Category Archives: Health

Baby Boomers Warned About Over-Drinking as Alcohol-Related Deaths Soar

Wine Glass

Don’t shoot the messenger, but baby boomers are hitting the bottle at alarming levels.

Just this week, baby boomers received new warnings about alcohol as people aged 50-plus deaths linked to alcohol soared. The number of deaths attributed solely to alcohol has increased 45% since 2001, according to a report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday.

While this study was based in the UK, baby boomers in America don’t fare any better. One out of every eight Americans has an alcohol disorder, according to a study published in August 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Psychiatry. While the survey showed alcohol disorders increased for the US population in general, some of the sharpest increases were among baby boomers. For example, high risk alcohol use increased 65.2 percent  and alcoholism rose 106.7 percent for the over 65 crowd during the last decade.

By 2020 the number of people receiving treatment for substance misuse problems is expected to double in Europe, and treble in the US, among those aged over 50.

This is bad news for baby boomers since alcohol is linked to more than 60 illnesses and diseases including heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and dementia.

Why Are Baby Boomers Drinking Too Much?

We were the generation famous for drinking a martini or Manhattan after work as often shown on the TV show Madmen. But is there more to this growing problem of alcohol misuse? Probably.

This blog was inspired by reports that baby boomers, especially those in their 50s and 60s, are statistically the unhappiest age group. Many boomers face stressful events such as declining health, raising teenagers, looming college tuitions, adult children moving back home, caring for aging parents, menopause, the loss of a loved one, and social isolation.

Add to that financial stress. According to a poll by AARP, baby boomers are more worried than any other age group about retirement security. Many boomers confess they didn’t put enough money aside for retirement and find themselves heading toward their golden years with mortgage and credit card debt.

All of this worry, stress, and depression can easily trigger the misuse of alcohol if not kept in check.

Another factor may go back to the disappointment of our generation that expected a better world. “What does alcohol mean to our generation?” asks Christina Fraser, a relationship counselor with Coupleworks and herself a baby boomer. “We drink to fill a void. Our parents had a job, retired and dropped dead two years later. They worked hard and had fewer opportunities. The baby boomers were given the promise of a world that was full of possibilities. Instead, we are seeing that world close in.”

What is Considered Over-Drinking?

Baby boomers who love wine o’clock may be shocked to hear what is considered over-drinking.  Moderate drinking is one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men. So maybe you’re thinking you don’t drink everyday, mostly just on weekends.

Do the math. Women are considered “heavy drinkers” if they have eight or more drinks a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men can have 14.

A standard “drink,” by the way, is not that big wine glass filled to the tippy top, a huge frosty mug, or giant Hurricane glass. The CDC says a drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. If you pour more than these standard serving sizes, it counts for more than one drink.

While studies show that moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle for many people, those benefits quickly turn into health risks. These dangers include an increased risk of cancer, heart, and liver disease.

In fact, on the heels of the new study warning baby boomers to stop over-drinking, comes another statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) that “even light drinking increases your risk of cancer.” ABC News’ chief medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, said that alcohol has been a known human carcinogen, or known to cause cancer, for a long time within the medical community.

Moderate drinkers nearly double their risk for mouth and throat cancer and more than double the risk of esophagus cancer compared to nondrinkers. They also face elevated risks for cancer o the voice box, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

The risk for heavy drinkers is much higher and downright sobering (excuse the pun). Heavy drinkers face roughly five times the risk of mouth and throat cancers and squamous cell esophageal cancers than nondrinkers, nearly three times the risk of cancers of the voice box, double the risk of liver cancer, as well as increased risks for breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Ways to Cut Back

So we baby boomers have been put on notice. How can we scale back on alcohol use?

  • Cut down the number of days you drink alcohol. In fact, you may want to abstain for a week or a month to see how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol in your life.
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink at one sitting. If you normally drink two glasses of wine, make it one instead.
  • If you are drinking too much, avoid people, places, things and certain activities that trigger an urge to drink. For example, baby boomers love to splurge on dining out, but this luxury often prompts people to drink more. If this is the case, consider going out to dinner less often.
  • Find healthy alternatives for coping with stress, loneliness, or anger. For example, if you’re tempted to reach for a drink take a walk, garden, or take a long bubble bath.

Experts say that alcohol misuse among older people isn’t a problem that will simply disappear on its own. This new data should serve as a wake-up call to all baby boomers to examine their drinking habits.

Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Ten Ways to Manage Baby Boomer Back Pain

As a famous Aunty Acid cartoon says: “It’s bad news when you get to the age where your back goes out more than you do.”

Back PainThat’s for sure. Fortunately, I haven’t had a lot of back issues during my lifetime, but recently that’s changed. My lower back pain has become chronic and can’t be ignored any longer.

Of course, I’m far from alone. According to statistics, four-fifths of Americans have back pain.

My back problems probably have something to do with my age. But I don’t want to accept that. Isn’t it cooler to think my lower back hurts because of my vicious racquetball games with hubby? Yeah, that’s it! (I swear, old age creeps up on you like underwear.)

If you’re in the same boat, what should you do?

According to research, people who don’t pursue extreme treatment have fewer complications. So before you rush out to get an MRI or x-ray, ask for epidural or cortisone shots, start popping pain pills, or thinking about surgery, try the following recommendations:

Be Patient

At this point, I’m not hopeful my back pain will resolve itself without taking some kind of action and I’m not very good at being patient. However, according to Prevention’s website, as many as 90% of back-pain episodes resolve within six weeks, whether they’re the result of an injury or due to a structural or nerve problem. It doesn’t hurt to give it some time to see if the back pain gets better on its own.

Use Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Oh, I hate to admit it, but me and hubby are both popping Aleve pills like Pez candy lately. We keep a huge bottle in our nightstand. But the fact is, ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil) or a naproxen (like Aleve) can help ease the pain. Research shows these types of drugs usually give you better relief than acetaminophen (Tylenol). The downside: Over long periods, NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems, so don’t take them for more than 10 days without consulting your doctor.

Stay Active

You may just want to give in to the pain and lie down, but the general advice is to keep moving. Studies show that people with short-term low-back pain who use bed rest to try and solve the problem may feel even more pain. Simple, low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming can be helpful. If you sit for long periods of time at a desk like me, experts suggest getting up every 20 minutes or so to walk around and stretch a bit. I just started trying some exercises I found on Mayo Clinic’s website to help gently stretch and strengthen my back and supporting muscles. I’ll let you know if it helps.

Improve Your Posture

Research shows that most people with poor posture put unnecessary strain on their backs. That means no slumping at your desk (guilty as charged) which makes it harder for your back to support your weight. Makes sense. I should have listened to my mother when she told me to stand up straight. Never too late to change, right? Also, be careful of your posture when lifting heavy objects. Never bend over from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from the knees.

Use Ice and Heating Pads

You probably already know this, but it’s a good reminder. If your back hurts due to an injury or strain, use ice the first 48 hours for 20 minute sessions several times a day. This can reduce swelling and relieve pain. Then switch to 20 minutes with a heating pad which loosens tight muscles and increases circulation.

Focus On Your Feet

This was interesting to me. Women whose feet roll inward when they walk might be particularly susceptible to lower-back pain, according to a recent study in the journal Rheumatology. Inserts may help if this is a problem. Hey, honey, watch me walk. Am I strolling a bit wonky?

Get a Massage

See, it’s not all bad news. You now have a great excuse to get that relaxing massage. One study showed that people who had regular messages had substantially less pain and disability after 10 weeks. Osteopathic and chiropractic therapies have been shown to work too.

Try Acupuncture

I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat about the needles, but studies have shown many patients with low back pain found more pain relief with acupuncture than those receiving conventional care. I’ve heard from several people that this can help. Maybe one day I’ll get desperate enough to brave the needles!

Watch Your Weight

Oh, it had to be said. We all know it’s true. Being overweight puts excess stress on your spine and joints. So, try and keep your weight within a healthy range for your age and height. Okay, lecture over.

Stay Calm

Back pain becomes worse if you start stressing about it. Accept that you have pain and try taking some of the steps I’ve outlined above to help manage it. Deep breathing may help calm you. Resist delving into a sea of negativity and hopelessness. To make the pain more tolerable, try doing three things that make you feel good each day. In other words, find a bit of baby boomer bliss! Enjoy a soothing cup of tea or coffee, write in a journal, call an old friend, or enjoy a candlelit bath.

And take some comfort from a quote I saw from Joe Morgan: “If you don’t have a bad back by the time you’re 60, then you haven’t done anything in your life.”

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

How Baby Boomers Can Control Stress Eating

As I’ve shared with you before in my blog, the last few years were stressful ones for me. I’m not alone. Many baby boomers are facing various trials in their “golden years.”

As a result, for the first time in my life, I got into the habit of stress eating.

junk-foodI’m referring to the routine of emotional, mindless eating and snacking. Stuffing myself with junk food, not to fill my stomach, but because I’m bored, stressed from everyday life, overwhelmed, or exhausted.

To make matters worse, sometimes I’m eating without paying attention to the food or really enjoying it. Suddenly, I crave chocolate or chips or pizza and nothing else sounds good. So, I woof it down while watching TV, reading a book, or playing on my iPad. The need to eat isn’t coming from my stomach but from inside my head. I don’t eat until I’m full but until I’m uncomfortable.

Sometimes I start off with good intentions and eat something healthy like veggies but I still can’t get those darn chips off my brain. Not satisfied, I eat a huge bowl of popcorn thinking that will do the trick. I’m full, but I can’t quit thinking about those nachos I wanted in the first place. So I end up eating the veggies, popcorn, AND the nachos. My stomach is so full and bloated, I end up feeling downright miserable. In my twisted mind, I convince myself I should just go for the nachos next time instead of all those extra calories I ate before eating what I really craved. So that’s what I do.

Briefly, I feel better, but then I feel disgusted with myself.

Sound familiar?

If you’re 50-plus like me, you’re particularly susceptible to emotional eating since during this time of life we’re often facing stressful events and changes in our lives. Empty nest syndrome, aging parents, death of a loved one, menopause, worrying about retirement, or declining health may be troubling us. Since weight gain is often related to aging and menopause, stress eating is the last thing we need!

As I’ve shared with you in a previous blog, I found a diet that works for me and lost seven out of the 10 pounds I needed to lose. But because of stress eating, I’ve already gained a few pounds back.

So what can we all do to stop stress eating and avoid the dreaded unwanted weight gain that usually results? Here are some simple tips I plan on using:

Identify Emotions and Triggers

junk-food-pizzaTake comfort, stress eating isn’t all your fault and actually has a logical reason behind it.

When you feel stressed out, your body produces high levels of the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol increases your appetite and triggers cravings for salty, high-carb, sweet, and high-fat foods. These foods give you a burst of energy and pleasure by increasing the brain’s feel-good dopamine response. Over time, your brain may start to rely on these comfort foods to calm down and feel better.

In addition, if you’re not sleeping at night because you’re anxious, that only makes the problem worse. And if your life feels unfulfilled and empty, food may fill a void.

So, the first step is to figure out what is making you reach for that bag of chips. Does your life feel out of control? Are you frustrated? Overwhelmed? Mad? Anxious?

Focus on the real issues at hand and you’ll be ready for the next step.

Learn to Accept Your Feelings

Often we eat to avoid feelings that make us uncomfortable. Food is a nice distraction sometimes.

If you’re stressed out about your job or financial pressures, worried about an upcoming event, or stewing over an argument you had with a loved one, it’s usually easier to focus on eating comfort foods instead of dealing with the painful situation.

The emotions won’t go away, however. If you stress eat, you’ll also add the burden of guilt for sabotaging your weight loss goals. This starts a whole cycle – and not a good one. Your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for ruining your diet , you gain weight, feel even more guilty, and then overeat again to try and make yourself feel better.

So, give yourself permission to feel angry, fearful, anxious, guilty, or exhausted. Invite those negative feelings in and accept them with kindness. Eventually, your body will come to understand that it no longer needs to comfort itself with food to protect you from your own emotions.

The truth is when you don’t try and suppress your feelings – even if they are painful – it will help you quit obsessing over your negative emotions. Your feelings will lose their power over you. You’ll learn to control your anxiety and deal with emotional problems in more constructive ways.

When you listen to and accept your feelings, you’ll discover what it is you truly need and then make necessary changes in your life.

Pause for a Moment

Take a moment to stop and reflect on why you want to eat. Tell yourself that you’ll put off eating for just five minutes. During that time, you’ll give yourself an opportunity to make a different choice than reaching for that bowl of ice cream.

Ask yourself how you’re feeling emotionally. Understand what is driving your need to eat and see if there is a better way to address your feelings. (See the section below for some ideas on positive ways to deal with negative emotions.)

However, if you still really, really want that bowl of ice cream, it may be better to indulge in moderation. As I learned from my experience as related in the beginning of this article, eating a bunch of veggies and rice cakes when you really want some chips or chocolate won’t work in the long run.

“Reach for something you don’t really want, and you’re likely to eat more of it because it isn’t satisfying,” explains Michelle May, MD, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. So, go ahead and indulge, but step away from that laptop, TV, or iPad, so you can focus fully on the treat you want to eat. Why? If you don’t take a moment to enjoy everything about it, “then the real reason you’re eating it won’t be served,” she says, and you’ll be more likely to give in to other high-calorie foods—not to mention more of them.

Even if you give into temptation and eat more than you should, you’ll understand better why you are turning to food and perhaps can respond differently the next time cravings hit.

Find Alternatives

junk-food-refuseOnce you understand the cycle of stress eating and some of your triggers, find other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally.

If you’re stressed out, turn on some favorite music and dance around the house. Take a brisk walk. Write in a journal. Do something creative like painting or scrapbooking. Practice deep breathing until you feel calm. Get outside and enjoy nature.

If you’re feeling depressed or lonely, call a good friend or family member, pet your dog or cat, or look through an old photo album. If you’re angry, practice the healing art of forgiveness. If you’re bored, plan your next trip or start filling your calendar with exciting events. If you’re exhausted, treat yourself to a soothing cup of tea or a long bath with scented candles.

It also helps to take positive steps to tackle issues that may be bothering you. For example, if financial problems are weighing you down, start implementing constructive strategies toward paying down debt or saving for retirement.

Keep in mind, negative emotions don’t typically last forever. Just because you are unhappy today doesn’t mean you’ll be unhappy tomorrow. But in the meantime, find alternative healthy and positive ways to deal with your feelings.

Pay Attention to What You Eat

Stay away from mindless eating and really appreciate your food.

In the grocery store, keep in mind the nutritional value of the food you’re buying and how it can help your body. Try some new healthy recipes. On Facebook, I discovered Skinnytaste and have been admiring all the great looking videos this woman posts. I definitely plan on trying out some of her recipes.

When you’re cooking, use all your senses to appreciate the aroma, texture, color, and even different sounds of the food as you cook them.

And when it’s time to eat, take time to enjoy your food fully. Take small bites, chew slowly and thoroughly, and appreciate all the ingredients and seasonings. You’ll be surprised at all the flavors that are released when you do so.

Start Each Day Anew

Finally, be kind to yourself. If you have a setback and indulge in emotional eating, start fresh the next day. Learn from your experience and plan on how you can prevent it from happening again. Focus on the constructive changes you’re making in your eating habits that will lead to better health.

And go ahead and indulge every once in a while. Just take the time to truly savor it.

So, there you go. Next time, I get the urge to stress eat, I’m following the steps I’ve outlined above. I’ll let you know how it goes. Today, I’m cleaning out my refrigerator and going to the grocery store for some satisfying healthy foods as a first step.

How about you? Join me and we can combat stress eating together!

Images courtesy of (in order of appearance) stockimages, Witthaya Phonsawat, and iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomers: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables to Boost Happiness

As a baby boomer, didn’t your mother always tell you to eat your veggies. As usual, she was right.

Fruits and VeggiesWe all know that eating more fruits and vegetables makes us healthier, but now a new study from Australia suggests it can make you feel happier as well.

Researchers discovered that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables to eating eight servings a day felt an increase in life satisfaction similar to how an unemployed person feels after finding a job.

Yippee! I’ll take some of that!

More than 12,000 adults participated in this study and kept food diaries answering questions about their lives and their mental and emotional health. Those that increased their fruit and vegetable portions reported increased happiness within two years of the changes to their diets.

Happy Couple“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” study co-author Redzo Mujcic, a health economics research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement.

The new findings may help doctors convince people to eat more fruits and vegetables, she added. “There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables, not just a lower health risk decades later,” he said.

Want to get on the happiness train? Here are six easy ways, according to Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

#1 Start First Thing in the Morning

Start eating fruits and veggies at breakfast, Mangieri suggests. This is a recommendation I happen to follow already. Super simple. Just toss some frozen blueberries or diced bananas on top of your cereal or add to yogurt. Or add veggies to an omelet.

You can also use fruit to make a smoothie. Mangieri recommends using yogurt with no added sugar. “We have this heightened sense of sweetness just from overdoing it on sugars,” Mangieri says. We should try to get back to basics and let fruit be sweet enough for our taste buds, she adds.

#2 Keep Fruit and Veggies in Sight

Make fruits and vegetables visible to encourage everyone in your family, including yourself, to eat them, Mangieri says. Keep a fruit bowl in your kitchen. Put carrot sticks, snap peas, and celery in the refrigerator where you can see them along with some hummus for dipping. Yum!

#3 Frozen is Fine

Frozen vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, and carrots, are a great way to make sure you always have vegetables in the house, Mangieri says. They are easy to prepare and keep for a long time. Mangieri recommends steaming the vegetables and adding them to casserole dishes.

Frozen vegetables are usually just as nutritious as fresh ones , according to Keri Gans, who is a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Salmon#4 Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits and Veggies

No measuring involved. The new USDA guidelines recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Center your meals on what vegetables you’ll eat and then think of what grains and protein to add, Mangieri suggests. Make fruits and veggies a focal point and you’ll have an easy time meeting the dietary recommendations.

#5 Add Fruit to Desserts

Let’s face it, we’re all going to indulge in some ice cream or cake sometimes. Of course, it pays to remember portion control when it comes to your sweets. But if you’re going to treat yourself, why not add some fresh berries on top?

“Fruits are nature’s natural candy,” Mangieri says. She recommends pureeing berries and adding them as a sauce to desserts.

So there you go! No time like the present to eat a little happiness. Grab a piece of fruit right now and be on your way to a more joyful day!

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of Suat Eman, photostock, and mrsiraphol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How This Baby Boomer Lost a Pound a Day

Have you baby boomers noticed that losing weight seems almost impossible after the age of 50? So, I was thrilled to find a diet that finally worked for me.

I know, I know. Losing a pound a day may not sound like a healthy way to lose weight, but stay with me.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m not getting paid to promote some crazy diet. Not a penny. This blog is completely unbiased and just a helpful hint for those of you who may be dealing with weight issues like me.

I’ve shared my struggles with losing weight in previous blogs like My Menopausal Middle. In my 50’s as a post-menopausal woman, the weight just wouldn’t quit creeping up on my body. And losing weight seemed impossible.

Diet AdviceWe baby boomers know health and happiness are directly related. So, after a doctor’s visit with a polite warning that I had gained 10 pounds since my last visit, I was ready to take action.

In the past, I had used Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig to lose weight, but those diets didn’t seem to work for me anymore. I’d lose weight the first couple of weeks and then my body seemed to catch on that I was up to something and put a screeching halt to the whole process.

It’s still early on, but I think I found a new diet that actually works for me. I’ve lost five pounds in five days eating foods I actually like – and I don’t feel like I’m starving.

Before I reveal the name of the diet, however, let’s play a game of 20 questions – except we’ll only use five.

Who am I? Here are your hints:

  • I used to be a fat guy.
  • I am 49 years old and an award-winning chef.
  • I had my own cooking reality show.
  • I have written 11 cookbooks, including five New York Times best sellers.
  • I was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Chef.”

Did you guess? If not, the answer is the very cute Rocco Dispirito.

As Rocco said in a recent New York Times interview, his doctor half-jokingly told him 10 years ago, “You might want to start writing your will because I don’t like what I see in your numbers.” With his parents’ history of heart disease, the doctor predicted a bad outcome 20 years down the road.

The doctor’s visit was a wake-up call. That and his inability to wear a regular chef’s jacket anymore, which he says was totally humiliating.

Diet Getting ThinThus began his journey toward discovering the secrets of fast and effective, but not tortuous, weight loss.

Two years ago, after watching Rocco on a TV show discuss his weight loss program, I went out and bought his book, The Pound a Day Diet.

I hated the name of the book, because it sounded like another Hollywood extreme fad diet. In fact, this diet has its share of critics because of the rapid weight loss and possible side effects.

For example, although a diet designed for quick weight loss can help keep dieters on track, ABC News’ Dr. Jennifer Ashton noted, she added that in some cases these types of diets can be associated with risks. Those risks include electrolyte abnormalities, cardiac consequences, and multiple other medical issues. So, with that in mind, clear this diet with your doctor before beginning.

Even though I was put off by the title, Rocco said in the TV interview that the diet was based on a Mediterranean diet with lots of veggies, fruits, and lean protein which were put into use in fast and easy-to-cook, tasty recipes. That part made sense to me.

Alas, my life got really crazy after that care giving for my Mom and I never got around to using the book. But last week, I pulled it off the bookshelf and decided to give it a try.

Now, the first phase of the diet is super strict – with six small protein-packed meals equaling only about 850 calories a day during the week and 1,200 calories on the weekend. This phase, with virtually no carbs, is meant only to be used for the short term to help motivate people with its quick results. Phase 2, shows you how to re-balance portion size, eat less meat, and add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Phase 1 seemed too extreme to me, so I’m not being quite that strict. I’m eating more like 1,000 calories a day. Even so, for the first five days, I lost five pounds.

Diet Breakfast One of the staples of his plan is a morning chocolate shake packed with protein made up of just six ingredients. I used it a couple of times, but since I prefer real food over shakes for my meals, I usually stick with my typical oatmeal or cereal with fruit on top, half a glass of orange juice, and coffee for breakfast. Without the cereal, I was starting to crave some carbs and this breakfast fulfills that need so I don’t feel deprived.

The only recipe I can’t endorse is what Rocco calls “The Green Monkey” – a vegetable drink I just couldn’t tolerate. So I skipped that and chose a different snack. Everything else I’ve tried has been great and the diet has been pretty easy for me so far.

Here’s another tip. Rocco recommends drinking green tea. I’ve never liked it before, but I found one I love – Bigelow’s Green Tea with Wild Blueberry and Acai. Yum!

What I like best about the diet is that the recipes are healthy, easy, and fast – and the unique but simple combinations Rocco suggests are delicious.

Yesterday, I made the miso soup with shrimp for lunch – fabulous! For dinner, my husband and I used the Salisbury steak recipe and he loved it. (By the way, hubby has lost 11 pounds so far.) These are recipes I will continue to use even after I’ve lost my goal weight.

Now I hear Rocco has a new book out, Cook Your Butt Off! Lose Up To A Pound A Day With Fat-Burning Foods and Gluten-Free Recipes. According to reviews, the book looks at ways that people can slice calories from their favorite meals and turn their kitchens into home gyms. Ummm, that’s an interesting concept!

So, stay tuned. I’ll let you know in a few weeks if I keep losing weight and manage to keep the pounds off on Phase 2 of the diet.

If you have tried this diet or have any diet tips you’d like to share, please comment below. In the meantime, stay healthy and happy everyone!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and Serge Bertasius at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomers Cause a Boom in Wellness Industry

We all know that health and happiness are connected. Perhaps no one knows that better than us baby boomers as we age.

Turns out that our interest in longevity and living well into old age is giving the wellness industry quite a boost. Organic foods, yoga studios, fitness clubs, and natural beauty products are experiencing substantial growth, according to new industry reports. You might think it’s the millennials who are pushing these trends. However, we baby boomers are doing our share to bolster these holistic markets.

We want to improve our health and delay the physical effect of aging – but true to our hippy roots – we want to do it naturally.

How can you jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of some of latest offerings from the wellness industry? Here are a few ways:

Organic FoodsHealthier Foods

Boomers have been reading food-product labels for years, but we’ve become even more conscious of our diets as we age. The fact is that boomers are paying more attention than previous generations to food choices.

A survey by Whole Foods indicated that four in five boomers are more food conscious, more attentive to food labels, and know more about the origins of their food products than they did in the past.

Evidently, we’re jumping on the trend to buy organic foods as well. Sales of organic food have soared in the last decade – from $3 billion in 1997 to more than $10 billion in 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. No doubt, this is due to the controversial use of synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, additives, and insecticides, as well as a concern about environmental practices.

Even boomers like me, who don’t always buy organic, are interested in healthier options. I’m steering away from processed food and definitely into eating more fruits and vegetables. As part of that goal, I’m planning to plant a garden in my new backyard this year. 

If you’re not in this category and still driving through McDonald’s, why not start taking advantage of all the new options out there and start eating healthier today? 

Baby Boomer ExerciseTrendy Exercise

Compared to older generations, fitness is more culturally ingrained in baby boomers. For many of us, exercise is part of our daily routine. However, although we want a good workout, boomers also want to have fun.

Forget low-impact aerobics. We’re signing up for Zumba, yoga, and kick boxing classes. Stroll around the park? Heck no! Give us a mountain bike or kayak instead. Or we’re out jumping on the trampoline with our grandkids.

As a result, fitness programs geared to boomers are popping up around the country. People ages 55 and older are one of the fastest growing segments of gym membership, according to research firm IBISWorld. In fact, the study predicts the boomer generation will help push the fitness category to nearly $30 billion by 2018.

“Baby boomers have changed every market they have passed through, starting with baby food and diapers through education and right up to the automotive industry,” said Lori Bitter, president of consulting firm the Business of Aging in Alameda. “Now it’s fitness.”

Once again, that’s good news.

New research just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death. Yikes! 

So boomers, we need to get moving. Take advantage of some of those trendy exercise classes designed just for us or try aqua cycling or indoor surfing. Whatever rocks your boat – even if it’s simply walking  – just get off your butt!

Natural Beauty Products

Our generation’s approach to getting older is a bit of denial. That’s why we’re always on the hunt for beauty products that are good for our skin and help us look as young as we feel.

I personally have no interest in plastic surgery. My wrinkles tell my life story and I’m keeping them. And of course, there are more important things to focus on than our looks. That being said, I have my share of anti-aging beauty products.  I’m grateful for improved technology and an increased availability of skin care treatments and products. And if they’re all-natural – bonus points.

“Making them [baby boomers] look vibrant and sexy as they get older is huge,” says Mary Furlong, a professor of entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University in California and author of Turning Silver Into Gold. A higher divorce rate among boomers than previous generations also means an renewed interest in beauty and body services. “When you are 60 and dating again, it takes a good week to look good,” says Furlong, who is nearly 60 herself.

So, if you’re so inclined, why not have some fun and embrace this natural beauty trend as well? There are a lot of interesting products out there like lemon honey moisturizer, organic rose hip oil serum, or a cleaning oil made from tea tree and lavender.

We boomers are getting older but evidently we’re still influencing industry specialists who are scrambling to understand our wants and needs as part of the lucrative boomer market. Of course, their primary goal is to make money off of us, but we boomers can take advantage of some of the new options becoming available.

Or not. Totally up to you. You certainly don’t need to try all the new trends to stay healthy and happy. Simple common sense will get you there.

Whatever you choose to do, as Spock would say: Live long and prosper, boomers!

Images courtesy of Stoonn and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

juliegorges

August 27, 2015

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” ~ John Gunther

“Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Don’t you just love those quotes? And I swear there’s truth in those statements.

Enjoying a leisurely breakfast while camping with the family.

Enjoying a leisurely breakfast while camping with the family.

Last weekend, my family camped in our son’s RV. On Sunday morning, my husband fixed all of us scrambled eggs with yummy cheese on top along with some sizzling, crispy bacon that felt absolutely luxurious.

Now, I must confess, during the week I’m the first person to grab a quick bowl of cereal. Granted, I usually take the time to throw some blueberries, bananas, or strawberries on top. But, as I’ve shared before, I am NOT a morning person. The idea of cooking when I get up is just not appealing. Appalling is more like it.

So, if you’re like me and typically grab a quick bite on your way out, why not make it a goal to take the time on a cozy, relaxing weekend morning for a bit of breakfast bliss? After all, what could be better than brunch in bed with champagne while you happily munch away on delectable goodies in your jammies?

BreakfastNot convinced? Let me tempt you. Close your eyes and visualize the smell of fresh brewed coffee, the sound of sizzling bacon, the fluffiness of pancakes, the sound of a whisk, and the taste of juicy, sumptuous berries in your mouth.

Or picture a steaming bowl of old-fashioned porridge with golden raisins, brown sugar, raspberries, apple butter, sliced almonds, with a dash of cinnamon. Add some pumpkin pie spice or canned pumpkin for a fall flare. Yum! Breakfast heaven!

Life is short and meant to be enjoyed. If you need a few more ideas for your next perfect Sunday breakfast, check out a few of these creative recipes on the Internet:

Okay, I just like the sound of that last one. It sounds like a fun breakfast! If you have a favorite weekend breakfast recipe or idea, please share in the comments below.

Whatever you do, never skip this important meal because breakfast can boost your mood and start your day right. For example, research has shown that fortified cereals with vitamin B and some milk packed with vitamin D can help fight anxiety and depression. A banana, almond, flax smoothie is a great source of the mood-enhancer tryptophan and omega-3s which all can help reduce stress and depression. Protein from a creamy cupful of Greek yogurt with berries, a touch of granola and a spoonful of honey is a positivity parfait that can increase levels of pleasure-boosting neurotransmitters. Those yummy berries you toss on top may be blue, but they can help you from feeling that way. Check out my blog, Five Foods to Make You Happy, for more advice on choosing good mood food.

So, have that leisurely breakfast and feel the joy. If you need other ways to start your day on a positive note, check out some of my ideas in my article, Ten Ways to Start Your Morning Right.

In the meantime…Bon Appetit!

Image courtesy of paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Five Foods That Make You Happy

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own.  Amen sister!

Eating HappyWhen we feel low, it is natural to reach for food to comfort us. When life gets tough the tough get eating.

Can certain kinds of food really make us feel better? Yes, experts say.

“Foods are chemicals,” explains Gary Wenk, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Ohio State University and author of Your Brain on Food. “Because these chemicals resemble the ones found in our brains, they have a powerful impact on our mindset.”

What kinds of food make us happy? Before you reach for junk food like doughnuts or potato chips – hang on a minute. “Comfort” foods may make you feel better for the short term but later can make you feel downright cranky. According to research by the Public Health Nutrition, people who indulge in junk food often are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who rarely or never eat it.

So that got me to wondering which foods make us want to jump for joy. Here’s a list of five foods to get you munching down and singing zippity do da in no time:

Seeds and Nuts

Tryptophan helps produce serotonin, which makes us feel relaxed. Food that has tryptophan can help fight depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Most people know that milk, bananas, and avocados contain tryptophan, but so do protein-rich nuts such as cashews, pistachios, and almonds as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Coffee

Enjoy that cup of Joe. Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a 20% lower risk of depression in women, according to 2011 research in the Archives of Internal Medicine. That’s because caffeine activates serotonin and dopamine release in the brain.

Seafood

Want to be happy as a clam? Eat them. Even canned clams such as those used in clam chowder provide plenty of vitamin B12 which help produce feel-good dopamine and serotonin. In fact, a deficiency of this important vitamin can lead to depression. Other seafood, including trout and salmon, as well as beef, chicken, dairy products, and fortified cereals also contain a good dose B12.

Foods That Make You HappyFruits and Veggies

Eat three servings of fruits and vegetables a day for a bit of that Pollyanna attitude. According to a 2013 study in Psychosomatic Medicine, optimistic people had 13% higher carotenoid levels in their blood (an antioxidant particularly abundant in sweet potatoes and carrots) than those with a more negative outlook. Folate helps produce that good ol’ serotonin that regulates mood and can be found in spinach, brussels sprout, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, and kale. Fruits like blueberries and oranges contain high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C which both help reduce stress.

Chocolate

I wrote a whole blog about how chocolate makes us happy. That’s because chocolate contains a variety of chemicals, some of which make us feel good by boosting our endorphins (the feel-good hormones).  Tryptophan is also found in chocolate which, as I mentioned earlier, is used by the brain to make serotonin and can help us feel relaxed and happy. Caffeine gives us an extra boost of energy.  Scientists at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego even suggested that chocolate contained substances that produce a cannabis-like effect on the brain. Who doesn’t want a bit of happy high?

So next time you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, go ahead and chomp on one of these five foods and you just might find yourself singing, “My oh my, what a wonderful day!”

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic and stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Sleep: The Secret Key to Happiness

This time of year everyone is busy trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions to lose those extra 10 pounds and go to the gym, thinking that the perfect body will make them happy.

Guess what? Even if you succeed, it probably won’t make you happy. Previously, I wrote a blog on this subject. As I pointed out in the article, one study found that those who slimmed down were actually 80 percent more likely to be depressed.

Woman SleepingOf course, weight isn’t, nor should be, the source of happiness. Your spirituality, finding purpose in life, your relationships, and your health are much more important than achieving the perfect body. And guess what else can make you happy?

More sleep.

Confession time. Those close to me know that I have some issues with insomnia. But although I’m still not immune to 3:00 a.m. Facebook or Candy Crush sessions, I’m doing better.

Following all the experts’ advice, I’m exercising more, avoiding large meals and alcohol before bedtime, turning off electronic devises at least 30 minutes before going to sleep, avoiding long naps, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Whatever it takes, I’m trying it, because I know the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have been telling us for years that one of the significant and overlooked health problems in the U.S. is that so many Americans are chronically sleep deprived. Very few of us get the recommended eight hours a night that we so desperately need.

A lack of sleep has a profound effect on our health. Sleep deprivation raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, increases stress hormones, impairs memory and concentration, and is a large contributor to car accidents. Plus, according to recent studies, a lack of sleep can make you fat.

On top of all that, sleep affects our happiness.

Most of us are aware of these facts and crave a good night’s sleep. So why aren’t we getting enough shut eye?

You name it. Menopause, medications, and old age can all contribute to insomnia. Stress and worry can keep us tossing and turning.

Maybe we’re that workaholic who can’t resist getting off just one more email. Or our favorite TV program is on or we want to read just one more chapter of that book we can’t put down. Electronic devices in the bedroom late at night disrupt our sleep. Or perhaps we drink too much caffeine or alcohol before going to bed.

Time to make some changes, people. If you’re having problems getting to sleep, check out this very thorough article on the subject, The Step by Step Guide to Falling Asleep (That Actually Works).

So let’s try and do better.  One study from the University of Michigan showed that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for our daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise annually. Getting an extra 60-90 minutes of sleep each night can not only make us happier but will also strengthen our immune system and improve our memory.

This works the other way around too, by the way. According to a study from Cornell University, having a positive outlook on life is associated with improved sleep quality. In other words, if we get happy, it will help us achieve that quality good night’s sleep we need.

So, you get the gist. Sleep more and be happy. Be happy and sleep more.

Sounds good to me.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 

Why Dancing Makes You Happy

I love to dance. When I was younger and my husband and I were dating, we took ballroom dance lessons and had an absolute blast.

Dancing HappyAlthough we’ve forgotten how to do some of the dances like the rumba and cha cha, we still remember the steps to the swing. At weddings, we’re the couple who rush out every time they play Rock This Town by Stray Cats or Glenn Miller Orchestra’s  In The Mood. And at parties we still get out there and boogie down.

You too should shake your booty as often as possible. Why?

Whether you choose to do ballet, salsa, ballroom, Zumba, tap, or simply rock it out to some fun music, dancing is one of the often overlooked tickets to happiness and good for your health to boot.

Studies show that dancing can help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve flexibility
  • Make friends and increase social skills
  • Improve heart and lung health
  • Reduce depression
  • Increase muscle tone and strength
  • Improve balance and posture
  • Increase energy levels
  • Lift your spirits

Need more motivation? For baby boomers like me reading this, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older.

Hooray for dancing!

Of course, you should see your doctor for a check-up if you’re older, overweight, or have a medical condition before proceeding.

Once that’s done, what are you waiting for? Even though it’s winter right now, that’s no excuse since dancing is usually performed indoors. So join a dance school or check out what your community offers. Most fitness clubs offer dance classes. Go line dancing. Check out an instructional or fitness dancing DVD at your library or simply dance around the house. Get your heart pumping and keep your body moving. Your butt will thank you later!

If you need a few songs to inspire you, here are five dance songs I can’t resist:

“Shout” by The Isley Brothers

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

“Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift

“1999” by Prince

MC Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This”

Okay, it’s your turn. What kind of dancing do you enjoy and what have you found to be the benefits? What dance songs make you get up out of your chair and start moving? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net