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Health and Fitness

Mar 24 2016

Mommy and Me

by Hope L

MommyRecently the Workplace Advisory Group of the DeKalb County Public Library volunteered for a project to help the Mommy and Me Family Literacy Program located in Clarkston.  The DCPL volunteers will be fixing up a space in the school for mothers and their children to read and relax during their school day.

The Mommy and Me Refugee Family Literacy Program is a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston where immigrant mothers and their children learn together.

When I found out about this program, I was delighted.  For a time I worked at the Clarkston Branch of DCPL, and it was (and is) a very busy place!  There were many immigrant children, most of them refugees whose families fled to this country from their homelands.

According to their website, the school’s students come from more than a dozen countries from around the world: Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

From the Mommy and Me website,

​We are a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston, Georgia where immigrant mothers and children learn together.

A family literacy program, we offer four components of instruction: (1) ESOL classes for refugee women, (2) onsite early childhood development program for their young children, (3) Parent and Child Time sessions to promote family engagement, and (4) weekly workshops on parenting, health/nutrition, and life skills.

“Clarkston’s transformation dates back to the late 1980’s, when the U.S. State Department and various resettlement agencies chose Clarkston as an ideal site for refugee resettlement.  A mass exodus of middle-class whites to Atlanta’s more affluent suburbs left behind inexpensive apartments that could serve as affordable housing for newly arrived refugee families.  The easternmost stop on MARTA, Clarkston also offered its residence access to public transit and a commute to employment opportunities in Atlanta.”

To find out more about the program or to volunteer or make a donation, click on the link below:

Mommy and Me Family Literacy | about us

 

 

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Jan 20 2016

New Year’s Resolution? Fat Chance!

by Hope L

Well, it’s that time again. Many of us will swear off sweets, junk food, cigarettes, spending frivolously, swearing, sloth, and rudeness to our fellows, among tons of other things we do or don’t do. It is time to follow through on that New Year’s Resolution.

Yeah, well, there won’t be any resolutions here, not this year. I’m already exercising more, trying to get plenty of sleep, and drinking lots of water. I had a good friend tell me a couple of years ago that I “shouldn’t drink so much Diet Coke because it turns to formaldehyde in one’s stomach.” Formaldehyde! Well, I’m sorry to say that almost one month after that ominous warning, my bottled-water-swigging friend passed away. And she wasn’t even sick. I’ve since upped my intake of Diet Coke.

One day the news is telling us caffeine is bad for us, the next day they are saying that drinking a couple of cups of java a day is good for you. Fat is bad–wait, no–fat is good for us. Salt–long the enemy of us all–my doctor told me to eat more salty foods to keep my blood pressure up. Alcohol is a no-no. Wrong again. A couple of glasses of wine a day provide antioxidants and often pair well with Hamburger Helper.

I mean, consider the following titles of books I just perused on the shelf at DCPL:

changebrainChange Your Brain, Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted by Daniel G. Amen

YOU:  The Owner’s Manual – An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz

The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps by Brenda Watson

Seems like there is plenty of interest out there in changing one’s self. Even Oprah Winfrey herself, the queen of success, change, and financial prosperity, would still like to succeed at something that has long eluded her with a permanent solution: weight loss. She can be seen on commercials for a leading diet program, encouraging us to “try again” along with her.

Well, yeah, but why would this time be any different than all of the other times? I know how hard it is to be overweight because I was a chubbyish child and weighed 250 lbs. in my early twenties. It’s not easy carrying an extra 100 lbs. or more around with you every day.

But the worst part, in my mind, is the prejudice/bias/loathing regarding heavy people. Especially toward women. (I was once asked when the baby was due, and I was not pregnant. Not surprising, though, since I could gain 50 lbs. in the blink of an eye.) Tabloids love to put cellulite on their covers, with gal stars who are caught unawares frolicking at the seashore or pool in bathing suits showing their not-so-best sides. I’d like to see men treated in this way. Sure, on occasion, you will see a man’s beer belly or two photographed and put out there for all to see. But it is and always has been more about women.

I’m glad to report that the times are a-changin’, though, however slowly. Some very famous people nowadays are generous in size and, in part, may just owe their very success to the fact that they are “relatable” to the rest of us real people.

fatgirlewalkingMo’Nique, one of my favorite stars, has a couple of hilarious books (available at DCPL): Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World and Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted.

And, also at DCPL: The fabulous Brittany Gibbons, aka Brittany Herself, and her book Fat Girl Walking:  Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin … Every Inch of It.

It’s about time for my mid-morning snack … But first, I do believe I will make just one New Year’s resolution:  I shall look both ways before crossing.

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Dec 4 2015

Hypochondriac Blues

by Hope L

sick

Today I saw my doctor for my annual physical.  I haven’t been to see him in a few months because before that I was seeing him constantly, and I thought we needed some time apart. He likely gripes about his patients to his wife.  I believe I would if I had someone like me for a patient!

You see, I have a lot of health problems. Well … um … My doctor assures me that I am very healthy for a 52-year-old.  And then I leave his office relieved, if only for maybe another 24 hours.

You might be guessing by now that my only real problem is that I am a hypochondriac. Not that I have been officially diagnosed, mind you. No, my sweet doctor, bless his young-enough-to-be-my-son’s heart, would never tell me that I’m a hypochondriac.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Illness anxiety disorder, sometimes called hypochondria or health anxiety, is worrying excessively that you are or may become seriously ill. You may have no physical symptoms. Or you may believe that normal body sensations or minor symptoms are signs of severe illness, even though a thorough medical exam doesn’t reveal a serious medical condition.”

Aha! I just knew there was something wrong with me! I evidently have Illness Anxiety Disorder.  I am one of those people with a headstone ready–and it reads, “See, I told you I was dying.”

I just took an online hypochondria test. I scored High. This should not surprise you, or my doctor, or my spouse. After all, I told you all I was sick.

Thankfully, DCPL has many resources about all sorts of medical and health-related topics, which no doubt hypochondriacs like me will want to carefully research. Oh, and of course, other people can read them as well.

WellEnoughBut even better, read this: Well Enough Alone: A Cultural History of My Hypochondria by Jennifer Traig.

If you’re like me, you will want to stock up on reading materials to keep you informed lest you miss out on color commentary of your latest malady.  Or–and this is important–a potential malady.

And of course, there’s a plethora of things on the internet and on television (think “Mystery Diagnosis,” “House,” “Medical Investigation,” and, of course, everybody’s favorite hypochondriac “Monk”).  I’m a little bit ashamed to say that I’ve looked at some strange illnesses discussed on the web, but I won’t burden you with any of those probably Photoshopped, exploitative shockers.

Right now I’m going to lie down with a good book because I feel a low-grade fever coming on…

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Aug 31 2015

Falling Off the Workout Wagon

by Camille B

Old-Running Shoes

One morning on my way to work I saw a woman, probably in her late seventies or early eighties, walking. She had on a jogging suit and was pushing her walker briskly around the parking lot of the shopping center.

Well, if that didn’t just put me to shame. You see, like everyone else, I’d had every intention of getting aboard the workout wagon this year and so far haven’t quite made it. (Truth be told I haven’t even been anywhere in the vicinity of the wagon at all.) As if that’s not bad enough, a recent weigh-in showed that I had gained two pounds, which may not be a whole lot, but it’s still two pounds in the wrong direction–up!

Even though it’s nobody’s fault but my own, I was still embarrassed but soon realized that I am not alone. While there are many who have managed to make great strides this year with eating right, exercising more and staying fit, there are just as many (and probably more) who never even started–or if they did, they eventually gave up along the way.

My sister recently accompanied a co-worker to LA Fitness who had been agonizing over the fact that more than half the year had passed and she still hadn’t used her gym membership. While at the gym, they encountered yet another member who was desperately trying to get out of her contract and get her money back because she too had been paying for a membership she wasn’t using.

According to an article on bodybuilding.com, 73% of people who set fitness goals as New Year’s resolutions gave them up. Another said that “…even though the gym will be packed in the weeks following New Year’s Day, many will lose their motivation quickly. More than one-in-ten (11%) U.S. adults who signed up for a gym membership as a New Year’s resolution quit before the year was over.”

So what do we do? Do we continue to beat ourselves up because the wagon has moseyed on down the road without us? Sit in the dust of self loathing, throwing a pity party while we wait for it to roll around again next year? No, I don’t believe that we should.

Personally, I’d call it just a set back. I mean we have jobs and kids and spouses, meetings, shopping, chores, and the list goes on and on. Some of us will probably never be able to adhere to a weekly routine at the gym. So, we should lower the bar a bit, be realistic, and set goals that are achievable for us.

Take me for example. I work in a building that has four floors, and as I’m writing this post I’m thinking to myself: Four floors  mean that I have four flights of stairs at my disposal every day that I can take advantage of instead of using the elevator. This means I won’t have to worry about squeezing in an hour or two at the gym after work. Combine the stairs together with parking my car at the farthest end of the supermarket parking lot as I run in to grab dinner items, and the brisk walk to and from my car, it all adds up.

What do you already do from day-to-day that you can incorporate into some regular exercise? For example:

  • Using part of your lunch hour can be another great way to squeeze in some daily exercise. Walk to go get lunch instead of taking your car. Or if you bring your lunch from home, save 15 minutes for your lunch time for a walk around the parking lot–and maybe enlist a co-worker for support.
  • That treadmill you paid so much money for really wasn’t meant to be a clothes rack. Go on and use it already. Combine it with something else–like reading a magazine, listening to music, watching an episode of Scandal.
  • Wake up 15 or 20 minutes earlier in the morning to exercise, before the busyness of the day clamors for your attention. Not a morning person? Then do it before dinner–maybe some sit-ups or crunches, or even a short workout video.
  • Power walking around your neighborhood is also a great way to get in some exercise every day, or at least a few times a week

Cut yourself some slack. You will never get it perfect every single time, some days will be better than others. Yeah, we all feel bad when we miss a day or two of our routine–but don’t feel so bad that you stop altogether. The main thing is to try and be consistent. And it may seem like small steps, but as the saying goes “more may be better than less, but some is definitely better than none!”

Below are some books and DVDs that I checked out at DCPL while writing this post. They include simple and practical exercises as well as overall healthy living habits that may be helpful to you.

Ageless with Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround (DVD)

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath

Fit in 5 by Gregory P. Whyte

Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It by James A. Levine

Sit and Be Fit (DVD)

 

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Apr 20 2015

Nose Notes 2015

by Hope L

sneezing

Well, allergy sufferers … it could be worse.

If you’re like me and you think Atlanta has to be the absolute worst place for allergies–what with the yellow blanket of pollen and our scratchy eyes, congested head, runny nose, dry cough, and tissue after tissue–you may be surprised to learn that Atlanta is not THE worst place for allergy sufferers.  At least not according to the  Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2015 ranking of 100 U.S. cities, which puts Atlanta at a rather unimpressive #61.  Jackson, MS, took the #1 spot.

Obviously, I was not polled for this vote!  I demand a recount!  Every year I resolutely commit to do something about my allergies.  Problem is, I see many people  coughing, blowing their noses, and making horrible noises with their nasal congestion, some even wearing surgical masks, and it is nearly impossible to get anywhere near a doctor.  My bathroom cabinet is crammed with nose sprays, decongestant pills, cough drops, cough syrup, and yes–last year’s sure-fire solution to my problem–nasal filters, which after one or two humiliating times, were put back with the rest of the other failures into the cabinet.

For a while when I lived in Columbia, SC, I went the way of allergy shots.  I am not even sure if they worked, but I’m seriously considering trying them again.  At least I felt like I was doing something.

“The fundamental issue with cities is the type of plant or grasses, trees or weeds that grow in the area,” says Daniel Waggoner, MD, an allergist in Mystic, CT, who is not affiliated with the list creation but is familiar with it.  He says that cities with an exceptionally high concentration of trees, grass, or weeds may have more pollen in the air.

From the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI):

“Local environmental factors such as wind, humidity, typical temperatures–and air pollution–also play a role in allergies,” notes Miguel Wolbert, MD, an allergist in Evansville, IN. and a certified pollen counter.

(A certified pollen counter?  I kid you not.  There are also certified mold counters. Below is the information from AAAAI on the certification process.)

National Allergy Bureau (NAB) counters are certified separately as a pollen counter or as a mold counter in order to use a Burkard Spore Trap or the equivalent. Certification is offered to counting stations that agree to provide data on a timely basis to the NAB. Following the required training course(s), the candidate for certification will be required to take a web-based qualifying exam. The exam covers the basics of pollen and fungal spore aerobiology, fundamentals of microscopy, sampler operation and conversion of counts into concentration as outlined on the “Knowledge Base for Counters” developed by the NAB. Reference materials for the exam are also provided. (The exact material for the exam will be determined by the NAB Certification Committee). Following successful completion of the qualifying exam, the candidate will be permitted to take the practical exams using slides.

Pollen Counter
To be certified for pollen, a counter must successfully count and identify grass, weed and tree pollen grains on one pollen slide, which would represent spring, summer and fall pollen types in most of the continental U.S. Once the slide is graded passing, the counter will be considered a certified NAB pollen counter and eligible to count and present data for the NAB aeroallergen network.

Mold Counter
To be certified for molds, a counter must successfully count and identify molds on a single slide. Once this slide is graded successful, the counter will be considered a certified NAB mold counter and eligible to count and present data for the NAB aeroallergen network.

You can get all kinds of additional information about pollen allergy at MedlinePlus from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. As allergy sufferers know, however, nature’s good news is on the horizon–the rainy season is upon us, conveniently arriving in time to wash much of the springtime pollen away.

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Apr 8 2015

National Stress Awareness Month

by Glenda

Stress-month-photo1April is National Stress Awareness Month. Stress is a natural part of life, but it can be harmful to your health. Long term stress can lead to illnesses and even increase your risk of developing serious health conditions like stroke and heart disease. Stress is natural, your Fight or Flight Response kicks in when a perceived threat approaches, your body releases stress hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones increase the heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. Although this is a good thing when you are avoiding a disaster like falling off a mountain, continuous releasing of stress hormones can lead to serious illnesses.

To relieve some of the stress in your life you may have to change the way you approach stress. If the stressor is out of your control, let it go and move on. Control your reaction to stressors. Relax, this will make you better able to handle stress. Take time out for yourself every day, even if it is only twenty minutes. Take time to exercise to relieve stress. Do whatever you do to unwind–for instance, read a book, spend time with friends, whatever makes you happy.

Source U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  http://www.foh.hhs.gov/Calendar/april.html

For more information about stress and how to relieve stress, visit your local library and check out these books:

The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living by Amit Sood

10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children–and Ourselves–the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden

The 10-Step Stress Solution: Live More, Relax More, Reenergize by Neil Shah

The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson with Miriam Z. Klipper

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Apr 6 2015

The Saddest Voice

by Hope L

KarenC

When I was a gullible little girl of about 7 or 8, my three older brothers would tell me that there were hundreds of people singing background in those songs we were listening to, and that’s why they sounded that way. I smile today because I totally believed my brothers. Sure, an occasional backup singer was used, but in actuality it was Karen and Richard Carpenter singing all those great songs. The magic sound was created by her producer-brother Richard, who also helped to write many of the songs they sung.

And Karen Carpenter had the saddest voice ever. She would have been 65 this past March 2. When I listen to her songs, especially hits like Rainy Days and Mondays, Say Goodbye to Love, For All We Know, and Solitaire, I still marvel at her beautiful voice and the sadness it evokes.

Karen Carpenter was an outstanding singer, but few people know that she was also an exceptional drummer. And by all accounts, she had a kooky sense of humor and a host of friends, not to mention fans, whom she touched during her short life. (She died of heart failure at age 32 on February 4, 1983.) Her voice graced at least a dozen albums, and she, together with her brother Richard, won two Grammy Awards and earned millions of dollars during a time when their squeaky clean image was the antithesis of what was considered “cool” or even “popular music.”

According to The Carpenters: The Untold Story, an Authorized Biography by Ray Coleman, Karen was “hiding” by playing behind the drums while singing in the early days of the act. It then became apparent that her powerhouse voice demanded that she be the star on stage, front and center. (We have a few music CDs by the Carpenters at DCPL, including the album Singles 1969-1981.)

This YouTube clip shows Karen in a variety of early performances behind her drums.

Unfortunately, though, Karen Carpenter will be remembered first and foremost for her death and the introduction it gave the world to a disease called anorexia nervosa. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders, anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. Other eating disorders include bulimia nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

But  for me, when I hear the Carpenters’ music,  I think  iconic  70’s music–just begging for me to sing along.

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Not everyone will agree with me, but I have often thought that Americans worry about the wrong things. Hmm…I suppose that statement sounds a wee bit judgmental, and maybe it is, but really–are you honestly in danger of being killed by a hurtling chunk of meteorite on any random day? What, truly, are your chances of being trampled by a runaway horse? (Although, come to think of it, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood a number of years ago and was startled to see a horse gallop across Candler Road.) Of course, the world landscape changes ever more quickly and it can be difficult, living as we do in an age of media saturation and a 24/7 news cycle, not to find ourselves wringing our hands and tempted by that always fascinating (and always unwinnable) game of what if….  This recent NPR article  from the news magazine’s ongoing coverage of the devastating Ebola epidemic provides a timely reminder to those of us in the West (and elsewhere) that the thing that is most likely to kill us is our lifestyle.

There. I said it. Our lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease, mainly heart attacks and strokes, is the No. 1 killer worldwide. Worldwide. Much of this has to do with our lifestyle in the Western world and has become a reality for the rest of the globe as they increasingly adopt fast food, tobacco, and lack of physical activity as outsourced computer jobs lock workers to desks for hours at a time.  Although I haven’t smoked in decades and have what I consider a very healthy diet, I received my own wake-up call recently when my doctor diagnosed high blood pressure. My family has a very strong (and stubborn!) genetic component–my mother has high blood pressure as did her father and many of her other relatives–but I am nonetheless determined to bring my pressure into normal range as quickly as I can.

heart_tune_upNone of us, I think, should fret and stew about potential time bombs–but if you’re ready to take some realistic steps toward reducing your risks of cardiovascular disease, DCPL has resources to help.

The following books can provide useful information for all of us interested in addressing and preventing potential risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up: A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Steven Masley

Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need by Marc Gillinov and Steven Nissen

Mayo Clinic Heart Healthy for Life! The Mayo Clinic Plan for Preventing and Conquering Heart Disease bloodpressuredown

Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: How to Stop Heart Disease Before or After it Starts by Sarah Samaan

Blood Pressure Down: The 10 Step Program to Lower Your Blood Pressure in Four Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs by Janet Bond Brill

 

 

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Jan 9 2015

What Does It Look Like?

by Dea Anne M

Many of us resolve at the start of the year to do something about our diets–either by losing weight or by just learning to make better food choices. Part of drawing nearer to either of these goals typically involves paying attention to getting high-quality calories into one’s diet while at the same time not consuming too many total. For a typical, reasonably active adult, 2,000 calories a day will maintain weight–although some people need less and others will need more.

On December 22nd, as 2014 was drawing to a close, the New York Times ran what was to me an interesting photographic essay about what 2,000 calories look like when eaten at fast-food restaurants, casual dining spots (such as Olive Garden), and at home.  This visual proof is illuminating, and a little startling. Who would imagine that you could get your entire daily allotment of calories from one meal (breakfast at IHOP) or just dessert (cake and cappuccino at Maggiano’s Little Italy)? How about from a single beverage? It’s true! Several of the shakes and malts at Sonic weigh in (pun intended) at over 2,000 calories. Now that’s a thick shake!

You can do a little better at a place like Subway. In fact, careful choices can buy you three meals from the popular chain at only 2,010 calories. Of course, care in ordering is essential at any restaurant if calories are a concern, and it helps that more and more establishments either post nutritional information or will make it available to any customer who asks. Still, restaurant dining will rarely be a calorie bargain–at least compared to the option most popular with nutritionists, doctors and our nation’s First Lady. No surprise–it is cooking and eating at home. The NYT article shows photographs of two different days of meals prepared at home. Both boast a surprising amount and variety of food and include dessert and beer or wine with dinner. I don’t know about you, but it looks like a tasty way to keep calories in check.

Of course, restaurant dining is a daily reality for many people and an occasional, highly desired pleasure for many more. It is entirely possible to dine out and still keep a handle on calories consumed, and DCPL has resources to help.

kidsFirst consider the virtues of David Zinczenko’s ground-breaking title Eat This, Not That: Thousands of Simple Food Swaps that Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds or More!  Zinczenko has tirelessly researched many types of restaurants and prepared foods available in grocery stores to bring readers the best nutritional choices. Calorie counts are given as well as sodium content, total fat and other vital information. Eye-popping color photographs put the food front and center. Armed with the information you need when a fast-food lunch is on the agenda, you will know that a Big Mac is a better choice than a Whopper with cheese. You still might choose to go to Burger King but at least you will know that the McDonald’s sandwich will save you 220 calories. Zinczenko has gone on to compile Eat This, Not That For Kids! meant to help kids and, their parents make the best choices, and Cook This, Not That! Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution which features healthier home-prepared versions of restaurant favorites.

confidentialIn a similar vein, check out Howard Shapiro’s Dr. Shapiro’s Picture Perfect Weight Loss: The Visual Program for Permanent Weight Loss. Lavish color photographs illustrate calorie counts for various foods and show that it can often be a better choice to have a reasonable portion of the food you really want instead of more of the “virtuous” choice. Though a bit dated and a little too heavily slanted (in my opinion) toward soy protein, it is still a useful volume for anyone who likes visuals (and I count myself as one). Finally, give a thought to Restaurant Confidential: The Shocking Truth About What You’re Really Eating When You’re Eating Out by Michael Jacobson. Also a bit dated (it came out in 2002), it contains useful information nonetheless. Jacobson provides nutrition profiles of many brand name restaurants as well as those of the types of restaurants many Americans eat at, such as Chinese and Tex-Mex. Also included are helpful tips on getting more nutrition and less junk into one’s diet and, yes, one of those tips is eating more at home and brown-bagging more often.

Of course, if going out for lunch or dinner is an occasional treat (very much so in my case) then it may be worth it to just have whatever strikes your fancy. My general rule is to order something new to me or that I’m not likely to cook myself. Your rules and life will, naturally, be different. How often do you eat out? How do you make your decisions about what to order?

 

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Dec 31 2014

Another One Bites the Dust!?

by Hope L

newyear3Well, another year has come and gone. And because of the New Year, but also because my birthday falls in a week or so, I usually take this time to reflect on my life and ask the tough questions: What am I doing?, Where am I going?, Has life passed me by?, and Should I clean out the basement?

I blogged some time back about how I was thinking of getting older since moving my parents to a retirement home. Actually, it was more of a WHEN DID I GET OLD??!!! meltdown, complete with commentary and suggestions by luminaries like Suzanne Somers and Dave Barry and specialists on memory and aging. I can’t remember what I said, but it could have involved a tantrum or a curse word or two.

Now though, I am sort of looking forward to the New Year. And I have some good news to report. Yes, straight from my current, regular-must-read, AARP: The Magazine (available at a number of DCPL branches–check with your local branch), I just discovered “The Good News About Bad Habits” in the Dec./Jan. Healthy You issue (p. 14).  Let me share some bad habits which can actually be good for you.

Habit #1: Having Coffee for Breakfast (just coffee) – Why it’s not so bad: Breakfast is vital–if you’re bailing hay. But if the most physically demanding thing you do is reboot your computer, you can get away with little or no breakfast. In fact, two new studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition find that missing this meal doesn’t affect weight, cholesterol or resting metabolism.

Habit #2: Obsessively Watching House of Cards (and I’m guilty of this) – Why it’s not so bad: Taking time to see what Frank and Claire Underwood are up to is not only OK, it can stimulate the brain as you keep up with the complex plot, notes pop culture expert Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You.

Habit #3:  Occasionally Blowing Your Stack – Why it’s not so bad:  If you get steamed but never release it, you’re eventually going to blow like a shaken can of soda. Suppressing anger isn’t healthy, says Sandra Thomas, a professor at the University of Tennessee. A study she co-authored showed that older women who expressed their anger–albeit in healthier ways than blowing their top–had lower levels of the inflammatory markers that are linked to cardiovascular disease. (WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THIS YEARS AGO?!!)

Habit #4: Sharing Harmless Gossip – Why it’s not so bad: Sharing harmless gossip (You’ll never believe what Bob told Bill…) with friends or co-workers can build social bonds and boost some positive behaviors, according to a recent University of Michigan study.

“Habit #5:  Intending to Cut the Grass, but… zzzzz – Why it’s not so bad: Older adults who take a daily 30-minute nap get a much-needed midday pick-me-up without a trip to Starbucks, say experts at the National Sleep Foundation.

Well, by golly, I think I’ll follow this sage advice and hang onto some good, bad habits. And maybe next year I’ll clean out the basement…

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