Archive for February, 2013
A few weeks ago I was out to dinner with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. One had mentioned she thought I seemed really happy. It’s true, for the most part, and I am a pretty happy person. I am in a loving relationship, I have a job which allows me to grow and learn from every day, I have three wonderful dogs, I am healthy and have many great relationships with friends and family. I am surrounded by the city life, the ocean and the mountains. There are many great ethnic restaurants only minutes away. And I make sure to incorporate community service into my life. I truly believe all of this helps to create the happiness I feel.
A few weeks ago I watched the documentary Happy. It is well worth the download on your iTunes, Netflix rental or cable provider if you can find it. The documentary talks about research that was once unheard of but is now seen in movies, books and more. It was once thought that happiness could never be measured. But a question raised “If we can measure depression, why not happiness?”
A man living in the slums of India had a job pulling carts as taxis. He worked many hours a day, every day of the week. His “home” was a tarp fort with one side open. Making little money, living in such dire poverty, he was truly happy. Every day when he came home, his son would be waiting with open arms for his father to come home is was brought him true happiness.
Research has shown there is a big difference in happiness when person a makes $5,000 per year and person b makes $50,000 per year. But there is little difference in happiness when person a makes $50,000 per year and person b makes $500,000 per year. Extrinsically we tend to be less satisfied with materialistic stuff, praise from others, money, image, and status. Intrinsically we tend to inherently be more satisfied and the three most common factors are personal growth, relationships with others and service to others.
Things we love to do are often the building blocks to our happiness. This includes going out to play, trying new experiences, doing things that are meaningful, appreciating what you have rather than worrying about what you don’t, and most importantly, being your authentic self.
How Happy are you?
The local media has been reporting that a Connecticut lawmaker is proposing a law to ban smoking in cars when children 7 years old or younger are present. This would fall in line with five other states including Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Oregon and Maine. I am all for this. Many will think the government is reaching too far into the private sector. Others think that since government does play a role in health and safety of our youth, this is justified. Although some smokers continue to argue that government should not intrude upon what they believe are their “freedoms,” and actually reach into their cars to tell them what they can and cannot do, this is clearly incorrect as well as selfish and uncaring.
Every state has passed laws designed to protect children in the unlikely event of a vehicle crash by requiring the driver to place the child in a proper restraint seat. Indeed, many of the states also require the driver to place the child in the rear seat. In short, government has long reached into private cars, and required drivers to do something or risk a fine or even jail, in order to protect children.
A study conducted at Harvard showed that even by having the window partially open still offered the chance of secondhand smoke to appear. Some of the effects of secondhand smoke children can experience include:
- ear infections
- respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or shortness of breath
- respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia
There are many places where children are present and smoking is banned; schools, shopping centers, and restaurants. How about we add cars to this list….
This month I am choosing to wear red as often as possible as February is American Heart Month. I am surrounded by family members and clients that have been diagnosed with some sort of heart trouble. The list includes having a grandmother die of a massive heart attack. The other grandmother survived a stroke. Three uncles with zipper scars down their chest. A cousin’s son born with a congenital heart defect. I took part in hands on CPR for a member experiencing a heart attack.
Heart disease is the number one killer for women in the United States. The term heart disease is used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke. Other types of heart disease include heart failure, irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) , and heart valve problems.
Heart attacks happen with the oxygen supply to the heart is reduced or completely cut off. Not all heart attacks have the same signs or symptoms. Some are sudden and very intense. Others happen over a long period of time. Here are some signs a heart attack may be happening:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
For a heart attack risk assessment, please check here: https://www.heart.org/gglRisk/main_en_US.html
Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.
Other symptoms of stroke you should be aware of:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
The great news is that there are ways we can help to prevent heart disease from occurring. The American Heart Association has defined what it means to have ideal cardiovascular health. These key seven factors of health and behavior impact the quality of life.
- don’t smoke
- maintain a healthy weight
- engage in regular physical activity
- eat a healthy diet
- manage blood pressure
- take charge of cholesterol
- keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.
Let’s try to decrease the number of family members, friends and coworkers that have heart disease. For more information or to donate to the American Heart Association- http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
We’ve all seen, heard or taken part in the wonderful world of detoxing. I too, am guilty. We own a very nice juicer and from time to time, we’ll go through a period of creating fun and tasty juices. In fact, this past weekend we purchased beets, carrots and apples to make our favorite concoction.
One night this week while I was reading through the IDEA Fitness Journal I came across an article that caught my eye. It’s title Detox Diets: Myths vs Reality- what you should know about cleanses and juice fasts. As someone who often hears people say I need to detox or I’m going on a cleanse, this article brought up some very interesting points I had not thought about. Such as, what are we really trying to detox from? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a toxin as a “poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism.” But in the context of health treatments, this term is extremely vague. Toxins can include sugar, pollutants, pesticides, chemicals, are anything else deemed “unnatural.”
While removing poisons from the body can sounds intriguing, the term detox is overused, it can mean almost anything. There are situations where a medical detox is necessary. Such as treatment for addicts and alcoholics. The problem comes into play with dieting. This is because there is very little scientific basis for detoxing.
When a person begins a cleanse or diet detox regimen, there is nothing to measure in terms of what is being eliminated from the body. Questions arise about what is being eliminated. Is your body clearing lead, bisphenol A (BPA), partials from the air, artificial sweeteners, medications, or just processed food. Many cleanses claim to remove all the toxins from your joints, muscles, soft tissue and more. But again, what evidence is there which shows they have been removed?
Back in November I did try a week-long cleanse. We chose to have a juice concoction for breakfast and lunch and then eat a small vegetarian meal for dinner. While I did lose a few pounds, there were some adverse affects. I was extremely cranky because I wasn’t getting enough calories, I lost muscle mass, and my concentration level seemed to decrease.
Andrew Weil believes we can naturally detoxify if you simply stop putting toxins in our body.
Here are a few easy ways to detox naturally-
- drink more water
- eat more organic food
- get fiber by eating more plant-based foods
- avoid smoking
- eliminate alcohol consumption
- exercise vigorously
So rather than going on radical cleanses and spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, I encourage you to make a few basic lifestyle choices in your daily activities and eating habits. You’ll feel and see a difference.
Today is the beginning of a new month, which means a new healthy habit to create. During the month of February I will challenge myself to sit. When I first came to meditation I found it to be very difficult. More-so because I had a hard time physically sitting still. After several years, I have found that depending on how my body is moving for that day will determine my shape. There are many things I notice about myself when I have a regular meditation practice. I tend to be more responsive than reactive. There is a greater awareness of my words and actions. My physical body feels different.
There are many great benefits to meditation. A few include-
Lowers oxygen consumption
Decreases respiratory rate
Increases blood flow and slows the heart rate
Increases exercise tolerance
Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation
Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate
Decreases muscle tension
Increased brain wave coherence
Improved learning ability and memory
Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation
Increased emotional stability
Mind ages at slower rate
Easier to remove bad habits
Even with all these great benefits, many people have a resistance to mediation. They feel like it’s a waste of time, they can’t sit still for periods of time, they feel too stressed and countless other reasons to avoid meditation. The great news is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Take a look at some different types of mediation.
- Simple Meditation
It is one of the best meditation types that one can start with if one is not accustomed to sitting for long time period focusing on some particular object. You can choose a clean and peaceful place where you can spend 10-20 minutes in silence. Gradually, as you gain more control on your mind and senses, you can increase this time-duration.
- Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is known as Vipassana, and is practiced by Buddhists among many meditation types. The meditation type involves practicing to be aware about the things that you do and the things that happen around you at the very moment.
- Vibrational Meditation
This meditation type involves repetition of a particular word or a sound that becomes the focal point of the meditation. The vibrations that are produced from the word or sound pass through your body. You have to do concentrate on nothing else, but to chant that word or produce the sound again and again. It is one of the most different among various meditation types.
- Breath and Navel Meditation
It is the oldest one recorded in China as well as in India and one of the most famous among other meditation types. It involves control over breath through different breathing techniques. You need to sit in a relaxed posture and concentrate on your breath, nostrils, or even on your abdomen.
- Body Scan Meditation
Body scan meditation is very useful for people who do not have any time for other meditation types. You just need to lie down and focus on your body parts right from your toe to your hair.
For the month of February, I challenge both myself and you to meditate every day. Even if it’s just sitting at your computer desk, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Find a few moments every day to be still. I am beginning with 10 minutes per day and will work up to 60 minutes by the end of the month.
Come February 28th, if you have created a consistent practice, I guarantee you will see a difference. Join the 28 Day Challenge.