(ARA) – The colder winter months are notorious for sniffling noses, deep coughs, achy bodies and fevers. It’s cold and flu season, which means it’s a good time to reduce your exposure to germs and stock up on supplies that will help you escape any illnesses, or at least help you tolerate any symptoms.
Preventive care is key to avoiding the traditional winter illnesses of cold and flu. Here are some tips to keep those icky germs at bay:
* Hand washing is very important, so stock up on soap and antibacterial cleansers and have them ready by every sink in your house. Also consider using disposable towels to reduce the potential for germs to transfer between family members.
* Starting off healthy can help you be strong against invading viruses. You might be in need of extra fortification like fish oil or calcium, so ask your doctor about adding a vitamin regimen to your diet.
* Get plenty of sleep. A lack of sleep can wear down your energy and immune system, leaving you more susceptible to viruses and germs. Make sure you have a comfortable pillow so you don’t wake up sore or spend the night tossing and turning. And if you struggle with letting your brain relax, a white noise machine or fan running on the lowest setting can calm you down.
* Keep the house clean. Wash door handles, the phone and even the handles on your appliances frequently to avoid the transfer of germs. Keep a good supply of sanitizing cleaners on hand to help speed up the cleaning process.
* Get the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of 6 months gets a flu shot. The nasal spray flu vaccine is also now available for people who qualify.
As you’re making a list of all the supplies you’ll need to help prevent your family members from getting sick, make sure you look for discounts and coupon codes online at sites like CouponHeaven.com. Many stores listed on this time and money saving site offer discounts on vitamins, health supplements, cleaning supplies and even pillows, which in the long run can save you a good amount of money.
If you do end up catching a virus, stay home from work to prevent the virus from spreading to your coworkers, and try to get plenty of sleep and liquids to help build your strength back up.
Don’t let the seasonal flu or cold keep you from enjoying the winter months this year. Spend your time discussing the fun you had sledding down a tubing hill or cross country skiing through the quiet countryside – rather than talking about fevers, aches and pains.
San Diego Fitness Psychology – Surviving the Holidays? – Think Accurately or Believe the Media and Suffer
by: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
In .28 seconds I found 64,800,000 tips—honestly—on Google on how to “survive” the holidays. Sixty-four MILLION tips on how to “survive” the holidays! What in the world has happened to us? Have we gone mad? C’mon now. We need more than sixty-four MILLION tips on how to “survive” the holidays? When did the media create this insanity?
Focus on friends not food, make time for fitness, get plenty of sleep, serve others, create a “to-do” list, don’t compare, get plenty of vitamin D3, drop your expectations, forget Norman Rockwell, don’t dread it, be honest with yourself, avoid the pressures of family get togethers, set manageable daily goals, don’t drink too much, avoid the “shoulds,” don’t pressure yourself, yada, yada, yada. Do we really need to be told this stuff year after year, in sixty-four million different ways?
The message from the media is that the holidays are draining, emotionally depleting, exhausting, stressing, anxiety producing, and downright unhealthy. Are they working for the drug companies or something? Well, pharmaceutical companies DO advertise in the media, so maybe there is that connection. Even the American Psychological Association gives tips such as identifying your stressors that are triggers. What stressors? Does the APA really believe there are stress monsters waiting to pounce on unsuspecting, innocent, minding-their-own business holiday “survivors”? Utter nonsense.
Fortunately, there are 268,000,000 hits on Google for the “joy” of the holidays. Whew. For a moment, I thought I was abnormal since I enjoy the holidays, find nothing at all stressful in the beauty of the season, the decorations, the celebrations, the excitement, the music and the general feeling in the air.
So what’s with these stressed-out, nervous, angry, grief-filled, depressed, over-eating and under-exercising “survivors”? What are they surviving?
Here’s the secret. They are surviving their own thoughts, the thoughts they ingest from media “commercialization,” and nonsensical, irrational and inaccurate thoughts and self created beliefs they focus on about how “tragic and difficult” a time this season of the year is. It’s none of that, unless you believe it. Then you can make the holidays anything you want. You can even believe Martians will fly out from under a treadmill in the gym. Why you’d want to believe that though, I wouldn’t hazard a guess. Same when it comes to erroneously thinking the worst will happen, filling your mind with totally inaccurate thoughts about how horrid of a person you are, giving the worst case meaning to events in your life surrounding the holidays and feeling sorry for yourself that “everyone else” is having a better holiday than you. Here’s yet another tip—don’t believe everything you —- think!
Want a joy-filled, fun, peaceful and loving experience over the next month or so? Understand that your mood and the events around you are not at all, in any way, connected. You can create any positive mood you want, regardless of your actual life-situation. Any mood you want, REGARDLESS of your actual life situation.
Thoughts are just thoughts. You create them, you control them, and you can change them. And get this—you can do all that without an “illness” requiring a “diagnosis” and signing up for tranquilizers, anti-depressants or mood stabilizers—that have little evidence really matters anyway for mild to moderate normal upsets.
If you are reading this, you are probably a member of one of San Diego’s finest health clubs, the Sporting Club of San Diego and the La Jolla Sports Club. That means you already have at your disposal the longest-lasting, most effective method for helping yourself create happiness, joy and positivity—exercise. It will help you clear your mind from that negative, erroneous thinking you slip into with the encouragement of the media who wants you to believe the holidays are so “stressful.”
With moderate to intense exercise, you reset your thinking, your mood, your biochemistry, your brain cells, and your health. Stress is not something we “get” nor is it inherent in any event—it is created when we think about life events in specific ways that may anticipate “awful, horrible, terrible, catastrophic” outcomes that we absolutistically demand must not occur, or see—view—life events through a lens that defines situations as unusually negative and harsh. Again, don’t believe everything you — think. Exercising can help you catch your breath, take a moment to reset your irrational thinking, challenge what evidence you have for such nasty thoughts, and identify alternative ways for thinking about a holiday gift, a party, a get together, an invitation, or whatever you were troubling yourself with.
The holidays are days. Filled with activities, events, situations, people, or not. Think of them in a way that leaves you happy, or believe the media and suffer—you can’t do both. Thankfully, that’s the choice most of us have—we just need to be reminded of it.
Keep up your workouts and, truly, happy holidays ahead!
(ARA) – The holidays can be difficult for people watching their diet. For those with health issues such as diabetes, the dietary minefield of holiday temptations can be especially troublesome.
In the United States, 8.3 percent of the population (nearly 26 million adults and children) has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. For these people, the usual holiday indulgences of sweets and rich foods can pose a serious health risk.
“People with diabetes must make significant dietary changes in order to manage their disease,” says Dr. Donald Hensrud, preventive medicine and nutrition expert from Mayo Clinic . Dr. Hensrud is the medical editor-in-chief for the new “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet.” “Managing diabetes through diet isn’t a fad; it’s about changing your habits for the better.”
Americans gain an average of just one pound over the holidays (far less than colloquial estimates) but most also keep that extra pound, according to a joint study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Over the years, those pounds add up, and collectively, it’s fueling America’s obesity epidemic.
“Family history, being overweight, inactivity, a poor diet – these are the reasons why millions of Americans have diabetes or are at risk,” Dr. Hensrud writes in the introduction to “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet.” “Weight loss can reverse the physical process that causes diabetes, and the effect can be dramatic.”
If you or a loved one has diabetes, here’s some advice from “The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet,” to help you stay on track through the holidays:
At a party
The hors d’oeuvres table is a downfall for many of us, especially during the holidays when we are presented with treats that we don’t see throughout the rest of the year. Depriving yourself entirely can make cravings worse and increase your risk of binging.
So approach the hors d’oeuvres with these strategies:
* Make just one trip to the table and be selective. Decide ahead of time how much you’ll eat and choose only the foods that you really want.
* Treat yourself with one or two samples of high-calorie or fatty foods, and then fill up on fruits and veggies.
* Take small portions. You may be able to satisfy your cravings with a small taste.
* Eat slowly and you’ll likely eat less.
* Don’t stay near the food all night. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”
* Eat something healthy before you arrive so that you won’t be as hungry. Being hungry will make you more prone to overeating.
If you fall off the wagon
It’s the holidays, and chances are you’ll overeat at some point. It’s very difficult to resist temptation all the time. A minor slip isn’t the end of the world, but it can turn into a bigger problem if you view it as an excuse to give up altogether.
If you have a lapse, consider these tips to help get you back on track:
* Convince yourself that every day is a fresh opportunity to start over again.
* Have a plan to deal with lapses.
* Keep your response simple. Focus on the things you know you can do and stick to them.
“Good lifestyle habits, like losing weight, give you the best chance to treat your diabetes and prevent health complications,” Dr. Hensrud says. “Losing weight takes work and planning, but the rewards are great. With the right attitude, you can have fun and feel great while adding years to your life.”
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.