Monthly Archives: May 2012
There’s an awful lot of stuff out there lately about childhood obesity, school lunches, physical education programs and after-school sports. The health and welfare of the future generations of children are even making it to the seats of government, as we deal with hot-button issues such as food marketing aimed at children, GMOs, child labor laws, soda consumption in schools, and school lunch programs. But can we really leave the fate of our children and grandchildren in the hands of government institutions? I don’t think so. It is, after all, our responsibility to raise our own kids. And if we want them to be healthy, we need to be an example of health and fitness for them. They will model the behavior they see most often. They will do as we do more often than they will do as they are told. So they need to see us striving to live as healthy and fit as we can be. It’s all about our choices, and the choices we make for them. Let’s see what we can do, shall we?
- Be tobacco free – Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe smoking, snuff products–it all harms us and sets a bad example for those around us. Most smokers claim they truthfully began smoking because “everyone else was doing it.” Whether it was peer pressure from friends or simply modeling family behavior, most smokers did it because they saw others doing it, too. Why else would anyone do something as silly as lighting a funny-looking stick on fire to inhale not-so-delicious smoke that is known to be dangerous? Even if it meant I had to attend a 12-step program or switch to an alternative like tobacco-free mint leaf snuff, I’d quit in a heartbeat just so my kids wouldn’t start.
- Healthy eating habits – My kids have been raised to prefer fruits, nuts, and dairy to candy and other sweets. (Really, they do.) I’ve not deprived them of goodies, but they are offered healthy options on most occasions when they ask for a snack. We eat a wide variety of veggies and lean meats, too, alongside whole grains and lots and lots of water. These healthy choices in diet have helped me to create individuals who not only know what makes a better choice, but who make those choices on their own given the chance. Your kids can learn the same choices, too, if you don’t give them alternatives like processed foods, salty or sugary snacks, and sodas or sports drinks.
- Family fitness fun – We swim together, hike together, garden together and play games together. In the winter, when we can’t get out and about quite as often, we all take a half hour out of our day and spend it on our Wii together, actively playing something fun that gets us up and moving. Are we the model of the perfect, fit, and fabulous family? No, but we aren’t couch potatoes, either. By actively including my kids in an active, fun lifestyle, I’ve tried to model that fitness–getting in shape, staying in shape–can be both fun and rewarding. And it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get those arms and legs in shape, either. Hiking is free, as is walking the dogs and playing tag in the back yard!
How your kids see life is how you present it to them. That should include healthy lifestyle choices. It’s not hard. And it’s more than worth it!
We all know that we should stretch before exercise and probably after, too. It helps avoid injury, among other things, right? And we all know that you should never ride your bike, or your scooter, or your skateboard or roller blades without a helmet, right? Again, it protects from injury. Let’s not forget those shin guards in soccer, or your pads in football. Sports and fitness equipment is designed to protect us hurting ourselves, and possibly others, while out having fun and getting or staying in shape. But have you ever considered that what you wear can serve the same function? From cheerleading clothes to cycling spandex, sports and fitness gear should consist of specialized items made just for the activity you’re participating in.
- Shoes – Shoes are perhaps the most important piece of clothing in your sports wardrobe. Wear the wrong kind of footwear for the task at hand and you could be very sorry. And just because the box at the shoe store says “athletic” or “sport” on it doesn’t necessarily mean the footwear on the inside is right for your brand of athletics. Take cheerleading shoes, for example. They are often specially made to be both supportive for the jumping and running, while being flexible and light weight at the same time, to allow for the tumbling and dancing most cheerleaders do. Cycling shoes are made likewise–tough but flexible for the pedaling involved. And you wouldn’t think of going hiking in just any old shoe or boot, now would you? Or running either, for that matter. What you put on your feet can make as much of a difference to your performance as what you do with your feet.
- Socks – Inside those shoes you’d better have some socks appropriate to the cause, too. Socks that are too loose can, in some cases, rub and cause blisters. Socks that are too tight can cause your feet and ankles discomfort. Socks that don’t breathe can make your feet sweat in ways you don’t even want to think about. Long socks have their place, as do shorter ones. Many hikers like to wear double socks, to ensure that their feet are properly padded and protected. And no matter what the sport or game, dry socks are best, because wet, damp socks can create a whole world of problems no athlete wants to deal with.
- Clothing – From cheerleading uniforms to tennis skorts to golf pants, many sports come with their own prescribed, required wardrobe of some sort. And that’s fine for the student athlete or professional. But how do you know if what you have chosen is the right thing? After all, you’re not playing at Wimbledon or on the sidelines cheerleading. Clothes from the athletic shops can be quite expensive, another reason to want to make do with what you’ve got already. My best advice? Go with natural fibers that allow your skin to breathe. Go with long sleeves and pants when necessary, shorts and short sleeves at all other times. Some sports and fitness activities will require their own ‘wardrobe” – swimming, for example. But in most cases–even in yoga, dance, and cycling–comfortable, flexible clothing is all you need.
What you do matters a great deal to how you feel and look. What you wear can make the difference between a positive experience and a painful one. How fashionable you are while doing it? Well, that’s up to you!
Psychologists and physicians will tell you that tobacco addiction is about 10% physical and 90% mental. In other words, most of the reasons you use tobacco in the first place are in your head (so is quitting, as we’ll see). And after the physical symptoms of withdrawal disappear–usually after 3 to 5 days–you’re really fighting a mental battle with yourself to stay tobacco free.
First, take a piece of paper and divide it in half down the middle to make two columns. This is important because you need to see this info side by side for it to really have an impact. On the one side, right down all the reasons you began to use tobacco in the first place. The real, honest reasons–you wanted to look cool, you wanted to rebel, real men use tobacco, everybody else was doing it, it’s a family thing–are the ones we’re looking for in this list. Now, beside them in the margin mark which ones still apply in your life today. (I’m betting none of them will make the cut, unless you are a very recent tobacco user.)
Now, take that same piece of paper and use the other column, the other half, to write out the reasons you want to quit. Not the ones you tell the doctor, or that society tells you to have. Some examples might be:
- Tobacco use makes my breath stink.
- Tobacco use wastes a lot of money.
- Tobacco use ages my skin, discolors my teeth and stains my lips and fingers.
- Tobacco use gives my wife/mother/girlfriend a reason to nag me.
- Tobacco use is something I’d never want my kids to do.
- Tobacco use is difficult at work.
Now, mark which ones of these are still a part of your life today, and which you could do without. (My money’s on all of them.) Talk about incentive for quitting dip or snuffing out those cancer sticks! When we take a long, hard, honest look at WHY we do something, anything, we have already won half the battle at choosing to NOT do that thing. Why? Because we can motivate ourselves through the hard times associated with changing our behaviors. Giving up an addiction is simply a change in behavior choice, after all, and tobacco is really no different. If your reasons for NOT doing something are stronger than your reasons FOR doing it, then you’re in possession of a powerful tool. Yes, that little piece of paper has now become a powerful tool in your fight to quit tobacco. You may need other powerful tools–chewing tobacco substitutes like tobacco-free dip, nicotine “step down” gums, counseling, or support groups–but you’ve just created a positive, incentive-giving, motivating powerhouse of a tool. And all it took was a pen, piece of paper, and time inside your head.
See, I told you quitting was all in your head!
So you’ve been taking that New Year’s resolution seriously? Or is it the last mad dash to be swim-suit ready for that trip to the beach this summer? Either way, you’ve joined the fitness revolution and are making a daily workout a part of your life. Exercise videos, trips to the gym, jogging in the park, circuit training, agility training, yoga, Zumba–you’re going at it consistently and passionately.
But is your workout really doing all it can for you? Do you know how to optimize your workout so that is truly works better for you? If not, or if you need a few new ideas, read on!
- Increasing your speed – Interval training is the best way I know how to run faster. You simply start slow but at a good pace–say your jogging pace–for a period of minutes. Then, you switch to a sprint for at least the same amount of time. Then, back to a jog. The ideal interval has you moving at a good clip but still able to hold a conversation. Then you up the speed until conversation is difficult but still possible. Then, bring it back down into a recovery phase. Then rev it back up. Repeat your chosen interval several times, then simply finish your run at a “normal” to cool-down pace. The interval of normal to hard and back again works the body in ways that simply working out won’t. You should see increase in performance and endurance rather quickly. In fact, you may need to lengthen the timing of your intervals after only a week or two, as what once was “hard work” becomes a new kind of normal!
- Increasing your flexibility – We all know we should stretch in some way before and after training. We all know know it, but few of us really do it, do we? Or we do just enough to avoid the “stiff and sores” the next day. Yet science tells us that not only are flexible muscles less prone to injuries, but they are also beneficial in promoting muscle growth and better sleep, too. Muscles grow because flexibility exercises allow for better blood flow in and out of the muscle tissue, bringing oxygen and nutrient rich blood while carrying away waste. Sleep comes easier because muscles are relaxed, tension free and pain free. So, while yoga and other flexibility exercises may help your back swing, your running pace, and your Zumba moves, it can also help you get a good night’s rest afterward, too.
- Increasing your overall outcome – Alternating your workouts can help increase your overall outcome, be it weight loss, endurance, or strength. Do cardio on Monday and Wednesday, then a strength training on Tuesday and Thursday. Or a flexibility routine alternating with your cardio. Switch up morning and evening routines. Taking a day off between can help optimize what you’re doing, too. Small changes can make a huge difference in your overall performance, be it quicker results, longer lasting results or just plain old results from a stalled routine.
You don’t necessarily have to work harder to optimize your fitness routine. Working smarter might be all that you need to do.
I know, I know, it’s May, nearly Memorial Day. We’re sweating through the first days of summer and the last days of the school year. Yet, it’s never too late or too early to start thinking about and planning for next school year’s curriculum. In fact, spending some time evaluating this year’s PE lesson plans can go a long way to make next year’s physical education program even better. Let’s not forget that summer is a great time to learn some new skills, pick up some new ideas, or even revamp your entire program if it’s simply not working as you would like. So, let’s look at some things you can do now to help craft your PE curriculum for fall of 2012.
- Check up – Take a long, hard, honest look at what you did this year. What activities did the kids really enjoy? What did they get the most out of; take the most away from? What ideas were total failures? What would you have liked to spend more time on? What activities were a waste of time, or at least not worth the amount of time spent on them? Figuring out what went well and what didn’t is a good starting place for any curriculum planner. You can plan to repeat those activities and lessons that were effective and engaging. You can also plan on replacing or reworking those that didn’t. Evaluation and reevaluation should be an ongoing, integral part of any lesson plan development, physical education or otherwise. Without it, you’re navigating in the dark without aid of a compass.
- Check out – It’s time to explore new ideas and possibilities. We all can get stuck in our ways, especially if we’ve been teaching for a while. Adding new activities and new ways of teaching the same vital lessons can really shake up and improve our programs. Your physical education class can go from blah to blooming with the addition of new routines, new lessons, new ideas, even new equipment. Maybe check out a few new physical education videos–either for you or for your students. Research some new games to teach required skills. Learn a few new ideas for warm-ups or work outs. Checking out new stuff can help you find replacements for those things that your evaluation told you needed sprucing up. Finding new ideas to implement can improve your physical education program’s energy level and overall effectiveness.
- Check in – Take some time out this summer to relax, too. As a teacher, you’ve got a lot on you. Students depend on you for fun and engaging learning. Administrators depend on you to meet certain requirements. Parents depend on you to teach their kids and ensure their safety while in your care. Your family depends on you, too, for all the things you do outside the classroom. Check in with yourself. Take some time for you and your family or friends. A stressed-out teacher is no good to anyone. Don’t stress over next year now. For now, plan a little. Dream a little. Learn a little. And relax a lot.
Normally in health care, being green is not a good thing. In fact, in most cases it will have someone running for a basin or bucket! But health care could learn a lot from taking a closer look at all things green–patients and environmentalists alike. Health care, with the necessity for disposability and sterility, has become very wasteful. The average community hospital has an annual carbon footprint equal to that of a small South American or Caribbean country of 250,000 to 750,00 citizens. That’s a lot of waste, and all of it is produced by a place that’s supposed to better the health and welfare of the community and its citizens. Imagine the carbon footprints of the larger hospitals of universities and large urban centers!
Health care has a need to go green, and here are a few ways they can do just that.
- Used medical equipment – Recycling expensive health-care machinery is one very good way for small hospitals and clinics to reduce their impact on the environment. Almost everything is available used today, from refurbished surgery equipment like used anesthesia machines to patient monitors, EKGs, and IV equipment. Buying a refurbished autoclave or a used portable x-ray machine when the old one is no longer worth maintaining will not only save money, but the environment, too.
- Watch the light – Hospitals function 24 hours a day, making their use of electricity just for lighting one of their biggest energy drains. Adding as much natural light as possible–patient rooms, stairwells, public spaces like cafeterias and waiting areas–can cut down on the need for artificial lights during daylight hours. Installing occupancy monitors in less commonly used areas like restrooms, linen rooms, treatment rooms, and staff break rooms can also reduce the usage, as the lights are only on when someone is in the room, and there’s never a need for reminders to turn them off.
- Paper or plastic – So much of what is used in hospitals is disposable, and with good reason. However, whenever possible, hospitals should use metal, glass, and pottery. Many hospitals have switched to serving patients out of styrofoam cups, with meals served on styrofoam plates with plastic cutlery. This was a move made to supposedly save on water and energy used in dish washing. The waste created by all that styrofoam and plastic, however, is most likely much greater than that of using crockery, silverware, and glass. Hospitals are also huge consumer of paper–patient charts, patient forms, information sheets, staff memos; you name it. Hospitals will write it down twice, put it in a computer, print it out in triplicate, and then make copies of half of that again. Finding ways to reduce paper use and waste isn’t that difficult with some technology. Some hospitals are switching to tablets and laptops for the nursing staff. All patient information can easily be entered into the computer without ever having to write anything down (or even leave the patient’s room.) New computer storage systems are reducing the need for so many paper records. And the ability to email results and other patient info to a physician’s cell phone or office computer is eliminating some of the paper trail in medicine. More hospitals just need to implement these systems.
Health care should care about the health and welfare of ALL citizens, present and future. Going green is one way hospitals and community clinics can do just that.
From earthquakes in California to tornadoes in Texas to hurricanes all around, natural disasters are all around us and something we have to adapt to. Here are five essential supplies to pack in the event of a natural disaster.
1. Drinking water
The average person can survive several weeks without food; without water, you can last maybe a few days. Either buy bottled water or store clean tap water in plastic or enamel-lined metal containers, making sure the containers are clean beforehand. Tap water should be usable as is, but if it is untreated (as with well water or public water), use iodine tablets or boil the water.
For about three days, you will want two quarts per person per day at minimum.
Although you can survive weeks without it, food is still a necessity. Canned foods are the best choice as they are made specifically to last long periods of time without spoiling. Some suggestions:
- Ready-to-eat meats
- Canned fruits and veggies
- Boxed juices, milk, soup, and powdered milk
- Instant coffee and tea
- Dry grains (crackers, granola bars, cereal, trail mix)
- Peanut butter
Above all, don’t forget a manual can opener. Although this food should last, replace your stored food about every six months.
3. First Aid and Medicine
Make sure you have a first aid kit fully stocked with emergency medical supplies. Things to include:
- Gauze pads
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Moist towelettes
Keep at least a week’s worth of your regular prescription medications on hand as well. You may want to ask your doctor for advice on properly storing these medications.
4. Tools and Gadgets
At the minimum, you should pack a flashlight and radio into your survival kit along with an extra set of batteries. You may also want a basic set of tools (wrench, pliers, screwdrivers, shovel), and although water rescue equipment would be a bit much for the average citizen, having some rescue rope will help with anything from towing to setting up a shelter.
5. Comfort Items
Amidst all the preparations for natural disasters, people forget about the items of comfort. This includes books, board games, toys for the kids, and anything else you might need to keep your mind at ease. Food and water will keep your body going but items of comfort will keep you sane.
Eyes are composed of hundreds of compound structures. About 96% of all animal species possess complex optical systems like the eye.
“Complex” is the main word here. Using ophthalmic equipment, we’ve been able to unravel the inner workings of human eyes and figure out how to better care for them.
Ultrasound has a long history that dates back to the 1790s and the study of bats maneuvering with hearing as opposed to sound (echolocation). Fast forward to the 1950s and 60s and ultrasound has become one of the best ways to see the human body’s inner workings, from heart valves to a developing fetus.
The ultrasound process follows these steps:
- The machine transmits a series of high-frequency sound pulses into the patient’s body through a probe.
- The sound waves travel into the patient’s body, hitting any boundaries between tissues. These boundaries might be between fluids and soft tissues or soft tissues and bone.
- The sound waves that hit these initial boundaries are reflected back to the probe. Others travel further until they hit another boundary and are reflected back.
- The probe picks up the reflected waves and relays them to the machine.
- The machine calculates the distance from the probe to the tissues, organs, and other boundaries using the difference between the speed of sound traveling through tissue (5,005 feet per second) and the time of each reflection’s (or echo’s) return.
- The machine then displays the results of these distances on the screen as a two-dimensional image.
As slow and methodical as this process sounds, an ultrasound machine typically sends and receives millions of pulses and echoes each second.
Regarding the Eyes
Ophthalmic ultrasound creates two diagnostic images. The B-scan is the typical cross section image, while the A-scan merely shows waves. Those waves actually provide data on the length of the eye, which determines common sight disorders. Knowing the length of the eye and the power of the cornea, an ophthalmologist can calculate the power of the intraocular lens the patient needs. Eye length is recorded in the ophthalmic EMR for future reference.
The B-scan is useful for clinical assessment of ocular and orbital diseases, giving ophthalmologists an unhindered look at the structures of the eye. Most notably, the B-scan can locate any tumors within the globe and orbit.
Americans had nearly 14 million cosmetic procedures done last year. The most common procedure: breast plastic surgery. Breast enhancement in particular went up 4% over the course of a year, totaling 307,180 procedures in 2011.
Breast enhancement is only one of many forms of breast surgery. Let’s take a closer look at breast reconstruction.
Breast Cancer and Reconstruction
Sadly, about 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in the course of her lifetime.
Mastectomy is the standard treatment for breast cancer. It involves the partial or complete removal of the breast, thus eliminating the cancer and preventing metastasis. Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is an aesthetic procedure that gives patients a sense of normalcy. In Los Angeles plastic surgery is effective but the results of a breast reconstruction are highly variable.
- Visible incision lines, either from the mastectomy or the reconstruction, will always be present.
- Depending on the surgical technique, the patient may be left with incision lines at donor sites, though they are commonly located in less exposed areas like the abdomen, back, or buttocks.
- The reconstructed breast won’t feel the same or have the same sensation as the original breast.
Still, used in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures, reconstruction is rewarding, both emotionally and physically, and can improve self-image, self-confidence, and well-being.
The reconstruction procedure is unique to each individual patient and depends on a variety of factors and the doctor’s own methods. In most cases, the procedure is used in conjunction with breast augmentation to create a sufficient breast mound.
After a mastectomy and radiation therapy, the chest wall usually doesn’t have enough tissue to support a breast implant. In order to create or cover the breast mound, the surgeon repositions a woman’s skin, muscle, and fat through flap techniques. This may require donor tissue taken from the abdomen or buttock.
Tissue expansion is a lengthier process but often leads to an easier, quicker recovery. A patient will visit several times over the course of four to six months. An expander is placed under the breast tissue and is filled slowly through an internal valve. As the expander grows, it stretches the tissue, which can become uncomfortable and painful at first. Once the expanders are adequately filled, they are replaced with permanent breast implants.