Stepping on the scale feels pretty good when the pounds keep dropping.
For most Americans, however, the numbers start to increase within a matter of weeks or months. Disappointed and frustrated, many of us eventually move the scale to the back of a cabinet or a closet where it’s out of sight.
Losing weight – and keeping if off – is much more complicated than following any 30-day weight-loss diet you read about online or hear about from your friends.
If you’re wondering whether you need help losing weight, don’t use your scale as a guide. Weight-loss programs can help people who need to shed as little as 10 pounds and those who need to lose more than 100.
“The advantage to getting medical help is finding the right weight-loss strategy for your individual needs,” said I. Phillip Snider, DO, MS, RD, who serves as medical director at Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute. “At Bon Secours, we offer a range of weight-loss options – from learning how to change the way you eat and exercise to losing weight through a Very-Low Calorie Diet or by having bariatric surgery. Most importantly, we teach you how to keep the weight from coming back.”
It’s not easy to ask for help. Sometimes taking that first step is the hardest part. If you’re wondering whether a weight-loss program is right for you, consider the following questions:
Do you always gain back the weight you’ve lost?
Many people can lose weight. The challenge is keeping it off.
“If you’ve been able to lose weight, but it always eventually comes back, it’s time to do something different,” Snider said.
How many times have you tried to lose weight?
A good indication that you need help is to look at how many weight-loss attempts you’ve made in your life. You may have a list of all the different diets you tried from Atkins and South Beach to Paleo and Whole 30. At Bon Secours, patients work with Registered Dietitians to learn how to choose nutritious, healthy foods.
“Many people don’t know what a healthy diet should look like,” Snider said. “We can help people through education.”
Is your weight affecting your health?
Carrying excess weight can cause a multitude of health problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk for certain cancers. A good reason to participate in a weight-loss program is if your doctor has told you that you need to lose weight because it’s hurting your health.
Losing a small amount of weight – sometimes only 10 percent of your body weight — can significantly improve your health.
Is your quality of life suffering?
Are you out of breath walking to and from a parking lot?
Do you have to worry about the size of a seat belt on an airplane?
Can you sit comfortably at the movies or on a roller coaster?
Losing weight successfully can make it easier to accomplish simple tasks like running to the store. It can make traveling and recreational activities more enjoyable.
Focus on more than calories and exercise.
Perhaps the most important part of a comprehensive weight-loss program is unraveling all the factors in your life that affect your weight.
“Weight loss is a multi-dimensional issue,” Snider said. “It’s not just how much you’re eating and exercising. Being overweight is a symptom that something is going wrong in your life.”
Some people gain weight to protect themselves from stress. Other people may view weight as power; losing weight makes them feel less powerful.
Sometimes being overweight has to do with family relationships or insulating ourselves from things we can’t control.
“You have to work on those issues or you will gain your weight back,” Snider said. “Any dietary changes you make or weight loss from bariatric surgery will be temporary fixes.”
Osteoarthritis – and its aching joint pain – often keeps people from doing one of the best things proven to make them feel better: exercise.
Staying physically active helps reduce osteoarthritis pain, improves function, and can positively affect a person’s quality of life, studies show. Regular exercise also helps people sleep better, maintain a healthy body weight, and keep a positive attitude.
Roughly 27 million people over the age of 25 have osteoarthritis – a degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis mostly affects cartilage. In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks and wears away. This allows bones to rub together. It causes pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape and small deposits of bone – bone spurs – may grow. Sometimes bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space.
Although osteoarthritis becomes more common with age, younger people can develop it, too. Osteoarthritis is also more likely to occur in people who are overweight and in those with jobs that stress particular joints.
Another reason to exercise is that it also helps people with osteoarthritis manage other chronic conditions that are common among adults: diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Osteoarthritis Pain Relief
Four forms of exercise for people with osteoarthritis include:
Flexibility – Yoga and Tai Chi are two types of exercise that can help flexibility. Flexibility exercises help alleviate stiffness and keep the body’s joints moving.
Strengthening – Weight-bearing exercises, such as weight lifting, can help you keep and build your muscle strength. Small hand weights can help build upper and lower arm strength. Squats and lunges strengthen the lower body while planks work the entire core.
Aerobic and Endurance – Swimming and biking are both excellent forms of aerobic and endurance exercises, which can help reduce swelling in some of your joints. Endurance exercise is also good for the heart and arteries.
Balance and Agility – Ask your physical therapist which specific balance and agility exercises are right for you.
Always check with your physical therapist or physician before starting any exercise program. Some types of activity may need to be avoided, especially when joints are swollen or inflamed.
Walking down the produce section of the grocery store, you’ve probably at some point come across some unusual options–pluots, anyone? Although hybrid fruits tend to conjure up the image of fruits produced in a science laboratory, these fruits are actually more natural than you may realize.
Contrary to popular belief, hybrids are not produced using genetically modified organism technology. Hybrids actually use traditional pollination that can ordinarily occur in nature, but, by controlling it, cultivars can breed new generations of plants which have increasingly desirable characteristics. Once a variety is produced which meets satisfactory requirements, hybridization is able to produce the exact variety which would randomly occur in nature, but in a shorter period of time.
The benefit to farmers is that hybridization yields plants that are naturally disease resistant and better withstand heat, cold, and drought. They also produce more consistent and higher yields. The benefit to consumers is uniform fruit sizes and shapes, increased juiciness, improved taste, and better nutrition. So, the next time you stroll by the fruit section and spot a tangor (mandarin and orange), tayberry (red raspberry and blackberry), limequat (key lime and kumquat), or carambola (star fruit), give one a try to experience the best of both (fruit) worlds!
By Whitney Martin, Master of Public Health Student at Liberty University Intern for Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
By Abby Forman MS RD
Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
As we “March” into National Nutrition Month 2018, take a moment to think about what you leave behind each day. National Nutrition Month is an education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) aimed at inspiring the country to improve their health one bite at a time. The theme this year is “Go Further with Food,” which asks us to look at how much food we throw away and how we could work to waste less in the future.
A study based on data from the USDA in 2012 estimated that 31 – 40% of the food grown here in America is thrown away each year. That comes out to more than $218 billion lost. Food waste comes in many forms, and there is no one solution to the problem. Each small step we take to reduce waste at home can have a big impact on our personal wallet, with an estimated $1500 lost to food waste each year for a family of four. It also can have a big impact on the country as a whole. The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that reducing food waste by just 15% would be enough to feed 25 million Americans. That is about half the number of Americans estimated to face hunger currently. Get started today with these 8 suggestions for 2018. One person is all it takes to start saving the world.
Decrease the amount of food you purchase by making a meal plan for the week and create your grocery list from only the foods on it.
Clean and chop vegetables immediately when you get home to encourage quick use.
Store fruits and vegetables properly in the fridge (40°F and below) to slow down the ripening process.
Chop and freeze over-ripe fruits and wilted vegetables for use in smoothies or soups.
Freeze leftovers in individual portions for grab-n-go lunch or dinner.
Re-use leftover meat or vegetables in another dish such as making grilled chicken into shredded chicken tacos.
Download the “Is My Food Safe” app to avoid throwing away foods that are still perfectly fine to eat.
Donate unopened non-perishables to a food bank instead of throwing them away.
The lavender mist dancing from your diffuser may smell absolutely wonderful, but is it also making you feel calm?
From the woodsy aroma of cedar wood to the clean scent of lemon, essential oils have become a staple in many homes nationwide. Chances are you either know someone who uses essential oils or you have a drawer full of them in your kitchen.
People use essential oils for many reasons. Some simply like the way they make a room smell when they’re diffused. Others use them to make their own natural cleaning products. More and more, however, people are turning to essential oils to address a range of health problems – from arthritis and anxiety to insomnia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Under federal law, companies cannot market essential oils as drugs that can prevent or treat diseases. It’s why you’ll often see the following product disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Despite the law, numerous websites, apps, and social media posts tout the potential health benefits of using essential oils.
If you’re thinking about using essential oils for a health or medical reason, make sure to consult your health care provider first. Essential oils may offer some benefits, but they should never replace traditional medical care.
Are essential oils safe?
The safety of essential oils can depend on the quality of the product, how you use it, and the state of your health.
A lot of people mistakenly assume that if something is “natural” or comes from a plant, it must be safe. In fact, some essential oils may contain materials that are toxic or cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Some oils should be diluted with a carrier oil. Others can make you photosensitive if you apply them to your skin and head outdoors.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), using essential oils for aromatherapy shows very few side effects or risks. And, while some essential oils have been approved as ingredients in food – they’re classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” — the NCI does not recommend swallowing large amounts of them.
If you have cancer, make sure to ask your oncologist about using essential oils in any capacity. Lavender and tea tree oils have been found to have some hormone-like effects. “It is recommended that patients with tumors that need estrogen to grow avoid using lavender and tea tree essential oils,” the NCI states.
Can essential oils address health problems?
Whether specific essential oils can treat medical issues is hard to scientifically determine. Many studies on various oils do not meet established government research standards.
For example, lavender has been used for centuries to improve mood and appetite. Today, people reach for lavender to help a variety of problems including anxiety, depression, pain, and insomnia. Yet, “there is little scientific evidence of lavender’s effectiveness for most health issues,” according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Studies on lavender for anxiety have shown mixed results.”
One study on aromatherapy found that it may improve the quality of life in patients with cancer.
“Some patients receiving aromatherapy have reported improvement in symptoms such as nausea or pain, and have lower blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate,” the NCI states.
Rely on reputable sources.
If you’re trying to find reliable information about essential oils on the internet, try searching the NCCIH Clearinghouse. A part of the National Institutes of Health, the NCCIH is the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on health and medical products not considered part of conventional medicine.
You can also search for science-based information through PubMed®, a database of publication information and brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.
If you’re not sure whether to believe some of the claims you read about, the NCCIH recommends asking the following questions:
Who runs the website? Can they be trusted?
Does the website make claims that seem too good to be true?
When was the information posted or reviewed? Is the information outdated?
Where does the information come from? Is it based on scientific research?
Is the website selling something?
Remember; always consult your health care provider for guidance. Your doctor can help you find the latest medical information about the uses and risks of specific essential oils.