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We are freed and imprisoned by our thoughts

Mark Fontaine


Are you certain the physician was not in the exam room with you for more than three or four minutes? You’re likely not far off.

The doctor will give you a cursory look and reach for a prescription pad. If you ask a question or protest the prescription of choice you may be cut off.

Patients and physicians feel the time crunch as never before as doctors rush through appointments as if on roller skates. There is a push to see more patients and perform more procedures as doctors are awarded flat or declining reimbursements.

Most primary care doctors’ appointments are scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Some physicians see patients every 11 minutes and have half a dozen examining rooms on the go.

Doctors may have their eyes on the clock rather than the patient.

Short visits take a toll on the doctor-patient relationship. That relationship is the key ingredient of good care. Opportunities for getting patients more actively involved in their own health are missed. There is less of a dialogue between patient and doctor increasing the odds patients will leave the office confused and frustrated.

Shorter visits also increase the likelihood the patient will leave with a prescription for medication, rather than a prescription for behavioral change.

Physicians don’t like to be rushed, but for primary care physicians, time is money. Unlike specialists, they don’t do procedures which generate revenue, but instead, are still paid mostly per visit.

This fee-for-service payment model, rewards doctors who see patients in bulk rather than rewarding doctors for efficacy. Doctors are thinking more about the bottom line and overhead rather than their patients.

The doctor tends to quickly try to identify the chief complaint. The patient is thinking: ‘I’m taking the afternoon off work for this appointment. I’ve waited months for it. I’ve got a list of things to discuss.’

 A study found that doctors let patients speak for only 23 seconds before redirecting them. One in four patients got to finish his or her statement. Doctors often fall short in the listening department. They have a bad habit of interrupting.

 A study in 2001 found primary care patients were interrupted after 12 seconds, if not by the health care provider, then by a beeper or a knock on the door.

Shouldn’t making the patient feel they have been heard be one of the most important elements of doctoring? I have a prescription for doctors–slow down and be mindful. I am confident that both you and your patients will be rewarded.


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Mark Fontaine


A weird dual form of waking consciousness has emerged in our modern world. Many of us struggle nightly with poor sleep and we become chronically tired. At the same time, the excessive stimulation the wired world drives us to feel wired ourselves.

 This is rapidly becoming the new normal. We see wired people everywhere– friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Insomnia is becoming endemic.

 Many people with insomnia report feeling energized during the day. Yet, they also complain of exhaustion.

 Insomnia is associated with hyperarousal. Do you lead an excessive, turbo-charged life? Racing brain? Rapid heart rate? Feeling flushed or hot? The result is dysfunctional hormonal rhythms which serve to impair sleep and hide daytime sleepiness.

 Hyperarousal pulls us one direction and sleepiness and fatigue pull us in the other. We are stretched by equal forces and going nowhere. Depressing, isn’t it?  We are stuck.

 Modern life overwhelms us with information and entertainment options. It is easy to become addicted to activity and productivity. Walking fast? Talking fast? Speeding?

 We live in a world of neverending motion. Slowing and stopping is discouraged. Has your world world lost its sense of rhythm? The natural world is rhythmic, it is tempered by rest. Things come and they go. Seasons change. Tides rise and fall. The sun rises and sets.

 Have you forgotten how to rest? Have you lost your brakes?  The solution may not be a grand vacation and certainly not inebriation or tranquilizers. As ordinary or boring as it may seem, the prescription for managing the hyperarousal epidemic is learning and regularly practicing true rest.

 Slow down and then stop. Come to a complete stop. True rest is not simply the absence of activity. Cultive a state of serenity. Meditation? Yoga? Deep breathing exercises? Long slow walks in the woods?

 Slow the body and mind. Learn to modulate the velocity of your waking life. Build a bridge to quality sleep and dreams.

 In a world gone crazy with motion, seek to step out of the herd mentality. March to a different drum. Find peace in the rhythms of nature and rediscover your own true nature.


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How do we create more happiness?  Is the key to happiness found in letting go? Are you willing to give up the following 5 things?

1. The habit of blaming. Blaming others does not absolve you of taking responsibility for your own well being. It takes away energy from you moving forward and finding a solution.

2.  The need to impress. Accept who you are. Embrace your flaws, skills and vulnerability. Get comfortable in your own skin.

3. Being a victim.  Bad things happen to good people. Life can be unfair. If you identify as a victim rather than a victor you can not nurture your ability to move beyond unhappiness.

4. Feeling entitled.  If you live your life with the feeling that you are owed things, you will be disappointed. Be grateful for what you have. See positive things as bonuses rather than owed expectations.

5. Pretending. Are you trying to show the world that you are flawless in hopes that you will be liked? There is beauty in our vulnerability. If we are authentic, we open ourselves for a true connection with others.

Deciding what not to do may be more important than deciding what to do. In an age of excess everything, can we add value to our lives by subtracting? If you find yourself already overburdened, stressed and miserable, loosen those white knuckles and let go. You have a lot to lose. And, that may be a good thing.  

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Mark Fontaine

Are you overfed and undernourished? Most people in North America are nutritionally deficient.

It is a mistake is to think that if you eat a lot of calories, your diet delivers the nutrients your body needs.  The average diet is too energy dense (too many calories) but nutrient poor (not enough vitamins and minerals).  These “empty calories” confuse the metabolism and pack on pounds.

Processed food is less nutritious. It is stuffed with high fructose corn syrup, refined flours and trans fats. These foods are inexpensive and convenient. Our grandparents wouldn’t recognize most of the foods filling the aisles of our grocery stores today. Most store bought foods today are laced with chemicals, such as nitrates, used to process and preserve.

Soil is being depleted. Industrial farming is depleting the nutrients in farmland. Most vegetables harvested today have fewer nutrients than those just two generations ago. Because foods contain fewer nutrients, the servings we do eat don’t deliver as much nutrition as before. Fewer nutrients lowers immunity and increases vulnerability to chronic disease and obesity. If your body doesn’t get the right nutrition, it asks for more food. This creates a cycle of craving, eating more, getting fatter, but still not feeling satisfied and craving more.

Refining kills nutrients. Foods are stripped of their nutrients during the refining process. A primary example is wheat.  Refining whole wheat flour into white reduces the fiber by 80 percent and reduces essential minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. Food manufacturers sometimes add synthetic versions of the most important vitamins and minerals back into food and call the food “enriched.” Beware of “enriched foods” because theses products have been stripped in the first place.

How can I get more nutrient-rich calories?

  • Eat more organic plant-based foods: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains They are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, fiber, and essential fatty acids. These foods eliminate many triggers of chronic illness, such as saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and toxic food additives.
  • Use healthy plant-based fats: extra-virgin olive oil, flax, nuts, and seeds.
  • Eat modest amounts of lean animal protein: fish, turkey, chicken or wild game.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  • Food is your best medicine. Whole foods have nutrients that work synergistically to optimize your health. They reduce inflammation, boost detoxification, balance hormones, and provide powerful antioxidant protection.  If you choose to eat mindfully, you can repair the underlying causes of disease.


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 Written By: Mark Fontaine

You know who they are. They surround you. People who drain all the positive energy out of you. They have an insatiable hunger for negativity. They leave drained, exhausted, and unhappy people in their wake. They can make our lives miserable if we don’t have strategies to deal with them.

How can you spot these people?

They are intrusive.

They don’t respect personal boundaries.

They are overly critical of everyone and everything.

They are chronic whiners and complainers.

They are argumentative.

They are demanding.

They have a sense of entitlement.

They are unable to accept personal responsibility.

Don’t allow their problems to become yours. Here are 3 strategies to slay Energy Vampires.

 1. Identify them early. Their quirkiness may intrigue you. Their gossip, hard luck stories and dramatics may entertain you. Pay close attention to your instincts and your physical reactions after your encounters. Are you experiencing muscle tension, loss of energy, headaches, irritability, sadness, or negativity?

2. Limit your contact.  Now that you’ve identified them, limit the amount of time you allow them. Set firm limits. You should start off conversations with, “I only have a few minutes before I have to [fill in the blank].”  Once the time has expired, disengage.

3. Don’t get pulled in.  You may be tempted to fix their problems. You won’t. Negative people will resist your help or create new crises in their lives. Resist offering solutions. You may choose to say, ” I’m confident that you’ll be able to find the solution on your own”.  Excuse yourself and walk away. Be firm in a gentle and empathic way.

Positive energy is a precious commodity. It’s not something you should willingly give up. You can choose to keep a positive attitude by surrounding yourself with positive people who leave you feeling upbeat and energized.

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Post by: Mark Fontaine

Black Friday is giving us a black eye. We have allowed the holiday season to degenerate into a riotous crush to purchase cheap electronics and appliances. The mobs outside the big box superstores are more desperate and violent than a UN emergency feeding station in Darfur Africa. People are being shot and pepper sprayed.

What does this say about us as a society and culture? Rather than spending Thanksgiving at home enjoying the company of our loved ones, we are camped out in an electronics store parking lot. It appears that half off the price of a flat screen T.V. is more important than fostering our relationships.

No wonder we have unprecedented political rancour. We hold the dollar and the pursuit of self-indulgent toys over the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. We have become so self-absorbed, we won’t acknowledge and foster the needs and desires of others. Others are seen as an impediment to our rights, liberty and freedom.

How does this end? Are we left standing alone cocooned by many luxurious possessions and surrounded by a scorched earth?   If you don’t like what you see this holiday season, be mindful to be the change you seek.

Post by: Mark Fontaine

Where have all the blueberries gone? Take a look at the nutrition label of your favorite blueberry muffins, blueberry bagels and blueberry cereal. Are blueberries on the label? Are blueberries one of the first 10 ingredients? Is the blueberry referred to as a blueberry bit or a blueberry product?

The health benefits of blueberries are well documented. Food corporations want to capitalize on your desire to eat healthy. But, they have a problem. Real blueberries are expensive.

The food corporations have come up with a solution to this dilemma. They have created something that looks and tastes like a blueberry. It consists of a mixture of sugars, artificial flavoring and food coloring. This blueberry bit or blueberry product costs a fraction of the real deal. Unfortunately, it has little or no nutritional value.

Is it any wonder that we are becoming fatter and fatter? Is it any wonder that rates of diabetes and cancers are rising?

We must be mindful of what we are eating. Most food corporations do not have our best interests at heart. In fact, they may purposefully label their products in a manner to disguise the contents or misrepresent the nutritional value.


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