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What Eye Color and Shape Say About Your Health

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“I Committed to 12 Weeks of Workouts — And It Totally Transformed My Body”

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Before I went to college, I was very insecure about how I looked and I never really realized how deeply that affected literally every aspect of my life.

I was always second-guessing myself, worrying about what others thought.

But at school, I made friends who were really into fitness, and I started going to the gym sometimes, bolstered by their encouragement.

In my second year, though, I was playing netball (a sport similar to basketball that’s popular in the U.K., where I’m from) when I jarred my back, sending it into spasms. From that moment on, everything was different.

I’d struggle standing for more than 10 minutes. If I went shopping, I’d end up in agony. Even things like getting to the subway and having to stand became too difficult. There were times I’d be sobbing on the floor in pain, with my back muscles in spasms, physically stuck in bed, unable to roll out because the pain was just too much.

When the pain started impacting my studies, I went to see a doctor who took an MRI. He told me I had damage in my spine that might never get better without surgery. Heartbroken and frustrated, I decided to work with a physical therapist first, who gave me exercises to work my core and fix the muscle imbalances and poor posture that was causing my pain.

It did get better, but I was still unhappy with my body and how it functioned.

Eventually, I just hit a wall. I wanted to give up. I’d hit my heaviest weight despite being fairly active, and I was tired of always trying and then quitting workout plans.

Feeling close to defeated, I decided I would give myself one last chance to really try.

THE CHANGE

I came across Kayla Itsines’ BBG program through Instagram. I loved that her page featured transformations from girls of all shapes and sizes. I saw girls whose “before” photos looked like me.

Best of all, the workouts were short and the program was for a set length of time. I decided I would commit to getting through 12 weeks of BBG, hitting every single workout, and give up my guilty pleasures (namely chocolate, sweets, and Diet Coke). If putting in my maximum effort for three months didn’t yield results, well, at least I’d tried.

To my surprise, I actually stayed committed. And, after just a few weeks, I started to see changes.

Day one, I could only manage five half pushups; after four weeks, I could do 10. I was becoming less afraid of running, and my times were getting slightly faster. Physically, my stomach was slimming down slightly.

These changes really gave me the drive to keep going. I finished the 12-week program, looked at my progress pictures, and realized I really had lost fat.

I was so proud. But I was also very aware that if I stopped now I would probably just end up back where I started — and I couldn’t think of anything worse than that.

I kept going with the BBG guide, but started adding netball or runs for 30 minutes a few times a week. Over six months, I dropped from a size 16 to a 12 (that’s a U.S. size 12 to an 8). I ran my first non-stop 5K, then started running 10Ks. I got strong enough to do full pushups.

After a year, I set my sights on developing more strength, so, turning to Instagram again, I signed up for Kelsey Wells’ PWR program.

I started using free weights and challenging myself in a new way. After just a few weeks of strength training, I was lifting heavier and feeling stronger, especially in my upper body.

THE WORKOUTS

For a while, I was doing three of the 4×7 minute BBG circuits each week, in addition to running or playing netball for 30 minutes, three times a week.

Now that I’ve started the PWR strength program, my week consists of three to five days of resistance training, and two to three days of LISS (lower-intensity steady state cardio) and HIIT.

The hardest thing for me is knowing when to actually rest. I’m always grappling with the fear that if I stop being as consistent, I’ll end up back at square one. Feeling like I need to take a rest day sends me into an immediate panic that I’m sliding down that slippery slope back into bad habits. But that’s something I’m working on, because rest is super important.

THE FOOD

I used to have a very difficult relationship with food. I loved eating unhealthy foods, especially during tough periods in my life.

At the same time, I hated myself for indulging because I knew what it was doing to my health.

Now I embrace a balance. I use MyFitnessPal to track my overall calorie intake, but I don’t have things that are off limits since the restriction is mentally too negative for me.

My only real rule is I try and keep my meals fresh and simple (as well as quick to make). The minute things get complicated, I know I’ll be tempted to forget it and break from my plan.

I eat whatever I fancy and just try and stick to my overall calorie goal. I always have at least one dinner a week that I won’t track and having that on the horizon means I don’t mind if things get a little monotonous during the week.

THE PAYOFF

Just over a year after setting my original goal to stick with a program for just 12 weeks, the thing that has surprised me the most is that I’m actually still going, still motivated, and still showing improvement! As my journey has gone on, it’s been less about my weight and more about having confidence day-to-day and staying pain free.

I still focus on working on my core strength and it’s literally changed my life. It took a lot of time and consistency, but with a strong core to support my back, I can now play netball, go shopping, run miles — all without pain.

The confidence I’ve gained is something I would never have been able to imagine. It’s so nice to be able to start feeling more comfortable in my skin, and I think it spills over into all aspects of my life.

I feel so much surer of myself. I throw myself into activities I’d have never taken part in a year ago. I am getting so much more out of so many aspects of life that I hadn’t even realized I was missing out on.

Physically, the most surprising discovery from this journey is that I can actually run. I’ve gone from not being able to run a mile without stopping, to running 10K in under an hour.

MY BIGGEST TIP

 

Trust consistency. Consistency is what took me from a cycle of trying and failing to achieve results to being where I am now.

Don’t let a little slip throw you off track, take a deep breath, look at the bigger picture, and keep on going!

How to Recognize When Someone Is at Risk for Suicide

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How to Spot the Warning Signs of Suicide

The signs vary from person to person, but recognizing a drastic change in behavior is key.

7 Warning Signs Your Body Gives You Before a Heart Attack

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If you experience any of these heart attack symptoms, from pain or pressure to fatigue, nausea, and dizziness, seek medical attention ASAP.

In TV and movies, characters (usually men) suffering a heart attack will go wide-eyed and clutch their chest. But in real life, a heart attack can come on without chest pain, especially in women.

“Two-thirds of women will have less-typical, non-Hollywood heart attack symptoms,” says C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.

Sure, there’s pressure and upper body pain, but there are also other signs of a heart attack that can be easily mistaken for another ailment (think nausea, dizziness, and fatigue). If you experience any of the following heart attack warning signs and they’re relatively mild, don’t hesitate to call your doctor, as they could indicate a heart attack is imminent (about half are preceded by symptoms days beforehand). And if they are severe or worsen steadily, call 911. You may need help—fast.

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UNCOMFORTABLE PRESSURE

The very first symptom of a heart attack listed by the American Heart Association is “uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest.” This discomfort may come in waves lasting more than a few minutes at a time.

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UPPER BODY PAIN

But the pain can occur in places other than the chest. Our heart doesn’t have many nerve endings, so it sometimes shares a pathway with nerves to other body parts, causing pain to radiate to the back, shoulders, arms, neck or jaw. Some women say it feels as if an elephant is sitting on their back.

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DIZZINESS

Though most heart attacks don’t make you suddenly lose consciousness, they can reduce or cut off blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart and brain, which may cause you to feel light-headed.

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FATIGUE

Feeling worn-out after a sleepless night or stressful day is normal. But more than half of women feel extremely tired or weak more than a month before having a heart attack, even though they haven’t exerted themselves.

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SWEATING

Unless you’re going through menopause or have just exercised, breaking out into a cold sweat or perspiring excessively could signal a heart attack, which activates the nervous system.

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NAUSEA

A heart attack may cause nausea, which is twice as likely to occur in women than in men (many also feel like they’re getting the flu days before a heart attack).

If you have sudden and constant nausea that doesn’t seem food related, take action.

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SHORTNESS OF BREATH

If workouts inexplicably seem harder, see your doctor. If you suddenly feel like you just ran up stairs and can’t catch your breath when you’re not doing much, or the feeling rouses you from sleep, go to the ER.

How This Crazy-Busy Mom Lost 50 Pounds in 6 Months

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“I had to take stock of the habits that led to my becoming overweight and unhappy.”

My story started like so many other women’s: I couldn’t lose the weight after I had my first baby … and then I had more. Three more, to be exact. Oh, and I gained some extra pounds with each one.

It was hard to prioritize my health — after all, I had multiple small children and was busy running the company I’d founded, Mixed Up Clothing. I would eat on the run and just down my meals as quickly as possible so I could stay on schedule, pick up my kids on time, and take them to all of their extracurricular activities.

Whenever I had any free time, I would use that to do more work — exercising wasn’t even on my radar.

THE HEAVIER I GOT, THE BIGGER A TOLL IT TOOK ON MY SELF-ESTEEM.

I found myself making more and more self-deprecating remarks and talking incessantly about my weight. On family vacations, I didn’t want to be in photos because I was ashamed by how much weight I had gained.

I was unhealthy, and I certainly wasn’t being the example I wanted to be for my children.

In 2017, my weight crept up to 213 pounds. Even during my pregnancies, the scale had never climbed to that number. Something had to change.

I’D SEEN JENNY CRAIG COMMERCIALS AND THOUGHT THE PLAN MIGHT WORK FOR ME.

It seemed like it fit with my busy schedule, so I joined March of last year. Jenny Craig essentially boils down to calorie counting: You eat fewer cals than you had previously — while burning more through exercise. There are prepared meals that are already portioned out, which was super-convenient.

In addition to those meals, you get a shopping list of fresh fruits and vegetables to make sure you’re getting enough produce. A typical day of eating for me might be:

*Breakfast: Apple-cinnamon oatmeal and a half cup of fruit

*Mid-morning snack: Protein bar

*Lunch: Chicken tortilla soup and garden salad with a light dressing

*Mid-afternoon snack: Fruit

*Dinner: Turkey burger with fresh veggies

If I was still hungry after all of that, I’d have a small serving of popcorn. The plan was easy to stick to. I lost three pounds the first week and continued losing about one to three pounds per week after that.

I HAD TO GET CREATIVE TO SQUEEZE IN WORKOUTS.

Around the same time I joined Jenny Craig, I began working out regularly. I made it a goal to exercise three to five days per week, for an hour each time.

I’m lucky to own an elliptical and treadmill, so I’d get on one of those and put on Netflix or HBO Go and just start moving as much as I could for an hour.

I planned out my exercise the same way I’d plan meetings or play dates, and I started multi-tasking by hopping on the treadmill during conference calls or scheduling meetings with my publicist over workouts.

Around September of 2017, six months after making a serious effort to get healthy, I hit the 50-pound weight-loss mark.

Maintaining a healthy weight will always require effort for me.

I have been trying to get to a healthy weight for more than half my life, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that it will always be a challenge I face. But this time around has been different because I’ve been patient with myself and I’ve learned to take each day one at a time.

If I slip up, I forgive myself and know that I am doing the best that I can — and that’s half the battle. The biggest reward for me is having my children say they are proud of me for accomplishing something I have talked about doing for so long.

My number one tip is to know yourself. I had to really take stock of who I am as a person and what the habits were that led to my becoming overweight and unhappy — but once I did, I got so much better at correcting my missteps.

Exploring the reasons I ate what I ate and why I didn’t exercise was key to my success.

Cell Phones Are ‘Cooking’ Men’s Sperm and Making Them Infertile

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“Some fish are better left un-fried.”

It looks like it might be time for guys to start carrying their phones in purses, or backpacks, or maybe in a little cap on top of their heads, because new research out of Technicon’s medical school in Haifa, Israel has found that keeping a phone in your pocket delivers a serious blow to a man’s sperm count, leaving him less fertile.

Fertility experts examined 100 men who were attending a fertility clinic for a year and found that men who use their phones for as little as an hour per day, or kept phones nearby throughout the day, are “cooking sperm” and significantly lowering their sperm levels to the point that they might find conceiving to be difficult.

Men who kept their phones in their front pockets all day were seriously affected in 47 percent of the cases, as opposed to just 11 percent of men in the general, non-cell phone holstering population at the fertility clinic.

Researchers think this is being caused by electromagnetic activity from the phone that heats up (or “cooks”) the sperm.

The study also found that men who sleep with their phone on their bed, or on a nightstand next to the bed, also had decreased sperm levels compared to men who didn’t sleep with phones in the immediate vicinity.

To help men avoid totally destroying all of their sperm, Professor Gedis Grudzinskas, a fertility consultant St. George’s Hospital London and in Harley Street offers some advice. “If you wear a suit to work put the mobile in your chest pocket instead of close to your testes,” he told The Telegraph. “It will reduce the risk of your sperm count dropping or dropping so much.”

A similar study that examines the effects cell phones have on women hasn’t yet been done, but as Martha Dirnfield, a researcher from the study, said, “women generally don’t carry their mobiles on them so maybe a mobile phone won’t affect their fertility.”

Yikes, so this is really just bad news for men at the moment. Maybe sleep with your phone in another room?

Definitely made that switch from briefs to boxers, and consider maintaining a wide radius between your dick and your phone.

That thing is dangerous.

You can also watch this related video;

7 Natural energy boosters!

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If you have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning and struggle through the day, here are a few natural energy boosters to help you…

1. Go big at breakfast

While it may be tempting to simply grab an apple, or skip breakfast altogether during the morning rush, skipping breakfast may lead to you being tired by mid-morning.

In fact, research has found that people who eat breakfast report being in a better mood and have more energy throughout the day.

2. Ease stress

Stress can leave you feeling both physically and mentally exhausted. Low but ongoing levels of stress erode energy levels, so over time, you find yourself doing less and feeling it more.

Try to deal with feelings of anger, because these will leave you feeling drained, and introduce more relaxation activities to your day. You could try meditating, praying, breathing exercises or doing a gentle exercise like yoga or Pilates.

3. Get some sunshine, sunshine

Getting outside can be both refreshing and it can give you the mental and physical break you need.

Soaking up a few minutes of sunlight has physical benefits too – it helps the body produce vitamin D, which is important for good health.

Exposure to the sun also boosts your serotonin levels, which can improve mood and help you sleep better.

4. Laugh

Find more reasons to laugh every day – it’s an immediate way to make you feel good.

Sharing a joke with friends or finding something genuinely funny is the best way to make the most of laughter.

Take a 10-minute break and seek out somebody who will make you laugh, or watch a funny YouTube video.

5. Check thyroid function and blood cell count

It certainly won’t provide an instant boost, however, if you’re continuously feeling low on energy, slow and sluggish, even after a good night’s sleep, talk to a doctor about having a blood test for thyroid dysfunction and anaemia.

Thyroid dysfunction can be a particular problem for women, often developing after childbirth and frequently during perimenopause. A simple blood test can verify if this is your problem. In anaemia, a reduction in red blood cells could mean your body isn’t getting the level of oxygen necessary to sustain energy, so, you tire easily.

6. Go for a walk

There is nothing like a nice brisk walk to give you some energy. Plus, going for a daily walk is a great habit to get into.

When you don’t have the time, try to simply walk more throughout the day. Even taking the stairs instead of the lift helps get the heart pumping.

7. Vote for vitamins

Are you getting enough of the essential energy-related vitamins from your diet?

Although vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet, taking a supplement would certainly help.

Vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin Band vitamin B12 are all necessary for maintaining the body’s energy.

If you still feel constantly exhausted despite a good sleeping pattern, a balanced diet, regular exercise and vitamin supplementation, visit with your doctor for a full check-up.

How to Reduce Period Pain!

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What causes it and what you can do to reduce period pain. Kotex® Health Expert, Sister Burgie Ireland, explains… 

Period pain, also known as menstrual cramps or the medical terms ‘dysmenorrhea’ affects about half the women in the world at some point.

What causes it?

Period pains are normally caused by a hormone called prostaglandins.

This hormone actually helps your period to happen. It causes your womb to contract in order for the extra lining that has built up and the egg to exit your body in the form of a period.

Period pains normally start right before you get your period and are the worst about a day after you start it.

Research has shown that women generally experience period pains one to two days before a period and it can last one to two days into a period.

About 80% of women experience period pain but only five to 10% have severe period pain which is sometimes so painful that it interferes with their daily routine.

How to reduce the pain

Many things can impact on period pains such as constipation, a bladder infection, poor sleeping habits, an unhealthy diet, not getting enough minerals and vitamins, and even cold weather.

Overall, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce period pain, and here are some specific ways to make period pains less painful: 

  • Exercise has been proven to help relieve period pains. Exercising releases endorphins (hormones) that help to relieve stress and tension in the muscles.
  • Over the counter painkillers that are made specifically to target period pains.
  • Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, so drinking ginger tea made with fresh root and honey can help not only with the pain but will help you relax as well.
  • Natural remedies such as acupuncture and massage can help decrease the pain as they relax the muscles.
  • Heat is one of the best treatments for period cramps – for example using a hot-water bottle or taking a relaxing hot bath will help to relieve the cramps

Every woman is different and unique which is why there is no one way to relieve period cramps. You need to find out what works best for you and your body.

5 Surprising reasons why you may be getting heavier!

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Weight gain is sneaky! We get so comfortable with the tiny changes every day that we only really realise that things are out of control when it’s ‘too late’…

And then it always seems like such a surprise! How on Earth did the weight get there?! Have you ever had one of those moments? Maybe you’re in a changing room, and you find that you don’t fit into your usual pants size? Or that winter jacket that you haven’t worn since last season feels way more ‘snug’ than it used to!

We always want to lose weight in record time, but we often forget how long it took for the weight to get there in the first place. Our bodies work best when we give them time… and all the vitamins and minerals they need to function optimally. Weight loss over time is far more effective than a crash diet.

So what makes us gain weight over time? Yes, the usual culprit is too many calories! BUT there are a few other reasons that you could be gaining weight. Here are some of the more surprising reasons you may have gained the weight, and what to do about them.

1. Are you on steroids?

Not the body-building, bulging muscles, sports-cheating kind…

If you’re taking anti-inflammatory medication (like prednisone) on a regular basis you may have fallen victim to weight gain, particularly around your face, back, or torso. If you’ve been on them for a while, DON’T stop cold-turkey, but see your doctor to find out about alternatives to these drugs as they can certainly contribute towards unwanted weight gain over time.

2. Hypothyroidism

If your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones then your weight has probably gone up steadily over time. You’re also probably tired, weak and cold all the time. If this is you, see your doctor to get your levels checked, and possibly get medication to help you get back on track.

 

3. You did something really healthy!

If you’ve quit smoking recently then you may be experiencing increased appetite due to the decreased nicotine levels in your system.

You are also probably eating more because your lack of smoking has left gaps in your schedule and you also have nothing to do with your hands and mouth when they would be occupied with a cigarette. If this is you, tough it out. It’ll stabilise as soon as your diet gets back on point. Well done on making a healthy choice for your future! I know you’ll continue to do so!

4. Other medications

Medicines such as anti-depressants, blood pressure meds, the birth control pill, and all sorts of others can cause weight gain.

Medications can cause different reactions in different people. If you find that you’re struggling with weight gain while taking certain medications, DON’T just stop taking them! Chat to your doctor about finding an alternative prescription. There are usually a number of options from which to choose.

5. Too much stress and too little sleep

If you’re stressed out, your body is in storage-mode. If you’re also not sleeping enough then your body is not working at optimum levels to process everything it needs to deal with. Between these two factors you’re in the ‘perfect storm’ of weight gain. Deal with your stress as best you can, and try to train yourself to sleep better.

Try to get involved in a stress-relieving hobby. Crossfit, running, kickboxing, or some sort of exercise that helps you release the tension and frustrations would work wonders. It also leaves you physically tired so that you get a better night’s rest.