The Good Side of Fat in Our Diet

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

In the age of health foods, “reduced fat” snacks and diets that purport to cut fat out of your diet and off your waistline, we forget that fat isn’t all that bad. Though much derided, we require a certain amount of fat — in our diets and in our bodies — to survive.

Put aside thoughts of P90X and societal pressure to eliminate fat and take a moment to appreciate what body fat does for you every day. Body fat is essential for regulating body temperature. Fat is your body’s insulation, reducing heat loss. This benefit may seem inconvenient in the heat of a southern summer, but come winter you’ll be appropriately grateful.

Fat acts as a cushion, both for the bottom you’re likely sitting on at the moment and for your internal organs. Fat surrounding our internal organs acts as a shock absorber when we fall or are injured. Brain tissue is rich in fat. Nerves are sheathed in a fatty material, without which they would not function. Each and every cell relies on the fat that helps compose the cell membranes that holds them together.

Dietary fat has become so demonized in recent years that some shy away even from avocados — a fruit full of fat and entirely beneficial. Fat is an essential nutrient, which is why we require a supply of dietary fat to survive. Fat, along with protein and carbohydrate, is a source of energy. We need fat to absorb essential vitamins A, D, E and K and require fat to produce hormones. I don’t want to expound too much, but let the takeaway be that out and out disdain for fat is foolish.

Too much of a good thing is rarely wise, however, and fat is widely available in the modern American diet. Fat makes food taste good and purveyors of processed foods use it to their advantage. You might remember several years ago when “trans fat” became a nutrition buzzword. Trans fat occurs naturally in some foods in small quantities. Now, though, the majority of trans fat found in our diet is artificially created through the partial hydrogenation of oils. Trans fat can increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol.

The other fat to avoid is saturated fat. Saturated fat occurs in animal products. Red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy are all sources of the bad cholesterol-increasing fat. Most Americans over consume meat on a daily basis, which in turn leads to an excess amount of fat in our diets.

We still need fat; we just need to consume it in moderate amounts and get it from healthy sources. The next time you start to crave a fatty meal, seek out fat in the form of monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat or omega-3 fatty acids. Foods that contain these types of good fats include avocado, nuts, olive oil, safflower oil, natural peanut butter, salmon and tuna. I’ve included a list of resources about fat below. Eat in moderation and eat well, everyone!

Why Your Body Needs Some Fat to be Healthy

Why You Need Fats

Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose

6 High-Fat Foods That Are Good For You

Monounsaturated Fats

 

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When It Comes to Sugar Consumption, Moderation is Key

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Children cherish Halloween and birthdays, two opportunities for unapologetic, borderline frantic, gorging on sweets. Adults aren’t immune – there’s a reason an offering of donuts at the office often proves too tempting to resist. Put the blame on our hunter-gatherer ancestors, if you like. We evolved to crave sugar and the energy it provides back when the sweet substance was hard to come by. Today, sugar is cheap, plentiful and present in a growing number of unexpected foods. For modern humans, fighting our neolithic tendencies is an increasingly difficult challengeSugar is a basic (and effective) form of energy in food. Excessive sugar is poisonous to us, so our bodies have adapted to quickly turn sugar in our bloodstream to fat. The sugar, converted into fat, was stored and used to sustain us when times got lean. It wasn’t until very recently that sugar went from a rare, hard-to-come-by treat to its current excessively available status.

We still crave sugar, but it’s not all bad. The natural sugar in fruit accompanies healthy fiber and necessary vitamins, making peaches a treat that’s truly good for you. (Peaches in their natural state, that is. A peach pie, though delicious, won’t benefit you the same way!) The sugar that truly trips up modern humans resides in processed “convenience” foods. Sugar is used to mask unappealing flavors created by the very processing that contributes to the long shelf life of food. Sugar is used to tantalize tastebuds into one (or four, or eight) more bites or sips. Sugar lurks in unexpected places, like yogurt. The next time you go grocery shopping, keep a sharp eye on the nutrition facts – there’s more sugar, in more foods, than we realize.

As the catalogue of articles on this site grows larger, the theme that pervades them is moderation. Don’t spend all day on a treadmill, but don’t spend the majority of the day at rest. You don’t have to become a vegan, but it’s not good to consume a large serving of animal protein every day. I hate to sound like a broken record, but moderation is central to good health. Attempting to cut out sugar entirely is a fool’s errand. No one looks forward to celebrating their next birthday with a vegetable loaf!

To practice moderation in sugar consumption, give some of the following guidelines a try.

  • Don’t keep ready-to-eat sweets or sugary processed snacks in your pantry. As I’ve said before, the place to practice resisting temptation is the grocery store. Cookies, sodas, crackers and chips are better left on store shelves. When you’re tired, stressed or just plain hungry, the quick walk to your pantry will prove too tempting.
  • Quit drinking soda. Oh, the sensation of drinking a cold Coca-Cola out of a glass bottle on a hot summer day. It’s a delicious memory, but it should be a rare occurrence! Sodas are full of high fructose corn syrup, sodium, calories and carbs that your body doesn’t need. Regular soda drinkers will be pleased to note that cutting out the soda habit saves you money and will almost always lead to a need for smaller trousers.
  • Don’t cut out treats entirely, but do learn how to make your own using healthy, whole ingredients – and go heavy on the fruit! Warm fruit compote, easily made with fresh fruit in a pot on the stovetop, is an incredible sweet addition to breakfast. Serve it warm with a bowl of oatmeal or keep it cold to enjoy with yogurt. After dinner, cut thick slices of banana and lay them in the skillet with a little butter until they’re brown. That’s the natural sugar caramelizing. Drizzle the slices with a bit of honey or agave nectar and you have a dessert you won’t forget for a long time.
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Limit Screen Time, Encourage Exercise for Healthier Kids

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Students count down the days until summer vacation. Weeks of freedom await them with nary a pop quiz, project or homework assignment. Ideally, students from kindergarten to high school use their summers productively, taking time to strengthen friendships, pick up a hobby, go outside, get a job, exercise or read for pleasure. Realistically, the temptation to go to bed late, sleep late, stay indoors and watch TV or play video games is often too great.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that less than half of all children aged 12 to 15 are aerobically fit. Across race and class lines, children aren’t in good cardiorespiratory shape. Half of boys in the age group meet adequate levels, but only 34 percent of girls were at adequate levels of cardiovascular health. Like adults, children need regular exercise. Ideally, children should spend an hour every day running, jumping and playing (without a screen.)

Children who get regular exercise feel less stressed, do better in school, build healthy bones, muscles and joints and sleep better at night. During the school year in Georgia, physical education classes are mandated. Every student gets the recommended minimum amount of physical activity each week. Students involved in afterschool programs such as soccer, baseball or cross-country far exceed the minimum and reap the benefits.

During summer vacation, physical activity takes a backseat to easy leisure pursuits. What is a walk under the trees compared to the temptations of yet another Angry Bird game for the iPad? Though technology benefits society in many ways, screens are often a scourge. The inclination to forsake the outdoors for the glow of an LED screen the size of a book you should be reading instead is too great even for many adults. For children and teens, the fast-paced, intricate games and TV shows too often win out over the chance to take a walk and listen to the sounds in the trees.

This summer, help kids get the activity they need by fostering a love for the outdoors and outdoor activity. Set a good example for children by staying active and limiting your own screen time. When friends come around, pack a picnic and take a walk around the park. Issue a moratorium on screen time and send kids packing to the yard with a soccer ball. Sign young children up for swim classes and older kids up for swim team. Encourage older children to join sports teams and find fun, non-sedentary activities to do with friends. Most importantly, limit the amount of time you and your family spend in front of a screen. When the tablet, smartphone, television and video games are off, a world of possibilities opens up.

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Recognize and Prevent Heat-Related Conditions

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Spring-cleaning has nothing on summer labor. The yard needs attention, the attic needs to be cleaned out (so does the basement), a community garden needs volunteers and why not add a run around the block in the heat of the afternoon to round out your to-do list?

Warm weather is beckoning us outdoors, but we need to prepare our bodies before giving the summer everything we’ve got. This week, I’m covering the causes, signs and symptoms of heatstroke and other heat related conditions.

Even when we exert ourselves in the comfort of an air-conditioned gym, our body temperature rises. To do the work we ask of them, our muscles burn fat and carbohydrates. The chemical reactions converting the fuel of fat and carbs to energy create heat. The muscles warm first and then the blood circulating through them , producing the rise in core temperature.

The slight rise in temperature that makes us break a sweat tells us that our body is hard at work. But when we exert ourselves in the heat and humidity of summer or simply expose ourselves to high temperatures for too long, we run the risk of heatstroke.

When body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re having a heatstroke. Children and adults over 65 share an increased risk of heatstroke. Both groups adjust more slowly to high temperatures outside.

Children are loath to take breaks to cool off when they’re having fun, but produce more heat and less sweat during activity than adults do. People over 65 are more likely to be on prescription drugs or have a chronic health condition that affects how their bodies respond to heat. Health conditions, such as heart and lung disease, being overweight or lacking physical fitness also increase your risk of heatstroke.

Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are the first conditions you may suffercan often treat at home. Heat cramps usually occur in the stomach, arms or legs. They’re accompanied by excess sweating, fatigue and thirst. If you’ve ever been on a strenuous run on asphalt on a hot afternoon, you probably remember feeling this way. (Heat cramps are also caused by exposure to high temperatures.) If you’re experiencing heat cramps, find a shady cool spot or head to an air-conditioned area, drink water and a drink with electrolytes, such as Gatorade, and rest until you feel recovered.

If you don’t treat heat cramps, you will progress to heat exhaustion. All the symptoms of heat cramps will persist and be joined by nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness as well as a headache. Heat exhaustion can often be cured with the same treatments used for heat cramps, though the addition of a cool shower may be in order. If symptoms continue, seek medical attention.

Heatstroke is the most severe heat-induced condition and requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms include a 104-degree body temperature, all the symptoms listed above for heat cramps and heat exhaustion, as well as rapid breathing, a racing pulse, flushed skin, vomiting, irritability, confusion, unconsciousness, and a lack of sweating. (Skin may be moist when heatstroke is brought on by physical activity.)

If you notice these symptoms in a friend or loved one, call 911 and take action to cool down the afflicted person. Put them in a cold bath and turn on a fan if you have access. If you’re outside, move them to a shady area and soak them with cool water from a garden hose. Remove extra clothing. If there’s low humidity, wrap them in a wet, cold sheet and fan them. Monitor their body temperature until help arrives.

You can avoid heatstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion by taking these precautions.

• Drink water! Stay hydrated so your body is better equipped to handle heat.

• Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.

Condition yourself by easing into regular activity in hot weather, and scale back activity during the hottest part of the day.

• Take a break in the shade with a glass of water or Gatorade when you start to feel fatigued or thirsty.

Our bodies are as resilient as they are fragile. We can run a marathon or complete a triathlon — two sporting odysseys — yet a few degrees difference in body temperature can make us terribly ill. Summer can be a glorious break from our normal routine warm weather often encourages us to be more active. This summer, remember to enjoy the season safely!

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Why We Love Junk Food and How to Kick the Habit

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

A trip to the grocery store can be a weekly challenge. The produce is clustered together in one corner; the meat and dairy line the perimeter of the store. These are the areas we should shop in, but we’re pulled into aisles filled with frozen meals, brightly colored cereal boxes, snacks, chips, crackers and candy. So-called “junk food” advertises a siren song of “convenience,” “reduced fat,” “diet” or “on the go.” In reality, the majority of the neatly arranged, smartly packaged food in the aisles is processed nonsense full of sugar, salt and fat.

The most dedicated “clean eaters” sometimes leave the store with a few servings of junk. Even those of us who can recite facts about the poor nutrition and empty calories in a bag of Doritos still take a handful when we see a bowl filled with dusty orange triangles at a party.

Junk food truly is junk, but it’s hard to resist. It’s hard to resist for a reason: the amount of engineering, science and research that go into the sour cream and onion Pringles you see on the grocery store shelf is astounding. Below are a few principles that make your brain crave what you know (rationally) is bad for you.

  • Dynamic Contrast. Bite into an Oreo. The first sensation is the crunch of the cookie, followed by the smoothness of the cream filling. Pairing dissimilar sensations in one bite sets your brain alight! The sensation is novel and enjoyable – though you may regret it later.
  • Calorie Density. Think about the big bowl of Doritos I described earlier. It’s sitting on the coffee table at a friend’s home while you watch football with friends. You start with a handful, and then take another and another until you eat half the bowl. The Doritos in that bowl contain enough calories to make your brain decide they’ll give us some energy, but not enough to signal that you’re full, so you kept eating. You probably know that was too much, but you won’t feel sated until after halftime.
  • Rapid Food Meltdown and Vanishing Caloric Density. How quickly does a thin Lay’s potato chip disappear after you put it in your mouth? The salty yellow chip is gone in seconds. This rapid food meltdown signals to your brain that you’re not eating as much as you are, which is why a whole bag is so easy to consume quickly. When food melts down like this, your brain thinks there are no calories in it. This leads to overeating.

More of the tricky (but fascinating) science is described in this Lifehacker article. It’s a great article; please read on!

We all have our favorite kind of junk, be it soft drinks, M&Ms, potato chips or packaged “fruit” snacks. Are you ready to kick your habit?

  • Don’t keep junk food in your home. When a box of Capri Sun sits in your pantry, you’re tempted to drink it. That box will be gone within a week or two. Skip the aisles at the grocery store that are dedicated to junk. Let your weekly trip to the grocery be the only time you have to resist temptation.
  • Throw away the junk food in your pantry and fridge. Don’t finish it, just let it go! Start clean so you can end clean. Think of it this way: the industry that created that food knows you’re on their hook. They would hate for you to leave them and find a new supplier in the produce aisle. Tell them to shove it!
  • Plan a week of meals and snacks ahead of time. Go to the store with laser focus. Stick to the produce section and the perimeter of the store. Try to use whole ingredients – if there are a litany of unpronounceable words on the side of the box, skip it. A great resource for “whole” recipes is the excellent blog, 100 Days of Real Food. The blog includes information about what “real” food is and ways to incorporate it into your life.
  • Don’t deny yourself everything. Sugar, even the raw, organic variety, is addictive. We humans have been trying to get our hands on it since the Paleolithic era. It is okay to treat yourself; just do it with whole ingredients (and in limited quantities.) This recipe for brownies is one of the very best on the web. It’s simple to throw together and enjoy on a weekend or after a trying Monday.

Changing the junk food habit may be difficult at first, but soon you’ll find you are rarely tempted by those brightly colored packages. And when you go to parties, station yourself away from the chip bowl!

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Effort of Nurses in Wartime Worthy of Recognition Too

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Nurses are vital to any war effort, yet their service is often overlooked or only briefly mentioned in historical texts and media. The nurses and doctors who travel with soldiers, giving aid along the front lines and sometimes giving “the last full measure” during their service, deserve our consideration. Today, I’m continuing my series about nurses who served during times of war. This week, I’m writing about the thousands of army and navy nurses who saved lives during World War II.

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army Nurse Corps had fewer than 1,000 nurses. By the end of WWII, more than 59,000 nurses had served under the Army Nurse Corps. Fourteen thousand nurses served in the Navy Nurse Corps at home and abroad. Women – the only gender allowed to nurse during WWII – volunteered to nurse throughout the war but shortages were constant. The government recruited heavily and even passed a nurse draft bill in the House before the war was over. The draft bill stalled in the Senate and then was made unnecessary by German surrender in 1945.

In both the European and Pacific theaters of WWII, nurses served on the front lines. Nurses worked under enemy fire – 16 nurses were killed by hostile fire. In the Philippines, 67 nurses were taken as prisoners of war. Nurses were sent wherever they were needed. They traveled everywhere, often with just half an hour notice. They went without sleep for days and performed marathon surgeries on soldiers in need.

African-American women also served their country as nurses during World War II. They were reluctantly allowed into the Army Nurse Corps. Of the 59,000 women who served during the war, only a little more than 500 African-American nurses were allowed to serve. In the Navy Nurse Corps, only five African-American women were allowed to serve.

Considering the shortages that plagued the war effort, this stonewalling of qualified African-American nurses seems all the more foolish in retrospect. The military worried that African-American women caring for white soldiers was too large a breach of social norms. The African-American women that were able to serve fought to do so. This desire to serve is commendable, especially given the segregation and discrimination faced at home. To learn more about African-American nurses during WWII, please click this link.

The nurses who cared for the wounded and dying never forgot their experiences. Their stories are touching and poignant. My article can’t do them justice, so I’ve included links to stories told in their own words about the men they saved, the ones they lost, and the ones they strove to comfort in a time of great pain.

WWII Army Nurse to Celebrate 100th Birthday

They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of World War II

American Experience: Nurse’s Tales

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Nursing Forces in WWI Faced Harsh Conditions

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

World War I earned the moniker the “Great War” for good reason. The First World War ranks among the deadliest conflicts in recorded history. The total number of casualties, both military and civilian, was around 37 million. Sixteen million people died and 20 million were wounded. The majority of deaths were caused by combat, not disease, though Spanish flu caused a significant number of deaths for every participating military force. Many soldiers and civilians required care. American nurses played a vital role in WWI, serving our own soldiers and our allies throughout the conflict.

Although nurses had proven themselves indispensable (especially for the Union) in the Civil War, a reserve corps of army nurses wasn’t established until the Spanish-American War proved how necessary such a reserve was. The Surgeon General established criteria for the reserve nurses and in 1901 the Nurse Corps became a permanent part of the Army.

At the outset of WWI, around 400 nurses were on active duty. By the end of the war, the corps had more than 21,000 nurses, 10,000 of whom served overseas. The nurse corps was exclusively female and comprised of volunteers. One thing to keep in mind is that these nurses proudly served their country at a time when they were not allowed to vote.

During WWI, nurses worked in evacuation hospitals in Europe, on bases, transport ships, hospital trains and in mobile surgical hospitals in America. American nurses arrived in Europe before American troops did. The first nurses set sail in April 1917 and established six base hospitals in partnership with the British Expeditionary Forces.

These nurses worked long hours under harsh conditions. There was little respite from cold weather and water shortages meant bathing and laundered clothes were rare. There was little privacy and little time off. Nurses treated shrapnel wounds, bullet wounds, infections, mustard gas burns, exposure, medical trauma and the newly recognized “shell shock.”

“Shell shock” was initially thought to be caused by the powerful mortar shells exploding around soldiers. The force was thought to shock a soldier’s brain, shaking it in his skull. Doctors began to notice that symptoms of shell shock were appearing in soldiers that had been nowhere near the bombing. These included trembling hands, lost memory, confusion and trouble sleeping were symptoms of neurasthenia, or weakness of the nerves.

The numerous treatments used to care for shell-shocked soldiers can’t be aptly described in this column. The history of WWI’s defining injury is fascinating and heartbreaking. A thorough and compelling article by Caroline Alexander in the Smithsonian Magazine is well worth the read.

Though thousands of nurses served in the dangerous theater of war, there were relatively few casualties, most of which were caused by the Spanish flu. Around 200 nurses died while serving. Many were recognized for their dedicated service by both the United States and our allies. Three nurses were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Established by President Woodrow Wilson, the DSC is second only to the Medal of Honor. Three nurses were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, given to those who provide exceptional meritorious service.

Lessons learned during WWI set the stage for nurses during the next great conflict. Come back next week to learn about the service of nurses in World War II!

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The Treatment of Chronic Pain

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

From a stubbed toe, to a sprained knee or back pain after overdoing it in the yard, many of us experience some kind of pain every day. Some pain, like a stubbed toe, is easily described (perhaps with a shouted four-letter word) and generally goes away on its own. Acute pain usually has a physical cause, like injury, disease, or surgery, and is resolved once you’ve treated the cause and healed. Most of us keep over-the-counter painkillers, like Tylenol and ibuprofen, in our medicine cabinet to deal with everyday pain.

Chronic pain is persistent, continuing for at least three months, and some people live with it for years. An estimated 76 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain may be the result of an initial injury, like a back sprain or a surgery, but there isn’t always a clear cause. Living with chronic pain is challenging, as the condition is often incurable. Management is possible and best accomplished by working in partnership with your physician.

One of the most common tools to treat pain is to prescribe painkillers. When used as recommended, prescription painkillers safely and effectively ease our hurts. In recent years, however, the dangers of prescription painkillers have become clear. In 2010, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed to medicate every American adult all day, every day, for an entire month. That same year, one in twelve people from age 12 used those same painkillers for non-medical use, many using the drugs recreationally.

The high produced by opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone and oxymorphone is strikingly similar to the high produced by heroin. Unfortunately, opioid drugs and heroin are also similarly addictive. In 2008, and in each year thereafter, more than 15,000 people have died by overdosing on painkillers. That is the loss of more than 90,000 people — roughly the population of Roswell, GA — in just six years.

Prescription painkillers are often an essential part of treating chronic pain. Anyone using opioids should be carefully monitored, although very few people who are prescribed opioids and use them as directed become addicted. Long-term users may become physically dependent on the drugs (this is not the same as an addiction disorder.)

If you are prescribed opioid painkillers, keep them safely stored and make sure that you are the only person with access to them. You can learn more about opioids on the NIH website.

Alternatives to prescription drugs can be used to successfully manage chronic pain. For some of us, the idea that acupuncture or meditation can ease pain seems farfetched. But many non-drug interventions can and do work as pain relievers.

Acupuncture is sometimes represented in pop culture as a trendy treatment used by the “far out.” The therapy that consists of pricking the skin with needles does work, though we’re still not sure why. It won’t work for every patient, but there are no side effects if it doesn’t.

Exercise is medicine. Though going out for a walk or a swim may seem impossible when you’re not feeling great, exercise may be just what you need. Physical activity improves mood and boosts energy. Health conditions may mean that you need to avoid certain types of exercise, so always check with your doctor before getting started.

Yoga, hypnosis, massage and biofeedback can all help manage chronic pain. Each activity is useful for reducing stress. Pain is stressful, and living in a state of stress increases pain. Breaking out of the painful, stressful cycle is very helpful when working to manage chronic pain.

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Don’t Overdo It in Pursuit of a Perfect Beach Body

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

What’s a better indicator that summer is coming: the first day you have to remove your jacket outside or the magazine headlines promising “The Ultimate Beach Body Workout” inside their pages? The pressure to be fit (but more importantly, thin) ramps up when the weather warms. Winter holidays centered on family and feasting contribute an extra pound or two every year. Sweater weather is a cover for weight gain, but the summer heat forces us to leave little to the imagination. Don’t jump into a crash diet or a masochistic exercise regimen in fear of the beach! Moderation is key, even when pursuing healthy activities.

A troubling tendency of those in a hurry to get fit is to push through the pain, heeding that outdated adage, “No pain, no gain.” There’s a distinct difference in using your last ounce of resolve to sprint at the end of your race and ignoring an aching joint in your knee so you don’t miss a morning run. You know your body. It’s there with you through everything from the winter nights spent on the couch to boot camp on a summer morning. Know the difference between good pain (the kind you should push through) and bad pain (your body’s way of saying it needs attention and a break.)

After a workout, good pain is indicated when there’s a general feeling of soreness throughout your body. That’s the best kind of tired. After a cool down and a shower, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep. If you feel pain in a specific place after a workout (be it your knees, shoulder, or back) take a break. You’ve overdone it.

Did your arm muscles start to burn while you did pushups? That heat is good pain and should dissipate soon after your finish your set. You might even be ready for another ten after your break! Did your shoulder feel pinched during your pushups? Does it hurt after you’ve stopped? Don’t attempt that next set.

Have you started taking runs around Chastain Park in the morning? You should feel tired and ready for a drink of water when you’ve finished the loop. Pushing past your fatigue to finish that last mile helps you get faster and stronger. If your knees are aching or your leg muscles feel as tight as rubber bands, you went past the point of healthy and veered into foolhardy.

I mention running in this list of good pain/bad pain because runners are trained to keep going. Mental tenacity is vital for a marathon runner. They’re aren’t many people who see mile 18 come and go and can still keep the pace until the end of mile 26. The same mental tenacity that keeps runners going until to the finish line is the same mindset that sometimes keeps them from acknowledging their body’s needs.

Remember that a small problem — like symptoms indicating the beginning of shin splints — can be treated easily when you catch it early on. Little problems won’t force you onto the sidelines, but ignoring them may!

When magazines and television and advertising send messages that we’re not good enough as we are, it’s hard not to feel pressured. Maybe it is a good goal for you to get in shape. But remember, the women and men on the magazine covers have been photoshopped. Be realistic about the goals for your body. By all means, use the warm summer weather to get outside and get exercising. Just to listen to what your body tells you so you can enjoy the whole season and not just the first three weeks!

Still feeling the pressure of the “Beach Body”? I highly recommend this article on “How to Get a Perfect Beach Body.” It should help you ignore the frantic messages of perfection at any cost!

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What Happens to the Uninsured Now That The Health Insurance Marketplaces Are Closed?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

After a lot of fretting and fussing on 24-hour news channels of both political bents, the health insurance marketplaces opened, did business, and closed. More than seven million Americans purchased insurance while the marketplaces were open, despite a very rocky rollout and multiple protest campaigns. The Obama administration celebrated in public and likely breathed a sigh of relief in private. This week, I’ll cover the “death spiral” and what the uninsured will face until the marketplaces open again in November.

The “Death Spiral”

The term “death spiral” is used in several industries, from accounting to figure skating. In the insurance industry, a death spiral is responsible for the demise of a company. A death spiral is created when the pool of insured people isn’t a healthy blend of healthy and sick people. When people are sick, they use more services. Without enough healthy people paying into the system through premiums, costs rise for the insurance company. The following year, the company is forced to raise premium costs to cover the needs of the sick. When the costs rise, only the truly sick sign up. Costs continue to rise until the system falls apart.

The Obama administration focused a lot of attention on young people. Generally, they’re the healthiest and least likely to need care. What the healthy pay in premiums makes affordable care possible for us when we get sick – it’s what keeps the death spiral at bay. The administration partnered with FunnyorDie, a comedy website with lots of appeal among the young. President Obama even appeared in an episode of Between Two Ferns, a fictional talk show hosted by the painfully awkward Zach Galifianakis. The help of Galifianakis and LeBron James, who also joined in promoting the health insurance marketplaces, was credited by the administration as two of the most effective means of enrolling young people.

Still Uninsured?

If the goal is to insure everyone, some might wonder why the marketplaces close at all. If the marketplaces were available year round, there would be no incentive to buy insurance until you needed it. You’d buy insurance when you were diagnosed with cancer or broke a leg, taking from the pool of money collected through premiums without ever having paid into the system. If you want to buy insurance on the marketplace, you have to do it during the months it’s open for business. This year, there was a surge of last minute applications. (Incidentally, those were the enrollees that pushed the number of newly insured past the seven million person goal.)

The marketplaces will open again on November 15, 2014 and close on February 15, 2015. Until then, the uninsured will be responsible for all of their own health care costs and have to pay a tax penalty.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. If you lose your job and thus your current coverage, you can use the marketplace. If you get married or divorced, have a baby or adopt a child, you’re able to enroll during the marketplace’s “off season”. The full list of exceptions is available here.

Last week, I wrote about advance directives and how to put one together in Georgia. NPR’s Planet Money covered advance directives and released an informative podcast about the difference directives can make by visiting a town where almost everyone has planned for their death. The podcast is short and well worth the listen! You can listen to the story here.

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