Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 10, 2011

You Are Not Your Body

Every woman wants to be beautiful.  We do so many things to our bodies in order to feel beautiful.  We suck in our tummies, we wear too much make-up, we spend so much time perfecting our hair, we wear clothes that society tells us is acceptable, we stop eating, we tuck, we pull, we tighten.  If we focus on our inner beauty, none of these things really matter anymore.

Stephanie Nielson survived a near-fatal airplane crash, which severely burned 80% of her body.  She will probably have surgeries for the rest of her life.  Her story is documented in detail when she interviewed with Oprah.  Stephanie is a famous blogger, who expresses how she feels through her blog.

I had the opportunity to hear her speak at a “Recapturing Beauty” event at Brigham Young University (BYU).  Her story is inspiring and her family is incredibly strong.  She expressed the importance of loving who you are and appreciating the woman within.  After her accident Stephanie did not feel beautiful, but since then she has come to realize what true beauty is.  While she was speaking at BYU, she said something that really struck me.  She said, “I am not my body.”  Too many times people define their beauty and determine their happiness based their outer appearance.  I hope that every woman and every girl can recognize her true beauty, realize that she is not her body, and love herself.

Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 10, 2011

Protect Yourself

Sexual health is critical for overall health.  Sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs) are highly prevalent in our world today.  They are infections that are passed form one person to another during sexual contact.  Infections are called diseases when they cause symptoms.  They are called infections when they do not cause symptoms.  Many, and most all, STIs do not show any symptoms at all, so many people do not know they are infected.

The three types of STIs are parasitic, viral and bacterial infections.  Parasitic and bacterial STIs can be cured with anti-bacterial medication.  They are easy to eliminate, but can cause serious damage or permanent scars if not detected and treated early.  Some of the most common bacterial infections are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and SyphilisTrichomoniasis is an example of a parasitic STI.

Some viral infections stay with you for life.  Some can be treated to reduce symptoms and pain, but they cannot be eliminated.  Some viral STIs go away on their own with time, but some can never be cured.  Some of the most common examples of viral STIs are herpes, HPV, Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS.

Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with Human Papillomavirus (HPV).  Each year, another 6 million people become infected.  HPV is the most common viral infection – at least 50% of sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives.  HPV can be prevented by receiving the Gardasil vaccine, which has gone under extensive studies to be proven safe and effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that we can protect ourselves from becoming infected with STIs.  Using condoms reduces your risk of contracting certain STDs/STIs.  STIs that are not protected against by the use of condoms typically have vaccines you can get.  Getting tested for sexually-transmitted infections at a local clinic allows for early detection and proper treatments.

Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 9, 2011

Happily Ever After

Every girl dreams of finding her “Happily Ever After.”  This, of course, includes finding her Prince Charming, who will treat her well – treat her like the Princess that she is.  Brigham Young University Womens Services provides great tips on how to maintain healthy relationships.  For more information about “Healthy Relationships” and more details about each of the following recommendations, please visit this link.

  1. Take Responsibility for Yourself. Learning to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs is one of the most important choices you can make to improve your relationship.  When you learn how to make yourself feel happy through your own thoughts and actions, then you stop blaming your partner for your upsets.
  2. Fears. The two two major fears that become activated in relationships are the fear of abandonment (losing the other) and the fear of engulfment (losing oneself.)  Most people immediately protect themselves with controlling behavior, but by learning about fears instead of attempting to control the partner, fears will eventually heal.
  3. No Interference. Do not allow other people to interfere with your relationship.  You might have friends or family members with well-meant intentions trying to help you and your partner solve problems.  While getting another person’s perspective is not a bad thing, make sure it is when you ask for it.
  4. To Tell or Not to Tell. While some things probably should be shared, think back to how much people grow through the teen years to mid-twenties.  Offering unnecessary information from the past is a great way to create distrust, insecurity, and more questions than answers.  Be wise when sharing.
  5. Respect Privacy. When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history and possessions that have a special meaning.  Do not dig through boxes of things owned by your partner out of curiosity.  Instead, respect their privacy and allow them to bring those things out if they feel it is necessary.
  6. Lighten Up. Do not take every comment, glance, or movement as a serious problem.  You and your partner will both make mistakes, so let it go, or if appropriate, laugh about it.  This will automatically start the process of breaking tension.
  7. Adore Your Partner. Beyond telling your partner that you love them, that they are special, and having passion in your relationship, you should adore your partner and what they bring into the relationship.  What that means is to appreciate and love them for the person they are, faults and all.  This is true devotion to your partner and demonstrates that you do not take them for granted.
Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 9, 2011

Hit The Gym!

I LOVE going to the gym!  I enjoy lifting weights and using the cardio machines, but my favorite is going to the classes.  Gyms offer so many different classes that encourage increase in emotional health, spiritual health, mental health and physical health.  They are fun and social ways to burn calories, gain strength and tone muscle.  Below is a list of the most popular gym classes.  For additional classes and descriptions of each, you can visit the LA Fitness website.

  • Aqua Fit: Water workout to improve strength and cardiovascular endurance.
  • Body Works Plus Abs: Improve muscle tone, posture, balance and strength in this lightweight dumbbell workout.
  • Bootcamp Conditioning: Military inspired circuit workout of calisthenics and training drills to develop strength, stamina and agility.
  • Cycle: Indoor cycling.
  • Kickbox Cardio: Kick, punch and sweat for the ultimate cardio challenge.
  • Latin Heat: Dancing to a “hot” Latin-fused workout.
  • Mat Pilates: Dynamic movements that restore balance to core muscles of the lower back and abdominals.
  • Power Sculpt: Resistance training with hand weights and barbells used to sculpt and define.
  • Step Plus Abs: Improve muscle tone, posture, balance and strength in this lightweight dumbbell workout.
  • Yoga: Empower your mind and strengthen your body through a series of yoga poses for strength and stamina.
  • Zumba: High energy combined with motivating music with synchronized dance movements featuring aerobic fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body.
Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 8, 2011

Smile :)

“You’re never fully dressed without a SMILE!”  Little, red-headed Annie said it best – the most important thing we wear everyday is our smile.  A major part of women’s (and men’s) health is mental health.  The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  We all want to be healthy and happy, right?  Reader’s Digest gives us 20 simple ways to “get happy.”  Their website provides additional research studies and statistics on each of these 20 recommendations.

1. Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment. Instead of worrying about your checkup tomorrow while you have dinner with your family, focus on the here and now — the food, the company, the conversation.

2. Laugh out loud. Just anticipating a happy, funny event can raise levels of endorphins and other pleasure-inducing hormones and lower production of stress hormones.

3. Go to sleep. We have become a nation of sleep-deprived citizens. Taking a daily nap or getting into bed at 8 p.m. one night with a good book — and turning the light out an hour later — can do more for your mood and outlook on life than any number of bubble baths or massages.

4. Hum along. Studies find music activates parts of the brain that produce happiness — the same parts activated by food or sex. It’s also relaxing.

5. Declutter. It’s nearly impossible to meditate, breathe deeply, or simply relax when every surface is covered with papers and bills and magazines, your cabinets bulge, and you haven’t balanced your checkbook in six months. Plus, the repetitive nature of certain cleaning tasks — such as sweeping, wiping, and scrubbing — can be meditative in and of itself if you focus on what you’re doing.

6. Just say no. Eliminate activities that aren’t necessary and that you don’t enjoy.

7. Make a list. There’s nothing like writing down your tasks to help you organize your thoughts and calm your anxiety. Checking off each item provides a great sense of fulfillment.

8. Do one thing at a time. Edward Suarez, Ph.D., associate professor of medical psychology at Duke, found that people who multitask are more likely to have high blood pressure. Take that finding to heart. Instead of talking on the phone while you fold laundry or clean the kitchen, sit down in a comfortable chair and turn your entire attention over to the conversation. Instead of checking e-mail as you work on other projects, turn off your e-mail function until you finish the report you’re writing. This is similar to the concept of mindfulness.

9. Garden. Not only will the fresh air and exercise provide their own stress reduction and feeling of well-being, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from clearing a weedy patch, watching seeds turn into flowers, or pruning out dead wood will last for hours, if not days.

10. Tune out the news. For one week go without reading the newspaper, watching the news, or scanning the headlines online. Instead, take a vacation from the misery we’re exposed to every day via the media and use that time for a walk, a meditation session, or to write in your journal.

11. Take a dog for a walk. There are numerous studies that attest to the stress-relieving benefits of pets.

12. Scent the air. Research finds that the benefits of aromatherapy in relieving stress are real. In one study people exposed to rosemary had lower anxiety levels, increased alertness, and performed math computations faster. Adults exposed to lavender showed an increase in the type of brain waves that suggest increased relaxation. Today you have a variety of room-scenting methods, from plug-in air fresheners to essential oil diffusers, potpourri, and scented candles.

13. Ignore the stock market. Simply getting your quarterly 401(k) statement can be enough to send your blood pressure skyrocketing.

14. Visit a quiet place. Libraries, museums, gardens, and places of worship provide islands of peace and calm in today’s frantic world. Find a quiet place near your house and make it your secret getaway.

15. Volunteer. Helping others enables you to put your own problems into perspective and also provides social interaction. While happy people are more likely to help others, helping others increases your happiness. One study found that volunteer work enhanced all six aspects of well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression.

16. Spend time alone. Although relationships are one of the best antidotes to stress, sometimes you need time alone to recharge and reflect. Take yourself out to lunch or to a movie, or simply spend an afternoon reading, browsing in a bookstore, or antiquing.

17. Walk mindfully. You probably already know that exercise is better than tranquilizers for relieving anxiety and stress. But what you do with your mind while you’re walking can make your walk even more beneficial.

18. Give priority to close relationships. One study of more than 1,300 men and women of various ages found that those who had a lot of supportive friends were much more likely to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar metabolism, and stress hormone levels than those with two or fewer close friends. Women, and to a lesser extent men, also seemed to benefit from good relationships with their parents and spouses.

19. Take care of the soul. For many people faith provides a support community, a sense of life’s meaning, feelings of ultimate acceptance, a reason to focus beyond yourself, and a timeless perspective on life’s woes. Even if you’re not religious, a strong spirituality may offer similar benefits.

20. Count your blessings. People who pause each day to reflect on some positive aspect of their lives (their health, friends, family, freedom, education, etc.) experience a heightened sense of well-being.

Try some of these tips and remember to SMILE!!

Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 8, 2011

Stay Fit By Eating All Day

To eat three meals a day or to eat six small meals a day: that is the question.  I love food!  And as I learn more about food, dieting and weight management, the more I realize how important it is to eat regularly throughout the day.  There are so many benefits for your body when you do so.

Eating every few hours speeds up your metabolism, which helps your body burn more fat all day long.  Frequent meals help promote muscle growth and higher energy levels due to a balanced blood sugar level.  Frequent eating also increases your metabolism due to the thermic effect of food (the higher the thermic effect, the higher number of calories burned simply by ingesting the food).  Proteins and complex & fibrous carbohydrates have the highest levels of thermic effect.

In my experience, it’s relatively easy to prepare healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner because my fabulous mother sent me to college with all of her favorite recipes.  But what about snacking?  I am constantly running around between classes, work, the library, social events… so it’s more difficult for me to find quick and healthy snacks when I’m on-the-go.  I often choose packaged and less-nutritious snacks simply because of their convenience.  I know, I know, this is poor behavior.. especially coming from a girl who is so interested in health.  Below is a list of quick, easy and healthy snacks under 100 calories that require little or no preparation.  They all sound delicious to me!

Salty and Crunchy Snacks:

  • 6 whole-grain crackers with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of mixed nuts
  • 10 baked tortilla chips dipped in 2 tablespoons of salsa
  • 10 pretzels with 2 tablespoons almond butter or Nutella
  • ¼ cup dry-roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 6 crunchy whole-grain Triscuits

Sweet Snacks:

  • 1 package of sugar-free hot cocoa.
  • 1 No Sugar Added Fudgesicle
  • 1 Archway fat-free oatmeal raisin cookie
  • 1 Breyers Double Churn 100 Calorie Cup

Fruity Snacks:

  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen grapes
  • 2 cups of watermelon
  • 1 cup of your favorite berries
  • 3 small plumbs
  • 1 stalk of celery dabbed with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter
  • A whole orange, apple or pear (take your pick!)

Veggie Snacks:

  • Bell peppers and snap peas dipped in 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • ½ cup of edamame sprinkled with light soy sauce
  • 7 baby carrots and 1 tablespoon of light ranch dressing
  • 1 Campbell’s Soup at Hand Blended Vegetable Medley

Calcium-Rich Snacks:

  • 1 stick of string cheese
  • ½ cup of Cheerios with ¼ cup of skim milk
  • ½ cup of sugar-free frozen yogurt or sorbet
  • ½ cup of nonfat cottage cheese sprinkled with ¼ cup of fresh blueberries and cinnamon

Protein-Powerful Snacks:

  • ¼ cup of raisins & nuts
  • 1 slice of rolled turkey breast lunch meat dipped in honey mustard
  • 2 ounces of lean roast beef with 1 tablespoon of horseradish sauce
Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 6, 2011

Get Screened.

I am sure most of us know someone who is or has been affected by breast cancer.  1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  There are many factors that contribute to an individual’s (yes, men can get breast cancer, too) susceptibility to developing breast cancer.

Risk factors you cannot change include:

  • Age and gender — Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older.  Most advanced breast cancer cases are found in women over age 50.  Women are 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men.
  • Family history of breast cancer — You may also have a higher risk for breast cancer if you have a close relative who has had breast, uterine, ovarian, or colon cancer.   About 20 – 30% of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.
  • Genes — Some people have genes that make them more likely to develop breast cancer.  The most common gene defects are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which normally produce proteins that protect you from cancer.  If a parent passes you a defective gene, you have an increased risk for breast cancer.  Women with one of these defects have up to an 80% chance of getting breast cancer sometime during their life.
  • Menstrual cycle — Women who got their periods early (before age 12) or went through menopause late (after age 55) have an increased risk for breast cancer.

Other risk factors you (typically) can control include:

  • Alcohol use — Drinking more than 1 – 2 glasses of alcohol a day may increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Childbirth — Women who have never had children or who had them only after age 30 have an increased risk for breast cancer.  Being pregnant more than once or becoming pregnant at an early age reduces your risk of breast cancer.
  • DES — Women who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriage may have an increased risk of breast cancer after the age of 40.  This drug was given to the women in the 1940s – 1960s.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — You have a higher risk for breast cancer if you have received hormone replacement therapy with estrogen for several years or more.
  • Obesity — Obesity has been linked to breast cancer, although this link is controversial.  The theory is that obese women produce more estrogen, which can fuel the development of breast cancer.
  • Radiation — If you received radiation therapy as a child or young adult to treat cancer of the chest area, you have a much higher risk for developing breast cancer.  The younger you started such radiation and the higher the dose, the higher your risk – especially if the radiation was given during breast development.

It is imperative that women do everything in their power to prevent the development of breast cancer.  For early detection of cancer, the  American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.  They recommend that women in their 20s and 30s receive clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years and women age 40 and above receive CBE every year.  Breast self-exam (BSE) is recommended for women starting in their 20s.  Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and quickly report any breast change to their health care provider.

I have family history of breast cancer, so I am especially at risk of developing breast cancer at some point in my life.  For individuals who have family history, genetic tendency, or certain other factors, the American Cancer Society recommends they be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms.

Posted by: kathrynfillmore | April 4, 2011

Yoga

Yoga has incredible benefits, both psychological and physical, for women.  Some major benefits of practicing yoga include fighting obesity, enhancing fertility, stress relief, healthy skin and headache management.  Those women who practice yoga on a regular basis are indulging themselves with a health lifestyle.

Fighting Obesity

Of course, yoga is a rigorous practice for a woman’s body and is a great exercise when trying to lose weight.  But the practice itself will more specifically target fat in certain areas of the body.  Yoga is excellent for reducing excess fat in the abdomen, hips and thighs.

Enhancing Fertility

Yoga enhances blood flow throughout the body, and thus can balance a woman’s hormones.  The practice serves as a tool for augmenting fertility by balancing hormone levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH.  Balancing these hormones will help regulate your menstrual cycle, and ovulation will occur when you expect it to.  This helps a woman to be on schedule with her cycle, allowing her to know when she is most fertile.

Stress Relief

Exercise is a common method for reducing stress, and yoga is a practice especially focused on reducing stress levels in the body.  A main aim of yoga is to practice breathing methodically while meditating.  If one is able to control their breathing and focus on just that, any other thoughts flee the mind and leave one feeling relieved.

Healthy Skin

A strong indicator of healthy skin is minimal stress in a woman’s life.  Because yoga is so effective in reducing stress, it thus leaves you with a glowing complexion.  As mentioned previously, yoga balances hormones in the body.  This allows oxygen-rich blood to more freely access your skin.

Headache Management

Headaches can result from a variety of causes, some of which include eyestrain, indigestion, stress and poor posture.  Yoga is beneficial in limiting these causes, especially stress and poor posture.  Regularly practicing yoga relieves stress, as well as leaving the practicer with a greatly improved posture.

Posted by: kathrynfillmore | March 31, 2011

Healthy Mommys, Healthy Babies

Every expectant mother’s greatest hope is that her baby will be healthy.  In order to have a healthy baby, the mother must be leading a healthy life, herself.  We all know the importance of not smoking, not drinking alcohol and maintaining healthy levels of stress while pregnant.  Although less widely-known, one of the most important things an expectant mother can do is consume the appropriate amounts of Folic Acid every day.  Folic Acid is a B Vitamin that is crucial to the development of DNA, thus playing a large role in cell growth and development, and tissue formation.  It helps prevent serious neural tube defects – birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine – by 50% to 70%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of Folic Acid every day prior to and during the early stages of pregnancy.  It is important that any woman who has the potential to get pregnant consumes Folic Acid each day, because half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned and the defects occur during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before the mother even knows she is pregnant.

Folic Acid can be consumed by eating leafy green vegetables, orange juice and enriched grains.  The CDC published an extensive list of breakfast cereals that contain 100% of the Daily Value of Folic Acid.  There are also Folic Acid supplements and multi-vitamins that contain the proper amount of Folic Acid.

Posted by: kathrynfillmore | March 22, 2011

8 Glasses A Day… Really?

Yes!  Water is crucial to your health.  Don’t worry… You don’t need to sip on a water bottle all day long in order to get the appropriate amount of water.  In a typical adult diet, food contributes about 20% of total water intake.  There are many ways to consume the other 80%.  Other fluids such as milk, juice, even soda and alcohol contribute to total water intake (I am not endorsing soda or alcohol, just making a point).  Fruits and vegetables contain many necessary vitamins, minerals, fiber and a lot of water.  Think about your favorite fruits… oranges, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes… they are mostly made of water.  What a great way to get your water – so eat up!  That makes it easier to consume “8 Glasses A Day,” huh?

Here’s why you need to consume so much water every day.  Bodies are made up of 55 to 75 percent water.  This water is lost throughout the day from simple and unavoidable occurrences like breathing (2-4 cups), perspiring (3+ cups) and using the restroom (6+ cups).  The water needs to be generously replenished because it impacts almost every aspect of life.

Here are some of the top health benefits of drinking water:

1. Aids in weight loss

2. Natural remedy for headaches

3. Creates younger and healthier-looking skin

4. Promotes productivity at work

5. Gives the body energy to enhance exercise

6. Helps in digestion and constipation

7. Reduces likelihood of experiencing cramps and sprains

8. Promotes the feeling of being healthy

9. Relieves fatigue

10. Puts you in a good mood

11. Reduces the risk of cancer

Water affects these areas because of its many functions in the body including: moistening tissue in the eyes, nose, mouth, etc.; protecting organs and tissues; helping prevent constipation; making minerals and nutrients accessible to the body; carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells; flushing waste products; lubricating joints; and regulating body temperature.

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