Menopause and the different stages are a transition in life for women. That’s a fact. But there are misconceptions about menopause. We debunk a few here and further discuss this time in life.
Your menstrual cycle will just stop one day, never to appear again. For most, this is not the case. In fact, your period must not happen each month, for a full year, to be considered menopause. More than likely, your cycle will slow and be sporadic before it disappears completely.
Another thought is a heavier period is an indication of menopause. This is not true. If you are experiencing heavier cycles than normal, it is important to see your health care provider, to rule out any worse conditions. Do not dismiss heavy periods at any stage in life.
It’s all in your head. This one is absolutely false! There are noticeable changes during these stages. Some of the physical changes are drier skin, sleep disturbances, hair thinning, and hot flashes. Some other conditions can also happen with your mental health, such as depression and anxiety. This time in life is when your body changes once again. This means hormonal changes, causing imbalances. Most are temporary, but none of it is imagined AND they can be addressed with proper care in maintaining the healthiest lifestyle and hormone therapy. Some of the conditions can last for a few years, hormone therapy can lessen the changes caused by the imbalance.
Another misconception is not taking hormones has no risk. There are actually risks with low estrogen levels. These low levels can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, and even dementia. Yes, there are known links with blood clots and stroke with hormone replacement therapy but have been improved upon and a healthy lifestyle helps to remove those risks.
Also, there is the thinking that you must suffer through menopause. This the biggest misconception yet! As your health provider, we can work with you and help ease the symptoms during this transition. It is very important not to ignore this stage and stay the healthiest you.
You have surely read or heard the negative points about technology and health. But have you thought about where we are now and what we have access to? Technology has not only advanced good health with equipment and procedures, but is now being utilized daily by us to better our health.
Many studies have been done linking depression to social media. We do not want to downplay this, but we also want to recognize social media is bringing together people more easily.
Perhaps you are caring for an aging parent or have experienced a loss in the family. Maybe you have a condition and you know no one personally that is experiencing the same. A quick search will reveal many groups available with similar needs. These groups are quick outlets to share ideas and gain support. Even the struggle of addiction or weight loss can be helped with social media groups.
As the saying goes, ‘there is an app for that.’ This includes endless health apps. There are apps to help with healthy eating and recipes, apps that provide workouts, and even apps that remind us to drink water.
Some apps may need to be added but some are already included with our phones, such as Health with the iPhone. This app is a basic app that can help to track your intake of food and exercise. This app can also help you in the time of an emergency with the medical ID feature. List any important information and it will assist providers with your care.
The latest iPhone update is also tracking screen time with an option of regulating that time. This helps us to evaluate if we are on our devices too long. As weird as it sounds, it’s technology to help us with technology.
Technology is also improving the provider/patient relationship. Providers are more accessible with technology. Social media is a way to provide useful tips and to be more interactive.
Waiting time and appointment scheduling are also being improved with technology. Some hospitals will update their waiting time via their site or on their platforms. And your yearly checkup can be easily scheduled with a few inputs on your phone, fitting with our busy schedules.
As long as you use responsibly, technology can be helpful with your health. We are more aware of our health now than ever with more information. This awareness has led us to pursue better health. And technology, thankfully, is making it easier in many ways.
Many individuals struggle with controlling their weight. Weight loss is usually even more difficult. Researchers continuously study this problem. And recently, a group of individuals practicing FIT (functional imagery training) lost more than 4 times the weight than the individuals who didn’t. Researchers are showing, the brain is a very powerful aid in weight loss.
A study in the International Journal of Obesity was published showing participants lost almost 5 times as much weight when they utilized the FIT method. Over 140 individuals were in the study. One group underwent MI (motivational interviewing) and the other group had a new kind of therapy, FIT or functional imagery training.
Not only did the FIT group lose more than 4 times as much weight in the six months, they lost huge numbers around the waist AND continued to lose after the study vs the MI group that had numbers that dropped off significantly.
Eating less and exercising more is the goal for weight loss. But the study was conducted to take a look into the first step of weight loss…motivation.
Each participant in the MI and FIT groups received two therapy sessions, one over the phone and one in person with a therapist. There were follow ups every couple of weeks for three months, then once per month for the final 3 months.
While Motivational Interviewing is a talking therapy discussing motivation, FIT goes further with training the brain to envision the weight loss. Examples of the imagery the individuals were to focus on is what they could do once they lost weight and what they were unable to do with the extra weight. They were to imagine the feeling of being slimmer, even the tastes and sounds. So, while the MI group spoke about how they wanted to lose weight, the FIT group used imagery for that motivation.
How To Incorporate
FIT is best conducted by a trained therapist specializing in the program, but there are ways to add this practice into our routines.
The first habit to add to your life is taking 20 minutes and thinking about how weight loss will improve your life.
To help with progress and with imagery, a journal can be created. Record the reasons for the weight loss and how you imagine feeling after the weight loss. Write down milestones achieved and how it felt to achieve them.
Remember to set aside at least 15 minutes at the same time, each day, to think and journal with the imagery. This set time, each day, helps to train the brain with the motivational training.
The success in weight loss depends on your behavior with eating healthy and exercising, but using this motivational imagery could improve that success.
Over 85 million adults are pre-diabetic. That’s 1 in 3 adults. And over 90% aren’t even aware they are in danger of developing the full disease. This number is dangerously high. Our lifestyles are changing to combat this disease but signs should be recognized for prevention.
What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is when the blood sugar is high, not high enough yet for Type 2 Diabetes, but not in the healthy range. Prediabetes can develop into Type 2 Diabetes in as little as 10 years. But the good news is the condition can be completely reversed with lifestyle changes.
If the condition does worsen into full diabetes, your body will have trouble using or making the hormone, insulin. The insulin then builds in your system instead of being used as energy in the body’s cells.
This hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems including skin disorders, vision problems, kidney damage, and neuropathy.
Know The Signs
Only 10% of adults with the condition know they have it. This is because the symptoms may not be recognized or there are no signs showing. It is always best to be aware if you have any changes in your skin, such as darkening in the armpits or on the neck. There may even be small skin growths or tags in these areas. Also, other possible signs might be if you are noticing increased hunger or excessive thirst.
What To Do
Although it is helpful when these symptoms are noticed, they don’t necessarily prove prediabetes. The only way to know if you are pre-diabetic is to be diagnosed by a medical professional through an A1C test. This is the best test as it will accurately determine your blood glucose levels for the past few months. A range of 5.7 to 6.4 is prediabetes. Anything higher is diabetes.
Chances for diabetes increases with age, so periodic testing is suggested for adults 45 and older. And as with any condition, family history plays a role, so it’s best to get checked if you are aware of that genetic risk. Also, Latin American, Native American, Pacific Islanders, and African Americans are more susceptible. Being overweight or having PCOS puts you in a riskier category.
This condition can be reversed, however. Changes now, limiting sweets, losing weight, and exercising regularly is the best way to avoid risk of developing diabetes.
Lifting weights isn’t just for athletes and bodybuilders. And men are not the only ones who benefit from weight training. Women also need weight lifting to enhance physical health.
For decades, cardio or aerobic activity was promoted as exercise for weight loss. While this type of exercise, does in fact, help to lose weight, lifting weights can help even more. Numerous studies have shown that lifting weights actually burns more calories than cardio exercise.
Besides the extra calories that are burned, the muscle that is being built, helps to eliminate fat. This also happens when the body is resting. Once muscle is built, or functioning to its full potential, it does its work even while the body is resting.
On top of burning more calories and eliminating fat, lifting weights can transform a body’s appearance much faster than cardio. Shedding pounds with cardio will be noticed with clothes not being as tight, but weight training will actually shape a body.
Strength For Everyday Life
The benefits for weight training don’t stop at weight loss.
Another benefit is overall strength for everyday activities. As we age, certain areas of the body aren’t used as much and need that strength for everyday functioning. Weight training, when focused, can strengthen the back and core. A stronger back and core ease other exercise, as an added benefit.
It is also important to keep that strength for our future selves. When not practiced, muscle deterioration can lead to problems with balance.
Joints are also strengthened with the use of weights. Adding strength exercises to a routine can lengthen a body’s timeline, putting off joint issues.
And muscles not only protect our bones, they help to strengthen them by building bone density. So, lifting weights to strengthen muscles can and will aid in avoiding osteoporosis.
Many women have not considered using weights in their routine for fear of transforming their body into a bulkier version. Lighter weights can be used safely to avoid large muscles, while enjoying the benefits of weight training. Implement them today!
Depression and anxiety have been increasing in numbers for decades. Could our routines and behaviors be leading to this increase? Are our habits hurting our mental health?
On average, we are sitting 9 hours a day, while sleeping an average of 7 hours. Compared to past decades, this is a large amount of inactivity. Mostly due to a working lifestyle, many jobs are behind a desk, creating hours of sitting. Our bodies were not designed for such inactivity.
This inactive lifestyle leads to possible weight gain, but more importantly, different chemical reactions that could lead to depression and anxiety.
Not only does consistent activity help mental health, but so does your environment. If you are heading to the office then back home day after day, you are not getting enough sunlight in your routine. Increasing activity, and also including the outdoors in your daily and even weekly routine, will help to guard against depression and anxiety.
Inactivity and poor diet not only lead to weight gain but also to increased chances of poor mental health. Weight gain does decrease self confidence, making it difficult to correct because of a dangerous circle of inactivity, weight gain, and depression.
But not only does watching calories matter with mental health, so does the type of diet. Usually, the same foods to avoid weight gain are the same to avoid depression and anxiety. These foods are usually high in sugar, or sugar from carbs. These foods will change the chemical makeup in the brain, leading to depression and anxiety.
And as if worrying about diet and exercise aren’t stressful enough, avoiding other life stressors is also very important for mental health. Stress increases cortisol levels which does lead to a decrease in optimal mental health.
Increasing daily exercise is paramount in combating stress, but also taking time for yourself to put stress aside is the best plan. Just a few minutes a day to unwind, taking in some quiet time will also aid in improving mental health. And don’t forget, schedule some fun each week, doing what you enjoy. It is easy to forget these things with our busy lifestyles, but our mental health is too important to ignore them.
In the United States, there are over 3 million heart attack cases each year. Fortunately lifestyle changes have made people healthier nowadays. But that number is still too high. What is not included in this number is ‘silent’ heart attacks. This means we can imagine a worse number of cases each year. Silent heart attacks often produce no obvious symptoms and are sometimes ignored. It is important to know the signs of a silent heart attack and to never disregard the symptoms.
The Danger Of A Silent Heart Attack
Over 85 percent of damage done to a heart is within 2 hours of having a heart attack. This damage can lead to future, more severe heart attack(s). Medical attention soon after symptoms of heart attack can help this damage. So, if some heart attacks can be silent, or don’t produce noticeable symptoms, how do we know one is occurring?
Risk Factors and Signs
Yes, certain factors make risk much higher in people. These include being overweight and not active, smoking, heavy drinking, high cholesterol, diabetes, and hereditary factors. People with such risk should make smart changes to decrease that risk and also have regularly scheduled tests.
But even without high risk, a heart attack may occur. This makes it very important to know other signs, besides chest pain and shortness of breath. Other symptoms could be unexplained, extreme fatigue, sudden weakness, unusual indigestion, a muscle-type soreness in chest, upper back, arms, or jaw. Even a feeling of anxiety could be a sign that a heart attack is happening.
What To Do
The most important thing to do is to not ignore what may be symptoms of a heart attack. No symptoms are insignificant when future heart damage is at risk.
Keep informed by having yearly checks of your cholesterol and blood pressure.
If you have any unexplained symptoms that cause concern, don’t hesitate a visit to a healthcare professional or facility. The provider will evaluate your physical exam and symptoms, either advising treatment or further need of medical attention.
Season and schedule changes are two of the biggest reasons people quit their workout routine. It may be hotter temps or kids being out of school, but if you set out to lose weight at the beginning of year, and now aren’t working out, you can easily get back on track with these surefire tips!
Set Small Goals
At the beginning of the year, you set a weight loss goal. Maybe you reached it or perhaps you were close, but you have started making excuses and getting back into bad habits. Now is the time to get back on track!
And just like the beginning of the year, you need to set goals. But not the same goals! The point is to get back to a healthy routine, so in order to start, goals must be small.
Whether it has been a couple of weeks or a couple of months, small goals will help you get back on track without undue strain.
Maybe you were working out for an hour or two, maybe 30 minutes a day. Your small goal is to set 10 minutes a day to working out. Add just 5 minutes a day each week and you will be back up to 30 minutes a day by the end of the month.
No Days Off
While the goals are small, the schedule has to be more consistent than ever. It is important to work out every day. By easing back into working out with small goals, you can keep the healthy habit up each day. While days off are needed to rest and recuperate with strenuous exercise, a slow start allows for working out each day, helping to make it a habit once again.
Have you turned off your FitBit reminders to move? Have you stopped recording your achievements in exercise? These are ways to be accountable for the goals you set. But just like with new goals to get back on track, new methods of accountability should be set.
One way to be accountable is to work out with a friend or family member. Each person motivates the other and exercising is harder to back out of when there is a partner.
Over 4 million Americans develop skin cancer each year. Skin cancer is on the rise, especially Melanoma. In fact, since the 1970s, Melanoma cases have tripled.
Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer. While it isn’t the most common, it results in the most deaths. Death occurs because the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, due to it being left untreated. When caught early, it is almost always curable.
Basal Cell is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer. Although it is not known to spread, an area can grow deep and wide. When left untreated, this could lead to the destruction of skin, tissue, and even bone.
While Basal Cell begins in the basal cells, the third type of skin cancer, Squamous Cell, begins in the middle and mostly outer layers of the skin. Although uncommon, because this cancer is aggressive, when left untreated, it could also spread and lead to death.
In general, risk for skin cancer is increased with lighter skin, a family or personal history of skin cancer, a history of sunburns especially early in life, a history of indoor tanning, people with green or blue eyes, and certain type of moles.
Risk also increases with age, mainly due to years of sun exposure. People with suppressed immune systems are at higher risk. And as for gender, men are at higher risk, although because of indoor tanning, the gap is changing.
A person’s lifestyle poses risk also. People who are exposed more to sunlight because of work or outdoor activity. Smokers are also at a higher risk and people who come in prolonged contact with certain chemicals.
How To Protect
Some risks cannot be avoided due to genetics, but lifestyle choices should be considered because of skin cancer possibility.
Because UV exposure is still the main cause of most skin cancer cases, it is important to use sun protection in the forms of sunscreen and clothing.
And with any changes under and on the skin, steps should be taken for the earliest treatment. All growths, changes in skin color, and mole growth can be examined by us. Do not hesitate coming in when you have any concerns.
Last month’s blog explained the other reasons for weight gain besides too many calories. One of those was hormonal imbalance. As a follow-up, here is a further look at the particular hormones that regulate hunger, fat storage, and metabolism. Get to know your weight management hormones!
The hormones in your body affecting hunger, fat storage, and metabolism, work together as a precise system. When one hormone is unbalanced, many follow suit, causing weight gain.
Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and it sends messages to the brain of hunger. It is the appetite-stimulating hormone and rises before meals with levels decreasing after. So, it would seem a solution for weight gain would be decreasing this hormone. Because hormones work together, this cannot be a fix. In fact, dieting can send hunger signals, making decreasing calories very difficult.
This hormone is produced in the pancreas, so how does it affect weight management? Insulin is secreted throughout the day and it promotes glucose to make energy. But it also has the purpose of being the fat storage hormone, relaying messages to store fat rather than converting into energy. While also necessary, this resistance can build and develop unhealthy fat accumulation.
Also produced in the pancreas is glucagon. While insulin is released when blood sugar levels are high, glucagon is released when glucose levels are too low. That’s why it is important these two are balanced because they work together. Any imbalance will lead to a yo-yo effect, contributingto the wrong signals being sent to the brain.
While insulin and glucagon balance each other, leptin works with grehlin. Leptin is produced by adipose or ‘fat’ cells and it regulates energy use by inhibiting hunger. Unfortunately, like with grehlin, this hormone cannot be the simple solution for weight loss. In fact, when calories are decreased, this starvation hormone will send the signals to the body to produce more fat in order to survive.
Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, with highest peaks in the early morning, and decreasing throughout the day. But, during times of stress, levels do increase, leading it to being called the ‘stress’ hormone. This steroid hormone does have the purpose of protecting the liver
and reducing inflammation, however when the brain signals stress, it reacts by overproducing for survival situations, which leads to eating too much.
This is the hormone that tells the body to use fat for fuel. The more adiponectin in your bloodstream, the more fat you will burn. However, the more body fat there is, the lower the level of adiponectin. This hormone might need an extra push for regulation by increasing magnesium, if levels are low.
But with all these hormones, the best regulation practice is eating good food, such as protein, fruits and vegetables. Processed foods and sweets should be avoided. Important also, is good sleep of 7-9 hours and plenty of exercise. Eliminating stress and keeping your body on a schedule is also best for optimal hormone function.