HEALTHY LIVING NOW: Restore Your Health & Well Being


[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Brenda McKinney



Do you find yourself searching for happiness and never quite reaching it? Have you come to the realization that your health is not what it should be: extra pounds, fast food, and health implications?  Healthy living is offered to help you unleash your own power to recover and harness your energy for full health benefits.  Investigate the surprising ways in which your body is connected to the afflictions of civilization.  Investigate the power of living in a more healthful way through your diet, exercise, sleep, reactions to stress, mindfulness, and more.  If your goal is to live a long and healthy life to the fullest, then you don’t want to miss this course. This course will highlight how the current pressure and stress in modern life have removed us from our biological needs and are making us ill. It is also about how to avoid this distress and find a way to happiness. This course is practical, disarming, loaded with research, and will ignite and inspire you to change and Go Wild. If you are looking to manage your stress levels, find more energy, improve your sleep, and sharpen your mental skills, join me for an experience that will help you secure a healthier, happier future. Healthy Living NOW!  

This course is appropriate for grades K-12 instructors, administrators, and parents.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Discovered and analyzed the catastrophic consequences of damage brought by the way we live and eat.
  2. Learned how changes in civilization have altered our food sources.
  3. Discovered how what we eat, move, sleep, think, and live are connected to health and disease.
  4. Learned how homeostasis is affected by the wear and tear of stressful living.
  5. Learned about allostasis and how the body’s stress can permanently change our brain.
  6. Learned how to increase receptiveness through mindfulness training and meditation.
  7. Implemented a life plan that will help to achieve total health and balance.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



None. All reading is online.


Go Wild: Eat Fat, Run Free, Be Social, and Follow Evolution's Other Rules for Total Health and Well-being. Course text is approximately $10.00 used on Amazon.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Introduction.

For those participating in Group Collaboration, you must read and follow the instructions outlined in the Group Collaboration Guidelines. Click on the link for Guidelines.

  • Assignment #1, each participant must complete this assignment independently.
  • There should be a minimum of (4) four group meetings during which the course content is discussed. 
  • Teleconferences or live meetings are acceptable. A good videoconference option is Zoom (
  • Each participant must attend at least 75% of the group meetings (a minimum of 3 of 4 meetings).

You must complete your introduction before moving on to other assignments.

Introduce yourself with a background profile. 

  • What led you to choose teaching as your profession?
  • What brings you the most joy in your current professional situation? 
  • What brings you the most joy in your work? 
  • What struggles have you experienced in your own wellness journey? 
  • How did you choose this class and what outcomes do you hope to achieve?

Assignment #2: Human 101. Why it Matters?

Read pgs. 17-38 in your text considering the following:

  • What did you learn from Carrier’s work as it applies to movement and running? 

  • How are our anatomy, digestion, and the fuel for our bodies all related? 

  • What did you learn about empathy, mirror neurons, and calorie counts?

View the video on mirror neurons
View the video on epigenetics
  • How is our health connected to reproduction of the next generation, our young and the development of our big brains?
  • Could our link to food come from our grandparents?

View this video to learn about why modern food is not what you think: 
  • What represented new learning for you? 
  • What had the greatest implication for you and your lifestyle?

In a 500+ word summation, respond to your reading and videos including relevant points from each of them. Choose the critical learning for you and discuss how the research will impact your lifestyle/sharing with others.  

Assignment #3: What Ails Us?

Read pages 39-59 in your text.  In a 500+ word response detail your learning, while considering the following:

  • What startling information did you learn from the study on Global Disease?
  • How does this contrast with your previous perceptions about wellness?
  • Why is disease now endemic in this country and how has history contributed to this change?
  • What are the most obvious and devastating effects of domestication?
  • How can we restore our eco-systems and boost our wellness?

Assignment #4: Our Wellness and Food

     Read pgs. 61-97 in your text, then consider the following before writing our response in 500+ words.

  • Watch the following video:  Unprocessed: How I Gave Up Processed Food
  •        What are the causes of metabolic syndrome?  
  •        Why are diet books creating confusion and how are they part of the wellness
            problem in this country?
  •        What is the role of sugar in the demise of the American diet? What learning
           was new for you?
  •        What was the flawed thinking of Ancel Keys that changed our view
           on fat and cholesterol?
  •        What misinformation and misguided attacks on fats did you find most
           informative? How has this changed your perception of fats?
  •        Why is the balance between Omega-3s and Omega-6s so important to the
           American diet?
  •        What practical advice is given for fighting the obesity epidemic?
  •        What does the work of Ramey and Graham add to our understanding of
           healthy eating and wellness.

Assignment #5: Devotion to Motion.

Read pgs. 99-124 in your text. 

  • How does exercise influence each of the following: neuroplasticity, plasticity, and epigenetics?
  • How does the entire brain flourish because of movement? 
  • What conclusive evidence can you provide that exercise is the quickest, most effective path to wellness?

Watch this video from Professor John Ratey:
  • What did you learn about aging brains?
  • What options might provide even healthier opportunities than going to the gym?

Consider this video from Dr. Ratey about the mind body connection:
  • How do you feel about this research on movement compared to your personal exercise plan? 
  • What was new learning for you?

Outline the benefits of exercise, connections between the body and brain, and your personal goals or changes for exercise. You might want to use a chart, graph, or mind map.

Assignment #6: Bodies at Rest.

Read in your text pgs. 125-150. 

View this link on sleep and willpower, which also results in taking care of your brain.

Watch the following videos:


In a 250+ word response discuss the critical role sleep plays in our overall health. Use learning from the reading, the article, and the videos.

Assignment #7: Aware

Read pgs. 151-172 in your text.

  • What did you learn about redefining the idea of meditation and why is it so critical for our brains?

Check out these videos:
  • What is the purpose of the attentional blink and how is it related to calming the brain? 
  • How can redefining stress allow us to live in a more optimal state?

Watch the video link to understand the new definition of stress:

In 500+ words discuss how do you build a stronger more resilient brain that is shaped in the direction you want it to go? Attitude, meditation for just minutes a day, seeing stress as a challenge that is energizing, what is all of this telling you? How did learning about telomeres give you hope for your future? What power do you realize you have in the role of wellness?

Assignment #8: Nature

Read pgs. 173-191 in your text.  

What are the consequences of modern societies' disconnect from nature?
  • What adaptations could be made to the classroom or your workplace to restore a sense of nature and tranquility? 
  • How do the pathways of nature parallel those of sleep, exercise, and nutrition?
  • How are they interconnected? 
  • What was new learning for you? How can you implement this learning?
  • Respond in 500+ words.

Assignment #9: Tribes

Read pgs. 193-216 in your text. Respond in 250+ words.

  •          How does the role of oxytocin infiltrate every aspect of our lives?
  •          What surprised you the most about the research? 
  •          What is the relationship between vasopressin and oxytocin? 
  •          What can we learn from the cited research on the voles? 
  •          What was new learning about social contacts, relationships,
             and brain wellness?

Assignment #10: Wiring

Read pgs. 217-239 in your text. Respond in a 1-2 page paper.

How does the body "wire together" for health and happiness?
Use CANVA to show your learning in each of the following areas:
  1. Validity to our second brain

  2. Role of Allostatic Load and the critical role in the classroom  

  3. Important discoveries about PTSD and child abuse

  4. Significance of the vagal breaks

Click on for information on Canva.



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #11: Lesson Development. (Required for 400 & 500 Level)

For those participating in Group Collaboration, this assignment is Required to be completed individually by all participants.

Complete one of the following options:

Option A)

  • Adapt a lesson to reflect what you’ve learned in this course.
  • Implement your lesson with students in your classroom.
  • Write a 500+ word commentary on what worked well and what could be improved.
  • Include any student feedback on your lesson.
  • Share what you’ve learned with other teachers taking our courses by also contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here. (
  • You may download a copy of THI's lesson plan template at
  • Send your modified lesson and your commentary via email to your instructor.

Option B)

Use this option if you do not have a classroom available.

  • Adapt a lesson to reflect what you’ve learned in this course. (Do not implement it.)
  • Share what you’ve learned with other teachers taking our courses by contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library at
  • You may download a copy of THI's lesson plan template at
  • Write a 500+ word article concerning any noteworthy success you’ve had as a teacher with one or more students.
  • Please refer to the guidelines on our blog What Works: Teaching at its Best prior to writing your article.  (
  • When you submit your article to your instructor, please also email a copy to Renee Leon THI blog curator and media specialist.
  • Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publishing on our website.  
  • Submit your modified lesson and your article along with your article via email to your instructor.  

Assignment #12: Conversation Write-Up. (Required for 400 & 500 Level)

Share what you have learned with a colleague/administrator/PLC/team/district leadership.

This can be a video using Zoom or a conversation.

You need to submit an outline of what you will discuss and share when you complete the assignment. What can you bring to the table to help the understanding of your colleague, friend, or family member? 

  • Write up this conversation and the follow-up that might be part of this learning.

Assignment #13: (500 Level ONLY)

Complete one of the following options:

Option A):
Keep a Healthy Living NOW journal for two (2) weeks. 
Choose one (1) of the following.

  1. Food Journal. Living and eating 80/20 will heal your body while still allowing wiggle room. Record your food intake striving to hit 80% with unprocessed or minimally processed food. Include what you ate for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Also include hunger and mood. You can use an app or write in a journal. Either format is effective. Work to include good fats, avoid all diet or low-fat foods, healthy protein, veggies, and avoid as much sugar as possible. 80-20.

  2. Gratitude Journal. Your choices change your brain. You can, in fact, use neuroplasticity to change your brain and renew your mind.  You will keep a gratitude journal for this assignment and focus on happiness and the brain. For two weeks, you will write 5-10 things each day or catch 5-10 thoughts that you are grateful for. Be sure to include a description of why you are thankful for that activity, person, or thing. You can also include pictures or graphics. At the end of the two weeks, you will analyze your reaction to this activity.

  3. Do Over Journal. You will choose one of the following to create your do-overs and then practice them over a two (2) week period.

​Come up with five (5) Do Over Stress Relievers and try at least three (3) of them over a period of two (2) weeks.
Come up with five (5) Do Overs for Devotion to Motion and do three of them consistently over a period of two weeks. The optimum is five to six days a week. Example: taking that walk-in nature or just getting 10-30 minutes of green exercise or walking 1,000 – 10,000 steps.
Option B)  

Create a presentation for your staff based on this course and focused on perspectives that would benefit your school. You can use Google Slides or another favorite format. Save it as a PDF. The presentation should include graphics, pictures, color, and correct font size, and be presentation ready. Check for errors. It must be at least 15 slides.
Option C)  

Design your own assignment (action plan) with the instructor’s prior approval.
Examples include: doing a podcast, collecting data, journaling and assessing for at least 3 weeks, and designing a website.


Assignment #14: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Brenda McKinney, CEO of Vancouver, WA based BrainVolution, is a developer and dynamic facilitator of workshops that teach practical thinking and learning tools for raising student achievement with the brain in mind. She has trained educators throughout the Pacific Northwest and is a popular presenter because of her ability to motivate, make things fun, and teach practical techniques for the classroom that can be used immediately. Brenda continues to read hundreds of books and articles on the subject of neuroscience and searches for the answer to success for every student. Her work with at-risk students and those with reading problems have made her a popular speaker at the state, regional and national level.

Brenda is able to synthesize the new research and continues to address the role of how to use the latest findings to create high achievement classroom. She brings 30+ years of experience at the elementary, middle school, high school and university level as a mentor teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, university instructor, and reading specialist. Brenda has her Master’s in Education from Washington State University and is nationally certified in Brain Based Learning through the renowned  Jensen Corporation, led by Eric Jensen, a noted international spokesperson for neuroscience and education.


Brenda will inspire and motivate you with her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. Her wisdom, techniques, and brain based approach to education will inspire you and challenge you to meet the demands of this ever changing world.



HEALTHY LIVING NOW: Restore Your Health & Well Being

McGonigal, Kelly. The Upside of Stress. Why Stress is Good for You (And How to Get Good at It). Penguin Random House, New York, N.Y. 2015.

More than forty-four percent of Americans admit to losing sleep over stress. And while most of us do everything we can to reduce it, Stanford psychologist and bestselling author Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., delivers a startling message: Stress isn't bad. In The Upside of Stress, McGonigal highlights new research indicating that stress can, in fact, make us stronger, smarter, and happier—if we learn how to embrace it. The Upside of Stress is the first book to bring together innovative discoveries on the correlation between resilience—the human capacity for stress-related growth—and mind-set, the power of beliefs to shape reality.

Check out this book after you watch the link provided in the assignments. This one is groundbreaking, and I encourage all of you to read and learn about this new definition of stress.

Nielsen, Desiree, BSc, RD. Un-Junk Your Diet. How to Shop, Cook, and Eat to Fight Inflammation and Feel Better Forever. 2014. Skyhorse Publishing. New York, N.Y. 2014.  
n Un-Junk Your Diet, Nielson teaches readers about anti-inflammatory eating in a way that's engaging, funny, and approachable. This book begins with a call to action to help shake up perceptions of what food means to our bodies and illuminate all the ways that marketers co-opt healthy eating messages to coerce us into choosing food that is unworthy. In addition, an in-depth look at the fundamentals of nutrition—with a splash of myth busting—strengthens readers’ abilities to resist the latest nutrition headline and continue making healthier choices.  I love this book because it will take you step by step helping you eliminate junk food. This is one that you read in sections and then have specific steps to help you get started.

Ramsey, Drew, MD & Tyler Graham. The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body. Rondale Press. New York, N.Y. 2012.  
Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Diet shows that over the past several generations small, insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients – like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some incredibly special fats – that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain. After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions.  This book is used for the course, The Happiness Diet. This informs, shocks, and will get you started on a new lifestyle and what to eat for a healthy, happy brain!

Ratey, John, MD. Go Wild. Eat Fat, Run Free, Be Social and Follow Evolution's Other Rules for Total Health and Well-being. Little, Brown, and Company. New York, N.Y. 2015. 
This work presents scientific evidence behind why maintaining a lifestyle more like that of our ancestors will restore our health and well-being. It is being used as the text for this course.

Ratey, John, MD. SPARK. The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little Brown and Company. New York, N.Y. 2013.

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance. In SPARK, Ratey embarks upon a fascinating journey through the mind-body connection, illustrating that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to menopause to Alzheimer's. SPARK is the first book to comprehensively explore the connection between exercise and the brain.  This book is used for the course, Exercise and the Brain. This popular course shares in-depth how exercise affects the brain and the body and why you need to start an exercise program now.

Rath, Tom. Eat, Move, Sleep. How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes. Mission day. Arlington, VA. 2013.

The author has assembled a wide range of information on the impact of eating, moving, and sleeping. Written in his classic conversational style, Eat Move Sleep features the most proven and practical ideas from his research.

Roizen, Michael, MD. This is Your Do-Over. The 7 Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want. Scribner. New York, N.Y. 2015.  
It’s never too late to get a second chance. You do not have to let genetics or bad choices of the past dictate your health outcomes. In fact, you have the power to change your health destiny—no matter how you’ve lived before. In This Is Your Do-Over, Roizen, a four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and renowned Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic, provides the tools you need to halt bad health and start living at your peak vitality. In this book, he addresses all the areas that contribute to total-body wellness, including nutrition, exercise, sex, stress, sleep, and the brain.  I really enjoyed this book. It is so practical and has tons of ideas to get you moving forward. Just perfect if you need a boost and a make-over after being inspired in this course.

Sacks, Stephanie, and Kathie Madonna. What the Fork are You Eating? An Action Plan for your Pantry and Your Plate.  2014. Penguin Random House Company.  New York, N.Y. 2014.  
In What the Fork Are You Eating? - a practical guide written by certified chef and nutritionist Stefanie Sacks - you learn exactly what the most offensive ingredients in our food are and how you can remove (or at least minimize) them in our diets. Sacks gives you an aisle-by-aisle rundown of how to shop for healthier items and create simple, nutritious, and delicious meals.

This one is a favorite of mine. Everyone interested in how to do the best you can with processed food needs this book. It is a great follow up to The Happiness Diet.

Schaub, Eve. Year of No Sugar. Sourcebooks. Naperville, IL. 2014.  
I found Schaub's book use wit and warmth to shine a much-needed spotlight on an aspect of American culture that is making us sick, fat, and unhappy. You will laugh and you will also agonize along the way as the family tries to avoid sugar.  Something to think about for all of us.