- A huge thank you to thirdage.com for allowing me to write this piece for their site and for featuring it as an article on their
- Health and Fitness Section. Please go to www.thirdage.com to find informative articles on topics which are guaranteed to be of interest to woman of all ages. This article was copied from thirdage.com
- Yes, I Did! My First Race
- Posted by Donna Ryan
- My phone rang on a chilly December afternoon; it was my sister reminding me to register for a 5K (3.1-mile) race that was being held in Atlanta in late January. I don’t like to run. Her response: “You don’t have to run the entire race. You can walk if you need to” made me realize that she wasn’t asking me whether I was going to do it. She was reminding me.
Race day arrived. It was a gray Sunday morning and while most were happy that the predicted rainstorm held off, I was silently wishing it would pour. I felt I needed an excuse for my slow performance. Nonetheless, I felt the energy of the racers around me. I wanted to begin.
My sister is one of the most dedicated fitness people around; I didn’t want her to slow up for me, and I made a vow that I was going to work extra hard. “Are you ready to run?” I shouted. “Let’s do this!”
I began racing down the road, and I was amazed when I reached the one-mile mark. I almost didn’t recognize myself. Police officers were stopping traffic to allow the racers through the busy streets of downtown Atlanta, photographers were snapping away and people were watching and cheering us on.
There were a few moments I could feel my leg cramp up, and I started to get a little doubtful if I could complete the race. My sister kept assuring me that our timing was really good and that I should not worry. We stopped running for a bit and briskly walked. I felt sore but better.
Runners who finished the race before we did cheered us on to complete it, too. They were enjoying their treat of hot cocoa and chocolate fondue with pretzels and marshmallows. I love chocolate, and I wanted my cocoa, too! “Let’s just get this over with, baby,” I shouted.
The adrenaline of arriving at the finish line was something I never experienced before in my life. I did not feel the pain in my leg and could have probably run another mile.
I wanted to cry as I hugged my sister and jumped up and down screaming, “We did it, baby! Yay, we did it!” I could not stop thanking my sister for not only inviting me but encouraging me to do this with her.
Out of 296 people in my age group I came in 125th; to me, that was a gold medal.
Thanks to my sister I left my comfort zone. I now realize the only competition I have is within myself and I have the ability to win my own personal gold medals in so many aspects of my life.
The road I traveled the past 57 years is far longer than the miles remaining. It is time to tie up my laces or hit the keyboard or get on the treadmill or read books. It is time to volunteer and join the clubs. The word can’t must go away.
I am not a professional writer as I type this piece. I am not a professional fitness instructor as I work out. I am not a professional chef as I make dinner, and I am not a professional athlete as I look for my next race.
But worrying about being the best at any of these things are only dead ends that keep me from stretching, growing, learning and trying.
Add 20 years to your life!!!!!
Yes we certainly do have 20 years left if not MORE! When I read an article I love I cannot wait to share it. This was found in Womans Day Magazine....the Author is Alyssa Shaffer, a longtime health, fitness and nutrition writer and author of the book Turn Up Your Fat Burn.
My goal for the website is to encourage everyone to never get too busy to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and personally. To quote the article, let's forget pills, powders and potions and build some healthy habits together....I hope you find the article below as encouraging as I did.
If you think that how long you'll live is based on how long your grandparents and parents live, you're only partly right. While genetics certainly have an impact, you have more control than you might assume. "By the time you turn 55, only about 30% of how quickly you age is based on your genes, as compared to 50% when you're younger—the rest is due to your lifestyle choices," says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. To figure out about how many years certain habits can add to your life, Dr. Roizen created the RealAge test, which uses data from hundreds of studies by groups including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics. With his help, we've gathered the most important habits and estimated how much longer each one may extend your life.
Add 2.2 Years....Walk 30 minutes a day
This is crucial to keeping your weight steady and lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes, but fitting in a solid half-hour can be tricky. Just as good (and easier) is weaving in that 30 minutes throughout your day; wearing a pedometer can help you stay on track. Research from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that people who wear one take an extra 2,000 steps (about 1 mile) a day. "Having that pedometer makes you honest with yourself, so you really know how much you're moving.
Add 5.6 Years....Get up and move!
Just as important as getting in that 30 minutes of walking is making your overall daily life more active. Getting a full 100 minutes of movement a day is what gives you the biggest health benefits. An easy way to do that: Get up and move any time you're usually sedentary—during TV commercials, for example. The average commercial break lasts for 2 to 3 minutes—plenty of time for you to work in a few mini moves like squats, jumping jacks or biceps curls (keep a set of free weights under your couch), or even just a few quick laps around the den. Research shows that people who do the most sitting have an increased risk of heart disease. This is because sitting for long periods of time allows fat to continue circulating in your bloodstream longer, which in turn slows the ability of HDL (the "good" cholesterol) to clear plaque from your arteries.
Add 3 years.... Go to bed 15 minutes earlier
This will help you get an extra 7.5 hours of shut-eye over the course of a month. "Sleep is profoundly important," says David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. "It's when every organ and system in your body repairs, restores and resets itself. Not getting enough sleep compromises how well your entire body functions." Although everyone's sleep needs are different, experts say that regularly getting less than 7 hours per night is what starts to have a negative impact.
Add 1.8 years....Do some strength training
Getting your heart pumping is important, but since strength training (lifting weights, exercising with resistance bands) builds muscle, it boosts your metabolism long-term, helping to protect against diabetes and heart disease. Weight-bearing activities also strengthen your bones, which lowers your osteoporosis risk. One study even found that after six months of twice-weekly, hour-long strength workouts, healthy older men and women (average age 70) were able to reverse signs of aging in their cells to levels similar to those seen in adults in their 20s and 30s. But you don't have to do that much exercise to get the health benefits. Aim for a 20-minute session twice a week.
Add 3-5 years....Floss daily
A healthy smile can also lead to a healthy heart. Numerous studies show that periodontal and cardiovascular disease are linked. Ideally, you should floss in the morning and at night—but even doing it just once a day will improve your health.
Add 14 years....Eat healthy
"Food has a very big impact on the genes that accelerate or slow down the aging process," says Dr. Roizen. So exactly what does eating healthy mean? Choose "good" fats. Snacks like nuts are better than ones that contain saturated fats, like butter and full-fat cheese. One study showed that eating nuts daily (any kind) lowers total cholesterol levels by more than 5% and LDL ("bad") cholesterol by nearly 7.5%. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily—and aim for variety. "When you eat many different fruits and vegetables, you get thousands of different disease-fighting nutrients," says Dr. Katz. One study found that people who regularly eat a variety of veggies lowered their risk of lung cancer by 23%. Eat fish twice a week. Research shows that the omega-3 fats found in fish like salmon are among the biggest health boosters, helping to fight heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, and even Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis, says Diane McKay, PhD, a researcher with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. On the flip side, research involving more than a half-million people found that those who ate the most red or processed meat had a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease and dying from cancer than those who ate the least. Go for fiber-rich whole grains. Spooning up a high-fiber breakfast cereal instead of a more refined, sugary one cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes by nearly 30%.
Add 8 years....Have more sex with your partner
Being in a satisfying relationship is good for your heart and soul. Women in a healthy monogamous relationship are significantly healthier compared with those who are either unhappy or sexually inactive, says Dr. Roizen.
Add 2 years....Don't text and drive
Studies show that texting while driving increases your risk of being in a serious accident sixfold—possibly making it more dangerous than driving drunk.
Add 4 years....Manage stress
Of course you can't control when an overloaded work schedule and family obligations might hit, but how you handle stress ultimately has the biggest impact on your health. "A highly stressed 50-year-old's 'real age' could be as high as 82," says Dr. Roizen. When you're constantly tense, your blood pressure, heart rate and levels of the stress hormone cortisol are all raised, which increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and more. Exercise can help a lot: Just 15 minutes of brisk walking increases your body's production of feel-good chemicals, like endorphins. Other stress-busting tips: Start your day with 15 minutes of belly breathing. This will help relax your mind and muscles and help you power through stress that crops up during the rest of your day, says Woodson Merrell, MD, chair of the department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. "The morning is actually when our bodies feel the most stressed, because it's when we're transitioning from inactivity to activity and producing the highest levels of cortisol," he notes.
Here's what to do: Sit tall at the edge of your bed or in a chair. Breathe in for a count of four, pause a moment, then breathe out for a count of six. Think of a peaceful image, like sitting by the sea, or repeat a simple word like calm. Meet a friend face-to-face. "Being involved with friends or in a community is as powerful as exercise in terms of preventing heart disease and dementia," says Henry Lodge, MD, coauthor of Younger Next Year for Women. Pencil in some friend time at least three times a week, or every day if possible. Chew gum. A British study of more than 2,000 workers found that people who regularly chewed gum had significantly less work-related and overall stress and depression than those who didn't get this oral fix. Chewing gum may stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps your body relax and increases levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that makes us feel calmer and happier.
Add 6-12 years....Stop smoking
It's one of the worst habits, but your health improves almost immediately after you quit. Just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop; two weeks to three months after quitting, your circulation and lung function improve; two years later, your heart disease and lung cancer risk are cut in half; 15 years later, your risk of heart disease is that of a nonsmoker's. What more motivation do you need?
SIX REASONS WHY YOU NEED 8 HOURS OF SLEEP
While reading this article be sure to click onto the words typed in blue as they will bring you to more GREAT articles.
Wake up! You cannot justify sleeping less than 7 hours a night. Dowsing yourself in coffee every morning may get you through the day, but habitually cutting corners on your sleep means you’re not only blunting health benefits but cutting years off your life.
“There’s more consequences to insufficient sleep than just feeling groggy the next day, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that. They’re like, ‘Well, if I can power through the day, then it was enough,’” says Michael Grandner, PhD, a clinical psychologist and instructor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. “But there’s a lot more going on.” Here’s what:
1. Sleep fights weight gain.
If nothing else will motivate you to get more shuteye, this should be it: Sleep keeps the weight off—not just for vanity but also for health.
Lack of sleep can lead to more of both midnight and midday munching. It turns out that sleep deprivation triggers higher levels of a hunger-inducing molecule that increased appetite during the afternoon, according to research presented at The Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting this year. But the mindless munching doesn’t stop there.
It turns out the longer you’re awake, the more opportunities there are for you to snack. Researchers reported in the journal Sleep that those who slept less and later at night had a much higher caloric intake than those who slept at 10 PM and got a full night’s sleep. Even worse, food consumed at night had a higher percentage of calories from fat than all three other meals of the day.
“One life style change that people could make if they’re either trying to lose weight or just trying to maintain their weight would be to really try to go to bed around 10 PM,” says Andrea Spaeth, lead author of the study. “That would really prevent a lot of people from consuming extra calories when they’re snacking late at night.”
2. Sleep improves your decision-making abilities.
Let’s be real here—when you’re struggling to even keep your eyes open your judgment isn’t at its peak performance.
The tendency to throw reason to the wayside has to do with a lack of impulse control induced by sleep deficiency, says Matthew P. Walker, PhD, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. It weakens the connection between the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, and the prefrontal cortex, the part that makes most high-level decisions for the body.
“If the amygdala is the gas pedal of your emotions, then the prefrontal cortex is the break,” Dr. Walker says. “When you are sleep-deprived, that connection between those two areas is sort of severed, and as a consequence, you become imbalanced. You become all gas pedal and no break.”
3. Sleep decreases anxiety.
The sleep-deficient human brain actually mirrors that of a person with an actual psychological disorder when faced with negative situations, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
“It’s almost as if the brain was having a disproportionately increase or an exaggerated response to something bad when you’re sleep deprived,” says Dr. Walker.
During deep REM sleep, the brain is able to “reset those emotional settings” and refresh the mind, similar to how one might reboot a computer when it’s acting up. Your brain needs that downtime to digest all the emotions from the previous day.
4. Sleep refreshes your immune system.
The idea that sleep resets your brain doesn’t just apply to the brain, but also to the immune system, which fights infections by day but reorganizes itself and replaces dead cells by night. This is because the entire body—down to each teeny, tiny cell—operates on a 24-hour clock, says Gianluigi Mazzoccoli, MD, director of the Scientific Institute and Regional General Hospital (Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza) in Italy.
“Day and night are characterized by completely different spectra of physiological functions,” Dr. Mazzoccoli says. “And the immune system is absolutely directed by these distinctions of periods.”
5. Sleep stabilizes blood sugar.
In general, shorter sleepers tend to have a higher risk of diabetes. When studying a small group of normal sleepers, researchers in Los Angeles found that even just three nights of “catch-up sleep” to make up for what was lost over the week resulted in a 31% improvement in insulin sensitivity, compared to those who continued to have poor sleep schedules.
6. Sleep lowers your risk of disease—period.
Every single expert we spoke with warned of the dangerous long-term effects associated with habitual inadequate sleep. Short sleepers tend to have higher cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and both of these tend to have higher rates of increasing 10 years down the line, alongside the elevated risk of various cardiovascular problems diabetes, and obesity already mentioned.
“An important thing that people need to remember is that sleep, like diet, is an important pillar of health,” Dr. Grandner says. “It is impossible to be in good health and have unhealthy sleep.”
A to Z Guide to Heart Health
The choices you make in life, from food to fitness, can impact your heart. Use this guide as a reference, and choose wisely to keep your heart healthy and happy.
Avocados: Monounsaturated fat in avocados may help keep cholesterol under control, especially if you swap mashed avocado for mayo, cream cheese or butter on a sandwich. Avocados also contain potassium which helps to lower book pressure.
Barley: High intake of this whole grain reduces risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. Use barley to help you reach the recommended daily goal of 25 to 30 grams of fiber.
Cherries: A diet rich in cherries may lower C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. High levels of CRP indicate inflammation in the body and are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Cherries - tart, sweet or juiced - are a tasty way to cut CRP levels.
D, the vitamin: People with vitamin D deficiencies tend to develop coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure. If you don't get enough sunshine (5-30 mins, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week, some studies say) to create vitamin D, aim for 200 international units a day if you are younger than 50, or 400 IUs daily if you're 50 to 70. Vitamin D is also found in milk, salmon and some fortified foods.
Eggs: A good source of nutrients just got better. Eggland's Best has laid a new egg. It has three times more omega 3's - the fatty acids shown to reduce cardiovascular risk. The new eggs also have 25 percent less saturated fat and 19 percent less cholesterol than regular eggs. What an easy switch!
Flax seed: These tiny seeds are full of fiber and omega-3's, which may help cut total cholesterol. Opt for ground flax seed. Whole seeds pass through your body undigested.
Green Tea: Regular tea drinkers trimmed hypertension risk by up to 65 percent, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Three cups of green tea a day are all you need to reap the rewards.
Heart: When shopping seek out foods that flaunt the American Heart Association's check mark. It identifies food certified to meet the AHA's criteria for cholesterol and saturated fat. For a list of heart-friendly products, visit heartcheckmark.org.
Ice: The ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. Cell phone users should add the numbers of people to contact in an emergency under the name ICE. It can help responders find your next of kin quickly.
Jump: Or hop, skip, run or walk. The American Heart Association recommends adults get a least 30 minutes of physical activity a day 5 days a week.; children should get 60 minutes daily.
Kale: Along with other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, kale contains antioxidants that cut your risk of heart disease.
Laughter: Studies show that people who score high on the happiness scale have reduced risks of suffering a heart attack and heart disease. They also have lower blood pressure.
Milk: Two to three servings of low-fat or nonfat milk or other dairy products a day are part of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. People follow the DASH diet experienced a drop in blood pressure after just 2 weeks. See dashdiet.org.
Nuts: A small handful (about 1/3 cup) a day cuts the risk of heart disease and may trim your waistline because they help you stave off hunger.
Olive Oil: Two tablespoons a day in place of saturated fats, such as butter, provide antioxidants known to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and trim triglycerides, a form of fat circulating in the bloodstream. Extra virgin olive oil contains more of the good stuff.
Phytosterols: these plant compounds keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. Flax seed and nuts contain phytosterols, but for the biggest benefit, look for phytosterol-fortified foods such as Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise Orange Juice. People who drank two 8 ounce glasses of the fortified OJ daily for 8 weeks lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 12 percent.
Quinoa: Quick cooking quinoa is a whole grain with a hefty dose of heart protecting folate. The Institute of Medicine recommends 400 micrograms of folate daily. A 1 cup serving of quinoa contains 83 micrograms. Use it in place of rice or pasta.
Resveratrol: Studies suggest that the resveratrol and other plant nutrients in red and purple grapes and grape juices offer the same heart protecting benefits of red wine. One small study showed reductions in high blood pressure in men who drank 12 ounces of Concord grape juice daily for 12 weeks. Half a glass (2-3 ounces) of red wine daily may decrease the risk of heart disease by 26 percent.
Strawberries: Two or more servings daily (1/2 cup/serving) of strawberries may protect against blood vessel inflammation. These and other berries, especially blueberries and blackberries, contain high levels of heart healthy antioxidants.
Tomato Sauce: Lycopene in tomato sauce reduces heart attack risk. Researchers found that men with high lycopene levels had half the risk of heart attack compare to men with low lycopene levels.
Upbeat: Keep smiling and you may stay healthy. People with heart disease are 40 percent less likely to laugh according to a University of Maryland study.
Visceral Fat: This fat, typically found deep in the abdomen, is a strong predictor of heart attack, so watch your waistline. To prevent heart disease, doctors recommend that women's waists should measure less than 35 inches; men's less than 40 inches.
Walnuts: Eating 1-1/2 ounces of omega-3 rich walnuts after a high-fat meal may help keep blood vessels wide open, instead of constricting as they often do after such a meal. This may prevent hardened arteries that lead to heart disease. (Of course, the wisest choice is to avoid meals with a lot of saturated fats.)
Play this fun percussion instrument for stress-reducing benefits or for that matter, listen to any music you love. According to a University of Maryland study, listening to joyful music has a healthy impact on blood vessels similar to that of eating walnuts (see above).
Yoga: Regular practice of yoga or meditation lowers stress, breathing rates, and blood pressure. It also may reduce anxiety and depression, accord to the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
ZZZZ: Catch some zzzzzs. Sleep for 8 hours a night to cut levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain and an increase in risky visceral fat (see above).
This article is courtesy Taste Of Home Healthy Cooking. For more great articles and recipes visit their website tasteofhome.com/healthycooking
“No” Has a Bad Reputation, But He’s Also a Good Guy! Say Yes to NO!
By Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D., LMHC
No has gotten this bad reputation. “No, you can’t do that.” “No, it’s too hard.” “No, I don’t have time.” “No, I’m too old.” “No,
I’ll do it some other time.”
I am sure that you have said some of these statements before. And, yes, when it comes to stopping a life dream, skipping
out on a risk, or self-sabotaging with the word “No,” ….YES that IS negative. In fact, saying “No” all the time could skew people’s opinions of you, making them
think you are a pessimist or have a negative attitude. I get it.
The fact is, “No” is also the good guy. When used inappropriately, anything could be bad. Food isn’t bad, but when you eat high fat foods day in
and out, yes, it’s bad. But food isn’t always bad, and neither is the word “No.” In fact, “No” can make you happy and fulfilled. I guess then, the
trick is knowing how to say “No” without feeling guilty. Realize that the word “No” demonstrates self-discipline and the ability to set boundaries with other
people. I understand that sometimes saying “No” can create guilt, but the minute you feel that people are taking and taking from you, realize that they probably
Kindness does not equal doormat. You can do things for other people, but also realize that you are not a doormat. Don’t let people take
advantage of your kindness. Many of us are people pleasers, and when we say yes, we get that immediate smile from someone. We feel fulfilled momentarily because
we made someone happy. The problem is we walk away from the situation with a lot more responsibility and a task to complete that we don’t have time for. The
power in using the word “No” is in the payoff, not necessarily in the beginning. When you say “No” people are not always going to be happy with you, but they
will respect you more than if you said “Yes” and did not follow through.
Tips on how to say “Yes” to “No”:
1. Pre-Make your Responses to People
Journal out some pre-made responses to those who consistently ask you to take on additional roles you do not want to
take on, or, practice saying “No” to those you feel safe with. When you rehearse what you will say to someone, you are less likely to be blindsided and backed
into a corner forced to say yes. You will also find yourself more confident in speaking up when the time comes.
2. Dedicate your Time
When you are spending time with people who mean the most to you, be sure to give them time that they see as valuable. Avoid using technology or
doing other tasks when spending time with the spouse, children, grandchildren, family, friends, etc. This way, when you have to tell these people “No,” they
will be more accepting of your response. You have provided them with valuable time and thus they are more accepting when you want to step away and do
something for yourself. You will also have less guilt when saying “No” if you given quality time to loved ones when you are with them.
3. Rid of the Toxic People
When you rid of the toxic people in your life, you immediately minimize your potential for having to say “Yes” to things you
don’t want to do. Toxic people not only want your time, but they will suck the life and energy right out of you, quickly turning you into a doormat.
4. Set Boundaries
If you can’t or don’t want to completely rid of people who might deplete your energy, you can definitely set
boundaries to minimize your “Yes’s” with them. Start by taking control back. When asked to do something, do it at a time that is most convenient for you or
meet the person half way on their request. This will begin to put some control back into your court and demonstrate to people the boundaries you are setting
with them. For example, you don’t have to answer the phone every time someone calls you. Also, reserve time with yourself each day and make this a permanent
meeting that can’t be changed. People who want to take up that time period of your day, let them know that you have a meeting or a place to be during that
hour. Be sure to take yourself and your happiness seriously, otherwise, don’t expect others to.
- This article is copied from Real Simple Magazine, January 2014
Achieving Life Balance
The Psychology of Social Media
What is it about screens that keeps our eyes transfixed and fingers a-tappin’? Psychologist Sherry Turkle,
a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of “Alone, Together:
Why We Expect More From Technology
and Less From Each Other,” explains what keeps us tangled up in tech.
Q. Exactly why are we so attached to our digital devices?
A. They provide something our brains really want: the opportunity for what’s called “seeking behavior.” We’re born
hunter-gatherers, and in a way, a Google search is like going out and finding a deer to bring home.
It activates that instinct and gives you an emotional buzz.
Q. Is technology truly addictive?
A. I prefer a different word: I would say technology is extremely seductive. A smartphone offers
something that isn’t like the lure of passively watching TV, and our brains
are uniquely vulnerable to it.
Q. Because with TV you’re a watcher, and here you’re an active participant?
A. Yes, it’s a perfect storm. Our brains crave constant stimulation, and these devices allow you to skip over
waiting and go straight to scintillating sound bites.
Q. What is it that makes us jump at every ping?
A. It’s that desire to find out who wants you, not really the content relayed in the text.
Q. What’s the fallout of these habits?
A. There’s less tolerance for the boring bits in life. Part of my fieldwork is to stand at stop signs and
watch what happens in cars. The moment people stop, they reach for their phones. They can't be alone
with their thoughts. Parents need to show kids that three's no need to panic if you're without your phone.
If you don't teach children it's OK to be alone they'll only know how to be lonely.
Q. Why is it so satisfying to rack up Facebook friends and Twitter followers?
A. As a psychologist, what I hear most often is “Nobody listens to me.” With all these “friends” and
followers, you have automatic listeners.
Q. So are these just meaningless connections?
A. They can be meaningful. Social media and texting are great ways to stay in touch. But that doesn’t mean
you should live your entire social life online. It's a useful supplement to face-to-face interaction, not a substitute.
With cyber-connections, you aren't exercising the same emotional competencies that you do in person.
Q. Why has texting become more common than talking?
A. Because it protects people from the possibility of confrontation. There’s a whole generation that isn’t
learning how to have a conversation. I asked some kids why they choose to avoid face-to-face
communication, and one boy said, “It takes place in real time, and you can't control what you're going to say".
Without this skill, kids aren't prepared to negotiate many of life's bumps.
Q. Do smartphones harm relationships?
A. Yes, if you allow your attention to be swayed. I’ve observed several young adults’ dinner conversations. Say
there is a group of seven. Three are engaged at a time. The rest are scanning the group to
see if enough people are participating so they can sneak back to their phones. Everyone alternately drifts in and out of the
discussion, saying, “Wait, what?” These conversations can’t go that deep. A recent study found that if you place a phone on a
table, personal or heavy topics won’t even come up. You wouldn’t want to bring up your mother’s illness if there’s a good chance
that you’ll be interrupted and feel hurt. It’s not that people don’t have profound things to say. But we’re stripping
away the conditions for saying those things to each other.
Q. Would you say technology is making us dumber?
A. I’m pro-technology. But the digital world can sometimes make us forget what we know about life: that there’s
no greater gift than giving someone your full attention. Why are we using these tools in ways
that cause us to take our attention off each other? That doesn’t seem smart.
The 4-Letter Word That Can Ruin Your Life
By Dr. Phil
This article was copied from the Oprah Magazine, October 2013 (May We Help You?)
There's a four letter F word that's not offensive to your sensibilities. It won't send your moral compass spinning like a top. But this F word is far more insidious because, unbeknownst to you, it could be the motivation behind a shockingly high percentage of the life choices you make. The F word I'm talking about is fear.
A psychology professor of mine used to say that 80 percent of decisions are based on fear rather than desire. Wait a minute! What? If he was even close, think
about what that could mean for your life. What if you married not Mr. Right but Mr. Right Now because you heard your biological clock ticking and thought, "Hey,
a bird in the hand..."? Or what if you spend the next decade in some boring, dead-end job because you're afraid nobody else will hire you to do something you
love? Do you continue to live with someone who mistreats you because you're afraid to be on your own? Do you make safe choices even if they're not what you
really want because you fear you can't do better?
You may be thinking, "No way, Dr. Phil, not me!" But it's possible you've been selling out for so long, you don't even notice it anymore. I get so many letters from readers who
feel stuck or are living without the sizzle they long for. Too often we settle for what we don't want instead of reaching for what we do. Why? It's an epidemic
that I call fear paralysis.
You can't play the game of life with sweaty palms, so it's time to do a brutally honest "decision audit" to find out what's driving your choices. List the top seven decisions you've made in your life, and think back to how you made them. Ask yourself truthfully if you were driven by an aspiration or if fear ran the show. Were you moving toward something you wanted or away from an alternative that scared you? Were you afraid that if you reached for your true desires, you'd end up falling short? Trying and failing means the world has rejected you and your efforts, and rejection is our number one fear. But living--
really living—is about taking chances, so what a shame if you never conquered your fears.
By the way, I am not advocating a reckless risk-to-reward ratio. In fact, feeling fear can be a good thing at times. There's a reason warning bells go off to alert us to impending
danger—whether it's in a relationship that's going south or in a dark alley—so we've got to trust our gut feelings. What I am saying, however, is that if you are punking out on your dreams, you need to start believing in yourself enough to go for it instead of settling into your comfort zone.
So how do you conquer fear paralysis? Start by not blowing the stakes of your decision out of proportion. Your self-worth is not a matter of wins versus losses. It's
an inherent, God-given quality, so don't catastrophize the consequences of your decisions.
Next, I want you to play the "what if" game, but you need to play it all the way to the end. If you're going to ask the question, then you've got to answer it with a realistic worst-case scenario. What if you quit your job and the next gig didn't work out? Is it an outcome you'd be able to handle? Could you recover?
Think about it: They can kill you, but they can't eat you! You'd likely start over again and be much wiser. If you'd be gambling your rent money or your children's lunch money, then maybe the risk isn't worth it. But if that's not the case, I'm betting that the downside isn't as bad as you think—and the upside could be life-changing. You'll never get ahead by playing it safe.
How to Stay Mentally Sharp
The 2 Best Ways to Stay Mentally Sharp
Posted by ThirdAge Staff
As we age, keeping our brain in shape is just as important as maintaining a
healthy body. And exercise geared to your mind can keep you in mental shape in
the same way physical exercise can keep your body in shape. Here are some
recommendations from the Harvard Medical School on how to keep your mind in
If you don’t have some challenging mental activities every day, your mind
could be on the way to slowing down. According to the Harvard Medical School
experts, research has shown that people who held more challenging jobs while in
their working years are less likely to suffer memory loss (dementia) than those
who had routine, repetitive jobs. Our advice: Keep – or get – yourself in shape
by learning a craft, taking up a new hobby, learning a language or doing
challenging crossword puzzles.
Other experts cite the phrase “Use it or lose it” when it comes to the brain.
The most important element of your mental activities: Make sure they’re
A study done by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco
showed that physical and lifestyle factors are related to mental prowess. The
study found that people who exercised moderately to vigorously once a week were
31 percent likelier to maintain their cognitive function. And those who didn’t
smoke were 50 percent likelier to stay sharp.
Stay connected As we get older, the mind needs to be
engaged not only through intellectually stimulating activities, but by
interaction with other people. And in fact, according to the Harvard Medical
School experts, the two can go hand in hand: Engage in mentally stimulating
activities like volunteering, and you’ll be interacting with others.
Additionally, the Harvard experts say, other people can give you emotional
support during rough times – and that can reduce the negative effects of stress
on your brain. “There’s a big plus in staying connected with others,” Dr. Gary
Small, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of
Medicine,” has told an interviewer. In his just published book The Alzheimer’s
Prevention Program: Keep Your Brian Healthy for the Rest of Your Life, Small
said he makes the point that “Social butterflies do better as they age, there’s
no question about it.” If you don’t already have a social circle, or if you’d
like to expand it, look for kindred spirits in groups that you’ll be interested
in. Try church groups, book clubs, hikers or birders. Whatever you decide, make
it something you love to do; that way, you’ll stick to it. For more on boosting
your memory and diagnosing memory problems, take a look at Improving Memory:
Understanding age-related memory loss, a Special Health Report from Harvard
Purple Potatoes Lower Blood Pressure
Minus the Fatty Fixings, Antioxidants in Potatoes May Lower Blood Pressure
A daily dose of purple potatoes served plain may help your heart. That is, if you steer clear of the deep
fryer and fatty toppings.
A new study shows that people who ate plain purple potatoes cooked in the microwave twice a day for a
month lowered their blood pressure by 3%-4% without gaining weight.
Researchers say the blood pressure-lowering effects are likely due to the high concentration of antioxidants found naturally in potatoes. Antioxidants protect your body from molecules called “free radicals” that can damage healthy cells.
But the frying process destroys the healthy substances in potatoes.
"Mention 'potato' and people think 'fattening, high carbs, empty calories.' In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine, or sour cream, one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins,” researcher Joe Vinson, PhD, of the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, says in a news release. “We hope our
research helps to remake the potato's popular nutritional image."
Researchers say potatoes contain a variety of potentially beneficial phytochemicals at similar levels as broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts.
Potatoes’ Surprising Effect
In the study, 18 overweight and obese people with high blood pressure either ate six to eight small purple potatoes (about the size of a golf ball) with the skins twice daily or no potatoes, as a part of their normal diet for four weeks.
The results showed that people who ate purple potatoes lowered their diastolic (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) blood pressure by an average of 4.3% and systolic (the top number) by 3.5%.
Researchers say that blood pressure-lowering effect is nearly the same as with oatmeal.
Although the study used purple potatoes, which can increasingly be found in farmers markets, researchers say red and white potatoes may have similar effects.
They say the results are especially noteworthy because 14 of the 18 people in the study were already taking drugs to control their high blood pressure, yet still experienced a further lowering of their blood pressure. No other changes
in body weight or cholesterol were found as a result of adding potatoes to the peoples’ diet.
Researchers say the potato is the most eaten vegetable in the U.S., but it’s gotten a bad rap.
"The potato, more than perhaps any other vegetable, has an undeserved bad reputation that has led many health-conscious people to ban them from their diet," Vinson says.
Barbara Hannah Grufferman is the author of The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money, and More. She is also a blogger with AARP and the Huffington Post, and the National Osteoporosis
Foundation Bone Health Ambassador. She lives n New York City with her husband, two daughters and rescue pooch Gunther.
Visit her website: http://bit.ly/1bOkql7
Read her column, HuffPost50: http://huff.to/18v88j
The Super Powers of Cocoa
You don’t always have to say no to that piece of chocolate! In fact, if you are looking to lower your
blood pressure or boost your mood, a bite of dark chocolate or a sip of hot cocoa might be the perfect answer
The cocoa found in some of your favorite desserts contains many super powers that can help improve your health, inside and out. Discover some of the reasons why you should add cocoa to your diet.
Cocoa contains flavonoids, a type of chemical found naturally in plants. These phytochemicals are known to help fight a wide array of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Make sure you’re getting all of the benefits of flavonoids by buying dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. If you aren’t sure, look for bars with “pure,” “dark” or “unprocessed” on the label.
Lowering Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be combated with a daily dose of cocoa. We now know that the flavonols found in cocoa can thin blood and relax blood vessels. If you are worried about high blood pressure, even a small amount, like a sprinkle of cocoa on your oatmeal every day, can help lower your numbers. .
Cocoa contains antioxidants that work toward repairing damaged skin. This will make your skin softer, especially when paired with other homeopathic skins cures like honey or yogurt. Next time you are giving yourself a manicure, use a homemade cocoa lotion.
When you’re feeling down, sometimes there’s nothing better than eating chocolate. And as it turns out, there is a scientific reason why cocoa is so often the perfect answer for a case of the blues. This miracle food contains hundreds of compounds that boost endorphins and serotonin, two of the best-known chemicals that are responsible for making us feel happy. Next time you need a
quick mood boost, try making yourself a cup of hot cocoa, and your day is sure to turn out more delicious.
Thank you all-smoothie-recipes.com's Home Page./for allowing me to share this article!!....
Coconut Oil has more saturated fats than any other edible oil and is usually looked on as an unhealthy fat, but it’s one of the best oils out there.
One of the primary health benefits of coconut-oil comes from the fatty acids (lauric acid) this nutrient cannot be found in any
other source except a mother’s milk.
Why is this Type of Oil Good for You?
C - Oil is mostly saturated fat and just for that reason people ask is it healthy - which is only natural because saturated fat has been labeled as the
primary cause of heart disease for the last 50-60 years. The thing is, that may not be true – this type of oil is now being recognized as one of the healthiest
fats there is.
C-oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids (healthy saturated fats) research actually shows that that coconut oil helps to protect against heart
disease. Basically what it is, is: healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats. Vegetable and seed oils are made up of long-chain fatty acids which are not
healthy for the heart at all, while oil made from coconuts contain medium-chain fatty acids which do not negatively effect cholesterol.
This oil is predominantly a saturated fat with its nutritional value lying in the medium-chain fatty acids and to put a cherry on top it contains vitamin K, E as well as many antioxidant properties.
The Different Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil Benefits for a Healthy Immune System
Surprise, medium-chain fatty acids are amazing powerful germ fighters that are very effective in fighting against a variety of infections such as fungus,
influenza and sometimes just normal colds. This particular oil is very good for overall immune health.
Coconut Oil Benefits for Beautiful Skin and Hair
Skin - Listen up girlies, this oil not only smooths and moisturizes your skin but also helps to protect your skin from the aging effects that free radicals have on your body through its wonderful antioxidant properties. When coconut oil is absorbed into the skin it often reduces the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles by keeping the connective tissues strong.
Another plus is whether it is consumed or applied to the surface layer of the skin, this oil still absorbs into the body and you will still receive its overwhelming health benefits.
Hair - If you look on the back of your shampoo & conditioner bottles you’ll be surprised to find that coconut-oil is in a lot of those products, naturally
because it contains many different nutrients that help to keep your hair healthier, shinier and stronger.
How can I Use Coconut-Oil?
This is an excellent question! Coconut-oil can be used in many different ways. At 76 degrees and above this type of oil will actually liquify itself making it a great option for all different kinds of recipes. At any degree lower than 76 coconut-oil will solidify. There are so many things you can do with this oil. Check out the
ones we enjoy below!
Here are a few ways we enjoy using this oil
Smoothies + Coconut = Delicious
If you want to start adding coconut-oil to your diet you can throw a tbsp into you blender and blend away.
This is also a great addition because this oil acts as a thickening agent and will add a nice creamy texture that is hard to find in smoothies
Top 5 Reasons to Eat (at Least) an Apple a Day
(Courtesy Goodhousekeeping Magazine)
Beyond its fabulous flavor and perfect portability, this fruit packs major health benefits. Here, the lowdown on why you should be getting a daily dose
1. They're Slow Food
Firm and packed with fiber (5 grams, or 20 percent of your daily value), they demand a chewing commitment, giving your body time to register itself "full" before you scarf down too many calories. And the natural sweeteners in apples enter the bloodstream gradually, helping keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady so you feel full longer — the opposite of many sugary snacks, which produce a quick rush followed by a hunger-inducing crash.
2. They Help You Breathe Easy
Kids of women who ate the most apples while pregnant were less likely to wheeze or develop asthma by age 5, researchers from the United Kingdom found recently. The fruit may also protect the lungs of adults, lowering the risk of asthma, lung cancer, and other diseases.
3. They Zap Cholesterol
Thanks to two key components, pectin (a type of fiber) and polyphenols (powerful antioxidants), apples can take a bite out of blood cholesterol levels and prevent the oxidation of LDL ("bad") cholesterol — the chemical process that turns it into artery-clogging plaque. The trick to maximizing the benefit: Don't toss the peel; apple skin has two to six times the antioxidant compounds as the flesh.
4. They Fight Cancer
Lab studies have shown that several compounds in this juicy fruit curb the growth of cancer cells — but they're most potent when the apple is eaten whole (minus the stem and seeds, of course). People who munch more than one a day lower their risk for several cancers (oral, esophageal, colon, breast, ovarian, prostate, and others) by 9 to 42 percent, Italian researchers found.
5. They Make You Smarter
Possibly because they boost the production of acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages between nerve cells, apples are now thought to keep your brain sharp as you age, enhance memory, and potentially lessen the odds of getting Alzheimer's disease, suggests one recent animal study from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. With this sort of nutritious nosh at your disposal, it might be time to rethink the idea of a "smart cookie."
Pedometer Walking: How to Lose Weight, Feel Great and Get Fit
Pedometer walking is an effective way to lose weight, get fit and improve your overall health.
A review of 26 studies on pedometer usage was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and found that this little device increased physical activity, decreased Body Mass Index (a measure of weight that factors pounds and height) as well as blood pressure.
How can you use pedometer walking to get fit and feel great? Here is the complete guide to using, wearing and selecting the best pedometer for you.
How Do Pedometers Work?
Pedometers, also known as step-counters, count movements that your body makes, such as walking, jogging, running or jumping up and down. Each one has a type of mechanism in it that counts a step when the impact of your foot striking the ground is registered.
Many pedometers use a spring-mounted lever arm system. When your foot strikes the ground, one end of the lever moves down and makes contact with a metallic surface, closes an electric circuit and counts a step.
Accelerometer-based pedometers, also known as piezoelectric, contain tiny crystals that get stressed when your foot strikes the ground, which causes a voltage to be generated and registers a step.
Research in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that the accelerometer-based devices are the most accurate and reliable. How to Use a Pedometer
Pedometer walking is effective and motivational. Research shows that those who wear them are able to increase their daily step count by 2,000 steps, which equals one mile.
If you’d like pedometer walking to help you become more physically active, lose weight and improve your fitness level, consider taking the 10,000 steps a day challenge.
This challenge follows the U.S. Surgeon General’s guideline for the amount of daily physical activity necessary to maintain good health.
Using a pedometer to help you measure your daily step count is an effective way to track your steps and stay on target.
If you find that you aren’t meeting the recommended 10,000 steps a day, here are some great ideas to add more steps to your day. How to Wear a Pedometer
The device should be clipped on your waist, above your knee and should be parallel to the ground. Most models come with a safety leash that should also be worn to prevent them from falling off.
The models with the spring-mounted lever mechanisms will not be able to register your steps if they lean to one side so they cannot be worn in the pocket. It’s important that they stay upright.
If you’re looking for a model that can be worn inside your pocket or even in your purse, an Omron pedometer is recommended. They are highly reliable and accurate, even when worn in a pocket or purse. Finding the Best Pedometer
The best step-counter for you depends on your needs. If you’re looking for an accurate, reliable device that simply counts steps (no bells and whistles), you can find a great model for less than $20. Read these recommendations for the best pedometer to fit your lifestyle and your budget.
Pedometer Brand Reviews
I've read the reviews by the pros and by those users themselves and have picked the best among each brand.
If you’re looking for a pedometer and calorie counter in one, an Omron pedometer. is an excellent choice.
Research shows they are highly reliable. Because they have dual-accelerometer sensors, they can be worn in your pocket or purse.
Although the Freestyle Pedometer comes highly rated by the pros, its wearers haven't been too pleased. Read these reviews to determine if this brand is right for you. Although it’s tempting to use a free pedometer, those devices may have inferior components and will lose their reliability after a few short months. In fact, they have been known to be off by 25 percent or more. It’s best to spend a little bit of money to get a step-counter that is accurate and long-lasting.
But if you'd like to try a free pedometer first before buying one, read this helpful article on how to get a free pedometer. Pedometer Accuracy
Would you like to determine if your pedometer is accurately counting your steps? Use this quick and simple test:
- Wear your pedometer and set it to ‘0’.
- Take 20 steps, then check the readout.
A perfect pedometer will have counted 20 steps, but if it’s off by more than two steps either way, try repositioning the device directly above your knee and try the test again.
If the readout is still inaccurate, consider my reviews of the best pedometers.
Another handy tool is the Google Pedometer. It will help you quickly and easily track how many miles you've walked. It can also help you plan new future routes.
Pedometer walking will give you the motivation to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals. This tiny device can be very effective in helping you to meet your daily step count goals.
Source: Bravata, DM, Smith-Spangler, C, Sundaram V, et al. Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health: A systematic review. JAMA. 2007;298;2296-2304.
Return from Pedometer Walking to the Home Page for More Great Fitness Walking Ideas
Barbara Hannah Grufferman
Writer; Speaker; Author, 'The Best of Everything After 50'
Make This the Year to Embrace Your Age
A not-so-quiet revolution has been picking up massive steam on the Internet ... and I'm proud to be a part of it. It's all about how we talk about, view and react to aging in America.
We are continuously bombarded with messages at every turn urging us to join the war against aging (at a cost). We listen to the "anti-aging sirens" sing sweet words of encouragement (and promises) in our ears whenever we turn on the television, see a movie, or read a magazine (even those allegedly aimed at "older women"). "Youth is beauty," the sirens sing. "You don't really want to age... do you? Who will hire you? Who will love you? Who will desire you? Come with us, and be young, young, young... forever."
Advertisers who desperately want the baby boomer dollars often use models half our age, or those so airbrushed they make 50 truly look like it's the new 40 (a ridiculous line invented by some marketer, no doubt) in a distasteful attempt to have us believe that we can, in fact, reverse the clock.
Plastic surgery is on the rise (for men as well as women) even in the face of massive unemployment and high debt loads among the "over 50" market. A recent Wall Street Journal article -- "Debt Hobbles Older Americans" -- opens by announcing "More Americans are reaching their 60s with so much debt they can't afford to retire," and yet we, as a group, are willing to shell out mega bucks on skin cream, invasive procedures, chemical peels, Botox, and so on in an effort to erase our lines, recapture our youth, and compete head to head with the true youth of this country for jobs, love, sex and attention.
When my grandmother entered her 50s it was a level playing field. The only ones who got their faces lifted (in strict secrecy) were major Hollywood stars. Everyone else just hoped for the best and went down the aging path together. In today's world, however, the level playing field is a distant memory. Those who can, often do. Those who can't... well... time to become invisible, perhaps?
There's a dearth of celebrity role models who choose to age with grace, vitality and dignity... in public. Helen Mirren jumps to mind, especially since in "real life" her hair is a natural, beautiful gray, and just recently she was voted as having the "Body of the Year." There are many well-known women over 50, a few who are true cultural icons whom we watched grow up right along side us, but I would never refer to them as role models for aging without fear. Too many are soldiers in the anti-aging movement, marching through their 50s and 60s with hair impossibly blond or black, faces too smooth, bodies too taut and toned.
Isn't it time to change how we view aging? Have we created a society of "haves" and "have nots" based not so much on how much we have, but on how much we can spend on looking younger? Have we completely removed any opportunity for a level playing field? Have we fooled ourselves to the point where we actually believe we are younger just by erasing crow's feet with Botox? And do we think we fool others?
Not long ago, I posted an article -- "Why Should Gray Hair Work Against Women?" -- which opened a floodgate of comments and emotions here on Huffington Post (as well as on Facebook and Twitter). It's clear that many people believe once we start to age -- and look it -- we are doomed, especially in the job market. But the good news is these same people are starting to get angry, and take action.
I see more and more women every day talking on Facebook, websites, Twitter, and other social media in an effort to shift the discourse and create a societal sea change. Recently, I asked women on Facebook to post their greatest New Year's wish for post 50 women. Here are a few, reprinted with their permission, that clearly underscore our collective desire to change the way we talk about aging in America:
I hope women over 50 throw their arms around social media and band together to create a strong community and social change. (Zoe Nicholson)
No matter what life has presented you with, we are 50 something and these truly are the best days of our lives. Don't be afraid, embrace your age. (Donna Vesel Ryan)
May you realize that you are braver then you think, smarter than you realize, more beautiful than you imagine, and more valuable that all the treasure on the earth. (Joyce Frazier Melanson)
May we all understand how important it is to take care of ourselves. We have spent the majority of our lives nurturing and caring for others. We are now at a marvelous time in our lives where we are brave enough to embrace new possibilities. (Vickie Stahl)
My wish is that all women over 50 find their voice... and use it. (Denise Taylor Tremaine)
In an effort to move the paradigm shift along, I've come up with a few of my own "Creeds" to live by. I hope these simple words inspire you to embrace your age and live your life to the fullest:
- Be fearless after 50
- Embrace your age, no matter what it is
- Don't focus so much on what others think
- Embracing your age and wanting to feel pretty, healthy and fit are not mutually exclusive.
- Whatever you do, do it for the right reasons
- Get angry about ageism, and take action
- Know how beautiful you truly are
- Support and encourage other women. Chances are good they feel as you do
- Be a role model for younger women by showing them how fearless you are
And lastly: Love yourself, love your life, stay as healthy as you can, move your body, be informed, stay engaged, use your mind, keep a handle on your finances, be bold, be brave, walk with confidence, live with style . . . and then . . . you will know how truly wonderful life after 50 can be.
"Friend" me on Facebook and "Tweet" me on Twitter (BGrufferman). Staying connected is a powerful tool! And remember ...
Turning 50 is more than an age ... it's a movement.
By Staness Jonekos
Co-author The Menopause Makeover
Just when you need to be at your best to manage stress, your fluctuating hormone levels may affect the mood centers in your brain, causing you to melt down. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your overall health and happiness.
When you are stressed out
• It is difficult to lose weight
• You may experience migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and back and joint pain
• You feel gloomy and tearful
• You have a hard time concentrating
• You are constantly irritable and cranky
• You feel hopeless
• Damage can be caused to your immune system, making you are susceptible to infections and viruses
• You have a harder time going through menopause
How to cope with stress
• Identify stress triggers, and resolve relationship issues
• Try stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi
• Regular exercise releases endorphins, making you feel better
• Schedule fun activities
• Make time for your friends; support is important
• Eat healthfully – avoid a diet heavy in carbohydrates
• Pamper yourself a little bit—take a hot bath, or treat yourself to a manicure or massage
• Get in touch with your spirituality
• Get plenty of rest
• Slow down and take time in the day for yourself
• Find a relaxing new hobby
• Start reading more, and watch a little less television
• Free up your schedule – start saying no to others, and yes to you
• Make a point of laughing every day
• Don’t always answer your cell phone
• Make fun plans for the weekend
• And if you have a partner, a little affection and intimacy goes a long way – make sure you are satisfied
For many of us, the menopause journey can be stressful. It’s especially critical that you manage stress during menopause, so that you can take care of yourself. Once you handle stress triggers, managing menopause symptoms is possible.
Whether they are suffering from midlife issues, lifestyle changes, hormone fluctuations, social pressures or personal expectations, it is no surprise that women going through menopause are emotional! Make time daily to pamper yourself, and get rest. You are going through a major shift in your life. Everything you know is being altered, emotionally and physically.
If you cannot manage the emotions and stress in your life on your own, seek professional help. A therapist can help with many issues in your life, relationships, or past that may need to be addressed. Your practitioner can discuss the possibility of hormone therapy or the use of antidepressants. Some people find that the herb St. John’s Wort can help counteract depression and stress, but if you take St. John’s Wort, be sure to inform your doctor. This herb is often not compatible with other medications, and drug interactions can be dangerous.
Staness Jonekos is an advocate for women's health, wellness and empowerment. An award-winning television writer, producer and director, she was one of the original executive producers who launched the television network Oxygen Media, cofounded by Oprah Winfrey.
Following her commitment to health, Staness co-executive produced the premiere season of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, and post produced Lifetime's Speaking of Women's Health.
Recently, Staness launched into the publishing world sharing her 8-step 12-week Menopause Makeover program in her first book The Menopause Makeover, co-authored with menopause expert Dr. Wendy Klein.
Facebook: The MenopauseMakeover
Hot Flashes and Natural Remedies
Many women are perhaps skeptical about using conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs to combat the symptoms of menopause. This skepticism is largely attributed to the adverse effects of these treatments, which include vaginal bleeding, nausea and headaches. To further compound the problem of conventional HRT drugs is the likely prospect that they may make women more susceptible to breast cancer and blood clots.
It is believed that natural extracts from plants containing substances similar to estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries is the better alternative to alleviate menopausal symptoms. This is the case because these extracts have a positive effect on the body's hormone level.
Hot flashes tend to be one of the most troubling symptoms of menopause and studies have shown that there are a variety of natural treatments that can provide relief.
Menopausal symptoms arise due to the fluctuation or imbalance of the estrogen and/or progesterone level. With that said, I think it is imperative to categorize treatments in these two groups. For estrogen treatments, there is the option for soy-related food such as soybeans, soymilk or any food with soy extract. It is believed that soy has the ability to lessen the effects of hot flashes due to its high potency in phytoestrogens. Also under this category are herbs containing phytoestrogens such as "red clover". There is also 'black cohosh', which is a plant indigenous to North America and also believed to be rich in phytoestrogens.
Moving on the second category, which is progesterone treatment. The progesterone cream falls under this category and contains extracts similar to progesterone produced by the body. This cream is usually applied to areas of the body that allows for easier absorption to circulate through the body such as the breasts and inner thighs, just to name a few. There is also the chaste tree berry that is known to stimulate progesterone level that inadvertently alleviate many symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes.
It is not surprising that more women are opting for natural remedies or herbal drugs to lessen or eliminate the symptoms of menopause in general and hot flashes specifically. Due to the various health risks associated with conventional HRT, as mentioned earlier, this a major deterrent to using this treatment option.
However, due to the relative safety in using natural remedies, women need to be cognizant of the dosage level taken as moderation in everything is essential.
For more insightful and informative health-related issues for women, visit Healthy Women's Inc at www.womenshealthguru.blogspot.com . Rochelle Davis is the owner of Healthy Women's Inc, a blog dedicated to health issues indigenous to women.
Caregiver StressAuthor: Benjamin Pearce
According to the results of a new study of the health of caregivers, there is mounting evidence that explains why caregivers often become patients themselves while caring for a loved one. Individuals caring for a spouse with dementia show four times greater annual increases than noncaregivers in interleukin-6 (IL-6), a key immune system molecule linked in previous studies to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, adult-onset diabetes, and a greater likelihood of death, Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues report in the June 30 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Caregivers\' relatively higher levels of IL-6 may provide part of the biological explanation for a growing body of evidence implicating care giving as a risk factor for a variety of illnesses. In addition to showing accelerated increases in IL-6, caregivers report greater loneliness and feelings of stress and score higher on measures of depression than noncaregivers.
For caregivers whose spouses died during the study, elevated IL-6 and feelings of loneliness and depression persisted for at least three years following bereavement. One explanation for this persistence may lie in the well-documented social isolation and loss of support that result from extended care giving. Caregivers may emerge from their care giving responsibilities with many fewer social contacts than they had before their spouses developed dementia. Social isolation, which has also been linked to increased risk of illness and death, may be an important factor in perpetuating caregiver stress.
Often caregivers underestimate the demands of providing care for another can have on them. While it is important to try to maintain a positive attitude, often caregivers experience feelings of helplessness and lack of control over their situation. Caregivers who educate themselves about the diseases affecting their loved one will be better equipped to recognize and understand changes associated with progression of the disease and the aging process. This way they can be more capable of anticipating and dealing with changes as they occur rather than being caught surprised and unprepared.
It is also important to set reasonable expectations. A child can never change a lifelong
relationship by taking on caregiver responsibilities as the need arises. Be realistic and understand that if anything, the stress associated with caregiving can often expose already weak areas in a long term relationship in even the best of situations. Appreciation for ones contributions should not be expected by the caregiver or from other family members. Caregivers who provide care without expectation will be rewarded if gratitude is offered and not disappointed if it is withheld. Learn to take pride in your own accomplishments. It is critically important to strive for balance in your life. Personal fitness, good nutrition, and maintaining social contacts can all help keep caregivers energized. If the caregiver is beginning to feel frustrated, angry or like a martyr, it may be time to consider a support group, or a respite. Most communities, hospitals and churches host disease specific support groups where fellow caregivers can come together to share their experiences and help each other. Sometimes it may be helpful to just come and listen to others and see how they have learned to cope with their caregiver responsibilities. Often caregivers themselves can offer the best support to each other because of their own personal experiences.
Acknowledge your emotions and find an outlet for them. Most caregivers will experience
frustration, anger, guilt, resentment, self-doubt, and feelings of helplessness. These can all lead to stress which as the study revealed can contribute to health problems of their own. Caregivers need to find some time to nurture their own needs. Better to consider lowering your expectations when they are unmet rather than allow yourself to become stressed out by them. You can only do so much, better to say 'no' if you can then have your own health slide attempting to do the impossible. Learn to ask for and accept help from others before its too late. Most siblings will participate in solutions for the care of a parent if they are pushed, asking for help does not need to mean that the primary caregiver is relinquishing control or backtracking. Its is better to teach others what the caregiver has learned and empower them to help than to try to do it all one\'s self.
Maintaining a positive attitude is very important. A stressed out caregiver is highly susceptible to depression. Depression has been known to adversely affect the immune system. This is why people who are left alone and isolated often suffer catastrophic health failures, while their socially active counterparts remain relatively healthy. Learn to recognize when your care giving duties begin to drag you down and find a way to get away for some time alone or with friends. Day care, respite and other short-term stays are available in most senior living communities at reasonable rates. Patients who are around other people tend to perk up and complain less. Most find the experience very fulfilling after a short period of guilt-laden complaining about it. Mother may have 'known best' when you were a child, but now that roles have reversed, it may be time for the caregiver to do what he or she thinks is best for them. After all how often did your mother allow you as a child to talk her out of what she thought was best for you? A short term stay can also afford the caregiver opportunity to recharge their own health and attitude treating both to a better situation.
Benjamin W. Pearce is President and CEO of Potomac Homes, an assisted living company for those with dementia related illnesses. He has almost three decades of experience in assisted living residential facilities encompassing 23 states and more than 120 communities. He is the author of Operations Management for Senior Living Communities,, first published by John Hopkins University Press and now the go-to handbook for effective senior residential facilities. He is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and New York University. Many of his courses can be found on EasyCEU.com .
Mammograms Are No Joke - They Can Save Lives
There are so many jokes about mammograms! Have you heard the one about the fridge door ... or the bookends ... or the garage floor? Thanks to all the jokes, "Mammogram" has become a household word, and it's not that I don't have a sense of humor, but as a mammography technologist, I've heard the jokes many times. I think the jokes are embarrassing for women and demeaning with regard to their physical bodies. Many women say, "If men had to do this, there would be a better solution" - this may or may not be true. Most people agree that mammograms are not perfect, but until there is a better solution, I think it's time to look at mammograms in a different light.
In May of 1985 and 1986 I asked my doctor to order a mammogram for me and he refused both times saying I was too young. There were no screening mammography centers to which I could refer myself, so that was that. In December of 1986 at the age of 42 I felt a lump in my breast and had a mammogram the same day. It turned out to be Stage II breast cancer with 4 positive lymph nodes. I had a lumpectomy, a mastectomy and chemotherapy but chose not to have radiation. I obviously wasn't too young to have cancer.
In May 1985 a mammogram cost less than $60.00 and would have resulted in my having minor surgery to deal with a small lump. Delaying the diagnosis until December 1986 raised the cost of the medical care I received both in dollars and the amount of human suffering we faced. I say "we" because a diagnosis of cancer affects the family, friends and community of the person with the disease. A timely mammogram would have saved us all a lot of grief.
The common perception is that having a mammogram is a negative experience; I think this is a bad rap. Mammograms are quick and easy breast X-Rays; which usually means two views of each breast - one from the top and one from the side. They are performed by friendly, knowledgeable technologists who do their best to help women feel at ease. The technologists' goal is to get the best films possible and also to make the experience as quick and painless as possible.
When people go for a mammogram the most important thing to know is that relaxation of the upper body is the key to a positive experience. I know it's hard to relax when you're apprehensive, but this is why I believe we need to lessen the public apprehension of this test. It is easy to relax by taking some deep breaths before you have the test. By relaxing your muscles you will be much more comfortable through the test than if you are tense. An added bonus is that the films will be of higher quality, as it is easier to image the back of the breast close to the chest wall if the pectoralis muscles are relaxed. When it's done, you may hear yourself saying, "That wasn't bad at all!"
Some women are embarrassed to have a mammogram because they don't want anyone other than their partner to see and touch their breasts. The mammogram jokes add to their fear of pain and embarrassment making it harder for them to manage, and I know of some women who avoid having a mammogram for this reason. The test is done in privacy; no one but a female technologist will be present. Technologists, for the most part, are sensitive people who will do the test as quickly and professionally as they can. Many women who have resisted the test for a long time are amazed at how simple and painless it can be.
Mammograms include compression of the breast with a plastic plate to produce a high quality image with the least amount of radiation. Breast compression is meant to be tight, but it should not be painful and it only lasts for a few seconds. If you think about looking at a bunch of grapes - it's hard to see them all from one spot. If you spread the grapes out, you can see more grapes. Similarly with the use of compression, more breast tissue is visible when the breast is spread out. With a flatter, thinner layer of tissue the amount of radiation required is less than if the breast is not compressed. The amount of radiation you get is as low as can be achieved if adequate compression is used, and also if good quality control is maintained at the mammogram facility.
In the U.S.A. the cost of a mammogram runs between $50 and $150.00. There is financial help available from insurance companies, state and local programs, and from some employers. Please do not let the cost deter you from having a mammogram as the cost of not having a mammogram can be much higher both financially and emotionally. Check for information on the internet.
In most places in Canada, women can book their own appointment for a free screening mammogram; a doctor's referral is not required. In places without a screening program, mammography is available with a doctor's referral and is covered by health insurance. Approximately 7% of women will be asked to have further testing. Most of the time, follow up testing involves an additional mammogram with a different view to separate the breast tissue in a particular area to get a better image. In my analogy of the bunch of grapes, it's like having a few grapes on top of each other and separating them out in a different way in order to see them better.
There is controversy about the age bracket for women to have a mammogram. On a mammogram film, normal breast tissue in young women usually appears to be dense; normal breast tissue in older women usually turns to fat and appears less dense. Reading mammograms on young women is like looking through a tree which is full of leaves in summer. Reading mammograms on older women can be compared to looking through a tree in winter. You can see why reading mammograms on young women is more complex than reading films on older women and this is the main reason why screening mammography is more effective as women mature.
The fear of being diagnosed with breast cancer will often prevent a woman from having a mammogram. My personal experience is that it is much better to be diagnosed earlier rather than when the cancer has had chance to spread. The amount of fear, pain, embarrassment, and emotional anguish from having a mammogram does not even come close to that of being diagnosed with an advanced cancer. A mammogram takes about 10 minutes; an early cancer can be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time, while an advanced cancer is much more of a time commitment. The amount of fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis is astronomical compared to that of a screening mammogram.
It is often recommended that women have a screening mammogram every two years, but many people believe it is better to have mammograms on an annual basis. It is probably best if women can consult their doctors and make the decision on an individual basis. A number of factors affect the decision such as age, family history, general health, and previous breast problems. Between appointments, whether you choose to have a mammogram every year or every two years, it is important to be aware of any breast problems. If you notice anything unusual it is wise to contact your doctor. This applies even if your mammogram was negative because there are a certain percentage of cancers that do not show on a mammogram.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation promotes a three-prong approach to breast health:
- annual clinical breast exam by a doctor or trained health professional
- screening mammogram
- monthly breast self exam
- learn the proper method from a doctor or trained health professional
- be disciplined and practice it regularly
- pick the same time of your menstrual cycle or the same date each month
- get to know your normal breast "architecture"
- make notes of your findings, draw pictures and record dates
- make detailed notes of unusual findings including dates
- check with your doctor if you find anything worrisome
Mammography is a peculiar test in some ways. However, it is the gold standard at present and until there is a better method of screening which is also cost effective it makes good sense to have regular mammograms. Finding cancer in the early stages before it has a chance to spread makes the treatment much easier and the cure rate much higher. Having a mammogram is not meant to be funny, or even fun; but a few minutes of discomfort rewards us with knowing we are taking action to help protect our breast health.Author Bio
www.cancersupportcoach.com Lynn was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 1986 and colon and skin cancer in 1987. She has been involved in the cancer community since then as a peer counselor, support group facilitator, fundraiser and retreat organizer. She works as a mammography technologist in Guelph Ontario. Lynn is also a life coach for cancer patients to help them shorten the learning curve and navigate their journey with cancer.
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