Medical practice in America is slowly shifting from reactive medicine to preventative medicine. We are also seeing more and more health management tools available to help us manage and stay on top of OUR OWN health. Right now, I am convinced that we are our own best weapon of defense through the COVID-19 pandemic by wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and staying as healthy and fit as possible. Outside of COVID-19, there are so many other things we can do to try to stay ahead of disease and the breakdown of body and mind through aging. The weekly challenges are sent out to provide our members with tips and reminders of some of the things we can do ourselves to stay on a healthy track!
In the spirit of taking health matters into our own hands, the challenge this week is to get a picture of your inner workings through your BLOOD. It’s so easy! CAMC has a walk-in lab called LabWorks in Kanawha City. It is on Chesterfield Avenue (near our beloved Dr. Mishoe), no doctor’s order needed, no appointment necessary, open from 6:00 am - 5:30 pm Monday through Friday (but don’t go on a Monday) and most likely costs less than what it will cost you to run it through your insurance. They take cash or credit card. You need to fast 8-12 hours before you go, which should be easy if you are in your intermittent fasting window! Results will be provided through CAMC’s PatientLink or can be mailed to you. Of course, optimally, you could make an appointment with your GP and combine the blood testing with a full physical. But in these crazy times, many are avoiding doctor’s offices. This option is a great alternative for a health check for those that fall into that category.
This may have some of you squeamish-types cringing, but I promise it is less painful than cracking your shin on the side of a box! You can’t go by how you look and feel alone to determine your health status. Blood tests are amazing with how they can pinpoint health deficiencies, some of which can be easily remedied to make a world of difference. Feeling fatigued? Maybe you have low thyroid function. Maybe it’s a Vitamin D deficiency, low iron or low cortisol levels. Your blood tests can tell you. If you haven’t had a blood panel in over a year, do yourself a huge favor and spend a little bit of money and time and get it done.
I have provided a list below with the tests available and the cost per test. I did some googling and figured out the importance of each of the tests and which ones I think would be good for me. I encourage you to do the same. So get in there and check the oil! While you’re at it, think about helping out your community and donating some blood, too.
3004 Chesterfield Avenue - Kanawha City
If you happened to be strolling around downtown on the weekends, I’m sure you’ve noticed all the tents set up along Capitol Street. The outdoor dining set ups at the restaurants around town have been in response to COVID-19 but have turned out to be a really enjoyable consequence! If you haven’t taken advantage of some al fresco dining, I’d highly recommend the fresh air option - but only between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.!
What I’m talking about is intermittent fasting! Particularly, the 16/8 method: only eating during an 8-hour period each day, and fasting for 16 hours.
Why should you fast? Most people I know who do intermittent fasting do it for weight loss / weight control. There are some who swear it works better than any diet they’ve tried. Some studies show that it can also have powerful benefits for your body and brain, such as changing the function of cells, genes and hormones for improved health, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, and lowering the risk of Type-2 diabetes.
The great thing about 16/8 intermittent fasting is that you don’t have to think about it. You just set your 8 hours that best fit your schedule and only eat during those hours. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. I begin fasting at 7 p.m., and eat my first meal of the day at 11 a.m. There are no rules or off-limits foods, but obviously the healthier you eat, the better your results.
There are ways to get the most out of your fasting plan. Incorporate some of the previous weeks’ challenges such as:
So challenge yourself this week to work out a dining schedule. Whether it’s 2 meals or 3 meals, just make sure you start and finish in that 8-hour window. Shoot us an email at the end of the week to let us know how it worked for you!
We are cleansing our bodies of harmful sugar toxins, we are deep/mindful breathing and we are hydrating! Now let’s focus on invigorating and rejuvenating with some great quality sleep!
Doctors and health literature preach that adults optimally need 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and simply lying in your bed from 10-6 isn’t what they’re talking about. I’m talking about 7-8 hours of GOOD QUALITY sleep to operate at top performance.
We all know how it feels to be sleep deprived - sluggish and grouchy. When you’ve squeezed in a couple of good nights you feel like a new person! Some of the most touted benefits of good quality sleep include:
Getting a really good night’s sleep takes a little effort and even some planning, but get a routine going and you’ll be counting your lucky stars. Here are some tips on how to improve your quality of sleep:
If you get in bed and sleep just won’t come, try Week #2’s deep breathing 4-7-8 technique. Sometimes the stress of the day just needs a release. If deep breathing doesn’t work, get up, go to a different room and read a bit. When your eyelids start getting heavy, crawl back between those sheets and let the darkness take you. Sweet dreams, my friends!
Have you ever been berry picking? You cannot claim to be a true West Virginian if you’ve never been berry picking! You can spot blackberries growing in the wild near just about any campground. If you prefer a little more cultivated experience head down to Shady Oaks Farm in Poca - raspberries are ready starting in August. Whether you pick them or buy them at the grocery, you know what’s so awesome about berries? You can eat them during the no-sugar-for-a-week challenge!
So here it is for this week (or month): Say NO to sugar!
One of the biggest health sabotagers is inflammation, and sugar is one of the worst triggers of inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation leads to all those metabolic disorders that are so prevalent in society such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Especially in times of a worldwide pandemic, your greatest weapon is your good health. So why not do everything you can to attain it?!
This week (or month) try to stick to WHOLE FOODS. Berries, vegetables, nuts, seafood and meats. Keep in mind, sugar is not just found in the obvious donut, candy bars and cookies. It is hiding out where you least expect it - in everything from dressings and sauces to whole grain bread. Look for ingredients that end in “ose” - if you see it, avoid it! If you stick to whole foods and completely avoid processed ones, the work will be done for you. What about complex carbs? Well even those turn to sugar unfortunately. More slowly than simple carbs, but if you are trying to severely limit your sugar intake, then stay away from those, too. If you must have some carbs, try to stay with those on the low glycemic index such as quinoa, steel cut oats and lentils. As for drinks, clearly no soft drinks or McDonalds sweet tea!
Be prepared! Giving up sugar is no easy task. Sugar has an addictive quality and you will likely feel withdrawal symptoms for several days. Going cold turkey is the best way to get through it quickly. Once you get through the withdrawal phase you will feel FANTASTIC! Two things that are recommended for combating sugar withdrawal symptoms are exercising and drinking more water. So keep up those 64 daily ounces and we’ll see you at the box!
Does stress ever overwhelm you to the point where you feel like you are spinning out of control? https://youtu.be/LIQ4kWqmvME
I think we all have those moments! This week we are going to turn our focus on managing stress through BREATHING.
Stress plays major havoc on our bodies mentally and physically. Learning ways to manage daily stress can have an impact. A simple way to bring yourself in check is by focused breathing. Nothing complicated here! Focused breathing can be done anywhere, anytime of the day and only takes a few minutes. In addition to decreasing stress, focused breathing can also:
There are people who make a career out of teaching people to breathe. I have no formal training on breathing techniques but I have found two that are easy to work into daily life and are quite effective. The first one is a technique I use on nights when I’m having trouble falling asleep. You know how it goes - you’re laying in bed with your heart pounding out of your chest because of a looming deadline, you forgot to do something that day, you sent a text without a smile emoji, you hurt a friend’s feelings back in the third grade - the list goes on and on! But the bottom line is, you aren’t going to sleep anytime soon. On those nights I do the 4-7-8 technique.
The 4-7-8 technique is simply taking a deep breath in through the nose for 4 seconds, holding it for 7 seconds and exhaling through the mouth for a count of 8. Try it for 6 full breaths. On your exhale, think of releasing all the tension of the day. If crazy thoughts return after 6 breaths, go back to your focused breathing. The 4-7-8 of course isn’t limited to bedtime. This can be helpful throughout your day anytime you are feeling a wave of stress or a stress headache coming on.
The other simple technique is the 4 by 4: inhale through the nose for a count of 4 and an exhale through the nose for a count of 4 for 6-8 breaths. You can increase the count both ways up to 8 seconds. Whatever count you use, the important thing is that you are getting your lungs nice and full of O2!
You know it’s good to do it, but how do you remember?
Try putting yourself on a schedule. Just 3 times a day to start. Maybe work in your focused breathing while waiting on your coffee to brew or each time you sit on the toilet, waiting at a red light or just before you begin work, at the end of the work day and then when you lay down in bed.
Whenever stress has us spinning out of control, our breath can become our anchor. Give it a try! And build onto the healthy habit you started last week! H2O + O2 = ❤️