If You’re Breathing, You’ve Got Stress!

This is the first of a two-part series about Stress. In this post, I’ll talk about what stress is and how it affects us, physically and mentally.
In part two, which will follow on Thursday, July 1, I’ll talk about ways to reduce stress in our lives.

Got stress? Dumb question, hmm? I haven’t met anyone who has ever said, “Yea, I live a stress-free life.” Everyone I know has at least one stressor they’re dealing with, and some people seem to live in a constant state of stressness.

Second question: Would you choose to avoid stress altogether, if you could? Not me. I mean, really: Life without any stress would be dull and boring, don’t ya think?

After all, there’s good stress – moving into a new home, planning your wedding (unless, of course, you take lessons from those Bridezillas on television – in fact, that show will give you stress), having a baby, planning a second honeymoon, getting ready for college . . .

Then there’s the bad stuff – you or someone you love gets cancer, you have a car accident, you lose your job, a loved one dies . . .

So we really don’t need a complicated definition of stress: MedicineNet defines it as simply: “forces from the outside world affecting the individual.”

Based on that definition, it’s pretty darned hard to avoid it, even if we wanted to! I guess we could just build some kind of pod, and live in it, alone, with no television, computer, or other outside influence, but then we would go crazy from the solitude and wouldn’t that be stressful?

These forces cause a physical response in our bodies, called the “fight or flight response,” as shown in this Medical News Today article. This response from your body is meant to protect you in a stressful situation, for example, when you’re faced with a life-threatening challenge.

However, stress overload, which can happen when you’re dealing with several “outside forces,” can cause both mental and physical symptoms. Example:  you’re going through a divorce and you’re the primary caretaker for an aging parent. 

Mental symptoms of stress include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of focus on tasks
  • Feeling cranky and anxious

Physical symptoms from stress overload are described at eHealthMD, and the article also points out that many addictions are connected to chronic stress.
Here’s the bottom line:  Too much stress can hurt us and its physical symptoms may even lead to those two life killers:  heart disease and the Big C, cancer.  Here are just a few of the examples of how chronic stress affects our lives. Yikes. 

To learn about how to deal with stress, check out my post, Don’t let stress mess with you.

Related articles:

The Mayo Clinic’s Stress Assessment test

Chronic Stress and Aging

50 Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress

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Resist No More – Cardio is Not Enough!

The siren call of weight lifting beckoned Bea at around age 40, when her body began, mysteriously, to change. Her metabolism slowed down and caused her to gain weight. Her thighs seemed to go from firm and cellulite-free to flabbola overnight.  Cardio made her sweat, but it wasn’t enough to change her body.

For the first time in her life, she worried about bone loss, something her mom had suffered from as she got older. Bea also remembered reading about the muscle loss that occurs as we age.

So what could Bea do to regain her youth? Or, at the very least, help resist bone and muscle loss? The answer, my friends, lies in that 6-letter word “resist.” Bea discovered the wonderful world of resistance training.


What is resistance training?

Emedicine Health defines resistance training as “any exercise that causes muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance.”

For her “external resistance,” Bea uses weights in 3, 5, 8, and 10 pound increments, and her own body weight (lunges, squats, push-ups and so on).

As usual, she works out in front of her television, using fitness DVDs such as:

  • The Firm’s Total Body Toner
  • 10 Pound Slimdown with Chris Freytag
  • Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones
  • The Biggest Loser Boot Camp

Why choose resistance training?

Research has provided us with plenty of reasons to strength train. 

  • It helps keep you from losing muscle as you age.
  • It increases your metabolism.
  • It helps protect you from bone fractures and osteoporosis by increasing your bone density.
  • And so much more, as shown in this Diet Channel article.

Bea recommends buying a book or DVD for beginners if you’re just starting to work with weights. The Diet and Fitness Resources websites provides some beginner tips

Emedicine Health also points out that it’s never too late to start resistance training; it can benefit even the elderly

If you’re older and haven’t been physically active, you may want to check out the CDC’s “Growing Stronger” program

After adding resistance training to her workout routines, Bea has never felt better!  Her legs have even gone from flabbola to fabulous, dahling. 

Don’t try to resist – simply try resistance training.  Bea’s willing to bet you won’t regret it!
Bea’s Related posts:
Fitness for a Lifetime

Related articles:

Key Found to Muscle Loss as We Age

Why We Gain Weight As We Age

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Hot Fun in the Summertime

Whoohoo! Michigan summer is officially here! And you know what that means: Trips to the beach, Cedar Pointe with the kids, Outdoor Water Park fun, barbeques with the family, church festivals, balmy evenings on the patio . . . . the options are endless. (And the summer so short! Enjoy it while you can!)

Bea loves this time of year – her hubby is the BBQ Grill Master, which means she’s off the hook, except for the occasional macaroni salad, cutting up some watermelon, or if she’s really ambitious, whipping up some baked beans.

Unfortunately, summer’s super hot days can be hazardous to your health, in the form of the “Three Hs:”
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke
Let me tell you a little story about Bea’s experience from about 12 years ago – It was an extremely hot and humid day at Cedar Pointe. Bea and her daughter were on the Swan ride, a deceptively stress-free cruise in a swan-shaped boat. The point was to casually steer the swan-boat around a little man-made lake. Well, this idiot swan held Bea and her daughter captive and would not cooperate!  The sun beat down on their heads, Bea fought with the swan’s steering mechanism, cussing along the way, until they finally made it to the end of the ride, at which time Bea threatened to sue (just kidding). I believe the nasty swan was retired after that little jaunt.
After the ride from you-know-where, both Bea and her daughter suffered from heat exhaustion, complete with heavy sweating, dizziness and nausea, (an extremely unpleasant experience) and to add insult to injury, a seagull pooped on Bea’s head (even worse).

Of these “Three Hs,” heatstroke is the most serious, and certain groups of people are at higher risk.
The CDC has a prevention guide to protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illnesses.

Special tips for keeping kids safe in the summer can be found here.

So, please, enjoy your summer, but don’t forget to keep your cool.

 

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Bea’s Website Recommendation for June

Two words describe the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website: Comprehensive and credible.

Just take a look at the CDC’s “Healthy Living” page, for example. 
 
This page is divided by:

  • Topics
  • Staying Healthy
  • Healthy Life Stages
  • Related Topics

Topics range from Aging to Genetics and Genomics to Sleep and Sleep Disorders to Water. Click on the “Water” link and you’ll be taken to CDC’s Healthy Water page, which in turn, has eight pages of healthy water topics. These include “drinking water,” “water-related hygiene,” even “water-related data and statistics.”

Staying Healthy includes links to Child Development, Healthy Weight, Healthy Joints, and the WISEWOMAN program (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation). http://www.cdc.gov/wisewoman/ These are just a few of the options.

Healthy Life Stages addresses Youth and Adolescent Health, Women, Men, Pregnancy, Aging, and finally, Health in all Life Stages.

Related Topics looks at Environmental Health, Global Health, Minority Health, and more.

You can learn about Campaigns and Programs. For example, the CDC’s Healthy Communities Program strives to promote healthy changes in communities across the U.S.  Currently, over 240 communities across the nation are participating in this program and in the next few years, 170 additional communities will be added. You can get an overview of the Healthy Communities Program here. The CDC is taking action to help us take charge of our health and prevent chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and more.
 
The topics and resources I’ve mentioned are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the CDC website. Just check out its homepage!
 

June is Home Safety Month. Check out the CDC’s Home Safety Month toolkit

Look for Bea’s Health and Wellness website or blog recommendation every 1st and 3rd Sunday, beginning in July. 

  • July 4th
  • July 18th

Got any health and wellness sites or blogs that you think are worth reading?  Drop me a line at my contact email address and let me know!  If I feature your recommendation on my blog, you’ll win a $10 Target gift card.  Who doesn’t love Target?

Happy reading, everyone. 

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Add Years to your Life – And Life to your Years!

One day I asked a friend if she’d like to live as long as George Burns. For those of you too young to remember him, he was a well-known comedian who also played God in a couple of movies. God must have enjoyed his performances, because old George lived to be 100.  He actually worked until he was in his mid-nineties!

My friend responded: “No, I don’t want to live to be 100. Can you imagine what I would look like if I was 100? Nobody would be my friend (mostly because they would all be dead). I would be lonely walking around my house with my walker, running into the wall and falling down. Do you know how hard it is for a person who is 100 to get up when they fall down??? I might lie there until I was 101!” (OK, I get the picture)

I have to agree – if that was to be my 100-year fate, I’d pass on the longevity thing.

On the other hand, if I could age like that feisty old Golden Girl, Betty White – 88 and still going strong, well, then I might go for it.

Like my friend, you simply may not want to live to be a century old. But if you do want to add years to your life (and life to your years), you may want to:

What about you?  Do you want to live to be 100?  Got any other longevity tips? 

Time magazine takes a look at the secrets of centenarians in this article.

You can read about the The Okinawa Centenarian Study (OCS) here. “Elderly Okinawans . . . . enjoy not only what may be the world’s longest life expectancy but the world’s longest health expectancy.” (Amazing!)

Here’s what Dan Buettner, director of Tedtalks  (Ideas Worth Spreading) has to say about living to be 100:

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Men’s Health Week: June 10 – June 16

The following is a public service announcement from Bea Boomer.

Men, listen up! Women live an average of 7 years longer than you do!

Why is this, guys? Could it be than we nag you to death?

Or could it be that women take care of their health, and men avoid going to the doc until they’re sicker than a dog?

Think about it, guys:

Do you really want your wife or significant other to enjoy life without you? On the proceeds from your life insurance policy? Do you want her to go alone to the local Senior Center, wandering around with no one to play pickle ball with?

Please, take charge of your health. The female in your life needs someone to nag.

And to argue with.

And to love.

Learn more about Men’s Health Week here, and check out the free resources such as:

  • The Blueprint for Men’s Health (free download)
  •  Screening Guidelines – Women’s and Men’s Health Checklist in PDF format

Further Reading:

And just for fun, some photos that show why women live longer than men.

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Aging Positively: Take Charge of your Health and Well-Being

I’m a big believer that we should take charge of our own health, especially as we age. I don’t know about you, but I want my golden years to truly be golden, not rusty.

I watched my mom suffer with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and all the crap that comes along with those conditions. Her golden years involved many visits to many doctors, a lot of prescription medications, and trips to the hospital due to strokes and bypass surgeries.

My dad was plagued with mental health issues such as depression and during his lifetime, chose alcohol as his medication. His golden years were lived mainly in self-imposed isolation.

Neither of those aging scenarios appeal to me.

At 53, I’m choosing a different path. (Really, it’s a choice I made at a much younger age).  My objective is to keep exercising my brain and my body. I work at taking responsibility for my emotional health. Yes, there are things that may happen to me that I cannot control. But for the things that I can control, well, I’m giving it my all.

It’s not always easy to remain on the path of health and wellness; to stay motivated and informed, I read blogs like:

I also read on-line magazines like:

Further reading:

What do you do to age positively?

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