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Does the Prejudice against Obesity Motivate You to Lose Weight?


It’s no secret that being obese can make you the target of some very negative and stigmatizing attitudes. Many people have been subjected to public ridicule and cruel remarks, lost jobs or promotions, and even been blamed for large-scale social problems like climate change and rising health care costs—all because of their weight.

As reported in this article, even doctors and health policy professionals get in on the act. Ms. Brown reports that, in one study, more than half of the 620 doctors questioned said they viewed obese patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly, and unlikely to comply with treatment.” Another study shows that higher BMI scores translate into doctors having less respect for patients and spending less time with them during appointments.

With all the evidence that, in most cases, obesity is a complex condition caused by the interaction of many different genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors, you’d think that medical professionals, especially, would be less likely to fall into the trap of viewing obesity as some sort of character flaw and stigmatizing obese patients.

Ms. Brown raises the possibility that many health professionals and policy makers believe that being stigmatized can motivate people to lose weight and improve their health. But, as she notes, the question is whether this approach actually works.

Posted 3/20/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Dean Anderson : 321 comments   34,743 views
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What Women Really Need to Know about Heart Health


 
Editor's Note: February is Heart Health month, aimed at bringing awareness to the #1 killer in America. Today we're sharing an interview with Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens on behalf of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth®. Dr. Desvigne-Nickens answered our questions via email.
 
DailySpark: How early should women start to take steps to protect their heart health?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Women need to take steps at every age to protect their heart health. Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and it is important for women and girls at all ages to know about heart disease and follow a healthy lifestyle.  Women in their 20s and 30s should take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

DailySpark: What are the top lifestyle changes women can make to ensure their hearts stay healthy?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Most heart disease risk factors are preventable or controllable by making healthy lifestyle changes, including: stopping smoking, being physically active, following a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.  Additional risk factors that you can prevent and control include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar or diabetes.  These conditions are silent (that is you don’t have any symptoms) so you must talk with your physician and know your numbers.  High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar are often treatable with healthy lifestyle but may require medical prescriptions.

DailySpark: Which habits harm our hearts the most?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Smoking, letting high blood pressure and high cholesterol go untreated, being overweight or obese, not being physically active, and not managing diabetes all can contribute to increasing a person’s risk for heart disease.
It is especially important to understand that that having more than one risk factor or condition multiplies your risk of developing heart disease.  Having one risk factor doubles your risk for disease; having two risks quadruples your risk for developing disease; having three risks increases risk by tenfold.   Don’t choose among risk factors, take charge and control your risks.  You can reduce your risk for heart disease by over 80% by controlling risk factors and a healthy lifestyle.

DailySpark: How much impact does weight have on heart health?
Posted 2/22/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 4 comments   10,882 views
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What Women Really Need to Know about Heart Health


 
Editor's Note: February is Heart Health month, aimed at bringing awareness to the #1 killer in America. Today we're sharing an interview with Dr. Patrice Desvigne-Nickens on behalf of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth®. Dr. Desvigne-Nickens answered our questions via email.
 
DailySpark: How early should women start to take steps to protect their heart health?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Women need to take steps at every age to protect their heart health. Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and it is important for women and girls at all ages to know about heart disease and follow a healthy lifestyle.  Women in their 20s and 30s should take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

DailySpark: What are the top lifestyle changes women can make to ensure their hearts stay healthy?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Most heart disease risk factors are preventable or controllable by making healthy lifestyle changes, including: stopping smoking, being physically active, following a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.  Additional risk factors that you can prevent and control include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar or diabetes.  These conditions are silent (that is you don’t have any symptoms) so you must talk with your physician and know your numbers.  High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar are often treatable with healthy lifestyle but may require medical prescriptions.

DailySpark: Which habits harm our hearts the most?

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens: Smoking, letting high blood pressure and high cholesterol go untreated, being overweight or obese, not being physically active, and not managing diabetes all can contribute to increasing a person’s risk for heart disease.
It is especially important to understand that that having more than one risk factor or condition multiplies your risk of developing heart disease.  Having one risk factor doubles your risk for disease; having two risks quadruples your risk for developing disease; having three risks increases risk by tenfold.   Don’t choose among risk factors, take charge and control your risks.  You can reduce your risk for heart disease by over 80% by controlling risk factors and a healthy lifestyle.

DailySpark: How much impact does weight have on heart health?
Posted 2/22/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 4 comments   10,882 views
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7 Reasons You Can Feel Good about Eating Chocolate Today


Chances are good that you'll encounter chocolate at some point today. Chocolate has earned a bad rap as a guilty pleasure, but this superfood has some pretty amazing health benefits. We think you should feel good about eating chocolate--the dark variety, in moderate portions. Here's why:

1. Chocolate contains more than 300 chemicals, including phenyethylamine, an amphetamine-like substance that simulates the feeling of falling in love. Is there any more appropriate day than today to eat a treat that makes you feel like you're in love?

2. If you're feeling a bit glum, chocolate can boost your spirits and dull your pain, thanks to b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium.
Posted 2/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 33 comments   11,074 views
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7 Quick Mood Boosters


Brighten your spirits in no time flat with these easy tricks.

Reach for the sky
 
Get on your feet, look to the ceiling and stretch your arms straight up, spreading your fingers. "The simple act of standing prompts a boost in circulation, delivering oxygen- and energy-rich blood to your cells," explains psychotherapist Kimberly Willis, PhD, author of The Little Book of Diet Help: Expert Tips and Tapping Techniques to Stay Slim for Life. And smile as you hold the stretch: It will trigger the release of feel-good brain chemicals. 
Posted 1/14/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   11,820 views
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Do You Really Need a Flu Shot? (Everything You Need to Know about the Vaccine)


Fall is here. Apples are in season. Leaves are falling. Pumpkin just begs to be baked into a pie.
 
But with all of those good things comes at least one not-so-good thing: the flu.
 
Flu season can begin in October and end as late as May, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza is caused by viruses and because these can change, each flu season is a different. Individuals also are affected differently by the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea or respiratory distress. Typically the worst cases are in people 65 or older. CDC estimates of flu-related deaths between 1976 and 2007 range from 3,000 to 49,000, and in a normal year, about 90 percent of deaths are in people older than 65.
 
Several years ago, swine flu – the H1N1 virus – hit the U.S. and caused a great deal of concern because it seemed to strike pregnant women and younger adults much harder than the typical flu virus. Odd flu seasons like that are when you start seeing headlines about the flu killing people and urging people to get vaccinated against the virus.
 
But the CDC and other health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a flu vaccine every year for anyone older than 6 months. The vaccine especially is important for people who might develop complications, such as pneumonia, from the flu – this includes people older than 65 or people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses – as well as pregnant women and anyone caring for someone who might be struck harder than normal with the flu.
 
How does the vaccine work?
Posted 11/1/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 107 comments   27,849 views
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How to Minimize Summer Sickness


Few things are worse than a summer cold.

Summer is supposed to be a break from the sniffles and sneezes of cold and flu season, but I've found that when you have small children, there is no break from germs. If anything, summer–the season of pools and splash pads, shared water bottles and summer camps–just gives your children more opportunities to bring home a virus.

My boys are in a daycare that has a weekly water day all summer. The school fills up kiddie pools and sprinklers and lets the kids run around splashing and squirting each other. They have a blast. But by the end of the day, the pool is more snot than it is water. And it never fails--everyone in our house is congested and coughing within a week.

I haven't figured out how to avoid the germs altogether, but I do have a few tips for minimizing the damage.

Posted 7/10/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   8,897 views
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You Asked: Are There Any Risks to Becoming a Vegetarian?


Great question. It's more often that we hear the possible health benefits of a vegetarian diet touted than we ever hear people talking about it possibly being unhealthy. But generally speaking, research shows that a well-planned vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy. Plant-based foods are naturally low in fat (and most often feature heart-healthy fats), are free of cholesterol, and are high in fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has reported that vegan and vegetarian diets can significantly reduce one's risk of contracting heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions.
Posted 6/3/2012  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 0 comments   729 views
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Perspective: Why YOUR Health is So Important


One day I woke up and was astonished to find that I had grown to 460 pounds and was using my family as helpers.  I didn't do this on purpose.  From my perspective, I was in a lot of pain from many chronic issues and needed to lie down to alleviate the pain.  From their perspective, I was abusing their kindness.  This is so hard for me to admit, but I'm an open book to you readers.
 
As I lost weight, I could do more, but not all of what life has in store for me.  From my family's perspective, I'm still not doing enough.  From my perspective, getting healthy is my career.  I've lost 205 pounds to date with no surgery.  I've created exercises and even use an arm bike because my legs aren't that steady.  I walk with my walker, ''Freedom.''  I want to be fully functional again, despite the pain, and personally I think I'm doing a bang-up job.
 
For me, I live to prove to you that YOU can get your life back, too.  I want people to see my example and be inspired by the possibility of a second chance.  That's why I'm so open about everything.  Who do you influence in your life? Are those people enough to make you want to change?  If not, what is enough to make you want to really change?
Posted 5/11/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 45 comments   10,073 views
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You Asked: ''Why Do My Feet and Toes Go Numb While Using the Elliptical Machine?''


Many people experience numbness or "pins and needles" in their feet (often in just one foot) when using an elliptical machine. For some, this sensation is a minor problem that only happens near the end of a long workout, but others may begin to experience it within the first few minutes of exercising.

If you only have this problem during your elliptical workout, it’s probably not a sign of a serious medical problem. It is most likely caused by your foot coming in constant contact with the foot pedal, which places pressure on the nerves in your feet for an extended period of time. This is different from the natural motion of walking or running, where your foot shifts the pressure from the front to the back of the foot with each stride.

There are several things you can do that may help minimize the problem:

1. Make sure you’re wearing well-cushioned shoes for your workout, and try tying them a little more loosely than you would for running or walking.

2. Avoid standing flat-footed on the elliptical foot pedals—try to duplicate the natural shift of weight from your heel to your toe during each stride. You could also look for an elliptical machine with "articulating" foot pedals that rotate around a central pivot (like the pedal on a bicycle), instead of pedals that remain fixed in the same position as they glide. 

3. During your elliptical workout, change your pedaling direction from forward to backwards every few minutes, and/or vary the incline level if your machine has that feature. 

4. Avoid long elliptical workouts. Try shorter, higher-intensity sessions, split your workout between the elliptical and another cardio exercise, or divide your workout into two sessions with a break in between.

If you frequently experience foot numbness at other times, you should discuss the problem with your doctor. It could be caused by a nerve disorder (e.g., Morton’s neuroma or diabetic neuropathy), circulation problems, or orthopedic problems that need treatment. 
Posted 5/11/2012  12:00:00 AM By: Dean Anderson : 1 comments   1,553 views
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The 10-Minute Mindshift


As a health coach for busy professionals, I hear a lot about how little time people have. My clients pack their days with meetings and commitments until there is barely room to breathe. But the truth is, no matter who we are, we all have the exact same amount of time--24 hours in each and every day. We can’t choose how much time we get; but we can choose how to spend the time we have. And those choices make all the difference. Redirecting even small amounts of time away from unhealthy activities and toward healthier ones can start a snowball effect that will transform your life!
 
Posted 4/25/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 21 comments   12,044 views
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Think FAST When It Comes to Stroke Awareness


In October 2008 I was watching the World Series when I suddenly noticed the left side of my face becoming numb. At first I thought it was due to a new moisturizer I started using a few weeks earlier. I did not mention anything to my husband when it started, however as bedtime loomed, I remember thinking something wasn't right. The numbness became more severe, as if I had just come home from the dentist after having Novocain injected into my gums.

As a Registered Nurse I felt I was too young to have a stroke, after all just a few short weeks earlier I was given a clean bill of health by my physician. I had even completed a 12 mile run the day before in preparation for my second half-marathon. But something didn't seem right, so I awakened my husband and off to the hospital we went. They immediately took me back and did a thorough evaluation of my status. I was asked to smile, hold my arms out in front of me and lastly I was asked to repeat a sentence that the nurse told me.

Thankfully I passed all the initial criteria. I was scheduled for a CAT Scan, MRI, as well as an overnight stay in the hospital. The next morning I received a visit from a cardiologist and neurologist. It was believed that the numbness was not caused from a stroke, but was a migraine aura, one that I have never experienced before prior to the onset of the headache. I am grateful that my healthy lifestyle is helping lower my risk of stroke, but it is not a safety net either.
Posted 4/24/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 26 comments   7,715 views
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How to Keep Up with the Kiddos--and Burn Off All That Energy


The news is full of reports about childhood obesity and sedentary children with their bottoms glued to couch cushions and their eyes trained on electronic screens.
 
But for me right now, with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, the reality is more like children bouncing off the walls and forcing me to get off my bottom to run around the yard with them. Young children are full of energy and can't help but want to master their new motor skills. The trick is harnessing and keeping that joy for movement and exercise.
 
Here's what we're hoping works:
Posted 4/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   7,669 views
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Two Weight-Loss Perspectives: Which One Do You Identify With?


I was so stunned by something I recently read in a magazine, that I decided I just had to write about it. I sat and pondered the opposing viewpoints for several days, because one of them left me speechless.  I’m a writer and am seldom speechless.  I wonder when you get to the end whose decision you would support, and whose life would you like to model yours after. 

In this magazine was a letter to the editor from a person named J.J. This person wrote: “I lost barely one and a half pounds, and except for our Thanksgiving meal, I wasted a whole week eating clean. From now on, I’m going to eat the junk foods I truly love – and I’ll enjoy life even if I’m considered an outcast by my ignorant neighbors”. 

A little back story – I’ve gone through three Thanksgivings now on my healthy lifestyle journey. Two of those were on the weight loss side, and one was on the maintenance side. If I ever made it through the week of Thanksgiving close to maintaining or even losing a little, I would check that off as a success. My best friend and I spent the last two Thanksgivings running the Turkey Trot with 19,000 of our closest friends before eating the meal. That is definitely a change for us. So I was surprised by J.J.’s attitude that her loss was no good.
Posted 3/29/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 191 comments   22,544 views
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Ask Dr. Birdie: Straight Talk about Binge Eating


This journey to a healthy lifestyle is a worthwhile, but at times, difficult endeavor. If you're dealing with an eating disorder on top of a weight issue, it can feel downright impossible to reach your goals.

Most of us are familiar with the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia, but I would like to focus on an eating disorder that is actually more common.  This diagnosis is rarely discussed on diet and exercise blogs and not given the attention that it deserves, which is not surprising.  After all, eating disorders are typically suffered in secret.   

What am I talking about?  Binge eating disorder

Let's discuss this medical condition in detail so that you can understand the diagnosis, and, if you think you are affected, you can seek the help that you need.   
Posted 3/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 40 comments   16,121 views
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