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The Lake Logan Conference Center holds its uniquely relaxing and informative annual Healthy and Holy Retreat the weekend of February 22-24, 2019. This year’s presenters include family doctor, Dr. Gus Vickery, M.D., and yogi Rosie Mulford.

Dr. Gus Vickery returns for the 2019 retreat following his warm reception in 2018 and informative down to earth talks. This year you can expect him to dive deep into discussions around chronic illness and reversal, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight without dieting, and incorporation of actionable steps for leading a life of health and feeling good. Dr. Vickery’s approach is influenced by mindfulness and incorporating spiritual practices into our daily lives.

Together with experienced yogi Rosie Mulford, you will learn how yoga is a powerful practice that integrates body and spirit. Through daily practice, the mind becomes calmer, and the connection to the divine becomes clearer, leading to better overall health and wellness.

The popular weekend respite includes delicious and nutritious meals, private accommodations, intimate talks with attendees and presenters, and a relaxing environment for meditation and devotion.

Participants are urged to register early for this unique retreat as it is expected to sell out! You MUST register to attend!


 There is a simple and understandable truth about health. Find out more at www.healthshepherds.com.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 21

This is our last post on willpower in the series, “Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health.” We’ve focused heavily on this skill because it’s fundamental to you making the choices that support your best health.

I want you to understand the concept of self-forgiveness. Because, in this journey, we’re going to have setbacks. We’re going to have challenges that sometimes overwhelm us. There will be times when we want to give in to our old behavioral patterns. When we do, the faster we forgive ourselves, the faster we will exit that unhealthy behavior loop. Then we can restart the behaviors that we truly desire and that support our good health.

You cannot beat up on yourself or succumb to guilt and shame. These negative feelings and emotions will deplete your willpower, make you more restless, and increase the desire to do whatever makes you feel good in the moment. Instead, you forgive yourself, accept that this is just part of the challenge, and then you move forward with a new determination.

Happy healthy couple average size embracing on a walk

It’s very important to practice self-forgiveness. Forgiveness of yourself and others. This is one of the most important characteristics that we can cultivate. When we begin to forgive everyone else of everything that’s ever happened, and we forgive ourselves, we enter into a type of freedom that’s remarkable. It’s a wonderful experience.

Practicing gratitude and forgiveness is so powerful. I want you to apply this to yourself. Feel grateful and forgive yourself. Don’t judge yourself. It’s okay. You will continue this journey. You will continue to become the healthiest version of you.

We’ll see you in the next post.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 6

Chew on this: Once you’re eating, what helps you know when it’s time to stop? How does your body know when you’ve consumed sufficient energy and nutrients?

Satiation and Satiety Signaling

There’s a concept called satiation, which is the feeling of fullness you get during a meal that tells you it’s time to stop eating. It’s the feeling that you’ve had enough. There’s also the concept of satiety which describes the process of maintaining a sense of satisfaction, or fullness, between meals. When you have normal satiety, you have a reduced interest in food until you truly become hungry again. Satiety allows you to enter into all of your productive activities without being distracted by food. Good satiety promotes health and gives you freedom from unhealthy eating behaviors. Many factors promote normal satiety.

High fiber, nutrient-dense foods that are lower in overall calories create more volume-signaling, allowing you to be naturally satisfied.

Satiation is mediated by two primary factors: volume and nutrients. Your stomach is actually small, but it can stretch to a very large size. As your stomach stretches, your body detects this and sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to stop eating. This signal travels the vagus nerve that communicates to your brain stem, which is where your satiation center exists. This area of the brain functions in a non-conscious manner.

Avocado toast on whole wheat bread and soft boiled egg

That’s why we emphasize fiber and nutrient dense foods as part of your eating routine. High fiber, nutrient-dense foods that are lower in overall calories create more volume-signaling, allowing you to be naturally satisfied. In fact, many studies on obesity have demonstrated that when individuals only have the option to eat high-fiber, nutrient-dense, low-calorie, moderate-palatability foods, they’ll naturally control their appetite. I’m talking about people who have chronic binge eating issues suddenly having no issue with their normal satiation function.

Hormonal Signaling

However, volume is not the only signal that regulates when to stop eating. There’s also hormonal satiation. While you’re eating, your gastrointestinal tract, and other related organs like the pancreas, send signals to the brain that nutrients and energy are incoming. There are many different hormones involved in this signaling. I will not go into the details of them all here.

It’s important to know that insulin is one of these hormones. I teach about insulin extensively, and I like to remind people that insulin is an important hormone, and it’s not our enemy. It’s just that too much insulin all the time can lead to issues such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and chronic obesity. Insulin is actually a signal to tell you to stop eating, so high insulin doesn’t cause hunger.

In fact, many studies on obesity have demonstrated that when individuals only have the option to eat high-fiber, nutrient-dense, low-calorie, moderate-palatability foods, they’ll naturally control their appetite.

Insulin is an anabolic hormone and is necessary to move nutrients into the cells that require them. But again, insulin was supposed to be released, and then clear the scene. You have a small amount of insulin all the time. But generally speaking, your insulin should only spike 2-3 times a day, when you eat, and should otherwise be at a relatively low level. Part of the problem with our modern eating paradigm is that we keep insulin at high levels all the time. Our body doesn’t like to receive a constant message from just one hormonal signaler. This leads to imbalances, and then the body has to make adjustments to compensate.

Shifting Perspective

Some of the hormones that are released in response to nutrients stick around for a while. They actually help us eat less at future meals if we had plenty of nutrient intake at an earlier meal. This is why you need to think about food from a perspective of a full day, or even a week, as opposed to just one meal. If you understand the principles of eating that naturally control appetite and give you good energy, you plan your meals in such a way that you have control over them.

Insoluble fiber oatmeal with honey and pears.

An example of this would be, for someone who struggles with satiation, eating more protein and fiber earlier in the day, so they’ll naturally create a stronger satiety signal for a longer period of time.

So we’ve discussed that you have initiators of eating behavior, which we don’t fully understand, and that you also have terminators of eating behavior, which we understand a little better, but the picture’s not yet complete. We still haven’t got into the most powerful determinant of eating behaviors, which is your brain. We’ll discuss that in the next post.


Are you searching for a more integrated approach to healthcare? That’s what Health Shepherds delivers. If you have questions about a more personalized path to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 20

Now we are making some progress! We’ve recognized our cravings. We understand that they’re not personal, that they developed over time, and that we have a strong desire to create new pathways that result in the behaviors we want. The process to achieve this is based on a relatively simple concept. In fact, it’s so simple, people often won’t try it. They just don’t believe it’ll work. I discuss it in my book, Authentic Health.

Essentially, when you experience a craving, regardless of what it is, whether it’s to smoke, eat, drink, watch television, or any other behavior that’s not supporting your best health, you will pause and observe it. You’ll remind yourself of what you want for yourself, meaning you’ll use the power of desire and future continuity. You will not beat up on yourself for having this issue, as you actually have strong desires to be the best version of you. And you will then pick an activity that provides well-being. Pick from the list we described in our post, “Is Well-being Something I Have or Something I Feel”? Perhaps it’s gardening, or taking a walk with your dog, or meditating, or turning on some music. But you will pick a new activity that promotes higher mind activation and well-being.

Couple walking hiking boots in woods fall

Give yourself at least 10 minutes in the new activity before reexamining the craving. You should take that 10 minutes and engage in whatever the new activity was, whether it’s taking a walk or some other activity. You’re allowed to consider giving into the craving after that 10 minutes. But you don’t have to. You’re not fighting it. You’re just accepting it for what it is and creating a new pattern.

Essentially, when you experience a craving, regardless of what it is, whether it’s to smoke, eat, drink, watch television, or any other behavior that’s not supporting your best health, you will pause and observe it.

As you do this, you’ll begin to create a new pathway in your brain in response to the craving that results in you doing something good for you.

Ten minutes later, after you’ve been working in your garden, you’ll probably find the craving has diminished significantly. It has far less power over you. So then you should just continue the activity that’s giving you true well-being. I want you to pick something and practice this.

You can try different activities and journal about it, figuring out which ones are the most powerful and effective for you. With regular application, strong future continuity can change this pattern for you. I promise you, you can do this. This is based on a mindfulness process that has solid science to support why it works. You can trust this process. But you do have to actually do it.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 19

Another important aspect of willpower is recognizing that whatever cravings you experience, they are just neurological pathways based on prior conditioning and habits. You want to depersonalize them. You no longer want to feel bad about yourself because you struggle with them. The neural networks that trigger these behaviors were established long ago and probably in a non-conscious way.

You should stop feeling bad about yourself for this. You should accept it for what it is, that you have these neural networks that are associated with powerful emotions and feelings. But you also have a strong desire to create new networks that will create new behaviors, and you will be able to do this by focusing your energy in the direction of what you truly want for yourself. You will no longer react to the cravings in an emotional way. You’ll begin to reduce the power of the old neural networks that aren’t supporting your good health and increase the power to the new neural networks that you are building that will automate the behaviors that support your best health.

Four Step Mindfulness Process

I’ve written a paper that describes a four-step process based on a model developed at UCLA of how to use mindfulness to create new brain pathways to support your behavior. I recommend you read that article, as it explains it very clearly, and outlines the four steps. It’s beyond the scope of this blog post to provide all of the details because it’s a fairly lengthy article. But if you’re interested in this topic, it will teach you how to implement the process. I promise you, if you apply it regularly, you will establish a new habit pattern, and the old one will slowly disappear.

woman alone sitting on a rock being present

So we want to acknowledge that we experience craving and that when it occurs it’s powerful. We also need to recognize that it’s based on prior conditioning patterns and we just want to observe it. We don’t want to try and fight it or suppress it; trying not to think about it will not work. Instead, we want to see craving for what it is and move into a new behavioral pattern. Essentially, we want the old pattern to trigger a new behavioral routine.

We will use a pattern of substitution to achieve this. That’s what I discuss in the paper I recommend you read, and what we’ll cover in the next blog in this series. We have a wealth of information on willpower and the other key habits to your authentic health.  


If you’re interested in personalized healthcare, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. Please enjoy the free resources available to you. For those deeply curious about their most authentic health, I also recommend my book, Authentic Health

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 5

How do we decide what we’re going to eat? There are two primary driving forces behind eating. 1) There is homeostatic eating, which is where we eat so we can get the energy and nutrients our body needs to maintain homeostasis or a normal internal environment. 2) Then, there is hedonic eating, which is where we eat for pleasure or to manage our emotional states.

Hormones and Eating

Almost all of our meals are a mix of both homeostatic and hedonic eating. There are many hormones that influence our appetite. One of them is known as ghrelin. It’s often called the hunger hormone. It will stimulate our appetite. It peaks before meals and falls to lower levels during and immediately after eating, as our body knows we’re now getting the energy and nutrients we need. But this is not the only hormone that influences our eating.

There’s also a hormone involved in satiety, or a feeling of satisfaction, called leptin. Leptin is secreted by our fat cells and helps regulate energy balance. What’s supposed to happen as we gain weight is that leptin levels will rise and tell an area of our brain that we should not eat as much, that we have adequately stored energy in our body. However, for many people, as they continue to gain weight, their leptin levels proceed to rise, but they continue to be very hungry. The brain stops listening to the leptin. This is thought to be due to leptin resistance and is one of the challenges of losing weight if you’ve had chronic obesity.

This is a hormonal issue, and not under your conscious control.

Doctor’s Conclusion

Your hunger and eating are shaped by many factors, including your genetics, social cues, learned behaviors, environmental factors, your circadian rhythms, hormones, stress and emotional states, getting enough sleep, and your physical activity. So you see, it’s very complicated. Science still does not have the secret to hunger and eating, although we’re getting closer. We don’t really understand everything that makes us start eating.

But we’ve learned a lot about what causes us to stop eating. There’s more on that in our next post in the series.


There is an uncomplicated and understandable truth about eating and health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds, follow us on Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 18

As discussed in our last post, willpower is a skill, not a character trait. Remember that willpower only overcomes so much. Strong willpower gives you the ability to pursue your goals. It can help you overcome a lot of challenges and temptations. But willpower alone is not sufficient for achieving your goals. It is very challenging to try and continue to override your desires with willpower. That’s why we keep stressing the concept of desire.

We want to keep a full tank of willpower. So it’s important to nurture our energy in every way possible.

Willpower is a Limited Commodity

Willpower takes a lot of conscious energy. You must continue to apply it. It’s a limited commodity. That’s why at the end of the day people tend to give in to temptations like nicotine, alcohol, social media, and sugar. The reason is that they’re tired, and they don’t have a full tank of willpower.

We want to keep a full tank of willpower. So it’s important to nurture our energy in every way possible. The most important thing is to create a strong and automated desire to make choices consistent with our best health, the choices that help us to feel authentically good. Then we no longer have to use willpower. We’ll just simply choose what’s best for us all of the time.

Woman chopping salad on cutting board healthy choices

Future Continuity

Future continuity is your attachment to your future self. You may have made some serious investments on a regular basis into your financial portfolio. Or your professional life. Or your family relationships. You have used the idea of future continuity throughout your life. But you may never have applied it to your health.

When applied to your health, future continuity is a strong attachment to your future body and mind being very healthy, free of disease, and able to live at your full potential all the way up until the day you die.

This is an area of processing in your higher mind that has influence over the reward system. It can’t overpower the reward system, but it can give you a leg to stand on. So this week, I want you to focus on future continuity. Get strongly attached to your future self. Visualize your future healthy self. Visit your future healthy self. See what they would tell you:

  • “Consuming nutritious foods was worth it.”
  • “Getting a good night’s rest added years to my life.”
  • “Being physically active helped me live happier.”

When applied to your health, future continuity is a strong attachment to your future body and mind being very healthy, free of disease, and able to live at your full potential all the way up until the day you die. The more you cultivate the future continuity for your health, the more willpower you will have.

Consider all of the value that healthy choices brought to your future self. Build that future continuity. It’s very important for where you want to go and how you get there.

Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 17

Almost everyone has some self-control. It’s just a matter of where they’ve applied it. When the brain’s reward system is strongly activated, we lose self-control. That system is designed to override your self-control and keep you engaging in behaviors that enhance your chance of survival. Unfortunately, eating sugary cereals while watching television does not enhance your survival. It’s working against it.

We live in a time where most of the things triggering your reward system are actually harmful to you and lessen your lifespan and your health rather than improve it. We have to get this balance back by focusing on well-being. When you have well-being, willpower naturally comes more easily. So we’re going to focus on the activities that enhance focus and improve awareness and higher brain function, such as:

Willpower happens when you’re fully aware. Willpower happens when you’re able to make choices consistent with your highest desire. I want you to revisit the whole concept of desire and what you really want for yourself.

We live in a time where most of the things triggering your reward system are actually harmful to you and lessen your lifespan and your health rather than improve it.

Generally speaking, you’re choosing according to your desires. If your area of struggle involves food, then think about what’s happening when you experience the craving for food. Just pay attention to the feelings and observe them, and then begin to think about what you really want for yourself. You have to be aware in the moment to even make choices. Otherwise, it’s just too challenging.woman sitting writing in journal with awareness

So this week, we’re focusing on our awareness. We’re focusing on the experience of craving, the areas where we seem to lack willpower. But we’re also focusing on the areas where we do have willpower, the parts of our life where we’re always able to take care of things in a way that serves our best interests or the interests of our family.

Next week in the series we’ll dive even deeper into willpower, bringing you more insight into how you can apply it to your daily life.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 4

The bottom line is you eat what your brain tells you to eat. This means not what you, the deeper and greater you, actually wants for yourself. That you doesn’t decide what you eat. Your conditioned non-conscious brain tells you what to eat.

If you really wake up the deeper you and get serious about what you want, you can begin to change this. But for now, you’re eating as your non-conscious brain has trained you to eat. This started when you were an embryo and is based on genetics, hormones, and neurotransmitters that have developed as you matured.

Remember this: It’s not you, it’s your brain.

But guess what? You actually get to take charge of your brain. You can take over your brain and direct your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to be consistent with what you really want for yourself. We also emphasize this in our series on desire, willpower, and mindset. It’s very important that you have the right mindset and the right desire and that you’re very intentional about this.

Now more than ever, you must apply intentionality.

Intentionality and Eating

You or someone you know opens a bag of potato chips or cookies. Perhaps the chips are labeled something like “buffalo ranch maple bacon-flavored.” You think, “Disgusting. Who would ever want to eat something like that?” Then you taste one because your friend says, “You’ve just got to try this!”

And the next thing you know, the bag is empty. You ate the entire bag. You’re sitting there wondering, “How did I just do that? Why couldn’t I stop eating?”

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

This is true for so many different foods. I think everyone can relate to this example. I sure can. You need to understand that the non-conscious aspects of your brain took over.

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

Behind the decision-making processes of eating behavior are physiological forces in our brain and body that we’ve never even been aware of. Brain physiology involves hormones, neurotransmitters, and electricity. Your eating behavior is based on many different pathways in your brain that established when you were just developing. Your preferences were formed based on reward stimulation before you were at an age of choice.

Friends deciding what to eat.

If you choose to choose according to your desires, then you’re going to have to pay close attention to this blog series. The great news is, you will be able to choose to choose. You can get mastery over this. Leave behind all of the anxiety, shame, guilt, and powerlessness you have felt. You will be able to take charge.

Be patient with yourself and go one step at a time. Deepen your understanding. Practice visualizing your desires for your best health, and what that looks like. Experience this. I promise it’ll pay you back.  

Visit us at Health Shepherds, review our resources, and read our book Authentic Health. We look forward to you joining us on your journey to better living and authentic health.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 3

I want to reiterate one more time our three fundamental eating behaviors that apply to all nutritional approaches. These three pillars are necessary for any eating paradigm. If you violate these pillars, you ultimately will find that you have very little control over eating behavior and often struggle with your weight or chronic diseases.

I also want to remind you that not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy. Many people who have a heavier body-mass are applying the proper fundamental habits of health in their life. They feel good, and their health metrics look good. These individuals are not unhealthy. This is not about weight. This is about health. Good health supports a healthy weight for you. This is an individual issue based on genetics and long-term hormonal changes based on long-term environmental exposures.

In addition, I want to remind you that many people who aren’t classified as overweight are metabolically sick. They’re eating the foods that make us all sick. They may even be overeating them. However, the way their body regulates their weight via genetics and hormones keeps them at a leaner weight. But their biometrics tell the truth: they have insulin resistance, fatty livers, elevated blood pressures, and chronic inflammation. They don’t feel good. They also need to apply these three pillars.

Three Pillars:

1. Eliminate Nutritional Stressors

Throughout this series, you’ll learn why fast foods, junk foods, processed foods, foods that have been super concentrated in sugar, fat, salt, and other flavors are all causing us health issues. These foods directly trigger inflammation and disease in your body. This has been well established.

These foods only provide high levels of calories but contain minimal nutrients. These foods lack fiber and trigger your reward system in such a powerful way that you cannot stop eating them. You have no willpower when you consume these foods. These foods are the food equivalent of cigarettes. There’s no case to be made that they should be part of our diet.

Man at table eating eggs

When we eat them, we become addicted to them, and we become sick. They make us feel bad. The pleasure we feel from them is false. We have to reject them the same way a smoker has to quit smoking if they want to become well.

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

I know some think I’m dogmatic about it, but it’s just the truth. If you want to be healthy, these foods have no place in your diet.

But I also want to emphasize you can take your time getting there. Change is hard, and it takes time. Change happens according to strong desire. Just know that I’m not judging you or anyone else. This is a challenging problem and we have to be aware of what these foods are doing to us.

2. Balance Feeding and Fasting

We have many posts that explain what I mean by balancing feeding and fasting, so I’ll not go into it right now. Our bodies are designed to enter the fed state, but they are also designed to spend time in fasting states. This is a very important principle.

3. Mindfulness of Eating

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

This is a very important piece of the puzzle because once you’re exposed to the foods that trigger your reward system, you will not be able to control your behavior. That’s true for everyone, including me.

Broccollini and cheese and lemon

So you have to apply a mindful approach to nutrition. That means understanding what food is for you, being mindful about the sourcing, taking your time to eat, chewing your food thoroughly—preferably 25 times if possible—and enjoying what food is supposed to do for you.

In conclusion, eliminate nutritional stressors, balance feeding and fasting, and be mindful about eating. It really is that simple.

There is an uncomplicated and understandable truth about eating and health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds.

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