12 Tips for Caregivers: supporting your (reluctant) loved-one to start a healing protocol

Your (reluctant) Loved-one

Some people are motivated to begin a healing protocol on their own.

Some are well enough. Can think clearly. Make plans. Set goals.

But others require help to get there.

If someone you love has a chronic health condition, and you think that a healing protocol could help, you probably feel some urgency. You want them to get started. Already.

But what if they’re not ready?

Or worse, what if they’re hostile to the idea?

If you push too hard, they’ll resist.

I know from experience!

How to support your (reluctant) loved one to start a healing protocol

After years in the role of caregiver, here are my 12 strategies: Continue reading

Finding the Pattern of Your Healing Path

FindingthepatternThe pattern of your life is providing you with the results you are experiencing right now.

If your life is excellent: the pattern is working!

If it isn’t, you can adjust it.

One way to adjust is to reorganize the relationship between habit and adaptability in your life.

Be Habituated & Be Adaptive

Sometimes we need to apply more logic to our life-design process. To introduce good habits that help ensure we’re on track.

Other times, we’re hampered by routine. We get rigid and don’t benefit from unexpected opportunities. We may need to exercise our adaptive natures more. Continue reading

Acheiving Your Health Goals when Things are Complicated (or Chaotic)

Achieving Your Health Goals 3

Goals are an expression of our desire for change.

Of course, change is happening all the time.

But we want the change we want. And goals help us influence the sprawling messiness of life in the direction we want it to go.

In part 1 of this post I introduced the Stacey Matrix as a tool to help select goal-achievement strategies that are targeted to your situation.

The Stacey Matrix has two dimensions:

  1. Certainty &
  2. Agreement.

These two dimensions result in four possible situations. Yesterday I considered two of them. In this post, I’ll look at what to do when life is complicated or chaotic. Continue reading

Achieving Your Health Goals

Achieving Your Health Goals 2

You and your health are part of a situation.

If there’s something you want to change about your health, start with the situation.

Most advice about goal achievement skips this step. But a quick analysis of the situation (system) that is impacting your health will help ensure that your goals are appropriate and your strategies are effective.

Ready? Let’s do it!

An easy way to begin is by asking: Is this situation simple or complex? Continue reading

Your Zone of Proximal Development

Zone of Proximal DevelopmentYour edge.

The place you can step into.

Grow into.

Your zone of possibility.

Your zone of proximal development is the space just outside your current capacity that you can reach if you have the right support.

Last year I suggested that biohacking is the ultimate new years resolution.

Because as long as you stick to biohacking principles, you can’t fail. If you fall off your program, you can turn your attention to that and start hacking your will-power, or adjusting your goals, or fine-tuning the strategies you are using to achieve them.

But why do we fail when we set self-improvement goals?

Zone of Proximal Development 5The Zone of Proximal Development

Zone of proximal development theory suggests there are 2 reasons:

  1. The goal is outside the zone of possibility; or
  2. The goal is inside the zone, but the strategy didn’t include the necessary scaffolding to achieve it.

To find your goal-achievement sweet spot you need to:

  1. Determine the boundaries of your zone of proximal development;
  2. Set a goal that’s inside your zone; and
  3. Determine what supports you need to achieve that goal.

If your supports are adequate, you should be good to go!

By moving into your zone, chances are you’re expanding it, thereby increasing the likelihood that more ambitious goals will eventually end up inside your zone, too.

Let’s geek out ZPD theory a little more

The zone of proximal development, or ZPD, is my #2 parenting strategy of all time.

I’ve been a parent for 60% of my life and in that time I’ve tried a lot of things. Consistently, ZPD enables me to do my best work as a parent.

My top parenting strategies 4ZPD is also my #2 life strategy.

Developed by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s & 30s, ZPD was lost for decades before it resurfaced near the end of the 20th century.

Vygotsky hypothesized that humans are hard-wired to learn certain things.

Like language.

Put any child in a environment full of speech and affection, and barring a significant cognitive disability, they will learn to speak fluently.

Nobody has to create a structure for that to occur.

But if we want to learn things that we aren’t necessarily hard-wired for, we need appropriate supports.

Vygotsky suggested that to help develop certain skills and capacities, we need to first determine the scope of an individual’s zone of proximal development and then create customized supports to help them to grow into that potential.

Later theorists referred to these supports as scaffolding.

Both the ZPD and the required scaffolding are unique to each of us.

So, in the biohacking context, not only are we taking bioindividuality into consideration, which includes our particular health status and our environment, but also our ZPD and the supports that are effective for each of us as individuals. Those are the dimensions of n=1 experimentation.

Lev Vygotsky. Image from http://isdgo.com/portfolio/vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky. Image from http://isdgo.com/portfolio/vygotsky

Sound like a lot to sort out?

It is, but each of these elements can be simplified considerably by approaching the n=1 project in a systematic way. And if you put your energy into discerning what these dimensions are for you, rather than copying what someone else is doing or pursuing goals in a haphazard way, you’ll find yourself way ahead.

In fact, taking time to plan using ZPD is an excellent way to successfully move through the contemplative stage of change.

According to ZPD theory, part of designing the appropriate scaffolding to support the development of an individual involves:

  • their receptivity to particular types of support;
  • the sequence that the supports are offered in; and
  • how willing and adaptive a person is.

These factors not only effect the design of effective scaffolding to support change, but also effect the size of the ZPD.

Zone of Proximal Development biggerYou can make your zone bigger.

Vygotsky also believed that the ZPD of many people was larger when they were in a supportive social context than when they were alone, and that social networks can act as scaffolding for growth.

SAD to AIP in 6

All of this is one reason why I endorse Angie Alt’s SAD to AIP in 6 every time she offers it.

SAD to AIP in 6 provides appropriate scaffolding in a supported and social context to make the transition to the AIP possible.

Learn more about the SAD to AIP in 6 program here.

Rainbow ‘Rice’ (AIP~)

Rainbow Rice 6When walking, walk. When eating, eat.

That’s a Zen Proverb.

Eating mindfully is a powerful way to approach the diet and lifestyle changes that are required on a healing protocol.

And it is also an excellent way to begin a mindfulness practice.

Though I’m hardly an expert.

Mondful EatingI’ve been serious about yoga for 13 years, and even though yoga asanas are specifically designed to prepare the body and mind for meditation, I’m still a fussy and distracted meditator.

I do have moments of accidental mindfulness.

When I am simply here now, acutely aware of everything.

But you don’t get full marks for being accidentally mindful.

The goal is to be mindfully mindful.

Even though I consider myself to be profoundly inexpert in the mindfulness realm, eating is a good place to start.

There is something inherently contemplative about sitting quietly with a bowl of rice. Continue reading

Biohacking Tip #6: What’s Actionable?

Biohacking Tip 6Last week I considered the Origin of Illness.

I made a system map, to portray the role of the microbiome in our health.

That map ended up being a crazy bunch of interacting elements, linked by a tangle of arrows and feedback loops, leading to a sort of doomsday scenario of increasingly crappier outcomes.

It was a spaghetti diagram~.

Just contemplating it is stress-provoking.

And stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which leads to gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability & inflammation.

And we want none of those things.

Which is why this post is going to deconstruct that spaghetti diagram and get us on a more positive footing with this whole situation.

But before we start the deconstruction, here it is:

Microbiome 4

(For a break-down & explanation see The Origin of Illness).


Before the deconstruction begins, let’s acknowledge that this map is incomplete.

It omits unknown system elements. We don’t know what they are, so we can’t map them.

It also ignores known system elements, like mitochondria and blood sugar.

Like any model, it’s a simplification.

One day I’ll create a more comprehensive one. More elements. More arrows.

But the working hypothesis here is that what’s good for the microbiome is good for the body.

And in any case, there’s plenty to take action on here.

Constructing & Deconstructing a System Map

Anytime we encounter a complex system, we can attempt to understand it through mapping.

Once it’s mapped, we can identify which elements are actionable. To help us change it.

Last week I created a system map. This week, I’ll identify the actionable elements. They’re yellow:

Actionable Microbiome 1

Clarification: ‘Actionable’ doesn’t mean you can control these elements. It just means that you can try.

Necessary Caesarean births happen.

Some of us need to take life-saving or pain-reducing drugs.

As adults, we can’t change the method of our birth or the type of food we ate as children.

So, the yellow elements are potentially actionable. Starting from the beginning of life.

But let’s simply things further and just focus on what adults can do to hack their own biology in the present.

Here are those present-tense action-items for adults, in green:

Actionable Microbiome 2

But this spaghetti diagram just got worse, right? More boxes, more arrows.

Here’s the fun part~.

Even though we’ve established that we’re adults, this is where we get to be preschoolers. After building this elaborate tower, we get to knock the whole thing down.

Even better, we get to keep the all good stuff (the green bits) & toss out the nasty parts (everything else).

After the creative deconstruction, here’s what remains:

Actionable Microbiome 3

There it is. The protocol. Yours & mine.

Next post, I’ll explore these elements, including a quick tour of the blogosphere to find out what our favorite Health & Optimization experts have to say about each of them~.

But first a quick overview. Of how to change.

Create Change

Some steps for creating intentional change in complex systems:

  1. Understand the system;
  2. Identify what is actionable;
  3. Assess leverage;
  4. Take action;
  5. Observe impacts & measure outcomes; and
  6. Repeat.

The Origin of Illness helped with the first step: understanding the system.

This post tackled the second: Determining what is actionable. We’ll begin to explore those actionable elements in The Microbiome: The Protocol.

And soon we’ll consider #3: Assessing leverage~.

I’ve already covered #5: Observing Impacts & Measuring Outcomes in previous Biohacking Posts, including in Biohacking Tip #1: Gather Data.

Force Field Analysis~

Force field analysis 2A  force field analysis will enable you to bring all your Jedi powers to bear on your process of change.

I’ve written about it before, but it deserves a post of its own.

Let the Force be with you~

Designed by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1940’s, a force field analysis helps you to identify where the force is with you, where it is against you, and which Jedi moves to use in any given situation.

There are 7 steps:

  • First, brainstorm every single thing you can think of that is standing in the way of your successful change.
  • Make a diagram like the one below, giving every barrier you’re facing a customized arrow on the ‘restraining forces’ side. A huge barrier gets a huge arrow, a tiny hurdle gets a mini-arrow.
  • Next, write down everything you can think of that is working in your favor (dig deep to make this list).
  • Give each of these an appropriately sized arrow on the ‘driving forces’ side.

Pause to acknowledge that the combination of these forces are keeping you stuck where you are right now~.

  • It’s time to get unstuck. Think of all the ways that you can reduce or redirect the restraining arrows. You don’t need to eradicate them, just diminish their power or point them somewhere else. Write those ideas down.
  • Then generate a list of ways you can strengthen the driving forces, even a little bit.
  • Now you have a list of things you can do to help you change. Do these things.

Force field analysis

Restraining Forces

My favorite quote from David Allen is from his book, Ready for Anything: “In a totally frictionless world, everything would just appear as soon as it was imagined.”

Your restraining arrows are the friction: sticky elements that are preventing your ideal reality from manifesting the very moment you think of it~.

A house in Hawai’i with a waterfall lagoon and no debt and no mosquitoes…Bam!

Without restraining forces, it would appear.

The green line is your current reality. That’s where you are now, stuck in the status quo.

Your desired state is the orange line, way over there on the opposite bank, across the river of restraining arrows.

Those restraining arrows are like crocodiles, and your goal is to tame them (or distract them), so you can cross the raging restraining river to claim your heart’s desire (which really should be good health, not the Hawai’i lagoon thing).

We are usually pretty familiar with the obstacles in our lives, but if you spend some time delving in on this exercise, you might uncover some impediments that you weren’t aware of (or didn’t want to face).

Get them all out so you can figure out what to do about them.

Driving Forces

Sometimes it can be challenging to generate a comprehensive list of driving forces.

Humans have a tendency to focus on obstacles rather than assets.

If you’re having trouble, ask a friend to help you brainstorm a list of your internal & external resources and allocate appropriate sized arrows to each.

Driving forces can include behavior, attitudes & people. Helpful behaviors could be:

  • Spending time with people you love;
  • Being alone;
  • Going for walks;
  • Having anti-inflammatory food ready in the fridge or freezer;
  • Getting enough sleep;
  • Saying no (setting boundaries);
  • Getting out into nature;
  • Drinking water;
  • Practicing yoga;
  • Mindfulness or meditation.

Advanced Jedi Training: Suffering & Enlightenment~

BuddhaWhile you are working on reducing the power of the restraining arrows and increasing the strength of the driving arrows, your Jedi training continues.

According to the Buddhist teachings of the four noble truths, when you don’t get what you desire, you suffer. And the only way to acheive enlightenment is through suffering.

So you can think of the time you spend wrangling the restraining crocodiles in the river between you and your dreams as your own personalized enlightenment school~.

How to Change~

Change This wayChange is hard.

We like our habits.

We like the safety they provide.

Even when they make us sick.

We like comfort.

Even when our comforts lead to illness (& discomfort).

Change is hard.

And changing from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a healing protocol is a process.

I’m profoundly interested in the change process. I’ve already written about stages of change, and one of my favorite change-making tools: the force field analysis.

Force field analysisWhen I first made the change from a SAD diet to paleo and then the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), I grieved–extravagantly & extensively–for my favorite bakery pizza.

I wasn’t sure life would be worth living if I could never (never!) have it again.

That intense attachment to SAD foods & SAD patterns seems misty & far away now, but it was excruciatingly real then.

Today, I’m looking forward to a breakfast of bone broth & kale with guacamole with cucumber and a Victorious Offal Muffin. I’ll probably have a London Fog Latte, too, but today I think I’ll make it with green tea and add grass-fed collagen & vanilla powder.


I already know everything will be delicious & that I will feel completely satiated (& fantastic) afterwards.

Pizza? I can have that, too.

I’ve changed~.

How to get from SAD to AIP?

SAD to AIP in SIX~

Angie Alt

Angie Alt

Click here to view more details

The amazing Angie Alt is once again offering her program SAD to AIP in SIX starting on July 6th.

Angie is an AIP pioneer who is reversing multiple autoimmune conditions with the Autoimmune Protocol.  She is a health coach with Paleo Mom Consulting and a warm and generous mentor to AIPers everywhere.

I have the opportunity to see Angie in action on a regular basis in the virtual living rooms of the AIP blogging community. She is big-hearted, funny and thoroughly devoted to supporting the healing of people who are living with autoimmune.

That is why I can unreservedly endorse her SAD to AIP in SIX program.

Click here to view more details

This program is designed to get you onto (or back onto) the AIP in 6 transformative weeks. Each week walks you through a gradual process of eliminating inflammatory factors and introducing nutrient-dense and healing foods. So you can heal. And thrive. And change.

As a person without an autoimmune condition who has been on the AIP for 18 months, I can recommend this healing protocol to everyone, whether you have a diagnosis or are experiencing a slow deterioration of your physical and mental well-being.

Jo Frankham

Jo Frankham

Not only to do you get Angie, but 3 other certified health coaches with 1st-hand experience in reversing their own autoimmune conditions, including the wonderful Jo Frankham from Australia, ensuring 24/7 support during this 6-week program.

Click here to view more details

(These are affiliate links. The SAD to AIP in SIX program costs $100. Angie shares $20 from any sale that originates with people who believe in her program and therefore endorse it. Like me~!)

sadtoaip_large copy

petra8paleo (Circa 2014)

Dark Pond (Circa 1915) by Paul Nash

One thing I love about blogs is their impermanence. Once written, the content subsides.

Into the dark depths of the blog pond.

Unless it gets pulled to the surface via a link, like a hook.

I love impermanence.

I love acknowledging that all of this ~everything~ is destined to subside. That our attachments are ephemeral.

I originally attracted Matthew with a brief essay on impermanence, which I posted on an online dating site instead of a list of my personal characteristics. Apparently, impermanence itself can be a kind of hook. At least when fishing for particular things.

1916 Natural History Encyclopedia

Catfish (Circa 1916) Natural History Encyclopedia

Despite my love for ephemerality & letting blog posts drop to the depths to lurk like catfish, here’s a splash to the surface for some 2014 posts that might be worth pulling up into the light of day.


2014 was all about the Autoimmune Protocol for us, particularly low-FODMAP and ketogenic versions.

Lots of people are looking for practical information on healing protocols. As an indication, some of my top-clicked posts this year were the AIP low-FODMAP food listWhat Can You Eat on the Wahls Paleo Plus?, An Adapted (semi-ketogenic) Version of the Wahls Paleo Plus & 10 reasons to consider a Ketogenic Autoimmune Protocol.

Also popular: Biohacking ~Genomic Analysis & Have you heard the one about the rheumatologist, the ear-nose & throat specialist & the functional medicine doctor?

My top 5 recipes this year included Green Flatbread, Victorious Offal MuffinsGyros: Greek Meatballs & Tzatziki, Macronutrient Cupcakes, & London Fog Latte.

Another well-clicked recipe is Emerald City Soup, which one of the few recipes I brought with me from the dark-ages of my raw-vegan days. It’s not a 2014 contender, as it was posted on December 25th of 2013.

I also like these posts…

Here’s to your health in 2015!