December 26, 2008
Gaining weight? Make prevention of obesity your target! Get motivated now!
Obesity is now epidemic in the U.S. While there are some medical conditions which can cause uncontrolled weight gain, the vast majority of overweight and obese people simply eat too much, with poor food choices making up the majority of their diet. No one would say obesity is attractive, nor healthy. Prevention of obesity is really a straightforward proposition. If you’ll forgive the pun, prevention of obesity is truly worth many pounds of cure.
People of normal, stable weight may gain a few pounds over the holidays, partaking of all that holiday cheer. Cookies, fudge, delicious gravies and a few glasses of eggnog are all it takes to get you there. However, most people shed those pounds within a couple of months, once they return to normal eating habits. It all comes down to a reduction of calories.
Prevention of obesity should become your target when you find you’ve gained ten pounds or more and it doesn’t come off. An alarm should sound off in your head when weight starts creeping on and you seem unable to lose weight. Now is the time to take action! It’s far easier to lose ten or twenty pounds than a hundred!
Other signals that indicate a prevention program is necessary include finding that your clothes are too snug. Many people have sections in their closet, one their ‘fat’ clothes, with another for their ‘skinny’ clothes. Not only is this an unnecessary expense, but a psychological trick you’re playing on yourself. It goes something like this. “Well, I guess I just have to accept it – people do tend to gain weight as they get older. What’s one dress size anyway? I still look OK.”
The trouble with this attitude is that you’re putting yourself in denial. This means you’ll not be motivated to prevent obesity, because you don’t think it’s possible. You might make a token attempt to diet, but you won’t stick with the program. This is how that weight eventually balloons to an unmanageable problem.
So, the real core issue in the prevention of obesity begins in your mind. You must be motivated. Do you want to wait until the day when some little child in the grocery tells her Mom, “Look how fat that woman is!”? That’s when it’s useless to deny the fact. Prevention of obesity involves an early start.
If you need help in getting motivated, here are a few tips. Go online and calculate your BMI. Read up on the many health problems you may well face. Heart disease, poor circulation, diabetes and joint stress damage are just a few. Dig through old photo albums to find pictures of you when you were of normal weight. Tape that photo on the frig, at eye level, along with a picture of you now. Try on one of your ‘skinny’ clothes.
OK. Now you’ve got the motivation. You should first check with your doctor to be sure you don’t have a medical condition, like a thyroid imbalance. If that’s not the case, get ready to diet. Don’t cut yourself any slack. Remember, prevention of obesity is your goal.
Losing weight always boils down to calories. How do you know how many calories you normally eat? Keep a food journal for one week. Write down every last cracker and soda that passes your lips. Get a calorie counter book. Ask your doctor to help plan a diet that’s healthy and right for you.
Motivation is the key to prevention of obesity. With a radical dose of motivation, you’ll lose that extra weight for good!
December 21, 2008
Combatting work related stress: a formula for a happier, healthier you!
Americans work more hours than in almost any other developed country. Job security is fast becoming the number one concern of many workers, so employees are far more likely to work extra hours in hopes of making their employment status more secure, as well as, in the case of hourly workers, bringing in a little extra income. The term, work related stress, is now a common term in everyone’s vocabulary. With the dismal economic statistics we hear on the news every day, the work related stress syndrome is something that concerns us all.
It’s well known that stress affects our health and family life. At the very least, you may become irritable, snapping at your spouse and kids. You may suffer from more frequent minor illnesses, from headaches to colds and flus, due to a lowered immune system response. Stress can have more serious effects, leading to high blood pressure, depression, or digestive problems. However, the work related stress syndrome seems to be unavoidable these days. The question is, what can you do to combat this condition?
Some employers are now offering flex time schedules, which benefits both the employee and employer. While a 4-day, 40 hour week makes for a longer day, on the plus side, you’ve got 3 days off and you save on driving time and gas as well. If your employer is putting such a program in place, taking advantage of this option can help ease your stress levels.
Making time for yourself is the most important component in combatting work related stress. You may well say, “I don’t have enough time as it is, how am I supposed to make more hours in a day?” The short answer is, you can and should. If you get up just an hour earlier, before your regular activities begin, this can be a life saver. This quiet time of day, spent on something you enjoy, can be just as restful as that extra hour of sleep. Even if all you do is take a cup of coffee or tea and sit by a window, enjoying the quiet and a beautiful sunrise, before beginning the hustle and bustle routine, you’ll feel more relaxed for the rest of the day.
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, prayer, yoga and tai-chi, can go a long way to reducing your work related stress. Any of these methods will reduce anxiety, bring a feeling of well-being and counter elevated blood pressure, all of which results in better health over time.
After work, instead of plopping down in front of the television, try listening to music or reading. If you must watch TV, watch a comedy instead of the news. Laughter is, indeed, good medicine. Play a game of chess with a family member, or enjoy a game of cards. The idea is to engage in some activity which stimulates your mind and which does not have any relationship to work. Take a long, relaxing bath and pamper yourself a bit. While work related stress is a fact of life, this period of play time effectively makes this syndrome a smaller problem.
You say, “How am I to find the time? I barely have time for a shower!” Which brings us to delegating. If you’ve got kids, shift some of the daily chores to a new area of responsibility for them. Making lunches, cleaning up after dinner, changing their own sheets and laundering them are chores which are good for them! Sooner or later, they’ll need to take responsibility for themselves. This strategy helps them develop responsibility and prepares them for real life. Meanwhile, you gain a little time to relax. You’ll also probably be nicer about asking them to pick up their room!
Worry over finances is another bugaboo we can lay at the door of the work related stress syndrome. Organizing your budget on a spreadsheet, planning menus and having a calendar to keep track of doctor appointments, school events and the like helps promote a sense of control of your life. It doesn’t make the bills go away, but knowing where you stand reduces stress. Disorganized finances creates anxiety and increased stress.
Get some regular exercise. Engage in some exercise you enjoy, every day. Exercise releases endorphins, that naturally produced chemical that creates a feeling of well being.
Last, an occasional getaway helps you forget about your worries, work and gives you a new and fresh perspective on life.
If you use all of these suggestions, you may not eliminate work related stress, but you’ll surely minimize it. You will be happier and more relaxed, I promise you!
December 16, 2008
Stressed out has become part of our everyday language. Fifty years ago, had you told someone you were stressed out, they wouldn’t have known what you were talking about and might even have questioned your knowledge of grammar! Rare is the individual today who doesn’t get stressed out at least once a day. Stress can lead to severe health problems, particularly with the ‘type A’ personality. Besides, stress produces unpleasant feelings in the body, headaches, as well as causing us to snap at others without reason. While your doctor might prescribe a medication to calm you down, it’s always best to avoid prescription medicines if you can. Here we offer five natural treatments for stress. They all work, so you can pick and choose as the mood strikes you. Of course, if you’re really stressed out, do all five!
- Physical exercise of any kind is one of the great treatments for stress. If it’s raining, get out the vacuum and give that rug the old one-two. Go over and over that rug until it’s sparkling clean and you’ve taken that stress factor out on it, not the kids or your spouse. Surely there’s a spot in the yard that needs to be weeded within an inch of it’s life. Other physical tasks, like cleaning out the hall closet, can prove sufficiently distracting so that you’ll be automatically diverted from whatever got you stressed. You also get satisfaction from how clean it is.
- Journal writing is another of the time-honored treatments for stress. No, you don’t need to be a writer to take advantage of this treatment. Maybe it’s your boss or spouse who jumped on your case about whatever. Biting your tongue is what caused this stress, so now is the time to express yourself! Give that so-and-so all of your thoughts on the topic in your (private) journal. Works like a charm!
- Lavender is an old time treatment for stress and is especially effective with stress headaches. For this remedy, there are several avenues. You can take a nap, lying on a lavender filled pillow, or you can make or buy a lavender filled eye cover. You can also take a few whiffs of essential oil of lavender and/or dab a drop on each of your temples.
- Some treatments for stress should be interactive. Here’s a variation on the journal writing entries. Write an email to a good friend and vent. Tell your friend up front to take it with a grain of salt. After all, we shouldn’t take life too seriously too often. Have your venting. By the time you’re done, you’ll probably feel better already. You can send it or not, as your mood dictates. Ask for a funny joke or cartoon in their response. This way, you get a laugh too. Good for the soul.
- Here’s the be all and end all of natural treatments for stress: every time you feel yourself getting stressed out, make a note, in your journal, of what triggered the event. After just a few weeks, you’ll see a pattern. Do you constantly worry about money? Your weight? Does someone at work drive you crazy? Not enough hours in the day? Once you’ve discovered your common stress triggers, implement a plan to eliminate these stress factors. Make a strict budget. Lose weight. Ignore, or make friends with that work mate. Whatever works.
These five natural treatments for stress do work. Try them, you’ll like them!
December 14, 2008
There are plenty of sources of stress in the world today. As the old saying goes, “there’s no need to look for trouble, because trouble will find you all on its own.” All of us have troubles and worries, deadlines to meet and busy schedules. Along with all these stresses, few of us even have time to kick back and relax. Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you long for ways to ease your anxious moods and relax for just a little while? There are a number of relaxation techniques that take little time and are highly effective. Some may be done anywhere, even at work.
When you’re feeling distraught, for whatever reason, your body takes the “fight or flight” stance, causing a rush of adrenalin that induces an increased heart rate and shallow breathing. Correct breathing is key to successful relaxation techniques.
Breathing exercises are quite effective, bringing quick results when you find yourself suddenly anxious. Some people are especially prone to anxiety attacks, which can occur for no apparent reason. Even if you’re aware of the cause, anxiety attacks are unpleasant and may cause heart palpitations and a sensation of tightening in the throat, sometimes to the point of making it difficult to swallow.
The old-fashioned remedy of breathing slowly into a paper bag works amazingly well to relax you and restore proper breathing. Another version of this relaxation technique involves taking slow deep breaths. At first you may find you need to force yourself to breathe slowly, but persist and you’ll soon be back to normal.
Among other relaxation techniques are those classified as meditation. All major religions have a form of meditation that followers may use to commune with their creator. Examples of this discipline include Christian, Sufi, Hindu and Kaballah meditation. All meditative disciplines are excellent relaxation techniques when practiced regularly, bringing a sense of comfort and overall well being. Prayers may also serve you as effective relaxation techniques.
Plain old physical exercise is yet another way to relax. Choose an activity you enjoy and set aside a little time each day, preferably at the same time of day, to engage in this activity. Whether you’re walking, bicycling, swimming or just doing a half hour workout, you’ll find physical exercise to be an outstanding form of available relaxation techniques.
You may also try taking a yoga class. Yoga integrates slow movements of the body with breathing exercises. It’s easy to get hooked on yoga, both as a relaxation technique and a great body shaper. Yoga exercises tend to lengthen muscles, resulting in a supple and flexible body you’ll enjoy.
Relaxation techniques don’t necessarily have to involve a disciplined approach in order to be successful. You can kick back on your couch, get out the remote and find yourself a good comedy. Laughter is good medicine!
December 11, 2008
Effective osteoarthritis treatments that go beyond pain medications
There are millions of people who suffer from osteoarthritis. This condition is painful, most commonly affecting the joints. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is described as a simple case of wearing out of the joints over time. While rheumatoid arthritis patients may be treated with medications, there are no conventional pharmaceutical medications which can alleviate or halt the progression of osteoarthritis. While rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic and progressive disease, with severe and lifelong complications, there are pharmaceutical drugs that can halt the progress of this disease.
Osteoarthritis is perhaps as debilitating, over the long term. The bad news for the osteoarthritic patient is that medical science has no cure. The current osteoarthritis treatments are limited to the alleviation of pain. If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the standard osteoarthritis treatment is to prescribe a pain medication. Who wants to live under such a standard?
If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis and prescribed a pain pill as your only recourse, think again. With a good nutritional strategy, you can reap huge benefits, reducing pain within the space of a single week, eventually reversing your osteoarthritis, and improving your overall health for good.
Before we look at osteoarthritis treatment in terms of nutrition, it should be noted that, if you’re overweight, try to lose those unwanted pounds! The excess weight just puts additional and unnecessary stress on vulnerable joints. Drinking plenty of water, those 6-8 glasses a day we all know about, is also important. The water helps flush accumulated toxins from your body.
One of the most effective osteoarthritis treatments, among nutritional considerations, relates to the proper balance of calcium to magnesium. The ratio of calcium to magnesium intake for healthy bones and joints is roughly 2:3. Americans have one of the highest rates of osteoarthritis in the world, with the average calcium to magnesium ratio an unhealthy 10:1! In these ratios, a certain hormone is triggered to remove old dead bone tissue, while its counterpart hormone, which is supposed to channel new nutrients to bones and joints, is suppressed. This results in a net loss of bone, leading to osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Given these facts, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that perhaps an underlying cause of these conditions is not, in fact, due to ‘wear and tear’ joint degeneration, but rather an overload of calcium and a deficiency of magnesium.
One way to address this condition is to reduce your calcium intake and take a magnesium supplement of 600mg per day. Several clinical studies have shown that magnesium supplementation at this dosage has resulted in increased bone density and significant reduction of pain in as little as nine months, even in quite elderly patients! You may experience reduced pain in just a week! Now that’s an osteoarthritis treatment we can all applaud!
Other supplemental nutrients of value as osteoarthritis treatments include the B-complex vitamins as well as vitamins A, C and E and the trace mineral zinc.
There are many conditions which reflect years of nutritional deficiencies. As we age, many nutrients are not as readily absorbed, so it’s important to monitor any deficiencies to see if supplementation is advisable. Speak to your doctor about having lab tests which can determine nutritional deficiencies.
The importance of a good diet cannot be stressed enough. Young people can get away with poor dietary habits – for a while. However, over a lifetime, the body ultimately suffers the effects. Who knows how many chronic illnesses are preventable?
December 9, 2008
Many people are pretty polarized on the alternative health care debate. They are either completely for or completely against it. On the one hand, there are people who stand with tradition entirely and are unwilling to compromise. They believe that normal medical health is the highest level that the treatment of diseases has ever reached. They don’t believe in any alternative health treatment at all, viewing it as unscientific and probably unhelpful as well.
On the other hand, there are alternative health fanatics. I know some people who will only use holistic health services and nothing else. They won’t even take prescription drugs if they believe they can get better with herbs. They believe that science is overrated and that some things can’t be measured in numbers.
I always try to avoid either extreme in my own practices. I have had some great success with alternative health, and definitely wouldn’t give it up. On the other hand, I think that science is very valuable. Traditional Western medicine has done a lot of great things for us. It has brought us a new understanding of the physical body, excellent drugs and treatment options, incredible scans which allow us to see inside the body, and many other helpful technologies. To throw it all away based on a vague belief in the power of herbs is foolish.
That is why I use both alternative healing and traditional medicine. I think that improving your diet and taking health supplements can do great things for you, and is often a better solution than costly medications with side effects. When you are not treating something severe and acute, you shouldn’t put a lot of stress on your body during the treatment. Otherwise the cure can be worse than the illness. Using herbal treatments can remove the need to strain your body by introducing antibiotics and things like that into it.
On the other hand, I like to keep traditional medicine as an option. Sometimes, things get really bad and you just need a pretty strong treatment. You might not want to start with an operation or even prescription medication, but it might come to that in the end. This is why I have always viewed complimentary medicine as the best approach. It allows you to combine the best of both worlds. After all, the more tools you have, the more options you have for treatment.
December 5, 2008
Nutritional strategies you can use to reduce anxiety and panic attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks are absolutely no fun! In fact, panic attacks can be a terrifying event. The sudden onset of heart palpitations, tightening of the chest, sweating or chills along with the sensation of not being able to swallow or breathe is the Granddaddy of stressing out. The person who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks often develops a cyclic pattern, feeling anxious most of the time and living in fear of their next panic attack.
Be sure to consult with your doctor to determine what medications and therapies may be helpful in managing your condition. While there are a number of factors that play into these disorders, including genetics, allergies and trauma-related events, there are plenty of dietary changes which may provide you with significant benefits in improving the degree of anxiety and reducing the number of panic attacks you suffer. You might be surprised at how much diet matters.
In some cases, food allergies have been discovered to be a major culprit implicated in triggering anxiety and panic attacks, so discuss this with your physician.
Try to eliminate processed and refined foods from your regular diet, including as much whole foods as possible. Processed foods include chemical additives that can exacerbate anxiety. Try switching to natural meats, that is, from animals that have not been fed growth hormones. Reduce your intake of sweets, as spikes in your blood sugar can lead to that racing sensation which is often a precursor to anxiety and the dreaded panic attacks. When you shop, check food labels for the inclusion of MSG. Many people are quite sensitive to this product, which can adversely affect your nervous system, resulting in a stressed out feeling and often, headaches. Reduce your salt intake and use a salt substitute or herbal ‘salt’. This is good medicine for your heart and helps keep your blood pressure in line. These basic changes in diet can produce substantial results.
Ask your doctor to check you for vitamin deficiencies. Deficiencies of certain nutrients can definitely aggravate your condition. Calcium and magnesium, in a balanced ratio, can play a major role in reducing both anxiety and panic attacks. Deficiencies in these nutrients can produce many of the symptoms you experience! The same is true for the B complex vitamins, which affect proper functioning of the nervous system, as well as a direct effect on your degree of stress and energy. Deficiencies in the B complex group can result in depression!
Not only does it matter what you eat, but how you eat. Anxious, stressed out people commonly eat too fast. Give your digestive system a break. Chew your food well and slow down. If you don’t chew your food well enough, you’re indirectly contributing to stress, because your body won’t be able to absorb all of the nutrients.
If you’re an avid coffee lover, try to confine yourself to just one or two cups a day. The caffeine can increase your susceptibility to both increased anxiety and panic attacks.
Try making these changes in your diet, work with your doctor to devise techniques that relieve stress and see if you don’t start feeling better soon.