Inspiring Ideas from Bottom Line’s Experts

With 2013 near its end, we asked a diverse group of our experts to identify one thing they tried that went so well for them this past year that they would recommend it to our readers.

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS: I went to couples therapy with my wife—even though our relationship was already strong. Couples typically seek therapy only when their relationships hit hard times. But couples therapy can be particularly productive for couples who already are getting along well. These couples are more likely to listen to each other during counseling sessions and less likely to become defensive and bicker.

With the therapist’s assistance, my wife and I learned to talk to each other much more effectively and to listen nonjudgmentally. We discovered the joy of taking frequent short vacations together. And we learned that we’re sometimes actually reactivating old scripts when we think we’re having disagreements about current issues. Our relationship was already great—now it’s terrific.

From: Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, a nutritionist and nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. Based in Los Angeles, he is board-certified by the American College of Nutrition and coauthor, with Stephen Sinatra, MD, of The Great Cholesterol Myth (Fair Winds).

Marty Makary, MD: I replaced my daily glass of juice with water. I knew that the glass of apple juice I had at lunchtime every day gave me a burst of energy, but that burst was followed by fatigue later in the day. The juice contained 26 grams of sugar, as much as some sodas. And substituting orange juice would be only slightly better (24 grams of sugar). Now that I’ve given up my lunchtime juice, I have a lot more ­energy late in the ­afternoon.

From: Marty Makary, MD, a surgeon at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and associate professor of surgery and health policy at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, both in Baltimore. He is author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care (Bloomsbury).

Patricia Farris, MD: I treated myself to home spa treatments one evening each week. Some weeks, I took a sea salt soak in my bathtub…other weeks, I gave myself a moisturizing anti­oxidant mask. Spa treatments such as these provide both relaxation and healthier skin—without the expense of actually visiting a spa.

For a do-it-­yourself sea salt soak, just add one cup of sea salt to a warm bath. The salt soothes irritated skin and helps relieve joint and muscle pain. While the tub is filling, use an upward motion to dry-brush your skin with a natural bristle brush. This improves circulation and reduces puffiness.

From: Patricia Farris, MD, FAAD, clinical professor at Tulane University, New Orleans, and a member of the media-expert team for the American Academy of Dermatology. She is coauthor, with Brooke Alpert, of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Look Years Younger (Da Capo Lifelong).

John Sileo: I activated a two-step log-in for my online accounts. With “two-step log-in”—also known as “two-step verification” or “two-factor authorization”—a code is sent to me via text message when I attempt to access the account. I then enter this code—in addition to my user name and password—into the Web site to gain access. It takes me a few extra seconds to log into my e-mail, social-media and online bank accounts, but it means that those accounts are much more secure. Even if a scammer got his/her hands on my user name and password, he still would not be able to access my account unless he also had hacked my smartphone, which is highly unlikely. Two-step log-in is certainly worth the trouble with ultra-important accounts that are accessed online only rarely, such as investment accounts.

Explore each of your accounts’ security settings menus to find out if two-step log-in is offered.

From: John Sileo, president of The Sileo Group, a Denver-based identity-theft prevention consulting and education provider. He is author of Privacy Means Profit: Prevent Identity Theft and Secure You and Your Bottom Line (Wiley) and host of the Web site Burning Questions Live, where he answers common online security questions.

Guy Winch, PhD: I refused to let myself brood. I dealt with some stressful events in my life this year, including a family member with cancer. My natural inclination was to worry—what if the chemo treatments don’t work? Worry was taking over my life until I resolved not to indulge it any longer. Worry of this sort doesn’t serve any purpose. It wasn’t going to make my family member any healthier or make either of us feel any better.

I discovered that for a chronic worrier, giving up worrying is a bit like a smoker giving up cigarettes. I experienced cravings periodically throughout the day—times when I felt a desperate need to worry. But I found that I could distract myself from these cravings. When I felt the urge to worry, I would come up with a task that required concentration. Those tasks kept my mind occupied until the cravings passed.

Fortunately, my family member’s most recent scan showed a very good response to the chemo.

From: Guy Winch, PhD, a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. He is author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries (Hudson Street).

Bryan Mattimore: I dramatically expanded my range of reading materials to trigger creative ideas. Earlier this year, I challenged myself to come up with a new invention or idea every day for 21 consecutive days. I discovered that the most effective way to generate creative ideas was to break free of my usual reading ruts and explore an extremely broad range of publications and Web sites.

I read articles aimed at demographics and professions other than my own—everything from fashion magazines to technical journals. I searched the Internet for Web pages featuring the phrase “best new products” to find other people’s creative ideas, which could trigger ideas of my own. I also used the free e-mail newsletter Cassandra Daily to keep up with the latest trends (

From: Bryan Mattimore, president and cofounder of The Growth Engine Company, LLC, an ­innovation consulting agency based in Norwalk, Connecticut. He is author of Idea Stormers: How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs (Jossey-Bass).

Sandy Weiner: I enlisted help to overcome my fear of public speaking. This fear was holding back my career. So in 2013, I stopped trying to hide from it or cope with it on my own and instead got help. I met with a speech coach. I joined Toastmasters International, a nonprofit organization that gives its members an opportunity to practice public speaking in a low-pressure ­environment (

I started saying yes to every public-speaking opportunity that came my way. I even did a TEDx video. (The “x” in “TEDx” stands for an independently organized TED event.)

Within months, I was more confident about speaking in front of crowds. I still feel some fear before a speech, but that fear no longer paralyzes me—it energizes me.

From: Sandy Weiner, dating coach, blogger and workshop leader based in Stamford, Connecticut. She specializes in helping people over 40.

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