" I'm going to loose 20 lbs, exercise more, and save more money this year". " I know I said the same thing last year, but I will for sure do it this year!"
You are not alone if you didn't fulfill your resolution as only 1 out of 10 people are estimated to actually fulfill their New Year's promises and a third of people will abandon their resolution in the first month.
Don't let these dismal statistics get you down, you can be that one person in ten! The following tips will help you do that.
Keep it Simple
Everyone would love to have six pack abs, a huge bank account, win citizen of the year award and be a rock star parent. But, you can't do everything at once. Keep it simple and choose one goal to achieve. You are much more likely to achieve your goal when you are focusing all of your energy on one thing rather than 7.
Choose a goal that will have the largest impact. My favorite is to get active. Changing your couch time into activity time will have a huge impact on your overall health. Including: mental health, aging, brain function, gut function, weight loss, and overall energy. To quote Warren Buffet: "The best investment to make is in yourself"
Choose a goal that excites you and you have a true urgency to achieve. Pick something that is relevant in your life and will have a short and long term impact for you. You must have a "I need to do this" attitude. A simple tool is to write down why this goal is important and what impact it will have on your life. Journal about your goal everyday and you will get continual positive feedback to keep you on track.
Break it Down
Often when setting goals we don't know where to start. We get overwhelmed and are ready to quit before we begin. One mistake is that we choose too big of a goal that is more achievable by completing a number of smaller goals. Break down these complex larger goals into smaller ones. Daily, weekly, monthly and finally yearly goals within the big goal if needed. Write these down and have read them often. There is a sense of accountability when you do this and you can always go back to that piece of paper for motivation.
Breaking down your goal can also give you a plan. Often people are too focused on achieving the goal and not how to achieve the goal. It would be like planning to go score a goal in your hockey game but not figuring out how to get to the rink.
Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
This is a well know strategy for keeping focused on achieving your goal. Be specific in choosing your goal, measure it along the way to make sure you are headed in the right direction, make sure your goal is attainable and relevant to you, and lastly set a time frame to get it done in.
It is always easier to keep focused and motivated if you are accountable to someone else. Telling someone your goal or achieving a goal together is better than going solo. Recruit someone that will challenge you when you get off track and will help you along the way. A great idea is to join a gym, like Whitey's Gym, and surround yourself with motivated people.
Keep it Going!
Studies show that almost 40% of peoples daily activities are repeated every day. We are creatures of habit! Remember: Actions cause habits, habits cause behaviors, and behaviors cause character. Science shows that it takes time to form a habit. A simple habit, like drinking a glass of water every morning, can take as less as a month to form. A more complex habit, like quitting smoking, can take up to a year to truly overcome. The key is to stick to it. According to the book, "The Brain That Changes Itself", the longer you do something the more your brain hardwires the pattern (you fire it and you wire it).
Don't give up if you miss some time working towards your goal. This is normal! Everyone is busy and life sometimes gets in the way. It is very normal to have set backs in achieving your goals. If it would be easy, then everyone would be a nonsmoking, fit, rich, and prosperous person. Be easy on yourself if you have a setback and keep it going.
We all love to get a reward for our achievements. When you are setting your plan for attaining your goal you must include rewards. Set various benchmarks along the way and when you achieve them, you get a treat. Another method is to give yourself an award every time you don't do your bad habit. A great example of this is when you want to quit smoking. Put money in a jar every time you don't have a cigarette. If you smoked a pack a day and you go smoke free for the day, put the value of a pack in a jar. You will quickly see how much money you're saving and will have a great reward when you get to spend it on something special. I have had a group of ladies, who are my patients, set a resolution to run a half marathon. They set a reward as a treat to run a half in Vegas, and they did it!
Activity Fact: A study polling almost 1,500 Canadians who quit smoking revealed that it took an average of 30 attempts to quit before they succeeded!
The ice and snow has hit Manitoba and patients are visiting our office with injuries from slipping and falling. According to Public Health Canada, falls are the number one cause of hospital injury in older adults and account for 2 billion dollars in health care costs annually in Canada. Seniors will spend 10 days longer in hospital after a fall over any other cause and 1/3 of them will end up in a long term care facility after a fall. Falls are the cause of 95% of hip fractures. Schnell and Friedman published in the Journal of Geriatric Orthopeadic Surgery and Rehabilitation that seniors have a 21% to 29% chance of death in the first year after a hip fracture!
It is important for everyone, at all ages, to be aware of the risks of falling, and to be proactive about avoiding it. Here are some tips and thoughts on fall prevention:
Make Some Changes at Home
Half of all falls causing hospitalization happen at home. This is the most important area you can change in order to lessen the odds of an injury. Common areas of the home to fall in are the bathroom and kitchen. Spills and slippery surfaces should always be cleaned up immediately. Non-slip mats, hand rails, and a raised toilet seat are a must in the bathroom. Place kitchen items that you use the most in easy-to-reach areas and have heavy items in your lower cupboards. Avoid using a stepping stool, but if needed, have a solid one with a hand rail.
Take a look at the rest of your home for fall hazards such as loose mats, transition zones from carpet to laminate or hardwood, electrical/phone cords, and various types of debris. Proper lighting at night is also essential, especially from the bedroom to the bathroom.
Other tips include: having a spot to sit when putting on footwear, don't rush around the house, always use a handrail on the steps, get up slowly from sitting to avoid dizziness, and keep walkways clear of snow or ice.
Make sure you talk to your pharmacist or doctor about your medications and their side affects. This is more important when you start a new medication, as it might cause dizziness when combined with your current medications. If your medications cause sleepiness or dizziness, plan to take them when you are not active, and be cautious when combining alcohol and medications.
You will be getting tired of me preaching this, but is so important! I feel it is the number one thing a person can do to age well and prevent falls. We loose strength naturally with age but can slow this process with regular exercise and strength training. Exercising 15 minutes a day, or a minimum of 2 hours a week, with resistance exercises using body weight focusing on balance is a must. Exercises will depend on an individual's abilities, and you should never put yourself at risk. Doing wall squats, stair step-ups, step-out lunges, push ups (modified if needed), walking, and stair climbing are simple ways to maintain your strength.
The other important benefit from exercise is balance. There is a direct correlation between how good your balance is and your risk of death. Activities such as yoga and Tai Chi are excellent for balance. In fact, Tai Chi is one of the only activities studied and found to reduce fractures, and is recommended by Osteoporosis Canada. You can also work on balance at home if you don't have access to these activities. Stand facing a corner with your hands against the wall for support, stand on one leg with your eyes open, then switch legs. Try not to use the wall and balance as long as possible. This activity can also be repeated with your eyes closed, or with eyes open and moving your non-weight-bearing leg around to make it more challenging.
Use Safety Aids
Don't be embarrassed to have to use trekking poles, a cane, or a walker. Check your pride at the door, because it will be a lot worse when you need to phone someone to come help you off the floor. Consult your health care provider to ensure you are fitted properly to these mobility aides, and make sure you remove clutter so that you can use a walker or cane at home. When it is icy, purchase anti-skid soles for your shoes and add a spike to the end of your cane.
Falls have a huge impact on our population and the majority of fall can be prevented. It is not only seniors that are at risk, and everyone should take a look at their home for fall hazards. Everyone should also get active and work on balance and strength.
Activity Fact: Single-leg stance test, getting up from a chair without the use of your arms, scissor squat test, and the "get up and go test" are a few balance tests that can be directly related to your chance of death! So it's important to be able move and maintain balance!
When some of us hear the words "strength training," we envision huge sweaty muscular guys grunting in the gym while lifting ridiculous amounts of weight. These days are long gone!
In the last 20 years, there has been an astronomical amount of research done on human performance and the benefits of strength training. This research has been done across all demographics - from professional athletes, to seniors in personal care homes. It includes patients with various diseases, such as obesity, multiple sclerosis, dementia, diabetes, depression, and much more.
Strength training is safe and effective for almost anyone and should be incorporated into your weekly exercise routine. Here are the reasons why:
1. Stop the shrinking!
After our mid to late twenties, we all start to lose muscle mass and muscle strength. This is called sarcopenia. Strength training can slow this process down by helping to maintain good muscle mass and muscle metabolism. Sarcopenia has negative health affects for seniors with 30% being affected at the age of 65 and 50% being affected at 85. This contributes to higher risks of falls, hospitalization, diabetes, weight gain, and osteoporosis.
2. Weight loss
Muscles are furnaces for burning calories! Muscle tissue burns up to three times more calories than fat tissue. Studies show that you can increase your resting metabolic rate with increased muscle mass. Many studies show that strength training is more efficient in loosing fat compared to aerobic exercise.
It doesn't end after you leave the gym. Your body is still burning calories for the next 24 to 48 hours as it works to repair stressed muscle tissues. That's known as "the afterburn effect," another name for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The more oxygen you use, both during and after a workout, the greater the EPOC. Studies show strength training is one of the best ways to achieve this.
Lifting heavy loads in short bursts causes the body to make type II muscle fibers. These is the muscle type that requires the most calories. Strength training also gets the body producing metabolism-enhancing hormones that cause fat burning and aid in the production of muscle tissue.
3. Increase your endurance and strength
Strength training has repeatedly been shown to help muscle endurance in high performance athletes and the general population. When your muscles are stronger, they work more efficiently and therefore can work longer. Increased muscle mass helps with the efficiency of the body's ability to transport oxygen and maintain an optimal metabolism. This is important for everyone from the recreational hockey player, the seasonal pickle ball player, or the senior that wants to climb that flight of stairs.
4. It helps to prevent broken bones
When you put force onto a bone, you lay down more bone tissue. Strength training, even with minimal weights, has been shown to do this. You can decrease risk of hip fractures and all other fractures, as a senior, by strength training. Strength training also helps to reinforce the central nervous system to help muscles react faster causing better balance and force to the ground. A strong neuromuscular connection is a primary indicator for longevity and well- being for all ages.
5. Overall health improvement
Strength training has physical and mental benefits like all exercise. As mentioned, weight loss is easier to achieve with strength training than aerobic exercise. With this comes a decrease risk in all metabolic disease including: diabetes, cancers, chronic inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, and dementia. Strength training later in life has been shown to decrease overall mortality by improving balance, mobility, and therefore fall risks. It's the old adage: "Use it or loose it!"
Call to Action
Strength training is essential to maintain good health. Do not feel that it is a lot of work or that you don't have the right tools at home to do it. Research shows that three workouts per week with 30 minutes per session is the minimum ideal frequency to gain benefits.
The best starting point is to do exercises that involve body weight resistance such as: push ups, squats, lunges, dips, climbing steps, box jumps, back extensions, and pull ups. All of these exercises can be done at home without any equipment. Progression to using weights and/or a gym ball will give you more challenge and thus more resistance. Most senior living centers have exercise classes that involve strength work using body weight resistance. Get out and move!
Lastly, move onto lifting some weight. Starting with large movements such as loaded squats, dead lifts, lunges, and rows. Find someone that knows about strength training once you start to lift heavier weight. This will help prevent injury. Visit your local gym to get instructions on how to perform these exercises to ensure you don't get injured.
Activity Fact: The most weight lifted in a dead lift (lifting a bar with weights on it off the floor to waist height) is 500 kg or 1102 lbs!!!
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the Median nerve gets compressed at the wrist causing decreased nerve flow to the hand. Symptoms include numbness into the thumb and the next two fingers, weakness in these fingers, and decrease sensation. It is mainly caused by irritation at the wrist from jobs that require a lot of repetitive work with the hands, but can also be caused by pregnancy, trauma, or swelling. Symptoms often occur during certain activities and subsides with rest. It is very common to have symptoms when sleeping, driving, or typing.
Severe chronic carpal tunnel compression often requires surgery to decompress the nerve at the wrist and fix the problem. However, there are many things you can try first to help eliminate this annoying problem:
1. Brace That Wrist
Short term use of carpal tunnel braces have been proven to help decrease symptoms and are effective for use at work and/or at night. Often at night people flex their wrists, but carpal tunnel braces are designed to keep the wrist in a neutral position and therefore open the carpal tunnel. They are proven to significantly decrease symptoms of numbness and pain at night. They help relieve the aggravation on the nerve and therefore help the condition overall. Carpal tunnel braces can be purchased at most pharmacies and medical stores and they are an inexpensive method to help the problem.
2. Get Your Neck Checked
The nerve that travels through the carpal tunnel, the median nerve, originates from the nerve roots in the neck. Hand symptoms often occur when there is pressure on the nerve root due to arthritis, joint irritation, bone spurs or bulging discs and can sometimes mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. Often if the hand symptoms are associated with arm pain or numbness as well as a more constant pain, the problem is originating in the neck. Another test is to see if you can reproduce the hand symptoms with changing the position of your head. If you can do this, your symptoms might be originating from the neck, not the wrist.
Your health care provider will perform various provocative tests to see if the symptoms can be reproduces at the wrist or at the neck, but in some cases a nerve conduction study is needed to help determine the origin of the nerve compression.
3. Change the Way you Work
There is an undisputed correlation with carpal tunnel syndrome and jobs that require repetitive use of the wrist and hands. Simple changes can be made to help take the stress off of your wrist. Try to do the job with your wrist/hand in a neutral position. An example is to purchase a keyboard pad to help elevate the wrist area to line up with the fingers. This can also be done with jobs such as using a knife. You can move the product up or down, or closer to you to better achieve a neutral wrist position.
You can also look for ways to decrease vibration when using tools, lessen the weight of objects you must lift, find ways so you don't have to hang onto items, and wear warm gloves/mitts that cover your wrist.
4. Talk to Your Doctor
Talk to your Medical Doctor when you have chronic numbness in your hands. Although rare, some conditions present with symptoms that mimic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your doctor can order various blood tests to determine if there is a systemic problem causing your hand symptoms.
5. Time to Strengthen Up
There is an old saying that states "everything starts at the core". This is also true with carpal tunnel syndrome. When you have a repetitive job that is physically demanding, sometimes the extremities get injured because of weak shoulders or mid back. When you compensate for a weak core, extra stress is applied to the wrists. A good assessment from your health care provider will tell you where your weakness lies and how to strengthen it.
6. Carpal Tunnel Exercises
There aren't a lot of good studies showing that specific exercises help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome however, there are a lot of case studies that show they help when combined with other proactive changes. Start out with doing 3 sets of 10 of each exercise and never exercise or stretch into pain and always listen to your body. Here are some exercises:
a) Fist to Fan- make a fist and hold for 5 seconds and then fan your fingers out and hold again
b) Shake it out- gently shake your hand, keeping the wrist and fingers loose
c) Fist to Stop sign- make a fist and hold for 5 seconds, then extend your wrist to the stop position
d) Swirl- take a half full glass of water and rotate clock-wise and counter clock-wise for a count of 10 each way.
e) stretch it out- with palm down, gently pull down your hand towards the floor with the other hand and hold for 10 seconds, repeat with your palm up
f) Squeeze it- use a sponge or a soft ball to squeeze
7. Manage Inflammation
It is important to avoid chronic irritation of the wrist. Applying ice after heavy use of the wrist can help decrease swelling and irritation and therefore decrease symptoms. Ice should be applied for 15 minute intervals and never put directly on the skin. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications can also help decrease symptoms at the wrist. Treatments from your chiropractor can also help decrease inflammation with the use of ultrasound, massage, wrist mobilizations/adjustments, and strength therapy.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a very annoying condition. If you suspect you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, make some changes in your work and personal life and try these simple tips.
Activity Fact: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a common presentation in the third trimester of Pregnancy as women tend to retain more fluid. The extra fluid causes pressure at the wrist and symptoms often subside after pregnancy.