Monday, April 29, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 6

Preparing to quit smoking is an important step towards kicking the habit, but taking decisive action is another.
  • Set a quit date and stick to it.  Choose a time that will be busy but not stressful.
  • Remove ashtrays and all other reminders of using tobacco.  Choose nonsmoking sections in restaurants.  Avoid alcohol.  Do things that reduce the likelihood of using tobacco, like taking a walk or going to a movie. 
  • Ask for help and support.  Choose a trusted friend, preferably another former tobacco user, to give you a helping hand over the rough spots. 
  • Know what to expect.  The worst will be over in just a few days, but physical withdrawal symptoms may last one to three weeks.  After that, it is all psychological.
  • Keep low-calories snacks handy for when the urge to munch hits.  Your appetite may perk up, but most people gain fewer than 10 pounds when they quit using tobacco.  The health benefits of quitting outweigh a few extra pounds.
  • Get out and exercise. It will distract you, help keep off unwanted pounds, and release tension.  Physical activity can improve the likelihood of a healthy life.  Along with a positive attitude and a healthful diet, your fitness level plays a major role in how well you feel, what illnesses you avoid, and how much you enjoy life. 
  • Don’t be discouraged by slip-ups.  It often takes several tries to quit using tobacco for good.  If you do slip up and smoke or chew, forgive yourself and learn from the experience.  You will not fail as long as you keep trying. 

Avoid Drugs and Excess Alcohol.  When you say “no” to drugs and limit the amount of alcohol that you drink, you prevent accidents and several diseases and avoid a lot of other problems for yourself and your family.  If drug or alcohol abuse is a problem for you or someone close to you, now is the time to seek help.

Alcohol and Drug Problems.  The overuse or abuse of alcohol or other drugs is called substance abuse.  It is common, costly, and associated with many medical problems.  Long-term heavy drinking causes liver, nerve, heart, and brain damage; high blood pressure; stomach problems; sexual problems; and cancer.  Alcohol abuse can also lead to violence, accidents, social isolation, and difficulties at work, at home, or with the law.

(Signs of drug problems and their prevention will be discussed next week, Monday, 6 May 2013. – J.P.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 5

After knowing certain facts on how to be tobacco-free, let us now go into the details of how to quit smoking.

Difficult as it is, no one can tell you when to quit smoking or chewing tobacco.  Only you know why you use tobacco and what will be most difficult as you try to stop.  The important thing is that you try.  Believe that you will succeed, if not the first time, then the second time or twenty-second time.

Preparation in quitting smoking.
  • List your reasons for quitting: for your own health and your family’s health, to save money, to prevent wrinkles, or whatever.  Read through your list daily for one month, and your chances of success will increase.
  • Figure out why you smoke.  Do you use tobacco to pep yourself up? To relax? Do you like the ritual of smoking or chewing? Do you use tobacco out of habit, often without knowing why you are doing it? If specific situations trigger your desire to smoke or chew tobacco, changing your routine may help you stop.
  • Decide how and when you’ll quit.  About half of ex-tobacco users quit “cold turkey.”  The other half cut down more slowly.
  • Find a healthful alternative that can replace what smoking or chewing does for you.  For example, if you like to have something to do with your hands, pick up something else: a coin, pen, or pencil.  If you like to have something in your mouth, substitute sugarless gum or minted toothpicks.
  • Plan a healthful reward for yourself when you have stopped using tobacco.  Take the money you save by not buying tobacco and spend it on yourself.
  • Plan things to do when you get the urge to smoke or chew.  Urges don’t last that long: take a walk, brush your teeth, have a mint, drink a glass of water, or chew a gum.
  • Choose a reliable tobacco cessation program.  Good programs have at least 20 percent success rate after on year.  Great programs have a 50 percent success rate.  A higher success rate may be too good to be true.

(Taking action on quitting smoking will be next Monday’s topic. – J.P.)


Monday, April 15, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 4

As we discussed earlier, maintaining lifelong health consists basically of immunization, being physically active, eating right, and having a healthful body weight.  Another health habit to consider is being tobacco-free (Others to follow in our series of articles are: avoiding drugs and excess alcohol; managing stress; taking care of the teeth; practicing safety; pursuing healthy pleasures; helping to make a healthier world).
  • Be tobacco-free. Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the most important things you can do to improve your own health and add years to your life.  If you have already tried to quit smoking, you know how difficult it is.  But with the right attitude and enough help, you’ll eventually succeed. 
         Tobacco use increases your risk for many health problems, 
          including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.  Your smoking 
          habit can also put others at risk.  Children who are exposed 
          to cigarette smoking at home have more ear infections and 
          are prone to other health problems like asthma. The greatest 
          risk to your children is that they’ll learn from you.  Children 
          whose parents use tobacco are more likely to use tobacco 

          When you quit smoking, it doesn’t take long for your body to 
          start to heal and for your risk of developing other health 
          problems to decrease.

    1. When you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack is cut in half within one year after quitting.  Five years after quitting, your risk is about the same as that of a person who never smoked.
    2. While the lung damage caused by smoking is not reversible, quitting smoking prevents more lung damage from occurring.  Shortness of breath and cough will decrease.
    3. When you give up tobacco products, damage to your lips, tongue, mouth, and throat is reduced.  Your risk for mouth and throat cancer decreases.
    4. If you have asthma, you’ll have fewer and less severe attacks after you quit smoking.
    5. After quitting smoking, a man may have fewer problems getting and maintaining erections.  
(Tips for quitting smoking will appear in Part 5 on Monday, 22 April 2013. – J.P.)    

Monday, April 8, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 3

Having set realistic goals to maintain a healthy body weight, here are some tools to reach our objectives as recommended by Healthwise Handbook:
  • Set your body in motion.  Regular physical activity makes you feel stronger, more energetic, and healthier.  It also makes your body burn more calories throughout the day.  So if you get physically active and eat a healthful diet, you’ll find it easier to manage your weight.  In addition, regular physical activity builds muscle.
  • Plan your meals.  People who eat regular meals find it easier to maintain a healthful weight than people who overeat, skip meals, or snack.  Meals that are planned are usually more nutritious than those that are grabbed at the last minute. Taking time to plan what you will eat will improve your diet and can help you control your weight.  Skipping meals usually leads to overeating at the next meal.
  • Reduce fat and added sugars.  Eat a variety of nutritious foods that are low in fats and added sugars.  Eating mainly fruits, vegetables, and grains helps you feel full, achieve good health, and manage your weight.  According to some scientists, getting 30 percent of your total calories from fat is still too much for a healthy heart.  A diet consisting of 20 percent fat (no more than 7 percent saturated fat) may further reduce your risk for heart disease and can also help less active people stay closer to a healthy weight.
  • Enjoy your food.  You can enjoy all the foods you love and still control your weight.  The key is to be sensible about how much you eat and to balance calorie intake with calorie burn-off (physical activity).  Here are some tips:
    1. Enjoy your occasional steak or cake twice as much by eating half in the restaurant and take the rest home to enjoy the next day.
    2. Have one helping of your favorite food and enjoy every bite.
    3. Craving an ice cream? Walk to the ice cream shop, have a single dip, and walk home.
All foods can fit into a healthful diet; the proper balance of those foods is what’s most important.

(How to be tobacco-free will be discussed in Part 4 next Monday, April 15, 2013. – J.P.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Living Well and Healthy, Part 2

As we had discussed last week, maintaining a healthful body weight requires eating a balanced diet, getting regular physical activity and learning to feel great about your body.

Heredity, according to Kemper, plays a big role in your body shape and what you weigh.  It would be impossible for most of us to look like fashion models or world-class athletes, but we can all learn to appreciate our bodies and treat them well to maximize our health and self-esteem.

Have a Healthful Weight.  Your health is determined by more than just your weight.  Other measures of health include:
  • Your fitness level.
  • The quality of your diet and your eating habits.
  • The presence of disease indicators such as high cholesterol.
  • Family history of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • How fat is distributed on your body.
  • Your self-esteem and body image.
You can improve your health without changing your weight.  The amount you weigh now could become a healthful weight for you.

Most people are concerned about being overweight, but for some people being underweight is a health concern.  Being obese can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, some cancers, and other long-term illnesses. Losing as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight can lower you blood pressure, reduce other risk factors for heart disease, and improve your blood sugar levels.

Set Realistic Goals.  Before you start a weight management program, think about your goals, your expectations, and your readiness to make lifestyle changes.  A realistic weight management program should focus on the following:
  • Reducing your risk of health problems.
  • Increasing your fitness level by becoming more physically active.
  • Making positive lifestyle changes that will become lifelong habits.
  • Coming to accept the size and shape of your body.

(More timely health tips from Kaiser Permanente and Healthwise will appear in our succeeding blog postings. – J.P.)