Struggling Family Time with Exercise

As I woke up this morning gathering my thoughts and putting my to-do list together in my head, I realized that I needed to somehow fit a walk with the dog before starting the day.  Problem is I find myself more and more being the one walking the dog vs. my husband and I walking the dog and getting  some exercise.  And when he does decide to go for a walk, the dog and I are so excited because it’s like pulling teeth to get him to ACTUALLY go on a walk with us.

So this morning as I am getting ready to walk the dog, I asked my husband if he would like to join us as he was setting up his play station game Call of Duty…looks like a “no” on his part.  Instead of persuading him to come, I walked out and told him we’d be back in an hour or so wondering how am I going to incorporate family exercise time once the new baby arrives?

I then started wondering how does the average mom who puts health as a priority in addition to family time, incorporate exercise with family? As much as I’d like to think that once the baby is born in the summer, I’m going to be back to my workout routine of P90X, running and mountain biking, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get my pre-baby physique back.

 

So my questions to families out there is this…how do you incorporate fitting physical activity with family time?  Do you make it a point to go on walks 3 times a week or do you take time babysitting the kids in order for one of you to exercise while the other one watches the kids?  And then, the whole time you are working out, do you have that sense of guilt that you should be at home with your family vs at the gym sweating out?

As of right now, I have not figured out a strategy or have come up with a plan of how I’m going to incorporate exercising on top of raising a family and continue my career and education. It will be interesting to see how I will manage and balance my continued healthy lifestyle with the new responsibilities.  For now, I’m looking forward to the challenge and figure I will have to be flexible and ride the wave until I figure out what works best for me.

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Should there be regulations on “junk” food?

With the increase of obesity on the rise in America, the government is considering if regulating, banning or taxing “junk” food would help with the obesity epidemic and change the behavior of consumers.  Question remains is “big brother” trying to control the free market and what consumers are able to purchase?

This is an excellent catch 22 situation to where the outcome choices is still a no-win situation.  If we leave “junk” food as it, consumers are assumed to take personal responsibility in their health yet it has been shown that “junk” food is a behavior that may lead the risk of having chronic diseases such as mentioned before cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. The other choice would be to regulate “junk” food such as over-the-counter products and businesses would argue that this would be a hindrance toward a free market and controlling a businesses’ products/services.

So..the question is with the rise of obesity and plenty of evidence-based research indicating what is the cause, how much control shall we let “big brother” regulate in order to put a stop toward this devastating epidemic which causes more financial burden with health care.

My opinion…no matter what “big brother” decides to regulate, the responsibility of how one chooses to live should be chosen by the individual.  If they allow themselves to be put at a risk for many chronic diseases, the should be willing to pay the cost.  However with the burden of health cost continuing on the rise, I do agree that  insurance companies have the right to conduct health screenings before deciding whether or not they will do business with someone who is at a high risk for chronic health problems.

What do you think?  Should businesses be able to conduct health screenings to decide whether or not they want to insure a potential customer?  Let me know your thoughts or if you’ve come across this recently with your insurance.

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Are you a fattie?!

I’ve been asked what is considered fat, overweight, or obese over the years since working in the health field.  My question is how do you justify whether your fat or not?  Is it by the number of rolls you have collected over the years around your midsection, or the size of your thighs and butt when looking from the front and side, or do you go off by how you relatively feel?  As clinicians we are taught to go by the general standard of using the Body Mass Index (BMI) and use the standard chart of where someone falls within.  Click on link to see where your BMI is at http://nutritioncaremanual.org/calculators.cfm?calculator_type=CalcBMI


For instance if your BMI is less than 24.9 you are considered at a healthy weight.  Anything above 25 indicates you are overweight and if your range is above 30..well let’s just say you’re a fattie!  Technically I’m being a little facetious and abrupt using the term fattie; however I know sometimes people need a rude awakening in order for them to take their health as important. 

Currently, the U.S. adult population is roughly 66% overweight and it continues to grow with a steady increase in children and adolescents.  Yet globally, there is such a significant number of individuals who are starving, malnourished and dying everyday due to starvation. This extreme paradigm leads me to think is America the fattest country in the world..or do we choose to be fat?  I’ve heard the argument that it’s genetics, it’s how I am made..there is nothing I can do about it!  Wrong!  Although research shows there are certain genetic components that play a role in obesity, overall your lifestyle and environment plays just as big a role.

To begin with if you really want to know where you lie, I’d say you CAN use the BMI chart as a general guideline; however do not be fooled by the numbers and get discouraged if you happen to fall in the overweight section.  A huge disadvantage when using the BMI chart is it is solely based on gender and height.  There is no cushion for muscle mass, age difference and ethnicity. 

For instance, it is know that bone density in African-Americans are far denser compared to Asians.  Muscle mass in professional body builders or your average health enthusiast is different compared to someone who never does cardio or strength-training.  Instead of using the BMI, I’d suggest that you get your blood work done…meaning go to your primary provider and ask to get your lab work done.  Your labs don’t lie and you’ll be able to see what your cholesterol, triglycerides (fat), blood sugar, protein status, kidney function, iron status and immunity levels are at.  In more detail your labs can show if your number range for the good cholesterol (HDL) is better than the bad cholesterol (LDL) or if your blood sugars may indicate a possible diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.

Another excellent tool to use is a measuring tape vs  a weight scale.  Don’t be fooled by the numbers you scale is telling you till you take some measurements around the waist, hip, thighs and chest.  Again, for men if your waist circumference is above 40 and women is 35, I’d say this is a strong indicator that you may be at the risk for some chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.  Now again, I am being very general and every individual needs to be assessed case by case.

So..the next time you weigh yourself or judge what you look like based on what the mirror is telling you, I’d suggest you do your own research by getting some lab work done and take those measurements. You’ll have a better picture of where you’re at, where you could be and begin starting on your goals.  Last by not least…please make sure to set up that appointment with a registered dietitian who can guide you in the correct direction on becoming healthier.

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The Balance of Alcohol and Staying Fit

I realize that the majority of the population enjoys a nice “”cold” beer on a summer day or a rich Merlot/Cabernet with dinner.  The question for some is how to balance consuming alcohol and maintaining your physical physique.

Most of us know alcohol as either a social activity or abuse it on the weekends to see who will be the new beer pong champion at your buddy’s house.  The main question is do we know exactly how many calories are in alcohol and what effects it has on the body?

I’m sure we’ve heard it all before, don’t drink too much because it will ruin your liver…don’t drink and drive…you’ll probably puke what you had at lunch that day or think your the hottest chick or guy on the dance floor to every song because you “LOVE THIS SONG”! Fact is the average calories in beer is 150, hard liquor is 100 and wine depending on the sweetness can range from 100-350 calories per serving! 

Do the math and one evening night out with your buddies can turn easily into a 2000-3000 calorie glutton fest which is double what an average female’s calorie consumption should be in a day.

On top of that after a long night of drinking you and your buddies will hit the restaurants or drive-thru that are open 24/7 and choose the healthiest meal on the menu right?!! Wrong again! By that time you are chowing down on that triple cheeseburger with bacon and “special” sauce with extra-large onion rings, side of ranch and/or ketchup and finish it off with that extra super-size soda or Oreo Milkshake.  Can you see what I’m trying to get to?  By the end of your glutton fest night you have consumed almost a week’s worth of calories!  Try that on for size, especially if you think you’re gonna look super hot in that new bikini you just bought or perform well in tomorrow’s sporting event.

My advice…if you are already determined to be this week’s beer pong champion or show everyone how awesome of a dancer you are, make it a point to not out drink your buddies, eat something healthy or have a snack in your purse for later, and make sure you are drinking plenty of the good H20. Either way, being smart and responsible in what you consume will eventually show in your physique.

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Perfect Health Care Provider??

I contemplated whether to write about what I believe is the perfect health care provider; however I realize my utopia mind of state may not align with what I see, encounter and have learned over the past few years since working in the health care industry.  My question to you all is what characteristics do you look for in your health care provider, primary physician or whoever you may go to when you are feeling under the weather?  We have seen a recent shift in health care to provide more patient-centered care to where the patient is involved and take responsibility in their health care plan including preventive measures and treatment.  The biggest barrier it seems that health care is finding is that the majority of health care professionals do not view their patients as people or customers rather they perceptive patients as a room #, case study and what the diagnosis/prognosis is.  In addition there is a known hierarchy in how the health care is ran.  Usually the doctor runs the show with the other members of the interdisciplinary team provide their professional expertise and recommendations; however the final decision is always decided by the doctor.

Before attempting to redesign how health care is provided, there should be a change in how the professionasl who provide the service learn to adapt to the correct verbage and be able to translate their knowledge in a way to where someone off the street who has no knowledge of health would be able to understand what they need to do. In addition, the basic rule of business needs to be applied for health care professionals in that they need to put the patient at the top vs. the health care providers and provide the best customer service to their patients while getting the satisfaction that they are truly helping their patients out.

For myself, the perfect health care professional is one that I know not only has the highest education and intelligence so I have the comfort that they know what they’re talking about..but also that they will treat me as a person, not a diagnosis or room # and truly show that they care about me and provide the best customer service they can.  Having the ability to balance the highest professionalism while showing the basic need of compassion to a person is the perfect formula that needs to be seen more in our health care industry.

Any thoughts or comments on what you look for in a provider?  I’d love to hear what you look for in your health care provider.

 

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The “Craze” Diet for 2011!

As the New Year continues in full force, some of us may find that our waistlines mysteriously grew a few inches over the holiday season.  No worries! Just join the “Dukan Diet” for 2011 and your guaranteed to shed that weight in no time.  For some of you, right now you’ll be googling what this new diet is and be convinced this is the answer to your weight problems. Wrong! I found a great article by David Katz, M.D. who is the Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and found what he had to say would align with what a registered dietitian would agree upon.  Following link is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/dukan-diet-the-fad-diet_b_800501.html

Basically the “Dukan Diet” is a 4-phase process which is similar to the Atkins diet by cutting out the carbs, focusing more on lean protein and adding fruits and vegetables in the later phases.  Advocators for this diet say you will definately lose weight more rapidly in the beginning phases and plateau toward the 4th phase.  Critics will emphasize how unhealthy it is to lose drastic amounts of weight in a short time period and cutting out key essential food groups that are necessary to sustain adequate nutrient needs. 

My perspective on the “Dukan Diet” is this..you will lose a ridiculous amount of weight in a short period; however the sacrifices that you need to make are unreasonable and unrealistic.  For those of you who are absolutely determined, I suggest you take a closer look at the side effects and what will happen to you in the long run.  Like most fad diets, rapid weight loss may cause unwanted side effects which should be taken as a RED flag, not signs that you are succeeding! Most likely the weight you did lose is water weight and muscle mass, NOT fat.  And most would agree the whole reason they are trying to lose weight is to shed off the fat, not dehydrate themselves by fluid loss or lose muscle tone.

In the end, the best “diet” for you to follow is called the balance, moderation, choose healthy food choices and exercise diet.  The kicker is this diet requires that you commit yourself both short and long term.  Only then will it slowly lose the appeal as being on a diet and more of a lifestyle change that you have incorporated into your daily routine.

On an ending note…daily resolution for today is more of a question to you all.  What crazy fad diet have you tried and/or willing to admit and what were the outcome results?  I’d love to hear your experiences and what you’ve learned from it all.

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Daily Resolution 1/3/11

As mentioned before, I have committed myself to write a daily resolution for you discussing topics that include health tips, nutrition, eating, exercise and anything else that incorporates food and nutrition.  For most of us this is the starting work day of the week for the New Year and thought why not incorporate an exercise tip today?  Some of you may work where you have the option to take the stairs or the elevator.  I challenge each and every one of you to try to make it a point to take the stairs today and avoid the elevator.  It may take a minute or so longer to your desired destination; however squeezing in some extra physical activity will burn a few calories and make you feel rejuvenated throughout the day.  Like the majority of us, I too spend most of my day in front of a computer screen and only get up to see patients, take a lunch break or use the restroom when needed.  In fact I have started to take the longer routes to the different wards and make it a point to try to go up the stairs at least once a day now.  It amazes me no matter what type of physical condition you may be in, it seems a couple of flight of stairs can still knock the wind out of you!  So for today, I challenge each and every one of you to boycott the elevators and make a point to take the stairs.  Who know, perhaps you may feel energized after today and begin to incorporate this simple tip into your daily routine.

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