by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
All year long you attended the gym faithfully, worked out with your favorite trainer, found increased enjoyment in the Les Mills group exercise classes, didn’t miss a spin class for anything, sipped your BCAAs during your workouts and recovered with a protein shake afterwards. You’ve been eating well all year long. Then it hits!
“Holidayorexia.” You’ve starved yourself to fit into your zombie or vixen Halloween costume, November 1st comes and whoosh, the holiday season eating and drinking fest begins. Parties, buffets, late night drinking, office snacking and less and less time to exercise are all upon you. So is the weight gain. While it’s really not as much as people fear, the problem is many don’t lose the yearly weight they do on.
Waist-hip ratios, body mass index, body fat percentage—no matter how you measure, unless you go into this season completely equipped to deal with the all too typical holiday weight gain, it will happen. But, it is not inevitable and here are three tools that will prevent the weight gain dread.
1. Increase your activity First of all, start wearing a pedometer and keep wearing it daily through January 1st. It will help you keep focused and be mindful of finding ways to move more throughout the day. Park further away from your destination, always take the stairs, walk, jog, or run to where you are headed. Use the airport, shopping mall or pit stops on your holiday driving trip to do a ten-minute high intensity interval jog. It’s very important to schedule time with your trainer, workout buddies, and group exercise classes NOW. Commit to working out on any day you have a party, no matter how formal or informal.
2. Party healthy and eat wisely OK, this is not going to be easy, but you can do it. More protein, fruit and less refined carbs are part of the answer. Remember this: you can eat everything you want on the buffet table, OR you can stay thin, fit and healthy. You just can’t do both. That means don’t linger at the buffet, take the smaller plate, don’t even go down the chips aisle at the grocery store, and continue driving past your favorite cupcake and dessert shop. Pile your plate with veggies, lean meats, and salad. Sure have a “cheat” once in awhile. Always be a “dessert splitter”—“Want to split this cupcake?…it looks delicious but I only am going to enjoy a small piece of it.” Then savor the treat as slowly and mindfully as you can.
3. THINk fit. Ahhh, the most important piece of the puzzle. It’s all about how you think. One of my favorite sayings fits: “If you think you can, or think you cannot, you are right.” What you tell yourself about what you “just must have” or what you think you “should be able to eat” or what you imagine “doesn’t really matter” is your reality. It’s also your weight and health. Remember, you can eat everything you want on the buffet table, OR you can stay thin, fit and healthy. You just can’t do both. It’s what you believe. People carry so many sabotaging thoughts about eating, weight management, and holiday party food. Here’s a sampling: “Watching what I eat should be easy.” “It’s not okay to waste food.” “If I get hungry, the hunger will get worse and worse unless I eat something.” “There is nothing I can do to make my cravings go away.” “It’s okay to eat this food because I’m stressed, everyone else is eating it, it’s just a little piece and I’ll make up for it later.” “I’ve already blown it so it doesn’t matter what else I eat.” Se how completely erroneous, illogical, irrational and unreasonable these thoughts are? Question what evidence you truly have for the veracity of your thoughts. There is none. They are just thoughts. So, create a food plan before you attend any gathering, stick to it no matter what unhelpful thoughts your create, and arm yourself ahead of time with written rational response counters to each irrational thought that you can anticipate will pop up—pull out the written card, read it to yourself and enjoy the veggies.
That’s my plan to insure you stay trim, fit and healthy during the next two months of holiday festivities, building on all of the great fitness you created for yourself during the past year.
(ARA) – It’s that time of year again – flu season. The weather is turning colder and the sweaters are coming out of the closet, along with the sniffles, coughing, sneezing, sore throat and muscle aches. The seasonal flu, which is also known as influenza, is not the same as a head cold, and should not be taken lightly. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that the flu affects anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population each year, and that approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized each year due to flu-related complications.
How can you separate fact from fiction about the flu, and protect yourself and your family? Everest College’s nursing instructors bust some common, flu-related myths to set the record straight.
Fact or fiction: The flu vaccine can cause the flu. Fiction.
“This is a complete myth. And it is a dangerous one to spread. The No. 1 most important thing that you can do to prevent the flu and flu-related complications is to get the flu vaccine each year,” says Orvella Bradford, a licensed vocational nurse and vocational nursing instructor at Everest College in Anaheim, Calif.
There are many strains of flu viruses, but the flu vaccine protects against the three most prevalent strains each year. There are two common ways of receiving the flu vaccine – the seasonal shot and a nasal spray. The seasonal shot is recommended for most individuals over 6 months old and contains an inactivated form of the vaccine, which cannot make you sick.
The nasal spray, which contains a live, but very weak strain of the flu, is recommended for healthy individuals, ages 2 to 49.
“Although I strongly recommend getting the flu vaccine, it is important to recognize that the flu vaccine is not intended for everyone, particularly individuals with severe allergic reactions to eggs. It is important to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the potential side effects from the vaccine,” says Bradford.
Fact or fiction: I got the flu vaccine last year, so I don’t have to worry this year. Fiction.
The influenza virus that causes the flu is constantly evolving, and the most common strains of the virus can change from year to year.
“Even if you got the flu vaccine last year, you are still at risk for getting it again this year, so it is important to get a flu shot once each season,” says Bradford.
Fact or fiction: I’m a healthy adult. I can fight the flu off on my own, so I don’t need a flu shot. Fiction.
Even if you are a healthy adult, if you contract the flu then you can start spreading the virus up to a full day before you exhibit symptoms, and for five to seven days afterwards.
“This means that even if you are healthy enough to fight off the flu on your own, you could be putting others at risk of infection without even realizing it. This is why we recommend the flu vaccine for everyone who is able to take it,” says Bradford.
Fact or fiction: I can wait to get the flu vaccine. Fiction.
In fact, the timing of flu season is unpredictable – it can come as early as October or as late as May. The most common months for flu season are January and February, but everyone is encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available in their area.
“We never know when the flu will hit – it could come early this year. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so don’t wait until it’s too late to get the vaccine,” says Critical Care Registered Nurse Jan Adams, a nursing instructor at Everest University in Brandon, Fla. Getting a flu shot before December is highly recommended to help you avoid the peak flu season.
In addition, many locations can run low on vaccinations periodically throughout the flu season due to the difficulties in manufacturing and distributing the high volume of vaccinations needed each year. “This means that it is important to act early – getting the vaccine when it is available and convenient for you will help you avoid a last-minute search for the vaccine,” says Adams.
by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Then again, it could be that I just landed on a 2008 book on the topic that I found when I was searching around my home for something to read.
Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” has some interesting observations from his research on four “blue zones” where people live longer than anywhere else on the planet: Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, California, Okinawa Japan and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. I called an old high school friend who moved to this latter area, Costa Rica, and he confirmed what I read.
His quality of life as always demonstrated one of my favorite quotes, “It’s not the years in your life it’s the life in your years.” Per capita, Costa Rica spends far less on health care than we do here in the United States, 15% of what we do on health care. Yet, Costa Ricans claim that people live longer there than anywhere on earth.
Here are the nine things Buettner found in common in each of the blue zones.
1. Daily activity 2. A mission in life that gives meaning to life 3. Eliminate the fast lane: slow it all down 4. Eat to only 80% full 5. Less protein, fewer processed foods, more veggies and fruits 6. Red wine in moderation (two glasses/day for men, one/day for women) 7. Healthy social relationship 8. Spiritual or religious involvement 9. Family is a priority
We don’t live in these blue zones, but perhaps we can create our own. Our gym can be an oasis of activity, meaning in finding health, slowing down, eating well, healthy social relationships and more.
The aging process and adding health are not the mystery they once were. Exercise adds to body and brain health. Let’s take advantage of every program the gym offers us! For more information, check out www.bluezones.com
(ARA) – The chillier days bring more than cool air, colorful foliage and long sleeves. They also mark the beginning of cold and flu season.
The common cold leads to 75 million to 100 million physician visits annually, reports The American Journal of Medicine. Five to 20 percent of Americans are infected with the flu virus each year and about 200,000 are hospitalized due to complications from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even more disconcerting: more than 3,000 Americans die from flu-related causes each year.
It’s important to make sure a cold or the flu doesn’t inhibit day-to-day activities by using good hygiene habits. “Maintaining your health and the health of your family can be difficult when we find ourselves in crowded office buildings or schools each day,” says Dr. Allison Aiello, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and member of the Tork Green Hygiene Council. “However, by implementing simple hygiene practices, one can reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu during this season.”
To help stay healthy during cold and flu season, Aiello offers five steps:
Wash your hands The CDC says keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Be sure to wash your hands after sneezing, coughing and using the restroom. Washing hands after arriving to work, school and home also helps prevent the spread of germs to colleagues, friends and loved ones. Remember, proper handwashing should take as long as 20 seconds and include warm water and soap. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel or lotion is a great way to prevent sickness when soap and water aren’t readily available.
Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize The common cold and the flu can be spread by hands. This means that you can transfer these illnesses not only to others, but to surfaces as well. People touch 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes. Some viruses and bacteria can live up to eight hours or longer on items like doorknobs, phones and tables. You can prevent the spread and impact of germs by wiping down surfaces with a disinfectant wipe each day.
Get vaccinated Flu outbreaks can happen as early as October or as late as May. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as early as September or as soon as the most updated vaccine becomes available. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for an adult to develop antibodies against the flu which will support you through the flu season.
Cover your mouth Cold and flu germs can spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing is a necessary deterrent against the spread of germs. While most people believe coughing or sneezing into a hand is sanitary, few realize that germs are spread quickly this way. Instead cough or sneeze into one arm, firmly pressing your nose or mouth against your sleeve to stop germs from escaping.
Stay home Recent reports state nearly 22 million school days are lost each year due to the common cold and 75 million work days are expected to be missed during flu season. When you are sick, take a sick day and allow your child to stay home if he or she is not feeling well. After a person is infected with the flu, symptoms usually appear within two to four days and are considered contagious for an additional three or more days after symptoms appear. Anyone in close proximity to a cold or flu infection may become infected because these infections can also be spread directly by aerosols. Staying home when sick will not only help avoid spreading illness to others, but allow time for you or your child to recuperate and recover.
For more information on the importance of hygiene and hygiene tips from Allison Aiello and the Tork Green Hygiene Council, visit www.torkgreenhygienecouncil.com.
(ARA) – In 2009, 3,466 teenagers died in the United States from automobile crash injuries, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Such injuries are by far the leading public health problem among youths 13 to19 years old. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. The crash risk among teenage drivers is particularly high during the first months of licensure.
An IIHS review of recent literature confirmed that driver age and experience both have strong effects on driver crash risk. Crash rates for young drivers are high largely because of the driver’s immaturity combined with driving inexperience. The immaturity is apparent in young drivers’ risky driving practices such as speeding. At the same time, teenagers’ lack of experience behind the wheel makes it difficult for them to recognize and respond to hazards. They get in trouble trying to handle unusual driving situations, and these situations turn disastrous more often than when older people drive.
Research shows which behaviors contribute to teen-related crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving (cellphone use, loud music, other teen passengers, etc.), drowsy driving, nighttime driving and other drug use aggravate this problem.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends a multi-tiered strategy to prevent motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries among teen drivers: Increase seat belt use, implement graduated driver licensing, reduce teens’ access to alcohol and increase parental responsibility.
* Keep your hands on the wheel. * Keep your eyes on the road. * Keep your hands and eyes away from your cellphone while driving.
“You need to teach safe driving behavior from the beginning,” says Lyman Munson, vice president of risk services at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. As the parent, you can start by modeling safe driving behavior whenever you drive your children, from the time they are infants.”
Give teens an edge by teaching them some basics about cars and the rules of the road early, well before they hit driving age. Ease them into driving with short trips in familiar areas, at low speeds, in daylight and with an adult. Choose a safe car that is predictable in its handling and easy to drive.
Insurance carriers often offer good student and safe driving discounts for teens. Parents can include these incentives in the discussion regarding safe driving. Fireman’s Fund recommends parents use devices such as Cellcontrol to disable cellphone use while driving.
Munson also suggests parents talk to their teens about safety issues and the rules they are setting. Explain each one of your rules and the consequences for breaking it. Write up a contract with your teen driver to make sure they drive by the rules and drive as safely as possible. Include the most important issues. Here’s a sample:
Spell out the rules: 1. Alcohol: Absolutely no alcohol 2. Seat belts: Always buckle up 3. Cellphone/texting: No talking or texting while driving 4. Curfew: Have the car in the driveway by 10 p.m. 5. Passengers: No more than one at all times 6. Graduated drivers license: Follow the state’s GDL law 7. Parental responsibility: Set your house rules and consequences
by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
We aren’t alone. There are 78 million of us, and 10.5 million of us belong to health clubs and gyms all over the United States. Baby Boomers. Those born between 1946 and 1964. Already the fastest growing segment of America’s population, we are also the “boomingest” growth factor in gyms across the country, with a nearly 400% membership growth rate over the past decade.
We surely aren’t ready for a quiet at-home retirement. Maybe our grandparents were. Not, not us. We’re too busy looking for ways to defer and compress those age-related disabilities into as few years as possible, as late in our lives as possible, while doing what we can to increase our healthy life-years. Among the most often-cited solutions to this quest are being physically fit, exercising and staying active. The amount of data demonstrating the effect of exercise on slowing the aging process is staggering.
We enjoy kinder, gentler workouts, low-impact exercise, and want to insure that whatever we do diminishes the risk of injury. But gerokinesiologists tell us that we also ought to incorporate more moderate to vigorous posture, strength, endurance, flexibility, agility and balance training into our workouts in order to promote negligible senescence (preventing the normal biological changes caused by aging) – depending on our fitness level and ability to do so.
The American Council on Exercise, ACE, suggests that moderate-intensity endurance exercises at a minimum of 30 minutes five days each week such as low-impact aerobics, walking, cardio equipment, and swimming are primary exercise modes for most older adults. Weight training that initially incorporates low resistance and high reps is also essential at a minimum of at least twice each week to maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance. Balance training such as walking backwards and sideways, heel and toe walking, standing from a sitting or squatting position, are also valuable. Flexibility exercises at least twice each week are also recommended.
We lose 30% of their muscle strength between the ages of 50 and 70 years. Normally, adults who are sedentary beyond age 50 can expect muscle loss of up to 0.4 pounds a year. This reduction in muscle strength leads to impairment in carrying out daily activities, the ADLs, “activities of daily living.” Using free weights, exercise machines, or elastic bands to strengthen muscles sure help, but only doing so in a way that makes sense for our fitness levels and what experts know about the “stability/mobility?movement?load?performance” sequence that applies to posture, strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance training.
In addition to the fitness boom among boomers, anti-aging supplements are becoming big business. DHEA, HGH, melatonin, testosterone, estrogen, resveratrol, and the longevity cocktail (more stuff than I have room to include but B, C, D, E, K vitamins, magnesium, flax and fish oils, L-glutathione, coenzyme Q10, ALA are among the ingredients) are flying off the shelves of health and vitamin shops into the hands of the 55+ crowd.
Therapeutic levels of vitamin and mineral supplements, nootropic drugs for preserving and enhancing oxygen supply and neural functioning in the brain, clean living lifestyle (exercise, no smoking, moderate alcohol), avoiding toxins and radiation (good luck), healthy nutrition, intense physical activity, a sense of accomplishment, positive emotions, healthy relationships—these all go in the direction of adding life to our years and years to our lives.
The gym may well be the central address for increasing our healthy life-years before the doctor and the pharmacy.