7 Tips to Avoid Scale Fright During The Holidays

Did you overindulge this weekend? What is on your schedule this next week?  The timeline between Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend is the time of year during which most people will gain weight due to letting their guard down. The temptation of holiday treats and drinks make it easy to put on weight during the holiday season. 

Look ahead and see what kind of activities are on your schedule for the rest of the holiday season.  Factor in everything;  work parties, neighborhood pot-lucks, church gatherings, family gatherings and every event you are invited to.  What can you do to maintain your weight during this season?

7 tips to avoid scale fright during the holidays.  

  • Plan your meals

  • Pack your lunch

  • Stay hydrated.

  • Don’t arrive at a holiday function with an empty stomach.

  • Sample a treat without eating all of it.

  • Limit alcohol.

  • No snacking in between meals or after dinner.

As you see, you can enjoy gathering with family and friends but you need to plan your meals, drinks and activities.  You can sample holiday treats without eating the whole thing.  These ideas are only addressing the things you will eat and drink but coupled with monitoring your activity level,  you should be able to at least maintain your weight.

Young woman with breast cancer

When Should You Begin Breast Cancer Screening?

It is that time of the year where we focus on your breasts! I was thinking about the topic on my walk this morning when I noticed these two pairs of acorns that literally just looked like breasts to me. It was a sign!

 

Are you over the age of 40 or have a first degree relative (mom, dad, sisters/brothers) that has a history of breast cancer? There is no clear consensus for when women with average risk should begin screening for breast cancer but most will say that you should begin between the ages of 40-49.  See the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines under our Resources Tab.  There are several risk factors that may move the start age up.  This is a conversation you should be having with your primary care clinician or ob/gyn so that you two can review your family history and other risk factors.  

Breast cancer accounts for 30% of the new cancer diagnosis each year but due to improved technology and treatment, we now have a 90% 5-year survival rate.

  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • It is second most common type in women behind skin cancer
  • Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer.
  • The two biggest risk factors are being a woman and advanced age.
  • Less than 1% of all diagnosis will be in men.

Screening mammograms are done when there is no current problem. Diagnostic mammograms are done when there is a question about something they see on the screening mammogram and they are doing a more detailed look at the problem area.

As an ObGyn, I follow ACOG’s recommendations but you may be seeing a family medicine clinician who is following the USPTF (first column) guidelines. Once you discuss your risk factors, you can decide at what age you need to begin getting them, how often or when to stop them. You can decide if you want to get genetic testing done.

Educate yourself and ask family members if they have had breast disease.  Review the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines.  Make an appointment with your clinician so that you can review your options if you think you are at high risk.  Speak up for yourself if you do not agree with your clinician’s advice. My feisty mom was told that she didn’t need one since she was over 70. She told them she didn’t care and would pay for it out of pocket. You guessed it. It showed a small change which was diagnosed as a Stage I breast cancer.

Your insurance company may have guidelines on what they will pay for but you can always agree to pay for one out of pocket if you want to.  If you do not have insurance, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and they can direct you to the nearest place that can assist you.

 

Top View of Sneakers on the grass with the text: It Starts With You

Take Responsibility For Your Health

Vaccine or no vaccine? Masks or no masks? Become a hermit or figure out how to live with it?  Did you know that YOU, and only YOU, are responsible for your health?  Act like the adult that you are and take responsibility for your health.

We just had a holiday weekend and there were so many decisions to make, weren’t there?  Cake or no cake? Exercise or sit on your butt again? Smoking/vaping or kicking the habit? Alcohol–to use or abstain from? Fried chicken or grilled chicken? Pecan pie or fresh fruit? Meat or no meat? Hot dogs or lean meats? Grilled veggies or fried battered veggies? I mean, who doesn’t like fried pickles?

I could go on and on and on but I am ready to throw down the gauntlet.  

It is truly your body, your decision. Not just about the vaccine or the mask.  You are literally responsible for your own health so begin acting like it.   I don’t care what the topic of the day is but if you are serious about avoiding hospitalization for any reason, you need to begin taking better care of yourself.

There are some people who are doing an amazing job on all fronts when it comes to their health journey. I tip my hat off to you as you have made your health a priority and I know that this takes a dedicated focus on a daily basis.

The majority of us are somewhere on the continuum of this work. I know that many of you have made so much progress and I will continue to be a pest in case you need a nudge.   There are some who don’t want to proactive but then want everything done when they finally go in for care.  What are you waiting for?

According to the CDC, the medical conditions that are most likely going to put you at risk of severe illness from COVID are the following:

  • High blood pressure (especially if it is poorly controlled)
  • Obesity (BMI > 30)
  • Diabetes (especially if it is poorly controlled)
  • Smoking/vaping or a history of using tobacco products
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy or recent pregnancy
  • Lung problems
  • Chronic kidney problems

Are any of these on your list of medical conditions? The more conditions that you have, the more at risk you will be for hospitalization, with or without COVID.  Don’t wait until it is too late to take responsibility for your health.  Reach out to your primary care provider and make an appointment.

We are 19 months into this pandemic so if you haven’t’ begun working on improving your numbers, losing weight or kicking the tobacco/vaping habit, you need to make an action plan.

TODAY.

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.

 

 

 

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.  

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?

 

 

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.  Do you know where your cervix is?

Approximately 13,000 women are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year. This is a condition that we can screen for with improved testing. The term ‘cervical cancer screening’ is used now instead of just saying a ‘Pap smear’ due to the options that are available to you.By combining the use of widespread HPV vaccinations and implementing the new cervical screening guidelines, we should drastically decrease the number of new cervical cancer diagnosis each year.These are the  new guidelines that went into effect last spring.

    • Less than 21 years of age: No screenings
    • Ages 21-29: Cytology only (Pap smear test) every 3 years
    • Ages 30-65: You have three options:
      • Cytology only (Pap smear test) every 3 years
      • High-risk HPV test only every 5 years
      • Cytology plus High risk HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years

If you have time on your hands this week, look for your last test results. Do you understand what the words mean? If you do not have a copy of it, you may be able to find it through your patient portal.

When was your last screening performed? Did you skip your check-up last year? Many women forget to schedule their annual exam once they are done having children and before you know it, 10 years have passed without care. Do you fall into this group?

If you skipped your check-up last year due to losing your insurance or just plain dealing with life, there are many locations where you can receive free or low-cost screenings.  This link will allow you to search for sites based on your state or you can search for free or low-cost clinics in your area.

Don’t let the pandemic impact your ability to take of yourself and schedule your appointment if you are overdue.