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Heart Awareness Month: Obesity and Your Heart Health Risk

It's a well-known fact that being overweight increases your chance of being at risk of a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  But research shows that even a small amount of weight loss can lessen your risk of falling victim to these deadly diseases.

Heart Awareness Month

Research also shows that, unfortunately, eating just 100 more calories a day than you should, can cause your body weight to be in the obese category and not just the overweight category.

To determine whether or not you are overweight or obese, use a BMI Calculator.  A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI between 30 and 39.9 is considered obese.

If your BMI is greater than 25 and you are older than 30 years old, you should strongly consider losing weight to reduce your risk of heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

In recognition of American Heart Month here are some important statistics regarding heart health:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Approximately 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States.
  • The average age for a first heart attack for men is 66 years.
  • Many cases of heart disease can be prevented. Learn more at cdc.gov.

Healthy Living: Resolve to “Be” Better in the New Year

The easiest way to kill your New Year's resolution sometimes is to make one at all.  So, why not make the switch in 2020 to not make a resolution, but choose a way to be a better person by making some inward and outward changes.

Better New Year

Some suggestions include:

Get more sleep.  Besides helping you to feel energized during the day and improve your mood, getting more sleep can also aid in losing weight.  Your body repairs and rejuvenates during sleep, even calcium is added to your bones while you sleep!  Getting adequate sleep is the best way for your mind and body to be the best it can be.  While optimum sleep time varies from person to person, the average is 4 to 11 hours each day.  While getting to bed earlier is easier said than done, you should also avoid food for at least 2 hours prior to bedtime and eliminate all sources of light in your bedroom while you sleep.

Eat a fruit or a vegetable while every meal.  Studies show that Americans eat fewer fruits and vegetables than other countries, and disease prevention is directly linked to consumption of fruits and vegetables.  It seems like a no-brainer to get healthier through eating more fruits and vegetables, but for some it may be best to start small.  For example, add a banana to your morning cereal or make sure to eat a salad prior to dinner.

Cook more at home.  While relying on fast food can be a fast fix, it will have far more consequences on your health than benefits.  Restaurant foods tend to be unhealthier and portion sizes way off than the norm.  Cook healthier meals at home and leave restaurant meals to date nights or social nights.

Don't be so hard on yourself.  Resolve to change the way you think and talk about yourself this year. If you constantly put yourself down the more you will feel that way and act accordingly.  Turn things around with positive thoughts.

Healthy Living: Reasons You Might Be Gaining Weight

So, you have been working out and eating right, but you still can't get that scale to move in the right direction?  Well, there may be a “strange” reason why you are gaining weight instead of losing weight.

Reasons for gaining weight

Here are three strange factors that could cause you to be gaining weight, even though you are doing everything you can to lose weight:

  • If you are depressed and taking medication for it, you can expect to see about a 5 to 15-pound weight gain, with accumulated weight gain the longer you are on medication. Even if you are not taking medication, if you are depressed you can still be causing unnecessary weight gain because people that are depressed typically turn to “comfort” foods like foods high in fat and calories or they may cut back on physical activity.
  • If you have digestive issues, like having slow bowel movements, you may be gaining weight from that.  Ideally, you should eat and then in an hour or two, have a bowel movement.  To be considered “regular” you should have one to two bowel movements per day.  Staying hydrated is important to become regular and having a diet rich in fiber is also important.
  • If your body is low on vitamin D, magnesium or iron, then your body's immune system can be comprised, your energy levels may be decreased, or your metabolism may be altered in a way that makes it much harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  You can increase your red meat and spinach intake to help improve your iron levels and improve your magnesium levels by eating more almonds or Brazilian nuts.  Add a supplement of vitamin D to get that all-important vitamin.

In the News: Cold Weather Skin Tips

The winter months are some of the harshest months on your delicate skin.  But you can follow these tips to help protect your skin from the harshness of winter and your body will thank you for it.

Cold Weather Skin Tips

Don't forget the sunscreen. Just because the temperature drops don't mean the ultraviolet rays have gone away.  While the UVB rays are weaker, you shouldn't skimp on the sunscreen during the winter months.  Dermatologists suggest using a cream or moisturizer with an SPF of 30-year-round. 

Turn down the thermostat , just a few degrees.  Surprisingly people who spend most of their time outdoors aren't the ones with dry, peeling skin.  It is just the opposite.  Those people who spend their time indoors with indoor heat constantly are those who experience parched skin the most.  If you can, turn down the thermostat a few degrees and use a humidifier to put some moisture in the air.  This combination will help to replace some moisture in your skin and will alleviate parched skin.

Nutrients are key to quench dry skin.  While many people believe that drinking an abundance of water will help quench dry skin, dermatologists suggest that getting the appropriate nutrients is more important than downing water when it comes to healing dry skin.  Getting appropriate levels of omega-3 fatty acids through a diet rich in foods like salmon and halibut can help to combat skin dryness.

The acid in these types of fish lessens inflammation and plays a huge role in strengthening the lipid layer, thereby helping your skin retain its natural oils.

Skip the long, hot baths.  While a good long soak in a hot bath sounds like just what the doctor ordered after a day out in the elements, that hot bath is a big no-no when it comes to protecting your skin in the cold.  Taking a bath that is warmer than your body temperature opens up your pores and releases the moisture that your body desperately needs during the winter.  If you would like a bath over a shower, limit your time in the tub to about five minutes and be sure to use a creamy oil wash to give your skin that moisture back that it may lose.

Awareness 101: Four Ways to Ward off Breast Cancer

In support of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the American Institute for Cancer Research recently estimated that nearly 40 percent of breast cancer can be prevented if all women would follow these four simple lifestyle changes.

Breast Cancer Awareness

  1. Have one alcoholic drink per day, MAX : abstaining is even better although.
  2. Get moving for at least 30 minutes per day : besides helping you to keep a healthy weight, exercise will also help boost your immune system and keep your hormones in check.
  3. Watch your body weight and keep it down : fat cells produce estrogen which can only fuel some cancers.
  4. If you have a baby and breastfeed, try to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months : this in and of itself can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 60 percent.