Category Archives: Health & Wellness

nowlater

Daily Decisions Lead to Lifetime Habits

By Landon Gentle

Wellness Center Coordinator/Specialist

J. Smith Young YMCA

 

Do you remember that age where you thought you knew everything? It wasn’t just false hubris. You were convinced that you had all the answers and nobody  — especially your dear parents  — could tell you otherwise. My father used to tell me that he’d forgotten more than I would ever know. I guess that was his way of feeding me some humble pie, but ignorance is bliss.

Most of us grow out of that stage, but it takes some (me) longer than others. I waited until I went off to college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study exercise science where I realized I just might not be the smartest person in the room. It wasn’t hard to do since many of those rooms were filled with over 100 students. Some of them seemed to have everything figured out at the ripe old age of 20. They had plans for their future and had thought through the steps it would take to achieve their goals. How I envied them. I could not comprehend the idea of what building a life and career consisted of and how, when I was just living for the weekend, that these kids were mapping out their lives.

That you can party and be productive was a foreign concept to me at the time. I didn’t think they were necessarily more intelligent than I am, but they were more driven. There was zero fear of failure; only their dreams of future success. I look back now at the age of 28 and ponder why I still don’t have everything figured out like all of my former classmates had, or at least thought they had. I take solace in a recent article I read pointing out that most adults do not believe they have achieved stability in life until they are 36 years old because “adulting” is hard, but that fact gave me hope that I might actually have a chance in this world after all.

Sometimes the anxiety of failure can overcome the ambition to succeed, and that is why many of us don’t take chances in life. Maybe we don’t apply for that job because we might actually get called for an interview. It feels much better to play it safe than to have our pride take an uppercut.

Moderation is the key word here. Reading a golf magazine and trying to incorporate the 11 pages of swing tips into your game simultaneously and trying to contort your body in the most unnatural ways because you tried to put the puzzle together all at once doesn’t really work. It is better to add a little here and a little there so that you can put the puzzle together without losing all religion in the process. It is here where I think I may have something to offer as it relates to fitness.

My first piece of advice is that it is not wise to make the decision to quit smoking (if you’re a smoker), eat healthy and start running five miles per day all on January 1st. The first ingredient in achieving a goal is that it needs to be realistic. The prudent play is to set small goals that will eventually lead you to the grand prize, which is to attain overall good health and well-being. These are just the pieces of the puzzle that will not fit together unless they completed in the proper order. Don’t get me wrong,; dreaming big is never a negative, but one must realize that it takes time and dedication along with plenty of perspiration to reach your end goal.

Somewhere in the not so distant past, yours truly was a smoker going through approximately a pack per week. It wasn’t until I was heading home from a beach trip with some close friends that I told myself ‘I’m not buying another pack ever again’ and I haven’t since. I swear! This proclamation was made less difficult due to the fact that I felt lethargic and my lungs were unable to work at their full capacity. Someone with my exercise habits shouldn’t be exhausted one mile into a run on a beautiful late summer day. It wasn’t that my legs were tired; my alveoli which are tiny air sacs in our lungs that absorb oxygen to deliver to our blood were at the point that they were probably delivering more C (carbon), than O2 into my blood stream.

Smoking prevented me from doing the things that I wanted to do. Luckily the other pieces of the puzzle were already in place as I was exercising habitually and my diet was well balanced. Surprisingly, only 15% of Americans are current smokers according to the CDC, and that number is trending downward every year. So I decided to assimilate and become part of the majority. As an alternative, I encourage people to take on the challenge of improving their health in the form of exercise. Exercising is much easier than quitting smoking, so instead of taking on the biggest guy in the crowd (smoking), pick on the smaller one that you know you can handle (exercise).

Here are a few beliefs that I live by:

  • Life is about moderation, not deprivation. It is okay to reward yourself because you deserve to get paid if you put in the hours at work. Your body deserves a cheeseburger if you spent two weeks torturing yourself in the name of good health. Just don’t exercise for an hour then reward yourself with a pizza, because there is a thick line between rewarding yourself and defeating the purpose.
  • Know your limits. What’s the point of running 10 miles if you can’t walk for the next 2 days? There is no scientific evidence that says professional runners live longer. In fact, the opposite is true. Because habitual runners are constantly putting so much stress on their heart, the walls thicken which leads to a much higher risk of heart attack. Even running requires moderation.
  • You are more likely to work out at a gym than at home. Spend $2,000 over the course of 5 years for a gym membership rather than on a fancy treadmill that will collect dust in your basement.
  • You can’t find time to work out, you have to make time. You always have 30 minutes or an hour to watch your favorite TV show; therefore, you can make it to the gym for 30 minutes to work up a sweat, and you’ll be glad that you did.
  • Staying active is the most important thing. Peak bone mass is reached at the age of 30 and then reduces as you age. Walking, jogging, hiking, and resistance exercise is key to slowing down your bone loss. It is never more important to exercise than when you are over the age of 40.
  • Don’t depend on someone else to be your workout partner. They will always let you down. I know that sounds hopeless, but you are in charge! Anyone can find an excuse not to exercise, so it won’t help to have someone else making an excuse for you.
  • Use your common sense. There is no miracle cure or easy way out to achieving good health. Learn how to sort through the clutter of fad diets and the greatest new products. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Set small goals, then once they are achieved move on to the next goal. Nobody starts at the top.
  • It takes 60 days to form a habit. Eventually your day will not feel complete unless at some point you pushed your body to fatigue.
  • Remember, 80% of success is showing up. Even if you planned on working out for an hour but you only lasted 20 minutes, you are still better than you were the day before.
  • Choose your exercise plan wisely. Working out the same muscle group day after day can be a negative. They need time to rebuild and repair. When you strength train (weight lifting), your muscles are experiencing micro tears and it takes time for protein to repair the tears, which then leads to hypertrophy (the enlargement of the muscle). Rest as well as exercise is a very important component to living a healthy life.
  • For those who have a slow metabolism or if it has slowed due to aging, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Eating a large breakfast kick-starts the digestive system and speeds up your metabolism which will naturally slow down throughout the day. Therefore you should eat a smaller lunch and an even smaller dinner.
HimalayanSalt

Himalayan Salt & Salt Lamp Benefits

Business Spotlight

What are Himalayan salt and Himalayan salt lamps? Salt is one of the substances that our body needs. Salt regulates and maintains our blood pressure. It is also vital for our nervous system. Sodium chloride is essential for brain growth and the development of our neurological functions. Our adrenal glands need salt to function and the adrenal glands secrete 50 of our body’s hormones that we need! We also need salt for our metabolism and digestion.

Himalayan salt is mined from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan. It has no environmental pollutants that can harm our bodies. Salt from these mountains dates back 250 million years. Eighty percent of Himalayan salt is sodium chloride. The remaining 20% contains 84 trace minerals that our body needs. Himalayan salt is an unrefined salt and doesn’t contain any of the chemicals found in traditional table salt.

For years, many European countries have used salt mines and hot salt springs to promote a sense of rejuvenation. People rest and rejuvenate in salt mines and caves, in spa-like ambiance in many cases, for periods of time to help aid their mood and overall sense of calm. Why are the salt mines so beneficial? Quite simply, the very dry, negative ion environment of a salt mine is the key. There are many places in America where you can also enjoy salt springs or salt caves. Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia are places where you will find natural salt springs. Manmade salt caves are also located in 57 places in the United States.

It depends on who you talk to or what you read about as to the benefits of the Himalayan salt lamps. Most agree that it’s a huge chunk of salt which draws moisture into it. Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, the pollutants are believed to remain trapped in the salt. Since the lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants, releasing the water vapor back into the air, but holding on to the health-hazardous pollutants. There aren’t any scientific studies focusing specifically on Himalayan salt lamp benefits. However, there is good reason to believe that a real Himalayan salt lamp may provide some health benefits given the other salt research out there, as well as many encouraging user testimonies. These include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, loosening of excessive mucus and speeded up drainage, and removal of pathogens (i.e., airborne pollen). The salt lamps are believed in general to purify the air, ease allergies and asthma, and reduce electromagnetic radiation by producing negative ions to remove the positive ions in our environment. They are also believed to provide a calming effect which can boost mood and promote sleep.

The Nature Cottage has recently opened a Himalayan Salt Therapy Room known as “The Zen Den.” The room contains 20 Himalayan salt lamps in various colors and sizes. We have three treatment options varying from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The 60 minute treatment also includes a heated or cooled Himalayan neck wrap and a Himalayan salt brick foot treatment. Complimentary beverages and aromatherapy are offered as well. You can enjoy the benefits of the Zen Den by calling 336-843-4297 for an appointment. Individuals and small groups are welcome.

We also sell Himalayan salt lamps that come from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan. They all come with dimmer cords which are UL tested for safety. Come in and see the variety of salt lamps that are available. The Nature Cottage is located at 21 S. Main Street in Lexington.

fats

What’s Up With Fat?

By Sarah Larocco, MSN, FNP-C

The American Heart Association says a body definitely needs some fat. Dietary fats keep the machine that is the body humming by creating energy, protecting organs, stimulating cell growth, producing needed hormones, and helping the body absorb key nutrients.

“The average American diet is already heavy in fat,” says Sarah Larocco, MSN, FNP-C with Novant Health Chair City Family Medicine. “Our food choices also greatly impact cholesterol levels.”

The so-called “good fats” are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, while “bad fats” are trans-fat and saturated fats. The bad fats are responsible for raising the bad type of cholesterol in the body, which is called low density lipoprotein (LDL). This type of cholesterol can increase the risk for atherosclerosis, which is plaque build-up in the blood vessels that limits blood flow. Good fats can lower the levels of LDL, reducing your risk of atherosclerosis and therefore reducing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

According to the AHA, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (“good fats”) provide Vitamin E to our diet, an antioxidant that most Americans need more of. Polyunsaturated fats also provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which the body needs but can’t produce on its own.

Examples of monounsaturated fats include olive, canola, sunflower, peanut, and sesame oils. They are also found in olives, avocados, peanut butter, almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews.

Examples of polyunsaturated fats are found in soybean oil, corn oil, and fatty fish like salmon, trout, or tuna. Walnuts, flaxseed, soybeans, tofu, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds are other good sources of this fat.

Saturated fat (“bad fat”) is naturally occurring and is found in high-fat cuts of meat and chicken with skin on it. It’s also in non-skim dairy products like milk, cream, and yogurt, as well as in ice cream, cheese, and butter. Limit meals with animal products to once a day. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.

Most of the trans-fat we consume is partially hydrogenated oils in processed food. These are also “bad fats” and are used by food manufacturers to improve texture, flavor, and shelf life of food. It can be found in commercially-baked cookies and cakes or snack food such as chips and crackers, margarine, and fried fast food. Other foods high in trans-fat are frozen pizza, candy bars, and hydrogenated cooking oils. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge people to keep trans-fat to a minimum as it contributes to an increase in LDL or “bad cholesterol.”

The AHA recommends that adults would benefit from lowering LDL cholesterol by reducing their intake of trans-fat and limiting consumption of saturated fat to 5 to 6% of total calories. “Moderation is the key word,” says Larocco. “For example, if a label for cookies says 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving (serving size 2 cookies) and you eat 10 cookies, the amount of trans-fat adds up fast.” Larocco recommends reading the complete list of ingredients and staying away from products with partially hydrogenated oil and added sugars.

“Our busy schedules today lead many of us to reach for fast food or simple food options which are pre-made; however, we need to limit consumption of foods that come in boxes, bags, packages, or from the fryer,” says Larocco. Check the number of ingredients listed on a product. In general if a label contains more than five ingredients, leave that item behind and go to the fresh fruit and vegetable section. Your heart and body will thank you!

 

 

 

bloodpressure

Controlling High Blood Pressure

Frankie Hoover, PA-C
Novant Health Lexington Primary Care

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to control high blood pressure because it increases the risk of stroke.

“High blood pressure is the one of the most important preventable risk factors for stroke,” says Frankie Hoover, a Physician Assistant with Novant Health Lexington Primary Care. “The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk for a possible stroke and other health consequences.”

Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. In people who do not have diabetes or kidney disease, treatment for high blood pressure is usually started when three separate blood pressure readings show readings of 140 or higher for systolic blood pressure (top number) or 90 or higher for diastolic blood pressure (bottom number).

“If you are found to have high blood pressure by your healthcare provider,” comments Hoover, “he/she may first recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight, improving your diet, and increasing your exercise. If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure, then medication may be necessary.”

Many medications are available to treat high blood pressure. Your healthcare provider may start you on one medication or a combination of medications to control your blood pressure. Once you begin taking blood pressure medication, you may have to continue taking it for a long time, perhaps even for the rest of your life.

“Unfortunately, some people with high blood pressure stop taking their medication,” says Hoover. “If their blood pressure returns to normal on medication, they may feel they no longer need the medication. But normal blood pressure means the medication is doing its job. Halting medication will allow blood pressure to rise again, putting them at risk for stroke and other complications of hypertension.”

Reasons people frequently give for stopping medication:
• Unpleasant side effects, such as dizziness, fatigue, or cough
• Cost of the medication
• Lack of information about hypertension and how important it is to control

“If you experience unpleasant side effects, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider,” encourages Hoover. “Your provider may be able to switch you to a different medication, as there are many different classes of antihypertensive medications to choose from. The goal is to find medication(s) with few, if any side effects.”

“If the cost of the medication is a concern, your doctor may be able to prescribe an effective but less expensive alternative,” says Hoover. If you have questions about high blood pressure and its treatment, talk to your healthcare provider.

Here are some tips on how to remember to take your blood pressure medicine:
• Take it at same time each day.
• Take it with meals or with daily activities like brushing your teeth.
• Use a pill box marked with the days of the week.
• Keep a medication calendar near your medicine and mark off when you’ve taken each dose.
• Post a reminder note where you’ll see it or set a daily alarm on your phone.

For more information, visit nhlexingtonprimarycare.org or call Novant Health Lexington Primary Care at (336) 248-8692.