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.

 

 

 

Have You Paid Off Your 2020 Holiday Bills?

Money Monday

Have you paid off your 2020 Holiday bills?

We are almost a third of the way through 2021 so I want to circle back on how you are going to pay for fixed social expenses moving forward. For those of you new to our group, one of the core topics that we cover is financial literacy. We encourage you to learn all that you can about your personal finances. We want you to develop a budget and ‘social expenses’ is one category that I recommend that you work on.  We want you to begin using a budget so that you can always cover the core categories that you need to survive.

Social expenses?  What does that mean?

This is my title for those celebrations that are repeated every year; birthdays, Christmas or other religious holidays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. These dates are fixed and you know you are likely going to be paying for something related to these events. A religious holiday is the event that usually involves the most people on one day so focus on that first.

I know that not everyone has the means at this time to do this but start thinking about the process and try to work in small expenses so that you can really focus on this when you are in a better financial state.

Let’s use Christmas for our example. We have 8 months left before we need to have our gifts ready. I have attached a worklist that you can use to pencil in who you need to save money for. Go ahead and pencil in a gift idea as well so that if you see a fantastic sale you can save some money. Think hard and include everyone that you usually share a present with. Family members, friends, work or church events, etc. If the length of the list is scaring you, start removing people from it! It is OK to do this so that you can focus on those that are truly in your gift giving circle.

Let’s say that you have determined that you need to save $400 between now and December. $400/8 months means that you need to setting aside $50/month in a savings account or in a money envelope so that when you see a great sale, you can start buying things on your list. You cannot take money out of this stash unless it is truly for someone on your gift list. This is NOT your emergency fund.

So focus on paying off any remaining amount of 2020’s holiday bills so that you can begin planning for 2021. Start with your holiday celebration but then start working on birthdays and other fixed events. Once you get started, you will see that you will have less stress because you have planned for these events.

Click on the Resources tab and use Holiday Budget Worksheet.

Happy savings!

DeStress During Holy Week

This is the beginning of Holy Week for many of you so I want you to take a few minutes this evening or tomorrow to map out what you need to get done. By taking a hard look at your traditional Holy Week and Easter activities, you can decide what is most important for you to do this week.  By analyzing what is most important to you is necessary to destress during Holy Week. 

We want to continue to work on protecting our ‘me time’, practicing self care while ensuring that last minute spending doesn’t wreck our budget for the week.

One of the financial goals for many of you this year is to preplan your activities and trips so that you can anticipate what it will cost you. This allows you to save your money for these items that occur every year so that you don’t end up in debt creating the perfect celebration so Easter week is a great time to practice this new habit.

Preplanning allows you to decide how much you truly want to do this week. Your schedule for the week allows you to write down your menus, church schedules, and Easter activities.  Once you decide on your activities, develop your budget. Shopping lists are a must so that you can minimize your trips to the store in order to decrease your impulse purchases.

Now that you have mapped out your activities, are you over scheduling yourself? Are you building in ‘me time’?  Are you going to be able to truly enjoy yourself? Are you spending the weekend with other adults?  If so, this is a great time to map out the chore list so that everyone is helping with each activity.  Working with others ensures that everyone can spend time reflecting on what is truly important.

It is better to back off on commitments now rather than trying to decompress afterwards.  

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.  

10 Prompts To Help You Tell Your Story

March is Women’s History Month

 

What is your story?  Do your loved ones know about your childhood or why you decided to pursue your chosen profession?  I love genealogy and am always encouraging others to journal their experiences and family stories.

 

Let’s start with your early life.  Do your family and friends know your history.  Where were you born?  Did your family move around?  Who raised you?  What did you enjoy doing as a child?  Is there a deep secret that you have been keeping?  

Here are 10 prompts to help you tell your story for future generations.

  • What city, state and country were you born in?
  • Were you born in a hospital or at home?
  • Do you have brothers and sisters?  If so, where do you fall in the lineup?
  • Ask your mom, dad or an elderly relative if they have a favorite memory of you.
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Did you have any pets?  Write about one of them that was extra special to you.
  • What is one memory that brings a smile to your face every time you think about it?
  • What was the name and location of the elementary school(s) that you attended?  
  • What was the name of your first grade teacher?  What is your favorite memory of her?
  • What sports or activities did you participate in? Which one was your favorite and why?

Once you are done with this time period, begin working on the next one.  Break it up into decades or schooling or other milestones that give you a timeline you can work with.  There are many ways to break down the time periods so that it does not overwhelm you.

I prefer that you use a paper journal to document your story since your loved ones may not have have access to the electronic versions.  You can also publish these works.  Pairing them with any photos you may have is even better.

The hardest part is deciding where to start.  Start with the prompts above and let them guide you as you travel back in time.   

Your story is worth sharing!

 

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.   

 

Are Your Personal Affairs in Order?

Are your personal affairs in order?  January is a great time to review your ‘official paperwork’ to see if anything needs to be updated. If you find that you do have some time on your hands this weekend, let’s revisit our discussion on how important it is to have a Last Will and Testament in place alongside other important documents. Part of taking care of yourself is making sure you ease the mental burden that comes from losing a loved one.

The Caring Hub website is a great source of information and by signing up for their newsletter, you get a daily assignment that will assist you in getting things in order. There is even a chapter dealing with pets. At the end of 30 days, you and your family will have everything in place.

If you have already done this, use this time to update any information that is outdated. If you are newly married or divorced, make sure to see what changes need to be made.

By visiting the website, you will get a step-by-step plan to do this. Keep this information in a binder, folder or on an excel spreadsheet and make sure that someone else in your family knows where this information is.

Start with collecting this information for anyone that you are caring for. Make this a family event so that you all can share stories as you review birth certificates, marriage licenses, armed forces documents and any other historical document that you need to have on file.

If you are not ready to do this for yourself, do this for your kids.

For the record, there is a excel file on my laptop labelled ‘Look Here If I Die.’  This is a computer file that houses all of the digital links to all of my personal accounts for my husband and me. My kids know to look here and they know where to find the password to my computer and this spreadsheet if something happens to me.

Points to consider:

  • What does your file, binder, or folder look like?
  • Do your loved ones know where it is?
  • Do you need a key to get to it?
  • Does someone know where the key is?
  • Do they know where to find the password to access your computer if it is password protected?
  • Do they know where to find the password to access your file?
  • Do you have a copy of this information outside of your home? What if your only copy is in your home and you have a house fire that destroys it?

January is a great time to get your personal affairs in order.  Go ahead, take a deep breathe and get started. It may take a few weeks or months to get it all in order but get started.  

 

Being Self Reliant Will Improve Your Overall Health

‘Me’ time, self care and self reliance…

These are the three core topics that we focus on in this group. We covered the overview of ‘me’ time and self-care the last two Mondays so be sure to go back and read them again.

You may question why self reliance is in this group but did you know that financial stress is one of the top conditions that can impact your physical and mental health?  Financial stress is one of the conditions that can impact your health and can cause relationship issues.  Being self reliant will improve your overall health.  A few examples of how it impacts your health are listed below.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Guilt
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • Denial
  • Insomnia
  • Blood pressure problems

Over the last 30 years, I have spoken to so many women who are at a loss when it comes to their own finances. Not because they are being lazy but because they either rely or relied on their partner to ‘take care of all of that’ or they feel overwhelmed about how to get the financial information that they need.

One of the many things that 2020 showed us was that we cannot rely on one stream of income. Things beyond our control can impact that one paycheck. We have also seen how relying on the government to bail us out is NOT an option.

I am going to ask that you take a hard look at where you are financially. Do you have a consistent stream of income? Do you have multiple streams of income? Do you know how much debt you are in? Do you have a plan for how you are going to reduce and eliminate your debt? Do you know how to access all of your accounts? The list of questions is a long one but we will cover them in January.

I feel that it is crucial for all of you to become financially literate and financially independent so that you can be in a position to walk away from a toxic work environment or a toxic relationship. You should NEVER stay in either situation because you cannot afford to leave.

Let’s flip the situation. Are you the person in your family who is in charge of the finances? Are you responsible for overseeing your parent’s finances? If so, do others know where you keep all of your information so that if something happens to you, they will know where to look?

So I have a homework assignment for you for this next month. Gather all of your banking account information, pay stubs, and all of your bills. Yes, the holiday damage will take a month to sort through if you put your purchases on a credit card.

Put it all in one stack and we will begin working our way through a simple process so that you can organize the information and make a plan for how to ensure that you fully understand what is in front of you.

If your partner usually does this in your family, explain what you are doing and why. Ask them to teach you what they know. This may a tough conversation to have so prepare for some pushback.

My goal? Develop one more stream of income that brings in $1000/month.

What does one financial goal for 2021 look like for you? 

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