By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
You’ve been attending the gym faithfully for quite a long while, working out alone, with your buddies, and even hired a trainer. Four, five or more days a week, you give it your all, pushing, pulling, jumping, throwing, lifting, jogging—there isn’t a piece of equipment you don’t use.
Then one day, for no obvious reason, you decide, “Nah, don’t feel like working out today.” Then another day, and then another. Perhaps you question the worth of all the exercise you’ve been doing. You feel fatigue, have muscle soreness, perhaps experience leg cramps and just feel restless, and can’t relax or unwind. You begin thinking you are just exhausted –physically, emotionally and mentally. That perfectionistic, hard-driving, competitive side of you that always has great intentions and unrealistic expectations for working out give way to self-doubt, self-damning thoughts and just too many “bad days.”
Those are some of the symptoms of burnout. It’s a term that goes back to 1976 when it was first coined, and since then there has been lots written about it and our understanding of how to prevent it and deal with it has grown. The key is to listen to your own heart, mind and body because in the end, that quiet voice inside of you knows the right things to do—it’s the “noise” of your own irrational thinking, “experts” and demands that prevents you from doing what you know will help.
Here are six tips that I know will help recharge you and reset your direction back to health:
1. Begin your day with a relaxing meditation in which you “see” yourself in a positive and enjoyable exercise routine. 2. Switch from a “must” do to a “prefer” to do mindset. Get “rule-free” even from your own self-imposed “rules” and that includes being less demanding about working out “perfectly.” 3. Give yourself permission to say “no” to time demands—you need to heal. 4. “Slow down—you’re moving too fast,” as the song goes. It’s time to take a real break from working out, and when you return, be sure to change up your exercise program. Been solo? Go group ex. Don’t forget to reprogram your iPod with some new music too. Don’t be afraid to switch up workout partners or trainers. 5. Create a mindset that’s about what can go RIGHT and what’s NOT wrong and create more time for yourself and your personal enjoyment. Ask for help and remind yourself that burning out is NO disgrace—it happens to the best of us, literally—those who have given their all so consistently they become mentally and physically exhausted. 6. Add PERMA to your life: • Positive Emotions • Engaged in enjoyable activities • Create enjoyable Relationships • Find Meaning in what you do • Take pride in your Accomplishments
This covers touches on every approach that’s been shown to help overcome burnout. The club has staff who are ready to talk with you about how to restore your happiness, health and wellbeing, and get past this common malady. You’ll return to “you” and be back in the club with a healthier mindset and a healthier body.
(ARA) – With age comes the inevitable anxiety of mental decline. A common misconception is brain health is predetermined and can’t be changed – it’s the “you’re stuck with what you got” notion. But experts suggest brain health can be positively influenced throughout different stages in life.
A recent state-by-state ranking, America’s Brain Health Index, delivers data on how well Americans are successfully incorporating the four dimensions of brain health – diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being – into their daily lives.
The top-ranked state – Maryland – scored highest on the Index because of residents’ performance on a number of health markers, including high consumption of fish rich in DHA and DHA-fortified foods and supplements, as well as a low incidence of Alzheimer’s disease-related deaths. Residents of the states that ranked the lowest (Mississippi and Louisiana) can make adjustments to help get their brains in shape. See where your state ranked at www.beautiful-minds.com.
“Whether we live in the top-ranked states or in the areas that are below average, there are several ways to nurture and engage the mind to keep it healthy throughout our lives,” says Dr. Majid Fotuhi, chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness, and assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “All too often I work with patients who need to make only a few lifestyle adjustments to see a marked change in their mental acuity. It’s never too late to take action to improve your brain health.”
Four easy steps to a beautiful mind
Step 1 – Get moving Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day to encourage new brain cells and connections to form. Walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, play sports or do something you enjoy outdoors.
Step 2 – Nourish your body and mind Aim for a varied diet rich in colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables, washed with the skin on to take full advantage of the nutritional punch. Maximize your intake of DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid that makes up 97 percent of the omega-3s in the brain. Find it in fatty fish (salmon, tuna) or, if you are vegetarian, you can find it in algal DHA-fortified foods and beverages like juice, milk, eggs and in algal DHA supplements, including the Algal-900 DHA and BrainStrong lines found at CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. Find other products with algal DHA at www.lifesdha.com.
Step 3 – Embrace new activities Commit to lifelong learning, which can take the form of brain-stimulating activities, including reading, creating art, completing crosswords, learning a new language or playing a new instrument. Keep a mentally engaged mind by living with a “use it or lose it” philosophy throughout life.
“The aging process involves increasing physical and emotional change and a heightened search for meaning and purpose,” says Gay Hanna, executive director of the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington, D.C. “Expressing oneself through the creation of art can serve as a powerful way to honor life experiences. Embrace the idea of learning something new to help fuel your creative fire.”
Step 4 – Expand your social network Stay socially connected so you feel like you’re a part of something. This can include social connections at work, in clubs, with friends and family and through volunteer groups or a religious congregation. Experts theorize that having a rich social network may also help support brain health in a variety of ways, from providing individuals better resources and support, to reducing stress and depression, to enhancing intellectual stimulation.
Inspirational stories of how people keep their minds beautiful can be found throughout the world. In the No. 1 ranked state – Maryland – 75-year-old Ernestine Shepherd transformed herself from an average middle-aged woman with a sedentary lifestyle into the world’s oldest performing female bodybuilder according to Guinness World Records. Shepherd was recently named a 2011 Beautiful Mind, a campaign honoring inspirational adults over 55 who embody the four dimensions of brain health.
“It’s important for people to know that age is just a number and you can get fit for life. Just be determined, dedicated and disciplined. But first and foremost, be positive, confident and filled with spirit,” says Shepherd.
To learn more about brain health and to read inspiring stories from other Beautiful Minds visit www.beautiful-minds.com.
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.