Mom On-the-Go = Mom In the Know
Emily Stone knows a lot about being a busy mom with lots of challenges to maintaining her fitness and wellness routine. Since so many of our readers find themselves in the same boat with lots of different things pulling them in all different directions, we have invited her to share some personal advice with you on how she keeps herself going throughout the day and how you can boost your metabolism. Enjoy!
Boosting Metabolism and Energy Throughout the Day
When I get to the afternoon, sometimes I want to get the license plate of the Mack truck that ran over me. Often it’s just burnout from the day. But when I’m struggling to get myself going from the morning onward, there are a few things I like to do that help me out. These tips boost my metabolism and energy so that I’m still kicking when school’s out.
Did you know that adults who get less than seven hours of sleep each night do not do as well on complex mental tasks? We need more sleep. But as a mom, it’s so hard for me to get a good night’s sleep. There’s the repeated begging for an extra story or song in the evening, and the 3 a.m. nightmare. I’ve had to prioritize my life around getting enough sleep. I usually get 9-10 hours from the time the last kid goes to bed and the first one waking up. I aim to spend 8-9 of that time sleeping, and 30-60 minutes getting ready. If I can’t get quality sleep, at least I can usually get quantity sleep. And I’ve found that the more I sleep, the more active I am and the more I can accomplish during the day.
My metabolism is slower than a tortoise. My best defense against this is to exercise. The cool part is that it stretches me out and gives me a ton of energy, too. Sometimes I sneak in a run after walking the kids to school. Otherwise, I work out at home. I can wake up 10-15 minutes early and do some interval training for a high-powered workout in hardly any time at all.
Skipping breakfast is a terrible idea. Better to make it quick and healthy. If I plan ahead, eating before I’m out the door can be pretty easy. And no, I’m not talking about donuts and pastries. If I have five minutes to sit and eat, cottage cheese is my go-to. I get a healthy amount of fat, decent calcium, and tons of protein. If I don’t have five minutes, I love smoothies and protein shakes. I find that protein is the best source of continued energy for me throughout the day. Instead of starting the day with a coffee, I actually start my day with a whey protein shake. I personally buy my protein from Beachbody, but you can find whey protein everywhere, even at the grocery store!
Natural Energy Boost
I also try to stay away from coffee in general—too much caffeine (particularly on an empty stomach) can make me feel crazy, so I try to take other routes. Most natural supplements that are touted as alternatives to caffeine actually have caffeine in them. If I’m looking to avoid caffeine or cut it down, I load up on B vitamins and amino acids like taurine, which are both known to boost energy and metabolism. I really love the liquid B complex from GNC, you just add a few drops to a bottle of water and you’ll feel continuous energy throughout the day!
Above all, I think it’s important to periodically pull myself off the canvas and look at what I can do to feel happier. This can be as simple as getting up from my desk for a few minutes to stretch and walk around every hour. l set up some music playlists on my computer and phone that I can listen to when I’m home cleaning, out running errands or working. This makes work and chores less exhausting.
In my busy day, I could get exhausted and overwhelmed easily. But when I try to get enough sleep and exercise, eat well and relax, I find that I end the day happier and excited for what’s to come.
Article written by: Emily Stone
Ms. Stone is a full-time mom, health freak, fitness enthusiast, and wannabe chef. She is the proud momma of two girls and a loving wife. Emily is in the process of starting up her own blog, but in the mean time you can follow her at @FitMommaEm.
The opinions and advice expressed by Ms. Stone are not necessarily that of The Women's Club or it's agents.
Can You Really Achieve 'Hormonal Harmony'?
Hormonal transitions occur throughout a woman’s life. The two most dominant are puberty and Menopause! But let’s give credit where credit us due: Perimenopause is no “walk in the park” either. Regardless of where you are in the Perimenopause /Menopause continuum, the normally occurring hormonal shifts can precipitate an onset of complex physical and emotional health challenges.
Currently, there are nearly 50 million post menopausal women in the US. Are you one of them? If so, take heart. You’re in good company and probably well-versed on the symptoms most commonly experienced by your peers. However, in some ways every woman’s menopausal transition experience (this includes perimenopause) is unique. So, how is it possible for women of all ages to achieve Hormonal Harmony?
There is no “one size fits all approach” but, there are solutions for nearly every woman’s menopausal transition issues. The first step is to identify where you are in the menopausal transition continuum by answering the following questions.
Has your menstrual cycle become irregular or have you missed your period for twelve months? Do you have hot flashes? Are you fatigued? Is your sleep interrupted? Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning? Do you have night sweats, vaginal dryness, breast enlargement or tenderness before your period? Have you experienced unexplained weight gain and muscle loss even with proper diet and exercise? Are you irritable? Do you have mood swings? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Have you experienced periods of forgetfulness? Have you lost interest in sex? Have you experienced hair loss, dry skin, and brittle nails? Do you crave sweet and salty foods?
If you haven’t missed your period for twelve months, but have any of these symptoms, you may have entered the stage of perimenopause during which, the hormonal “ups and downs” and natural progression of hormonal decline gradually lead to postmenopause.
Whether you are peri or postmenopausal, you may want to learn about or confirm your understanding of the following:
- The most common hormonal imbalances and symptoms associated with each phase of the menopausal transition.
- How a menopausal transition hormonal imbalance affects the thyroid and adrenal glands and often lead to age-related chronic diseases
- How hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue can be misdiagnosed and symptoms can be mistaken for those associated with menopause
- How underlying or under-diagnosed conditions can sabotage your menopausal treatments, physical fitness program and lead to weight loss resistance
- What tests accurately diagnose underlying conditions
- How personalized wellness approaches prevent or reverse unwanted symptoms and disorders caused by menopause-related hormonal imbalances
Advances in Anti-aging medicine have made it possible for most women of all ages to overcome the challenges of a hormonal imbalance. Self empowerment encourages today’s woman to seek the answers she needs to improve her quality of life at any age. So, get the answers you’re looking for! Please join me on June 19th for an informative lecture on how you can experience “Hormonal Harmony” for life.
Article submitted by: Dr. Eva Coleman of Harmony Medica, Reston VA
Dr. Eva Coleman is a Board Certified M.D. with more than two decades of experience in Internal Medicine; specializing in prevention and treatment of Diabetes, Cardiovascular and chronic systemic diseases. She has held affiliation with INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia and completed a fellowship with the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine.
The Good, The Bad, The Whaaaaat?!
Did you know that American people overall have the highest cholesterol in the world...Pretty sobering when you look at it that way isn't it? Most people know that high cholesterol is a dangerous problem but many are not sure of the why's and the how's or what the heck is a LDL or HDL and what all of those the numbers mean. In addition, there are a lot of myths out there about the causes, symptoms and prevention of high cholesterol. The first step to fighting high cholesterol is to sift them and search out medical fact on both high and low cholesterol in order to make the best determination about what is good for you and subsequently good for your health!
Cholesterol Myth #1
You will experience high cholesterol symptoms if there's a problem.
Cholesterol Fact: Most people can't tell when their cholesterol is dangerously high.
About 20 percent of Americans have high cholesterol and don't know it. There are no real medical symptoms associated with high cholesterol. In fact, most won't find out their high cholesterol status until after they suffer a medical event like a heart attack or stroke.
If you would prefer to find out whether or not you have high cholesterol before such an event, you should begin having your high-risk cholesterol checked in your 20s and then once every five years. Your risk for high cholesterol rises with age, so men over the age of 45 and women who are 55 and over should be tested more often. Those who struggle with high cholesterol or have numbers close to the danger line should be tested more often, as well.
Cholesterol Myth #2
A prescription is the only way to lower dangerously high cholesterol.
Cholesterol Fact: Medication is one way to lower cholesterol, but you can do it without a high cholesterol prescription through dietary changes and exercise.
It is in fact recommended-as long as your cholesterol numbers are not too high-that you start fighting the dangers of high cholesterol issue by making changes to your diet and beginning to exercise regularly. If your cholesterol numbers are borderline, you may be able to avoidmedication altogether. If your high cholesterol is a
lready in a danger zone, then you may be able to stop taking your high cholesterol medication after some months of regular exercise and a healthy diet. Here a few goals that diet and exercise can help you attain:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise, even if gently, for about 30 minutes a day 5 to 6 days per week
- Cut out trans fat from your diet (hydrogenated oil)
- Reduce your saturated fats to under 7 percent of your calories
- Reduce your cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day or less
- Increase your soluble fiber intake to at least 10 gram per day
- Increase your fish intake or take omega-3 supplements each day
Cholesterol Myth #3
All cholesterol is bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol Fact: There are different kinds of cholesterol and some are not only not bad for you, but necessary for your body to function properly.
There are three different kinds of cholesterol: high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL). HDL is good because it serves the purpose of helping your body transport waste to the liver, maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, clear extra cholesterol from the bloodstream where it otherwise would collect and block your arteries.
LDL are also responsible for carrying cholesterol from the liver to where it needs to go in the body, but it is much lighter and breaks more easily. This means that they hover in the bloodstream, often attaching to the blood vessel itself, collecting and causing a blockage that often results in a heart attack. VLDLs are even lighter than LDLs and affect the cardiovascular and circulatory systems just as negatively.
Cholesterol Myth #4
High cholesterol is only a problem for men.
Cholesterol Fact: High cholesterol is a problem for both men and women.
Estrogen is a hormone that helps monitor and maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, so women who are experiencing a regular menstrual cycle are less likely candidates for high cholesterol than are men of the same age. However, after menopause when a woman's estrogen level plummets, her chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke due to high cholesterol significantly increase. It's important that women maintain low levels of cholesterol throughout their lives to prepare for the loss of estrogen later.
Cholesterol Myth #5
You should get your first cholesterol test after the age of 45.
Cholesterol Fact: You should start getting tested for high cholesterol in your 20s.
HDL - 60+ mg/dLGetting tested for high cholesterol is easy: a blood test done after fasting called a fasting lipid profile. You can have it done in conjunction with a batch of other blood tests to simply the process. The test will show your cholesterol levels in terms of HDL, LDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol. If you have any questions about how to get a test or your test results, ask your doctor. In general, your goals should be:
- LDL - 100 mg/dL or less
- Triglycerides - 150 mg/dL or less
- Total cholesterol - 200 mg/dL or less
Don't Know Your Numbers?
If you live in Northern VA in the Chantilly area, you are in luck! We are hosting a women's wellness event on August 12 which is open to the public where cholesterol screenings will beoffered. Our screening will feature a simple "finger stick" test that will give you the results in minutes! If you are intereseted in learning where you are and what you can do to lower or even prevent high cholesterol in the future, get more details on our upcoming event.
To Drink or Not to Drink
So you are super pumped and committed to making some changes in your eating habits. Or perhaps you are trying to shed a few pounds to fit into that perfect outfit for a special occasion like a summer wedding or a class reunion. Buuuuuut you also still like to enjoy a drink two socially. What IS a girl to do?! What the heck is the realtionship between alcohol and weight loss and will drinking even a glass of wine socially affect your diet and weight loss plans?
The Down Low
Alcohol does have a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss, and rightfully so. But the consumption of alcohol in some form or another has been around since the cavemen so imbiming is not likely to go away any time soon. The question then is if an occasional drink have a place in a healthy lifestyle. The answer...yes, but we should have a strategy about how to consume.
First Things First
It is important to understand how alcohol affects your body. Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and fluids. With a normal diet, of carbs, fats, and protein your body gets the energy it needs. These foods are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system. This digestive process drastically changes when alcohol is consumed. The alcohol now gets immediate attention (because it is viewed by the body as a toxin) and needs no digestion.When the body is focused on processing alcohol, it is not able to properly break down the foods containing carbohydrates and fat. So what happens is these calories are converted into body fat and stored permanently on your body.
So I Should Save My Calories then Right?
WRONG. Skipping a meal or two because you know it will be a night out on the town or just knowing you will being drinking is a terrible idea for a few reasons. Since alcohol actually stimulates the appetite and then you go out on an empty stomach you are more likely to munch on those salty bar snacks (which makes you want to drink more), or more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which can add to your waistline.
A Better Strategy-- Research shows drinking an alcoholic beverage before or during a meal reduces you inhibitions and willpower. Wait to order that drink until you're done with your meal! To avoid over-drinking, sip on a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage and, if you're planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You'll feel fuller, which will stop you from over-drinking. If you are worried about a looming night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.
Tip: To prevent post-drinking noshing you’ll regret the next day, prep some healthy, low cal options before you go out. If they’re ready to eat and right in front of you when you get home, you’ll be less likely to reach for chips or cookies. Good options include pre-popped popcorn, raw veggies with hummus, or cut fresh fruit.
Drinking before bed will keep you from having a deep, restful sleep. Thus leaving you tired the next day which can trigger you to feel like you need to eat more. Alcohol can also increase the amount of acid your stomach produces giving you an inflamed stomach lining. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol has more calories by volume than both carbs and proteins and slightly less than fats. More importantly, these calories have no nutritional value. None! A 12 ounce beer is about 150 calories. How many cloaires in a glass of redwine? About 88. And if you reaching for a shot of liquor that number can range from 85 to 115 calories. And who usually has JUST ONE? It only adds empty calories to your diet. Why not spend your calorie budget on something healthier?
Another big reason not to mix alcohol and exercise is because alcohol is a diuretic. It causes water loss and dehydration. You also lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.
Sip on This
So, to drink or not to drink? I say “In moderation." Limit your intake and take the occasional time off from drinking altogether to give your systems a much needed break. Also, consider swapping out some of those high cal choices like fruity mixed beverages (even as cute as the little umbrella is) with some of these lower calorie "fit chick" options.
What do you think?
How do you feel about alcohol? Does it tend to get in the way of your weight loss goals? Did any of this info surprise you? Please share your thoughts by dropping a comment in the box below or tweet them to us @Womensclub_va.
Are You Feeding Your Emotions?
Are you an escapist? Do you feel the need to dive face first into a big bag of chips or a bowlful of ice cream for the pure feeling of being comforted. Food tends to be a way of coping and dealing with discomfort we experience. Experts believe that up to 75% of overeating may be due to reasons other than physical hunger. By practicing a little introspection you can usually figure out what is causing you to use food as a drug to silence your emotions. First, identify the triggers to emotional eating, such as:
Social Eating -- If you find that most of your social interaction involves food, then it's possible that you and your friends are using food to calm stress. Think about your activities, and consider offering new ideas to spend time with friends that does not involve food.
High Stress -- Whether it is job stress, family stress, or something else entirely being too busy and leading a stressful life causes a high level of the hormone Cortisol to be released into
the body, which in turn leads to cravings of high calorie foods. Also, living a busy life lends itself to running through the drive through. Preplanning for times of high stress and being busy can go far in eliminating making bad choices.
Habits -- Most of us have habits ingrained in us from childhood around food. That is where the whole idea of comfort foods came into being. Whether it's mac and cheese or a hearty bowl of beef stew, or something else entirely, the foods from our childhood can often comfort us and make us feel loved. Try redefining love to something more healthy such as a nice hot cup of tea and honey or going outside to play a game of tag.
How to Tame the Emotional Eating Beast
Once you identify the issues that are causing you to over eat, or eat the wrong kinds of foods, you will be able to stop eating mindlessly and emotionally. It's a lot harder to kick a food habit than any other type of habit. We don't need alcohol, or drugs to live, but we do need to eat. There are a few tried and true tips to help you overcome your need to binge emotionally on the wrong foods.
Make a Substitute -- Instead of binging on Doritos and cheese, find an alternative such as sliced crispy apples with sea salt. You'll get that crunchy satisfaction plus the salt you crave in a healthier way. Plus it's a lot harder to eat too many apples than too many chips.
Start a Journal -- Writing down everything that you eat, in addition to your feelings surrounding eating or choosing not to eat something you know is bad for you is a good way to channel your frustrations. Just keep a small notebook and pen in your purse so you can write any time you're tempted to reach for a donut instead of a more healthy choice.
Get Moving -- Studies show that getting even 30 minutes of exercise per day can help you with your weight, your cardiovascular health and with reducing cravings. Any time you have a craving, drink a glass of water first, then if you still have it, get out and go for a walk, or turn up the music in the house and dance! The rush of endorphins will assist with resisting cravings and make you feel great.
Graphic from kptto.org
Don't beat yourself up!
Get in touch with your emotions, everyone has them! It is all in how you deal with them. If you do have an episode of emotional eating, learn from the experience and the very next meal eat healthy!
Need more advice? We have a wonderful team of fitness and nutrition experts that are just a mouse click away. You can click the button below to submit your questions electronically or, if you are local to the Chantilly, Fairfax, Centreville area and would like to talk to us about strategies for overcoming emotional eating, you can Request a Consultation.
If you are one of those people who toss and turn all night long trying to get into a comfortable sleeping position you are not alone. Studies say that people can change their sleeping position anywhere from as low as 3 and up to 36 times per night! Although experts admit that there really is no one "right" way to rest our weary bodies at the end of the day, people with certain medical conditions or who experience pain could benefit from laying in one position versus another. We found this handy guide from The Wall Street Journal to help you uncover what the best sleeping position may be for you based upon aches and pains that may be keeping you awake at night:
Did you know?
- 8.4 is the amount of minutes people waste per hour online for every minute of interrupted sleep the night before.
- Always choosing the same sleeping position can cause issues according to Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth, chief of physical therapy at Harvard university Health Services. Consistently compressing one side of the body and stretching the other can result in imbalance and soreness or pain.
- The Better Sleep Council says the average number of times people change their sleeping position is 11 to 15.
- $63.2 billion is the estimated cost for U.S. companies from workers who toss and turn all night. Those workers lose an average of 7.8 days of productivity a year due to insomnia.
Great Tips for Restful Nights
Now that you know more about what the best sleeping position might for you, download a copy of a free eBooklet, 'Your Guide to Never Being Tired Again' and start getting re-energized today. Also check out our blog post '5 Reasons You Are Always Tired' to uncovering other underlying reasons why you may not be getting the vaulable sleep you need. Sweet Dreams!
Primary article source: 'Find the Perfect Sleep Position', Mike Sudal, The Wall Street Journal
Taking the time to examine the way you exercise can offer various differences in being safe and keeping the body well balanced along with the better results. Here are five of the worst fitness habits you need to know about in order to make sure that you are maximizing your workout and preventing injury.
1. Holding Your Breath During an Exercise – Breathing steadily in a regular manner has a lot of advantages. For example, inhaling and exhaling properly can help you exert more energy while doing some moves. It can also aid in the balanced production of lactic acid which is necessary for muscle build-up. With proper breathing, you can have a stable heart rate. The maximum oxygen level to the blood can be well-delivered with a full breath. This in turn will bring enough energy to muscles on the move.
2. Sticking With the Same Exercises – Challenge is something that your muscles need to produce better results. Your muscles will simply adjust when sticking to the same workout routine and progression will be difficult to achieve. Simply change up your exercises every week or two by increasing weight, adding sets and repetitions, as well as adding new exercises like Zumba, yoga, etc. This will not only prevent injury and produce better results, but will prevent boredom as well.
3. Fueling the Body – Properly fueling the body before and after you workout is essential for maximum results and recovery. The body needs glucose for fuel so if you are a morning exerciser, make sure you eat one hour before you exercise to give your body the energy it
requires. If your blood sugar is low, your body ends up stealing it from your muscles. Consuming a mixture of protein and carbohydrates will be optimal for exercise performance.
Drinking a protein shake with fruit is ideal.
A post workout meal is important for re-fueling the muscles. Your muscles breakdown during exercise and giving your body proper nutrition after your workout is highly beneficial for muscle recovery and growth. Try drinking a protein shake with fruit or making sure you consume both protein and carbohydrates within an hour after exercising.
4. Bad Form – Safety is essential during your workout and the best way for you to be safe is to maintain the correct form. If you do not put serious consideration on proper movement and form then you are no longer attaining the best benefits that exercise can offer. Plus, with bad form you are adding much risk of injury. Remember, slow and controlled is best when using weights.
5. Slacking off on Stretching - After a hard workout, the last thing most people want to do is stay and stretch. However, flexibility is very important as we age in preventing injury and maintaining health for your body. The next time you work out simply plan ahead and allot time for stretching all major muscles including hamstrings and lower back.
So how are YOU Doing?
Do not despair if you found that you were guilty of one (or maybe even more than one) of these bad fitness habits. The key here is to make change so that you CAN get the results that you want. Instituting the help of a personal trainer and/or a nutritionist can be a tremendous help answering the "what am I doing wrong" question many of us have when if comes down to our exercise program. So dont' be afraid...go ahead and ask for help. we would love to hear the questions that you have! Drop us a note in the comment section or just click the button below and we will get to as many questions as we can.
From time to time it's good to know when you've done something right! In this week's post we let guest blogger, Natasha Nixon, sing our praises...or more to the point the praises of women's fitness centers in general as opposed to co-ed facilities.
Because we have added to our chosen responsibilities of wife and mother, roles as career, sport and many other activities, we need to use a women’s fitness center to give us the necessary balance. That being said we don't just want any old "gym," we want programs, equipment and training programs just for us. We need things that will help us a women to be in better shape on a number of levels, including mind, body and spirit.
I see the commitment to a health club for women as being a special one. The certified personal trainers know our physiological composition and understand the regimens we need to be productive at work, at home and at play. They understand that means being just phyically strong, but emotionally strong ands they get the connection bewteen the two for women.
We are challenged to meet the diverse venues that our choices require. But, in our hectic lives a women’s fitness center provides the therapy that we need to feel better, look better and to manage our many responsibilities. It is not just statistics that bears out the value of joining a health club for women. It really is common sense.
Men did get one thing right. To realize their full potential in business, sport, career and family, men must be fit...but the need for fitness is genderless. Remember that anything they can do, we can do better...much better. :)
We want our Pilates classes. We love our yoga classes. We embrace training regimens that specifically address mind, body and soul. We want to meditate. We want to nurture. We want to succeed. We believe this life is a truly magnificent gift that we should do our best to respect and prolong.
Our sane time is our fitness time! Women’s fitness is such a rewarding lifestyle choice. We learn at a health club made just for us what lifestyle choices are prudent and which habits we should correct. All the while, our trainers and other female members are right there with us.
At a health club for women, we are never alone. Lasting friendships evolve because we are pursuing the same goal. Often, the relationships at our club help us in other aspects of our lives.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray and Love was a highly acclaimed bestseller. But in truth, it lacked the very necessary whole life ingredient we call fitness. Here is my message to you as a woman who has tried and failed many, many times on her fitness and weight loss journey. If you want to perform your best, feel terrific and be strong enough to deal with the rigors of the day, don’t wait any longer...join a women’s-only fitness center right away.
So What Say YOU?
If you belong to an all-women's gym we would love to hear why you choose it. Drop us a comment in the section below!
Your Guide to Breast Health Based on Your Age
Your breasts...they have been with you since you hit puberty and will stay with you until the end of your days. Although they are a "constant" in your life, how they look, feel and how you should take care of them changes at every stage in your life past 30 years of age. Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what better time than now to share with you a handy guide that will help you navigate through the steps you need to take to have healthy breasts based upon where you are in you are in your life, as well a little breast health Q & A to answer some of those questions we all have regarding the health of our breasts.
In Your 30's
Your breasts may be: Feeling PMS-related aches and lumps, and changing through pregnancy and breastfeeding.
TRY A SUPPLEMENT COCKTAIL. A combo of 100 to 200 mg of vitamin B6, 200 to 400 IU of
vitamin E and two capsules of evening primrose oil taken daily for one week before your period can ease breast discomfort. The vitamin B helps stop swelling, and the vitamin E and evening primrose oil help relieve pain. (Check with your doctor.)
KNOW WHAT'S NORMAL FOR YOU. Do monthly self-exams so you can spot changes more easily. Keep in mind that there's a slightly higher rate of breast cancer during the five years after pregnancy, and tell your doctor about changes like bleeding or lumps ASAP.
In Your 40's
Your breasts may be: Starting to feel softer (and look less-than-perky), since you're developing more fatty tissue.
HAVE A MAMMOGRAM. Although the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises starting mammograms at age 50, groups like the American Cancer Society and the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians say to begin at age 40. At the very least, a mammogram in your early 40s will help establish a baseline so your doctor can better determine whether any changes are irregular.
WALK FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES DAILY. Since it helps you maintain a healthy weight and keep estrogen levels in check, any amount of exercise that ups your heart rate can help lower your breast cancer risk.
In Your 50s, 60s and Beyond
Your breasts may be: Less dense as your tissue shrinks and less elastic as your skin loses collagen. You can still feel lumps and bumps and tenderness, particularly as you head into menopause. But once your periods stop and your hormones settle, the discomfort should subside.
DISCUSS HORMONE THERAPY (HT) WITH YOUR DOCTOR. The latest research shows that taking estrogen and progesterone together for less than three years does not raise your risk of breast cancer. Taking estrogen alone appears to be safe for about five years. You may not need to go the prescription route—some studies have shown that over-the-counter options like black cohosh extract can help reduce symptoms of hot flashes, mood changes and vaginal dryness.
PUT THE BRAKES ON WEIGHT GAIN BY ADDING 10 MINUTES TO YOUR WORKOUT. Start by tacking on 2 minutes per session and go up from there. Extra pounds can mean higher estrogen levels, which can raise your breast cancer risk, especially during and after menopause. But it's never too late to reap the results of slimming down. A recent study at theFredHutchinsonCancerResearchCenterinSeattlefound that overweight and obese women between 50 and 75 years old who lost just 5% of their body weight lowered their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 50%.
Breast Q & A
Q. Should I be getting a sonogram instead of a mammogram?
A. A sonogram, or ultrasound, does not replace a mammogram, but experts do recommend that women who have very dense breast tissue and/or a strong family history of breast cancer get a sonogram in addition to a mammogram. If your breast tissue is very dense, unusual growths may not show up as readily on a mammogram as they do on a sonogram. Since sonograms are more sensitive, there is a higher risk of a false positive, which is why experts don't advise all women to routinely have this screening.
Q. One of my breasts is bigger than the other. Is that OK?
A. Absolutely! In fact, very few women have perfectly symmetrical breasts. (For no specific reason, the left breast generally tends to be larger than the right.) It's also not uncommon for your nipples to look slightly dissimilar or point in different directions. Most of the time, simply wearing a bra that fits well can help compensate for the difference. The only time to be concerned is if you notice a sudden increase in the size of one breast or nipple.If that's the case, make an appointment to see your doctor, who can check for an underlying growth.
Q. Why do I sometimes notice discharge?
A. Most of the time it's entirely harmless, but if your breast is also sore, red or warm to the touch, you may have an infection that requires antibiotics. A blockage in your ducts, especially around menopause, can also cause discharge, as can a diet high in certain herbs including fennel or anise. In rare cases, discharge can be a sign of a form of cancer called Paget's disease. In general, it's a good idea to see your doctor to make sure it's nothing serious.
Portions of the article orginally appeared in a blog post by Alyssa Shaffer on Woman's Day.com
What's Your Vice?
Maybe its the smooth, melt in your mouth taste that comes from chocolate, perhaps its the salty crunch from a crisp potato chip, could be sweet sugary confection that you crave -- all you know is that you really REALLY want it BAD! The question becomes do you give in or fight it? Do you truly want whatever the objection of your taste bud's affection or is your mind tricking you into believing if you don't give in to indulging "just a little bit," the craving will become so bad that the "little bit" will turn into a pig out fest of epic proportions!
If you have ever wondered why you crave certain foods at certain times, there has been a recent surge of research on the subject of the how's, and why's of food cravings as well as what to do about them.
- Food cravings activate the same reward circuits in the brain as cravings for drugs or alcohol, according to functional MRI scans, tests that measure brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow.
- Nearly everyone has food cravings occasionally, but women report having them more often than men, and younger people crave sweets more than older people do.
- In one study, 85% of men said they found giving in to food craving satisfying; of women, only 57% said they did.
- While many women report craving salt, fat or bizarre combinations of food during pregnancy, researchers can't find much scientific validation. They suspect folklore and the power of suggestion instead.
Why? Why? Why?
For a long time it has been the belief of researchers that what we crave has something to do with the bodies efforts to correct a dietary deficiency of some sort. For example, those who salivate over the thoughts of a big juicy steak might be low or missing iron in their diet. chocolate lovers might be missing magnesium or the mood boosting chemical phenylethamine, a chemical humans produce naturally when they are in love.
Health Journal writer, Melinda Beck, says no way, "...a growing body of research casts doubt on the nutritional-deficiency notion. After all, few people crave vitamin-rich green leafy vegetables and many other foods contain more phenylalanine than chocolate—including salami and cheddar cheese."
Current research has revealed the following as the most likely reasons why we experience food cravings:
Learned behaviors and experiences - As a child, you may have been consistently rewarded with a sweet treat when you had a bad day. The learned behavior of having something sweet to lift your spirits became a habit that is very hard to break.
Hormonal fluctuations - Certain hormones in your body help control appetite. Ghrelin is the hormone you produce that drives you to eat, while leptin is the hormone that signals satiety. Normally, these hormones act as a checks and balances system to keep your appetite in check. However, under certain physiological conditions, such as sleep deprivation, this system is thrown off because the hormones are not produced in proper proportion to one another. Estrogen, cortisol and serotonin can also play a role in food craving frenzies, and whether due to stress, sleep deprivation, or the normal hormonal fluctuations of a woman’s menstrual cycle, these hormones can drive you to seek out nutrient- dense, fatty, sugary foods.
Environmental factors and sensory stimulation - Studies have found that the sight, smell, taste, or even just the thought of favorite foods can lead to intense cravings. Experiences like seeing food advertisements on TV or passing a bakery and smelling the aroma of fresh baked bread can also initiate food cravings. Certain social settings, like a party or environmental factors, such as dim lighting in a restaurant, can fuel our drive to indulge.
Because It Makes Us Feel Good- In the U.S., about 50% of women who crave chocolate say their cravings peak around the onset of their monthly period. But researchers haven't found any correlation between food cravings and hormone levels, and postmenopausal women don't report a big drop in chocolate cravings, a 2009 survey found. Some psychologists suspect that women may be "self-medicating," because sweets and carbohydrates spur release of serotonin and other feel-good brain chemicals.
How the Heck Do I Fight Food Cravings and Win?