Super Simple Tips for a Healthy, Happy Life!

Nearly everyone has heard of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He taught that disease had a natural cause (as opposed to a supernatural), and that clinical observation was an essential aspect of “do no harm” medical care.

Hippocrates teachings were revolutionary at the time (400 BC), and while he may be the father of modern medicine, he has legions of sons/brothers/daughters/cousins and such who continue to build on his ideas.

One Roman fellow, Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a huge fan of Hippo and translated Hippocrates and other Greek writings to Latin. Celsus wasn’t a physician – yet he had a major influence on medical thinking and is known as having coined,

accurate diagnosis must precede treatment

Aulus was a wise man – see below for a link to his most famous work, the De Medicina.  I like his simple tips for staying healthy and happy. You won’t need to buy organic ancient seeds drenched in glacier mineral water, no special supplements or aloe vera cranberry infused gluten free goat milk smoothies, just no fuss stuff. Sounds like exactly what I tell my patients!

Super Simple Tips For A Happy, Healthy Life

  • Make your home bright and cheery, keep it clean and free of clutter. 
  • Get regular and varied exercise – include long, brisk walks.
  • Do not overeat! (George Burns followed this rule: he attributed his longevity to his practice of eating only half of whatever was on his plate).
  • Start your meals with greens. Eat apples, dates, or other fresh fruit for dessert.

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  • Drink wine only in moderation. If you are indulging nightly, take a break.
  • Get massages whenever you can.
  • Get plenty of fresh air all year round. 
  • Treat your digestive tract kindly: don’t overdue it with fatty, fried, processed, or junk food in general. Stay hydrated! 
  • Make sleep a priority. 
  • Surrounded yourself with friends, loved ones, and never forgo a yearly vacation.

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Celsus (ca 25 BC—ca 50) was considered to be way ahead of his time in regards to his teachings on maintaining good health. Ironic he died so young. His suggestions are common sense and accepted practices. I will overlook his blood-letting instructions and vomit obsessions. After all, none of us are perfect.

If you want to know what Celsus had to say about such things as treating gangrenous mouth lesions, agglutinating wounds, or helping women who collapse speechless, consult his expansive De Medicina.

Cheers to good health!

Change (part two): Preparation

Bob Dylan said there’s nothing so stable as change.  Pre-Dylan philosopher Heraclitus put it this way:

The only thing that is constant is change.

Stable, constant.

Permanent, certain.

Whether you like it and seek it, or hate it and run from it: everything always changes.  Most change is out of our control. Consider the weather, someone else’s attitude, road conditions, home/car repairs, illness, accidents, and layoffs as some of the stuff in life we can’t change.

There is still a great portion of stuff we can.

In part one of this blog series on change I discussed why we resist change and challenged you to think about one area in yourself you’d like to change.  Go back and reread it if you need to.  You should have written down one thing. If your thing is “big” like these –

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break it down into smaller, more defined short term goals.

If your desired change is to “get healthy” (good choice!) what are the smaller steps that lead to good health? Write them down and circle one.

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Start with that. It’s good to have high aspirations, but don’t set the bar too high. Think of change as a muscle.  In order for muscle growth you have to begin with a weight you can actually lift. You add on as tolerated, allowing the muscle to adapt to grow. If you start out high and hard, you will likely get injured or give up.

What it is it that you want to do? Define it. Imagine it. Put it in writing. Organize it. Gather the knowledge you need, enlist help, start equipping yourself with the tools to help you be successful.

changeYou have now entered the action phase of change. I’ll talk more about action in part three.

Preparation is key to successful change. Know what you want, and educate yourself on how to get there. In between here and there establish clear, manageable steps.

Until we meet again for some action, here’s a little Dylan inspiration…

Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools.

Remember. You got this.

Successful People Consistently Do These 4 Things

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Do you think yourself as successful?  How do you define success?

Merriam-Webster defines it as, “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame“.  I think Webster completely misses the mark with that definition.  Success is viewed differently depending on your culture, upbringing,  social situation, work environment, and worldview.

Success is not a one-size-fits-all standardized, measurable thing.  No one would argue that the self-made millionaires, Edison/Einstein types,  Hollywood stars, Olympic athletes, or Pulitzer Prize winners aren’t successful.

But in reality the super famous,  geniuses, and wicked wealthy people represent such a small number.  If we look at fame as an indication of success, Wired Science reports,

somewhere between about  1 in 10,000 and 5 in 10,000 (or 1 in 2,000) people in the world are successful.

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The truth is successful people can be found in every crevice of the planet.  From the tiny fishing village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, to the congested metropolis of Tokyo, Japan,  you’ll find success.

Isn’t success simply accomplishing that which you set out to do? Whether it be a goal to climb the world’s ten tallest mountains or to climb out of poverty – you determine what you want to achieve.

Anyone. Including you, can be successful.

There is no secret to success.  Instead there’s a mindset, and opportunities. 

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To be successful in any area of your life, you must consistently do these 4 things

  1. Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives
  2. Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision
  3. Cultivate emotional intelligence
  4. Stay the course

#Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives

Know what you want. Rather than wander aimlessly through life letting the “chips fall” where they may, decide what/where you want to be.  And write it down.  Napoleon Hill, the author of The Magic Ladder to Success,  puts it in perspective:

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#Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision 

Once you have your goals and a plan, you need the tools and the people to help.  If you want to lose weight you’ll need to learn how to change the way you eat, and you need to move. Do you need to get exercise equipment, a gym membership, or a new pair of sneakers?

If you want to start your own business, you need education, training, and business mentors.

Make friends with the right people, surround yourself with good influences, and keep moving yourself forward.

Keep moving

 #Cultivate emotional intelligence

Successful people learn to temper their emotions.  They are empathetic, understanding,  set the tone for their team, and know how to bring the best out in others.  They keep their head in the game, and don’t sweat the small stuff.  If you want to accomplish your goals you can’t be pouty, reactive, or vindictive.  I recommend either reading up on emotional intelligence or try taking a free class. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.

#Stay the course

Success will find you busy working. Build on your strengths,  be persistent, optimistic, and learn from your failures. There will be obstacles, set backs, mistakes as well as triumphs. The point is to never lose your grit.

Anyone who has set a goal and accomplished it is a success. Success does not happen overnight.  It won’t drop from the sky, and it will never come if you turn around and admit defeat.  It is a challenge, and that’s exactly what makes life zesty!

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Are You Washing Your Hands The Right Way?

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There are lots of things you can do to keep yourself healthy, but nothing tops regular good old-fashioned sudsy soap and water hand washing. And if your hands aren’t obviously soiled, alcohol based hand cleaners will do. Proper hand washing is vital.

No hand dipping, fingertip only splash n’dry, quick soap rinse and go stuff.  Your technique must be perfect!

  • Wet your hands, generously apply soap, lather and clean under your finger nails outside the stream of water for at least 20 seconds – about the time it takes to sing happy birthday twice – in your head please. Rinse under running water.
  • Use automatic paper towel dispensers to dry.  Avoid the air dryers – they just recirculate germs.  Use your sleeve or paper towel to open the door or patiently wait for someone else to do it for you.

germ farm

Forgo hand washing? That’s gross and you are now a vehicle of disease transmission.  Why would you want to be a germ farm?  Science tells us hand washing removes some of the nastiest bugs: Salmonella, E. coli, Norovirus, Adenovirus, coxsackie, Hepatitis A, C-diff, influenza, and more.

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Do yourself and everyone else a service: Help prevent infections. Wash your hands!  

Note: there are no known data to support the claim that water temperature is associated with hand-washing efficacy.

Could Miss Piggy Have Pre-Diabetes?

Drop that donut. Spit out the candy. No triple-scoop chocolate indulgence drizzled with hot fudge, caramel and dusted with butterfinger bits for you or you’ll get diabetes.  You probably have heard that one before. Confession time: I too have said something similar  to my boys when they were little and gullible. It was usually around Easter or Halloween.

Truth? Sugar itself doesn’t cause diabetes. However, frequent sweet binges are a bad idea because you are robbing yourself of the nutrients your body needs to function properly.  Keep it up and your teeth will suffer, you’ll feel sluggish, maybe get headaches, and you will gain weight.  It’s carbs that are the the offender as our body  can quickly convert them to glucose.  A carb heavy diet over a long period (say a lifetime) will add to excess weight which makes one a prime candidate for pre-diabetes.

Pre-diabetes (or impaired fasting glucose) means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. It is usually picked up on routine blood work for a physical. If you were told your fasting blood sugar (at least an 8 hour fast) was 100-125 on more than one occasion, that is impaired fasting glucose.  Your provider would next check a Hemoglobin A1c.

The A1C test measures your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. If it comes back 5.7-6.4%, that is pre-diabetes.

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Consider it a blinking warning sign – because with this type of diabetes, most people don’t exhibit the  physical signs that are associated with diabetes: constant thirst, frequent urination, and extreme fatigue.

Unless you make some lifestyle changes, odds are you will progress to type 2 diabetes in about 10 years. Pre-diabetics may already have the start of circulatory system damage, so take this seriously.

Book nook: The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes: 

If you haven’t had your glucose level checked, get one done, and have it re-checked yearly.

If you have impaired fasting glucose, there is  good news. Research shows you can lower your risk of developing diabetes if you:

The bad news is if you don’t make these changes now, you are on the road to diabetes. Now that you know what you know, you can change your future. You can bypass the road to diabetes and take the route to health and longevity.

Does Miss Piggy have pre-diabetes? Nope. Muppets can get muppilomas and muppicitis, but not  pre-diabetes.

Memorize Anything With 3 Blissfully Simple Tricks

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Einstein once said,

I never memorize anything I can look up.  

My youngest son heard me say that one day and now he says there’s no point in memorizing the multiplication tables.

I need to save my gray matter for things that are important.  He says.

P1150001Memorization is not that hard. It’s as blissfully simple as finding patterns and anchoring information with things you can relate to.
Take names. Are you like me and as soon as you are introduced to a new person you shake hands and say Hi Mr. Blah Blah and then forget his name just as soon as it rolls off your tongue? Why does that happen?

Because memory formation is an energy-consuming process.

In order to remember a new name you will have to make an effort: repeat the name, say it again, and make an association in your mind to go with the name.
stashP1140329Take this fella – his name is Mario. I say the name Mario, notice his mustache and make the connection with this guy:

Mario=Stash
Mario=Stash

The only problem is now I think every dude with a black stash is named Mario.
Or have you tried to memorize a phone number or an address with no success? Forget spending money on how to books or wasting your time on workshops.  Amaze yourself and soon become a power networker, win friends and influence people with these 3 little memorization tricks. Facts, quotes, poems, names, number sequences, commercial jingles, or how to do the Macarena. Nothing is impossible.

  • Imagery

Most people remember images best. Images are concrete, and serve as mental hooks to store and receive information from your long term memory. However, for this to work, you need to know how to FOCUS. You have this glob of facts or words, and you have to take time to convert this to pictures. Lets try a trip to the grocery store. You need to pick up milk, bananas, coffee and dog food. Convert the list to an image. Your dog trips on a banana peel while pouring milk into his coffee. Of course it’s silly.  All the more likely you’ll remember it.

MOO.
MOO.

I’ve been learning Spanish on Memrise.  They have you select a meme to help you memorize your phrases and new words.  For Hablo I have the word written over a simple drawing of a girl shouting Ha! while her companion is blowing a bubble.

  • Chunking

This refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. It works better with four, maybe five bits.
P1070558In nursing school I memorized the bones of the face with a mnemonic F.P. Tose which was enough to trigger my brain to remember frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, sphenoid, and ethmoid.
How about numbers? Say you wanted to memorize the number 67812398422. It will be a challenge if you tried because most people can recall only about 6 digits, and after that it gets tough to remember more. Instead, break it up. Group them into 2 or 3 digits. That big number is way easier if you try it like this: 678-123-984-22 How many numbers in a row can you recall?

  • Sing it

P1120233I loved using this technique when my kids were little and they needed to learn  grammar rules or lists.  Make whatever you are learning into a catchy jingle. Use an original tune, a nursery rhyme or favorite song.  Music helps us remember words.  That’s why it is easy to learn the words to a song rather than learn the words to a story.
Memorizing is good for the brain, and doesn’t have to be a chore. Just remember, if you want to make something memorable, you first have to make it meaningful.

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Where are Your Manners?

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You can find them at Homeschoolbuzz.com

Here’s a clip of my contribution to this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

As a teacher, there are some behaviors I am more apt to tolerate than others. Fidgety? I understand, I’m the same way. Forgetful? That’s expected: we all have lots of things to remember. Unfinished assignments? As long as it isn’t an everyday ongoing occurrence, I can deal with. But bad manners? Impropriety of behavior is one thing I will not tolerate in my students. It’s a good thing I have only had three in my homeschool because ingraining proper manners and instilling sincere politeness in my boys has required consistent effort.
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Because the most effective form of teaching is role modeling, teaching manners has required me to be on my best behavior,  especially when my boys were young. Little ones are always watching and they imitate what they see. Tutorials, books with colorful illustrations, acting, singing. it is good to combine all types of teaching techniques, but if you really want your children to be good mannered, be their example.

Continue reading and find a classic poster on Good Manners based on the Children’s National Guild of Courtesy.

Hawaiian Tropic, Donny Osmond, and Tanning Beds

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Back in the day, I was a sun goddess.  Brown was cool and fish belly white was not.  My teenage summers were a blend of sleeping in, bumming around, swimming, and sunbathing. I’d start at Ten a.m. Dressed in my bikini – hard to fathom but at fifteen I was 5 ft 9 and 125 pounds.

Me and JeanI’m still 5ft 9.  Ok, back to the story.

Dressed in my bikini, I’d grease myself with Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil, Turn the Radio on LOUD as living out in the country the only potential complainers would be the cows. And I would lay in the sun and bake.  Turn every thirty minutes, peel back the bikini bottom for a peek to assure good color, and call it a day before 2 o’clock.

Ah, the life of a 70’s teen.

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So now I wait.  When’s the Basal Cell coming?  Is that mole a Squamous cell? Crap! I think I have Actinic Keratosis.  I’m DOOMED, I’ve established the foundation for skin cancer and all I can do is watch and wait.

And use sunscreen.

I can’t do anything to change what I did when I was young and stupid, but now that I know better, I do better.  According to The American Cancer Society, 

Most skin cancers are probably caused by exposures that happened many years earlier. The pattern of exposure may also be important. For example, frequent sunburns in childhood may increase the risk for basal cell cancer many years or even decades later.

The new bad boy on the block is tanning beds.  The tanning salons are everywhere, and the young, middle aged and even seniors are going on a regular basis for the relaxation and the joy of that golden bronze color. Sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but a new study confirms the indoor tan is a golden ticket to skin cancer.

The investigators found that indoor tanning was associated with developing skin cancer at an early age.

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In May, the U.S. FDA announced that tanning beds and tanning booths MUST carry a visible warning stating that the devices should not be used by minors under age Eighteen.

So far so good: no skin cancer for me. Now,  I stay out of the sun, have at least two dozen bottles of excellent sunscreens scattered about for easy access for me and my family, and I think fish belly white is beautiful and Donny Osmond is still cute.

Chief Complaint: Top Reasons We Go to the Doctor

P1110588The Mayo Clinic reveals the top reasons for health care provider visits:

  • Skin disorders: acne/cysts/rash
  • Osteoarthritis, joint disorders, and back pain
  • Cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol, stroke
  • Upper respiratory conditions: cough, sore throat, ear problems
  • Anxiety, Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches, migraine, and other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes

That’s what the research tell us. If I had kept tabs on the thousands of people I have seen over the years, my list would look more like this:

  • 6 month and annual check up: AKA you have to come in to get a prescription refilled.
  • Respiratory: cough, cold, ear ache, allergies (or can I have an antibiotic)
  • Back pain
  • Hypertension management: usually smoking and obesity related health issues
  • Routine health maintenance: vaccinations, women’s care, sports, and work physicals
  • Other: I would include depression and anxiety here.  Rarely did I see patients calling in with depression as a chief complaint.  It was something else that brought them in (joint pain, stomach problems, sleep issues), and through talking it was obvious clinical depression was the root cause.

And then there were the surprises that made for a challenging day: thoracic outlet syndrome, lacerations, shingles, really big hemorrhoids, genital warts, foreign body in ear or other body openings (always very interesting), mono, deep vein thrombosis, melanoma, scabies, lice.  Why did I always start to itch after seeing a kid with lice?

As much as you hate the automated phone tree, co-pays, wait time, and general inconvenience of going to the doctor, don’t neglect your health.  If you take good care of it will repay you in kind.

heart health

 

Top 10 Reasons to Keep Smoking Cigarettes + 1 Bonus

cigaretteI love to help my patients quit smoking.  Both smokers and non-smokers agree: smoking is a terrible habit and is horrible for your health.  Smokers tell me that all the time!

I know this stuff will kill me, and it’s nasty.  My kids are on my case to quit.  Why haven’t I quit yet? Well, I plan on it, yessiree.  BUT….

…right now’s not a good time.  One addiction at a time for me.  I’m under a lot of stress. I can’t afford to gain any more weight.  I have four cartons left, I have to use them up first.  My husband refuses to quit with me, as long as he smokes I can’t quit.

Those are actual statements patients have said to me.  I respond with empathy:

Yes, quitting smoking is hard work.  Certainly, you are under considerable stress. True, I want you to be successful in your opiate addiction recovery. Definitely, a partner who quits along with you helps tremendously.  Maybe next time we can revisit this?

Am I helping by being understanding, and reassuring?  Or am I just dancing around the truth.  The truth is

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The truth is: you like smoking and don’t want to quit.

Can’t you just tell me the truth instead of coming up with the lame excuses? How can I help someone if they don’t want to change? Maybe I should reconsider my approach and try something like:

Top 10 Reasons to Keep Smoking:

  1. You keep me in business
  2. You keep dentists in business
  3. You keep tobacco companies in business
  4. You keep the government in business
  5. You get moody when you try to quit smoking –  keep smoking and stay happy
  6. Your Uncle Frank smoked 3 packs a day for over 50 years.  He lived to be 99
  7. Your wrinkles and puckered lips make me look better
  8. A husky voice is sexy
  9. You like being sick. It feeds your need for attention
  10. You already tried once to quit and you failed, why put yourself through that again, sheesh

Bonus: You get more frequent, longer work breaks than your non-smoking coworkers.

I don’t mean to sound harsh. Nah, maybe I do. When you see pregnant women smoking, dads hanging a butt off their lip while holding their child, teens parading their smokes in public, and folks in their prime of life dying from lung cancer, you get tired of the excuses.

And for the record, the average person only gains 10 pounds with quitting.

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It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. George Washington.