Healthy Eating = A Healthier You!

Healthy eating is essential for everyone, but when you are living with a chronic illness, diet can play an even bigger role. Food nourishes not only our body, but our mind and soul. We can all relate to the challenges of eating healthy when we are having a rough day. Finding ways to make healthy meals easier is a challenge. With only so much energy to spread around on any given day we sometimes have to choose one thing over another. Sometimes that means a meal that is easy to make but may not be nutritionally sound. Finding strategies to make things convenient is a must!


For our January Educational Forum we invited Greta Hardin to share her expertise in the kitchen. Not only did we get to share some delicious and nutritious food – we also came away with some helpful tools to make cooking healthy meals easier. Greta showed us easy ways on how we can get more veggies into our diet with less work. This was such an amazing afternoon that we want to be sure that everyone has this information!

Greta started off the forum by showing us some helpful tools and methods for keeping safe in the kitchen.

  • Transferring hot cookware from the oven can be dangerous when you are struggling to keep your balance. A wheeled kitchen cart can help with transporting foods from the stove to the counter or table. IKEA has a great selection with prices starting at $25.

  • Sit at a table to do meal prep like cutting and chopping.
  • Take advantage of the good days  and cut up some extra veggies – then they are ready to go on the challenging days. Most veggies are freezer friendly, some may need to be blanched prior to freezing.

  • Have a cooking party! Ask some friends to help with meals you can prepare in advance – then freeze them. Plus this is a great opportunity to socialize!

  • Most importantly – use your common sense when in the kitchen and remember “Safety First”!

During the cooking portion of the forum, Greta introduced us to a variety of oils, vinegars and spices. It is amazing the variety of ways we can make our food taste great and still keep it low sodium. Lemon, lime, garlic and ginger have always been my go to ingredients, but now I can expand my culinary horizons with more exotic flavors like delicata squash seed oil! The cooking demonstration focused on roasting various vegetables that can all be found at most local farmer’s markets.

Greta has a wonderful cookbook that  came out in August 2013. It can be purchased on Amazon.

 A whole new world of vegetables has opened up and I am excited to start cooking again! Bon appetite!

Start the New Year off Right!

For our next Educational Forum  we are pleased to welcome Greta Hardin – she will be giving a cooking demo featuring the advantages of cooking with veggies.

Vegetables are great baked or roasted in the oven – pop them in, set a timer and that’s it! No standing over the stove fussing with them.

Greta will be using Mediterranean spices – think lemon, garlic, oregano, preserved (dried & ground) lime peel, rosemary, toasted nuts and only a little (optional) peppery hotness while avoiding the use of salt. She will also show how dried fruits can add some southern Mediterranean flair!
As a final step, Greta will be showing us how to take advantage of “large batch vegetable roasting”.They are perfect for freezing!

For more info on Greta check out her website at:

Join us for an informative afternoon of eating healthy!


Pacific Balance and Rehabilitation Center (PBRC)

400 Mercer Street, Suite 302

Seattle, Washington.

Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

The holiday season can be difficult for anyone. It’s no surprise that for those of us with vestibular/balance conditions may find the demands of shopping for gifts, spending large amounts of money, attending parties and family gatherings, and entertaining house guests stressful. There is good news though – your holiday season can be more enjoyable if you keep your expectations in check and pace yourself. Here are some tips to help you survive the holiday season.

Gift Giving & Money Concerns

  • Pick up a few gifts each time you go out.

  • Gift certificates are easy and convenient.

  • Shop online.

  • If a store or online company will gift wrap – do it!

  • Set a budget and stick to it.

  • Draw names with family and friends so you don’t have to buy individual gifts.

  • Make homemade gifts – there are plenty of easy and budget friendly ideas online.

  • Instead of gifts – make a donation to a charitable organization on someone’s behalf.

Household Chores & Decorating

  • Use a pre-lit artificial tree.

  • Have a tree trimming party – ask each guest to bring an ornament and an appetizer to share.

  • Ask for help.

  • Keep it simple.

Family Get Togethers, Parties, & Food

  • Use a pre-made cookie dough and decorate them yourself. A little icing and sprinkles look great!

  • If you need to host a dinner – have your guests bring their signature dish. This way you only need to make one entree.

  • Order a pre-made dinner – this is a real time and stress saver.

  • Prepare foods in advance and freeze them.

  • At the beginning of the holiday season – pick up hostess gifts in bulk. Most stores will give you a discount. Some ideas would be wine, coffee, chocolate, olive oil, balsamic vinegar or gourmet nuts.

Learn to say “No”.  People will understand that you can’t do everything!

Most importantly – try not to get caught up doing things out of obligation. Invest your energy wisely, so you can enjoy the holiday season and make good memories. Don’t get caught up in doing things just because you have to. Decide what you want from the holiday season, and then make a plan that works for you. Be sure any plans that you make fit into your idea of what you would like from the holiday season or your holiday plan. Consider previous holiday seasons and if you were happy with the way they went. Would you change anything? Would you invest your energy the same way this year?

The bottom line is that the holidays don’t have to be overly stressful or depressing. The holidays are a time to create lasting memories and perfection is not a requirement! Having a chronic illness does not mean that you can not enjoy the holidays.  Just keep it simple, take time for yourself, and follow some of these tips and you can have a great holiday season!

How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It’s the ‘Ring Theory’ of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

“It’s not?” Susan wondered. “My breast cancer is not about me? It’s about you?”

The same theme came up again when our friend Katie had a brain aneurysm. She was in intensive care for a long time and finally got out and into a step-down unit. She was no longer covered with tubes and lines and monitors, but she was still in rough shape. A friend came and saw her and then stepped into the hall with Katie’s husband, Pat. “I wasn’t prepared for this,” she told him. “I don’t know if I can handle it.”

This woman loves Katie, and she said what she did because the sight of Katie in this condition moved her so deeply. But it was the wrong thing to say. And it was wrong in the same way Susan’s colleague’s remark was wrong.

Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.

Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.

There was nothing wrong with Katie’s friend saying she was not prepared for how horrible Katie looked, or even that she didn’t think she could handle it. The mistake was that she said those things to Pat. She dumped IN.

Complaining to someone in a smaller ring than yours doesn’t do either of you any good. On the other hand, being supportive to her principal caregiver may be the best thing you can do for the patient.

Most of us know this. Almost nobody would complain to the patient about how rotten she looks. Almost no one would say that looking at her makes them think of the fragility of life and their own closeness to death. In other words, we know enough not to dump into the center ring. Ring Theory merely expands that intuition and makes it more concrete: Don’t just avoid dumping into the center ring, avoid dumping into any ring smaller than your own.

Remember, you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.

And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.

Susan Silk is a clinical psychologist. Barry Goldman is an arbitrator and mediator and the author of “The Science of Settlement: Ideas for Negotiators.”

Source: LA Times – April 07, 2013|Susan Silk and Barry Goldman


by Chris Morrow


• Pay attention to the world around you.

• Use visual cues to reference yourself in space – pick out stable points in the distance – help your brain orient itself.

• Live in the moment.  The brain can use help in prioritizing.

• Feel the weight distribution in your feet – shift forward to find the “tripod of support” on the bottom of your foot.

• Facilitate feedback to your brain to heighten your brain’s use of sensory awareness.

• Close your eyes and still tune into the world around you – hearing and feeling it any way you can, and simultaneously visualizing the space – everyone needs a perceptual sense of self in space.


• Weight shift to move your center over your base

• Slowly rock to move your body over your feet

• Find the edge of your balance in each direction

• Fine-tune your brain’s awareness of your standing stability

• Try a variety of foot positions


• single most important exercise for good balance

• complete 4+ times/week to raise your heart rate

• moderate level of invigorating movement via walking, swimming, bicycling, stationary machine, or others

• Consider walking poles usage for exercise

• slow warm-up/long cool-down to reduce chance of overload


• Knee to chest for hip flexion

• Backward leg reaches for hip extension

• Ankle circles

• Calf stretch

• Engage your core to improve center of mass stability and awareness – “brace your   center in preparation for battle”

• contract the transverse abdominals – “pull in your belly button”

• lift your pelvic floor – “like stopping the flow of urine”

• tighten your low back muscles – “pinch them together”

• the key is frequent practice thereby heightening neuromuscular activity and autonomic reflexive readiness


• sit <->stand, in parallel or staggered stance

• squats, lunges, leg press

• sidestepping with or without a theraband loop

• heel raises and return to “tripod” center

• standing weight shifts to the edges of ankle control

• okay to hold on as needed to focus on strengthening


• stretch

• stand tall

• reach for the ceiling, pulling your spine toward the sky

• Tuck your chin

• Pull your shoulders back

• Extend your spine

• Press your hips forward to length your legs


• diaphragmatic breathing

• positive self-talk

• relaxation activities

• Allow yourself to feel happy, safe, secure, grounded

• Frequently feel your connection to the earth, to life, and to the people important to you

• Build reserves to avoid living “on the edge”

• Stay active, stimulate your body and mind daily

• Maintain your fitness and body awareness

Educational Forum – Practical Balance and Mobility Tips

We are excited to announce our second Educational Forum! For our October meeting we are pleased to have Chris Morrow come and discuss the topic of “Practical Balance and Mobility Tips”. Chris is a physical therapist with 20 years of experience focusing on the care of clients with neurologic and vestibular dysfunctions. He is the owner of Pacific Balance & Rehabilitation Clinic.

Christopher Morrow, PT, NCS will discuss functional balance skills, and management of movement impairments through a focus on tactile awareness, key lower extremity muscle strengthening and flexibility, aerobic endurance strategies, and the use of walking poles for ambulation augmentation. He welcomes your questions during this interactive conversation. He is in support of improving the quality of life of those with balance and/or dizziness issues.

We will be meeting Saturday, October 19th (12pm – 2pm) at Pacific Balance and Rehabilitation Center located at 400 Mercer St.- Suite 302, Seattle, Washington, Feel free to bring a light snack to share. Family and friends are always welcome.

How Do They Do That!?!

Here is an interesting article on just why ballet dancers don’t get as dizzy as the rest of us.

Why a ballet dancer never gets dizzy: Scientists uncover differences in ballerina’s brains that mean they can do endless pirouettes.

  • Ballet dancers can suppress the brain signals that trigger giddiness

  • Findings could help those who suffer from chronic dizziness


Ballet dancers are not just twinkled-toed, they also appear to have pirouette-proof brains. A study has identified important differences in their brain structures that prevent them feeling dizzy during those endless spins.It implies that years of training can enable dancers to suppress signals from the balance organs in the inner ear, which might otherwise make them fall over. The findings, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, could help to improve treatment for patients with chronic dizziness, which affects 1 in 4 Britons at some point during their lives.Normally, the feeling of dizziness stems from the vestibular organs in the inner ear. These fluid-filled chambers sense rotation of the head through tiny hairs that sense the fluid moving. After turning around rapidly, the fluid continues to move, which can make you feel like you’re still spinning.

Ballet dancers can perform multiple pirouettes with little or no feeling of dizziness. The findings show that this feat isn’t just down to spotting, a technique dancers use that involves rapidly moving the head to fix their gaze on the same spot as much as possible. Researchers at Imperial College London recruited 29 female ballet dancers to compare against 20 women rowers of similar age and fitness levels. The volunteers were spun around in a chair in a dark room. They were asked to turn a handle in time with how quickly they felt like they were still spinning after they had stopped. The researchers also measured eye reflexes triggered by input from the vestibular organs. Later, they examined the participants’ brain structure with MRI scans. In dancers, both the eye reflexes and their perception of spinning lasted a shorter time than in the rowers.

Dr Barry Seemungal, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, said, “Dizziness, which is the feeling that we are moving when in fact we are still, is a common problem. I see a lot of patients who have suffered from dizziness for a long time. Ballet dancers seem to be able to train themselves not to get dizzy, so we wondered whether we could use the same principles to help our patients. The brain scans revealed differences between the groups in two parts of the brain, an area in the cerebellum where sensory input from the vestibular organs is processed and in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the perception of dizziness. The area in the cerebellum was smaller in dancers.” Dr Seemungal thinks this is because dancers would be better off not using their vestibular systems, relying instead on highly co-ordinated pre-programmed movements. He said, “It’s not useful for a ballet dancer to feel dizzy or off balance. Their brains adapt over years of training to suppress that input. Consequently, the signal going to the brain areas responsible for perception of dizziness in the cerebral cortex is reduced, making dancers resistant to feeling dizzy. If we can target that same brain area or monitor it in patients with chronic dizziness, we can begin to understand how to treat them better.”

Do The Math!!!

It’s Balance Awareness Week!

Let’s get the word out! If each one of us for the next 7 days could make one person aware of balance disorders each day……..well that would be “7 newly aware people” times “each one of us”………..that would equal………WOW!!! Do the math!!!

Not sure what to say or how to say it. VEDA is a great source for information!

Check out this link for more info:

Together we are strong!


Hello everyone!

We hope you are all enjoying this amazing weather! Summer just keeps going and going and going!

Next week is Balance Awareness Week!

Please note: We will not be meeting at our normal monthly time. Instead we hope you are able to participate in one or more of the upcoming events.

Here’s how you can get involved! 

You can:

Attend the Open House for Balance Awareness at Pacific Balance & Rehabilitation

When & Where: Thursday, Sept 19,  4-7pm @ 400 Mercer St, Ste 302, Seattle, WA

There will be free Nordic walking demonstrations, cooking demonstrations focused on foods that support vestibular health, free fall risk assessment, food, beverages and prizes!!!

Come to win a pair of KEEN shoes ($140 value) or an Urban Poling package or maybe win a one hour massage!

You can:

Join Seattle Dizzy Group on their “Walk for Balance”. All are welcome!

When & Where:  Saturday Sept 21, 11 am – 1 pm. Meeting @ the Green Lake Library, 7364 E Green Lake Dr, Seattle, WA

If you are unable to take part in these events here are a few other ideas!

We hope this list of events/ideas has at least one that interests you to help increase awareness of Balance Awareness Week!

Be safe, healthy and good to yourself! Stay balanced!

Balance Awareness Open House

Hello Everyone!

We are all invited to attend Pacific Balance and Rehabilitation Clinic’s Open House in honor of Balance Awareness Week!

Come and enjoy:

  • Healthy cooking demonstrations by local author Greta Hardin

  • Fall Risk Assessments

  • Urban Poling Demonstrations

  • Prizes (Urban Poling Nordic Walking Package, a pair of Keen shoes and a 1 hour massage gift certificate)

Refreshments will be served.

When: Thursday Sept 19th (4pm – 7 pm)

Where: 400 Mercer Street, Suite 302, Seattle, WA

In addition to the event, Pacific Balance has started a fundraising page on the VEDA website to help raise awareness of balance and vestibular related disorders,

Here is the link to the page:

We can all make a difference by supporting VEDA and donating to help defeat dizziness!