Tag Archives: Mental Health

To Train Well, Train Your Brain: The Difference Between Finishing and Failing

Famous athletes are often admired for their great skill, superhuman strength, or fantastic endurance. What many forget that there is something an athlete needs even more than these attributes: a trained mind.

Mental preparation has increasingly become important as sports have evolved. Sports psychology is a discipline completely devoted to the study, and adages like “mind over matter” are common in everyday speech. Although there is still much to learn about how the brain works in connection with fitness, athletes can learn many mental strategies to help improve their game.

Endurance athletes know how important keeping one’s mind in control is. In long races, the body will eventually send messages of pain to the brain and the athlete will want to stop. To finish, you must be able to not only keep going, but also keep up a good pace. Pain and injuries are inevitable; giving up is not. (more…)

I Don’t Eat That: Four Words That May Help You Lose Weight

In a recent study found in Health Magazine, Vanessa Patrick, PhD associate professor of marketing at the University of Houston found that 80% of women who used the words, “I don’t eat that,” were able to hold to their good eating habits. On the other hand, only 10% of women who used the similar phrase, “I can’t eat that” stuck to their good eating habits.

“Saying ‘I can’t’ signals that you’re giving up something desirable, but saying ‘I don’t’ gives you a sense of empowerment,” said Patrick.

After reading this piece I couldn’t agree more. A couple years ago, when I was a sophomore in college, I had the pressure to look my best in my little-material cheerleading uniform while knowing I had gained about 10 pounds since making the squad. I used to look at the greasy box of fries my friends were eating and sadly say, “I can’t eat that.” What I didn’t realize was I was making it 10x harder on myself. Losing a few inches on my mid section was a huge goal of mine, but I was going about it the completely wrong way. Saying “I can’t eat that” felt like a slap in the face each time I said it, and it reminded me of the negative consequences and embarrassment I was facing. (more…)

The Worst Time To Cheat On Your Diet

Waking to the news about the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, this morning reminded me a lot of September 11, 2001.

My responses were somewhat different, but prior to both tragedies, I had received sad news about death and loss impacting me and those close to me in quick succession. Just this week, two families I know lost babies and other friends experienced other losses. With social media, I was also exposed to the losses of friends of friends. In 2001, I had been to four funerals in just the few months prior to 9/11. Today, the sky is gray and it matches how I think many people are feeling.

When we are stressed, we tend to reach for sugary or fatty foods. It is kind of a natural craving, but it doesn’t mean that it will help you manage your stress. While we may be most tempted to cheat on our diet plans when we are stressed or grieving, it might be the worst time to do it. (more…)

Grow Some Fresh Brain Cells and Ward off Alzheimer’s with Daily Exercise

Not only can exercise improve your health, but an increasing body of research is finding that exercise benefits your memory. The advantages may be as diverse as reducing the risk of cancer, spurring the growth of new brain cells, and preventing Alzheimer’s.

In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, researchers found an improvement in participants’ blood flow to a memory-related brain area as well as increased scores on memory tests after a three-month-long workout program.

Another study, conducted at Cambridge University in 2010, showed that running stimulates the brain to grow new cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory. Mice were given rewards of sugar if they nudged a square to their left, and nothing if they nudged a square on their right. One group then had access to running wheels, and after their exercise they outperformed sedentary mice’s ability to pick the right square by nearly fifty percent. Tissue samples also showed that they had hundreds of thousands of new brain cells. (more…)

Why Taking a Vacation Could Save Your Life

The typical American takes just two to three weeks of vacation a year. Do you fall into this category? If so, new studies suggest that too much work and not enough play may be putting your health in jeopardy.

Dean Obeideallah, a former attorney and political comedian, recently wrote an editorial piece for CNN that argued the life-saving power of vacations.

Take a vacation or die,” he says. Otherwise, we face an increased risk of heart attack and stress, which Obeideallah argues could eventually kill us.

Stress causes a slough of problems such as the inability concentrate, poor sleep and even body rashes,’ he said. And contrary to what people believe, taking time off from work can actually make you more productive at work as studies have shown that people who take vacations sleep better, work better and are generally more alert. (more…)

Candy-Free Potty Training Should be the Norm, Not the Exception

When my husband and I decided to start potty training our two-year-old this summer, we agreed to be patient, let her lead but with some firm direction, and not dazzle her with sugar. I won’t say that we’ve been obsessive about her eating habits since she started on solid foods, but I will say we are hyper aware of what she eats and her nutrition is of utmost importance. Because of that, my daughter turns away offerings of cake, ice cream, or even small pieces of candy. However, she’ll knock you over for a bite of avocado.

I’ve watched friends charm the training pants off their toddlers with promises of suckers and candies to convince them to potty on the toilet; specifically one incident where one-and-a-half Fun Size candy bars and a handful of M&Ms were used to reward a toddler for taking care of business. That’s a lot of sugar and calories for a little tinkle. My daughter gets none of that. She gets high-fives, a big cheer along the lines of “great job! I’m proud of you!”, and two or three squares of toilet tissue.

This, I kid you not, is a really big deal to her. That she is allowed to get squares of toilet tissue to clean up is like she’s arrived at the throne of the big girls. Every time she potties she announces, “I get tissue now!” and she is proud of it. She earned it. Not long from now I won’t be able to reward her with septic-friendly paper, but for now, I’m totally rolling with it.

I can feel half the world rolling their eyes at me, but that’s the decision my husband and I made – candy-free potty training. It’s the choice that’s right for our daughter. Maybe it’s not right for your child, but I at least ask you to listen with an open mind and consider that maybe it might just work. (more…)

Q&A with Leading Celiac Experts on Gluten Sensitivity, Schizophrenia, and Nutritional Deficiencies

By Kristin Voorhees, MA, and Brenda Flaherty for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) kicked off this year’s Celiac Awareness Month by hosting the live webcast “State of the Union: A Live Chat with Experts on Gluten-Related Disorders” on May 3, 2012.

Alice Bast, Founder and President of NFCA, moderated the 60-minute event, which featured internationally renowned experts in the field of celiac disease research including Stefano Guandalini, MD of the University of Chicago, Alessio Fasano, MD of the University of Maryland, and Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The event supplied patients and providers alike with the latest news in gluten-related disorders research free of charge. The panelists’ discussions were based on questions and concerns submitted to the NFCA team in the months leading up to the special webcast.

Dr. Guandalini kicked off the event by identifying the differences between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity and explaining the important role guidelines play in diagnosing a gluten-related disorder. Next, the audience heard from Dr. Fasano, who touched on multiple research ventures in the field, including the timing of gluten introduction in infants. Finally, Melinda Dennis provided tips on how nutritional counseling can ensure that patients live a healthy gluten-free life.

Because there is never enough time to cover all of the celiac and gluten-free topics we’d like to discuss, NFCA asked the trio of experts to participate in this follow-up Q&A session. Here’s what they had to say! (more…)

The Mental Switch That Leads to Weight Loss Breakthroughs

Last week, while doing a book interview with the author of “The Cure for Everything,” something happened. I had an ‘a-ha’ moment that made me realize one of my unhealthy habits: I was eating too much.

I wasn’t eating terrible. I wasn’t eating unhealthy; just too much. And I was justifying it with exercise. But all it took was for Timothy Caulfield to say, “We just don’t need that many calories.”

Cue: light bulb. I had a mental switch that made me realize more exercise isn’t the answer, eating wisely and thoughtfully is.

You’ve heard about the mental struggles weight loss and healthy living can bring. More often than not, those mental and emotional realizations are half the battle in having breakthrougs that lead to finally achieving a healthy lifestyle.

One such moment took place for personal trainer Stephanie Mansour when she got to college and dove into an absolute eating free-for-all. Having no regular sports activity and a deep love for food, Stephanie – founder of Step it Up personal training – found herself overeating often as a result of not being mentally connected to her body. These habits led her to develop intense anxiety, sleeping problems and migraines, all three of which required medication. (more…)

Elderly Face Greater Risk of Death When Lonely, Study Finds

We all know that spending time among friends and family is important not only for the sake of being socially active, but also to have that feeling of being relationally fulfilled. A new study has established a new reason to remain connected as it found loneliness among the elderly may put them at a greater risk for death and functional decline – making relationships and personal interaction more important than ever.

A new six-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has found that people over the age of 60 who struggled with loneliness had a 45 percent higher risk of death than those who felt well-surrounded and connected. In fact, researchers found that the risk of death for people who were lonely was 23 percent, as compared to 14 percent for those who weren’t.

So what does this mean? People, social lives, healthy surroundings are important. And that as we age, it becomes increasingly necessary to stay connected as to avoid loneliness and the health risks that come along with it.

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed the relationship between loneliness, functional decline, and death in more than 1,600 participants in the U.S., over the age of 60. An initial assessment was taken in 2002, with follow-up assessments taking place every two years thereafter until 2008.  (more…)

Fast Food Can Make Us Depressed

Ever suspected that your food may be affecting the way you feel? Namely, your mood? Well new research out of Spain has confirmed a link between fast food consumption and depression. Even though fatty foods can temporarily boost our mood, the longterm affects are doing more harm than good on our mental – and physical – health.

The study observed 8,964 participants over the course of six months, especially taking into account their eating habits. Researchers found that those who consumed fast food were 51 percent more likely to develop depression. And among that group, those who ate more fast food were at even greater risk for suffering from depression.

The study also revealed the type of person who is most likely to be a junk food eater. Researchers found a trend among single, inactive people with poor eating habits, such as eating minimal fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. This demographic, said researchers, also tended to be smokers who worked more than 45 hours a week. (more…)