Don’t end up Black & Blue this Black Friday

thanksgiving_dinner2Congratulations!  You survived another Thanksgiving.  Hopefully the only thing that ended up being stuffed this year was your turkey.

However, the holiday hazards aren’t over yet.  Experts warn that the stress that accompanies Black Friday shopping can add costs, far greater than those we ring up at the mall.

While retail stores are raking in the money, shoppers are probably having a more negative experience. Although we all love a Black Friday deal, “it is more like Red Friday for the consumer, as the shopper goes into debt to pay for purchases,” says Nancy Barton, professor in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at Indiana University-Purdue University.

Besides overspending, four people have died and dozens of injuries have occurred in the Black Friday shopping frenzy in the past four years.

black-friday-shopping-fightWho can forget the images of the trampled Walmart worker in Long Island; the collapsed man bypassed by shoppers at a West Virginia Target and a shooting at a Toys R Us over an item brawl.

Clearly, both consumers and stores are clearly unprepared for the post-Thanksgiving stress and excitement.

Some have argued that we are wired for desire as a result of our dopamine reward pathways.” Barton adds, “When we are overstimulated by a novel experience or unlimited choices on Black Friday, a craving (for more) and insatiable desire is triggered.”

The key to combating these desires relies on the executive, thinking part of the brain. However, this control can be hindered if you are stressed out, tired and hungry, arguably the three main traits of an all-night Black Friday shopper.

How can you avoid these stressors?  How about? :

fit familyOpting out of Black Friday shopping. Think of another way to give a gift. How about buying an “experience” for your loved one(s)?  After all, there is plenty of evidence that it’s experiences, rather than things that make us happy. What about a family gym membership? Not only will you stay healthy, but the family that works out together, is more likely to stay together

Paying It Forward. Instead of spending, how about giving? Think about those who are less fortunate than you and do something for them. Visit an elderly neighbor living alone; volunteer at a local hospital / animal shelter, soup kitchen. Your smile and touch may be the greatest gift of all.

self reflectionTrying some self-reflection. The perfect antidote for ungrateful feelings is to practice gratefulness.  List three things that you are grateful for. Embody the feelings of gratefulness. Positive emotions and satisfaction with what you already have will start to unfold as you reflect on your list.

Whatever you end up doing today – please stay safe.

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Holiday Hellth!

Deck the fallsFor many of us the holidays mean family, feasting and fun.  But for our nation’s 18 million health care workers  – 28% of spread the cheerwhom will be working on Thanksgiving, all celebrations will be placed on hold while they help those who are sick or injured.

And, as Christmas approaches, things don’t get any better.  The number of 911 calls and hospital visits spike as the temperatures plummet. For example, around 5,800 people are treated for holiday decorating injuries alone, each year. On top of this, the number one day for cardiac deaths is December 25th with December 26th and January 1st coming in a close second and third.

To raise awareness of the strain put on healthcare workers during the holiday season and some ways they can address it, Carrington College, has released these infographics:Healthcare workers

Whatever you end up doing tomorrow, let’s not forget to say a word of thanks to our healthcare professionals. And if you do end up in their care be thankful they’re there.

Pass the gravy

making spirits brighter

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Super-Sized Super-Bowl!

Superbowl-2013If you’re going to be in America this weekend, chances are you will be glued to the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Whether you’re tuning in as a fan of the 49ers, to rave for the Ravens, or even just to catch the commercials, this television and sporting extravaganza will probably be accompanied by food.  Lots and lots of food.

That’s right!  The “Big Game” has become much more than football. Aside from the multi-million dollar ads, it’s also the second biggest day for food consumption in the United States after Thanksgiving.

But before you dive into the dip or start piling on the pizza, you may want to take note of the following exercise equivalents you’d have to do to burn off your favorite football foods. nachos

According to Charles Platkin, PhD, MPH, editor of DietDetective.com and Distinguished Lecturer at the CUNY School of Public Health:

A handful of pita chips accompanied by artichoke dip = running the length of 141 football fields

Each chip is 13 calories, and each tablespoon of dip adds another 80 or more calories. 

Two slices of Dominos Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza = 209 minutes of performing in a marching band

Each slice weighs in at a staggering 490 calories

Four Dominos stuffed cheesy bacon and jalapeno breadsticks = 193 Touchdown Dances in the end zone

At 160 calories a piece, those four little breadsticks add up to a whopping 640 calories

One Sloppy Joe = 59 minutes of stadium stair climbing

This is a Tex-Mex creation that includes fatty ground beef, sugar, ketchup, flour and bread runs at over 500 . Sloppy Joes have more than 500 calories a time.

buffalo wingsSix Buffalo Wild Wings with ranch dressing = doing “the wave” 6,480 times

Six wings from Buffalo Wild Wings have 990 calories. Adding a small dip of dressing per wing adds on another 340 calories – taking this game day favorite to 1,330 calories.

Two handfuls of Cheetos Jumbo Puffs = 30 minutes of playing professional football

Each 2 ounce handful is equivalent to about 320 calories. To burn this off you’d actually have to be playing the game for 30 minutes rather than watching it. The only problem with this, according to The Wall Street Journal, is there are only about 11 minutes of actual ball playing in a football game. That means you would need to play almost three games of professional football to burn off the two handfuls

baby-back-ribs_t

Outback Baby Back Ribs = 123 minutes of team practice and conditioning

A full order of Outback Baby Back ribs is 1,156 calories, thanks to the fatty meat and sugary sauce.

Three 12oz Pepsi’s = 57 minutes of dancing to Beyonce’s half-time performance

Each 12-ounce can equals 100 calories. When’s the last time you danced for an hour straight?

So, to make sure your next game isn’t an appearance on The Biggest Loser, snack smart and think before you super-size your super-bowl.

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Wishing You a Safe and Healthy Thanksgiving

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we are thankful for many things not least you – our readers. So we’d like to help keep you and your family safe and healthy this holiday with a few seasonal safety tips.

While we all know the dangers of Thanksgiving over-indulgence, did you know that cooking, rather than eating is the number one cause of accidents and illness over the holiday!  So whether you plan on deep frying the turkey or stuffing it, here’s some basic advice to help keep you safe.

Food Poisoning 

  • Wash hands thoroughly when handling uncooked meat
  • Keep cooked and uncooked meats separate from each other…and other food
  • The turkey should be completely thawed before cooking
  • When oven cooking a turkey, the oven temperature should be no lower than 325°
  • Ideally, cook stuffing outside the turkey, but if you choose to stuff, make sure the stuffing reaches a minimum temperature of 165°

Burns 

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
  • Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.
  • Don’t overfill the fryer.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended because, without thermostat controls, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and safety goggles to protect from splatter.
  • Keep all-purpose fire extinguishers nearby.
  • If a turkey fryer fire occurs, call 911 immediately.
  • Avoid wearing lose clothes. A dangling sleeve can easily catch fire.
  • Make ovens and fryers a “Kid Free Zone”.
  • Keep pot handles toward the back burners to reduce risk of knocking pots over.

Cuts

  • Stay focused when slicing food.
  • Give the carving duty to the most experienced carver. No first timers allowed!

Heartburn – many people eat too much, too fast on Thanksgiving which can quickly cause heartburn, indigestion and create chest pain. This can feel like a heart attack which leads people to seek medical attention.

  • Eat slowly
  • Take breaks in between courses
  • Keep antacids on hand

A happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all!

A Healthy Holiday Dinner Table?

Before you click away, this is NOT one of those stories admonishing you to eat broccoli and brussel sprouts rather than turkey and all the trimmings.  This blog could improve your health without having to forego a single calorie!

Will Grandma be coming up from Florida during Thanksgiving or will Great Uncle Tony be joining you for Christmas?  Do you need something other than the Presidential candidates, Penn State sex scandal, or football scores to talk about over dinner?

Well, according to University of Alabama genetics experts you should use this opportunity to learn more about your family health history from the very people who know.

The holidays are a great time to collect your family history,” says Lynn Holt, M.S., Director of the School of Health Professions Genetic Counseling program. “Most people don’t know much about the family history beyond their first-degree relatives, their own parents and siblings.”

She advises people to talk to their grandparents or great-grandparents about any health problems that they may have had.  Also find out about their immediate family such as  parents, siblings and children. And don’t just talk, jot down names and their year of birth and death. Ask if any siblings died during childhood and if so, why? While many people don’t like to talk about a sibling who died young, knowing if it happened – and why, can produce very valuable information.

We sometimes hear people say they’ve been told their mother’s brother dropped dead at age 20, for example,” says Holt. “Was it because of a genetic heart condition that you might have inherited, or is it simply that brother was guilty of some accident that nobody wants to talk about?

Likewise, if there is cancer in the family, ask about the kind of cancer and at the age at which family members first were diagnosed. Age of diagnosis is more medically valuable than age of death in determining inheritable conditions. Ask similar questions about heart disease, diabetes, mental health conditions and other common conditions. And don’t forget to look into any environmental exposures that may explain family health problems such as occupational exposures, smoking or pollution.

Not only will you learn a great deal, the knowledge you gain can help you protect your own health.  As an added bonus, older family members may welcome the chance to share their story and memories of loved ones who have passed away…and it’s a chance to grow closer as a family.

So rather than bickering over the green beans or sulking into the sweet potatoes, how about serving up a dose of health history these holidays?

After you’ve collect all this information, share it with your physician to help determine if there are any health conditions, based on your family history, that need further evaluation or monitoring.

Happy Holidays!

Beating the Thanksgiving Guilt

With the holidays right around the corner, we suspect that many of our readers will already be worrying about the consequences of overindulgence and the missed days at the gym.

Fear not!  According to experts at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, you can get daily exercise throughout the holiday season, by adding heart-pumping twists to tasks already on your holiday to-do list.

Many holiday activities offer ways to get the 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity that your body needs to help fight off many forms of cancer and other diseases,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson.

How, you may ask, is that possible?  Food, family and hours of watching football are hardly traditional calorie burners.

Well,  true to our mission statement, Transforming Challenges into Opportunities, SRxA’s Word on Health brings you our top exercise tips for the holidays:

Shopping?

Instead of driving around in search of a parking space near the door of the grocery store or mall, park as far from the entrance as you can.    Or, if you’re taking the bus, get off a stop or two early. Once  inside, opt for the stairs instead of the elevator and, if possible, carry your purchases instead of using a shopping cart.

Hosting guests?
Readying the house for guests and cleaning up after they leave is a great way to sneak in aerobic activity. With the right mindset, vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, gardening and the multiple trips upstairs to put away laundry or holiday decorations become exercise opportunities, rather than chores.

Traveling?

If you’re flying or taking the train or bus take a brisk walk around the terminal while waiting to depart, and when you arrive at your destination, make your walk to baggage claim or the exit a quick one.

Whichever you chose, by making physical activity part of your holiday plans, you’ll ensure you have the momentum to keep exercising in the New Year.

Happy, Healthy Holidays to you all.