Depressed? How to tell, and mood-lifting lifestyle tips

Signs & Symptoms for Depression

  • You have an ongoing sense of hopelessness or feel helpless
  • You are always tired You’ve experienced changes in your sleeping (e.g. insomnia or sleeping too much) and eating patterns (severe weight loss/weight gain)
  • You have difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • You no longer enjoy usual pastimes, events, or friends and have lost interest You thoughts are always dark and negative – about yourself or events and people in your life
  • You get upset or angry much easier than usual You find yourself abusing alcohol or other drug, or participate in reckless behavior

Causes & Risk Factors For Depression

  • Loneliness
  • Lack of social support
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Financial strain
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Health problems or chronic pain

What can I do to prevent / reverse depression?

Continue reading “Depressed? How to tell, and mood-lifting lifestyle tips”

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Think fast – and lose weight?

There’s a new buzz word that I’ve been seeing popping up on the internet in the diet world lately: Intermittent fasting.

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A little help from (girl)friends can prolong your life

It was the perfect end to a perfect day. It was a beautiful fall evening. The festivities had ended, and I was surrounded by every love of my life. A large group of us were sitting around in a semicircle around the fireplace in a bed and breakfast in Sedona in a post-wedding day stupor – me, my new husband and my dearest childhood friends (who had all flown in specially for the occasion). One of my closest friends–and the one who’d married my husband and I that day–I’d known since the first day of kindergarten.

It didn’t take long before we were laughing boisterously over dinner, singing, reminiscing, and embracing as if we’d all had too much wine (no, just drunk on each other’s company) – as the husbands exchanged looks, confirming, ‘Yup, this happens every time they’re together.’ Although we live nearly a continent apart, the five of us turn into teenagers again each time we are reunited, never skipping a beat in our deep, rich friendships. I didn’t want this night to end, and cried yet again at our parting …

Because these were the girls that saved my life.

Let me explain.

Continue reading “A little help from (girl)friends can prolong your life”

Get the girls together! Celebrating Women’s Friendship Month

We all know how precious our friendships are. But so many times, life gets in the way and it could be weeks, months, even years between times when we get to see or speak to our closest girlfriends. Well, this month gives us an excuse to improve those statistics! Here are some great ideas to get you started in reconnecting with old friends (and making some new ones, too!).

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  • Busy? Carve out time to invite a friend out for coffee or tea
  • Buy a friend a little gift – whether it’s a book of poetry, some fragrance, or something that has personal meaning to you both
  • Plan a girls’ night out! Visit some of your favorite stores, restaurants, or even go out to see a movie
  • Or have a girls’ night in! Rent a few feel-good girl night movies, drink some wine and all the sweets you avoid during the rest of the year.
  • Spoil yourself and a friend by getting a massage or visiting a spa and get facials and pedicures!
  • With the world as plugged in as it is, it is easier and easier to reconnect with people we haven’t seen in years. So try looking for childhood friend with whom you’ve lost contact, and say hello!
  • Sign up for a class together with a friend! From tango to wine tasting, or a scrapbooking class, there are lots of choices.
  • Plan an adventure or trip. Go hiking, hot-air ballooning, skydiving, backpacking, camping, white water rafting, etc.
  • Send flowers to the special women in your life, whether it’s your mother or sister, or someone very close to you who has had a large impact on your life, like a female mentor
  • Have a good group of gals at work? Tell them about International Women’s Friendship Month and schedule a lunch or after-work cocktails together
  • If you’ve had friends for many years, you’ve seen a lot of movies and listened to a lot of music in that time. Trying making an old-fashioned “mix tape” or create a CD with songs that you and a friend or friends have in common and gift them with a note talking about all the wonderful memories you’ve made together!
  • Do you have a creative hobby or two? Use your talents or hobbies to make something from the heart for a friend
  • Take cards and a crafted gift, or a home-made meal or pastries to your lady neighbors or coworkers
  • Make plans with your good friends to volunteer at a women’s shelter, soup kitchen, or other group in need
  • Write a long letter, or maybe even blog and publish it to the world about your best friends and how much they have inspired or supported you through the years
  • Create a standing monthly event with a group of friends, like a book club or a potluck, or movie night!

Make new friends!

Did you know girlfriends can add years to your life?

Read about it here!

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4 things you should know about supplement safety

Herbal and dietary supplements are topping the list of perceived natural over-the-counter alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. But the idea of supplements as being “natural” can also be misleading.

While current healthcare industry practices continue to keep America sick, so many people (including myself) are looking for alternative methods to heal ourselves instead.

According to a report by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) has been steadily increasing in popularity in the last decade. The numbers as of 2007 said that about four in 10 adults and one in nine children are using CAM. And those numbers today are anticipated to be even higher.

Continue reading “4 things you should know about supplement safety”

What you should know about self-ordered lab tests

In Arizona, a new law was passed this last month that allows for any Arizona resident to be able to request lab tests without an order from their medical provider.

Lab test results usually influence more than 70 percent of recommended medical therapies and other health decisions, according to Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos Wellness Centers in Arizona. They tell you a lot about what’s going on inside of you, which has some wonderful applications for a proactive patient. But there may be a few things to be wary about if you go it alone for lab testing.

Here are some things to think about:

Continue reading “What you should know about self-ordered lab tests”

USDA unveils new online weight planning tool

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) have partnered to add the NIH Body Weight Planner to USDA’s SuperTracker online tool as a goal-setting resource to help people achieve and stay at a healthy weight. Created in 2011, the SuperTracker tool empowers people to build a healthier diet, manage weight, and rUSDAeduce risk of chronic disease. Users can determine what and how much to eat; track foods, physical activities, and weight; and personalize with goal setting, virtual coaching, and journaling. With science-based technology drawing on years of research, the Body Weight Planner will enable SuperTracker’s more than 5.5 million registered users to tailor their plans to reach a goal weight during a specific timeframe, and maintain that weight afterward.

The math model behind the Body Weight Planner, an online tool published by NIH in 2011, was created to accurately forecast how body weight changes when people alter their diet and exercise habits. This capability was validated using data from multiple controlled studies in people.

“We originally intended the Body Weight Planner as a research tool, but so many people wanted to use it for their own weight management that we knew we needed to adapt it with more information about how to achieve a healthy lifestyle,” said Kevin Hall, Ph.D., who led creation of the Planner and is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the NIH. “The Planner is a natural fit within the SuperTracker as it lets people accurately determine how many calories and how much exercise is needed to meet their personal weight-management goals.”

The Planner’s calculations reflect the discovery that the widely accepted paradigm that reducing 3,500 calories will shed one pound of weight does not account for slowing of metabolism as people change their diet and physical activities. More recently, the math model was further validated using data from a two-year calorie restriction study of 140 people. With those data, Hall and colleagues showed the model can also provide accurate measurements of calorie intake changes by tracking people’s weight. Researchers are examining how to apply this method for public use.

“We are pleased to offer a variety of interactive tools to support Americans in making healthy lifestyle changes,” said Angie Tagtow, executive director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which created and manages SuperTracker. “The NIH Body Weight Planner helps consumers make a plan to reach their goals on their timeline, and SuperTracker helps them achieve it.”

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent complications related to overweight and obesity such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

“NIH’s collaboration with USDA allows the public to quickly reap the benefits of the latest medical research results,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. “Sharing resources and expertise lets us get out important information as efficiently as possible, empowering people to take charge of their weight and their health.”

The NIDDK, a component of the NIH, conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about the NIDDK and its programs, see http://www.niddk.nih.gov.