems. Stuff our bodies are not designed to ingest just sits in our system causing inflammation in the tissues. Scary.  

Your habits as individuals, parents and grandparents shape the youth for tomorrow. As a parent, I tried and continue to model for my kids; teaching moderation and putting good fuel in the body. It hasn’t always been easy. As a young child, my daughter was a very picky eater. Remembering my own food battles with my parents, I tried to encourage healthy foods but didn’t force the issue. Now as a 17 year old, my daughter eats a wide selection of foods. She still has a sweet tooth but doesn’t overdo it and she monitors herslef. She enjoys real food, not “food- like” products filled with chemicals, additives and sugar. And, we enjoy watching cooking shows together. Would I have ever imagined this would happen when she was eight years old? Never. I just kept modeling and preparing real food for the kids.

It takes time to shop and it also takes time to prepare nutritious meals. Part of the reason for our poor health in America is the invention of the “food-like” convenience products developed in the 1050’s to “save time.” Americans spend more than 11 hours daily interacting on screens (phone, computer, media, etc.) according to the market research group, Nielson. That is increased from 9 hours, 32 minutes from four years ago. Is that good for our health? Perhaps, some time can be carved out to prepare a nutritious meal.

We can’t do much without good physical, emotional and mental well being. Begin seeing food as medicine and selecting foods more consciously. Work together with your family so each of you has support. It doesn’t mean we have to stop eating chocolate; it means we eat a quality chocolate without the chemicals and maybe not so much of it. Start by reducing without going “cold turkey” for better success. Imagine your future self and work towards that goal.

The benefits: You will feel better in every way. Here’s the cool fact: any positive changes that you make today in your nutrition plan result in better health. Here’s the challenge: it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a pill. It is a lifestyle change.

Small steps lead to a long path of living well.

Yours in Wellness,


Email Ag at:


Holding the Yoga Pose

Did you ever think during a yoga class, "How much longer is the instructor going to keep us in this pose?"  "Geez, we have been in plank pose forever!"  Depending on the yoga class,  a pose may be brief in a vinyasa class or for several breaths in another class. Each have different benefits. Sometimes, when we hold a asana for a longer time, the mind wanders to the "To Do" list for the day or various thoughts and comments. The practice of staying in an asana longer trains the mind and body in various ways.

There are many benefits of holding poses a longer time. It is an opportunity to practice training the mind to learn focus and keep the focus. In the pose, become aware of your body and how it feels. Root the limbs to the earth and make any adjustments needed in the pose. Appreciate how the body feels. Practice breathing gently while holding the asana. Transition the mind from thinking to feeling. Keep bringing the mind back to the pose and breath each time without criticizing yourself. This practice will spill over into your life outside the yoga studio whether you are playing golf, working or chatting with a friend. You learn to give your full attention in the moment.

Practicing longer yoga stances increases strength and stability in the body which has terrific health benefits. It improves posture and core strength. Practicing easy breathing as the muscles are being challenged helps you in times of stress as well.

Staying in the pose has other ramifications. Think of challenging emotional times that you experienced when you wanted to "run" from your feelings or the situation. Longing for an escape from the scene. Wishing the awful feelings would disappear. Increasingly, the "go to" in these situations for many are excessive alcohol and prescription drugs and prolonged internet use or work.  Unfortunately, the statistics are on the rise for overdose in our country. It makes sense that we want to do anything to avoid feeling bad. However, when the chosen solutions are self destructive, it is a vicious downward spiral. It is the practice of staying in these uncomfortable moments that helps  us heal.  We learn to give a name to anger, grief, sorrow, envy and loneliness. It is during those moments when we come face to face with ourselves. We learn that emotions are like waves; they will flow in and go out again. Thich Knat Hanh writes: "Every breath is a new beginning." Every day the sun will rise.  Over time, as we sit with our true self, and with kindness, we learn to have compassion for our self. We learn to love our self as we are. We learn that the whole package is good. That the brown M & M's taste just as good as the red M & M's. 

With practice, we become more steadfast and our minds see more clearly during times of emotional stress. As any endeavor worthwhile, it takes practice. It is a lifelong journey. Take to your mat and/or meditation spot daily. Even  5 minutes. Don't strive for "success" , just practice. With consistent practice, change occurs. Notice the moments.

Namate,   Ag


Phone Addiction

                          Phone Addiction

The phone has become more than a communication device; it is the personal computer, the calendar, and the information hub in our lives. It is common to see people on the phone all the time, oblivious of their surroundings and others. Individuals are using their phones when driving a car, walking on the sidewalk, waiting in line at the grocery store,  and even during mealtimes. It appears to be the norm now to be on the phone rather than conversing with others. There is even a term for it now: phubbing. Phubbing refers to snubbing others in favor of the mobile phone. No one can argue that the mobile phone is an  excellent tool to connect us, to check the internet and to check our email. It directs us in traffic, it helps us locate a gas station and it alerts others that we need assistance. It helps business owners conduct transactions when not in the office.

But have we let it take over our lives?

More and more research demonstrates that long term use of the cell phone, and computer has harmful effects on youngsters and adults. It harms relationships, creates anxiety, increases resentment, increases depression and increases loneliness. It becomes an addiction.

The definition of addiction from the American Society of Addiction Medicine is: Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations.

Here’s how it works: We hear a “beep” notification from the phone alerting us that someone has emailed, texted, or posted something on facebook. We pick up the phone, check it out and may think, “Oh that’s neat.” We get little “brain rewards” when we are on the phone; checking email, searching the web and looking at facebook. This motivates us to keep checking the phone throughout the day. Our brain “remembers” these little biscuits and we want more. So, we keep checking the phone, social media and internet. Sometimes we spend so much time on the internet that we neglect our own self care needs.

Research also reveals that the  perception that we are connecting with friends via internet does not replace actual live human connections. The less human contact we have with each other isolates us and increases depression, anxiety and loneliness. The phone/internet addiction adds to the loss of real relationships. It also lowers self esteem, increases resentment and compounds the loss of original and creative thoughts.

A balance can be achieved with the use of the phone/internet and other areas of our lives. Very simple changes can be implemented. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Turn off notifications.

  2. Use an old fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone.

  3. Stop use of all electronics one hour before bedtime.

  4. Avoid bringing the phones to the table at meal times.

  5. Connect with nature.

  6. Arrange friends/family game night.

  7. Place the phone in your desk drawer at work or keep it in your briefcase/purse.

  8. Make eye contact with others when talking with them.

  9. Have lunch with an friend.

If you find yourself struggling to keep the phone on a table away from you  and scoff at the above suggestions, consider that you may have an excessive attachment to your phone (made of metal and plastic). The phone cannot console you, it cannot hug you and it cannot provide the essential aspects of human connection (eye contact, affection, empathy, friendship, compassion).  Interact with the people and life around you as opposed to letting the phone rule your life. Remember it is tool and just a tool.



Re-entry: Returning from Costa Rica


The first week returning from a Wellness Week in Costa Rica and immersed into the chaos of work, the transportation of kids to their activities and the cleaning up of twelve downed trees from the recent Nor’easter storm made it challenging to find time to practice meditation and mindfulness. In Costa Rica, we lived in a lush rainforest where each meal was prepared for us. We did not have the trappings of TV, internet or radio, and work or chores to distract us. We connected with nature each day and were in awe of the bird, plant and animal life. And, there was someone leading the meditation/mindfulness sessions so we showed up for class. The experience offered our minds and bodies a chance to rebalance and heal. One of our many challenges is to develop a balance in our daily lives which will enable us to become resilient and practice equanimity.

During the last couple of days on our trip, individuals offered suggestions to implement into our  daily life. These are simple changes that can make a world of difference.  Some ideas to try:

  1. Avoid starting the day with TV, radio, or computer news.

  2. Wake up early enough in the morning so that you don't rush into the day. Appreciate the sunrise and the birds singing.

  3. Avoid overscheduling activities.

  4. Watch TV less. Practice yoga instead of watching TV.

  5. Detach yourself from electronics and work activities one hour before bedtime.

  6. Incorporate minutes (1-5 minutes) throughout your day for short meditations. Perhaps, meditate while riding the subway, stopped at red light or waiting for someone.

  7. Add indoor plants into your home.

  8. Create a special place in your home where you practice meditation/mindfulness.

  9. Prepare and eat nutritious meals. Slow down your eating and enjoy each bite.

  10. Write five things that you are grateful for each day in  a journal.

  11. Avoid judgement of yourself and others. 

It takes approximately forty days for a new change in behavior to become a habit. Refrain from harsh self criticism if you miss  a day or two in meditation. The awareness that you didn't meditate is mindfulness in itself. Slow down and experience each moment as it unfolds.



The New Year - Assessing Your Health

As we move forward to begin the New Year, it is natural to hope for a fulfilling  upcoming year and to reflect on the previous year. Our Individual wellness is reflected in the way we feel, the energy level, the exercise time, the daily stress, the emotional health, the joy in our lives, and the giant stressors such as financial debt, death, moving and illness.

This is a time to take a few moments alone and assess your health and the issues affecting it. Referring to Duke Integrative Medicine's Wheel of Health, one notices that there are many factors that play into wellness: nutrition, exercise, personal relationships, spirituality and mind - body awareness. Take a few minutes to write how you are faring in each of the categories. Keep those notes and base your New Year's resolutions around those aspects. 

Entering the New Year, set 2-3 objective goals using the Wheel of Health as your guide for wellness. Start with small steps, such as simply taking a walk each day or renewing an old friendship. Although the New Year brings resolution lists, most folks are too enthusiastic and lofty with the goals and never reach their goals which results in negative feedback and lowers self- esteem. Start small and stick with it. It is vital to avoid making the typical New Year's resolutions of losing weight and vowing to exercise more. Reflect mindfully on the Wheel of Health and all its' aspects to observe what is lacking in your life. Physical ailments will always manifest when there is not optimal emotional well- being.  

Be honest with yourself and those around you. Seek support on all fronts: professional help for fitness and emotional issues, support from friends and co-workers and spiritual guidance. We all need help getting through life; we need each other to lean on at times. That is the wonderful part of humanity- give it to yourself, ask for it.

Looking into the mirror and seeing your true reflection can be very difficult. Know that you have support around you and available to you. If you stray from your goals, it is important not to beat yourself up about it. Life happens. Crap happens. Pause to take a breath and assess what you need quietly without the noise. And start again. Life is a series of beginnings. A series of chapters. Know that you are wonderful just the way you are.

Think of the upcoming year as it is: A New Year. A New start. A begining. A New outlook on life. 

Each day is a new opportunity. Each day is a gift.

Happy New Year!








Join me in Costa Rica 2018 - ENLIGHTEN UP!

                          Enlighten Up! A Wellness Lift for Your Mind and Body

Join Agnes F. Schrider, PT and Ron Culberson, MSW, CSP, CPAE at Luna Lodge in Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula on February 17-25, 2018 as we explore and immerse ourselves in nature while restoring our mind, heart, and body. Luna Lodge is an eco- friendly  lodge nestled in the lush rainforest surrounded by beauty and exotic animal life. Enjoy daily yoga, guided meditation, mindfulness, and writing for wellness sessions while you connect with nature in this gorgeous rainforest. Guests can hike, swim, kayak, bird watch, and take cooking lessons daily. Explore Costa Rica and restore your mind and body while learning helpful tools to navigate life’s currents. All nutritious organic meals are included.

Agnes brings thirty years of healing as a manual physical therapist and eleven years of experience as yoga instructor and mindfulness trainer.  The Yoga classes will teach the eight branches of yoga through asanas, pranayama and meditation. Her yoga classes are safe for all levels of students and no prior experience is necessary. She brings a compassionate heart and humor to teaching; knowing that each of us have felt life’s bumps in some way. This is the perfect environment to connect to open the connections between your mind, heart and body.

Ron is a former hospice social worker who is now a speaker, humorist, and author of four books including "Do it Well. Make it Fun. The Key to Success in Life, Death, and Almost Everything in Between." He is also a recognized expert on the benefits of humor and laughter.

Ron will demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of humor as a tool to reduce stress and see a new perspective. He will help participants understand how excellence combined with humor is a way to tackle stressful or mundane daily tasks and to create a rich and balanced life. Ron will also focus on the power of perspective to manage stress, maintain presence, and live more fully.  

Each day will consist of a selection of yoga, mindfulness, and class options. Guests will have plenty of time to play as that is part of the restorative process. Everything is optional, it is your week to pick and choose the activities you desire and to spend the time as you desire.  Luna Lodge hosts other activities such as kayaking, horseback riding, cooking classes, massages, and birding tours.

TO REGISTER FOR THE TRIP: Contact Linda Hobson, with Land and Sea Travel, for our travel and accommodations. She is our contact and her phone number is 540-456-6812 or 434-260-4737. Her email address is

 For more info, view these websites:,,

There are 20 slots available, so bring a friend! Feel free to email me with any questions!



Exercise: Anywhere/Anytime


     The most common barrier concerning exercise I hear from clients is that they "don't have time" to workout. It does not matter if they are stay at home parents, working parents, non working, single, married or retired. Somehow, there is never enough time. Everyone shares this predicament. It leads to broader subjects but today, the focus is exercise. I can't add minutes to your day but I can help you incorporate "exercise minutes" into the day. Think of each exercise minute as a vitamin- a pill you take to improve health.  

1. Know that every minute that you exercise counts toward a healthy body; as conversely, every extra cookie we eat adds unwanted pounds. Taking ten minutes to walk or perform stretches or planks, benefits you. Track minutes on the cell phone, fitbit or calender and give yourself credit. Just like pennies, those minutes add up!

2. Where to find those minutes? As a single working parent, I know I have to exercise whenever I can. While my son is at soccer practice or warming up for a game, I'm walking/jogging. During the games, I'm cheering from my yoga mat. I may be waiting to pick up my daughter from school and walking laps in the parking lot. Perhaps, you took a friend to a doctor's appointment, walk as you wait. Folks often bring a book to read as they wait- bring walking shoes as well. Or, there might be a spare 20 minutes before dinner. Better yet, exercise while watching TV.  

3. Make excuses to walk. Park farther away at the grocery store. Take the stairs whenever possible whether you are at a hotel or office. When shopping at multiple stores, try walking to as many stores as possible rather than driving. Meeting a friend? Suggest meeting at a park to walk and talk, then go to lunch. It makes exercise enjoyable. Excessive sitting is the worst enemy for good health. 

4. Tools: Keep a gym bag packed in the car. Perhaps, something will open up in your schedule and you can go to your gym. Weather permitting, walk or run outside. Pack exercise shoes, workout clothes, spare underclothes, exercise tubing, and a yoga mat. You are ready to go!

5. Reframe Your thoughts. It is so easy to avoid exercise-this becomes a habit. Good health begins with our thoughts. Stop repeating past statements that are negative and damaging. Reframe thoughts to  positive statements  which can change our entire physical self and outlook.  Our mindset frames our mental state for positive health. Examples include: "I did it!"  "I am so glad that I walked ten minutes today."  "Using the exercise tubing helps me get strong so that I can be healthy to take of family." "I am exercising because my health is important and this  'ME' time is valuable." "Every minute I spend on taking care of me, helps those around me, because I am able to be give them my best self." Each positive statement is a vitamin for wellness.

     Even 10-15 minutes of exercise during a lunch break energizes us, releases endorphins, reduces stress and clears the head. We are better equipped for the rest of the day. With practice, "exercising anywhere/anytime" becomes a lifestyle/behavior change that incorporates fitness into the day, whatever the schedule. The sum of our exercise points adds up over time and we become stronger and healthier.





The 2016 election campaign season and election in the United States has been unbelievable and disconcerting. As a parent, I tried to use the behavior witnessed on TV and social media as examples of "adults behaving badly" and how NOT to behave when teaching my kids. Social courtesies  such as listening without interrupting, respect and politeness were missing in action. It is possible to disagree with one another without rudeness and name calling. Our young people are viewing the atrocious behavior of adults witnessed throughout all political arenas in disgust. A poor example by American politicians has been set for them.  If you promote yourself as a leader, it is important to demonstrate the qualities of a leader; rather than speak one way and act another way.

The outcome of the election pleased some and displeased others if your candidate was not chosen. As we witnessed during the campaign season, people were passionate in their candidate selection and this election evoked a lot of emotion on all sides for various reasons.

The past is written; we cannot change it. However, we can learn from it. So, we move forward.

I include a passage from the book,"The Tao of Joy" by Derek Lin. The title is, "Acceptance."

"Achieve a difficult feat today by doing something simple: accept everything in your world exactly as it is. If this does not sound like a difficult feat, then think of all people who rail against the way things are. They complain bitterly because they want things to be different. Sometimes, they regret having done one thing or another; other times, they feel resentment against something that has been done to them. Either way, they expend tremendous emotional energy on the past, which no power in heaven or Earth can change. In the Tao, accepting reality does not mean being complacent or suppressing one's natural desire to make improvements. It simply means we do not waste our resources in raging against an unjust fate. Instead, we direct them into the work of creating a better reality, one that is more meaningful and satisfying."

And another quote by Thich Nhat Hahn:

"Every morning when we wake up, we have twenty-four- brand- new hours to live."

Have an open heart and mind,