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Back to Basics - 5 Foundations of health (Presentation to Grand Lake Health Challenge Kick-off)

Victor Frankl, the Auschwitz survivor quoted: Between the stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response, lies our growth and our freedom.

The first step in finding change is taking responsibility for our choices in our life. Every day we have a choice. A choice of how we begin our day and the attitude we bring to our day.

Hello, my name is Kimberly Oen. I own Just Breathe Health and Wellness Studio in Minster. I am a Nationally Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance and a Certified Health Coach. I specialize in women’s health, although I do work with all populations. I am a doula which is a labor and delivery coach, and have specializations in Pre and postnatal corrective exercise, prenatal yoga, trauma sensitive yoga and Cancer and Alzheimer’s fitness. I offer public classes and private consultations at my studio.

My studio – Just Breathe - is named in honor of my son Cody who lives with the chronic disease Cystic Fibrosis and 10% of the profits of my studio are donated to children with this life-threatening illness.

My college education includes degrees in Accounting and Psychology and a master’s degree in human services counseling specializing in Christian Life Coaching. But Most importantly I am a mom, nana, dog mom to Ollie and Nala - 2 Bernese Mountain Dogs and 4 cats on a small farm outside of St. Marys. AND I teach people to breath. You will find out later how your breath is the foundation of everything you do!

In my mid-40’s, I experienced a health scare. I was working in corporate world as a Group Publisher of 4 local newspapers and began experiencing heart palpitations. After 2 weeks of monitoring by my Doctor, it was determined that it was stress related. And as I will speak to later, stress can account for up to 90% of all doctor visits.

I had this chronically stressful job that was destroying my health and my personal relationships. Genetically I am pre-disposed to High Blood Pressure on my mother’s side. But research shows that genetics determine 10 to 20% of diseases. My younger brother was diagnosed in his early 20’s. My grandmother passed when Mom was 16 years old. My mother has had multiple strokes and is confined to a wheelchair due to HPB. At that time of my health scare, my blood pressure was in pre-hypertension and my doctor was encouraging me to go on medicine.

I knew that I did not want to become disabled like my mother. I made the decision to change my lifestyle. So I left my job. My health and my family were more important to me. There is much more to the story of how I am now living my passions, but this evening I want to offer you my 5 foundations for optimal health.

What is Optimal health? Optimal health is defined as having ALL systems in balance.

This challenge is focused on weight loss, but I want to encourage you to focus on these 5 foundations for sustainable health so that you achieve long term success in your weight loss goals. The key word here is being sustainable. I could offer you statistics, but know that Yo-yo dieting wreaks havoc on your metabolism and your weight is not a key indicator of how healthy you are. Especially with the recent pandemic and illnesses. We must keep our immune systems healthy and to do so we need optimal health!

So as you go through the next months of this challenge, I want to challenge you to look at all aspects of your health! The benefits of which will be a key to achieving your goals of weight loss.

The Principle of continuity says that we will tend to make choices to keep us where we are. So that means If we are out of balance then we will tend to choose the actions, foods, and thoughts that keep us out of balance. Did you ever get into a bad pattern of eating and just feel you could not stop? Well, the upside is that the reverse is also true. Making good choices with good results helps us stay into balance. I want to offer you some tools to find balance in your health.

Your body is always trying to find Homeostasis – a constant calibration of the body to stay in balance

And at the center of health lies our nervous system which ties into all other systems – mental, physical, immune, and emotional.

Being out of balance places increased loads on our system – the COST of which is wearing down of the body systems resulting in disease.

The 5 foundations are Core Breathing, Thoughts, Movement, Nutrition and Lifestyle. And I will speak to each of these individually, some in greater detail than others, but they are all equally important.

I want you to think about the behaviors you continue to do despite the fact they bring negative consequences into your life?

You might have entered into this challenge thinking all I need to do is control my eating to lose weight. But as I go through these 5 foundations, I will connect each of them to losing weight and I hope you will see how important they are! If you have not had long-term success in the past, please consider that we must treat all planes of our health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

The first I want to speak to and the one I feel is most important is the breath! Breathing from your CORE. I LOVE to teach people how to breath and to talk about breathing. It is usually always the first foundation I assess for any client who comes to me for support.

Who thinks they breathe correctly? And before you answer that know that 95% of people, I work with do NOT initially breath correctly.

There are 2 muscles in your body if they stop working you will die in under 5 minutes – what are they? Common answers are heart and the lungs, but your lungs do not have muscles.


We think about how to keep our heart healthy, but not our diaphragm which is KEY to keeping our heart healthy.

The typical person only uses 1/3 of their breathing capacity– when we breathe poorly, we move poorly, we eat poorly, and we feel poorly. On average we take over 20,000 breaths a day. And we don’t even think about it.

The main way to control nervous system is with your breath. If we are stressed and we eat to calm ourselves down, our digestive track shuts down because we are in our SNS (sympathetic nervous system) where stress happens. If you are ill - the only way your body can heal is if your body stays predominately in your parasympathetic nervous system. This is your rest, digest, restore system.

· Better breath = better oxygenation of cells = better cell function = better immune function

· Better breath stimulates lungs, heart and increases lung capacity

· Better breath means better posture

When the breath is agitated the body is agitated!

· Stress is the cause of many diseases in the body

· The body does not die from old age, it dies from stress

· As I mentioned previously 75 – 90% of all health care costs are related to stress

· And how we respond to a situation is stress. We are all different and respond differently.

We all know the benefits of eliminating stress:

· It Charges up our immune system

· It wards off degenerative diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease

Because stress causes a hormone called cortisol to flood your body, this hormone is harmful to brain cells; therefore, if a person is able to reduce stress through exercise, meditation, mindfulness or other activity, especially one that gives joy, it will help to preserve your mental abilities. This is important also in Alzheimer’s and dementia.

These high cortisol levels suppress our immune system = which means adrenal fatigue, which affects our blood pressure which is what I was experiencing at my job.

Chronic stress puts your health at risk

When you face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet and taking care of your family, your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result, you may feel as if you're constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don't have to let stress control your life.

I want you to understand the natural stress response that happens in your primitive brain.

When you encounter a perceived threat — for instance a large dog barks at you during your morning walk — your hypothalamus, which is a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, which are located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

This adrenaline

· increases your heart rate,

· elevates your blood pressure

· boosts energy supplies.

·Cortisol, this primary stress hormone has some good benefits – it enhances your brain's use of glucose andincreases the availability of substances that repair tissues.


· increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream,

· Increases belly fat

· Increases sugar cravings

· Increases appetite

Did you know that the same stress response happens when you experience common negative emotions such as anger, fear or guilt?

What are our stressors today? Cell phone text, deadlines at work, running the kids to multiple sports events,

That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.

Because when these defense systems activate - Adrenal levels increase, muscles tighten, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar rise so you can react quickly. Sure you can run faster and climb higher because all energy is being channeled to self-defense but less essential functions such as digestion are slowed down or shut down.

AND This slows down metabolism and slows body from absorbing the nutrients it desperately needs. Without essential food and nutrients, your body may then trigger a feeling of hunger, not because it actually needs more food, but because the stress response has rendered it unable to properly digest the food that is available.

Whew – all that happens when a dog chases you!

We lose the ability to make good decisions. We may overeat and, in that moment, we feel free, comforted – but we use food as anti-anxiety medication – because it helps us relax.

I teach many breathing techniques which are designed to bring the body into a state of deep relaxation.

Tonight I want to teach you diaphragmatic breath. From the lungs outward, this breath can give your organs and tissues a much-needed oxygen boost.

Practical tip - Before you eat – use this breathing technique - take a deep breath and become fully present of how the food in front of you will nourish your body. Or the next time you feel stressed or the need to comfort yourself with food – stop and try this breath.

One caution - You might feel a little lightheaded the first time you try it if your body is not used to deep breaths.

Sit comfortably and rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth

Bring your hands to belly/low ribs.

Notice your breath rate, your emotions and how you are feeling right now.

Sit with a straight spine – head to heavens, both feet on ground.

Let’s watch our breath. Witness how the breath slowly enters your nose, fills you up


Scan – start with toes – completely relaxed. Feet/soles/ankles/shins/back of legs/knees/ - moving up heart , find deep relaxation/ relax the throat – back, front and sides

Bring attention to eyes and smile. Sense the vibration of the smile in corner of eyes

Let energy of that smile move from your eyes and trickle down to mouth.

Are you breathing into the low ribs/belly area?

Breath into belly, chest, ribs, back

First belly, then ribs, then chest

Awesome – how did you do? Was it challenging?

The more you practice this breath, the more it will become natural to your body.

My next foundation is your Thoughts/Mind

  • We not only live in the world of “information overload” (outside of us) but we also live disconnected from body and intuitive selves.

  • When you connect with your body you develop a sense of the innate healing forces within you.

Much research has been done on Meditation/stillness/prayer and it has been shown to have profound effects on your health

· Lower blood pressure

· Improve immune function

· Lower stress hormone release

· Lower oxygen consumption

· Decrease feelings of anxiety and depression

· Improve sleep

· Decrease chronic pain

There are many types of meditation: prayer, guided imagery, progressive relaxations, medical meditation, and more!

A 2003 study in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used different types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence on the brains of the mice. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day, they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion, and learning.

And those cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence.

SO When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

If you live in a consistently noisy environment, then you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

This is important. Your thoughts are driven by your perceptions – Do you speak negatively to yourself? I call this your itty-bitty shitty committee. If you would not speak to your best friend that way, do not speak to yourself that way.

Be your own best friend. Every thought you have creates a chemical reaction in your body, so your body can respond and try to stay in homeostasis. Negative thoughts create adrenaline and cortisol, positive thoughts create happy hormones and endorphins.

Practical tip – Insight timer - free app for meditations

Movement and exercise – You cannot out exercise a bad diet, but you cannot become healthier without movement. There is dedicated movement, which is intentional exercise; going to the gym, taking a group exercise class and then there is incidental exercise such as walking the dog, cleaning the house.

Movement helps to detoxify and strengthen the body. But you must move in ways you don’t typically move.

Strength training or body weight training is critical because the greater amount of lean muscle mass you have in the body, the higher your metabolism. That does not mean you can eat more!

As we age, we lose our muscle mass

10% age 50

20% age 65

50% age 80

Movement helps to

· Stimulate bone growth (but as I mentioned you must stress bones such as strength training or body weight training)

· Create strong balanced muscles which creates strong mechanical alignment which equals less pain

· YOGA BTW is One of few movement modalities that increases strength and flexibility in a functional way, to help you in your day to day living.

What are your opportunities for movement during the day?

Let’s talk about Nutrition

There is an overload of information on the newest “diets”. The word diet is merely meant to be what you eat, but has been turned into a short-term fix. Our diet has been with us since the dawn of time. Although losing weight is not simple, the foundations of a healthy diet are.

Eat as close to the earth as you can, fresh and whole. Eat organic as much as you can and don’t eat anything that you don’t know what the ingredients are. Read all labels. Eat more vegetables and fiber! Avoid the 4 white devils: sugar, flour, refined salt, pasteurized dairy. Don’t forget water, water, water! If you think you are hungry, you may just be thirsty.

I am oversimplifying nutrition and there is more involved than I can discuss in the time I have today, but if you can master the basics, you will experience a higher nutritional level than about 90% of the modern world.

As a reminder DO NOT Eat in a stressed state. Remember I said thoughts are physical. Every thought produces a chemical reaction in your body. Be your own best friend. Don’t talk negatively to yourself. Your body will produce either stress hormones or happy endorphins. Be mindful in eating. Don’t watch the news which stresses you out, put your fork/spoon down between bites, put away all electronics and be with the people you are eating with, even if it is your dog. Taste your food, chew each bite 40 times, smell it, notice the texture. God gave us food not only for nourishment, but enjoyment.

And then finally there is Lifestyle

These are the household cleaning toxins and toxins you put on your body, our living environment, the people we surround ourselves with (positive and negative). Schedule time for self-care and the things you love to do. Get a dog or a cat! :)

It is also SO important to honor your circadian rhythm and sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. This is not optional. And you can’t catch up on sleep. Appetite suppressant hormones and all your internal processes are working hard at night to keep your body in balance.

Most importantly, we all need help – we can’t do this life alone!

You all have set goals. Research shows the Probability of Individuals completing a goal:

When you have an Idea = I think I would like to be _____________ equals a 10% chance of probability you will complete your goal.

You consistently decide to adopt idea – give it thought – something you really want to do – 25% probability you will complete your goal.

Decide when to act on the idea – want to put it into motion and decided when = 40% probability you meet your goal.

Design a plan to act on the idea – 50% of goals come to completion

Make the commitment to another person to implement the plan – 65% probability of achievement

BUT if you have someone to whom you are accountable to and actively seek help - there is a 95% probability you will achieve your goal!

To summarize – breath correctly, be mindful and stay in the present moment, MOVE – your body craves movement, Eat for health, eat to live, not live to eat, sleep well, use these foundations as your compass! Thank you for your time, your commitment to better health for yourself. If you would like to talk further, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

You got this!

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