Were you a dirty child? If so, some believe your parents did you a favor. Would you agree?

By David Martin, President & CEO of VeinInnovations

Most adults over the age of 30 remember a childhood full of dirt. People who grew up with a lot of siblings or a few pets almost certainly remember dirt. And anyone who grew up on a farm definitely would. According to the “hygiene hypothesis” your parents did your immune system a favor if they let you get grimy as a kid.

The hygiene hypothesis is back in the spotlight this week with the publication of a preliminary study from Sweden concerning kids and allergies. The study of just over 1000 children found that in homes where dishes were hand washed, kids were slightly less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever and were significantly less likely to develop eczema.

The hygiene hypothesis is straightforward: exposure to germs and certain infections helps kids’ immune systems develop. For years now, researchers have wondered if our first-world commitment to extreme cleanliness (antibacterial soap and surface cleaners, hand sanitizer and the like) have changed the direction of our immune response. If we’re not exposed to a diverse group of bacteria and other microorganisms as kids, do our immune systems overreact later in life?

The answer is: maybe. The dishwashing study is only observational and can’t confirm causality. Some studies have shown that children who grow up on farms are less likely to have asthma. A 2013 study found that the prevalence of asthma “…had begun to decline in some western countries, but there is little evidence that they have become less clean; Latin American countries with high infection rates have high asthma prevalence and the hygiene hypothesis relates to early-life exposures, but exposures throughout life may be important.”

The hygiene hypothesis is compelling and will hopefully be more fully researched in the years to come. In the meantime, what you do with the conflicting information is up to you. Parents (new and seasoned) with young kids can at least take heart: your home does not always need to be clean. Dog slobber on a few of the toys? Not a problem. The times you’ve “cleaned” a pacifier by popping it in your own mouth for a second? You may have lowered your child’s risk of developing asthma. Toddlers ate a handful of dirt? They’re just helping their immune system practice.

Now, this isn’t to say that all germs, bacteria, and viruses are gentle. Humanity has been at war with disease (and mostly lost) since the beginning. Some microbes are killers, so don’t romanticize our dirt-filled past too much. (And absolutely do not attend a measles party. There’s a perfect example of a challenge to immunity we could do without!)

While you may not want your child to kick up as much dust as Pigpen did in Peanuts, a little dirt won’t do any harm. And it may be good for them! You can tell them so while they hand wash the dishes after dinner.

Want to learn more about the hygiene hypothesis? Check out this 2011 Scientific American podcast with host Steve Mirsky and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researcher Kathleen Barnes.  Or read my first article about the hygiene hypothesis, Good and Dirty

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What makes exercise a powerful medicine?

Exercise is medicine. It’s a tonic with long-term benefits. We’re realizing more and more that exercise can improve memory and reduce the risk of a host of diseases. It can boost your mood and may help improve relationships. For people with chronic conditions, exercise can be a key part of alleviating symptoms.

Exercise Improves Chronic Conditions Like Parkinsons

People living with Parkinsons struggle with rigid, jerky movements. Over time, they gradually lose control over their muscles. This leads to tremors, loss of balance, and difficulty walking or speaking. The symptoms are treated with medication.

A growing number of people with Parkinsons are finding relief through movement therapies. At the Fight 2 Fitness gym in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Parkinson’s patients learn to box. On any given day there, you might find a group of people hitting punching bags and fighting the effects of Parkinson’s at the same time.

Exercise (everything from tai chi to golfing to drumming) has been shown to lessen symptoms of Parkinsons. Patients often report that their movements are more fluid after a round of golf or a tai chi class. Researchers say that movement therapy helps people at all stages of the disease.

Exercise Is Valuable For Everyone

The days of escaping physical activity because you’re sick are passing. Exercise can help alleviate symptoms for a host of other chronic conditions.

  • Diabetes: Exercising regularly can help insulin do a better job of lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Asthma: People with asthma often find exercise helps control the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.
  • Heart Disease: Strength training can make it easier for people with heart disease to do daily activities by improving muscle strength and endurance. Exercise can also slow disease-related decline in muscle strength.

And don’t forget that exercise is excellent preventative medicine, too.  A 2013 study found that women who exercised regularly significantly reduced their risk of breast cancer. Walking for an hour a day (seven days a week) reduced breast cancer risk by 14 percent.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is choosing to vaccinate or not vaccinate a personal choice?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

There were 102 cases of measles in the United States in January 2015. Most of the cases were in California. The majority of people who contracted the measles were unvaccinated. To put things in perspective, there were less than 100 cases per year from 2002 to 2007.

One good thing may come of the January outbreak. Two state senators from California, Ben Allen and Richard Pan (who is also a pediatrician), wrote a bill to abolish religious and personal-belief exemptions for children who wish to attend public school. This is a step in the right direction.

Communities need a vaccination rate of 90 percent or more to prevent outbreaks of the measles. Choosing not to vaccinate yourself or your children is not solely a personal choice. The decision not to vaccinate can profoundly affect the people around you, exposing others to disease.

These “others” include infants too young to be vaccinated, or the immunocompromised, like Rhett Krawitt. Rhett, 6, is now in remission, having fought leukemia for four and a half years. After three rounds of chemotherapy, his immune system is rebuilding. He’s not yet strong enough for vaccines. His parents, Carl and Jodi Krawitt, are campaigning for Rhett’s school district to require immunization as a condition of attendance, only allowing exemptions for medical reasons.

Unvaccinated kids in California were barred from some schools for weeks to prevent spreading the outbreak. Currently, parents in California can use a personal belief exemption to skirt vaccination requirements. Some schools report that 50 to 70 percent of kindergarteners are not fully vaccinated. These low rates of vaccinations are on par with Chad and war-torn South Sudan, Third-World countries ranked near the bottom of the list in terms of human development.

Vaccines have saved millions of lives and will continue to save lives. The World Health Organization, UNICEF and the CDC (along with many other health organizations) strive to vaccinate children in developing nations, sparing millions of children an untimely death. High rates of vaccinations in the United States have made diseases that struck fear in the hearts of our grandparents things of the past. But without the specter of preventable diseases that stole children from their parents a hundred years ago, we’ve forgotten what a miracles vaccines are.

Many in the American anti-vaccine community downplay the severity of preventable diseases like the measles and whooping cough. No, not every child who gets sick dies. But they do suffer needlessly. And some do die, or suffer long-term consequences. The narrative that measles and whooping cough are “not that bad” ignores the privilege that comes with living in the US. Parents and children who live here have access to advanced medical care and treatment. Children in developing nations do not.

Worldwide, there are about 16 million cases, and 195,000 deaths, of whooping cough (pertussis) a year. In 2012, there were 20 pertussis deaths in America. The majority of the deaths were of infants less than three months old.

Measles can cause serious complications for anyone, but children under five and adults over 20 are more likely to suffer complications. Complications include permanent hearing loss from ear infections, brain swelling (that can lead to deafness, convulsions and mental retardation) and death.

Your health and your children’s health matters. Herd immunity matters. Vaccines are a proven, safe way to protect ourselves, the people we love, and society at large. They save lives.

Here’s hoping that a small taste of the reality of preventable diseases – in the form of the current outbreak – will inspire more families to vaccinate.

Bloomberg: Why Measles May Just Be Getting Started

CDC: Pertussis in Other Countries

CDC: Measles Cases and Outbreaks

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What makes the return of measles so dangerous and disheartening?

It was declared eradicated, but more than 80 cases of measles in California – most occurring in children whose parents declined vaccination – mean we must redouble our efforts to vaccinate. 

Here’s the latest update on the outbreak, and what you can do to protect your children and yourself.

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

The vaccine debate invites vitriol on both sides. The root of this intense ire is fear; fear of chemicals, of autism, of lessened herd immunity, of deadly diseases we once considered eradicated.

Measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000. (Elimination of a disease is defined by the absence of continuous disease transmission for one year or more in a specific geographical area.)

Measles Fast Facts 

  • •Measles can only survive in a human host. It is one of the most contagious diseases on earth. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing or sneezing. The virus can live for up to two hours in the airspace or on a surface where an infected person coughed or sneezed.
  • •In 2004, there were only 34 cases of measles in the United States. In 2014 there were 644 cases in 27 states (with 23 total outbreaks.) It was the largest number of cases since 2000.
  • •The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was falsely linked to autism in 2008.
  • •Measles is a leading cause of death among young children. In 2013, there were 145,700 global measles deaths. That’s 400 deaths a day, or 16 deaths an hour.
  • •Global vaccination rates are rising. In 2013, 84 percent of children received one dose of the measles vaccine by age one. Measles vaccinations resulted in a 75 percent drop in measles deaths from 2000 and 2013.
  • •No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but the measles vaccine is close. One dose of the vaccine is 93 percent effective at preventing measles. People that get two doses of vaccines enjoy a 97 percent efficacy rate.

The current outbreak of measles is disheartening, to say the least. As of this writing, the CDC has confirmed 84 cases of measles. The majority of the cases are in California, where statistically significant groups of parents have declined to vaccinate their children. People who refuse vaccines tend to cluster, damaging herd immunity and exacerbating outbreaks.

But in some areas, at least, the anti-vaccination trend shows modest signs of reversing. In Maricopa County, Arizona, health officials reported a 50 percent rise in vaccination requests from last year. Three clinics experienced such large surges that lines formed and extra nurses had to be called in.

Globally, eradication efforts continue with success. The World Health Organization reports that the measles vaccination prevented as estimated 15.6 million deaths. In 2013, about 205 million children were vaccinated in mass vaccination campaigns across 34 countries.

But more can be done. In populations with high rates of malnutrition and insufficient health care, up to 10 percent of measles cases end in death. Unvaccinated children have the highest risk of measles and resulting complications.  Ninety-five percent of deaths due to measles happen in countries with low per-capita incomes and weak health infrastructures.

The Measles and Rubella Initiative is a global partnership to stop measles and rubella. It is a collaborative effort of the WHO, UNICEF, the American Red Cross, the CDC and the United Nations Foundation. You can learn more about the M&R Initiative (and make a donation to the worthy cause!) on their website, http://www.measlesrubellainitiative.org.

Looking to find a way to help at home? The best thing you can do is get vaccinated and make sure your kids are vaccinated, too.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s almost February; how are your resolutions? What are you putting on or giving up?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

The first month of the New Year is almost over. How are your resolutions going? Are you still dedicated or have your resolutions fallen by the wayside? Most Americans made at least a couple of resolutions to improve their health. Though the list of potential health resolutions is long, they really boil down to two things: we promised to exercise more and eat better this year.

Resolution One: Get More Exercise

Last year, I wrote about the rapid growth of wearables. What’s on the market today makes the first electronic pedometers look quaint. Today’s wearables are more advanced than ever. The estimated value of the wearable market is worth somewhere between 3 and 5 billion dollars. In addition, there are almost 50,000 health apps at your fingertips.

Investing in a wearable is an attractive idea. They’re trendy and they’re touted as “revolutionary.” Do they help us achieve our health goals or are they yet another gadget we hope will somehow do the work for us? Fewer than half of all people buying wearables use them every day. A third of users abandon their devices after a year.

Consumers are told that some wearables will create valuable data for their doctors. Wearables can create data – reams of it – chronicling steps, heart rate, and daily symptoms. Your doctor might not be able to use it. First, they’d have to analyze what you’d given them to make use of the data. Wearables are intended to promote general wellness. Anything more and they’d be subject to FDA regulation, opening the manufacturers up to massive costs and complex logistics.

So the utility of the wearable is ultimately in the hands of the wearer. If you thrive on data and a device that pings you when you don’t reach your target each day, buy the wearable. If you’re a gadget nut who moves on quickly, save yourself the money. And if you’re thinking of buying a wearable as a gift for a technophobic parent or friend? Best of luck.

Resolution Two: Eat Better

New year, new you. January is a popular time for fad diets that promise to “kick start” our metabolism or health. Here’s the hard truth: there is no miracle diet.

The nutrition knowledge of “the experts” is varied. If you read every headline, “what’s best” seems ever changing. Trends come and go quickly. Remember The Zone? Atkins? The Scarsdale Diet? All are fads of the past and their contemporaries are no better. Juicing and cleanse binges won’t remove toxins from your body, clearing your way to better health. Your liver and kidneys are already great at removing toxins on their own. So drink more water and skip the cleanse.

The only “silver bullet” diet is so simple it lacks a name. Let’s christen it The Reasonable Diet and see if that helps. Here are its principles: Don’t eat too much meat. Eat more servings of vegetables and fruits than other food groups. Have a little olive oil or butter. Stick with whole grains. Eat slowly and until you’re sated, then stop. Don’t save too much room for dessert.

The biggest diet challenge Americans face is our overconsumption of sugar. Americans consume, on average, 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Excessive sugar intake is killing us, resulting in a host of major health problems from insulin resistance to type 2 diabetes to liver failure.

Need a place to start? Ditch fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt and the processed, quick breakfast foods. Have oatmeal with naturally sweet berries instead.

Let’s make 2015 reasonable. And great.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How can men improve their chances of living as long as women?

Men and women are all eventually headed towards death, but nature tends to come for men first. The gap in life expectancy has shrunk in recent years – from 1990 to 2007, the gap narrowed from seven years to a little over five years in the United States. Women outlive men, it turns out, in every stage of life, starting in the womb.

Miscarriages are mostly male, although there is a slightly higher rate of boy babies born than girls (105 males for every 100 females.) In their early 20s, the male death rate spikes. The increase is unsurprising, considering the violence and bravado that often define that stage of life for men. Young men are headed to war, are more likely to fight, and engage in risky behavior like driving a motorcycle without a helmet. Surprisingly, when researchers control for violent or avoidable death, the female advantage still remains (although the spike disappears completely.)

The gender gap in death rates narrows from the late 20s to the 50s, but death still favors men. In the early 50s, the gender gap widens again, peaking in the 60s and 70s, and then narrows again. Male chances of living to become supercentenarians – someone who lives past 110 – are slim. As of July 2013, nine of the ten living supercentenarians were women. What makes women more durable creatures, outliving men at every stage of life? We’re not really sure, but we’ve got some ideas. What we can be sure of is that the old adage claiming that women are the weaker sex is flawed.

Culture or Genetics?

Human men are not alone in being outlived by their female counterparts. In most species, females live longer than males, suggesting that the gender gap is part of our biology. Possible biological causes are still debated. I’ve listed a few hypotheses below.

• Size For most species, the general rule is that the larger individuals in a species tend (on average) to live shorter lives than their smaller counterparts.

• Onset of cardiovascular disease  If women suffer a heart attack or stroke, they usually do so a decade later than men do. Men typically face heart disease in their 50s, while women are in their 60s or 70s. Estrogen was thought to be the cause of delay, but studies  have shown that may not be the case. We’ve also learned that giving women estrogen post-menopause can be harmful.

• Lower iron levels Women are iron deficient compared to men, especially young women, because of menstruation. Less iron translates into fewer free radicals, molecules that damage our cells and may contribute to aging.

• Value for reproduction Men and women both contribute to the creation of new human beings, but women are responsible for nine months of gestation. It may be that women are more durable – they have to be in order to continue the species.

We’re still not sure if the gender gap is biological. And if it is, there’s not much we can do to control it. The difference in life expectancy may also be  cultural, an area where men can make a change. If you’re looking to narrow the gap, here are a few changes to make today.

• Quit smoking and cut back on the drinks  Our culture has changed a lot since Don Draper’s halcyon days of Lucky Strikes and cocktails from lunch until dinner. Men are still heavier drinkers and more likely to smoke than women. Smoking may not always cause lung cancer, but it will always damage your health from your heart to your brain. Cut it out and you’ll live longer. Alcohol needs to be enjoyed responsibly. Studies have shown that people who indulge in a moderate number of drinks (like a glass of red wine at night) can actually live longer. But hitting the bottle hard does you no favors.

• Seek help with mental illness or depression Mental illness still carries a stigma, making seeking treatment difficult for some. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. There’s nothing un-masculine about getting the treatment you need and deserve. Depressed men have a higher death rate than depressed women do, especially if they’re older. Men who attempt suicide are more likely to succeed than women are. We must all work together to end the stigmatization of mental illness – there’s no shame in seeking treatment.

• Cut back on the derring-do This is a tough one to tackle. Men and women alike can think back to foolish decisions made in their teens and 20s and be grateful the outcome wasn’t different. We all take risks (our parents tried to warn us!) Talk to the young men in your life. Discuss how to handle dangerous situations with your teenager  – like someone inebriated trying to take the wheel – with your teenager. Communication (and a bit of luck) can help young men make smarter decisions.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do Immune Boosters Really Work?

By David Martin,

President and CEO of VeinInnovations 

The New Year is off to a very chilly start. Last week, parts of the United States were colder than Mars. It’s frigid across the country and this year’s flu season is harsher than usual. So far this season, almost 5,500 people suffering from flu have been hospitalized.

So as we walk down drugstore aisles, remedies in bright boxes that promise to boost your immune system start to look appealing. If you’ve ever had the flu before, it’s understandable.

The flu is nasty. It can knock you out for days. Our beds become a sickbay and pajamas a uniform as Kleenex piles up by the pillow. So, do those “natural immune boosters” really work? Short answer: not really. (Longer answer: found here) Save your money and do these immune boosting things instead:

Get Vaccinated. 

Vaccines are the best way to “boost” your immune system. They provide a cheat sheet for your acquired immune system – the immune system you build via colds and viruses you’ve had and built antibodies for, and those for which you’ve had vaccinations. Your acquired immune system produces the antibodies that attack and destroy invading germs.

This season’s most common strain of flu is a mutated variety of H3N2. Unfortunately, it was not a strain included in this season’s flu vaccine. Remember, there are a lot of different flu strains and the vaccine can’t contain every one. But don’t let t his deter you from getting a flu vaccine in the future! You still get protection from the other common strains included in the vaccine.

Go to Bed. 

Sleep is vitally important. Without the shut eye you need each night (about 7 to 9 hours for adults) your body struggles. We’re not yet sure exactly why, but we do know that running on fumes lowers the effectiveness of our immune system. It gets dark early this time of year. Take advantage of the darkness, pile up the blankets on your bed and get plenty of rest. Your immune system will thank you.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables. 

Products like Emergen-C promise to load your system with vitamin C and keep you healthy. but the 1000 milligram dose is impossible for your body to absorb. You’ll keep less than a tenth of that in your system and the rest will be flushed out quickly. You’re better off loading up on vitamins through healthier dinners. Skip sugar while you’re at it. (You probably overindulged last month, anyway.) Ingesting too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. After drinking a couple sodas, the effect lasts for a few hours.

Exercise. 

Exercise is medicine. But it’s medicine many of us avoid like we once did acrid tasting cough syrup as kids. Regular, moderate exercise, such as a brief walk around the park, helps your immune system. It also helps you sleep, which helps your immune system even more. Bundle up and get outside or to the gym. You’ll be glad you did.

If you do get the flu, stay home. Limit your contact with others, especially young children and people over 65. And while you’re stuck in the house, you can try these home remedies for a little relief.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are your 2015 resolutions simple, slow, and satisfying?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Welcome to 2015, everyone! The optimism of a New Year and new beginnings cheers us through the cold month of January. Resolutions are made (and abandoned) this month. Gym memberships most of us don’t use surge as we promise ourselves to spend the next year more fit than before.

Want to get healthy in 2015? Make a fitness resolution that will stick. And the best health resolution is…

Simple, slow and satisfying.

I know that sounds like a slogan from a whiskey commercial. But let’s tease it out.

Simple

“I will go to the gym before work every day” is not a good resolution. Sure, it’s an okay goal to have. But if you aren’t already in the habit of hitting the gym regularly, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Shoot for simple, realistic goals. “I will go for walks around the park twice a week” is doable. Take the dog, take your husband, take a friend. Maybe your walking companion will become someone you start going to the gym with.

Slow

Expansive resolutions fail by February. “I will lose 20 pounds by spring” is a hefty goal.

Before I discuss “slow” resolutions, let me address weight-based resolutions. Weight fluctuates daily; it’s not a great indicator of health. You might start a workout regimen and gain weight if you put on muscle. If your focus is always on the scale, you’ll miss the awesome milestone of increased strength while you fret over a number.

Focus on wellness over weight. If hopping on the scale every day makes you feel better and keeps you motivated, do it. But if the number gets you down, ignore it. Work on wellness: measure your accomplishments in a faster mile, increased reps or lifting capacity, a lower heart rate or simply feeling better.

Go slow. Turn “I will lose 20 pounds by spring” into “I will be able to do 10/25/30 pushups in a row by the end of the month.” Set small goals and give yourself ample time to achieve them.

You’re more likely to have lasting success if you take on the challenges bit by bit.

Satisfying

“I will cut out all bread and sugar from my diet” is a negative resolution. We’re more likely to keep positive resolutions where we add something good to our lives than we are to keep negative ones where we deny ourselves something. (You can read more about the psychology of this phenomenon here.)

On another level, will you be satisfied by cutting all the sugar out of your diet? Be honest. The answer is no. You’re setting yourself up for failure! If you’ve got a sweet tooth in need of shrinking, try this instead: “I will have fruit for dessert on weeknights,” or “I will keep whole grain breakfast options, like rolled oats, in my pantry.”

If any of your resolutions fill you with dread, ditch them. Instead, fill 2015 with positive goals! Make resolutions that are good for you and enjoyable.

Happy New Year, everyone!

How to Make Realistic Resolutions

How to Create a Healthy Habit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Do You Avoid Christmas Stress? Choices You Can Make To Reduce Holiday Rabies

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Christmas is upon us. It’s a joyful season, but it’s also a stressful holiday. There are multiple parties and family gatherings, food to be cooked, dishes to get done, kids to get out the door, elderly relatives to look after… Christmas can be hectic. Starting to feel Christmas stress creep in?  Here are five choices you can make to reduce stress during the holidays.

Practice Healthy Habits

This might sound impossible in the moment. It’s not! The more healthy habits you choose to keep up during the holidays, the better the holidays will be. Feeling run down only adds to stress. During Christmas festivities, try not to overdo it on sweets. Roller-coaster blood sugar leads to stress and meltdowns. Pack yourself (and your children) a simple, one or two-ingredient snack with fruit, nuts, or veggies.

Keep up physical activity. You have time – really – to take 20 minutes and go for a walk. Do jumping jacks and push ups in the basement before your morning shower. Get your blood flowing and you’ll feel better all day.

Finally, get your rest. You need sleep. If you stay up late the night before, well, it’s the holidays. If you’re lucky enough to have some days off, sleep in a bit, or grab a nap.

Say No

How much, really, can you do in a day? What can your family do? The more people you add to the equation, the more you need to adjust your expectations. Little ones are tough to wrangle and can really only handle one or two events in a day. Teenagers might be worse. Sometimes, for the sake of sanity, we have to say no.

Try not to overextend yourself or your family by saying yes to too many events. If you can’t contribute more than one dish to a meal, say so. (Saying no earlier is better!) If your toddler gets sick, stay home or send your wife and older child to the party on their own. Say no when you need to, and you can help stop the spread of holiday rabies. You’ll also be teaching your children that it is okay to sit out some events as opposed to rushing around, packing in too much, and getting irritable and sick in all the doing.

Be Realistic

There’s the ideal, idyllic Christmas we see in ads and cheesy movies.  And then there’s our family. We have the family we have. It’s okay that you have an aunt who overdoes it every year on Christmas Eve and tells the same stories. Acceptance and gratitude create more acceptance and gratitude, and reduce “expectation stress.” It’s been said that expectations are resentments in the making. If you can temper your expectations, your holiday will definitely be merrier.

To temper expectations, don’t compare yourself to the ideal on TV or curated Facebook pages. No one gets a perfect Christmas. So if you’re struggling, at least remember you’re not alone.

At the end of the day, Christmas is meant to be a holiday where those who celebrate it give thanks. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed, take a breather. Take 15 minutes all to yourself – read a book or flip through a magazine. Do whatever calms you.

Or maybe just step out into the cold air and stargaze in the quiet night. Count your blessings;

your blood pressure may well go down in equal measure.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to get back in shape after the holidays? Keep the focus on wellness.

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

It’s no secret that the holidays are rough on our waistlines and our health. By all means, eat, drink and be merry this December! But once the new year starts, it’s time to rededicate ourselves to health. After taking a holiday break, what’s the best way to get back into shape?

Find a Diet That Works For You

There are literally thousands of diet plans. They come in the form of books, videos, pay-by-the-week webinars, meals delivered to your home… You’ve likely tried at least three diet fixes. Trendy diets, like cleanses, are appealing because they promise a quick fix. But most trend diets are, in practice, worthless.

Make your own “diet”. You can’t go wrong if you focus on these four things:

  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables than you do meat.
  • Practice moderation. Serve yourself smaller portions, but go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Remember that a treat is okay; an occasional “bad” day is okay, too.
  • Try to cook at home more often than you eat out.

Ease Into an Exercise Routine

When we panic about our health or recent lethargy, we sometimes take drastic measures. Hasty, grandiose New Year’s Resolutions feel good to write down on paper. But they’re much harder to put in practice. If (when) we can’t keep our outlandish goals, we feel let down. Sometimes we quit.

Exercise, like diet, is best done in moderation. Recommit to a realistic exercise regimen.

  • Make realistic exercise goals. “I will try to hit the gym three times a week,” is a better resolution than “I will go to gym every morning at 6am!”
  • Try something new. A dull exercise plan won’t motivate you.
  • Experiment with solo and group exercise. Some people find classes invigorating and push themselves harder. Others may revel in the alone time while exercising solo. Try both and see what works for you.
  • Keep a gym bag in the car. Being prepared means you have one less excuse when your resolve weakens.

Finally, seek wellness, not weight loss. We often give thanks for good health during the holidays. Wellness, our overall health, should be the end goal of diet and exercise.

If the sight of the scale is getting you down, stop looking at it. Don’t obsess over your weight. You weight is not the only, or the best, measure of your health.

When you go back to the gym after the holidays, measure your progress in meaningful ways. Track your progress. Can you lift more weight? Can you complete more sets than before? Are you swimming or running faster? Are you more flexible than you were a month ago? Do you feel better?

Work towards wellness, always.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment