Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I finally get it...comes full circle

Good health should not be your ultimate goal in life. It is a means to achieve everything else you desire in life.  What more could you do if you were in better mental health, physical health, spiritual health?

The possibilities are endless and exciting, so exciting, in fact, I'm already thinking about them.

But as much information that needs to get out there about the Hispanic culture and how it affects the population's risk of diabetes, heart disease, and those are just the big killers,  I just don't have enough time right now while I'm in school to dedicate to this very serious conversation that needs to be had. And, before my health begins to suffer from being stretched too thin, this conversation, (which, I know, barely got started) needs to be tabled until later.

I finally get it.  Sometimes there is too much in your day to make time for just one more thing! But that's still not an excuse to not try. You just have to decide what is most important for you.

Be back post grad. 


Thursday, 6 January 2011

Type 2 diabetes and exercise go hand in hand. Excerpts.

New Guidelines for Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes

Fran Lowry
December 10, 2010

- New guidelines issued jointly by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine stress the crucial role that physical activity plays in the management of type 2 diabetes.

- It is now well established that participation in regular physical activity improves blood glucose control and can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes mellitus, along with positively affecting lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular events, mortality, and quality of life. Most of the benefits of exercise are realized through acute and long-term improvements in insulin action, accomplished with both aerobic and resistance training, the experts write.

- For people who already have type 2 diabetes, the new guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise spread out at least 3 days during the week, with no more than 2 consecutive days between bouts of aerobic activity. These recommendations take into account the needs of those whose diabetes may limit vigorous exercise.

- Most people with type 2 diabetes do not have sufficient aerobic capacity to undertake sustained vigorous activity for that weekly duration, and they may have orthopaedic or other health limitations," said writing chair Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University and adjunct professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia, in a statement. "For this reason, the ADA [American Diabetes Association] and ACSM [American College of Sports Medicine] call for a regimen of moderate-to-vigorous activity and make no recommendation for a lesser amount of vigorous activity."

- The panel specifically recommends that such moderate exercise correspond to approximately 40% to 60% of maximal aerobic capacity and states that for most people with type 2 diabetes, brisk walking is a moderate-intensity exercise.  The expert panel also recommends that resistance training be part of the exercise regimen. This should be done at least twice a week — ideally 3 times a week — on nonconsecutive days.

- The panel also recommends that people just beginning to do weight training be supervised by a qualified exercise trainer to ensure optimal benefits to blood glucose control, blood pressure, lipids, and cardiovascular risk and to minimize injury risk.

- Finally, the new guidelines emphasise that exercise must be done regularly to have continued benefits and should include regular training of varying types.

- Physicians should prescribe exercise, Dr. Colberg said in a statement. "Many physicians appear unwilling or cautious about prescribing exercise to individuals with type 2 diabetes for a variety of reasons, such as excessive body weight or the presence of health-related complications. However, the majority of people with type 2 diabetes can exercise safely, as long as certain precautions are taken. The presence of diabetes complications should not be used as an excuse to avoid participation in physical activity."

Dr. Colberg and the other authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42:2282-2303.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

What Gary Taubes thinks about health

I'm too busy preparing for my finals to write today.  So read this article for an interesting view on if we really know what makes us healthy - It's by the author, Gary Taubes, of Good Calories, Bad Calories, a great read for anyone trying to learn more about nutrition, health and preventing disease onset.  

Friday, 10 December 2010

What is health? Who is healthy?

To me, its not just someone without disease, but the overall state of mind someone has towards their life.  It can include the obvious such as eating healthy, managing stress, fitting in physical activity, but what about self-esteem, growing spirituality, friendship, being true to oneself and more.  There are hundreds of definitions and components to health out there, I may even have plagiarized mine without knowing it.   But being healthy or leading a healthy lifestyle all the time is not easy for a lot of people, some people have had very difficult lives, but learning to overcome those personal, societal and cultural barriers and manage a healthy lifestyle over time is crucial but for some more monumental than others. 

I'm a female. I'm Hispanic. But how do each of those parts of who I am affect my health. I would need a book to describe those factors in detail, they really are that complex and will require multiple posts over time.  But I'll simplify for today - As a female, I feel its my responsibility to guide the health of my family in its entirety (including all those obvious factors stated above and more).  But as a Hispanic female, the cultural influence plays an even larger role.  Family, isn't just me, my husband, and my dog. It's me, hubby, dog, mom, dad, sisters, friends, relatives and more, and in the Hispanic culture they come first over oneself. So "responsibility" takes on a different meaning and level of effort.  But some would say "It's just what we do and we do it well".  Do we?  Much to our own detriment, we stretch ourselves a little bit too thin, and we think that's ok, because we like to do it and we do it out of love.

Just over Thanksgiving I found myself making sure my mom, who has type 2 diabetes, was carrying enough food for the day, managing her blood glucose levels, exercising enough and eating right. That alone is exhausting.  Then, when we were exercising at the gym together, I noticed how stiff both of my parents were and so I realized I needed to spend time learning about and showing them how to and what to stretch so that they don't end up hunched over little viejitos (but not the hunch from osteoporosis). 

It was the first time I sensed my aging parents fragility and I knew that If I didn't help them, who would?
So, I add, 1) learning more about stretching for seniors  2) Sharing information on diabetes management in a way that my mom will understand it, 3) Find time to do 1 & 2  and make sure they're complying, to my two internships, studying for finals, household duties, holidays, and of course making sure I spend enough time on my family (husband, mom, dad, sisters, friends, relatives - I don't even have kids, yet) and I can't forget my pup, Lucy (and boy does she require a lot of time).  I run out of time and steam daily.

Can life be too full (even if its full of good things, things I want to do, things I like to do) to be healthy?  Maybe, just maybe. But I thank God for all the goodness in my life.  And in that same moment of thanks, I reflect on those whose lives are void of the good and positive...and I realize that there's more to add to my list of things to do and people to be helped.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I finally get it.

I'll be the first to admit that for years I couldn't  understand why people weren't fitting in healthy activities into their daily life. I thought "it's not that hard...go walk after dinner, get up and jog before breakfast, join a gym and attend a class."  But it's not that easy, that is not all it is. And it's not first nature for some, especially if you didn't grow up with good role models or with parents (a shout out to my mom and dad - thanks and I love you!!) who made you try every sport and dance out there and created an environment full of love, respect and support.  Because of this environment, my sisters and I grew up thinking we were the young Hispanic girl versions of Jim Thorpe.  We can do, accomplish anything.  I still think it. I've trained for marathons, triathlons, distance cycling events, synchronized swimming paid my way through college and I'm even a certified Balletone instructor(What's Balletone?)  But my reality is probably not the norm among the multitude of at-risk families, especially Hispanics, in the US, but I hope that it can be.  As society learns that the health of the individual reflects the health of their entire environment, improvements will be made and families and individuals will prosper in many ways.

Over the course of my postings, I'll address the many cultural, societal and personal barriers that make it difficult for people to change their bad health habits, especially young Hispanics, but the information is pertinent to all.  I'll share conversations I've had with those struggling with their daily survival - health is not on the top of their priority list and yet they struggle more because they are obese and so I'll address the Food Paradox, too.  With obesity rates soaring and the risk of developing diabetes type 2 at an all time high (1 in 3 born in 2000) and for young hispanic girls (1 in 2 born in 2000), the only thing that can help is education around the issues, confronting reality and taking responsibility. 

There is a lot of misinformation out there about health cures, cause of disease (no, diabetes is not caused by only eating sweets - you can go ahead and tell your abuelitas that), weight loss and more.  The media plays a very large role in disseminating a lot of this misinformation, but so does your social and cultural environment, and I think you deserve to hear the truth, good and bad.  So, most everything, if not all of the information I present to you will be factually based and empirically validated. The truth may be difficult to hear. Afterall, there just might be restrictions on the American lifestyle of buy, buy, buy, eat, eat, eat, tv, tv, tv.   I know, it will be tough.

I hope you learn and can act on something in everyone one of my posts. If you don't, let me know and I'll try even harder next time.