Spring Cleaning – it’s Time to De-clutter Your Life!

shutterstock_335890811 (1)Spring cleaning is a time-honoured tradition of doing a deep clean of one’s home or a room.

In modern times, it’s also used as a metaphor for a time to reflect on our lives and look for ways to simplify or invigorate our lives. I look at it as a time to review expectations of yourself and others around you over the past year and whether you have been conscientious about saying NO and YES to yourself!

What that means is learning to make time for yourself. Setting time aside for exercise or reading a book or just relaxing, rather than meeting the expectations of others.

I know, it’s not easy with so many demands on our time these days between family, work and other obligations. It’s easy to put yourself and your needs last on the list. But here’s a strategy to consider, a way to prioritize the demands. Learn to say no. That’s right, say no.

No, I cannot take on more work, no I cannot accept that task, no we as a family cannot do more.

Here are three easy steps to learn:

  1. Open your month
  2. Say NO, thank you. It doesn’t work for me. Sorry, No
  3. Close your mouth. DON’T say “I’ll try” or “Maybe”. It is a clear, though polite, NO

And when you say No to something, you are, in reality,  also saying yes.
Yes to your health, Yes to your family, Yes to your life, Yes to a different priority.
Enjoy the YES and you have empowered yourself by saying NO.

So yes, spring cleaning and to de-cluttering and learning to say NO and appreciating the YES

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

How to cope with stress over the holidays –the most stressful time of the year.

MORE WOMEN THAN MEN ARE STRESSED DURING THE HOLIDAYS

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that more women are stressed over the holidays than men.

On top of the ‘usual’ workload of looking after the family and working, women generally shoulder more of the responsibility for organizing the holidays, gift shopping, planning meals, decorating, cooking, to year-end holiday parties and activities.   A recent survey by the American Psychological Association bears this out.   44% of women said that they were more stressed over the holidays than men at 31%.

So, what is supposed to be a joyous time with family and friends can wind up being exhausting and stressful.  Stress can also affect your health.

Here is what I recommend to help you get into the holiday spirit without triggering stress and anxiety.

  1. Create a to do list and then simplify it. If long line ups in the stores wears out your patience and creates anxiety–do more of your shopping on line.
  2. Share tasks. I recently was at a holiday gathering for nineteen, where one of the adult sons made the stuffing and cranberry sauce, while the other son bought the pies and ice cream. And everyone helped set the table and pitched in doing the dishes.  We tend to take on too much and often don’t ask for help. This year, make that one of your holiday resolutions.
  3. Be realistic.  It doesn’t have to be the perfect holiday.  Focus instead on the things that are important.  Cut back on things that are nice but not necessary.
  4. Learn to say ‘no’.  It’s ok to say no to certain events.  If it cuts into your time for the things that are a priority, says no and save your energy and time for the things that count and make your feel good. Women often have difficulty saying no, as we often simply want to please. Saying no can happen in 3 easy steps: open your mouth.  Politely decline, say no thanks, no, it just doesn’t work for me. Close your mouth. Don’t say you’ll try, or maybe as that does not reduce your stress.  Merely say no to whatever, which truthfully means you are saying yes, to something else, something more important for you right now.
  5. Relatives– If you have a hard time being around relatives, set time limits for those visits.
  6. Be mindful.  There is no doubt that practicing mindfulness is a big assist during stressful times.  Mindfulness means that you stay in the moment without judging yourself rather than your mind bouncing around in a thousand directions.  Mindfulness is also considered good for heart health.
  7. Take Time for Yourself. This is one of the most important things you can do both during the holidays and throughout the year. .  We tend to do more for everyone else, than we do for ourselves. That can stress our bodies as well as our minds.  Take time to go for a workout, a long walk, quiet time, even a nap far from the madding crowds.

 

If any of these tips work for you this holiday season, why not make them part of your New Year’s resolutions. Happy Holidays !!!

 

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

Exercises that Help To Maintain or Build Strong Bones

shutterstock_451265800Osteoporosis can strike at any age and affects both men and women.

Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms.  It is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disorder, with a loss of the normal strength and quality of the bone, as well as a decrease in bone mass. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue, often described as wear and tear of a previously normal, smooth joint.  *

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.  The bones become weak and brittle making them more fragile and at risk of a fracture. (broken bones) Even a minor fall can have a significant impact –leading to a broken hip, spine, wrist or shoulder (the most common areas at risk)

Exercise is part of a healthy bone strategy

Weight bearing

We all know and understand how important exercise is for heart health. But it can’t be emphasized enough how important regular weight-bearing exercise is for bone health, too.  Weight bearing exercise is when you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting. The result is that weight bearing exercises help to develop more bone mass.   Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones become denser.  It will also improve your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls.   But what about biking?   It’s good for your heart and lungs but is not considered weight-bearing, when you are seated.

Look at it this way.

It is recommended that you walk between three to five miles a week to help build or maintain healthy bones.  If we assume it takes between fifteen or twenty minutes to walk a mile, then spending between seventy-five to one hundred minutes a week (out of ten thousand and eighty minutes in a week) is minuscule compared to the enormous benefits you will reap.

Resistance Training

Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object. Resistance exercise includes free weights or weight machines, water exercises that make your muscles work harder and resistance tubes— incorporated into your regular exercise regime two to three times a week will help build or maintain bone mass.

Stretching and Flexibility

Having flexible joints is another important aspect of help to keep osteoporosis at bay. Regular stretching, yoga, and Pilates are some of the ways you can ensure your joints stay lubricated and flexible.

There are of course other aspects to maintaining good bone health such as eating a healthy diet and ensuring you get enough calcium and vitamin D, but that’s a subject for another blog.

The important thing to keep in mind is that staying active, exercising and stretching are very effective strategies to help prevent osteoporosis.  And even if you have osteoporosis you can still make improvements by exercising.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

* Source Osteoporosis Canada. Speaking of Bones. 2006.

 

 

Exercise & Brain Health

shutterstock_492750550.jpgExercise is an important component of health aging especially when it comes to brain health. While there are no guarantees a healthy lifestyle will prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, exercise will absolutely improve blood flow to the brain. Because as we age, the brain shrinks! It happens to everyone. As we age, our blood supply to the brain is reduced, which causes the volume of the brain to shrink. If you exercise, the blood supply to your brain will improve blood flow and increase your brain volume, which can slow the brain aging process.

Studies show that exercise, meaning exercising with purpose, increases the level of Brain -Derived Neuro-Tropic factor (BDNF), which is critical for neuroplasticity. (The ability for the brain to adapt) Exercise is also associated with the growth and creation of new brain cells which helps increase the volume of your brain.

Sustained aerobic exercise is not to be taken lightly or put off for another day, as brain function and cognition are essential in maintaining an independent and healthy life.

So what exercises are the best?
Studies indicate that thirty minutes of sustained aerobic exercise such as running every day will increase brain health, neural plasticity, brain function and cognition. That’s the BDNF factor I was referring to earlier.   For most of us, seven days a week is a big commitment and may not be practical or achievable. However, one can set a reasonable weekly goal. The objective here is to circulate more blood to the brain that will, in turn, increase the volume of the brain to prevent early dementia.
What about weight training or interval training? Both are good for you and other parts of your body such as your muscles, but there is no indication that it positively affects your brain the way aerobic exercise does.

 Proof that Exercise is good for the brain
Take a look at the  diagram below. The brain on the right lights up after activity.

brain-benefits-exercise
Lots of women say to me, “ Yes, I know Dr. Brown exercise is really important but I just don’t have the time. “ What they are really saying to me is ‘exercise is not my priority’. I understand that. Exercise may not be your priority as you run from the carpool to take care of elderly parents and to finish your work. But if exercise is never your priority, if you are always last on your list and you will pay a huge price.

So my advice is that you allow yourself to be your priority at least part of the time.Let’s remember, when the flight attendance explains that when the oxygen comes down, put the mask on yourself first and then on the child beside you. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be here to take care of the others you care about!!

 

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

The Sleep Revolution

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I just reviewed Arianna Huffington’s important book on Sleep, The Sleep Revolution. Transforming your life, One Night at a Time. Let’s take a look at what she has to say. According to Ms. Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis. She says that sleep deprivation is having profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships, and our happiness. What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives. (1)

A report by The World Sleep Association bears this out. The report claims sleep deprivation is a worldwide epidemic. This is also true in Canada, where the majority of Canadians –60% of us only get an average of 6.9 hours of sleep per night. — The experts recommend an average of 8 hours.

WHY IS SLEEP IMPORTANT
Sleep is necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Too little sleep leaves us drowsy and unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory and physical performance. Without sleep, neurons may become so depleted in energy or so polluted with byproducts of normal cellular activities that they begin to malfunction. Sleep also may give the brain a chance to exercise important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate from lack of activity. (2)
Why then, when it has been conclusively shown that sleep is an absolute necessity in keeping ups healthy and happy do we continue to discount sleep as a priority?
Ms. Huffington’s extensive research concludes that as a culture “we tend to dismiss sleep as time wasted—and a badge of honor—even though it compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives — and even our sex lives.”
Her book explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

Here are Ms. Huffington’s twelve tips for getting a good night’s sleep. Doctors refer to this as sleep hygiene.

  1. Create a bedroom environment that’s dark, quiet, and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
  2. Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  3. Don’t charge your phone next to your bed. Even better: Gently escort all devices completely out of your room.
  4. Stop drinking caffeine after 2 p.m.
  5. Use your bed for sleep and sex only—no work!
  6. Keep pets off the bed (sorry, Mr. Snuffles).
  7. Take a hot bath with Epsom salts in the evening to help calm your mind and body.
  8. Wear pajamas, nightgowns or even a special T-shirt—it’ll send a sleep-friendly message to your body. If you wore it to the gym, don’t wear it to bed.
  9. Do some light stretching, deep breathing, yoga, or meditation to help your body and your mind transition to sleep.
  10. Choose a real book or an e-reader that does not emit blue light, if you like to read in bed. And make sure it’s not work-related: novels, poetry, philosophy—anything but work.
  11. Sip chamomile or lavender tea to ease yourself into sleep mode.
  12. Write down a list of what you’re grateful for before bed. It’s a great way to make sure your blessings get the closing scene of the night.

I try to keep to a regular sleep schedule- going to bed at the same time every night or close to it and waking up in the morning, generally at the same time. It helps my body and mind ready itself for sleep the same time every night. As with anything else establishing a new health pattern takes time, so don’t be discouraged.

Sources

  1. The Sleep Revolution. Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington. Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a Division of Random House LLC, New York.
  2. Source- Mental Health Canada

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

Sugar Shock – The Unsweetened Truth!

shutterstock_281515502.jpgCanadians eat an astounding 88 pounds of sugar per year—it’s about one in every five calories we consume. Sugar by any name; barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, cane syrup, dextrin, dextrose, and sweeteners, *, is still a substance that if consumed in excess can lead to the proliferation of many cancers. In fact, it is hard to find food that doesn’t contain sugar.

Join the free Medisys 30-day-no-refined-sugar challenge, click here:  Free No Sugar Challenge
Did you know that sugar is found in many packaged chicken broths? Yes, chicken broth! I picked up a box of organic chicken broth; cane syrup is listed as one of the ingredients. Why? Because North Americans like sweetened foods and food manufacturers, feed our sugar habit. In fact, it is hard to find many processed foods that don’t contain sugar.

Why the concern? Insulin resistance leads to chronic illnesses.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus, cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. That puts the body on the path toward metabolic syndrome, most commonly defined as having, at least, three of the following conditions: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and elevated levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol **

What can you do to cut down on sugar and sugar products?

  1. Read food labels on packaging and look for the food ingredients. You will quickly realize that many foods contain sugar that you didn’t think are sweet—like tomato sauce, crackers and salad dressings.
  2. Know the names that are commonly used to identify sugar as an additive in food.
  3. Limit buying packaged foods; they usually contain sugars.
  4. Avoid soft drinks and sweetened fruit juices.   Eat whole fruit instead. Whole fruit provides you with a lot more nutrition than fruit juice including more fiber and a lot less sugar.
  5. Once you know where sugars are hidden, buy foods that say ‘unsweetened’ or ‘no sugar’ like almond milk, soymilk, applesauce, oatmeal, unsweetened baking chocolate squares.
  6. Cut down on sugar. If you use two packets of sugar, use one instead. If you are used to buying sweetened yogurt, buy plain yogurt or cut down by using half plain and half unsweetened. If you want to have that piece of chocolate –have a piece instead of the whole bar.
  7. To cut down on sugar cravings, try loading up on protein, fiber, and vegetables that fill you up and will slow your digestion down. Fiber will keep you fuller and will help cut down on your cravings.
  8. Don’t substitute buying foods with artificial sugars—diet cokes, sugar-free candy—they can increase your cravings for sweet treats and may lead to weight gain.

 

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Extensive efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Sources:

* For a complete list of names for sugar

https://www.google.ca/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=G0_5VovYIuqM8QePsYco&gws_rd=ssl#q=names+for+sugar

** http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/insulin-resistance-prediabetes/Pages/index.aspx#resistance

Top Trends in Preventative Healthcare

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Science and Technology Converge
Part I

As a passionate advocate of preventative healthcare and wellness, I am glad to see that there will be an increased focus on prevention, because many older people continue to have chronic diseases which overwhelm their daily activities and are not enjoying a good quality of life in their later years. It is worth emphasizing that while most of us will face some sort of illness in our later years, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle; get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking, excessive drinking, sugar, salts and unhealthy fats and processed foods. That way we will cope with illness, aging and any disability in a strong and independent manner.

Advances in technology and science are making it easier for people to focus on preventative healthcare. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and for a more health conscious society, let’s look at some of the possibilities and opportunities.

 Wearable Technology will continue to grow! And why do I love it?

It seems we need to quantify every step, every workout, every morsel of food and every waking and sleeping minute of the day and as a result there is an ever-expanding range of technologies to support our need to chronicle our daily lives. Interest in mobile apps such as activity trackers like Fitbit will continue to capture consumer interest. According to a report by international consulting firm, PwC, “Adoption of health-related smartphone apps doubled in two years, from 16 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2014 and will continue. There are many fitness and activity trackers on the market today, it can be confusing.   PcMagazine, has an excellent article comparing various trackers and recommends you try them out before you buy. Once you’ve bought a fitness tracker, the next step is to integrate it into your daily routine, which I recently wrote about. “You’ve bought a fitness tracker—Now what!

What has worked for me is the challenge of maintaining my commitment by using my Fitbit, trying really hard to maintain that 10,000.00 steps per day. I appreciate a measurable outcome. And yup, I have learned once again, that “hectic does NOT equal aerobic”.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.