Sweaty, Slimy, Stinky. Hello, Summer.

I love summer.  I love that my kids are out of school.  I love that the days are longer.  I love that weekends mean beach fun.  I love the seasonal fruits and veggies.  I love opening the windows in my house and letting the fresh air waft through room by room.  I could go on…

 There is much to love about summer, but not the heat… those hot, sticky, dog days of summer.  On those days, we are often reduced to a steamy pile of person, complete with drippings and odor.  And not just any odor – odor so unpleasant that even you can’t stand to be near you.

Sweating is natural and necessary.  It is our body’s way of cooling down and maintaining the proper temperature so that all of our vital organs and chemical processes can work optimally. With sweat’s vital role in keeping us healthy, it is no surprise that we have sweat glands all over our body – especially armpits, groin, hands, and feet.  Sweat is odorless.  It is the collision of sweat with naturally occurring skin bacteria that cause the odor.

So what is a gal to do?  Here are simple fixes that can make a difference.

Food Fixes:  some foods increase body odor after digestion.  The digested products are absorbed in the body and can mix with your sweat.  The odor can occur hours to days later.  To reduce this potential pitfall, minimize your intake of red meat, veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, and certain spices like garlic, cumin, and curry.

Pit Problems:  hair makes it harder for sweat to evaporate and also traps those odor causing bacteria.  Removing the hair – via shaving/waxing/etc- can improve your essence.

Lather Up:  consider using antibacterial soaps, and if need be, shower more than once daily.

Do Deo:  deodorants mask odor,  antiperspirants reduce sweat, and combo products do both.  Bedtime is best when applying antiperspirant  sprays/sticks/gels/roll-ons and consider another swipe in the morning to increase their effectiveness.  Some sweaters (the people, not the clothing) need prescription strength antiperspirants to do the trick.  For the super-sweaty, there are more elaborate treatments, including botox injections to the affected area and surgery.

If you experience extreme sweating, or sweating at night, see your health care provider to ensure that you do not have an underlying medical condition.

Happy Summer!

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The ESSENTIAL Addition to your Travel Bag: My experience traveling out of the country with essential oils.

Today’s post is via CWH office manager/concierge, Rebecca D’Amato.  She first learned about essential oils while at CWH, and uses them daily:

I am a frequent traveler and familiar with the little annoyances that can go along with the adventure and excitement of new places and new experiences.  While I do not normally speak so candidly, I believe my latest experience can benefit others and wanted to share my story.

I tend to be a skeptic and it would certainly seem that essential oils could not be more than a psychosomatic cure for ailments; however, I have become a true believer.

Six months ago I began using essential oils as part of my daily life, and I feel my overall mental well being has improved resulting in an improvement in overall health.  For everyday stresses, I have found the perfect blend of oils –woody aromas including spruce & rosewood and chamomile & lavender to calm anxiety, citrus scents to feel rejuvenated, and lavender when sleep is needed.

So when I packed for a trip to Costa Rica with my husband, my diffuser and my oils came right along with me.

Clean Start:

I will admit – I detest airplanes – one of my fears when traveling is catching a cold on the plane ride there, only to feel ill throughout the whole trip.  To avoid unwanted infection, I added a few drops of an orange, eucalyptus & cinnamon blend, which offers immune support, to a tissue and breathed it in here and there during the journey.  I find the dry air on planes always results in a congested nose, so I also used peppermint oil and felt clear and healthy the entire ride!

Calm Arrival:

You’ve arrived at your destination, a moment of excitement…until the wait at Customs. To avoid my usual frustration with the process, I rubbed the anxiety-easing woody blend to calm my nerves to remain cool and collected for Costa Rica.  By calming the natural frustration, I was able to stop and remember how wonderful it was to be experience a whole new place, waiting to be explored!

I created a welcoming environment at our hotel room by diffusing a mixture of the immune boosting blend and lemon oil, keeping our bodies strong and minds rejuvenated for the experience ahead.

Finally, after carrying my luggage around during transit, my shoulders were aching the next day.  I eased my sore muscles with a soothing blend of wintergreen, peppermint & chamomile oils and felt the tension melt away.

Paradise Pitfalls:

The changes brought on by travel, new environments, and new cuisine can all manifest in cramps and discomfort.  I was determined to fully enjoy every moment of my vacation and used  a mixture of coconut oil and lemon oil on my abdomen as needed, and even convinced my husband to try as well.  Both of us felt healthy for the duration of the trip.

An escape to paradise means long days in the hot sun, which can also lead to dehydration, a problem that can be compounded when you also enjoy nights out.  Mid-way through the trip I experienced a terrible headache in the morning, and not wanting to take chances, took pain relievers with water in addition to rubbing peppermint oil on my temples.  Within minutes I was feeling back to full health.

My husband and I spent plenty of time enjoying the sunshine, however, one of us (hint, not me) indulged a little too much and ended up with a sunburned back.  My heart went out to him and my mind went to the essential oils.  I blended a mix of coconut, lavender, peppermint oils with  water in a small spray bottle which brought immediate relief.

While I tried to plan for everything on this trip, an unexpected case of hives was not on the itinerary.  Thankfully the irritation was not openly noticeable, but they were terribly uncomfortable.  I turned to my trusted oils once again and created a blend of lavender and coconut oil that helped soothe the irritation and cure them completely by the next morning.

MY Essentials:

Essential oils have become a part of my beauty regime, are my go-to for easing stress and exhaustion, and now have proved to be helpful in the most unexpected situations.  I cannot wait to continue to experiment with mixes and blends and hope my story has inspired you to do the same. The next time you travel, give it a try!

As they say in Costa Rica, Pure Vida! Pure Life!

-This information is not intended as a substitute for medical counseling.  Contact your health care professional with health concerns. -

 

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15 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

Today’s entry is via CWH nurse practitioner and fitness fan Kathleen Bornhoeft, APN-C:

1. Eat healthy and lower your sugar intake:
Studies show that too much sugar can make you gain weight, can cause or worsen diabetes, is a risk factor for some cancers, can affect your memory, and can cause headaches and depression. Cutting back on added sugars especially from processed foods and sweetened drinks can help you achieve and maintain optimum health. Watch out for flavored coffees! Ask for half the pumps, it means less sugar!

2. Exercise More:
Experts agree that physical exercise can control your weight, lower your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, strengthen bones, improve balance, and is key for optimum mental health and well being. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, or break it up any way you like to total 150 minutes per week. No one ever finishes exercise and says, “I shouldn’t have done that.”

3. Take time for yourself:
Women have many pressures today. We are mothers, daughters, partners, caregivers, and professionals. We need “me” time! Try yoga, meditation, a massage, a walk, a cup of chamomile tea, acupuncture, a night out with the girls. Make yourself a priority in 2015!!

4. Save Money:
Prepare a budget and write down all of you expenses. Set short term financial goals and long term goals. Figure out how much money you can put aside each month. Even a small amount will grow in just a year! Don’t forget to put aside “fun money!”

5. Help someone:
It makes you feel good about yourself, you can make a difference in someone’s life, it keeps us all connected and makes the world a better place as kindness is contagious. Find a good charity. Don’t forget to always pay it forward!

6. Get vaccinated:
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2014, vaccine coverage among adults is unacceptably low. There may be limited patient awareness of which vaccines are needed. For example there is a new pneumonia vaccine called Prevnar! Talk to your healthcare provider, no matter what your age is, about staying healthy. We have too much to do to get sick, so get vaccinated!

7. Have a physical exam:
Think prevention! Be responsible for your own health. See your healthcare provider at least once a year. Be honest and truthful about your lifestyle and unhealthy habits. An annual physical exam is a great time to discuss not only illness or disease but also to learn how to stay healthy!

8. Get screened:
According to the CDC, not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. Getting a high-quality annual mammogram is still the best way to detect breast cancer early. Talk to your provider about when to start screening for breast cancer.
Colon cancer and death from colon cancer can be prevented by a screening colonoscopy. According to the American Cancer Society, this screening tool also has the potential to prevent colon cancer because most cancers start as a polyp which can be biopsied and/or removed during colonoscopy. Talk to your provider about when to start colon cancer screening. It’s all about prevention!!!

9. Quit smoking, why?:
For your health, to save money, to improve your sense of taste and smell, and to save everyone around you who has to be exposed to second hand smoke. For more info:
American Lung Association or Helpguide.org or Smoking: Medline Plus

10. Learn something new:
The lifelong practice of learning is what keeps us on our toes, keeps us up to date, and it is what makes us human and our lives worthwhile. Besides being an expert at what you do in your daily job, try something totally different. Although it may be scary, it can increase your self-confidence and it may deepen your character! Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?!

11. Read a good book:
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Reading keeps your brain active, which can increase your brain power to keep it strong and healthy. Read for stress reduction, improvement in your vocabulary, knowledge, and focus. But most importantly read for tranquility and relaxation. Center for Women’s Health has a list of “favs and must reads!”

12. Make family dinner a priority!
In a report from Columbia University in 2010 on the importance of family dinners, benefits for kids included; better academic performance, higher self-esteem, lower risk of substance abuse, lower teen pregnancy, lower risk of depression, and less obesity. Kids that eat dinner with their families tend to eat more veggies throughout their life. Family dinners allow time for great discussions about all kinds of things. You never know what you will find out!!

13. Tell someone you love them:
Love is contagious, it can lower stress levels, it can make you live longer, it can renew a relationship, it makes you more trusting and it is an emotional connection. Some studies show a link between an intimate relationship and a drop in blood pressure and a longer life. So, love matters!

14. Turn off the electronics:

This is the age of electronics, we can’t escape it, but we can all use computers, cell phones, and video games wisely. Don’t forget to hit the off button and tune into yourself and your family. It’s okay to become “unplugged.”

15. Be Grateful and peaceful:
Some say, being grateful is the best way to inner peace. Appreciate all of the good things in your life. Be sure to tell someone you appreciate them. Remember to start every day with the idea, “the glass is half full.”
AND FOR 2015, LADIES PLEASE REMEMBER:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

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An Ode to Wearable Fitness Devices (Just in Time for the Holidays!)

Today’s entry is courtesy of Sally Mravcak, MD, CWH staff physician and exercise enthuisast.

What are wearable fitness devices, you ask?  You have probably seen people wearing them.  Wearable fitness devices can come in the form of a bracelet, a watch, or something that looks like a medallion that can be inserted into a watch band or necklace, or attached to almost any article of clothing.  Although each fitness device has its own unique qualities, they all have the common function of tracking your steps, activity, calories burned and even sleep.  Most sync with your smart phone or computer so you can input data and look at your overall activity and progress.  Move over bionic woman and make room for an easily attainable version of wearable tech!

If you thinking about asking for or giving a wearable fitness device this holiday season, I think it’s a stellar idea!  Remember: if you can measure it, you can manage it.  If you or someone you care about wants to become more physically active, the first step is figuring out how active you are already.  The next step is improving from there.  Wearable tech is an easy way to monitor yourself.  The great thing about wearable tech is that it makes you accountable for what you’re doing and eliminates the flub factor.  There’s no guessing at the end of the day how many steps you took or how active you were.  It’s all recorded for you, for posterity!

Once you measure what you’re already doing, you can set goals for improvement.  Today’s wearable fitness tech usually performs the function of a pedometer plus more.  We know from previous research that pedometer based walking programs help people lose weight.  Longer programs lead to more weight loss than shorter programs.  And don’t forget: if you exercise, even if you don’t lose a pound, you have improved your cardiovascular health.  That means you’ve lowered your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease, not to mention you are improving your mental state and brain health.  Research shows that any type of physical activity is good for your mental agility.

If you really want to step up your game, consider adding social media to the mix.  Invite some exercise buddies to join you on Facebook or another social media platform.  Some small studies show that social media helps with weight loss by increasing accountability and motivation.

Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Step one: Purchase or receive a wearable fitness device!
  • For the first week, make no changes.  Observe your baseline level of physical activity.
  • Next, set a goal.  Whether it’s increasing your daily steps by 10%, committing to taking the stairs at work, or getting to the gym one more day per week.
  • Once you accomplish your goal, set a new one!
  • Consider posting your trials and tribulations on a social media and invite friends to join in the fitness challenge.

So which wearable fitness tech to buy?  The choice is yours – check out these reviews to help you decide.   Pick something you like that fits your personality and budget.  Whether you choose the Jawbone, Fit bit  Flex, or Misfit Shine, you’re on your way to making healthy changes.

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FRIDAY AFTER NEXT: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MATERIAL BARGAIN

I’m not sure when the black Friday spam/emails started coming.  It feels like they began in August, but if I take a closer look, maybe it was only two weeks ago.   One thing is for sure…it’s going to be a busy holiday season!

Before you brave a store or left-mouse-click, consider this:  a gift of health.  Choose from some of the ideas below, or create your own.  You make a difference in the lives of your friends, family, and community.

ACT:

  • Be a health advocate:  Think about all of the appointments that we put off…our pap test, mammogram, or dentist. You could be a personal secretary of sorts and make all the arrangements so all the giftee would have to do is show up!
  • Be an insurance liason:  Speak with insurance companies to settle a bill, or accept a bigger challenge and decipher a bill.
  • Be a resource:  Research support organizations that would make a difference in the lives of your friends and family.  Be creative, too!  Recognize that support groups come in many varieties, including on-line.  Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter (yes, Twitter!), can be immensely helpful in connecting individuals with like problems.  Set up an account for a friend or loved one and preload helpful groups or members.

FORTIFY:

  • Prepare a healthy meal – from appetizers through dessert.  Consider using organic ingredients or locally grown produce, and don’t forget the wine.  A 3 ounce glass is good for your heart!
  • Make a basket of power foods such as unsalted nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate.
  • Purchase a gift card from an organic market.
  • Present a beautiful cookbook with items that may introduce a new, healthier way of eating.  One such example is the old standby vegetarian cookbook “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest” by Mollie Katzen, author of many interesting,  healthy cookbooks .
  • Buy a fun lunchbox and pack up the first lunch!  Empty calories and heart un-healthy eating often occur during lunchtime.  Preparing food in advance allows for careful food selection and portion control.

MOVE:

  • Walking is fantastic exercise.  Become a pedometer buddy with your giftee – enjoy a healthy competition as you reach your goal of 10,000 steps each day.
  • Liven up a workout!  Studies show that music during your routine allows you to ignore distractions and fatigue.  Songs should have 124-140 beats per minute to get your heart rate into the healthy range.  Put together a customized playlist – many internet sites such as Fitsugar  allow you to listen and purchase.
  • Sunglasses with UV protection, sweat-proof sunblock with an SPF>50, and solar wear (clothes made with SPF>50 fiber) make excellent gifts for those that enjoy an outdoors workout.

Your holidays do not have to be only about consumption – from the material to the ingestible.  You can create new traditions that embrace healthy living and last long after the wrapping paper has been recycled.

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