Dr. JoAnn Yanez on KCAA 1/10/18


Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins KCAAs “On the Brink” hosts, Erin Brinker (left) and Tobin Brinker (middle) to discuss healthy approaches to New Year’s resolutions.


Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • Naturopathic approaches to the flu
  • Resolutions as steps to achieving greater goals
  • Setting goals and resolutions that match your priorities
  • And More…

Erin Brinker: After the break, we have Dr. JoAnn Yanez and we’ll ask her about the flu …

Tobin Brinker: Oh, good.

Erin Brinker: … from her point of view. Actually, she’s on the line, I could bring her on a little bit early. I’m going to put her on the spot. Let’s see if she’s there. Dr. Yanez, how ‘ya doing?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning.

Erin Brinker: Good morning. I’ll do the full regular introduction after the break, but we’re talking about the flu right now, and I thought it would be, since you’re a doctor, it would be great to get your opinion about what’s going on.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Wow. Well, I know you know my husband’s a hospital administrator at St. Bernardine, and the hospitals here are overwhelmed right now with flu cases. I think health education, basic health education on, “Is it the flu? What should I do for the flu?” is vital for people so that they don’t go to an ER or a doctor’s office if it isn’t something that needs attention at an ER or a doctor’s office. Because what can end up happening is they get everybody else sick.

Erin Brinker: They do.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It keeps getting passed, and this is coming from somebody who got slammed with the flu, I don’t know if you remember, back in November. I think first off is knowing your body. Obviously, if you have any additional health concerns, if you’re elderly, if you’re very young, if there’s asthma or there are other conditions onboard where you’re at high risk for problems from the flu, definitely seek out medical information from a licensed professional.

I think, what I just caught, the tail end was call your doctor, let them know your symptoms, and if it’s needed to come in then, of course, go in. Just the basics, rest, hydration, good old chicken soup. Lots of fluids, broths, garlic. There are a number of botanical medicines that can help, in some cases shorten the prodrome and shorten the virus. I think just all of those good basic things that we do when we’re sick, and take good care of yourself so you don’t get it in the first place.

Erin Brinker: It has been, it’s 27 deaths throughout the state of California, people under the age of 65.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, yeah. This flu, and I think we talked about it last time. The coverage for the flu vaccine this year was not great, and so I can’t say that this is … It’s extremely unfortunate, but it’s not surprising that we’re seeing this kind of a bump in flu with the flu vaccine, not covering it as well as it normally does.

Erin Brinker: Let’s go ahead and … Thank you very much for that. Let’s go ahead and take a break, and Dr. Yanez, we will give you a full introduction when we come back.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: No worries.

Erin Brinker: I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker: We are “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA. We’ll be right back. (singing)

Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker: We’re “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA. Excited to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life, Dr. JoAnn’s Yanez’s career has spanned advocacy, academia, naturopathic patient care and public health. She’s the past chair of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health, and is on the Advisory Board for the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions.

Dr. Yanez, here’s your official welcome. Welcome back to the show.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: No worries. I didn’t even have coffee this morning, Erin.

Erin Brinker: Uh oh. I brought you in before you had your coffee. Sorry.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That’s okay. Good morning folks, good morning.

Erin Brinker: One of the things that the AANMC has a great website, and one of the features on the website is a monthly article giving tips on everything health related. What does this article, this month’s article about?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, topically and timely we talked about resolutions. I spoke with eight leaders from the ND field and asked them all, “Hey, how do you guys resolve for the year? What are you tips? How do you lead your own lives in a healthful manner? What is your take on this whole New Year resolution thing?” It was really funny. Years ago, the only successful resolution I ever kept was a resolution to never resolve ever again.

Erin Brinker: That’s awesome.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I don’t even remember how many years ago it was, but I resolved to never make a resolution again. I’ll go a couple steps into that. My resolution actually wasn’t to just like nix resolutions. It was really, “Hey, if I see something that needs a change, I’m not going to wait for a new year to do it. I’m not going to wait for tomorrow. I’m going to do it today,” and so that was my resolution. That’s the only one that I’ve ever stuck with.

It forced me to be self-aware, it forced me not to put things off for another time or, “When I have money or when I …” Whatever. Or “When you go on vacation.” Like, “No. If you need a change, let’s do it now.”

Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s a good idea. I think people, you just kind of throw caution to the wind and you eat, drink and are merry between Thanksgiving and the New Year. By the time you come screeching or crawling into the New Year, you’re thinking, “Okay, I’m done. I don’t want to overeat, I don’t want to over-drink, I don’t want to … I want to get focused on my life.”

I think it’s just about finding your true North again more than … I don’t know, for some people maybe they really, the resolution is everything. I say that because I’m looking at my husband who resolved to run 1,000 miles last year, and he did it.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, not to call Tobin out but that’s what ends up happening is a lot of times people get grand ideas at the beginning of the year. Not to say 1,000 miles is a grand idea-

Erin Brinker: It’s a grand idea.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: A lot of times people will get these big ideas, and they’ll get excited about something really, really big, but I always go back to that saying, “How do you eat an elephant?”

Erin Brinker: One bite at a time?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: One bite at a time. When it comes down to nutrition or exercise or any of these things, one of the things that I have always found most helpful is not … For a lot of people, now some people can do big goals like that, but a lot of people find it much more easy to break things down into smaller tasks. Like if I have a big project to do at work, I don’t say, “Okay, you’re going to write a 100 page paper.”

What do I do? No. I break it down into sections, I divide out the sections. I figure out a plan for each one of those little pieces and then little by little, I chop off a piece, then I chop off another piece. Then by the end of it, I’ve got that 100 pages written. I think if it’s health related, or every single day ask yourself, “Are the choices that I’m making today moving me toward my goal or moving me away from it?” Those are the types of things that keep us focused and on task.

I always tell people, if you’re making diet changes, if you’re trying to implement exercise into your life, make those goals realistic, make them time bound. Give yourself some accountability so it isn’t a big, kind of empty set, and then you beat yourself … It doesn’t make anybody feel good or anyone feel like they want to do something like that again. Make those goals realistic, make them easy enough for you to cross off your list.

For me, exercise has to happen before 6:00 a.m. If it doesn’t happen before 6:00 a.m., I know it’s not getting done for the day. I have always just kind of figured out what works for me, but everybody’s got to do that for themselves. Whether it’s a plate of food and you’re looking at that plate of food, “Okay, are these food choices right now going to move me towards my goal or they going to move me away from my goal? Am I okay with that choice?” Being mindful.

When I look at all of the resolutions from the naturopathic doctors in our article, almost every single one of them talks about mindfulness. I don’t know how familiar your audience is with mindfulness, Erin and Tobin. It’s really just being aware in the moment of what’s going on, and being present. So often, we do things without even thinking about them. We eat in our car, we eat in front of the TV. We’re not even present with what we’re doing. Does that makes sense?

Erin Brinker: Oh, it makes total sense. That’s actually, I have a tendency to get so lost in my own head that I am completely unaware with … Deep in thought, not really paying attention to what’s going on around me. Consequently, I don’t necessarily experience what’s going on around me. Then I will eat mindlessly, I will …Hours will go by and I’m working or I’m doing something, but I haven’t made time to exercise. I haven’t followed up like I should have with things I needed to do, so that’s something that’s a goal for me.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yeah, and just I think everybody probably at some level struggles with that. It is easy to get focused or to get sidetracked. Just being present, being mindful, being aware of your body, being aware of your needs, being aware of your surroundings. A couple of folks even said being aware of your family’s needs were a priority for them.

Like, “Hey, I want to be more tuned into the needs of my family. Sometimes I get so focused on me and work that I don’t realize what’s going on.” I think what all of that boils down to is a sense of mindfulness, a sense of purpose, a direction for your goals and a plan to get there.

Erin Brinker: I actually am one of those who set the big, audacious goal. It was the same goal I’d set last year, but I lost my mentor and boss last year. He passed away quite suddenly, and it just turned my world upside down.

I’ve refocused, and I’m taking a long hike, backpacking trip in late October. I’m going to walk from Holcomb Lake in Big Bear to the entrance of Silverwood Park, so the entrance to, it’s a lake, Silverwood Lake entrance, which is about 44 point … It’s 44.2 trail miles.

Tobin is totally helping me kind of break it down into … I’ve bought some tools to break it down so like, “Okay, well I need to be doing this hike by this date, and this hike by this date.” Because otherwise, it’s completely overwhelming.

Tobin Brinker: Here’s what happened. I had gotten my 1,000 mile goal this past year in 2017, but what many people don’t know is that I had the same goal in 2016 and didn’t come anywhere near it. I got 750 miles in and so, I learned a lot from that failure and I realized that there was a whole bunch of things that I needed to do differently in order to be able to achieve that big audacious goal.

For me, one of the things was making it public, right? Just sort of putting it out there so other people would then become that sort of support network for me to say, “Hey, how are you doing on your goal?” I had to keep it front and center in my life. Then I broke it down, like Erin was saying. Every month, a certain mileage goal.

I looked at what I had done the year previously. I was running, on average, three days a week. I said, “Well, I need to push that up. I need to go to four or five days a week.” Making little changes to my routines and just sort of trying to figure out what I needed to do a little different, and it made all the difference. I was able to add an extra 250 miles in, and I got the 1,000 miles this year.

Now, having done it, I’ve decided this year I won’t do that big goal again because I’ve looked at what’s coming up for this year, and I’ve got other things that I need to put my time into. Other important things for me. The big one for me that’s been on my mind is our son’s wedding. I don’t want to spend all my time out running, I want to make sure that I’ve got a lot of time available to spend with family this year.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think for any goal, that’s always part of the process is assessing, reassessing, “Is this an important goal anymore?” We’re going through a strategic planning process right now and we’re looking at our goals. What was important three years ago is that still important? It very well may be, but it’s that positive conscious decision of, “What’s important to me?”

Whether you’re a board of directors or you’re an individual planning for your son’s wedding. Like, “What’s important for me now?” Always being mindful and present and reassessing. I think that’s the most important key to all of this.

What’s important to you and being flexible and gentle enough with yourself to say, you’re not going to beat yourself up over, “This year, I’m not making that goal a priority, I’m going to make other things a priority,” and you let it go. I think that’s the whole key with mindfulness is non-judgment.

Tobin Brinker: Yeah.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: A lot of times when people make decisions or eat something that’s not necessarily going to help their health goals, there’s a lot of judgment that happens. “Oh, I’m a bad person.”

Erin Brinker: Oh yeah.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: “I didn’t do this thing” or “I didn’t run my miles” or “I didn’t walk my steps today. I’m a bad person.” They make a judgment call, and that’s unfortunate because mindfulness really tries to teach us to go through life without that judgment. You just take it, “Okay, I didn’t make my steps today. What am I going to do tomorrow to make them happen?”

Rather than taking that time and going all internal and beating yourself up. What is that old … Half my family’s Catholic. The self-flagellation, the beating yourself with-

Tobin Brinker: Yes.

Erin Brinker: My Catholic husband can relate.

Tobin Brinker: Yes.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Let’s not go all medieval with the cat of nine tails.

Tobin Brinker: A little bit, a little bit of guilt or remorse about not making your goals can be a bit of a motivator as well. I mean, without going to the extreme of actual flagellation. To have that little bit of, “Boy, I really didn’t do it yesterday. I better make sure I get off my butt and do it today.”

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, and that’s totally fine. I think that’s the recognition, but a lot of people will go into … I’m sure you know what I’m talking about …

Tobin Brinker: Yeah.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: … Will go deeper into that and start to make judgment calls. Like what you just said is not a judgment call. It’s just, “Well, I didn’t get it done today. I really want to make sure that I get off my butt and do it tomorrow.”

Tobin Brinker: Well, I think-

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That’s not, “I’m a bad person for not doing it.”

Tobin Brinker: Yeah.

Erin Brinker: The “I’m a bad person for not doing it” is my MO, not his.

Tobin Brinker: Yeah, and I think that’s the important part that you’re saying is that sometimes we attach our identity so much to these things that when we allow it to become a negative that it really is self-defeating then.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Exactly.

Tobin Brinker: We can’t beat ourselves up like that.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: That’s where a lot of people fall down. You’ll see the gym is especially busy right now, and in about two weeks it won’t be.

Tobin Brinker: Yes.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I think people get, they have good intentions, they get started and then they miss a day or two here or there and they start to feel bad, and they start to get de-motivated and then it’s just, there’s an embarrassment or a shame that sets in and it doesn’t happen again until December 31st.

Erin Brinker: We are completely out of time. How do people find you, follow you and how do they read this blog?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, it’s on our website aanmc.org. We have lots of tools on our website, webinars on all different types of topics. In fact, today we have a webinar on career changers and folks considering changing careers. If you are in that boat or thinking about that boat, come and stop by our webinar.

Erin Brinker: Wonderful. Well, Dr. JoAnn Yanez, it’s always a delight to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Have a great day folks.

Erin Brinker: Thank you. Oh, and I forgot to say, thank you for the beautiful fruit basket that I got for Christmas, thank you so much.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You’re welcome. You’re so welcome.

Erin Brinker: I loved it, the fruit was delicious. It was wonderful.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh, great.

Erin Brinker: With that, it’s time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker: We are “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA. We’ll be right back.

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