ALS

als ALSThanks to celebrities, social media and news media lately, ALS has really gained some awareness. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a neurodegenerative disease that is rapidly progressive, affecting the nerve cells of the brain and the spinal cord. What happens in ALS is that the nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player from the New York Yankees who was the first to be diagnosed with this disorder back in 1939. ALS disease is a progressive and fatal disorder, and the most common cause of death among ALS patients is respiratory failure and pneumonia which occurs in two to three years after diagnosis.

Symptoms:

The common and early symptoms of this disease include weakness in the hands or feet, muscle twitching and trouble in swallowing or talking. Other signs include the inability to use the upper and lower extremities and “think speech” or the difficulty of projecting your voice. There will also be fatigability, constant dropping of things, tripping and slurred speech. As the disease progresses, there will be a difficulty in breathing and swallowing, shortness of breath, dementia and paralysis.

Cure:

At present time there is no proper cure for ALS and unfortunately no treatment. Treatment of ALS is symptomatic – the symptoms are the ones being addressed, not the disease itself. Supportive care is what is encouraged with the goal of improving the quality of life. Physical therapy, speech therapy, a diet that provides nutrients needed and eliminates the hazards of choking are the current treatment methods of ALS. A recent medication for ALS is Riluzole which helps in reducing the damage on motor neurons through decreasing the release of glutamate. This will prolong the survival of patients of ALS who have been using it.

ALS can be either periodic or genetic, and more genes are being recognized as likely causes of ALS. The fact is that a person can have the ALS mutation genes, but never get ALS, while a person without any particular gene can be prompted to this disease. Men have a 25% more chance of being diagnosed at an earlier age than women. However, once men and women reach into their 50s, diagnosis is about equal.

Thanks to recent Ice Bucket Challenges ALS has come out of the shadows and is getting the awareness it needs. Do what you can to help support research for a cure. Let’s all help in finding a cure before someone we know and love gets diagnosed with this crippling disease.

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Helicopter Parenting

helicopter Helicopter ParentingA helicopter parent is essentially an over protective parent. Our children are our lives. It is our instinct to guide, help and protect them through life. But there is a fine line of protecting too much and allowing your child to learn and experience things for themselves. Helicopter parents will protect their children from any and all potential sources of harm, risk and/or disappointment. It’s where one of the best of intentions can lead to the worst of results.

If a child is not allowed to explore and make mistakes, adequate learning cannot happen. A parent that does all the thinking for a child will produce an adult that will always need the approval of his or her “primary brain” (the parent) and won’t be able to make their own choices and decisions. Helicopter parents believe they are protecting their innocent children from the harshness of the real world. But in reality they are preventing their kids from learning important life lessons and skills and setting them up for future failure and unhappiness.

Self-esteem is one of the most important things a parent can help a child foster. Self-esteem helps determine a child’s future success and ability. Achieving success and happiness is made much easier with good self-esteem.

Helicopter parenting can affect a child’s ability to learn decision making, that there are consequences to their actions and how to deal with rejection.

  1. Decision Making – This is probably one of the most important life skills a person develops. It is something that needs to be developed, learned and perfected. Children who can make their own decisions and are empowered to do so are given the chance to build their self-confidence and esteem.
  2. Consequences – Connected to decision making is learning that there are consequences to our decisions and actions. It is a crucial life lesson. It is during childhood that these crucial life skills are to be learned and developed so that they happen in a nurturing, loving and safe environment. It is better to learn these lessons at a young age where in general the consequences don’t have life-time ramifications.
  3. Dealing with Rejection – Rejection or failure is a part of life. Learning to deal with it and overcoming it are crucial life skills. The sooner a child is able to learn how to deal with rejection, the better they will be able to cope and persevere in life.

As well-intentioned a parent may be, if they are too over protective and hovering, rescuing, and excusing, they are only having a negative impact on their kids. They may find their children will have a deflated self-esteem, difficulty problem-solving, dependency issues, irresponsible behavior, a sense of self entitlement, become self-centered, needy and have a lack of resiliency and persistence. Protect your children, but let them learn for themselves. You’re only helping them become the best person they can be.

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Snacking, Choose Wisely

snack Snacking, Choose WiselyThere is nothing worse than that hungry feeling in between meals. You don’t want to ruin all the hard work in your weight loss program by eating snacks throughout the day. You don’t have to have that feeling, there are lots of healthy snacks for weight loss that are delicious and still nutritious.

A good rule to follow when looking for healthy snack foods is to make sure you look for snacks that are high in protein and contain complex carbohydrates. Protein is critical because it is a primary component of every cell in the human body. The body uses protein to make and mend tissue as well as to reproduce bone, muscle, hair, nail, skin and blood cells. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and come in two forms, simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are your better choice, such as whole grains. However, you can choose simple carbohydrates as long as you choose “good” simple carbohydrates, like the ones found in fresh fruits.

It is important to try to keep your snack foods within the range of approximately 100 to 150 calories and not to have them in an amount that would take you over your daily calories count. If you are allowed 1600 calories per day then it is reasonable to have three meals of about 400 calories each and two to three snacks of approximately 100-150 calories each. This should keep you within a calorie count to lose weight and remain on a healthy diet eating plan.

In addition to selecting snacks containing high protein and low carbohydrates, making sure to snack regularly in between meals is vital. It’s a great idea to get in tune with your internal hunger clock; don’t wait until your stomach starts talking to you. Practicing portion control will make snacking more effective for you. Instead of grabbing an entire bag of nuts from the kitchen cabinet, try measuring out the appropriate serving size ahead of time.

Here is a list of some good snack choices.

  • Apple slices
  • Whole grain bread sticks
  • Unsalted rice cakes
  • Baked tortilla chips
  • Nuts (1 ounce or less)
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Unsweetened canned fruit
  • Baked apple
  • Raisins
  • Frozen grapes
  • Celery
  • Dark chocolate
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Low-fat/fat free fruit yogurt

Eating healthy snack foods is just one part of a health maintenance strategy that should incorporate eating healthy and being active. Talk with your trainer and plan out your meal plan and workout routine.

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Got Bloat?

bloat Got Bloat?We’ve all had that feeling of being uncomfortably full. It’s an awful feeling. You’re tired, lethargic, in pain and a lot of times your clothes are too tight. Bloating usually occurs after eating or during menstruation. Flatulence, pain, and overall discomfort are its annoying symptoms. Bloating can be prevented and treated. There are foods that can help decrease bloat in the stomach.

If you want to fight bloating naturally, all you have to do is eat foods that beat bloating and flatten your stomach. And, if you want to do this successfully, first you need to abstain from food or drinks that commonly cause bloating symptoms. Key items you want to avoid are salty foods, alcohol, sugary drinks, carbonated beverages and raw vegetables.

Eating more slowly is essential for the prevention of bloating. When you chew carefully the food in your mouth is processed more effectively so there is less work for the stomach. It is a great idea to devote more time for your meals in order to put this method into action. Also, you might want to keep chewing every bite until you count to 20.

Reducing the size of your portions always helps. Also try to eliminate the appetizer and/or dessert if you plan on having a hearty main course. And reduce the amount and types of side dishes you have.

Here are some foods that you should include in your food plans if you want to beat bloating and clean your system of gas or excessive fluids.

Yogurt
Yogurt has high water content which is good for the body. This probiotic drink contains good bacteria that helps break down food and moderate the gas or fluids that accumulate inside the body. This helps to keep the digestive system in good stead and allows it function without hassles.

Strawberries
Strawberries are great for fighting bloating and help promote digestion because of their high vitamin C content. You can add strawberries to your early morning oatmeal, lunchtime salads or use for dessert after dinner. Strawberries contain natural sugars so do not take them in excess because ironically they can cause stomach bloating too.

Spinach
Spinach enhances the fiber content inside the body and helps us fight bloating. Spinach requires adequate chewing and allows our bodies to ingest certain minerals and vitamins which help us combat acidic indigestion, urinary tract infections and constipation.

Asparagus
Rich in vitamins and minerals, asparagus, like coffee, is a diuretic. The vegetable promotes the growth of “good” bacteria in the intestines. The “good” bacteria acts to reduce build-up of stomach gas, reducing bloating.

Pineapples
Pineapples contain plenty of water which is capable of flushing out excessive fluids or gas from the body. Also, pineapples contain enzymes which helps facilitate the digestion of protein. Pineapples are made up of over 85% of water and contain bromelain which deals with complicated stomach problems or issues.

Bran Cereals
Cereals are semi-solids and move through the intestines rapidly. Because they comprise of high fiber they fight constipation and bloating. Women should ingest at least 25g of bran cereal every day.

Coffee
Coffee will tame bloating. Besides being a stimulant, coffee is a natural diuretic riding the body of excess water, one of the causes of bloating.

Eating the right food and keeping away from the wrong foods will help fight the uncomfortable feeling of bloating. Mixed in with a regular exercise routine, it’s a win, win and you’ll feel better all around.

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Too Much TV

toomuchtv Too Much TVKids love to watch television. They can become engrossed in it, and if we’re not careful it can take over their lives. Children can become too addicted to it that they will avoid meals, throw a tantrum if taken away from it, and even believe that what they see on TV is real life. It can be very scary if limits aren’t established in the household.

Television isn’t bad. There are many positive reasons to have it on in your home. When your children are young, the shows that they watch are useful for teaching and for their development. They teach our kids how to count, spell, language and especially certain life skills, such as, manners and politeness. They also show values such as love, what is right and wrong, and trust.

As parents we need to set specific times for watching television. Some kids turn the television on as soon as they get in the house after school. On weekends it may also be the first thing to do as soon as they get out of bed. If left unregulated, TV can take over your child’s life.

During the week, television viewing should be kept to a maximum of two to two and a half hours. Focus on getting your kids involved in other things when they come home, finishing homework and chores, helping out with dinner, taking the dog out for a walk, or playing outside with friends are all great ways to keep your kids busy and away from the television set.

Try turning off the TV during dinner, use this time as family time. It’s a way to communicate with the family and take interest in what happens in their lives every day. Maybe something really exciting and out of the ordinary happened that you now get the opportunity to hear about. We sometimes miss out on getting to know each other if we don’t spend time talking to one another.

Obesity and being overweight is becoming more of a problem in our kids today. Sitting and watching TV hours on end cause over-eating. With over-eating and the sedentary behavior it is a recipe for unhealthy living. By turning the TV off and giving them this time to get outside and do something active can help eliminate this issue.

Television is meant to be entertaining, but not to take over your life. Children need to be active and not sedentary. Regulate the amount of TV time for your kids and promote outdoor or other mental development games and exercises. After all, real life is much more interesting than anything on TV anyway.

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Heart Smart

heartsmart Heart SmartHeart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in many countries. Excess weight and obesity are among the major contributing factors in heart problems. It is extremely important to have a heart smart diet such as one that is low in cholesterol, sodium and trans fats.

A Heart Smart diet works by helping you reduce your consumption of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. These two are replaced with lots of fiber-rich foods that are famous for lowering LDL. Foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and cereals are great for heart smart options. Also, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from food such as olives, fish, avocados, and nuts are great for eating heart smart. Equally important is the low amount of salt to help defend the health against high blood pressure. This diet ensures 50-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-25% of calories from protein, and less than 30% of calories from fat. Out of the fat content, saturated fat makes up less than 10%.

Here’s some tips on eating heart smart:

  1. Eat complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and rice. They fill you up, help increase your fiber intake, and make you less prone to eating sugary desserts and fatty meats. They also do not clog your arteries.
  2. Chicken and turkey skins contain a lot of saturated fat, and should definitely be avoided if you do not want coronary artery disease.
  3. Grill, Broil or Steam your food. Avoid frying your meat.
  4. Eat less egg yolks and organs. Egg yolks are more that 50% fat and have high amounts of cholesterol. Organ meats, like liver, may be rich in iron and protein, but they are extremely high in fat and cholesterol. Limit these items in your diet.
  5. Reduce meat portions and eat more fish. Eat 3-ounce of meat instead of 6-ounce or choose a fish option instead of steak.
  6. Pastries should be only a once in a while treat. They are usually high in saturated fat because they are made with shortening or butter. Choose healthier heart options such as whole grain breads or rolls.

Here’s a delicious heart smart sample meal plan for a day:

Breakfast: cinnamon banana toast, served with 125ml of low-fat yogurt, 1 tbsp of raisins, and 1 chopped apple.
Lunch: roasted beef pita with mango chutney and yogurt, cucumber, mixed salad leaves, and 1 small granola bar of about 21g.
Dinner: grilled fish with lentils and rice, 75g of steamed broccoli, and 1 apple.

Take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you for years to come. It is the starting point to a healthy you.

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Add a Little Yoga

yogaadon Add a Little YogaYou may already have a well developed training schedule that includes weight training, cardio/aerobic exercise and resistance training, but have you thought of adding some yoga. Because of its perceived gentle nature, yoga is often overlooked as an extremely effective complement to a regular exercise routine. Adding a little bit of yoga to your training/workout routine will offer many benefits. Ultimately, it will help you strengthen and tone your muscles evenly as you work out. The poses and meditation also enhance your flexibility, balance, and contribute to a happier training routine.

The postures of yoga target all the joints of your body even though you rarely use some. The exercises also strengthen joints you regularly work out such as hips, knees and ankles. It straightens and strengthens the spinal cord as well as tightens the core. These will in turn lower chronic pain on your lower back. It also lubricates your joints, which means they will hurt less while you are working out.

Adding some Yoga to your workouts can have several benefits:

  1. Core Strength – Yoga’s slow, focused movements demand a strong midsection, which creates a perfect foundation for strength training and bodybuilding. The isometric contractions that are part of many of the yoga positions tap into a new level of resistance training that cannot be accomplished with exercise equipment alone.
  2. Range of Motion and Flexibility – Yoga training will help improve performance and prevent injuries during workouts and athletics by gently increasing your range of motion and flexibility.
  3. Balance – Athletic training and weight training effectively develop certain specified muscle groups while some other may get ignored causing an imbalance in the mechanics and muscular system. Yoga training can help improve your body’s balance by addressing some of these underdeveloped areas.
  4. Effective Breathing – Breathing supplies your body and muscles with essential oxygen. During athletic events and workout routines, it is easy to forget to take in full breaths and deliver the proper oxygen levels to all required areas. Yoga helps to train your body how to effectively take deep full breaths.
  5. Downtime Exercise – Too much of something is not a good thing. It is important to take downtime when working out. Use your downtime days to stay active and by doing yoga. There are many yoga styles that are relaxed and less intense to offer the ability to exercise during off days (or even injured, with physicians approval).

Doing a few yoga moves before your workout will minimize or prevent injuries during the workout. Doing yoga after a workout will help your muscles recover and get ready for the next day. Yoga is also beneficial for your internal organs since it stimulates them and prevents various diseases. Get your trainer to help you out by adding some moves into your regular routine or in addition to your workout sessions, add some yoga on the off days. Adding yoga to your workout routine will add a whole new dimension to your total fitness that will serve you well for a lifetime. There are many styles and intensities that you can find one that is perfect for you and your fitness goals.

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Hiking for Fitness

hiking Hiking for FitnessHiking is a great way to get outside, get some fresh air, enjoy your environment and get in some excellent exercise. It’s an easy, inexpensive addition to your workout at the gym. Find a local Conservation Area, National/State Park, or just a trail in your neighborhood.

It is wise to be prepared for your hike. Be sure to check your physical condition and limitations with the condition of the trails. Consider factors such as weather, terrain and altitude before you go. Preparation for the trip is very important, the more tough the terrain is; the more training may be required ahead of time with your trainer. Work with your trainer and let them know your plans. They can maybe even suggest some exercises to help warm you up before your hike. Hiking involves a lot of up and down hill and other terrains, each of these can put different strains to your body. Start small then slowly build yourself up to something more challenging.

It is important to prepare for your hike so you don’t end up with sore, blistered, tired feet. To start, pick a trail that best suits your own fitness level. Don’t be afraid to start on more level terrain and a short hike. Any type of hike is a benefit to health. If you plan on hiking over hilly or difficult terrain, make sure you take the right gear with you. Maybe a walking stick, hiking boots, a backpack with snacks will all be required. Whichever distance and terrain you choice, it is important to warm up and stretch before heading out.

Eating right is very essential if you want your hike to be a success. Make sure you have a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and all the good stuff your body needs to keep it fit and healthy and to keep you going throughout your hike. Bring some yummy, healthy treats along with you.

Here are 3 great reasons to start hiking:

  1. Experience Nature: The only way to truly experience the outdoors is by walking. It puts you in a hands-on situation and allows you to absorb every nuance of natures’ beauty. You will get to enjoy the sounds, smell and feel of the seasons.
  2. Get Great Exercise: Hiking provides the steady exercise that doctors recommend for weight loss and heart issues. Walking or hiking, unlike jogging, will not jar your joints or cause undue stress on your legs and back.
  3. Hike to Relax: Hiking allows you to let go of your stresses. Take a deep breath and get away from it all for just a little while.

Plan your hiking route, get some friends and family together and go out and enjoy what nature has to offer all while getting a great workout.

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Girls Night Out

girlsnight Girls Night OutSometimes you just need to get out. And what is better than a night out with your best girlfriends? Whether you’re studying at university or working hard in a company throughout the week, regardless of your age and interests, one of the best stress relievers for women is a girls’ night out. A fun night out can take off the pressure of the mundane and lift your spirits. What makes these evenings out so special is the relationships built between you and your friends, the need to break loose from everyday life and have fun.

Women are constantly searching for something new and different to do for a great girls night out that doesn’t always involve a bar or a highly overrated movie. When you consider the fact that most women have different tastes in books and poetry, book readings or signings are often very hit or miss, physical activity takes some of the fun out of things, and dancing inevitably leaves an odd girl out. Dinner is a great idea, but often is over far too soon.

Here are some ideas for fun and different girl’s night out.

Paint Your Own Pottery Shop – enjoy an evening of painting, laughing, joking and dishing with your friends.

Relaxing Time – if you and your friends usually have tight, busy schedules with hardly any time for yourselves as you shuttle between responsibilities at the office, at home and as a mother, a relaxing night out is what everyone craves. Plan for a mini massage, facials or for manicures and pedicures.

Bowling – This is an old idea that is definitely enjoyed by many. It’s something different and fun. Usually gets a laugh or two as well.

Try a New Hobby – Plan a cooking session, jewelry making class or cake decorating class. It’s useful and a great time doing something different with your girlfriends.

There are healthy benefits of female bonding. A study by Australian researchers found that female friendship wasn’t just good for the soul; it’s good for your health. Researchers concluded that the presence of good friends in a woman’s life increased life expectancy. Researchers in California concluded that girlfriends are stress-busters for women and have an impact on overall mood. It seems that when we’re around friends, the mood-elevating hormone oxytocin is released, increasing feeling of euphoria. Women with abundant friendships decrease their risk of illness and not having regular contact with girlfriends was as detrimental to her health as smoking or packing on pounds.

Now that you know the importance of having regular girl’s night out and have a bunch of ideas to make your girl’s night out fun, get to planning your next get togethert. Send out an evite to your girlfriends, and catch up, relax, and de-stress.

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Backyard Oasis

oasis Backyard OasisWhat better way to unwind from a busy day at work or being out with the kids, then to step outside to your backyard (front yard or balcony) oasis? Your own little comfortable space that allows you to feel relaxed and calm can be a great benefit to you. It’s a chance for a mini vacation, just steps away from your living room.

Decorating your outdoor space is as important as decorating your interior space. It requires just as much structure as an indoor space would. Like your interior space, the first thing you must determine is the color scheme for your outdoor space. You may want to consider making your outdoor space seem like an extension of your home interior décor. This can be accomplished by continuing with the same color palette as you did indoors.

Once your color scheme is determined, it is important to determine the primary functions of your outdoor space. You need to decide on what elements you would like to incorporate into your space. From there, you can decide on the furniture that will fit your theme and that you will find comfortable in your space.

There are some great ways to bring a little vacation oasis to your own yard. Maybe one of these ideas suits you.

  1. The Bistro: Just two chairs and a table, a great book and maybe a nice glass of wine. Accessorize it with a few candles and if you have the room, a lush garden.
  2. Hang patio drapes: Your porch will feel like a summer getaway with outdoor panel curtains. Hang a wire between two posts and drape them over.
  3. Outdoor dining: When the weather is beautiful, you can dine out(side) anytime. Weather-resistant furniture such as teak or cast iron make great outdoor tables. Have a pergola or trellis? Hang chandeliers, lanterns.
  4. Copa Cabana: Nothing evokes a vacation more than a cabana. Inside, scatter lanterns, maybe even add some floor pillows to get more comfortable.
  5. Beach Chaise: Get a comfortable outdoor cushioned chaise and matching umbrella in a wonderful pattern or vivid colors.
  6. Outdoor living room: There are many great options of outdoor chairs, couches and loveseats. A great way to enjoy an outdoor experience. Add in a fire pot or fire pit for a cozy night “out”.

An outdoor oasis can extend your living space – bringing the comfort of the indoors to the outdoors – all while taking you away from it all. With the perfect furniture, plants and equipment that suit you, you’ll have a mini-vacation, right in your own backyard.

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