Be Water-Wise..

Drop of water

Water is the only drink for a wise man.
~ Henry David Thoreau

 I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.
~ W. C. Fields

           Have you seen pictures of W.C. Fields?  Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking with meals. If you are like me and like your diet soda and coffee, you need even more water to flush out your system.  During the dog days of summer, it is more important than ever to get 64 ounces of water in daily.  If you are very active, especially out in the heat, I suggest closer to 90 ounces of water of some sort on a daily basis.

Water helps your body:

  • Keep your temperature normal
  • Lubricate and cushion joints
  • Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • Eliminate waste

Your body needs more water when you are:

  • In hot climates
  • More physically active (no danger for you Greg)
  • Running a fever
  • Suffering from “viral” symptoms
  • Taking medication such as allergy meds that “dry” you out. I have learned this from personal experience.

If you think you are not getting enough water, these tips may help:

  • Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands. If you have a desk-job, buy a 32 to 64 ounce water bottle, fill it in the mornings, set it on your desk, and make sure you get your 64 ounces per day.   If you are hurting for exercise, stick with a 16 ounce bottle so you have to make more trips to the water cooler/faucet.
  • Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Key point here: Don’t drink your calories!
  • Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.

Here are a few creative ways to increase your water intake:

  1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.
  1. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don’t just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.
  1. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home. If you ever travel to Europe, you have to ask for still water or you are automatically served sparkling water.
  1. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that’s so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.
  1. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you’re interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.
  1. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption. This doesn’t sound that great in July but do what you must to keep your water intake up. I had a coach in college tell me that hot water was much better for me than cold water anyway.  It was better for him because he didn’t have to put ice in the water jug..(See Wayne Norfleet)
  1. Add fast flavor. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system. Be cautious with these as we still don’t know all the lasting impacts of sugar-free additives. If you use one, be sure it is Stevia-based.

Don’t Stay Thirsty, my friends.

Source: Jen Laskey, Everyday Health


Watch Your Heart

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We all know that fitness is good for your heart, but there are exceptions.
But would you know the signs it’s time to stop exercising immediately and head straight to the hospital?
Exercise is very good for your heart. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Here’s the catch…-Still, more exercise and more intense exercise isn’t always better, particularly for people with certain underlying heart conditions. “There is a little bit of this cardiac arrest paradox, where we’re telling people, ‘Exercise is beneficial when you do it on a regular basis, but at times, can be a trigger for something worse,’” says Dr. Jonathan Drezner, a family medicine physician at the University of Washington, who specializes in sports medicine. Here are seven of those times:
1. You haven’t consulted your doctor. -If you’re at risk for heart disease – meaning you have hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes; you smoke or have a family history of heart disease, heart attack or sudden death from a heart problem; or all of the above – it’s important you talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise plan, Drezner says. Young athletes should be screened for heart conditions, too.
2. You go from zero to 100. -Ironically, out-of-shape people who can benefit most from exercise are also at higher risk for sudden heart problems while working out. That’s why it’s important to “pace yourself, don’t do too much too soon and make sure you give your body time to rest between workouts,” says Dr. Martha Gulati, editor-in-chief of CardioSmart, the American College of Cardiology’s patient education initiative.
3. You experience chest pain.-“Chest pain is never normal or expected,” says Gulati, also division chief of cardiology at University of Arizona College of Medicine, who says that, in rare cases, exercise can cause a heart attack. If you feel chest pain or pressure – especially alongside nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath or extreme sweatiness – stop working out immediately and call 911, Gulati advises.
4. You’re suddenly short on breath. -If your breath doesn’t quicken when you exercise, you’re probably not working hard enough. But there’s a difference between shortness of breath due to exercise and shortness of breath due to a potential heart attack, heart failure,exercise-induced asthma or another condition. “If there is an activity or level that you could do with ease and suddenly you get winded … stop exercising and see your doctor,” Gulati says.
5. You feel dizzy. -Most likely, you’ve pushed yourself too hard or didn’t eat or drink enough before your workout. But if stopping for water or a snack doesn’t help – or if the lightheadedness is accompanied by profuse sweating, confusion or even fainting – you might need emergency attention, Johnson says. “These symptoms could be a sign of dehydration, diabetes, a blood pressure problem or possibly a nervous system problem,” she says. Dizziness could also signal a heart valve problem, Gulati says.
6. Your legs cramp.-Cramps seem innocent enough, but they’re not to be ignored – “especially in the legs,” Johnson says. Leg cramps during exercise could signal blockage of your leg’s main artery, and warrant at least a talk with your doctor, she says. Now, this doesn’t mean an occasional calf cramp from playing sports or the occasional love-handle cramp that Greg experiences.
7. Your heartbeat is wacky. -Conditions that feel like fluttering or thumping in the chest and require medical attention, Johnson says. While I’m a huge fan of exercise that causes muscle confusion, heart confusion is not what you are looking for in a workout.
I am all for encouraging physical activity and it is, in fact, directly linked with living a longer life. However, if you experience any of the symptoms be sure to check with your doctor! Don’t give up on your workouts though if you actually break a sweat or start breathing hard. That part is to be expected…
Keep tabs on your heart and Live Well!

Source (US News & World Report)


Stressed Out

Stressed Out

“Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.”-TWENTY ØNE PILØTS

Unless you live under a rock (no offense Greg Moses), chances are it wouldn’t be difficult for you to find someone – including yourself – saying they’re stressed about something. Stress can be a good thing when it leads us to conquering our fears and getting the job done; when you’re in a constant state of anxiety and tension, then this could/would negatively affect not only your emotional state, but your physical and mental states, as well.
So how should we handle stress?
First, we need to figure out what is leading to the stress. The following from WebMD are signs that you may be already under heavy stress.
1.You’re Always Sick
If it seems like you have been constantly sick for over a month now – cough, sore throat, and fever – stop blaming your sickness to your sneezing coworker or the unpredictable weather. It might be you have been working really hard lately and are under extreme pressure.
Whenever the body is under extreme pressure, the body secretes a stress hormone called cortisol. Although this can help the body in the short-term, if you’re always stressed, these hormones won’t be able to do anything at all. Cortisol, as well as the other hormones of the immune system can help the body combat stress, but when these hormones become withdrawn, then the body becomes more susceptible to illness.
The side effects don’t stop here. Stress can also slow down the healing process, which leads to the activation of other viruses. I’m a big believer that if you have any prolonged illness, you better get to the doctor and have it checked out.
2.Suffering from Constant Headache That Won’t Go Away
Does it feel like your head is throbbing or you’re feeling pressure anywhere on your temple area? There’s a good chance it’s because of tension or stress.
Most of the time, a lot of us point to particular troubles in life as the cause of stress. However, more often than not, this should be blamed on the lifestyle instead. Keep in mind, whenever you’re experiencing a migraine, or “the worst headache of your life,” then this could probably a sign of a dangerous health problem and a doctor’s visit becomes necessary.
See my comment above about seeing a doctor with lingering illnesses or pain.
Several years ago, I had a headache and sinus pressure for a few weeks that I tried to treat with ibuprofen and sinus meds. Randomly, I had a blood pressure check here at the YMCA during a health fair and found that my blood pressure was about 200 over 120. I am a very active guy, but my family genetics (hereditary blood pressure issues) didn’t really kick in until that moment. See you doctor with lingering issues!
3.Upset Stomach
Stomach problems are one of the most common symptoms that a lot of people suffer from.
So, what’s the connection of stress to one’s stomach? Well, the gut is very sensitive to emotions and stress. This is the main reason why whenever we’re nervous or excited about something, we get the feeling of having “butterflies in our stomach.” On the other hand, when you’re disappointed or upset, it will seem like your stomach has “churned up.”
Whenever we’re stressed, some of the hormones and chemicals released by the body go into the digestive tract. Instead of helping in the digestion process, these chemicals interfere. Thus, it results in a chemical imbalance, leading to a number of gastrointestinal conditions, such as:
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS happens when the hardness of muscle contractions uncontrollably oscillates – the process by which the food is pushed through the digestive tract in order to be digested. These oscillations could lead to either diarrhea or constipation.
* Nervous Stomach: It’s a term often used to describe stomach related problems, especially when diagnostic tests fail to determine the real cause of it.
* Peptic Ulcers: These are described as open sores in the lining of the stomach – the first part of the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed into the body. The most notable symptom of peptic ulcer includes a gnawing feeling in the stomach area that lasts between half an hour to thirty minutes.
4. It’s Hard to Concentrate
Do you feel overwhelmed that you can’t even concentrate on what’s in front of you? Or does remembering simple things like your co-worker’s name becomes difficult? If the answer is yes, then this could be a sign that you’re really stressed.
According to research, long-term exposure to excessive amounts of cortisol could have a negative effect on the brain, because it eventually shrinks the hippocampus – the brain’s memory center. Likewise, constant stress can also trigger the growth of proteins that might lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
5.Dry Mouth
This is one of the symptoms a lot of stress individuals will recognize. The mouth feels very dry whenever you’re in constant stress. This is the main reason why a lot of public speakers have a glass of water ready on their side. I find myself drinking more and more coffee and water when stressed.
6.Difficulty in Sleeping Well
If you have been finding yourself wakening up and worrying over a lot of things – this could be a sign of anxiety and depression. After a long, tiring day, sleep should come easy and getting into bed would be the time to fully relax and shut your brain off. However, whenever you’re in constant stress this would seem like a very impossible task for you. If you have been experiencing this lately, then you better talk to your doctor and discuss whether chronic stress is the cause of this depression.
In future posts we will talk about some stress relief activities.

Until then, find your happy place, relax, and live well!


12 Tips to Beat the Christmas Bulge

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 tips for beating the Christmas bulge so I won’t look like a partridge in a pear tree. (Actually, it was my good friend, Amy Sullins, who suggested I do a take-off of the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas.”)

As we approach the holiday season, let’s take a few moments to identify some options from WebMD and EatingWell.com to make the Christmas season less damaging to our waistlines. (Yes, I know it’s old but I’ve got “Bing Crosby Christmas” pulled up on my Pandora Internet radio station, so why not?)

Eat Breakfast Every Day. Research shows dieters are more successful at losing weight – and keeping it off – when they eat breakfast. If you don’t already eat breakfast, start. I personally feel you are better off to eat a sausage biscuit than eating absolutely nothing in the morning. While that is not the best alternative to eat every day, at least it puts “fuel in the engine” and gets your motor running in the morning.
Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. When you wear snug-fitting attire, chances are you’ll be too busy holding in your stomach to overeat. While you stand around looking posh in your holiday finery, hold a drink in your dominant hand so it won’t be so easy to grab food, recommends obesity expert Cathy Nonas, MS, RD. Or you could be the rude guy or gal at the party with a cell phone out texting and Tweeting.
No skipping meals. Always eat normally on the day of a party. “People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there,” says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of “Diet Simple.” “Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint.” Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack or salad shortly before the event. Unfortunately, many of us do this by going to three Christmas parties in one day. That’s not the idea here, obviously.
Be a food snob. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Melinda Johnson, MS, RD. Scan the buffet for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes that are available all year long. And don’t think it’s your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and, slowly and mindfully, savor every mouthful. Unfortunately, we all feel pressure to try everything on the buffet line. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to try the old “hide the leftover food under the napkin trick.” (Hint: Stand up and leave the table and then cover the food with the napkin as you take your plate to the garbage. Greg Moses does this with vegetables all the time.)
Chew gum. When you don’t want to eat, pop a piece of sugarless gum into your mouth. This works well when you’re cooking or when you’re trying not to dive into the buffet. I try to keep some Orbit White or Trident White on hand at all times. It not only helps with the cravings, but it also keeps my teeth looking great.
Downsize Your Dish. Studies show that we eat less when we use smaller dinnerware. The theory is that our eyes get tricked into thinking we are eating more because our plate is full, making the food portions look bigger. The result: We are satisfied with less food. Try eating your meals on salad plates instead of larger dinner plates. (Greg Moses recently downsized his plates from hubcaps to regular dinner plates and is doing very well.)
Trade Up Your Fork. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows using a bigger fork and subsequently taking bigger bites can actually lead to eating less (apparently seeing yourself making a larger dent in the food on your plate can cue you to stop eating sooner). You’ll increase the benefit by holding the fork with your non-dominant hand to slow you down.
Drink Lots of Water. You’ve probably heard it before, but this is one diet-friendly adage that’s tried and true, so start hydrating. Drinking two cups of water before eating a meal can help you lose weight. The water helps you feel full sooner, so you eat less and, in turn, weigh less.
Display Produce Proudly. You know the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” right? Not what you want when it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables. Produce delivers lots of nutrients but not a lot of calories. Plus, it’s packed with fiber, which helps fill you up.
Snack on Yogurt. Yogurt was recently identified as a top weight-loss-promoting food by Harvard University. It’s high in protein, which, gram for gram, helps fill you up more than carbs. Stick to plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt for a healthy snack without extra sugar or saturated fat. Another diet bonus? The probiotics in yogurt may also help you burn fat as well as aid in digestion.
Enjoy a Small Treat. Don’t banish all your favorite foods. Doing so may lead to failure. A drastically limited diet is not sustainable, and feeling deprived may eventually cause you to overeat. Savoring a small treat daily really won’t sabotage your weight-loss efforts, according to research.
Sit with people you really enjoy. I find if I sit with friends and family I enjoy talking to, I tend to spend more time talking and less time chowing down. By the time you finish chatting, your food will have settled and, hopefully, you won’t go back for seconds or thirds. (Alternative: Sit next to Greg Moses as he tends to provide two helpful weight-loss benefits: He’ll pick food off your plate and turn your stomach when you see all the stuffing and gravy in his beard.
Merry Christmas and Live Well!


Add Healthy Living To Your Thanksgiving Menu!

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“You can tell you ate too much Thanksgiving when you have to let your bathrobe out.”

– Jay Leno

It’s that time of year when we give thanks and reflect on all our blessings. I am personally thankful for my God, my family, my friends, my home, my job, and my constant opportunities to poke fun at Greg Moses.

Over the years, my family has developed a great Thanksgiving tradition of running a 5K at Keeneland, a horse-racing track in Lexington, Ky. It is held at 8 a.m., in late November, in Central Kentucky. Typically, that is the coldest day of the year and snow is on the ground, but it is a great time. We always bundle up and leave my mother at home prepping for Thanksgiving dinner and the kids watching the Thanksgiving day parade.

The best part of the morning? We all go eat a big breakfast right after the 5K. While it might sound a little gluttonous considering the big day I will have eating, since we started doing this, I’ve experienced an unusual phenomenon: I don’t feel nearly as bad after my Thanksgiving meal when I get up and do something productive earlier in the day, even if I follow that productivity with a Shoney’s breakfast bar.

I am a firm believer that Thanksgiving is an occasion to spend time with family, relax, and eat whatever you want, even if it is the annual deep-fried Thanksgiving Twinkie that Greg enjoys. However, we must be willing to work some of that out of our system on Black Friday.

I suggest the following steps to detoxify your system:

1. Get up, get movin’. Only the proud and the few will be up at 3 a.m. to do their annual Black Friday shopping. For those of you who will, walk and shop fast. For the rest of us, we should plan ahead for an intense sweat session. An interval workout alternates between short bursts of high intensity activity and short to medium bursts of low intensity activity. You will not only burn a higher amount of calories, but you will also increase your overall aerobic capability. Personally, I am planning on a racquetball match Friday morning.

2. Get friendly with fiber. Foods rich in dietary fiber naturally help cleanse your digestive tract and promote healthy bowel functions. Eat foods such as whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa), fruits (bananas, apples, raspberries, grapes), and vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes). Here’s a hint: If you follow step number two, then step number one will definitely not be a problem.

3. Stretch. About one-third of you worked half of Thanksgiving Day cooking for loved ones. Some of us sat around all day. For us, Friday is a day to work out the cobwebs. Even if you don’t work out on Friday, take twenty minutes or so to stretch away the pain 12 hours in a recliner can cause.

4. Eat mindfully. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. Fasting or skipping meals can completely backfire and lead to binge eating. Eat five or six healthy, portion-controlled meals to keep your metabolism revved up.

5. Drink lemon water. Lemons are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, making them the perfect culprit to assist in the cleansing of the digestive tract. Drinking warm lemon water has been known to flush the body of toxins, speed hydration, and improve the immune system.

6. Drink Green Tea. Green tea is also known for flushing out the kidneys and the liver – and trust me, after Thanksgiving Day, we all can use a good double-cleansing.

And finally, after you have cleansed your body of all the goodies you eat on Thanksgiving Day, take a moment to soak in a quote about what we really have to be thankful for in our lives:

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual … O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Be thankful and live well!


Got a Texting Problem?

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I’ve heard all the talk about cell phones being the downfall of today’s youth.  Yes, I have two teenagers who text often.  However, what constitutes a texting problem?  I recall two things from my teen years (that I can share) regarding phones:  1) I’m so glad we didn’t have cell phones back then.  Instant communication is not beneficial to those who haven’t learned the principles of rational behavior over emotional behavior.  Plus, cell phones have cameras!  2) My parents thought that landline phones were the downfall of the youth of the late 1980’s.  I turned out ok, eventually..

Teenagers use text messaging more than any other mode of communication, so it may be hard to tell. But youngsters who check their phones continually, snap if you interrupt them and are so preoccupied with texting that they skip sleep and don’t get their work done may be compulsive texters, a new study says. For girls, compulsive texting is more than just a distraction – it is also associated with lower academic performance.  I have to give my girls credit, they do better than the old man academically but that could just be that I married up.

The study of more than 400 eighth and 11th graders found that many teenage texters had a lot in common with compulsive gamblers, including losing sleep because of texting, problems cutting back on texting and lying to cover up the amount of time they spent texting.

“Compulsivity is more than just the number of texts teens are engaging in,” said Kelly M. Lister-Landman, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at Delaware County Community College in Media, Pa. “What is their relationship with phone use? Do they feel anxious when it’s not around them? When they sit down to eat dinner with their family, do they feel a need to check it? Do they feel compelled to look at it at all times, rather than just answering texts they get?  I have to admit, my family tends to glance at their phones during meals more than I’d like.  However, much of the time it is my daughters looking at their phones together and any time teenage sisters get along (almost) is a good time for all.

Over all, girls text compulsively at a far higher rate than boys do. And unlike girls, boys in the study who were compulsive texters were not at risk of doing poorly in school.

The study, published online Oct. 5 in Psychology of Popular Media Culture, is not the first to find a link between excessive social media use and lower grades. A 2014 study found that the more time black and Hispanic teenagers spent on Facebook, the lower their math scores were. Other studies have found that college students who texted while doing homework had lower grades, and students who texted during class took less detailed notes and had poorer recall. An experiment with college students showed that students who abstained from texting during a lecture retained more information and scored higher on a quiz.

Excessive Internet use has also been linked to sleep problems, because students log on late at night and because it interferes with homework, requiring them to stay up later to finish it. Studies have also linked high numbers of daily texts to sleep problems, possibly because teenagers are awakened by messages.

The new study underscores the correlation between compulsive texting and problems in school but does not explain whether texting is a direct cause of poorer school performance or whether another problem like depression or substance abuse is driving both behaviors.

“I don’t think texting is causing academic problems — I think it’s an attention-span issue,” said Kimberly Young, a psychologist who founded the Center for Internet Addiction and has done research on the subject but was not involved in the new study. “If you’re constantly checking your phone, how are you going to study for school? I have kids who can’t sit through an hourlong lecture without checking their phone.”

Texting has become the dominant mode of communication for teenagers, according to figures published in 2012 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That report noted that three-quarters of teenagers own a mobile phone and 63 percent say they text every day, a greater percentage than those who say they talk on the phone, meet face-to-face or email every day. The median number of texts sent by teens is 60 a day, with older girls having a median of 100 text messages a day and boys a median of 50.

The new study on texting looked at several elements of school performance, not just grades, but school engagement or “bonding,” as well as students’ perceptions of their own academic competence.

The authors administered a questionnaire to 211 eighth-grade students and 192 high school juniors in a semirural town in the Midwest to assess whether they were compulsive texters. The 14-item questionnaire is one Dr. Young had adapted from a pathological gambling scale to identify compulsive Internet use. The authors of the new study further modified it to identify problematic texting.

Questions included: Do you not do your chores to spend more time texting? Do you text longer than you intended? Do you snap, yell or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are texting? Other items inquire whether teenagers are losing sleep because of texting, if they have tried but have been unable to cut down on their texting, and if they lie to cover up the amount of time spent texting.

Of the 403 students who participated in the study, 47 said they did not text every day. These “nontexters” were excluded from the analysis.

Among the remaining 356 students, girls were far more likely to be compulsive texters. About 12 percent of the girls — one in eight — were compulsive texters, while only about 3 percent of the boys had the problem. Most of the compulsive texters sent more than 100 messages a day.

The three biggest issues I have with youth and texting:

  1. They don’t communicate well in face to face conversation
  2. They will say things through texting that they would never say to a person’s face.
  3. Oh and don’t get me started on texting and driving.  I think adults are just as bad as this as youth.  I saw a man texting and driving a …wait for it…motorcycle in front of the YMCA just a couple of weeks ago.  Put that phone down and live well!(Source NYTimes)

To reduce a student’s texting time, concerned parents may want to insist their children turn off their phones or put them away while doing homework, and create screen-free zones in the house, make dinner time phone-free and establish screen-free bedtime routines.  I know of a family that, upon arriving at a restaurant or home kitchen table, piles all the phones in the middle of the table.  Whoever picks up their phone before dinner is over has to pay for dinner.  Wish the Montgomery’s (especially Dad) luck as we try that in the coming weeks..

Put down that phone and live well!


Fighting Fatigue?

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Do you ever struggle with fatigue?  No, I’m not talking to all the college students who stay up until 2 AM and then complain because they are so tired for their 8 AM classes.  We. All. Make.  Choices.  I’m talking about the average “Mack-Minn” Countian who works a 40 plus hour week and struggles to stay awake between about 2 and 4 PM every work day.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have gone so far as to call Americans’ lack of sleep a “public health epidemic.” Chronic fatigue is also related to a variety of medical conditions including autoimmune disease, thyroid disorders, depression, and anemia. Combine any of these possibilities with long hours at work and it’s no surprise you’re reaching for a third cup of coffee or a Diet Coke by 3 o’clock. But there are other natural ways to boost energy that will provide a more sustainable lift and won’t compromise your ability to wind down in the evening so you can finally get the rest you need. Read on for a few research-supported strategies to stay energized all day long.

Balance your carb consumption

That afternoon slump may happen because you’re bored at work, but more than likely it has a lot to do with what you just ate for lunch. Your body and brain need food for fuel, but when a lot of the calories you consume come from carbohydrates—such as the bread used in sandwiches or a hearty bowl of pasta—you may start to feel sleepy about an hour after eating. Carbohydrates are absorbed into your blood stream almost immediately after eating. Right after a carb-heavy meal your blood sugar will experience a big surge then, when all the carbs are used up, your blood sugar will plummet, bringing on that feeling of fatigue. This explains why after Sunday afternoon lunch I desperately need a nap.  Calories that come from fiber, fat, and protein take longer to release. For even all-day energy, eat a mix of nutrients at each meal and snack, including plenty of fiber-rich veggies and fruits, lean proteins such as chicken or beans, and some healthy fat, such as that found in avocados and olive oil.

Take in more B12

Even if you eat a balanced diet, you may be deficient in important nutrients. If you’re feeling sluggish, try increasing your intake of vitamin B12. This vitamin is naturally found in animal-derived foods like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy, which explains why many vegetarians and vegans may not get enough through diet alone. (Vitamin B12 is also important for anemia prevention.) Vitamin B12 supplements can be found in the vitamin aisle of most grocery stores; you can take this vitamin on its own or in a blend of other B vitamins.

Take a walk

It may seem like being active will only make you feel more tired and it can be true—going to an intense cardio class may make you want to take a nap. But engaging in low or moderate activity—such as a short walk or a pilates session—can boost energy levels, according to an article from the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. This sort of exercise is enough to increase your circulation—and with it the blood and oxygen flow to your body and brain—without actually tiring you out. The next time you feel fatigued but you really need to be awake, try it out: Go on a brisk 10- or 20-minute walk and see how you feel after. Chances are you’ll be much more awake than when you left.

Relax to rev up

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, all of that mental churning can zap your energy levels—it’s the equivalent to your mind running a marathon. Shift your thoughts to more of a leisurely stroll and you’ll feel a whole lot less drained. Easier said than done? Try meditation or prayer. Simply focusing on your breath can help you relax and, according to a study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, it can also increase your alertness. To start: Close your eyes and notice your inhales and exhales for a couple of minutes. Let your thoughts drift in and out, trying not to focus on any one.

Breathe some fresh air

This is too easy.  Step 1: Spend less time with Greg Moses.  When the couch is calling, get back to nature. A study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being in the outdoors is a simple way to increase feelings of vitality. In the study, people who spent just 20 minutes outside felt more awake than those who spent the same amount of time inside. Being active, such as walking or gardening, can help increase these feelings. No chance to escape four walls? Simply imagining a natural setting can help, according to the researchers.

Set a routine bedtime

To put the power in your power suit, you must give your body and brain adequate time to rest and recharge at night. If you often hit snooze in the morning or wake up feeling like you haven’t rested enough, move your bedtime forward to ensure you get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. (Have a hard time shutting off your screen time? Set an alarm on your phone to remind you it’s time to unwind.) A recent study in the Journal of Primary Health Care found that going to bed earlier and practicing better sleep hygiene, such as limiting screen time before bed(something I don’t practice), improved sleep for 73 percent of participants.

Keep a water bottle handy

If you’re feeling fatigued, keeping H2O on tap will help refill your energy stores. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired and decrease your ability to concentrate, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Experiencing headaches or feeling lethargic can signal that you need more fluids. This is something I’ve suffered with recently so let’s work on this hydration thing together.  Feeling thirsty can also be a sign that you’re already dehydrated. Aim to drink around eight 8-ounce glasses (nope, this is not a myth!) or four 16-ounce bottles of water each day. If you exercise regularly, you may need to drink more.  I have found that since I’ve started cycling that I need close to 100 ounces of water per day.  (Source Health.com)

Rest Easy and Live Well


The Benefits of Cycling…

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Cyclists are a diverse group. Some of us ride fat tires down rocky trails, some of us ride road bikes up burly hills, some of us ride for sport, and some of us ride just for fun. Some ride for the adrenaline rush and some ride their bikes for basic transportation. But all of us can take advantage of the healthy benefits of cycling, even if we never ever buy a single item made from spandex – and, Greg Moses, remember there are laws against you buying anything made of spandex.

Bicycling, along with being the most efficient mode of human locomotion, is also one of the best all-around activities for improving our health. From head to toes, cycling’s health benefits are hard to beat. Here are a few from Men’s Health magazine to show you just what I mean:

  1. Cycling is good for your heart: Cycling is associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease.
  2. Cycling is good for your muscles: Riding a bike is great for toning and building your muscles, especially in the lower half of the body – your calves, your thighs, and your rear end. It’s also a great low-impact mode of exercise for those with joint conditions or injuries to the legs or hips, which might keep them from being active.
  3. Cycling is good for your waistline: You can burn a lot of calories while biking, especially when you cycle faster than a leisurely pace, and cycling has been associated with helping to keep weight gain down. And cycling has the added benefit of ramping up your metabolism, even after the ride is over.
  4. Cycling is good for your lifespan: Bicycling is a great way to increase your longevity, as cycling regularly has been associated with increased ‘life-years’, even when adjusted for risks of injury through cycling.
  5. Cycling is good for your coordination: Moving both feet around in circles while steering with both your hands and your body’s own weight is good practice for your coordination skills.
  6. Cycling is good for your mental health: Studies have been conducted that have, in fact, shown this link.
  7. Cycling fights off the bad stuff: Cycling can strengthen your immune system, and could protect against certain kinds of cancers.

Even with all the health benefits, some people just ride bikes for fun. Others, like me, ride bikes for rehab (knee replacement). With the new knee, I am not allowed to run long distances, so I cycle instead – which is good, because my bike only has one seat so Greg Moses can’t ask me to haul him to get a milkshake on it. Hopefully, someday soon I will be able to participate in some cycling events. My longterm goal is to complete a 100 mile ride or a “Century.”

Here’s hoping you will give cycling a shot to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Keep pedaling and live well!


The Bike Stuff..

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My long history of knee issues has been well chronicled in this column in the past. In fact, until about a year ago, my left knee was fused (for 14 years). My knee bent so little that I couldn’t walk up and down steps normally or even pedal a bicycle. Until recently, I have just worked that knee out with walking, lifting, and an occasional go at the elliptical machine at the Y. However, about a month ago, after having knee-replacement surgery, I purchased myself a road bike.

If you are in the market for a bike, I highly recommend the Outdoor Store. Bruce Blevins was a great help in fitting me for my bike, as well as getting me a “biker starter kit.” This is just another example of how buying local is so beneficial. You don’t get service like that from an online bike shop.  Now, about a month into my tenure as a biker, I have a few stories to share.

First of all, you have to understand that I’m truly a novice rider. I really hadn’t ridden a bike since I got my driver’s license back in 1987. Once I got the keys to that ’78 Grand Prix, I was done with those Ten-Speed days. I had to get Bruce to teach my how to shift gears on my new bike. I even went to Athens City Middle School in the evenings to practice shifting gears (by the way, I sincerely apologize to the poor joggers that I nearly ran over that night). Due to the complexity of my fusion then knee replacement, I still have some muscle atrophy in my left leg so I’m still working on balance and endurance in that leg particularly. The good news, though, is that cycling is about the best therapy I can do for that leg.

Currently, I’m that chicken cyclist who rarely ventures into the road, spending most of my time in emergency lanes on four lane roads, often dodging debris that might cause a flat. I gradually am getting braver and more confident in “sharing the road.” As I move forward and get some brighter clothing, I will hopefully make that transition. Here are a few things you can do to help cyclist feel safer about their rides (from yieldtolife.org):

1. Treat them differently but equally. In all states, cyclists are deemed by law to be drivers of vehicles and are entitled to the same rights on the road as motorists. Expect and watch for cyclists on the road. Treat them as you would any slow moving vehicle.

2. Be patient. Patience on the road can save lives. Your patience may involve: waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle and refraining from tailgating, giving cyclists the right of way when the situation calls for it, and allowing extra time for cyclists to go through intersections.

3. Make a passing grade. Do not pass a cyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. You should allow ample space between you and your bicycle and make sure you do not place you or the cyclist in danger. The law, in fact, is that the motorist should give 3 foot space between them and the cyclist.

Things not to do:

1. Don’t throw out glass. Whatever you do, don’t throw beer or Coke bottles on our streets and highways – keep them in your car like Greg Moses does (although he only does it so he can bum free rides to lunch from other people because there’s no room in his car for passengers). Nothing like seeing a novice bike rider try to dodge what looks like the remains of a six pack of beer bottles.

2. Don’t Litter … at all! I have dodged glass, shoes, wicker baskets, tire remnants, mini-liquor bottles, tie-down straps, and electrical components, just to name of few items.

3. Don’t use your horn unnecessarily. Do not honk unnecessarily at cyclists. If you are too close, the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his/her bearings and create a hazardous situation for both you and the cyclist. And the same goes for leaning all the way out of the passenger side of a vehicle and screaming “Aaayyyyyyyy-yyyyyyyy!!!” at the top of your lungs in your best Jethro Bodine voice. Yes, I’m talking to you in the big, jacked-up 4-wheel drive with three flags mounted on the back. You. Must. Chill.

As a cyclist, you are the most vulnerable of vehicles on the road. The majority of your time will be riding in traffic. Please use the safety tips below to protect yourself:

1. Right On. It is generally either illegal or unsafe to ride on a sidewalk or on the road towards oncoming traffic. As a rule, it is best to ride in the direction of traffic, staying as far to the right as is practical. (Disregard this if you see me riding towards traffic in the emergency lane as I stay off the road still).

2. Join In. If you are traveling at the same speed as other traffic, it may be safer to jump in and ride with traffic; because, this may make you more visible to motorists. Joining traffic is sometimes necessary because the road is simply too narrow for both a bike and a car. It is a particularly good idea to take a lane and join traffic before an intersection to make your presence known — especially for right-turning drivers who may not see you as they start their turn.

3. Use Your Head. Regardless if you’re going to the corner store or heading out on a marathon ride, always wear a helmet. Make sure it is properly fastened and fitted. (The helmet should fit snugly and not move when you shake your head.) Bruce at the Outdoor Store can help with this too.

4. The Road Straightly Traveled. Try to ride consistently and predictably. For instance, at an intersection, do not veer into the crosswalk and then suddenly reappear on the road again. Don’t thread through parked cars. With such erratic behavior, motorists will not be aware of your presence when you try to re-emerge into traffic.

5. Playing Defense. Make sure you are always aware of your surroundings. Know what is behind you and watch out for what is in front of you. Always be on the lookout for road hazards; sand and gravel, glass, railroad tracks, parked cars, snow and slush can wreak havoc on you and your bike. Sewer grates and cracks in the road can catch your wheel and cause you to be thrown from the bike.

6. Flaunt It. Make your presence felt. Wear bright color clothing. At night or in inclement weather, it is important to use reflective lights in the front, side and rear that make you visible from all directions.

7. Brake Away. Make sure your brakes are always in top-notch condition. Be aware of how weather and road conditions can affect your ability to brake.

In my next column, we will talk about the health benefits of cycling


Does Culture Play a Role in Obesity?

Europe Healthy Pic

The United States may not be the country with the most people, but we make up for it in girth. We are the top country in the world in terms of obesity, followed by China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia, in that order.

Guess which countries aren’t on that list? The four European countries I visited this summer with my wife and two teenage girls: England, France, Italy, and Greece.

No (or Limited) Air Conditioning

We were blessed to be in London, England, on the hottest day ever recorded there (around July 1st and 2nd). Anywhere you went, it was over 100 degrees. It is typically about 70 to 75 in London this time of year. Cafes in Downtown London, near Piccadilly Circus, had their doors open (that didn’t help). We even walked into a burger shop that was so hot, we didn’t even order burgers … just milkshakes. Oh wait, this is a healthy living column.

The big, sweaty Americans were melting in London. Since they don’t have to deal with that type of heat often, the hotels’ air conditioning could just barely get us cooled off by the time we took off the next morning.

Although it didn’t seem possible, I believe it was hotter when we were in Paris, France. One particular incident sums up the experience. We had spent all day touring the Louvre Museum or the Palace of Versailles or some other amazing place in France and followed that up with a late night at the Eiffel Tower. As was often the case, we had to hoof our way back to the subway station.

I might have been the hottest I’ve ever been in my life in the subway tunnel … until I stepped into the last care of a very, very, very crowded Parisian subway train. Because we were a group of 32, didn’t speak the language, and had several teens with us, it was imperative that we all stay together. Right after I rushed on to this packed train car, I was knocked off my feet, with only a 5 foot tall Parisian women there to break my fall. I unintentionally punched her right in the face. Much more disappointing to her was the stream of sweat I wiped on her nose and eyes. Big Sweaty American.

I really feel like our tour group bonded that night in Paris – we didn’t really have much of a choice. It was a sauna on that subway and, just as we were all about to keel over, I think we all got a little delirious, getting louder and more obnoxious by the sweat drop. So then we were Big Sweaty LOUD Americans.

It was probably a good thing we couldn’t speak the language, because I’m sure what the Parisians were saying about us that night wasn’t good.

Ice and Drinks

I had heard the stories but just wasn’t prepared. Ice is truly at a premium in Europe. You practically have to pay for it or at least beg for it to get it. They just don’t have ice machines there. They either have ice trays or blocks of ice. We would come into restaurants and use up all the ice they had. On some occasions, they didn’t have ice or wouldn’t let us have it. Other times, they just rationed the ice. Keep in mind, it was really hot. Fortunately, they kept their water cold.

Transportation (Or Lack Thereof)

In most of the cities we visited, you either walked everywhere or walked to a mass transit station. People just don’t drive everywhere like we do. Those that do drive don’t appear to drive very well, so pedestrians have to be quick to survive.

So, what’s the correlation?

They are less obese because they sweat if off during the summer due to no air conditioning or ice and they walk most places.

Ok, I’m pretty sure none of that is related at all. More than likely, the biggest difference in obesity between the US and Europe would be our diets.

Our diets tend to have more junk food and fast food, whereas most of Europe eats more sit down meals that include a lot less processed foods. And, let’s be honest, we all are a little spoiled with all the modern conveniences like air conditioning, ice, and fast food. We have become more of a fast-paced, drive-through society.

Take the time to grow your own food, cook your own food, and slow down and eat with your family. I’m sure that will benefit more than just your waistline.