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October 11, 2017

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Healthy Self = Heal + Thy + Self

By: Cynthia Albers, Admissions Coordinator

Harvesting fresh green beans from the garden

There is an onslaught of advice, cautions, directives and warnings supposedly to guide us toward a healthy lifestyle.  So, what, exactly, does it mean to be healthy?  What does healthy feel like?  At Pacific Quest students are given the opportunity to ask themselves this same question and discern what that means to them by practicing the five pillars of health…and nutrition is on that list. I asked myself those questions starting around age 16 and now into my 7th decade, many choices, actions and paths have brought me to the happy condition of enjoying health.  Undeniably, food and all that surrounds it, has played a big part.  Here’s part of that story…

I grew up with 8 siblings, birth position 2, in Maryland, just south of the Mason-Dixon line. At age 6, our brood moved into a home my parents built in the country, where we kids quickly learned the joy and freedom of roaming the woods, waterfront and fields that were part of our new domain.  Our diet was like that of most Americans of the era: 3 squares a day, with flesh featured at dinner; milk, kool-aid, water and the occasional soda pop for beverages; sandwiches of lunch meat or tuna on white Wonder Bread for school lunch, and hot or cold cereal with milk for most breakfasts. Stony Creek, an inlet to the Chesapeake Bay, supplied fresh fish and crabs, caught by our own hands, so seafood was frequently on the menu. A garden plot was carved out and tended by the clan.  As kids, we hated it!  All that work that took us away from exploring. But then, came the strawberries, cantaloupes, green beans, kale and corn on the cob, which we frequently ate right off the stalk ~ raw and full of  sweet goodness!  I began to realize how yummy these foods were, especially compared to the slimy, horrid mash that is canned spinach in the dead of winter.  I was developing a deep connection to sourcing my own food, though I had no idea at the time.

Late summers were spent helping my mother with canning: prepping and blanching corn, tomatoes and green beans, then ladling the hot veggies into sterilized jars; turn ‘em upside down to wait for the tell-tale “Pop!” signaling the seal. In the damp coolness of Autumn we took frenzied forays into conifer forests, with cousins galore, each of us given a large brown paper grocery bag and entrusted with a serrated knife. We were set loose to find and sever the wild mushrooms that lay hidden in beds of pine needles.  Now that was my kinda fun! Many bushel baskets were fungi-filled, and the families joined at our house for cleaning and sautéing the ‘shrooms with onions and butter, then filling quart plastic bags to be frozen. The bounty was distributed among the families and was served at holiday dinners all winter.

The desire to gather and grow food had inculcated my sensibilities and would last a lifetime.

Preparing a healthy meal at PQ

Fulfilling that desire has waxed and waned over the years, changing with occupation, domicile, region and season.  On the shores of Hood Canal, Washington, oysters were free for the plucking and shucking, along with wild blackberries copious along roadways. Montana mountains gave huckleberries by the bucketful, boletes and coral mushrooms to fill the pot; hunter friends who shared venison, bear (yes, bear) and elk sausage satisfied my omnivore leanings. In Hawaii, where a third of my years were lived, our jungle homestead boasted 4 varieties of avocado, papayas, bananas, citrus, and required the patience of 2 years for white pineapples; collards were endless and found their way into nearly every dinner dish.

Now, home is the high desert mountains of the Southern Sierra, gardening in this arid climate with mostly granitic soil beckons an entirely new approach. Apricot, pomegranate and mulberry trees grow most willingly here and also resist the nibbling of deer above ground and gopher below. I’ll undoubtedly find ways to forage and grow food to fuel both the yearnings and health. Doing so feeds more than the just my body…it feeds my soul.   Pacific Quest fosters ways for students and staff alike to build a meaningful connection to food and nutrition.  May connections realized at PQ stay with each of us for a lifetime and fuel health for years to come.

April 19, 2017

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Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep

By: Pauli Richardson, Wellness Coordinator

It’s not unusual for students to come to Pacific Quest and have difficulty with sleep. It’s a combination of jet lag, anxiety, poor sleeping habits at home, inability to relax, among other factors. Most students are not familiar with “sleep hygiene” or what proper rest looks like. For this reason, sleep is my favorite Pillar of Wellness to teach the students. Sleep hygiene is your lifestyle routine that helps promote sleep. Without it our bodies would not be able to get the sleep it needs naturally. During sleep the body heals itself and balances hormones.

The first question I ask the students is what their sleep routine looks like at home. Then we compare that list to a list of healthy sleeping habits and see how it differs. After taking a closer look, many students realize, they do not have a consistent sleep routine.

Tips for Healthy Sleep Hygiene

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

For good sleep, it’s important to strive to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. At Pacific Quest, the students wake up at 6:45 AM and they are in bed by 8:30 pm. We teach that this habit is important in helping reset the body’s circadian rhythm, the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.

For some of our students this is the first time they have gone to bed before midnight in a long time. The later you go to sleep the less likely you are to reach deep restful REM sleep.

PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT

In addition, it’s essential to create an environment that promotes sleep. Our bedroom needs to be a place that helps us relax. There are many people that eat on their bed, look at phones while in bed, watch TV, play video games, etc. Your bed should be for rest only. When it is not, your brain won’t instantly know it’s time for sleep and the screens may interfere with the brain’s production of melatonin, an important sleep hormone.

At PQ, students get a break from electronics but we discuss what to do once they face those temptations outside of this environment.  I encourage them to journal or color right next to their bed if they need to, and then get snuggled under the covers once they feel sleepy. Students can also request a calming tea to help them relax or learn to make their own with herbs from our garden! Drinking lavender, lemon balm,or chamomile tea is soothing for the body.

HEALTHY HABITSHelpful Tips to Improve Sleep - Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy

  • Avoid Caffeine after 12pm
  • Use essential oils before bedtime
  • Listen to relaxing instrumental music
  • Exercise during the day
  • Close your eyes and visualize a calming nature scene
  • Eat foods with Tryptophan (banana,yogurt,turkey)
  • Get a massage

Meditation is an important aspect of our program and it’s key for preparing students’ minds for sleep. It can look very different from day to day. For example, we have staff play guitar, teach deep breathing, read a poem, do soft yoga poses and sometimes students like to lead their peers in their own guided meditation.  I enjoy teaching the students Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This is where students start at the top of their head and work all the way down to the feet squeezing and relaxing each muscle group.

It takes effort and dedication to develop good sleep hygiene habits. It is my hope that students will take what they have learned at Pacific Quest and continue to practice taking care of themselves. Quick fixes are not sustainable, and when students learn this they are on their way to living a healthier life. Sweet dreams!

August 18, 2016

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PQ Presents at Annual AANP Conference

By: Sharon Findlay

Dr. Britta Zimmer, Dr. Ryan Shelton, and Dr. John Souza were selected to present at the 2016 American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Annual Conference in Salt Lake City. Hundreds of NDs, MDs, and DOs gathered to learn about the newest research in the field and practice skills, tools, and exchange ideas. The Pacific Quest team presented “Integrated Management for Adolescents and Young Adults with Psychiatric Diagnoses: The Role of Naturopathic Medicine, Psychopharmacological Agents and Family Dynamics.” This included two cases that showcased our integrated model that is based on naturopathic modalities with a family systems approach. Throughout the session, our talented group demonstrated how we are able to address the totality of the whole case, by implementing the naturopathic philosophy of treating the whole person as well as underlying causes by addressing family system issues.

PQ Presents at Annual AANP Conference on Integrative Model

Dr. John Souza, Dr. Britta Zimmer, and Dr. Ryan Shelton

Each presenter brought different areas of specialization to the session. Dr. Britta Zimmer focused on integrative psychiatry, Dr. Ryan Shelton presented on our naturopathic treatment modalities, and Dr. John Souza spoke to the family systems approach as it relates to whole-patient care. With these three separate perspectives, our team showcased how our model is truly integrated.

With each case study, before and after videos were shared. Audience members were impressed with the significant changes that were clearly apparent by viewing actual clients share their experiences in their own words. Others expressed the desire to learn more about integrative psychiatry in order to help their clients in this integrative way. The overwhelming feedback is that Pacific Quest is really pioneering this part in the industry and people are looking to us as a leader in the field of integrative psychiatry.

Of the presentation, Dr. Britta says “We were able to share this model that we have been creating over the last eight years with our colleagues in the field. Being able to show the progression and success we have been able to achieve since this model has developed was really inspiring. The partnership that we have showed easily because we always work together as a team and side by side – implementing an integrative approach that benefits the client and the treatment team as well.”

To learn more about Pacific Quest and our integrative, whole person approach, please visit the following links:

April 19, 2016

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Triathlon transitions – great metaphors for life!

Pacific Quest is supporting Mike Sullivan on his “2016 Road to Kona.” Yes, you heard correctly, Mike is taking another stab at the World Championship Ironman, assuming he is selected to participate through the Hawaii Resident Lottery on May 5, 2016. Mike will share insights and perspectives throughout his 2016 races and training, and drawing parallels between the mind-body connection and wellness – important themes at Pacific Quest.

In his first two posts, Mike shared his insights before and after the Hilo Marathon. With this third installment, Mike parallels navigating transitions in racing, wilderness therapy, and life.  

By Mike Sullivan, MA, LMHC
Alumni and Family Services Director

“Ooooh…. Yikes, my body feels so sluggish,” I say to myself as I get off my bicycle and start running. There is that familiar feeling -my feet are heavy, my legs feel tight, and my run pace starts out slow motion. The transition is uncomfortable, as my body begins to reroute blood flow from my cycling muscles into my running muscles. In triathlon training, workouts that combine two sports is a called a “brick.” It is critical to practice brick workouts, as it not only trains the physical body to adapt to shifting from one sport to another, but it also gives the athlete a chance to master transition itself – navigating mental and emotional challenges that are inherent in transition. The lessons of transition mastery in triathlon parallel those in life, and importantly, are equivalent to the transition practice that students at Pacific Quest encounter regularly.

Triathlons consists of racing consecutive swimming, cycling, and running sections, and triathletes refer to the two transitions during a race as T1 and T2. T1 is the point during the race where the athlete exits the swim and transitions onto the bicycle. T2 is where the athlete finishes the bike leg, and transitions into the final stretch of the race, the run. While an athlete may be incredibly skilled at swimming, cycling, and running, the winning athlete will have mastered the transitions as well. They are integral to the race and should not be overlooked. In preparing for the Kona Half Ironman this coming June, I am especially attentive to aspects of T1 and T2, including organization, techniques, and anticipating discomfort. Practicing transitions cannot be overstated.

PQ_transition_1

Transition 1 or “T1”

Similar to what I discussed in terms of preparation for the Hilo Marathon last month, organization is a critical skill to triathlon transition. One should lay out their cycling and running equipment in an organized fashion, being meticulous about the placement of equipment, as each piece has its place in the whole. Also sticking to an orderly routine is a must- this is more efficient as it conserves mental and emotional energy. The more organized and methodical the athlete is, the more smooth the transition is.

Athlete’s are sponges for new skills and must remain open to learning valuable techniques. For instance, in my first triathlon it hadn’t occurred to me to roll my bicycle socks into little donuts. This technique allows the athlete to simply roll the socks onto each foot when you get out of the water. With wet feet, it is much more time consuming and challenging to pull socks over your feet the way you would normally. I lost valuable time and felt frustrated and out of balance trying to pull socks over wet feet. Once I learned the donut technique, my next T1 went more smoothly and I felt more confident and level headed as I entered the cycling section of the race. This is a small example of a much larger lesson- learn techniques to be more successful each time.

Lastly, I will highlight anticipating discomfort. In every “brick” workout, I am getting used to the painful discomfort of shifting gears from one sport to another. This allows me to adapt to the discomfort and creates a higher tolerance. While it is physically grueling to transition, it takes a mental toll on the athlete. The physical and mental are inextricably linked. If the athlete allows the discomfort to permeate his mental and emotional focus, the athlete will suffer, and so will performance.

PQ_transition_2

Transition 2 or “T2”

These transitions, T1 and T2, provide relevant lessons for life. Every person encounters transitions life ranging from small day to day transitions to major life transitions. How do people navigate transitions in life? What skills and metaphors from triathlon are applicable? How do these parallel the transitions that Pacific Quest students practice?

At Pacific Quest, adolescent and young adult students graduate through “stages of growth,” while in the program. They move from stage to stage, and with each successive stage, the students must transition to a new physical camp, with increased responsibilities and challenges. This provides a fantastic medium for internalizing valuable lessons for navigating transition. The students learn important tools related to organization (taking care of their belongings and keeping them orderly), techniques for a successful transition (visualizing obstacles, affirming strengths), and anticipating discomfort. The transitions serve as valuable practice for transitions they will encounter in life, whether it is a simple as some of the daily transitions one encounters (shifting gears between home and school) to larger life transitions (starting at a new school, moving, family shifts).

As the Kona Half Ironman approaches, I look forward to employing these tools in race preparation, and on race day itself. Track me live during the race on June 4th by following the link for the Ironman Tracker through the PEAK Self website. With each race, I am able to review performance, and identify what went well and areas where I can improve. I look forward to following up on this blog post with insights following the race, and highlight important lessons learned!

March 25, 2016

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Preparation and Performance converge: Mike Sullivan qualifies for Boston 2017 Marathon

Pacific Quest is supporting Mike Sullivan on his “2016 Road to Kona.” Yes, you heard correctly, Mike is taking another stab at the World Championship Ironman, assuming he is selected to participate through the Hawaii Resident Lottery on May 5, 2016. Mike will share insights and perspectives throughout his 2016 races and training, and drawing parallels between the mind-body connection and wellness – important themes at Pacific Quest.

In his first post, Mike shared his insights before the Hilo Marathon. With this second installment, Mike reflects on the marathon from this past Sunday:

By Mike Sullivan, MA, LMHC
Alumni and Family Services Director

A marathon is a point of convergence.  It is the point where immense preparation meets performance.  Every athlete strives to maximize performance on race day.  In the Hilo International Marathon this past weekend, I drew upon planning, preparation, routines,  strategy, a sense of belonging, and mental toughness. I have honed these skills bothMikeHiloMarathon in my endurance athletics training and my work with youth at Pacific Quest, teaching youth the importance of self discipline, executive functioning, and resilience.  The Hilo Marathon was a powerful convergence of many psychological factors, which I tactfully aligned, landing me in 5th place overall and qualifying me for the 2017 Boston Marathon

The Hilo Marathon was my first race of 2016.  The race itself started long before race day.  In order to arrive in a calm and balanced mental and physical state, developing routine was a critical tool.  Since recovering from the 2015 Kona Ironman last fall, I have incorporated a morning routine that includes a variety of yoga asanas and foam roller techniques.  The routine takes 45 minutes, and aims to minimize physical injury, and conjure a calm and present emotional state.  It is a mindfulness practice that nurtures mental health and creates a solid foundation for the day ahead.

Mind-Body Training

When it came time to plan out the details for race day, I strove to maintain my routine.  While the race itself is drastically different than training days, most coaches and athletes will advise, “Don’t do anything different on race day than you do in training days.” This advice is meant to calm anxiety within the athlete by de-emphasizing the significance of the feat ahead.  Race events impose increased anxiety with the impending performance apex, applying more pressure on the athlete than a regular training day.  Routines reinforce familiarity and ritual, a major combatant to anxiety.  Thus for race day, I planned a 4:00 AM wake up followed by a mini version of my daily routine.  This helped me to manage race anxiety, however, there is a fulcrum point with racing that thrives on a bit of anxiety.  The neurotransmitters emitted from competition and increased pressure heightens focus, and athletes who are able to harness the balance, are able to achieve amazing feats. My routine kept the levels of anxiety in check, allowing me to calibrate my focus appropriately.

The day before the race I focused on mental and physical preparation.  In order to continue to calibrate my anxiety level, decrease chaos, and minimize mental clutter, I prepared my belongings and mentally walked through my morning routine.  I practiced the order of operations several times to ensure I was prepared and had everything accounted for.  It started with setting my yoga mat and foam roller out in the living room, lining up all my breakfast items on the counter, and then arranging my running equipment by the door– shoes, shorts, nutrition, water, etc.  I awoke before my alarm was set to sound and calmly cruised through my morning routine, arriving at the race 45 minutes prior to the start.  Sports psychologists say it is equally important for athletes to be prepared for unknown obstacles to emerge, however, in this instance I didn’t have to navigate any.  Whew!

MarkandMikeHiloMarathonA sense of community and support flourished and created a positive vibe at the starting line.  Surrounded by many friends and Pacific Quest coworkers, encouragement was abounding. Mark Agosto, my boss and mentor, brought great energy and enthusiasm to the starting line, giving me an extra pep talk and champion-like confidence.  The gun sounded marking the start of the race and the 100+ racers jetted off the starting line.  Spectators cheered and athletes hooted and hollered.  A sense of belonging within a community is widely understood to be important for wellbeing and increased self-esteem.  I am grateful for the Big Island community and all the wonderful connections I have developed through athletics. It certainly contributed to a successful race.

Mind-Body Training & Race Strategy

I ran the first half of the race at a moderate pace – roughly 6:50 min/mile.  This was aligned with my race strategy, a plan I created from studying the course and planning for physical and mental challenges.  The beginning of the course, where it gains more elevation than it loses, is where athletes can burn themselves out physically or mentally. I planned to start at a moderate pace and speed up in the second half.  Indeed, my body was feeling strong toward the second half and I was able to increase my pace.  I never hit a “wall” in this race, and was able to stay consistent through the final miles. I finished with a smile in 2:57:29.

Throughout the race I employed mental toughness I established during training.   I completed 20-mile training runs every Sunday in the blistering Hilo heat leading up the race.  This taught me persistence and proved to myself that I could keep going, despite the aches, pains, and self doubts that emerged.  I used my personal mantra of “keep pushing,” and “you can do this all day,” to maintain a fast pace throughout the race.  I also kept it light and positive, smiling and encouraging fellow athletes along the way.

I meditated on the phenomena of peak performance throughout training and the race.  I thought about the parallels racing has with performance in various contexts.  My mind returns to the organic gardens of Pacific Quest. What lessons from racing are similar to gardening, and can be applied to other spheres of performance?  Whether in a race, an organic garden, or at school, youth must learn to manage responsibility in their daily lives- completing tasks, managing anxiety, overcoming self doubt. Utilizing the same tools I drew on in the race can absolutely be applied to a variety of contexts, whether it is school, job, or an array of emotional struggles.  Check out my PEAK Self article on Seven Tools For Peak Performance for more information.

I want to thank Pacific Quest for the support throughout the race.  I also want to thank the amazing Hilo community, Big Island Running Company, and my elaborate family/friend network throughout the world for encouraging my racing habit and interest in sports psychology.  I will continue to  utilize my own experience and research themes related to sports psychology as I hone my PEAK Self and help others to do the same. Bring on Boston 2017!

Congrats to Mike from your PQ ohana! We are so excited for you!

March 18, 2016

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PQ Staff Spotlight: Mike Sullivan on Mindfulness and Marathon Preparation

Pacific Quest is supporting Mike Sullivan on his “2016 Road to Kona.” Yes, you heard correctly, Mike is taking another stab at the World Championship Ironman, assuming he is selected to participate through the Hawaii Resident Lottery on May 5, 2016. Mike will share insights and perspectives throughout his 2016 races and training, and drawing parallels between the mind-body connection and wellness – important themes at Pacific Quest.

Up first, Mike’s reflections as he prepares for the Hilo Marathon this Sunday:

By Mike Sullivan, MA, LMHC

Mike Sullivan raceIt turns out that I ran 300 miles during the month of February – something that came as somewhat of a surprise to me. I wasn’t entirely aware that I was putting that kind of mileage on my body during the month. I ran the stats on my computer and learned that my total running time was­­ 40.5 hours, a significant commitment to say it lightly. It begs the question, and I hear this all the time, “What do you think about during all those hours?” The truth is, although I have been asked this question many times, I don’t exactly know how to answer, as it isn’t entirely clear to me.

Mindfulness Training and the Brain

This much is clear though- I have observed my personal thought process and studied the neuroscience of exercise to better understand my experience. I seek to find if my experience may be congruent to others. In fact, my Peak Self project analyzes various athlete’s mental experiences by interviewing them and featuring an “Athlete of the Month” on the Peak Self blog. I have learned that many athletes encounter similar mental phenomena in training.

Here are the top three phenomena I’ve noticed in myself and the mental tools I have employed to maximize the experience:

Mindfulness Training and Perseverance

My mind tends to ruminate on unwanted thoughts or uncomfortable emotions. Without distraction, the mind is left to its own devices to latch onto thoughts or feelings that are left unaddressed, and become a point of focus. One naturally assigns judgment and in my case perseverates, allowing unwanted thoughts to persistently gnaw at me.

Similar to advanced meditation practitioners, learning how to deal with the minds tendency to latch onto negative thoughts is critical, and a necessary step in reaching a higher level of calm and feeling of contentment. In fact, this process of allowing thoughts and feelings to emerge and dealing with them, is a healthy process of mindfulness practice, and supported widely within the therapeutic community. I have enjoyed the process of incorporating mindfulness into running:

Mindfulness Training Tool #1

Tool 1: the practice of acknowledging when certain thoughts appear (or reappear), refrain from assigning judgment (just noticing that the thought is there), and letting it go. Developing this practice has allowed me to find larger moments of calm and content, increasing the spans of attaining a presence in the moment. When one asks me what I think about on those long runs, the reality is that it is an ongoing project, where I continually practice this basic mindfulness technique.

I often find that a wandering mind and “mindless” running leads to sloppier running and less effective workouts. It also leads to dissatisfaction with the experience, as running starts to feel more like a hamster wheel, than actually getting anywhere. For many, the process of becoming present requires more than just acknowledging thoughts and letting them go, it requires one to focus attention on one simple thing (Tool 2). I hone focus on the rhythmic nature of my breath, as well as a mental cycle of checking in repetitively on my running form. This is a cycle starting with my head and working my way down to the bottoms of my feet. I first notice the angle I am holding my head, the tension in my shoulders, how I am holding my abs/core, the rotation within my hips, the size of my strides, and the nuances with my feet (foot strike, roll, etc.). This mindfulness technique engages focus in the experience.

Problem Solving & Mindfulness Training

As the miles add up in any particular workout and I find myself in longer stretches of “being present,” which in turn seems to lead to another important aspect of “what I think about” during all those training hours. The combination of endurance exercise and the mindfulness techniques leads to increased problem solving and clarity in my thinking. I find myself regularly encountering “aha” moments, where I will encounter a novel idea or solve a problem I haven’t otherwise been able to solve. With a clear mind my subconscious is able to make connections that it isn’t otherwise able to.

It seems that the unique chemical environment produced in the brain, catalyzed by exercise and mindfulness, fuels problem solving. According to Bruce Perry, MD, Ph.D., and founder of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), the higher level operations of the brain (i.e., the neocortex and the limbic system) are only functional when the more primitive parts of the brain are regulated (i.e., the brainstem and diencephalon). Patterned, rhythmic behavior stimulates and soothes the lower parts of the brain (responsible for nervous system functioning), establishing a critical foundation for the more complex aspects of the brain to fire. Running is a perfect medium for problem solving! The nervous system is nurtured from the bottom up, allowing the brain to problem-solve in a more effective manner.

While I utilize endurance athletics to access a higher level of mindfulness and problem solving, others seek out a parallel experience through other activities. Gardening, yoga, walking, painting, writing, and other hobbies serve to find presence in the moment and soothe the nervous system. Through working at Pacific Quest, I’ve recognized the powerful role that gardening can play in regulating the nervous system and problem solving. Tending to a garden requires patterned, rhythmic behavior of tilling the soil, weeding, pruning, and planting. There is also significant exercise-like movement in tromping around with tools, building garden beds, hauling wheelbarrow loads, and stirring the compost. Mindfulness and problem solving opportunities abound!

February 5, 2016

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Examining the First Pillar of Health: Nutrition

D2014_10_26_T07_21_26-7-X3At Pacific Quest, students learn that what you put in your body directly affects how you feel. The Pacific Quest diet has been developed to provide balanced and vital nutrition. We take advantage of locally grown foods in Hawaii so that food is always fresh and healthy. We are fortunate to have an incredible local source of beef on the Big Island from the Galimba family at Kuahiwi Ranch.  The students also enjoy fresh fish and a variety of fruits and vegetables that are grown in our organic gardens at PQ or other nearby farms.

We teach the basics of nutrition and how the body uses food as fuel. Purified water and herbal teas are the only liquids provided and students are taught how high sugar diets contribute to fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can cause mood changes and energy crashes. Students learn how to cook and prepare food using the freshest and most natural ingredients.

At Pacific Quest, we believe food is medicine and fuel for the body. We provide whole foods, hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar balancing diet, rich in critical nutrients for optimizing health.  The Pacific Quest diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, local protein sources, healthy fats, limited amounts of dairy and no refined sugars or processed foods.

Eating nutritious food, free of refined sugar, artificial chemicals and harmful substances helps our adolescents and young adults feel better and have adequate energy for optimal engagement in the therapeutic process.IMG_0001 (2)

We emphasize the importance of eating in a relaxed setting to optimize digestion. The students are encouraged to chew their food well and take their time to eat. The basics of nutrition are discussed as well as the building blocks of a healthy diet. Pacific Quest cultivates the students’ appreciation of the evolution of their food from the soil to their plates while they harvest and cook many of their own meals.

Pacific Quest’s list of typical foods:

Protein: fish, eggs, yogurt, lentils, tofu, beans, chicken, beef, nuts, seeds, and hummus.

Starches: pita, oats, gluten-free pasta, taro, potato, rice, quinoa, corn tortillas and sweet potato.

Vegetables: tomato, zucchini, carrot, broccoli, eggplant, celery, cauliflower, squash, beets, onion, green beans, kale, spinach, corn, peppers, radish,

Fruits: apple, papaya, banana, passion fruit, guava, pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, orange, and avocado.

Herbs: dill, garlic, lemon, lemongrass, lime, thyme, rosemary, basil, ginger, cilantro, parsley, fennel, nasturtium, turmeric, green onion, and mint.

Nuts: cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and soy nuts.

Seeds: pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Condiments: parmesan cheese, soy sauce, braggs amino acids, coconut oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, honey, peanut butter, yogurt.

Whey protein powder: weight maintenance supplement.

Snack: consist of granola, raisins, soy nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cashews.

Water: The students drink 96 ounces of water daily. We encourage them not to drink a lot of water while they eat as it will inhibit digestion.

October 8, 2010

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Pacific Quest Gathering

Pacific Quest Gathering - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Pacific Quest recently held an informational and educational gathering for visiting educational consultants on the Big Island of Hawaii. Educational consultants arrived from the Midwest, East and West Coast, and Southern U.S. to learn about the services Pacific Quest provides for struggling youth.  Our guests were greeted in camp with a welcoming ceremony, drumming circle, and a delicious lunch prepared by Pacific Quest students.  Afterwards, a garden tour of our four organic farms captured the key components and stages of our program for the consultants. Our guests were able to ask students about their Pacific Quest experience and what led them to our program. The afternoon on the farm concluded with traveling to the nearby town of Pahala, where guests stayed in an old plantation house and surrounding cottages. In the evening, our guests experienced an authentic Hawaiian experience, with locally grown food and local entertainment.

The following morning, Pacific Quest therapists and wellness staff delivered interactive presentations about our program. Topics included were: the wellness program at Pacific Quest, including our focus on nutrition, sleep, and self-care, education about the different phases a student experiences at Pacific Quest, a mindfulness activity, engagement in forming intents to live by, and our sustainable growth model.

Following the educational presentations, we loaded the vans and spent an afternoon engaging on the farm and with students. Staff and guests put on work gloves, and joined students in working in the nursery, transplanting plants, and harvesting mangoes and papayas on the farm. Students shared their experiences and knowledge of the farm with our visitors and were active teachers for the day.

After getting dirty and working the farm, our caravan loaded up and drove to the Kona side of the island, for interaction with the PQ staff and a traditional Hawaiian luau. Educational consultants learned how to dance the hula and performed for the guests at the luau. Guests had the chance to discuss the program, ask questions to staff, and to relax and enjoy the beauty of Hawaii.

What came from this gathering was an exchange of knowledge between educational consultants and the students and staff at PQ. Our guests were able to experience our students’ daily life and engage in learning about the mind-body-emotion connection. One of our goals at PQ is to educate others about sustainable growth, a tenant of our program. By hosting this event, we were able to share our sustainable growth model through experiential education, informational sessions, and one-on-one interaction with students and staff.

Mahalo to everyone who participated in this event!

SaveSave

November 27, 2009

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Anonymous student poem

The poem below was written by a PQ student.  Inspiration may have come from the weekly wellness lessons that the students receive from our naturopathic doctor, Dr. Zimmer.  Here it is:

Wellness Poem

In your brain is where it starts

then 30 ft to where you fart

Chewing and saliva breaks down food

what you swallow can affect your mood

Paristasis pushes food down

to the stomach where it hangs around

where a liquid kills things that make you sick

Nothing more than acid… hydrochloric

Watch how much water you’re ingesting

it dilutes the HCl and slows down digestion

1-2 hours is approximate time

to reach the intestines in a state called chyme

Small intestine is the first visit

it suchks out all the nutrients

Water’s absorbed by the large intestine

and poo is created in this state of digestion

Diaharrea is not so kind

if too much water’s left behind

And thin if takes too much

you’re constipated, which really sucks

Up to 24 hours from mouth to potty

on the wonders of the human body

November 6, 2009

Written by:

Dr. Zimmer’s Wellness Topic on Strong Immune Systems

This week we discussed the pillars of health and how they contribute to strong immune systems. The pillars of health are:

1.The Mind/Body Connection

2. Digestion / Nutrition / Water

3. Sleep

4. Breathing

5. Exercise / Movement

At Pacific Quest all five of these pillars are reinforced daily leading to healthier and happier students.

Stay tuned for a more in depth bloq about these five pillars.

With the arrival of flu season in the northern hemisphere a discussion about the swine flu was sparked.  Receiving the vaccination and proper hygiene are important and seem to be the main focus of the news reports regarding the swine flu. But how about also emphasizing a healthy, robust immune system to lessen your chances of contracting the swine flu and to mute the course of the flu if you happen to catch it.

I asked the students what weakens the immune system and their answers were:

Sugar, Stress,  Poor sleep, Eating junk food, Not exercising, Stuffing your emotions, Smoking,  Alcohol

That’s Correct!

They have learned about the negative effects of these elements over the course of their wellness classes.

I asked them what they are doing here at Pacific Quest on a daily basis to keep their immune systems strong and healthy and they replied:

Exercising every morning, Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, Talking about our feelings, Sleeping at least 7 hours a night, Breathing fresh air, Drinking a lot of water,  Breathing exercises, Eating garlic, Getting vitamin D from the sun and Not eating all of our favorite junk foods.

A Recipe for Health!

I was very satisfied with their answers because one, they have learned these concepts during their stay here and two, they are engaging in these activities daily- creating healthy immune systems ready to withstand the flu season back on the mainland.

Yours in health,

Dr. Britta Zimmer