Improve your health, improve your life - January 29, 2014

Courtesy of the Times

Zest for life—it’s what everyone wants. If it seems there’s always something getting in the way of fully optimizing your energy, read on. Local experts in health and well-being offer tips for a new you in the new year.

Breathe. Because we’re headed straight for the S word. Stress.

“I’m so stressed out!” Is it an inevitable part of a busy life?

Felicity Houston, a licensed counselor at Ingalls Orthopedic Institute in Harvery, Ill., doesn’t think so.

“Maybe you think you’re just really busy. But do you have migraine headaches, anxiety, overeating or not eating enough, fatigue no matter how much rest you get, tense muscles all the time, a change in your sex drive?”

Maybe you’re under too much stress. And it’s time to do something about it.

Talk with your doctor to rule out any medical issue. If there isn’t any, don’t shrug and tell yourself everyone is stressed out. “That’s not true,” says Houston. Figure out what triggers the stress. Try to get as specific as possible.

Then develop Houston’s Five Rs Stress Plan:

Reorganize. Organize—home office, duties at work, etc., so that you can complete tasks more quickly and have time for such things as walking or exercising. “I take time for Zumba no matter what.”

Rethink. Behavior stems from how we think about things. What are you saying to yourself? Turn around self-comments like “This job is a drag, I hate it,” and think instead, “It’s not the best job, but I’ll do my best while I’m here.”

Reduce. Look at all your commitments in 2013. What worked, what didn’t? And, “When moms tell me they’re constantly on the run with kids’ activities, I tell them, “You signed them up for all this—not the kids.” Give them, and yourself, some breathing room.

Relax. “Do you ever take 20 minutes out of the day to just relax? Go for a walk, go sit in a car during your lunch break, listen to some music, take a bubble bath, light a candle. Focus on deep breathing exercises—whatever works for you.”

Release. This is a two-parter.1. Releasing unforgiveness (read: resentment) is important for your mental and physical health. 2. Release yourself from unnecessary burdens. If adult kids at home don’t help out, let them know they need to pitch in or leave; let them grow up.

Finally, research shows women are more stressed out than anybody, says Houston. “Take care of yourself first so you can be around to care for others.”

Smile more

Did you know that smiling can make you feel better? So can Dr. Jamila Miller, prosthodontist—a tongue-twister meaning a dentist with an additional three years’ training. We love her makeover stories:

“A patient had had long hair and a scraggly beard. He came in for an adjustment and I didn’t recognize him! After having the reconstruction, he shaved his beard and trimmed his hair—he’d been hiding behind the long hair and beard, but now felt confident enough to smile.

Another patient who never wore makeup came into the office after (I had fixed her teeth). She was nicely made up and so happy.

Is it time for a new you? Greet the new year with a smile!

Ducking out for a smoke

Mike Meska with Franciscan Alliance is Regional director of respiratory care for the northern Indiana region, hopes the new year will see fewer people ducking outside for a smoke. Meska, a registered respiratory therapist, says most people know smoking can compromise lung health and be a factor in other diseases. And many want to quit.

While some are able to stop smoking on their own, that’s “definitely a minority; most people struggle with it,” says Meska. Part of that is due to nicotine addiction—“a true addiction,” says Meska,

“Our Freedom from Smoking program, based on the American Lung Association guidelines, includes nicotine replacement therapy.” The program is for several weeks and begins by identifying your smoking triggers; why you want to quit; finding your support system, and more, all included in the Franciscan Alliance Wellness Resourses. Classes are once a week for six or eight weeks.

And, new year or not, “Every day is a good day to quit smoking.”

‘Life doesn’t wait’

“Life doesn’t wait while you put off doing something that can enhance the quality of your life.” Debi Pillarelli is passionate about exercise for health and fitness. She’s a Certified Personal Trainer at Fitness Pointe in Munster, Ind., an affiliate of Community Hospital. She’s also a Certified Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist, and an Exercise Program Manager, and sees on a daily basis people who are looking to make the next year better.

“Every time you put something off, it seems like something interferes, so we’re advocates for ‘just do it now.’ You don’t have to commit to a year of strenuous exercise, either. Something is better than nothing! You can start with aqua aerobics, yoga, Pilates—whatever is right for you.”

Top New Year’s resolution

The Journal of Clinical Psychology says the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Fine—but how you lose weight is just as important as how much.

Registered dietitian Lori Granich at Franciscan Alliance says every year people attempt to revamp their lives, but it’s hard to make drastic changes.

“This year, I encourage you to dream big, but focus your attention on the small details that will help you achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to have healthier eating habits in the new year, try starting your day off with a healthy breakfast or add a vegetable to dinner. If you focus your energy on one component of your day, instead of trying to redo all three meals, you are more likely to stick with it and stay motivated. Here are some small changes that can get you started.

Wear a pedometer.

Drink more water.

Use mustard instead of mayonnaise.

Eat your fruit instead of drinking it.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Swap Greek yogurt for sour cream in dips, baked goods, and sauces.

Shop the perimeter of the store where the most natural foods are kept.

Cut down on TV time.

Try new healthy recipes.

Make healthy snacks readily-available at work and at home.

“Write your goals and the steps you can take to achieve them. If you do not reach your goal, think about what got in your way and how you can change it.”

Just for you: Porter Regional Hospital’s Community Wellness Program will offer “Fad Diets: A Quick Fix or Diet Disaster?” at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the Community Room at Porter Regional Hospital, 85 East US Highway 6 in Valparaiso.

More info for less weight

Dr. Candice S. Anderson, who has a family practice in Merrillville, Ind., and is part of the Methodist Physician Group Network, offers a must-have list for weight loss:

Top 10 tips for Weight Loss for the New Year

1. Do not skip breakfast

2. Don’t skip meals if you’re on a diet. Eat three meals every day plus two to three snacks between meals).

3. Use a smaller plate.

4. Eat slower and enjoy the taste.

5. Choose foods that are broiled, baked, grilled, or steamed.

6. Make half of your plate vegetables.

7. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.

8. Carry “portable snacks” such as low-fat granola bars, fruit, cheese and crackers.

9. Do aerobic exercise 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week. Examples: jumping jacks, jog in place, climb flights of stairs.

10. Focus just on today’s goals—not long-term goals