This week I’m going to challenge you to take care of your emotional and psychological well-being. We often overlook dealing with emotional or psychological stress because other things seem more important – work, the kids, the bills, the endless errands. But it’s absolutely okay to be a little “selfish” once in a while and nurture yourself. You may have a weakness for never saying “no.” Perhaps you’re taking on too much, or feeling under pressure about something. We all deal with stress. Whatever it is, this week, it’s on us. Let it go to the extent that you can, and indulge in guilt-free “me-time”. Turn off the phone. Go see a movie. Spend an hour or two with yourself. Maybe even call in sick. This week’s challenge is to address your stress – and don’t feel guilty about it!
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
Not just the latest news – the best!
1) Folic Acid Rocks
A major study on folate is making a splash. Scientists say folic acid appears to help stave cognitive decline and may even be linked to reduced chances of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. What is certain is that folic acid appears to aid in memory, cognition, and information processing speed. Clickativity!
Folic acid is found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and a daily multi.
2) A Must Read!
Wow – here’s an excellent op-ed piece on the psychology of cancer fears. The great tragedy of the cancer situation today – which still kills half a million Americans every year – is that modern advances in both prevention and medicine mean excellent survival rates, but many people wait so long to get standard screenings it’s often too late. It’s the “fear of the known” clinging to our national mindset from days when cancer truly was a death sentence.
3) Common Commode
Drug advances. Scientific knowledge. Nutritional information. Exercise expertise. Lasers. Ingenious surgical procedures. According to the British Medical Journal, none of this compares to…the flusher. When you’re feeling bummed about your day, just remember, before 1840, you could be feeling bummed about your day and have to use an outhouse.
4) Oh yeah…these things do beat stress!
The Dumb Little Man is not dumb at all (but that cheesy line sure was – our bad). While he does invent statistics (and gleefully admits this), his implementation/identification point is right on the money. And his list of ways to beat stress is so wonderful and so obvious, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do this stuff sooner. If you already have, well, good for you. Bees are slower.
Web it out:
What Mark and the Bees read. Translation (whew): Lifestyle changes slash your diabetes risk in half!
“Lifestyle changes”. Kinda nebulous, right?
Here’s how, in 5 quick steps:
1. Stop eating so much sugar! Cut out as much sugar, refined grain, starch, and other pale pathetic excuses for food as you can.
2. No more sugary drinks, either.
3. Daily exercise of some sort. Walking is just fine and dandy!
4. Stop with the self-destructive stuff: smoking, drinking, too much food, not enough sleep.
5. Reduce inflammation in three easy steps: switch from bad fats to good fats, reduce stress, and flood your body with antioxidants from food and a good, sturdy multi.
On the surface this week’s Aaron’s Additions may not seem like traditional MDA fare. You might say, “Hey Aaron, we know you bring us the latest in cool health-related tools, gadgets and tech, but you’ve gone a bit too far with this entry. What the heck does it have to do with our health?” Well dearest apples, this entry has everything to do with health. It just depends on how you look at it.
Mark’s Daily Apple is concerned with people’s health ultimately for the quality of life it represents. Leading a healthy lifestyle encompasses more than what you do for your body. As we pointed out in last week’s entry it also requires attention paid to the health of your mind. A healthy mind is one that is active, productive, and as uninhibited by stress as possible. Which is why a tool that can help you stretch your mind, make your life less stressful and cluttered, and connect you with your friends and loved ones is well worth a mention. This wonder gizmo is the new blogging platform Terapad.
Obviously you are familiar with blogs (hint: you are reading one right now), but have you ever considered writing your own? It allows you to chronicle your daily thoughts, digitally publish your novel, or convey your opinions to thousands or readers. Blogging can be a perfect way to express your creative side and communicate with people (these are the active and productive bits). But building your own blog page can seem like a daunting task. Terapad (the less stressful bit) to the rescue!
This new platform makes designing and maintaining your own virtual writing space as easy as ever and has dozens of handy features to boot. With a built-in news and RSS feeder, job and resume search, and an events calendar Terapad delivers tools that help organize your life. Share your writing, pictures and video. Sell your products, host forums, and engage in a lively discussion with your readers. The possibilities are nearly endless and Terapad offers a format that is highly customizable, an interface that is a cinch to use, and a price tag anyone can handle… it’s free!
If you are looking for a new way to engage your mind in some healthy communication, check out Terapad. Take it from us. Reaching out to a community of people with similar interests is often times therapeutic and always rewarding.
The Top 10 Tips for: Getting Fit
Wanna get fit? If you’re just starting out, keep in mind it’s not going to happen overnight…but you can be lookin’ pretty good by next month with these tips. The reason most get-ripped regimens fail is because we simply expect way too much, way too soon. Big changes in your body require big changes in your lifestyle. Period. It took your whole life to be the way you are now, right? It’s going to take more than two days to start making changes to that. But these 10 pointers will get you started – and you’ll notice some very pleasant effects if you stick with them. You’ll be surprised that very few of them have anything to do with lifting so much as a finger. Fitness is many factors coming together – it’s a lot more than just hitting the gym (thank goodness).
1. Cut calories the lazy way.
To shape up, you must reduce your fat so your muscles can start doing their thing. This is actually very, very easy to do: every time you go to put something in your mouth, don’t. No, no, just kidding! You have to eat.
Here’s what to do:
- in restaurants, eat half the plate and get the rest to go. Don’t eat it when you get home – let the dog or the neighbor kid with hollow legs enjoy it.
- immediately run out and get yourself some 7″ plates. Those are now your dinner plates. Preso, portion sizes reduced.
- Don’t eat anything crunchy, creamy, pale or fried. This pretty much takes care of all high-calorie, unhealthy foods. Examples: chips, ranch dressing, bread sticks, chicken nuggets. We know, veggies are crunchy. It’s not an absolute rule. Just a guide.
- Switch all snacks to cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or broccoli florets. Depending on how much you snack, you’ll save 200 to 600 calories a day doing this.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
A little coffee or tea is one thing. But soda, shakes, iced coffee drinks, juices and energy drinks are overflowing with calories, which you don’t want, right? Don’t waste precious caloric intake on liquids that don’t fill you up.
3. Absolutely no drive-through or delivery food.
McDonald’s likes to run those “Mommy and me” ads that show slender young Mommy eating salad while her ringlet-bedecked tutu-wearing darling is busy dipping apples into some sweet sap. Please. This stuff is generally more marketing than meaningful, so read the ingredients and avoid anything sweet or fried. Best to stick to fresher fare.
4. Move it!
You don’t have to become a gym rat. You don’t have to sign up for the local 10K. But you need to move. Simply put, any movement that is more than you currently do is going to be effective. If you don’t ever work out, walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week is going to start having an impact after just two weeks. If you work out once in a while, step it up with a weekly weight session, a longer run, or some quality time with the treadmill. Do whatever you like – maybe you have a real problem with the layer of dust that’s accumulated on all the baseboards and you want to scrub them clean. That’s a workout. Maybe you like to dance for the mailman. That’s questionable, but it’s a workout just the same. No one’s judging – just move, Apples! Every day. Whether it’s a little or a lot, just do it.
5. Get addicted to feeling good.
Things that are healthy are going to make you feel good – it just takes a little longer. Instant gratification is just that – instant. Nachos are great until the heartburn hits, right?
You know your particular weaknesses. However, this isn’t about being perfect or beating yourself up. Everyone likes an instant payoff – we’re humans. But try the ten-minute trick (easy: just wait 10) next time a craving or a lazy mood hits – and push through those ten minutes. Think about what will make you feel good long term, not short term. Give yourself an extra moment or ten to start a new craving – health. Just wait ten minutes.
6. Drink More Water.
We don’t necessarily buy into the whole 10-glasses-a-day rule. We’re just not that militant. Hey, if you’re thirsty, drink something. If you’re not, don’t worry about it! You know that myth that goes something like: “By the time you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated”? Yeah, well, it’s a myth. Dogs and cats only drink when they are thirsty. Are they perpetually dehydrated? And as long as you replenish yourself as soon as you do start to get dehydrated, what’s the big disaster?
But the title of point 6 is Drink More Water. We digress. If you have trouble with controlling your portions, or if you tend to crave high-calorie, salty snacks, try drinking a big glass of water whenever a craving hits. This can help you shed a pound a week, easy!
7. Join a sport or group activity.
There is literally something for everyone in almost every community – whether you’re young and active or golden and gracious. And if there isn’t a physical activity to suit your tastes, why not start one in the community? Even one session a week of a sport or activity can go a long way to get you fit over the course of several months – and when you’re having fun, you’ll forget all about the workout part. One of our Worker Bees joined a hiking class and was amazed that just two weekly hikes whipped her into great shape after only three months. The social interaction is also healthy for your brain, which contributes to general fitness far more than you might realize.
8. Focus your activities around activities and games, not just food or drinking.
A lot of social gatherings revolve around food, beer, and hanging out. That’s great, and it’s an important part of being emotionally healthy, but try to mix it up a little. Maintain a variety of relationships so some activities are physical, some are food-based (edible sounds a little…strange…), and so on. This is really healthy for your emotional well-being and your body. And that produces a nice little synergistic effect: when you are less stressed out and enjoying variety, guess what? Your body chemistry hits a better balance, cortisol drops, and your system stops clinging to fat for dear life. So bust that stress, Apples!
9. Find a Way to Unhook.
This might mean literally taking the phone off the hook. A lot of us are on-the-go from the time we get up until we hit the pillow at night. This is stressful, unhealthy and a great way to be fat and unhappy (it’s true!). Be a little bit selfish and find some time to pray, meditate, take a hike, or soak in the tub. Find a little time every day to unwind – just 20 minutes will make a huge difference in your health over the long-term. Just stop. Breathe. Relax. Feel how strong your body is? A relaxed body is a happy, strong body. You’ll get more out of your workout now (because we know you are moving it as instructed in step 4).
10. Report Back!
Tell us what your goals are. We will help you! We’ll check in on you. We’ll even nag you. So keep us in the loop (just click on Ask Anything up there to the right of Mark’s big blond head).
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Apples, as you know, this is a pro-fat health site – pro-fat meaning we recommend eating beneficial fats, of course, not getting fat. There are a lot of issues to consider when it comes to fat – heart disease, inflammation, arthritis, obesity and prevention, to name a few – and I’m going to weigh in (I know, I know) on some of the latest findings.
Increasingly, the medical community is focusing on the interrelatedness of health conditions like obesity, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. These prevalent health problems have a common component – inflammation – and mounting evidence suggests that a wide range of lifestyle habits aimed at preventing inflammation is clearly the better avenue for public health. Soaring health care costs, unequal distribution of nutritious food, Americans’ sedentary lifestyle, grievous drug side effects, and inaccurate food and health information are all factors in a health crisis that I believe has hit critical mass – it’s time for a smarter solution.
Case in point: arthritis costs alone are over $120 billion dollars every year and growing. Just a few years ago, we were spending about $80 billion. By 2010, about 50 million people will suffer from arthritis. In my opinion, this is utterly unacceptable. Arthritis can occur for many reasons – I myself manage osteoarthritis from years of professional sports competition. Excessive levels of stress like hardcore athletic training or lack of any physical exercise are common culprits. Though there is a genetic predisposition to arthritis in some folks, the majority of people suffer from arthritis to a much greater extent than they need to, given the availability of easy prevention options (that are a lot cheaper and less painful than drugs, surgery and daily suffering). Personally, I’m rarely bothered by my arthritis because I maintain a good exercise routine, I don’t eat junk, and I am ruthless about preventing inflammation.
How to prevent inflammation:
- Douse yourself in antioxidants
- Consume “good” fats with reckless abandon
- Limit both physical and emotional stress
- Absolutely avoid anything that contributes to oxidation: smoking, excessive drinking, lack of activity, processed and prepared food, trans fat, and sugar
Add Another Test to the List
There have been several new heart disease markers identified this month (and a few thrown out as doctors realize basic prevention is worth a lot more). A Japanese study found interesting results for a specific set of women with particular heart conditions; and this study will help doctors determine how people who already have heart disease can avoid a second incident. In the same vein (there I go again), a few studies released this month are too fraught with questions and conflicts of interest to be of much insight (though no doubt Big Pharma will still bandy them about).
Look, heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women. And it goes beyond that – those suffering from heart problems also tend to suffer from other big health problems like diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. These health problems are often complicit because they are either caused or exacerbated by your old enemy, inflammation. That’s why I think it’s critical that the health community shift the focus from statins, surgeries and stents to prevention, prevention, prevention. There are so many reasons why: soaring costs, debt, quality of life, current inequalities in care along socioeconomic and racial lines, and simply, common sense. Our government may be indebted to Big Pharma and the lobbyists; no matter. We can solve our health problems ourselves – Uncle Sam will get the message. Which brings me to:
The National Healthcare Quality Report finds that, based upon 40-odd “core quality measures”, health care has improved by 3.1%. All right – I guess that’s supposed to be impressive. But here’s what caught my eye:
“However, the use of proven prevention strategies is lagging behind other gains…”
2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Health care is in crisis, and until it gets straightened out (and I applaud the recent efforts of politicians and states to fix the mess), how do we get prevention information to hit home? Information isn’t in short supply; some of it (a lot of it) is inaccurate, but sites like yours truly here and some of the great folks linked at right want to help. How do we spread the news that prevention is easier, and safer, and better than you think?
I’m not quite sure why the Navy thinks a goat is a compelling image when it comes to avoiding desserts, but it’s better than Labelman.
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