Shingles is a painful virus. The pre-requisite is having had chicken pocks first, even if it was decades before. This is because they come from the same virus called varicella roster. Chickenpox causes itchy blisters that can spread on the body, typically in the chest and back areas. On the other hand, shingles is a rash that causes a shooting, painful, sensation. The rash usually stick to one location or side of the body. When the virus first enters the body as chickenpox, after running its course, it retreats to nerve tissues located near the spinal cord and brain just makes its home there. Then for almost no reason doctors can understand, the virus wakes itself up again. That is when shingles occurs which is also called herpes zoster. Doctors do know that a weakened immune system is of course more vulnerable to virus waking itself up.
Others heightened risks for shingles include trauma, stress, have cancer, HIV, or take medications that lower the immune system over time (such as steroids). The mystery is that these possible causes are not always true for everyone.
Going to see a doctor is pertinent especially if the person feels a tingling feeling under their skin, an upset stomach, fever, chills, and/or headache coupled with raised dots on the body. The area of the skin will feel like a stabbing pain and eventually the redness turns into blisters. Within 7 to 10 days the blisters do dry out and pain lessens. Shingles cannot be entirely cured, but the painful symptoms and longevity of the blisters can be reduced.
Shingles is contagious to those who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine for it. A person is contagious until the blisters have dried out and crusted over. Pregnant women, infants, and those with weak immune systems are susceptible.
Currently there are 2 vaccines available for shingles. These include Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix is actually considered 90% effective, so it is the preferred option. The CDC does recommend people over the age of 50 get this vaccination, even if they have had shingles before.
Shooting pain should be kept away. Anyone who has had the Chickenpox should be aware of possible triggers and any symptoms associated with shingles. As we always intend to, keeping stress at bay is important. Be aware of germs and germ filled environments. Your body and immune system appreciate self-care. Don’t let the virus in and vaccination becomes very important.
The thought of sitting in a plane for many hours, just screams germs. Everyone is sitting in an enclosed spaced, breathing recycled air, and then there are people who cough and sneeze in this air. Traveling during the holidays also is the time of year for colds and the flu season. Some studies say you are 100 more times likely to catch one of these while up in the air. Switching seats from the sick person next to you is not always an option. Being mindful of what you touch with your bare hands is always a good idea to be highly cautious of. Think about the number of people who are using the same bathroom on the same flight. Think about all the items with luggage, shoes, and matters of personal hygiene that are all in one location.
In between flights, under the constraints of time, the flight staff might not have had enough time to thoroughly clean. Between all the seats, seatbelts, and buttons that people touch, there are a lot of places to wipe down. Going row by row, aisle by aisle, is not always possible when trying to stick to a timely flight schedule. So the germs just stay there and then next layer of germs now enter to make matters worse.
There are shared earplugs, blankets, and pillows. There are so many germs and many people eat the airplane food not even considering to wash their hands first. There are only one or two bathrooms and a line so hand washing gets neglected. Planes are actually pretty old too. Some of the very planes we fly in today are over 20 years old. That means unless the upholstery and additional seat belts have been readily replaced and refurbished, the germs just keep piling on. People become tired and fatigued and then careless with their germs. There are also children who don’t cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and put their hands in their own mouth and noses only to continue to touch parts of the plane.
We have to be ready to fly with our germ protectant force ready. Have hand sanitizer ready, bring your own pillow and headphones, and try to avoid touching any common areas with your bare hands. Staying hydrated and making sure to take a multivitamin to keep immunity up is important to come prepared and try to avoid catching something in the air. Travel is fun and safe, but not free from germs. You never want to arrive at your destination feeling sick and unlike yourself.
Quitting smoking is a battle many cigarette users face when attempting to stop cold turkey or even reduce the number of smoke breaks per day. Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., but nicotine users are certainly addicted and hooked. Smoking kills more than 480,000 people per year. It Is estimated that 14% of U.S. adults are smokers. Of these, 75% of them smoke every single day. Ages 25-65 seem to be the target group most involved. American Indian and Alaska Native are the highest race/ethnicity that smokes.
There are several different ways to try to quit smoking. Some people have mad multiple attempts, revisiting the addiction after stopping for some time. Some people are able to make up their mind and walk away forever. Our brains are wired differently so finding a solution might be a task of trial and error unit habit is finally eliminated.
1. Quitting cold turkey: Only about 5-7% of people are able to do this on their own without any type of help. About 90% of people attempt to quit smoking without the use of therapy, medicine, or different aids.
2. Nicotine replacement therapy: There are many types on the market. These include patches, gums, inhalers, and sprays. The catch is that the person is trying to quit their addiction to nicotine itself, so sometimes changing for a different form doesn’t make the craving and desire for nicotine any less.
3. Behavioral therapy: This involves working with a counselor to address triggers that make the person want to smoke. These might include emotions or situations. Together, a plan of attack can be created to know what to do when these circumstances arise.
4. Medication: Chantix and Bupropion can be prescribed to help with withdrawl and cravings.
Of course the first few days are going to be difficult. Change of any type adds an element of uncertainty and a withdrawal from something that once was. It becomes important to avoid situations, triggers, or places, that could create a desire to want to reach for a cigarette. It is extremely important to succumb to cravings. Allowing yourself to have that cigarette when the want is so strong, only tricks your brain that permission is granted, and it is okay to keep smoking. Send the right message from the start for long term success. Reward yourself for hitting milestones such as going one week with none. Stay active and busy and get out. Don’t let boredom and too much time let cigarettes lurk in your mind. Of course much of this can be considered easier said then done and for many cigarette smokers they have heard it all before.
Change is possible. Quitting is possible. Think of all the positives and remember your health is a priority and shouldn’t be compromised to the power of nicotine addiction.
We were always told to eat your vegetables growing up. In fact, I can remember one of my go-to snacks after school being carrots and ranch dressing. Those crunchy orange bites are filled with nutrients. So let’s look at the goods and bads of eating carrots on your fitness journeys.
On the positive side, there are a number of benefits as to why carrots are good for us. Here are 10 (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html) :
1.Improve vision: Carrots are good for your eyes: “Carrots are rich in beta-carotene
, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina
, to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision”.
2.Prevent Cancer: Up to 1/3 reduction of lung, breast, and colon cancer.
3. Slows Down Aging: Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant
4. Healthier Skin: Carrots contain Vitamin A: “Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes and uneven skin tone.”
5. Prevent Infection: can be used on wounds and cuts
6. Healthier Outside Skin: can be used as a face mask to help with acne and blemishes7. Prevents Heart Disease: “Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein. The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels because the soluble fibers in carrots bind with bile acids”.
8. Cleanses the Body: helps to flush out toxins in the liver
9. Protect Teeth & Gums: “Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which, being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.”
10. Prevents Stroke: studies show carrot consumption less likely to have a stroke
However, everything in moderation right?? Carrots do have a lot of sugar (the good kind) but too much of any one item isn’t good for us. If you are eating too many carrots this could cause Carotenimia which is the yellowing of the skin. As such, “Eating large quantities of carrots doesn’t put you at risk of vitamin A overload because your body only converts beta carotene as needed. However, having large amounts of carotene in your blood can cause carotenemia, or yellowish discoloration of the skin. The harmless condition is typically most apparent on palms, soles and ears and disappears gradually on a lower-carotene diet” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/286531-side-effects-of-eating-too-many-carrots/). And then of course having too much fiber can lead to bowel problems. Be careful if you are a “dipper” and have to have each bite coated in ranch, hummus, or peanut butter (yes peanut butter is a popular carrot dip haha). Carrots don’t have the kick to keep you full long enough so this snack could use some protein with it.
Bugs Bunny vs. your fitness journey. And yes with it being around Easter time when writing this Blog, the idea came to me. Plus, I see carrots in food journals a lot. The winner seems to be the pros/positives, but we know that regardless, portion control is our best fitness journey friend (other than me haha). So crunch away, but just a few!!!! Serving size would of course vary by size 😊
Self confidence attributes to a happy personality. Low-self confidence attributes to depression, influences how you view yourself, and hinders how you interact with others. It is an important piece to the happiness pie. Maybe your daily routine could use a few small changes to boost your self- confidence.
1. Smile: This can lead to positive emotions. The physical act of smiling tells your brain to feel secure and upbeat.
2. Do a good deed: You feel better about yourself when you brighten someone else’s day. Send a card, compliment someone, or bake someone their favorite dish. Your mood will improve.
3. Volunteer: Meaningful giving can help you feel connected to others and better about yourself for helping someone else.
4. Dress: Clothing can affect how you feel. Your outfit says something about you. It doesn’t matter if you sit at a desk all day and no one sees it, because you still hold judgment about yourself.
5. Learn something new: Taking a class or enlightening your mind with new information can perpetuate self confidence as you know you are doing something positive.
6. Exercise: This can improve your mood, relieve stress, and help the way you feel about your appearance. Self-discipline and reaching fitness goals can be uplifting.
7. Eat right: Eating healthy helps your appearance and helps your mood. This leads to more energy and more self-confidence.
8. Posture: Standing up straight displays self-confidence. There are physical benefits to this, but it also communicates that you feel you belong and should be where you are in the moment.
9. Get organized: Managing small pieces of your life helps you feel in control.
10. Others like you: Assume that people like you instead of worrying what everyone else thinks. People don’t always focus on your flaws the way that you do about yourself.
11. Ignore your inner critic: Stop telling yourself that you are not good enough or not worthy. Give yourself some credit.
12. Avoid the mirror: Stop being addicted to looking at your physical imperfections. You are your own worst critic.
13. Make eye contact: This is a confidence radiating mannerism.
14. Stop procrastinating: Creating stress does not make you feel good about yourself.
Have me time: Spending time on just you is important. Get a facial or your nails done. Go play golf. You are telling yourself you are worth taking time for.
We all want to be confident about who we are, what we do, and our presence on this Earth. Self-confidence is a personality trait that must be fulfilled for happiness. You can be happy, and it starts by believing that you are enough.
What lights a fire under you?? What grinds your gears, makes you angry, sad, worried, or STRESSED?? We each deal with the components of life differently, and our reactions to circumstances dictate our emotional well-being. Time, relationships, work, school, kids, family…. all these responsibilities can require a balancing act that seems impossible. But that’s life. And unfortunately, stress can have adverse effects on our health… especially weight.
Your body and mind are one and the same. When put under pressure, your brain kicks into a flight or fight mode. And guess what?? Your body wants to use calories in its defense. As such, “Most of us become overeaters when we’re feeling a lot of pressure. This happens thanks to your fight-or-flight response, a.k.a. survival mode — once your body reaches a certain stress level, it does what it feels it needs to. In most cases, that means overeat” (
Initially, adrenaline spikes in the body, making one feel less hungry. However, soon after cortisol takes over. Cortisol is the stress hormone. When activated, inhibition can go out the window. Here’s run down: “Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher
insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods” (
https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain#1) . Cheap, convenient, processed foods, are right there to answer the calling.
Here’s the catch: “Today’s human, who sits on the couch worrying about how to pay the bill or works long hours at the computer to make the deadline, does not work off much energy at all dealing with the stressor! Unfortunately, we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the update, so your brain is still going to tell you to reach for that plate of cookies anyway” (
We have to learn to relax, sleep, and breathe. Many clients ask me what foods to turn to. Here’s what I found:·
Dark chocolate: Two studies of 95 adults showed that consuming dark chocolate reduced their cortisol response to a stress challenge.·
Many fruits: A study of 20 cycling athletes showed eating bananas or pears during a 75-km ride reduced levels compared to drinking water only.·
Black and green tea: A study of 75 men found 6 weeks of drinking black tea decreased cortisol in response to a stressful task, compared to a different caffeinated drink.·
Probiotics and prebiotics: Probiotics are friendly, symbiotic bacteria in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Prebiotics, such as soluble fiber, provide food for these bacteria. Both probiotics and prebiotics help reduce cortisol.·
Water: Dehydration increases cortisol. Water is great for hydrating while avoiding empty calories. A study in nine male runners showed that maintaining hydration during athletic training reduced cortisol levels. (
Life’s demands throw us for a loop from time to time. Reassure yourself that patience is the key and that this too shall pass. Don’t let your negative thoughts take the wheel. Healthy choices outlast split second mistakes. Be kind to your BODY, even in it’s weak moments.
When your muscle suddenly becomes hard and tight or you feel a quick sharp pain in the calf, a muscle cramp has struck. It can happen while in motion when out for a run or even during a night’s sleep. This type of involuntary contraction is a spasm we would rather forgo. Without warning, the onset of a “Charley horse” (cramp that occurs in the calf area), is marked by temporary pain that we want instant relief from. Cramps are never fun to endure, and one just has to breathe through it, stretch, and massage out the area until alleviation kicks in.
There are a number of triggers that can cause muscle cramps. In order to avoid future spasms, knowing the causes becomes important. A cramp can be the result of poor blood circulation. Exercise related stress can bring on a cramp. Being dehydrated or deficient in magnesium and/or potassium, can be causes. Hot temperature is also a culprit, especially when being active. Not stretching enough can also lead to cramping. There are also medications that can lead to cramping. These include diuretics, certain Alzheimer’s medications, statin medications for cholesterol, as well as some osteoporosis and high blood pressure medications. Nerve compression can also cause a pinch that produces a cramp. Muscle mass lessens with age so what muscle is working may be more stressed than normal and overworked much more easily which can cause cramping. Muscle cramps are common during pregnancy as the body is undergoing a lot of changes. Certain medical conditions like diabetes, liver, or thyroid disorder can also heighten the risks of cramping.
Prevention includes staying hydrated, properly stretching, and making sure to eat healthy foods with nutrients. These include vitamins, minerals, potassium, and calcium. Potassium is found in many choices including vegetables, bananas, berries, potatoes, melon, citrus, meat, fish, and milk. Caffeine found in coffee, soda, and other beverages does affect fluid hydration in the body so be sure to replenish with water. Exercise and activity that lasts over 60 minutes can lead to glycogen depletion which can lead to fatigue which can lead to cramps.
Although only a temporary sensation and typically harmless, an unexpected bout of pain never feels good. It is important to seek a doctor’s help if these cramps are reoccurring or persistent. A nutrient imbalance may not be readily noticeable. Finding the cause can help avoid future incidences. Muscle cramps happen to almost everyone, few and far in between, but when they strike, they aren’t forgotten. The healthy folks of Bonsall and Fallbrook know that less is more when it comes to “Charley horses”.
The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medication works to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an important chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that signals communication between brain cells. More serotonin becomes available as SSRIs block the re-uptake of serotonin so that more is ready for use.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the following SSRIs:· Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), Sertraline (Zoloft), and Vilazodone (Viibryd). The FDA requires that these medications are labeled with the type of warning called “black box warnings”. This is because some people can have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking an antidepressant.
The chemical makeup of these different prescriptions can cause side effects. For some, these subside within the few couple weeks, while others lead to trying a different type. Possible side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, headache, agitation, nausea, or diarrhea. Taking the medication at bedtime can help with drowsiness and taking the medication with food can help with nausea. It is important to consider drug interactions if taking other medication and one should consult their doctor if pregnant and taking an SSRI. The key is to consistently take the medication. SSRIs are not considered addictive, but missing doses or abruptly stopping their use can cause withdrawal. It typically takes several weeks for an SSRI to become effective. It is common for doses to have to be adjusted or medications to be switched until the right combination is found.
Although the objective of SSRIs is to treat depression, some people respond differently to certain types. One person can have very different side effects from another person. Patience is critical. Relief will come. When feelings of sadness are so severe that they interfere with daily life, physical and emotional problems can result. Feelings that cause home life and work life to be difficult should be addressed. Depression is one of the most treatable conditions. Most times, 80% of people feel relief when using SSRIs. The brain chemistry can be positively changed to help you feel better. Feelings of sadness can be controlled, and emotions can be regulated. SSRIs specifically target serotonin which can in turn help fight depression, as well as anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some people have side effects and some do not. When the time is right, one can reduce dosage and come off this medication, but this should never be done abruptly. We are meant to smile and enjoy life, and SSRIs provide the assistance and potential relief to do so. Talking to your doctor is important to find the right solution and treatment for depression that works for you.
Eating. We have to do it, but man on man do we overdo it. In fact, it’s very possible that people don’t even know what ONE true serving size is. We eat what is in front of us, and generally when there is more in front of us…. we eat more. Mom and Dad said finish what is on your plate. When we were kids, no one had just one plate of spaghetti. Going back for more meant you liked it, you are complimenting the cook, and your stomach can fit another helping.
We consider a “petite” filet, 8oz. Well, about the size of a deck of cards is what a true one serving size of chicken, fish, or most meats should be. I always love to point out to my Southern California friends what the amount of avocado should be. Think about guacamole. I could eat an entire bowl. When in fact, ¼ avocado is one serving. Even though this is a healthy fat, it doesn’t mean it’s a free for all.
The struggle becomes real when we get to side dishes. Rice. Oh rice. I could eat it for days, especially when I went to South Korea. 1/3 cup is the true portion size and that is about the same amount of carbohydrates as 1 slice of bread. So when we just keep eating sushi or have a rice bowl somewhere with meat, in the end, we had about 6 slices of bread.
Juice is a troublemaker too. With the sugar content, even if totally fresh, ½ cup is one serving. Daily orange juice in the morning adds up. Plus, many folks mix these juices with their cocktails.
Bagels. Well if we went by portion control, a New York bagel is 6-7 servings.
I’m rocking the boat I know 😊
It’s just too easy to have more. When you buy a soda, let’s say 20oz, you naturally want to and do drink the whole bottle. Clearly, that is more than once serving. I think back to the amount of Gatorade I used to have. So much sugar, but I didn’t know. We didn’t used to know. We didn’t used to talk about calories. In fact, I don’t think I knew what a calorie or serving size was until I got to college. But now that we live in a world of processed foods and more is better, the health consequences are starting to bring awareness to this.
Please read the Nutrition Facts labels and consider how much you are consuming. Oh yeah, imagine Thanksgiving haha. Food is celebration and comfort. We have to reconsider this and focus on nourishment. Don’t distort your portions and your results won’t be distorted. Re-teach yourself. You can do it. Plus, you will save money and have left-overs to enjoy the foods that much longer.
Granola has that healthy but sometimes no-so-healthy make up of ingredients. A basic granola recipe contains the following ingredients: oats, some type of sweetener such as sugar or honey, and some type of crisp made from wheat or rice. Then other add ons might include nuts, dried fruits, or even coconut. The major controversy with granola is that only ¼ cup Is one serving, and most of the time granola is not consumed in this small quantity. Some eat it by the cup as cereal or others drown their acai bowls with the crunch. Well, that one fourth cup is composed of 100 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of fiber. Now when nuts, raisons, dark chocolate, or other toppers are included, these numbers rise. A standard cup of granola contains 597 calories and 29 grams of fat. That is so much for such a small amount.
What this means is that filling a bowl with granola and milk to start the day equates to having a 600 calorie breakfast filled with sweeteners. When it comes to granola, a light sprinkle is the recommended serving size to stick to that ¼ cup. This might mean having a little on top of yogurt or a handful as a snack, not a free for all just because it can be bought in health food stores. All calories aside, granola does contain magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and selium. It is considered a whole grain and contains folate, Vitamin E, and thiamin. Granola is also a healthy fat. Magnesium is needed for energy production. Calcium is needed for bone health. Selium, zinc, copper, and manganese are all great for red blood cells, bones, and connective tissue. Folate and thiamin are types of Vitamin B which help with cell growth, metabolism, and nerve function.
Granola certainly has its pros and cons. It is not all bad and it is not all good. It is certainly a type of food that can be misleading. Health food stores even make their own and one tends to think that this snack is a great option versus a bag of chips or candy bar. However, there aren’t always labels on the back to tell you just how much sugar or other ingredients are involved. The key is portion control and not getting carried away with reaching for more and more. There are all sorts of granola bars too. Label reading is very important, especially when it comes to what constitutes what one serving is.