Tag Archives: health

The Disease Americans Fear Most

13 Nov

Hi all, it’s been far too long since my last post, but, as usual, life gets in the way. But I’m back and trying to start up again, especially with the holiday season officially in full swing.  I’m going to help you through the season of weight gain, I mean cheer.  But today, I want to focus on preserving those holiday memories with friends and family.

A recent survey shows that Alzheimer’s is the disease most feared by Americans.  At first glace, those results surprised me, most feared even when compared to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes?  But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Alzheimer’s is the one disease that destroys who we are and leaves us with an empty shell where our memories and personalities used to reside.  You can beat cancer, you can take steps to prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but Alzheimer’s seemingly strikes at random and there is little you can do to prevent it.  I lost my grandmother to the disease, and as a result, I never really got to know who she was pre-Alzheimer’s, and in the end she didn’t even remember my dad.  Even as a little girl, it was heartbreaking to watch my dad try enjoy his time with his mom, all the while knowing she had no idea that this man talking to her was her son.  And upon further reflection, I realize that I’m with the majority; the thing I fear most is that myself or a loved one will develop this horrible disease and become a shell of their former selves.

Alzheimer’s disease strips its victims of their identity

So what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.” Sadly, Alzheimer’s has no cure, and the treatments do not reverse or stop the progression of the disease. Drugs do temporarily slow down the worsening of the dementia and provides, at least for a time, a better quality of life for patients and their caregivers.

Alzheimer’s leaves no survivors.  As the brain cells are destroyed, the disease causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. In an excruciatingly slow manner, it destroys a person’s identity and personality and their ability to connect with others. Patients eventually revert into being as helpless as a baby, relying on others to feed, bathe, and clothe them, eventually even losing control over their bodily functions.

But not all hope is lost, there are things you can do that may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association lists 5 things that you can do today to reduce your risk of developing the disease:

Head-Heart Connection

We already know that our bodies are intricately connected and what happens in one part is bound to affect another.  The risk for Alzheimer’s appears to increase as a result of many of the same conditions that also damage the heart or blood vessels.  This includes the standard culprits: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high cholesterol.  Some autopsy reports demonstrate that as many as 80% of people with Alzheimer’s also had heart disease.  But of course, this still leaves the question of did heart disease cause Alzheimer’s or did the same lifestyle choices that gave someone heart disease also give them Alzheimer’s? That question remains unanswered, but in the meantime, there are things you can do.

Continue to do heart-disease prevention activities such as weight control, proper nutrition, and daily exercise, you may be able to simultaneously reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This leads me to my next point–

Physical Exercise and Diet

Exercise is critical to more than just brain health

As I pointed out earlier, there is a strong connection between your heart and your brain.  Your brain uses about 20% of the total oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries, so it is important to take care of your ticker.  Whatever you do to your heart, will directly affect your brain.  Make sure you get the recommended amount of heart healthy exercise per week (again, 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week).  A sensible and healthy diet is a no-brainer.  Pick heart-healthy fats to include in your diet and they will also help your brain.

Social Connections

Some studies suggest that maintaining strong social bonds throughout our lives reduces our risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s as we age.  Make sure you are spending quality time with friends and family.  Pick up a new hobby or take an old hobby and find a way to make it social.  Enjoy reading?  Find a local book club, which kills two birds with one stone; it allows for interaction with people on a social level, and it provides an intellectual activity (see below).

Crosswords increase your mental agility

Intellectual Activity

Think of this part as weight training for the brain.  Doing things that challenge your brain make it stronger.  Try to “brain lift” a few times a week.  There are limitless options.  A few examples are brain teasers, riddles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and math problems. I could go on and on, but the point is to engage the brain in a way that challenges it.  While there may be no concrete evidence to suggest that doing brain teasers helps prevent Alzheimer’s, in my opinion, it doesn’t hurt and it’s really fun!

Preventing Head Trauma

Protecting your noggin is key beyond just the developmental years.  There appears to be a significant link between serious head trauma and future risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  It goes without saying to ALWAYS WEAR A SEAT BELT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only could it save your life, but it could spare you a debilitating disease 20 or 30 years down the road. Wear a helmet when participating in sports (yes this includes when on a bike).  Taking steps to prevent head trauma prevents more than just a massive headache, it could prevent against Alzheimer’s.

So until we develop a cure (and even after), there are key things that you can do to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.  Most of them you should already be doing (*cough, cough* wear a seat belt!*cough, cough*) and some that maybe you had known about, but were too lazy to try.  So the next time you see that crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper, don’t just throw it out, give it a try, it may help save your memories and your life one day.

Keep on sweating!



12 Jun

It does more good for you than just replenishing your heart

It accounts for 69% of our entire body. The brain is 80% H20.  The blood? 83%.  Our liver amazingly enough is 90% water. It’s our life force.  Without it, we’ll die within 3 days.  Here are some factoids that you may not know about water and your body, borrowed from The Watershed Blog:

  • 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half world pop.)
  • In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
  • Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%.
  • One glass of water deters hunger pangs for 98% of the dieters observed in a University of Washington study.
  • The biggest trigger of daytime fatigue is lack of water.
  • Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
  • A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
  • Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, breast cancer by 79%, and develop bladder cancer by 50%.

Staying well-hydrated helps to flush out toxins, beat back fatigue, creates glowing skin, and most importantly, helps to regulate hunger.

You’ll rarely see me without my CamelBak

You read it right: reduce food cravings.  We often mistake dehydration with being hungry.  So before you reach for those Doritos, drink a full glass of water (at least 8 oz), wait 15 minutes and see if it goes away.

So how much do you actually need? Most recommend you need half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 200 lbs, you need to drink approximately 100 oz of water.

Filter for Good

This translates into 12.5 cups or 5 20-oz bottles a day.  Now this does not take into account all the hard exercising you are doing, so make sure you drink a little more than that to account for the water loss through sweat!  This may seem like a lot, but there are simple things you can do to increase your water intake from morning to night.

  • Drink a full glass of water in the morning.  After I weight myself every morning, I drink a full glass of water, you are super dehydrated in the morning and it’s a great time to rehydrate, especially before heading to the gym.
  • Carry a water bottle with you!  I always lug a water bottle with me and refill it at every opportunity.  If it’s sitting at your desk at work, it’s an easy reminder to stop and take a few sips every once in a while.  Plus you’re helping out the environment and your wallet!I take free water any day over Dasani!
  • Drink a glass before every meal.  The fuller your stomach is on water, the less you’re going to eat, plus it’ll help aid the digestion process and keep you from getting dehydrated!
  • Bored with water? Snazz it up a bit. Add a bit of lime or lemon to it! Looking for something a little sweeter?  Right next to my Brita pitcher in my fridge is a pitcher of whatever crystal light I have whipped up for the week. When I need to mix it up, I drink Crystal Light. They’ve got great flavors, and at only 5 calories per 8 fl. oz., it’s totally worth it.  But don’t go overboard!  You can also drink fizzy water, but if you buy store bought, make sure it doesn’t have any added sodium!
  • Carry Crystal Light To-Go packets when you’re out and about. They’re easy to add to your water bottle when you need a snazz on the road!
  • Bring a water glass to bed.  I try to drink enough to not be completely parched in the morning, but not so much that I have to get up in the middle of the night.

    Crystal Light is a great way to snazz up your water

Those are my favorite tips to adding more water to your day.  I hope they help!  What are your favorite tips to stay hydrated?

Keep Sweating!

~Coach Lindsey

Reestablishing the Fitness Routine

8 Jun

Sometimes the couch sings its siren song…

So today I want to focus on exercise ruts or trying to get back into one.

The two months I took off after quitting my first one and starting my current one in DC was a period were I was in the best shape of my life I think (outside my high school years and 2 varsity sports).  I got up every day and was able to work out for 90-120 minutes. I ate great and felt well-relaxed and most importantly strong and healthy.  Then life came back to bite me in the ass and my carefully crafted routine went out the window, along with my athleticism.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my new job, but when I started the process of moving, I didn’t have time to work out (or so I told myself).  Then came the transition from CA to DC and the stress of that move threw me into a tailspin.  I left everything I know and love to move to a city that I knew (I went to college here in DC) and still had people who I’m still close with, but still…it has been a tough and at times lonely transition.  So with the stress (cortisol), unhealthy eating (comfort food is NOT good for the waistline), and lack of exercise I felt my clothes suddenly getting a bit tighter.

I started to feel like this! (less the beer)

So I got “fat and lazy”, not good for anyone, but for someone like me I saw myself turning into the very people I’m trying to motivate to get back out there.  I knew I had to get myself back!  But it’s been harder than I anticipated.  It’s hard to get up at 5am to get a workout in, have a full day of work and then go home and make dinner and try to decompress from my day.  But you know what’s even harder? Working out after work when the TV sings its siren song and is so much more inviting than a hard workout.  It’s tough, but I know it will be worth it in the end.

I’ve decided that AM workouts work best for me, they leave me full of energy all day and then I don’t feel guilty when I get home and don’t head to the gym.  But waking up is still killer.  I am my only obstacle, it may be constant fight every morning between my “i want to sleep” side and the “you’ll feel so much better” side. But I know that slowly the “I want to sleep” side will fight less and

Keep at it!

less and it will get easier to get up instead of hitting the snooze.  So as I begin my uphill battle to reestablish my fitness routine, I thought I’d give some tips and pointers that I’m applying to help get my fitness back on track.

Don’t Break the Habit

I know for some it may be too little, too late.  But for those already in a habit, don’t drop it!  That was my number one mistake, I let myself fall out the routine and as a result it’s so much easier to hit snooze instead of getting up to get that am workout in.  How long of a road are you looking at if you’re trying to reestablish a fitness habit? About 66 days.  That’s a lot of mornings to debate with yourself!

Make it Fun

If you hate being in a gym then get outside! Hate solo activities?  Take up a new team sport!  Find ways that make it fun for you!  Don’t force yourself to lift weight if you’d rather gorge your eyes out, there a plenty of other ways to get “weight training” in!

Reward Yourself

And I don’t mean with a pint of Ben and another pint of Jerry’s.  Pick a goal (workout 5 days a week for 4 weeks) and a reward (like getting a massage).  If you set a goal that’s tough but achievable and a reward that you really want (like that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing).

A buddy is a great way to pass the time

It’s so much harder to bail on a workout when you know your friend is waiting for you!

X is for Success

Find someway to track your workouts on a calendar.  This will give you quick representation of how diligent you are working out!  It is also is a gentle reminder when you’ve been a little lax.

Measure Fitness

Pick any measurement, it can be weight, inches, how your clothes fit, etc.  Use that to motivate you to continue to workout.  I can’t tell you how sad, yet motivating it was when I stepped back on that scale after nearly a two month hiatus from exercise.  I was so disappointed to see what I’d work so hard for had slipped away from me. I knew how hard I’d worked and just how much effort it was going to take to lose that weight again.  But it was the kick in the pants I needed.  I had no one to blame but myself, and I knew it.

Figure Out Your Issues

What causes you to stop being motivated to exercise? Find that and find a way to fix it and your weakness shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Baby Steps

Don’t expect to run 10 miles your first day back after a long break.  You need to start small.  Every time you take a break from exercise, you reset your fitness and you have to start at zero…again.  This is why it’s so important to not break a fitness routine. As I sorely learned.

The scale can be your best friend…or worst enemy!

Don’t go for Superficial Reasons

If you go to look hot in a bikini what happens when you reach that goal? Or swimsuit season ends?  You need to work out for reasons beyond the short-term, although those are good too, as long as you have a solid long-term goal too.  How about, I want to feel strong or I feel healthiest when I’m working out consistently.

I hope this helps kiddos.  Feel free to add your own tips and tricks below!

Keep on (or start) Sweating!

Disney Bans Junk Food!

7 Jun

Disney just says no to junk food

I’m so excited about this huge step forward towards combating childhood obesity.  Disney recently announced that starting in 2015 you will no longer see any foods/products advertised on their channels, programs, radio, website, etc that do not meet strict nutritional guidelines.  Not only does this mean no more sugary sodas, candy, and cereals, but also no more Lunchables (too much sodium) and Capri Suns (waaaaaay too much sugar)!

It won’t take effect until 2015 due to existing contracts, but it signals that some industries recognize not only the seriousness of the epidemic, but also the vital role they can play in bringing it to an end. I also hope that other media organizations will take note and do the same (I’m talking to you Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network!).  I applaud Disney for not taking the most profitable way out.  It is important to understand that until healthier options come out of these companies, Disney will be taking a major hit to their bottom line.

Most of us remember growing up with Saturday morning cartoons and being barraged with ads for sugary cereals that were

Mickey whipping up a healthier smoothie

sure to delight the taste buds with the unfortunate side effect of doing nothing for us nutritionally.  I hope that these companies see a dramatic drop in their sales and are forced to rethink their strategies.  I do not think that young, impressionable minds should be shown ads at all (of any variety), but I get how this world works.  I can only hope that companies go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make these types of products healthier.

This announcement comes on the heels of the NYC mayor’s proposal to ban the sale of all soft drinks over 16 oz.  I’m a free-market, minimum regulation kind of gal, and while Mayor Bloomberg might be well intentioned, government control never seems to work out well.  Check out this hilarious Jon Stewart’s Reaction to the Ban!

Think about it…would you just drop those sugar cubes in water and drink it? I didn’t think so…

I mean come’on they consider fries a vegetable in our schools, because at one point it originated from a potato (a starch veggie mind you, not even a green one!).  But the government should do something to incentivize people to make smarter choices. Hey we tax you for cigs and other bad things for you. Why not sodas?  You make a conscious decision to purchase it knowing that the bottled water would be cheaper (not to mention healthier).  Now will the ban be effective? Who knows, but it might cause people to drink only 16-oz of the sugary toxic crap instead of the average 32-oz. Only time will tell.  If you want a more in-depth report, I found this great one at the Daily Beast.

It seems that America has  little appetite for the government passing down mandates like God, but maybe if private industry puts company policies in place to help turn the tide, then that might do just the trick and be even more effective.

But the new policy from Disney definitely holds promise to help our young ones combat this obesity epidemic, and might even help their parents along the way.

HBO’s “Weight of the Nation”

7 May

HBO is releasing what looks like is going to be a fantastic 4-part documentary on the Obesity Epidemic that is plaguing our nation.  Parts 1 & 2 premiere May 14th at 8pm and parts 3 & 4 on May 15th at 8pm.

Below is the trailer:

You can watch it for free here if you don’t get HBO.  Join the movement people! Both literally and figuratively!

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