Category Archives: Well-Being
None of us lead pure and blameless lives, especially when it comes to our health and fitness habits. Every now and then, just like when we were in school, we need to check up on how we’re doing in certain areas to make sure we’re on the right track. Luckily for us, life science research has armed our healthcare providers with an almost endless supply of tests to aid in diagnosing both common and rare conditions. These diagnostic tests may just save our lives, or at least prolong them, if they find something that can be treated. Certain tests are recommended at certain ages and under certain conditions, and just like those tests in school, how well we do can determine our happiness and our future. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common diagnostic tests and what they can tell us about our health.
- Lipid panel – This test is more commonly known as the cholesterol check. A blood sample is taken to determine the extent of lipid peroxidation–in other words, how much cholesterol is in your bloodstream. The higher the levels of “bad” cholesterol, the worse off you are and the more medication and/or dietary changes you’ll need. Lipid panels are recommended for all male patients over the age of 35 and for all patients over 20 years old if at risk for coronary heart disease. Women should only worry about lipid screening if at risk for coronary heart disease.
- P24 ELISA – This is not your run-of-the-mill diagnostic assay, but it is recommended for those with what is termed an “at risk” lifestyle. The P24 ELISA diagnosis HIV and is recommended for everyone who may have been exposed through either blood or sexual contact.
- Cardiac stress test – Strap on your sneakers for this one, gang! This is the dreaded treadmill test that shows any abnormalities in your cardiac blood supply. This, in turn, shows how healthy your heart is and how at risk for a heart attack you just might be. Men over 45, postmenopausal women, anyone with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smokers, diabetics, and those with a family history of heart disease are all likely candidates for the physician’s office 5K.
- Mammogram – Women over 40 should be well acquainted with the “boob mashing monster” known as the mammogram. This test checks for breast cancer and other abnormalities in breast tissue. The test is recommended for younger women with certain health factors or symptoms, such as pain and swelling, or who have a family history of breast cancer.
Knowing about these tests and having these tests performed can save or add years to your life. While no studying is required, these are tests that everyone should want to pass with flying colors!
Summer’s heat and glaring sun are just around the corner and all too often they bring needless health and safety issues with them. A little bit of preparation, common sense, and foreknowledge can help you avoid nasty heat and sun related issues. Ready? Got your sunblock and your shades? Then let’s go!
- When the sun’s at its hottest–typically between 10am and 3pm–stay inside where the air conditioning or fan can help you stay cool. If you’re worried about the health of your indoor air, make sure you have your heating and air conditioning system checked and cleaned before the need to use it arises.
- Drink plenty of water. Don’t just drink–drink water. Carbonated and caffeinated drinks can actually make dehydration worse. Alcohol should also be a big no-no. The average person needs to consume nearly a gallon of water a day when the temps are near or above 90 degrees. If you are overweight or if the air is humid and hot, you should drink more.
- Keep your air conditioning installation working at its best with regular service and maintenance. Keep blinds and draperies closed from mid-morning to mid-afternoon–10 am to 3pm or so–to keep the sun’s rays outside. Having your thermostat in direct sunlight or even in a brightly sunny room can overtax your air conditioning system.
- Exercise in the early morning or early evening. Moving your exercise time to either earlier or later ensures that you’re not working your hardest when the sun’s the hottest.
- Dress appropriately. That goes for your house, too. Put lightweight sheets and blankets on the beds. Use heavier curtains or blinds to keep out the sun’s heat and glare. Switch to lighter-colored fabrics that reflect the sun’s rays, instead of absorbing them.
- Serve up a salad. Fire up the grill. Make good use of your crock pot or slow cooker. Rather than heat up the house with the traditional range and oven doing the cooking, serve cold meals or meals prepared on the barbecue or counter top. Summer meals should also be light, not heavy or rich. Take advantage of all the summer’s fresh produce to serve meals that are light, refreshing, and healthy!
- Properly supervise kids and pets. It’s hard to keep them inside when it’s so glorious out, but they need their water and rest breaks even more than adults do.
- If any symptoms of heat distress or illness arise, seek medical help immediately.
Whether you cool off with a fan or air conditioning in San Diego, summer’s heat is nothing to laugh at. By using our tips, and your head, you can have a safe and happy summer!
Chances are, if you’ve ever been in a hospital and rang the bell for the nurse, the first person to answer was probably a certified nursing assistant, or CNA. These men and women are the backbones of clinical hospital care. They fill your water pitcher, help you dress, assist you with your bath, deliver your meal trays, and in some settings even change your sheets. They bring you an extra blanket, take your vital signs on a routine basis, and notify the registered nurses or other staff assigned to you of more serious situations that they aren’t qualified to handle.
CNA training is some of the shortest and most readily available of all the hands-on nursing care fields. Many vocational schools train high school students and young adults in a matter of months. CNA certification programs are also popular with junior colleges, community colleges, and other adult education facilities. Getting CNA certified can be the end of your training and the beginning of your career in nursing or can simply be the beginning–a stepping stone to greater things–as you can earn a living and pursue further education.
Certified nursing assistants are often overlooked by individuals looking for a career in healthcare because they think of CNAs as poorly paid, poorly educated, and in large supply. None of this is necessarily true. We have already stated that most CNA training programs are short term–typically 6 to 12 months–but there is a great deal of training packed into that short period of time. CNAs must show mastery of:
- How to properly lift and transfer patients from beds, gurneys, chairs, wheelchairs, and other equipment without causing injury to themselves or the patient.
- How to properly and safely bathe a patient or assist a patient with his or her bathing.
- How to assist a patient with other areas of personal care–eating, dressing, grooming, personal hygiene, toileting.
- How to change bed linens, with or without the patient in the bed.
- How to perform other housekeeping duties, such as cleaning up after a feeding or toileting, personal grooming, and handling biohazardous materials.
- How to properly take a patient’s vital signs during regular rounds using both manual and electronic equipment.
- How to properly document all the care that the CNA has given to his or her patients.
It is true that CNAs are often the lowest paid of the nursing professions, but they are in high demand with expected growth in the occupation at 20% over the next 10 years or so. Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, clinic,s and even some physician’s offices all require the skills of a certified nursing assistant, and as the population continues to age, these facilities will see more and more patients needing care. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door of professional nursing or wish to fulfill a desire to truly care for and help others, you may just want to give CNA training a try!
While most spiders aren’t dangerous to humans, getting bitten by one can be a painful, nasty experience. Even though we only have two dangerous spiders here in the U.S., the black widow and the brown recluse have such a wide range and such dangerous bites that everyone should know how to effectively treat spider bites. We’ll cover non-dangerous bites first, and then discuss the really nasty spiders and their bites.
Non-poisonous spider bite care:
- Wash the wound with mild soap and cool water. This is to clean the area around the wound and the wound itself to prevent infection.
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area. This will slow the spread of the spider venom and keep the swelling down.
- If the bite is on an arm, hand, foot, or leg, elevate the affected limb. This helps to reduce swelling and the spread of the venom.
- If the bite becomes painful, treat the pain with an over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen or aspirin.
- Likewise, if the bite becomes itchy or irritating, soothe the discomfort with an over-the-counter topical cream, lotion, or ointment, such as calamine lotion or benadryl creme.
- If you should accidentally scratch the bite open, cleanse the wound and cover it with a light bandage or gauze pad to help protect it as it heals to avoid infection or further injury.
Poisonous spider bite care:
- The first thing you need to do is to identify, if possible, the spider that bit you. Brown recluses have long legs and are brown in color, while black widows have the distinctive red hourglass markings on their black bodies.
- You’ll want to clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
- Elevate the bitten limb.
- Isolate the area, if possible, with a bandage tied around the limb. This will slow the spread of the venom. Be sure not to tie the bandage so tightly that you completely cut off the blood flow.
- Apply a cold cloth or compress to the bite to further slow the spread of the venom into the body’s tissues and blood supply.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Black widow bites require anti-venom, and there are several recommended treatments for brown recluse bites.
Seek immediate medical attention for ANY spider bite that causes shortness of breath; nausea; swelling of the face, lips, eyes or throat; purpling or other discoloration of the area around the bite; or dizziness. These symptoms may indicate an allergic reaction or that the victim has been bitten by something other than a spider. These symptoms should not be ignored or overlooked as they indicate a more serious, perhaps even life-threatening, condition.
The best way to avoid a spider bite is to remove the conditions that harbor the spiders. Spider removal, unlike ant removal or other types of pest removal, is actually quite easy. Both black widow and brown recluse spiders prefer dry, dark, cluttered areas–under the kitchen sink, the back of the closet, up in the attic. Keeping these areas clean and free of clutter is your best repellent. Wearing gloves and long sleeves and tucking your pants in your socks when working in these areas is a good way to protect yourself from any unwanted contact.
We all know that a healthy, attractive appearance boosts your mood and your attitude towards life, and yet many of us still muddle through life looking less than our best. Why? Well, there’s a myriad of reasons why, but most of them go back to one thing–it’s easier to complain and maintain the status quo than it is to change. Change is hard work, and the things we have to do to bring about change are hard work, too. However, if we truly want to look our best, be our best, we’ve got to suck it up, put on our big girl pants and just do it. If you’re not happy about facing another summer looking less than what you consider your ideal best, here are some ideas for motivation and inspiration.
- Eating habits – There are all kinds of diets out there–shakes, meal replacements, point counting, processed meals delivered to your door–but the thing is, most of them simply don’t work. Why? Well, when you go back to eating normally, you usually end up gaining back all the weight you lost, if not more. What you need to do is change your eating habits. Establish new ones that will last for the rest of your life. Try going vegetarian, Paleo, Primal, or whatever appeals to you and works to help you lose the weight you want. Changing your eating habits for the better works as well as liposuction lasers, I can assure you.
- Exercise habits – Again, you have a ton of options to choose from. You just have to make a choice, and you need to do it sensibly. You can’t go from couch to marathon runner in a week, or you’ll need more than a massage therapist’s percussor tool to work out the muscle aches and pains. Choose something you enjoy or have always wanted to try. Start slow, a couple times a week, and work your way up. Hiring a personal trainer to come to your home is always a good idea if you have no idea of where to start.
- Bad habits – Smoke? Drink? Chew tobacco? Tanning booths? Chocoholic? Whatever your bad health habits, choose one and tackle it. Fighting an addiction can be difficult, but your body will thank you later. The sooner you start, the better. Smoking ages your skin, especially on your face. Quitting can save you trips to the cosmetologists medical laser later, when the damage is too great to reverse.
- Stress habits – Stress takes its toll on your entire body. Stressed people don’t smile. They don’t sleep. They don’t eat properly. Most don’t exercise, either. Cutting out stress may not be an option, especially if your lifestyle or job is part of the cause, but there are ways to beat the stress habits. Exercise. Meditate. Take up yoga. Get involved in a religious community. Discover a new, rewarding hobby. Beating your stress habits can do wonders for you!
Only you can decide what you need to do to look and feel better. The first step is deciding what to do. The next step is doing it. So, whatcha gonna do now?
From Timbuktu to Temecula pest control for gardeners is getting a great deal of attention. Farmers are coming under fire for using genetically modified seeds in an attempt to save the crops from pests who would diminish the harvest. Garden and landscape companies are switching from harsh chemicals to gentler, natural, organic techniques to control pests that would ruin all their hard work. Home gardeners are also turning to organic garden pest control methods to keep their fruits, flowers, and vegetables pest-free while keeping their families safe from chemicals and genetically modified products. Let’s take a look at what they are doing to keep the green in the garden and the loathsome pests out.
- Oil Sprays – You can easily make a spray to defend plants against aphids, beetles, mites, and whiteflies. Simply add a few cloves of garlic to a couple teaspoons of mineral oil and let the mixture sit overnight. Add that oil to a pint of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Spray your plants with the garlic oil (but not on a hot, sunny day) to keep them pest-free until the next heavy rain. Hot pepper spray can also keep plants pest-free with ingredients from your kitchen. Mix a few teaspoons of hot pepper sauce to a quart of water with a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap. Let it sit overnight and then spray. Whiteflies and mites hate the hot pepper oil and will look elsewhere for a quick lunch.
- Soap Spray – As both the above oils have liquid dishwashing soap in them, it’s reasonable to think that a spray made of plain soap would have some affect on its own, and it does. You’ll need more water this time–a gallon–to which you add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid (make sure ALL soap used in organic home pest control is biodegradable, please!). Let sit overnight and in the morning, you’ll have a gallon of spray for keeping mites, aphids, thrips, and scales away from your plants. The soap damages the skin or coating of the insects, eventually killing them. While soap spray is nasty for bugs, it’s completely harmless for your plants, you, and your family.
- Citrus Rinds – We all know that slugs love beer (and many of us have had the unpleasant experience of removing tiny, drowned, drunken slugs from our gardens), but did you know they hate citrus? So do cats! So if slugs are getting into your plants or if the neighborhood cats have decided that your garden makes an ideal litter box, sprinkle citrus rinds–oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes–around the edges of and throughout your garden. No cats or (drunken) slugs to deal with.
With these tips, you can hopefully keep the garden pests at bay while staying eco-friendly. Good luck!
May will soon be here and that means that Mother’s Day is right around the corner. And since we here at Love 2 B Healthy 1) are moms, 2) have moms, and 3) tend to promote only healthy, good-for-you gift ideas, we thought you might want or need some of those ideas for providing your dear old Mom with a Mother’s Day gift fit for the queen she is.
- Be a joiner! Get mom a membership to a gym, or to a fitness center, or to an exercise program she’s expressed interest in. If your mother is older, check into discounts and programs for seniors in your area. If she’s the younger, healthier, more adventurous type, maybe sign her up for a new class–yoga, zumba, Pilates, ball room dancing. Sign yourself up as well, to make it a family affair.
- Be a loser! If mom has expressed a desire or a need to lose some weight, help her out by suggesting a diet or weight loss program for both of you (or for mom and a friend). Studies show that losing weight is easier and more effective when there is plenty of moral support and family involvement. You’ll both benefit. And if mom is already on a program or eating plan, don’t sabotage it by getting her some big box of candy or taking her to a restaurant not known for its healthy menu choices, please.
- Be a quitter! Got a habit that mom has hated for years? Stop it! Quit chewing tobacco, or stop smoking. End the over eating. Quit the late night booze binging. No, it’s not going to be easy. There are lots of informative and helpful articles, websites and programs to help you and to teach you, whether you want to stop your impulse buying or need to know how to quit chewing tobacco. Don’t let smokeless tobacco or any other bad habit stand in the way of your relationship with your one and only mother. Step up and make a change you’ll both be happy with!
- Be healthy! Does mom love to garden? Buy her some new tools or plants. Does she love to cook? Gift her with some healthy recipes or cookbooks. Is your mother the traveling kind? Invest in a book or two of information on spas and health resorts that indulge the visitor in healthy, relaxing experiences. (Or go whole hog and book mom an all-expense paid trip to one!) Does mom have a lot of stress and tension in her life–work, kids, family always causing problems? Try a trip for two to a massage therapist. Or purchase the supplies for an at-home aromatherapy session.
Whatever you do for your mom this year, keep both her health and yours in mind when making the decision. Flowers and candy and dinner out may be traditional, but you can make better, healthier choices. And everyone can be sure to have had a happy Mother’s Day!
(PS: You may want to get mom’s input before you decide on a gym membership or diet program. Better to be sure it’s what she wants rather than waste time and money on something she won’t enjoy or has no interest in. After all, health food doesn’t do anyone any good sitting on the shelf. Same thing goes for unused gym memberships and weight loss programs that aren’t followed.)
We’ve talked a great deal about the scientific side of addictive behaviors here on I Love 2 B Healthy in the past. You know, chemical changes in the brain, dependence on the substance of choice, harmful physical effects of your addiction.
But today we’re going to focus on an often overlooked or overshadowed side of addiction–the spiritual nature of addictive behaviors and ways to conquer them.
What Do You Need?
Most addiction experts believe that we become addicted to our substance of choice–food, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, television, etc.–because of some deep-seated spiritual or emotional need. We need to feel like we fit in. We need to make the pain of life go away. We need to feel good about ourselves. We need to fill up some emptiness left behind by grief or trauma. This need is met with the false securities the substance brings. We feel cool when we’re smoking or drinking with friends. We feel comforted when we’re face down in the ice cream container. We don’t feel anything when we’re high on drugs or down on booze. The spiritual emptiness and emotional insecurity leads to the physical addiction.
Most 12-step programs and other addiction-breaking programs will tell you that you need some spiritual support or guidance to break your addictive habits successfully. Wondering why all the smokeless tobacco alternatives–mint chew, non-tobacco snuff, nicotine gum, running a mile every day–aren’t helping you kick your snuff habit? Could be because you’ve not addressed the spiritual or emotional needs behind the addiction to smokeless tobacco in the first place. Can’t seem to stick to a diet to save your soul? It just might be your soul that needs attention, as much or more so than your waistline.
Change from Within
Breaking addictions is all about change–you are making a huge change in your life. And spirituality has been shown to both hinder and help the process of change. We’re all spiritual beings–we all have some inner divine spark (you can call it God, Shiva, Allah, Buddha, or simply your creative inner child–WHO it is isn’t important here–Bill W.’s Higher Power works for me in this article). Therefore, to make any real change in our lives, in our way of thinking and behaving, we have to engage and satisfy that Higher Power at work within us.
Most agree that a certain amount of “mindfulness” or “intentional living” is necessary for any change to truly and effectively occur. This is simply being aware of where you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. At all times. In the case of breaking addictions, I suppose a great deal of effort has to be put into what you’re not doing and why you’re NOT doing it. If you need to have a discussion or ask the assistance of your Higher Power, or if you feel that you need to satisfy some teaching of your Higher Power in order to make a lasting change, then by all means do so. Having that spiritual backup, that spiritual incentive, can make all the difference in the world. And in you!
Stress seems to be an inevitable part of modern-day life. It’s as if everybody has to be so “on” all the time–we never get the chance to unwind or relax. And then there’s this disturbing trend in society where everyone is so easily offended. We seem to spend half our time peeved at someone or something, and the other half trying not to get on anyone else’s nerves. It leaves us with a great deal of physical and mental stress with no outlet for relief. Sometimes all this stress causes us to indulge in more couch time and extra comfort food, which is alright once in a while, but shouldn’t be a way to deal with stress regularly. Instead, use exercise to burn off some steam. Here’s why it works:
- It’s all in your mind. Ever wonder why every certified personal trainer seems so upbeat and happy? Regular physical exercise has been proven to relieve stress. The reasons for this involve some serious body chemistry. Exercise releases endorphins–neurotransmitters that increase your feelings of well-being and happiness. Just like the “runner’s high” you’ve heard of, exercise gives your mood and your body a boost. But you don’t need to run to feel it–any exercise that gets your heart rate up will do.
- Redirected focus. There’s a certain single-mindedness that is required for most physical activities, whether it’s maintaining your balance while going for that volleyball, or keeping your breathing even and smooth during a Pilates session. The mental concentration required for exercise can help you forget the boss, or the books, or the bills. The more you engage in this mental escape via physical exercise, the less your troubles will seem to plague you.
- Health from the inside out. Anyone with sports trainer certification will tell you that staying active isn’t just about being in shape and looking healthy on the outside. Regular exercise has a way of increasing your self-esteem as you achieve weight loss, gain strength, or just push yourself harder and farther than you’ve ever gone. This picks up your mood, and changes your inner attitude. These internal changes can help you feel more confident to face challenges at work or in your family life, or in other areas where you are experiencing stress and feeling overwhelmed.
- Sweet dreams. The physical exertion from exercise causes you to sleep better at night. Since stress often disrupts our sleep habits, having a good night’s sleep can bring about wonders. Better rest helps you to be better prepared physically and mentally to handle whatever the day can throw at you.
- Social encouragement. When exercise is a shared experience among friends or even strangers, you’re getting double the benefits to your health. It’s fine to exercise alone, but if you share your exercise with others, you get much-needed social interaction, encouragement, and one-on-one assistance from someone with group fitness certification. So you get your exercise, someone to make sure you’re doing it right, and a group of people to support one another. Group fitness makes exercise something to look forward to rather than something to dread.
Remember, exercise is something that should be life long, so it’s of extreme importance to do something you enjoy and can commit to. Even a nice long walk with the dog every morning and/or evening is a great way to clear your mind, get your heart pumping, and help out Fido’s health as well. When the going gets tough, the tough get exercising. Try it–you’ll see!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it should come as no surprise that the escalating price of food and the growing concerns over food supply safety have encouraged a growth in home gardening. Even folks who live in apartments with just a balcony or small patio are getting into the action, growing pots of greens, tomatoes, herbs, and other small fruits and vegetables. If you are considering joining the green thumb brigade and want to start your own home gardening endeavor, we’ve got some tips and tricks for you to help get you started.
- Garden by the foot – The best and easiest way to begin gardening, other than container gardening, is the square foot method. This consists of building raised beds measuring 8 feet by 4 feet and using a unique planting plan to maximize that small space. The method allows you to get the most out of your efforts. The 8 ft. by 4 ft. plot is quite manageable–you can reach the middle of the bed from the sides–and is large enough to produce a good yield of homegrown goodies.
- Green up your green efforts – Using traditional chemicals and pesticides for fertilization and garden pest control isn’t any better than buying the chemical and pesticide laden produce in your local supermarket. Applying organic fertilizers and growing methods ensures the safety and health of your homegrown fruits and vegetables. Organic pest control companies offer professional help for all the bugs and critters invading your garden. Organic methods work very well and allow for everything from keeping out aphids, slugs, and Japanese beetles to spider removal. You won’t have to worry about spoiling the air, ground, or water, and your fruits and veggies are safe to eat. Just wash off the dirt and enjoy!
- Plant what you buy – To get the most from your home garden, plant what you are already buying. Love tomatoes in the summer? Plant them in your garden. Do you spend time and care choosing fresh herbs at the farmer’s market? Grow your own in your backyard or on your deck. Benefit from your own hard work and effort by growing those fruits and veggies you’ll enjoy.
- Go in with eyes wide open – Gardening is hard work, even with the square foot method. Crops sometimes fail. Dry spells happen. Bugs and other pests can destroy your best efforts. While home gardening is a money-saving and health-benefiting undertaking, it comes at a cost, most often hard work and heart break.
If your garden does fail, remember to get back on that horse and keep on planting. Learn from past mistakes and you should have a beautiful and delicious yield in no time.