3 Myths to Dispel About Skin Cancer

Who was basking in the sun this weekend? 🙋🏽‍♀️

Who has basked in the sun over the last 5 or 6 decades? 🙋🏽‍♀️

Who has covered themselves with baby oil and then fallen asleep poolside, in your lounge chair in your backyard or on the beach? 🙋🏽‍♀️

Most of us probably still have our hands raised so I have 3 myths to dispel about skin cancer while I have your attention.

Myth #1: I have ‘brown’ skin so I won’t get skin cancer.

    • False. All skin types are at risk for getting skin cancer.  Having less pigment in your skin does increase the risk of damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays but all skin that is constantly exposed to these rays is at risk.  There are skin cancers that occur from other causes as well so continue to inspect your skin and have others peek at your back.

Myth #2: Only people with blue or light colored eyes get skin cancer.

    • False. Individuals of all eye colors can get skin cancer. Those with lighter eyes are more likely to get the ones from UV ray damage but again, there are other types that you need to be aware of.

Myth #3: Only older individuals will get skin cancer.

    • False. Individuals of all ages can get skin cancer.  Your risk is based on your personal and family history, total sun exposure and the number of sunburns or tanning bed sessions.  It is never too late to begin become proactive with this preventative measure.

There are many types of skin cancers so it is important to read about the different types so that you can act on any changes that you may notice on your skin.  The Mayo Clinic has a great summary of what to look for and the different types of skin cancers.  It has great pictures of the different types of skin cancer.  

Read through this resource and then look at your skin from all angles and make note of any concerns that you may have.   Take pictures for your personal files.  Schedule a follow up appointment with your clinician to discuss your concerns or bring this up at your next preventative visit.

 

 

 

12 Monthly Health Goals

Monthly health goals

Here we are at the beginning of a new month and week. How did you do with your goals last month? I have attached the link to our Health Goal planner from our website that allows you to reflect and pencil in what small steps you can work on this month.

In January, we talked about the daunting process of making healthy choices more manageable by breaking them down into small steps. By focusing your target on one thing at a time and by building on what you did over the last months, you will have built in 12 extra healthy habits by the end of the year.

What if you haven’t started? Who cares! You can start this journey at any time so no more excuses. One of our team members is working on how to eat healthier by making better eating and drinking choices. She is approaching this from the ‘Food is Fuel’ perspective. It is definitely about changing her past experience of ’emotional eating’ to eating because ‘food is fuel’. Here is her plan of what this does over the course of a year.

12 Monthly Health Goals

  • January–no artificial sweeteners
  • February–no added sugars
  • March–drink only water, unsweetened teas
  • April–no desserts except one cupcake for special occasions
  • May–try one new fruit and vegetable each week
  • June–no processed snacks
  • July–no snacks in-between meals
  • August–eat all of her meals during an 8 hour window (basic intermittent fasting)
  • September–include meat in her meal planning only once a day
  • October–include meat in her meal planning 4 days a week
  • November–limit alcohol to Friday and Saturdays
  • December–look at recipes to see how to make her traditional holiday menu a healthier one.

By breaking down her healthier eating goals into small parts, she can manage this and doesn’t feel overwhelmed. She is actually ahead of schedule as she found that she could eliminate artificial sweeteners and added sugars at the same time.

You may be able to move through your list more quickly but for someone who was trying to change 50 years of ‘bad habits’ and still cooking for several family members, she felt she needed to move at this pace. She now has several family members who have joined her so this makes it easier.

Write it down, map it out and accept that you may have a few hiccups. NO ONE is perfect.

6 Tips to Combat Mindless Eating

Mindless Monday….

I had to take a picture of the situation I found myself in last night. I was all excited about getting Dr. Fung’s book The Obesity Code and was settling in to begin reading it. I wanted a sweet snack and was about 3 bites in when I realized that I was my own worst enemy!

Ughhhhh! I looked into what was left in the container, freezer burn and all and thought, you cannot eat bad ice cream while reading about why you are struggling with your weight! Especially when it is a flavor that you are not crazy about.

OK, you shouldn’t eat good ice cream either while reading this book but this was such a perfect example of mindless eating.  I have worked to eliminate added sugars in my diet and this just creeped in.  I told myself not to do it and then talked myself into 5 spoonfuls.  It is such a mind game.

I put the ice cream container away and reminded myself about how I eliminated added sugars to begin with.  Food is the fuel my body needs and I work to ensure that I am eating healthy and nutritious foods the majority of the time.  

Here are 6 tips to combat mindless eating:

  • Don’t buy it to begin with.
  • Buy ice cream flavors that I don’t like so that my husband and kids don’t get mad at me.
  • Hide it.
  • Throw it out when it gets freezer burn.
  • Read nutritional labels to look for hidden sugars.
  • Be intentional and serve an exact serving or portion of a serving so that I don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Being intentional with our foods and remembering that they are a fuel should help keep us on course.  

Are You Apple or Pear Shaped?

where does your body store fat?

 

Are you apple or pear shaped? The way your body stores fat can increase your risk for heart disease.  Did you know that your body shape can be a risk factor for heart disease?

 

Are you shaped like an apple or a pear?

 

If you tend to carry your excess weight in your central or belly area, then you are apple shaped. If you tend to carry your excess weight in your hips, thighs and bottom, then you are pear shaped.

 

Why is this important?

 

Women who are apple shaped are more at risk for metabolic syndrome. This may put you at risk for heart disease, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and irregular periods.

The simplest way to assess this is to look in the mirror. Most of us can identify with a shape very quickly; I am a pear.

Scientifically there are two ways:

  • Measure your waist at the narrowest point. If it is greater than 35 inches, then you are at increased risk.
  • Measure your waist at the narrowest point and your hips at the widest point. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. If the value is greater than 0.8, then you are considered an apple.

So your heart health assessment for today is this:

Determine your body shape and tell us what your body shape is.

 

Fall in Love With Yourself and Improve Your Heart Health

I LOVE ME!

 

What a great week to fall in love with yourself and improve your heart health.  Despite the commercial hype of the holiday, use the buzz from the messaging to help you move along your course to improving your heart health.

You cannot change some of the risk factors that put you at risk for heart disease such as age, race and gender but you can work on the ‘modifiable’ risk factors.  Use this week to set a daily goal to take action on some of them.

Do any of the following apply to you?

  • I am a smoker.
  • I don’t exercise on a regular basis.
  • I don’t know what my cholesterol levels are.
  • I haven’t checked my blood pressure recently.
  • I need to be at a healthier weight
  • I have not been screened for diabetes.
  • I need to lower my stress levels
  • I do not follow a heart healthy diet

Not all of these risk factors will apply to you but you can work on some of these things. We discussed checking your cholesterol and blood pressure levels last week.  Focus on one thing and make a plan to ‘fix’ it. The plan may begin by simply scheduling an appointment to check in with your clinician.

Once you have an action plan on your specific risk factor, move on to the next one. Over the course of the year, you will be in a better place. Take it one step at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.  This is definitely the week to fall in love with yourself and improve your heart health.  

YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Tips For Staying on Task With Your Heart Health Goals

What are Your Heart Health Goals?

We are starting a new month and January is behind us.  How did you do with your health goals last month?  Did you map out your needed appointments to cover all of your preventative screening tests for the year?

Doing this now gives you direction and also allows you to save any money needed to cover any deductibles or co-insurance.  If you don’t have insurance you have time to find available resources in your community through your local community health centers or health departments.

You may be asking what screenings do you need?  The United States Preventative Services Task Force has a list of screenings that you should discuss with your clinician every year to see what actions you need to take to improve your health.

February is the month where we celebrate Heart Health.  There are basic things that you need to know in order to focus your attention on this aspect of your health. You cannot change some of the risk factors that put you at risk for heart disease such as age, race and gender but you can work on the ‘modifiable’ risk factors.

Modifiable risk factors

Do any of the following apply to you?
  • I am a smoker.
  • I don’t exercise on a regular basis.
  • I don’t know what my cholesterol levels are or my levels are too high
  • I haven’t checked my blood pressure recently.
  • I need to be at a healthier weight
  • I have not been screened for diabetes or my diabetes is not well controlled
  • I need to lower my stress levels
  • I do not follow a heart healthy diet

take action on defining your goals

If any of the risk factors apply to you, you need to promise yourself that you will make a plan to address it.  The key is to start somewhere. Here are some tips for staying on task with your heart health goals.

Figuring out where to start can be overwhelming.  Take a deep breathe and focus on one thing at a time.  Let’s look at cholesterol screenings:

  • Pull out your medical records or log into your patient portal.  Gather whatever information you can collect and make note of what your baseline status was or is.
  • Do you know what your levels are?
  • Do you understand what they mean?
  • Has it been more than one year since you had your levels checked?  
  • If you have a prescription for cholesterol meds, are you filling it and taking them as instructed?
  • Are you following a heart healthy diet?

When you get to the point to where you ‘know your numbers’ and have an action plan, you can move on to the next topic.  Try focusing on one risk factor a month.  If you take it one step at a time and commit to making an action plan for each risk factor, you will have an action plan for improving your heart health by the end of 2021.

That’s not too hard is it?  Remember that self care is not selfish.

Which risk factor will you focus on this month?

 

 

Set Health Goals That Match Your Why

Monday Motivation

I worked with someone who sent me this list of goals:

  • Smoke less
  • Drink less
  • Have less fun

I love this!  In theory, these are great goals.  I wasn’t sure about the ‘have less fun’ goal but she explained that when she goes out to bars and ‘has fun’, she drinks too much which then gives her the urge to smoke.  She feels that she can go to other locations if she wants to be social without feeling like she has to drink.  

Why do you feel the need to set health goals? You must ask yourself why something is important to you. Set health goals that match your why so that they remain a priority to you.

So the first thing we did was to change the order of her goals.  She feels that she is a social drinker and smoker.  She knows that these are not good for her health and she was ready to make a plan for herself.  The first thing we did was to change the order of her goals since they are all related.

Have less fun > Drink less > Smoke less

When we are looking at health goals, you are more likely to succeed when you can answer ‘what is your why?’  Make them personal!  The 7 Levels Deep approach comes from Dean Graziosi’s Millionaire Success Habits and is used to keep fine tuning why you are setting out to make a goal and why it is important to you.  Here is an example of this using her goals:

    • What do you want to do?  I want to go out to bars less.
    • Why is that important to you?  So I can drink less.
    • Why is that important to you?  So I can smoke less.
    • Why is that important to you?  It isn’t healthy.
    • Why is that important to you?  I have asthma.
    • Why is that important to you?  It makes me cough too much.
    • Why is that important to you?  Coughing makes me pee on myself.

All kidding aside, this is just another approach to help you make goals that you can reach.  There are many tools available to help you write out your thoughts and to give you guidance on how to make them happen.  The most important thing is that you are thinking about what is important to you.  

Think about it, write it down and then make an action plan.   

 

Self Care Should Be High On Your Priority List

Self Care is where you focus on your own physical and mental health. Self care should be high on your priority list.  How do you do this? How do you know what guidelines to follow? Do the generic guidelines that you read about apply to women your age?
 

The Well-Woman Chart by the Women’s Preventative Screening Initiatives guidelines are used as a baseline. They can be found at the website where you can download the document or use the interactive tool.

 
All of the scientific references are available for your review or you can search by your age group and it will tell you what preventative health screenings you need to discuss with your healthcare clinician.
 
You, and only you, are responsible for your health status. This pandemic has shown us how important it is for each of us to work on ourselves. Whether you are 18 or 70, there are things you can focus on.
 
If you are overweight, you only have to lose 5% of your body weight to begin seeing improvements in your blood pressure or levels of glucose in your blood.
 
Keeping your lungs healthy right now is probably the most important thing you can do and this is something you can address quickly. If you are using tobacco or vaping products, you need to seek help as soon as you can.
 
You will not see major changes happen overnight. Change is very hard and it is harder when you don’t have in-person access to your support network. Trying to motivate yourself is tough but you need to commit to making this a priority if you have not committed to this yet.
 
Take a few minutes and download the document. You can also find it in our Resources page.  Review the information and we will begin reviewing the topics again in the new year.
 
Have a great week

The Importance of Scheduling ‘Me’ Time

There are 3 topics that we strive to discuss in this forum; ‘me’ time, self care and self reliance. For the next 3 Mondays, I will be providing a brief overview on each of these topics and why I think they are the 3 topics hat we need to focus on. 

‘Me’ Time

All of us need a few minutes each day to focus on ourselves.  The importance of scheduling  ‘me’ time cannot be overstressed.  By unplugging from others or your work, you allow your mind to take a break.  This allows you to reset.  According to Happify Daily, women have 25 hours of leisure time each week while men have 28 hours.  Using snippets of time to focus on yourself will improve your relationships, make you more productive and can set a great example for those around you, especially children.

The amount of time is not as important as what you do for that time.  I use a 30 minute time period but this is a random number I picked out because I like to exercise or walk for a minimum of 30 minutes each day and this is my main form of ‘me’ time. Walking outdoors is a huge stress reliever for me. This also allows me to take pictures of my favorite animals or views.

You get to pick out what you want to do and for how long. You may be in a season of life where you have a newborn (or two) and there never seems to be time for anything else. You may be caring for an elderly parent or family member and it may seem that you do not have a minute for yourself. You may be the caregiver of an adult child with special needs who needs your undivided attention. You could be single and responsible only for yourself.  You may be in charge of a household with a partner and children or young adults under your roof.

Your situation is your situation. I am going to challenge you to change your words from ‘I don’t have time for me’ to ‘How can I find time for me?’ The only person limiting this is YOU!

The first place to find time is to quit reading this post and pick out a different activity! Replacing your screen time on social media is the easiest place to find time.  Analyzing your leisure time to identify blocks of time is the next thing.  You can use our Activity Journal
to help you keep track of your activities over the course of the week to see where you are duplicating effort.

Remember that our group came up with a list of 30 Things You Can Do During ‘Me’ Time.  There are other tools that you can use under our Resources table.

Start small and work your way up to 30 minutes. It may mean that you wake up a few minutes early or stay up a few minutes later but make a promise to yourself to make this a priority.  Make an appointment with yourself.  By being intentional you will find that this becomes your new normal.

Invest In Your Health By Setting Health Goals

I am so not a cold weather person. I am in Pittsburgh for a couple of days and arrived yesterday to very windy and cold weather. One of my first thoughts was ‘I am not walking in this!’

 

I am asking for you to invest in your health by setting health goals.  As you think about how to do this, think about building in movement into each of your days.  What challenges do you face? You may not be able to set up an exercise plan due to medical conditions or disabilities but if your clinician has given you the green light, find something to do that makes you move more.

 

Hot, cold or rainy weather, home situations, shorter days, new COVID restrictions on gyms, malls and other outdoor venues may all impact your ability to get a workout in.

 

Look around you.  Your setting may be in a shelter,  on a couch with a friend or in your home.  You may not have the room or specific equipment (treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical or weight lifting equipment) available to you but if you can sit or walk, you can move.  

 

 

Invest In Your Health By Setting Health Goals

  • I will talk to my clinician about starting an exercise routine.
  • I will look at YouTube videos or other online resources and find a series that I like and set a start date within 2 weeks.
  • I will look at my calendar and schedule three 30-minute blocks of time for exercise each week.
  • I will invite my spouse/friend/family member to join me in these exercises.
  • I will keep all of my appointments with myself and not cancel any of the sessions.

We have a  Monthly & Daily Health Goals  planner for you to use.  Write out your weekly and monthly goals.  Writing them down and posting them on the fridge or your mirror will allow you to see them daily.  This will help keep you on track.  You can also click on the Resources Tab to find this planner.

This is a great time to do this.  This will keep the extra holiday pounds at bay, provide natural endorphins to help you counteract the mental stressors that you face every day and make you physically stronger.  Are you ready to do this?