Archive for November, 2010

The Best Medicine

Laughter.

That’s it.

This morning I stumbled across this blog called Hyperbole and a Half. Oh. My. Gosh. I read –> this post <– and laughed until I cried. And now I feel fabulous.

For the sake of your health: Go. Read. Laugh. Cry. Thank me.

You’re welcome.

πŸ™‚

Have a happy Friday, friends!

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Oh (cold) Snap!

**cough**

**sneeze**

**sniffle**

No doubt you’ve been hearing those gloriously disgusting sounds in your classes/jobs/homes the last few weeks.

It’s that time of year when colds are running rampant. And it’s that time of year when we all start reaching for the tissues, the hand sanitizer, and the home remedies we learned from our mothers that have been passed down through the generations.

Throughout the cold season I’ll be sharing some of my family’s traditions for home cold care, some of my own go-to remedies, and a little background as to why they work.

#1. Herbal Tea – this is absolutely the first thing I reach for at the slightest signs of a cold (runny nose, headache, scratchy/itchy throat, chills). When I was a kid I got sick a lot and my mom would always make me loads and loads of hot, soothing tea. Now, whenever I feel something coming on, I guzzle mugs and mugs of steamy herbal tea.

Why I like it: It warms me up from the inside out and since I use honey to sweeten my tea it also coats and soothes my throat. There are many great options out there but my very favorite tea is Celestial Seasonings’ Echinacea Complete Care. The hint of cooling eucalyptus and mint are super comforting and relieve any annoying throat scratchiness. Plus, there are many supposed benefits of echinacea.

Why it works:

Drinking warm fluids when you are feeling ill increases your body temperature ever so slightly.Β  This increase in temperature encourages your body to cool itself down. It does this through sweating which can help rid the body of toxins. An added benefit of drinking hot fluids is that vapor from the steamy tea helps break up mucous and aids in decongestion.

Drinking decaffeinated tea increases your fluid intake which flushes toxins out of organs and aids in digestion (absorption of nutrients). Drinking enough fluids provides a moist environment in your throat, nose and ears, and also helps to balance sodium levels in the body. Dehydration can contribute to a feeling of low energy and tiredness, so hydrating properly will promote energy when you feel ill by allowing your body to function properly and carry out normal functions.

Many cultures have long believed in the mysterious power of herbs to cure many ailments. Echinacea, derived from the purple cone flower, has been believed to stimulate the immune system and enhance the body’s defenses, specifically to decrease the duration and intensity of the common cold. There is conflicting evidence as to whether or not it is actually effective. A study published in The Lancet: Infectious Diseases found that echinacea cuts the chances of catching a cold by 58%. This directly contrasts studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and New England Journal of Medicine disputing any benefits of echinacea. So while the documented evidence is inconclusive, many people swear that echinacea benefits them and helps them fight colds. I’ll let you decide. Do note that if you have asthma or any allergies to ragweed or other flowers in the daisy family you may have similar reactions to echinacea.

So put on the kettle, brew some tea, and drink up!

Cheers to you and your health!

**Note** I am not your doc. All material on this blog is provided for your information only and is not to be taken as medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken solely on the content of this blog. Please consult appropriate health professionals with any questions related to your health and well-being.

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Balancing Act

Life is all about balance, right? At least that’s what I enjoy saying. But how good am I at actually balancing? Literally, not so well. Figuratively, even worse.

As part of my 30 x 5 challenge, I’ve begun practicing yoga. After only a few sessions, I’ve already fallen in love. Yoga is weird. I always thought so, and I still do after trying it. It’s a bunch of crazy looking poses, some of which are ridiculously hard to achieve. But (there’s always a ‘but’!), through all those oddly-named poses, those sometimes annoyingly slow transitions, those instructors that keep telling me to ‘focus on my breath’, I find peace.

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It’s a practice that makes you slow down, forces you to still your mind. I (and probably 99% of America) can attest to the fact that I suck at slowing down and resting my heart and mind. As an anxious person I’m always thinking, often tense, easily stressed, and overly analytical. Practicing yoga makes me set that aside for a moment and breathe. Thinking of nothing but my breath and the pose and what I’m feeling. And it’s in that stillness where I can feel free.

Free to think (or not), meditate, and pray. It’s so hard for me to slow my mind down that I rarely feel in the mood to pray. Practicing yoga leaves me feeling still enough to draw close to God. Like that story about Elijah in the Old Testament, I find God is not in my hectic, crazy moments of life, but in the still ones. In a culture of busy-ness, I rarely take the time to find still moments. Incorporating yoga into my fitness regimen is helping me find more of those moments for which I’m so grateful.

If you’re wondering about my 30 x 5 progress, here’s the breakdown:

10/6 – 30 minute jog
10/7 – rest day!
10/8 – 40 minutes of yoga
10/9 – 70 minutes yoga workout
10/10 – 80 minute yoga
10/11 – rest day!
10/12 – Does walking around the mall with my mom count? Hope so! I’m not going to beat myself up for missing this day, I’m just going to borrow some minutes from the 10th to apply to this day. πŸ™‚
10/13 – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga session
10/14 – Two hour hike through the state park with Kris

Namaste, my friends!

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See Mel Budget

I wrote recently on the importance of financial fitness. The more I focus on my health in keeping up with the 30 x 5 challenge, I’m reminded of my goal to stay financially fit. I’ve done a lot of reading and searched a lot of blogs trying to find an easy way for me to budget and actually keep up with my finances. As with all things, I believe firmly in finding what works for you and sticking with it. I ended up looking at a lot of templates and ideas and making my own Excel spreadsheet to see all J’s and my income and expenses, mapped out. You can take a look at my basic template here: BudgetExample, inspired by resources on Budgets are $exy. I have columns for what is budgeted, what we actually spend, and the difference.

To keep track of the actual expenditures and incomes I chose to stick with the Intuit program Quicken, which I’ve used in the past. It’s pretty easy to use and is probably the best financial software there is. For the basic “Deluxe” edition, it’s an initial investment of $59.99 but if I stick with it I should get that and more back in the long run.


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With the new versions of Quicken you can actually download expenses offline from your bank and credit card accounts which is AMAZING and saves loads of time. All I have to do is make a few adjustments and I can view any number of charts and reports about my spending. I can even input my budget info into Quicken and it will show me a chart of how close we’re staying to the budget and how much we’re saving. Nice! It takes some time, but there are several things I want to save for in the future and sticking with a budget is the only way to do that. I find that no matter how much money one makes it’s easy to spend it all if you’re not careful. The only way to avoid that is to make a plan, chart it out, and do it.

Happy budgeting my friends!

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So far, so good!

6 days into November and my 30 x 5 challenge is still going strong! Is it easy? No. Do I always like it? Heck no! But does it make me feel fab and happy that I’m taking care of my body. YES! Here’s the breakdown of my workouts so far

Nov 1 – 30 min jog
Nov 2 – insane 1 hr 15 min spinning class
Nov 3 – 30 min walk (still sore from the spinning class!)
Nov 4 – rest day
Nov 5 – 40 min run/walk
Nov 6 – I haven’t gone yet today but plan on going for a run in honor of my pal Krista who’s running her first marathon in Indiana today!

Whew! With the weather cooling off and the crazy wind we’ve had lately, I’ve had about zero motivation to get outside and run like usual. I’m going to have to come up with some new winter workout plans because – let’s face it – I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather.

What motivates you to keep exercising when it gets cold?

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I joined a book club and we’re currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Talk about a page turner – I can’t put the dang thing down! It is an expertly crafted mystery that keeps taking twists and turns I never would have expected. It’s dark, gripping, and suspenseful. It also distracts me from the reading I should be doing for school. Like this “light reading” number I picked up to help me write my final paper for my aging class:

Actually, I find the latter book just as fascinating but I’m not going to say it keeps me up till one in the morning flipping pages.

Anyway, that’s all I got for today folks. Here’s hoping everyone has a great weekend and that the LSU tigers can whoop up on Alabama today. πŸ™‚

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30 x 5 =

Healthy!

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So it’s that time of month again … goal-setting time! As I sat down today to write out what I want to do and accomplish in November I couldn’t stop thinking about the assignment I did for my Aging class yesterday. I had to map out a Health Promotion plan for myself and also evaluate a journal article regarding a health item that needs to be promoted with the older adult population – I chose exercise. I reviewed an article from The Journals of Gerontology that studied older master athletes (65+). It was discovered that older athletes who engaged in chronic (consistent) exercise, specifically resistance training, had significantly better muscle mass, strength, and contraction characteristics, as well as increased maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) in comparison to their sedentary peers. They also found that the older master athletes had better muscle condition young sedentary individuals.

What?!

Some female 70-year-old weight lifter might have better muscle condition than me?

I gotta do something about that! The only way for any adult to maintain proper nutrition and good health is to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. It sounds like a lot but it is completely achievable. If I have time to watch a show on TV, I have time to exercise. And really, what is thirty minutes if it means greater longevity and well-being? I can come up with every excuse in the book, but I would be doing myself a huge disservice. It’s time to get movin’ y’all!

So I’m declaring the month of November the 30 x 5 Movement Challenge. I will do at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. I’ve discovered one of the best ways to make sure I do something is to tell people I’m going to do it because then I’m accountable and if I don’t do it I’ll feel like an idiot. So here I am, telling you I’m going to attack the 30 x 5 challenge this month.

If taking care of my body wasn’t a good enough reason to get movin’, I feel as a nursing student I ought to be setting an example for living healthfully so I can encourage others to do the same. So wish me luck and join me in the challenge if you like! Today I went on a lovely 30 minute jog and I’m excited for the rest of the month!

β€œThe inclusion of regular physical activity into our daily lives is the greatest weapon that we have against the onset of age-related disease and disability.” —Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

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