Lighting up the Darkness

Celebration Of Hope

 by Mary Catherine Cochran

Each year for the last five years, at the end of a Sunday when the light begins to fade and the winds rise to shake the last leaves from Symphony Woods, I find myself in the midst of a bitter winter night, surrounded by warmth and light. I gather with a hundred or more of my fellow travelers and stroll through the Symphony of Lights for the Claudia Mayer Center’s annual Celebration of Hope.

Certainly the more than 70 holiday light displays are a part of the great illumination, but the strongest lights come from within.  From within the young children who walk clasping the hands of their mother who has faced down six months of chemotherapy with courage and grace- but whose future is far from certain; from within the ranks of those who have graduated from illness to the ranks of wellness; and from within the families and loved ones who walk to remember those who left us too soon.

Despite the cold, they arrive- the regulars and the newcomers- bundled in hats and mittens and scarves accompanied by children piled high with blankets in wagons and strollers.   They wend their way through the light, warmed not just by layers of clothing and the love of family, but by the presence of those who understand the journey.  And each of us knows, it only takes a little light- the universal symbol of hope- to keep the darkness at bay.

Join me this Sunday, Dec. 4 for the Fifth Annual Celebration of Hope. Take a moment from your hurried life and join us for a peaceful twilight stroll from 4:45-5:45 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine, is free to cancer patients, survivors, families and loved ones, but registration is required.  To register, call 410.740.5858. I’ll see you there!


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by Angie Engles

Why would someone risk the love and admiration of friends and family by coming out in a community that is more old-fashioned and conservative than most?  And how on earth could a celebrity memoir truly be considered life-saving or related to Well & Wise?

“I almost died. The hiding almost killed me. I had pretty masterfully…painted myself into a corner. I’d made a deal with God early on that I’d go without love in my life, just give me music, but when you’re 9 years old and brokering deals with God about what you will and won’t do, and you don’t realize the importance of love and companionship in your life—one really shouldn’t be held to those deals.” So writes Chely Wright in her memoir, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.

And what does this exactly have to do with health? Peace of mind, for one thing.

Many gays and lesbians have tried to get “cured,” often to disastrous results. Studies show that gays and lesbians who go through “ex-gay therapy” often experience suicidal thoughts, and tragically, sometimes act on them.  Prominent anti-gay figures have implied gays and lesbians face higher rates of depression than straight people because of their homosexuality, not the horrific bullying they face on a daily basis and the “ex-gay therapy” they are often forced into by family members.

Sadly, we live in our world where preconceived (and false) ideas about gays and lesbians make coming out as relevant and important as ever. Ms. Wright breaks a lot of the stereotypes about gay women both in her appearance and her strong Christian background and I am amazed by her honesty and sincerity as she describes the pain that she’s lived and kept hidden (’til now), making her story almost too real and raw.

Just ask anyone who is still in the closet (hypothetically of course since they are, after all, in the closet) and they most likely will speak of the heartache and loneliness and inner shame of being gay.

Until we live in a world where homosexuality is understood to be just as real and vital as heterosexual love, books like Ms. Wright’s will always be needed and read…my soul aches for anyone who has known the excruciating struggle to be “normal” in a world where same gender love is so often met with hate.

I am so glad Chely Wright wrote Like Me. I can’t even begin to imagine the good that could have been done if books like this one had been written in earlier decades when there was no one to look to who could show (and tell) us that who you happened to fall in love with did not determine whether you were a freak or not.

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.

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Howard County Health Screenings and Events

November 25, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Neighborhood Blood Drive. Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine is hosting a neighborhood blood drive on Friday, Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving at the hospital’s Wellness Center: 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100. So, after giving thanks and spending precious time with family and friends, turn all those positive feelings into positive actions and give the Gift of Life. Walk-ins are welcome, but an appointment will move you through faster. To make an appointment, call HCGH’s Volunteer Services at 410-884-4580.

November 29, 10:30-2:00 pm.  Dietician.  Individual 30 minute dietary counseling appointments with a registered dietician. This program is for people who do not have diabetes. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Suite 100. Register online. For more information call 410 740-7601.

November 29, 10:30-11:30 a.m.  Nature Sprouts: Owls – Silent Hunters . Owls are normally hidden in the night world so this is a special chance to meet them up close and personal to learn what makes them the silent hunters. Lots of hands-on activities and an owl craft. For ages 3-5 yrs. Cost: $5 per child, Hilton area Patapsco Valley State Park. Call 410-461-5005 to sign up.

November 30,  5:30 – 9:00 pm. Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED. Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia. Register online. For more information  call 410-740-7601

November 21- January 1, 6:00- 10:00 p.m. Drive Through the Symphony of Lights. Cars, vans and busses can take a 20-30 minute drive-through a display of more than 70 larger-than-life, light creations illuminated by a fantasy of color, design, and animation. This holiday tradition is delightful for all ages!

December 7, 7:00- 9:00 p.m. Pre-Diabetes: What Is It and What Can You Do about It? Understand what pre-diabetes is and learn how to prevent or delay actual diabetes. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. $15.00. For more information call 410-740-7601.

December 8, 4:30-5:45 p.m. Blinkin’ Binkies – Symphony of Lights. Families can celebrate the season with a leisurely 1.4 mile walk through the dazzling light displays. Children in strollers and wagons are welcome. Register online.

December 8, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Your Child’s Vision: What Parents Need to Know. Learn about normal visual development, how vision impacts learning, ocular safety and common vision complaints and what to do about them. Presented by Anya Trumler, M.D. Free. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. For more information call 410-740-7601.

December 13, 4:30-5:45 p.m. Tail Lights – Symphony of Lights. Back by popular demand! Treat yourself and your dog to a walk through the 1.4 mile Symphony of Lights displays. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season and to make this dog friendly walk your families new holiday tradition. Please register online.

December 14,  5:30 – 9pm. Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED. Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. For more information call 410-740-7601.



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Thank You

by Jessica “JP” Protasio

Nothing says anniversary like a 5K

It’s cool, sunny, and the air has a nice bite to it. My legs trot along as I count in my breath and feel the air stretch my lungs. I’m actually running. A perfect day for another 5K with the Columbia Striders. It’s the eight-month anniversary of my liver transplant,  and I’m looking forward to crossing that finish line. Luckily, I have company, Kim. She’s a mentor, friend, and an all-around inspiration. She keeps me entertained and encouraged even through I have no breath to respond. A year ago, cancer had winded me and I could barely walk without resting.

Today, every stride means I’m alive. I’m so happy, and my heart is brimming with thanks.

My mind wanders during the race. You know, it’s easy to be thankful during the harmonious periods in life. But what about the times when it’s all discombobulated? Now, that I have some perspective over the last year and can see some of the impact that cancer has had on my life, I am appreciative of the wisdom that comes from disappointment and pain. Unfortunately, these gifts don’t come in welcome packages. Heartache, loss, and crises help create our attitudes and shape us into uniquely talented people. I have a colleague who reminds me, “It’s about the journey,” to which I laughingly reply, “which sometimes sucks.” Yes, there’s little eloquence in such a phrase, but the sentiment resonates well.

Hope” can feel like an empty, patronizing word, particularly when you’re faced with a terminal illness or any other hardship. Growing up in my family, we had many “Protasio Adventures.” And in several instances, “hope” was a word we clung to because there was nothing else to grasp. I remember a time when it was just the four of us on Guam, my mom, dad, brother, and me– living in dad’s work van, looking for a home, a meal, and work. When you’re a kid, you don’t have control over the economy, or the government’s spending, or any of the big decisions in your family. Basically, you adapt and you do your best with what you have, when you have it. I know now that these experiences helped me through some of the darker spots in my cancer journey and have reinforced the power and comfort that hope and

The blanket was a gift from a friend in Texas.

thanksgiving bring.

Thanksgiving was an important holiday to my mother. She needed for us to celebrate–even when we couldn’t. We would sit and talk, telling stories of holidays past and holidays to come and what we would like to do someday. When “someday” eventually comes, my mother is holding my father’s left hand and I am clutching his right. We cry in the hospice room, too overwhelmed to blame the cancer that’s taken him or to be angry at all the hoping we’d done.A year later, a few days before mom’s graduation, she goes to bed, but doesn’t wake up to celebrate her “someday,” which finally came. Whether it was sitting around a table with empty plates, talking to my comatose father or accepting mom’s diploma posthumously, hope was still there, and for that I’m thankful.

A deep breath brings me back from my philosophizing over memories. Kim’s stories during the run reassure me that everyone has those defining moments where they make a decision to be who they want to be and how they want to live their life. For me? I want to live it in every stride, in every hug, in every word of thanks, giving hope, and being hopeful. Another survivor joins us as we near the finish. I’m not alone. I’ve got a family of friends and a new liver to help me live this life. All of us together, present and past (and passed away), we crossover. Finished!

If we only have today, let’s make it great and be thankful for it.

 

JP is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System. She is a Pajama Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.

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I cannot even put into words how important blood donation is. My daughter is ONLY alive today because people were willing to take time out of their busy lives, overcome their “fear of a needle,” roll up their sleeves and choose to donate their blood!

While I will never know exactly who my daughter’s donors were, I am eternally grateful to them for helping to save my daughter’s life. In 2004, my 16-year-old daughter was the victim of a young man playing with his father’s handgun at a pool party. He accidentally shot my daughter in the chest. She was flown to Shock Trauma where she suffered an arterial hemorrhage and cardiac arrest. She had emergency surgery and needed over 50 units of blood and blood products during surgery and in the weeks that followed.

Human blood is only a gift we humans can give to one another. Scientists have not perfected synthetic blood yet. When you choose to donate one unit, you can help up the three patients! Since my daughter’s shooting, we have volunteered for the Red Cross and met so many others who are only alive and well today because of donors! Not only trauma patients, but cancer patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies, birthing mothers with complications, and Sickle-cell patients are all depending on the success of blood drives.

To put it plain and simple – people would die without blood donors!

Sadly only 5 percent of the eligible population donates. I know we can do better than this just by educating people about the importance of blood donation. Don’t think like I used to: “If I don’t donate, someone else will” because the truth is, if we all thought like that, there would be NO donors. There are constant shortages. If you or a loved one were in an accident today and were in need of blood, you would expect it to be available, wouldn’t you? That only happens because people choose to donate!

Please, PLEASE donate blood. It only takes an hour out of your life to save someone else’s life! God bless and THANK YOU!

– Susan Weyer, RN, MCU

 

Howard County General Hospital is hosting a neighborhood blood drive on Friday, Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. After giving thanks and spending time with family and friends, turn those positive feelings into positive actions and give the Gift of Life.

The Blood Drive will be held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in the hospital’s Wellness Center at 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100. Walk-ins are welcome, but an appointment will move you through faster. To make an appointment, call HCGH’s Volunteer Services at 410-884-4580 or register online.

All blood drive participants will receive a special, limited edition Redskins – Red Cross t-shirt, as well as a chance to win a pair of tickets to a Redskins game, courtesy of the American Red Cross.

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By Barbara Cornell

The “Holidays” are upon us.  Traditions abound.  The more folks I talk to about family traditions, the more variety I discover. But most, those connected with Thanksgiving in particular, have something to do with food, even if it’s not a family dinner but a trip to help out at the local soup kitchen.  There’s something about the bounty of food available to most of us in America that makes us truly thankful.

My childhood memories of Thanksgiving  involve a big, brown turkey, but the sides were almost as important.  What feels “traditional” to me is white bread stuffing, green bean casserole, either sweet potatoes or winter squash topped with mini marshmallows, mashed potatoes and plenty of gravy.  My husband’s family adds “ambrosia”–a wonderful “salad” of fruit, sour cream, and more marshmallows.  And I had an uncle who just had to have his oyster stuffing and sauerkraut, topping a plate already piled high with everything else.  Pies were the dessert of choice—the more choices the merrier, and my father’s answer to the question “Which would you like?” was always “Yes!”  The only way to make the traditional Thanksgiving meal seem healthy is to take a stab at portion control.

Maybe you’d like a sweet, little book to go with your holidays!  I just ran across Pie by Sarah Weeks.  It’s a story aimed at 9-12-year olds, but its themes of generosity and gratitude and kids who behave better than the grownups around them will give even adults a smile.  The bonus is 14 scrumptious pie recipes!

So let us give our thanks to the providers of the foods of the season, to the preparers of the food, and to whatever supreme being you answer to.

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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Howard County Health Screenings and EventsSymphony of Lights Festivities – Dazzle Dash Weekend
Saturday, November 19, 2011; 5-7:30pm – Runners only
Sunday, November 20, 2011; 4-7:30pm – Walkers only
A fun filled kick-off community event to celebrate the opening of the 18th Annual Symphony of Lights. Friends and families gather to walk or run 1.4 miles through the magical outdoor display of lights. Come and experience the excitement as the holiday season begins. Enjoy games and activities for children of all ages, food, entertainment and giveaways.
** Pre-registration required. Space is limited! **

November 21, 3:30-5:30pm. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital at the Glenwood Branch.

November 29, 10:30-2:00 pm.  Dietician.  Individual 30 minute dietary counseling appointments with a registered dietician. This program is for people who do not have diabetes. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Suite 100. Register online. For more information call 410 740-7601.

November 30,  5:30 – 9:00 pm. Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED. Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia. Register online. For more information  call 410-740-7601.


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It just so happens that November 19, 2011, is both International Survivors of Suicide Day and National Adoption Day.  Both days provide opportunities to find comfort, strength, and support.

International Survivors of Suicide Day is was introduced in 1999 by Senator Harry Reid and is held annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention this is a day where: “Survivors of suicide loss gather at hundreds of simultaneous healing conferences around the world…to connect with others who have survived the tragedy of suicide loss, and express and understand the powerful emotions they experience.” You can search conferences across the country including several in Maryland and one in Columbia organized by Grassroots.  If you’d still like to be involved but cannot attend a conference, you can sign up to watch events online.

From comfort and support for those who have felt loss to a new beginning for those who have been found, November 19 is also National Adoption Day. Not only is this a day of celebration for and of adoptive families, it is also a chance to expedite the process. Every year since 2000 thousands of courts across the nation have opened their doors on National Adoption Day to finalize adoptions of children from foster care. Events for National Adoption Day can be found in Maryland starting today.

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Bedside Manners

by Mary Catherine Cochran

I’ve had a doctor stretch and yawn and mumble laconically, terrible news about a child’s lab results through hands late to cover his mouth.   I’ve heard a doctor tell a dying patient that he was a phenomenal research opportunity. I’ve watched a pediatrician throw an instrument across the examining room where it shattered in little pieces, when it was not the instrument he requested of the nurse.

My stories, however, must pale in comparison to the story of Carolyn Bucksbaum.  After a negative encounter with a physician, Carolyn and husband Matthew, put the power of their wallet behind creating better-trained physicians.  They gave a 42 million dollar gift to the University of Chicago to create an institute to improve physician bedside manners.

Medical Schools have heard negative stories, too, and they’ve responded by training physicians to communicate more effectively, demonstrate empathy and behave within accepted norms.  In addition to improving curricula, schools are also screening candidates for social ability. A recent article in the New York Times revealed how thirteen medical schools in the US and Canada are now using a new admissions process that evaluates candidates not only on academics, but on social and ethical skills, as well.

While the preference for a kind, attentive physician who truly listens has always been the ideal; the rush to kindness is grounded in practical reasons.   More and more recent studies assign the blame of preventable deaths and medical errors on poor communications. Physicians that are technically excellent make mistakes because they simply do not know how to communicate well.  In addition to improving service excellence- there is always marketing. A 2004 Harris poll found that adults believed it was more important that doctors listened to their concerns and questions than it was that the doctors remained up to date on the latest medical research and treatment.  Happy patients make for a busy practice.

I agree that a physician who listens attentively is key to receiving good care and that there is plenty of room to train physicians to interact better with patients, I have to say, however, that I disagree with the Harris poll.   I would refer anyone to the physicians featured in the beginning of this post. The yawning physician?  A fabulous diagnostician that detected a rare and treatable disorder that had gone undiagnosed by less well-read physicians.  The research doc?  A brilliant radiation oncologist who translated cutting edge research into life extending treatment.  The temper tantrum physician?  A pediatrician who would make house and hospital calls- out of County- and was known for providing free healthcare to uninsured children.

What is more important to you?  Relationship or expertise?


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In short, yes, you need a flu shot.  There’s a lot of information on the flu and flu vaccinations.  Almost too much.  So what’s the essential information someone needs to make it through flu season?  Let’s break it down:

WHAT?
According to MedlinePlus, flu (short for  influenza, with its own much more detailed definition) is essentially “any of several diseases caused by bacteria or viruses and marked especially by respiratory or intestinal symptoms.” There is, however, a flu seasonal during which viruses are particularly prevalent and vaccinations (the “shot”) are recommended.

And just what is the shot? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “the seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.”  The CDC also explains that there are two types of flu vaccines: the flu shot, which contains killed viruses and is injected, usually in the arm, with a needle; and the nasal spray, which is made with living but weakened viruses.  There are actually three shots available: regular for those 6 months and older; high-dose for 65 and older; and intradermal, injected into the skin rather than muscle, for people 18 to 64.  The nasal spray is approved for anyone in good health ages 2 through 49 and not pregnant. Discuss with a physician what type of vaccine would be best for you.

WHO?
Anyone 6 months or older should get a flu shot every year according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

WHY?
The flu, despite how “common” it seems, is serious business that can lead to hospitalization and even death. In fact, the CDC reports,”ìStudies going back to 1976 have found that flu-related deaths ranged from a low of 4,700 to a high of 56,600 (average 25,500). During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.” Additonally, the flu can lead to other medical complications including, as described at Flu.Gov, worsening of chronic medical conditions, bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, and dehydration.
Besides, the flu is unpredictable.  Every season is different with different strains of the virus, and the flu can affect different people in different ways.  So it’s best not to take chances.  Plus, not only does getting vaccinated lessen your chances of getting the flu, it also helps prevent the spread of the flu throughout the community.

WHEN?
The organization Families Fighting Flu indicates that the flu virus tends to spread from October to May, most frequently occurring in January and February. The CDC strongly recommends getting the shot as soon as vaccinations are available in your area and particularly before December as that will ensure that flu antibodies (which take about 2 weeks to be fully effective) will be in place for the height of flu season.  But a flu shot any time during the season can still be beneficial.

WHERE AND HOW?
Of course you can contact your doctor to set up a flu vaccination.  There are also a lot of public facilities that offer flu clinics and shots at lower costs.  You can use Flu.Gov’s  Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu shot near you.

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Howard County Health Screenings and EventsNovember 12, 9:00 am. Family Turkey Waddle – Gary J Arthur Community CenterWin your family’s Thanksgiving turkey! Join us for a crisp early morning 1-mile fun run turkey waddle. All waddlers that complete the fun walk/run will be entered into a prize drawing for a gift card that can be used towards your family’s Thanksgiving. Three winners will be chosen. Event will be held rain or shine. Preregistration required. Registration/Information: 410-313-4840. Or register online . TTY 410-313-4665 for hearing / speech disabilities.  5+ yrs, $7.00 per center member and $10 per non-member: Advanced registration required. Located at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood: 2400 Route 97, Cooksville, MD 21723

November 14,  5:30 – 9:00 pmAdult/Child/Infant CPR/AEDEarn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia.  Register online.  For more information call 410-740-7601.

November 15, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pmTeens Together. A student-led group that connects teens who have either a family member or close friend with a diagnosis of cancer. Adult facilitators & teen peers provide support & encouragement. For more information call 410 740-5858.

November 17,  11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Great American Smoke Out. Located at the HCGH Lobby. Stop by for resources to help you quit smoking. Registration not required. Free. For more information call 410-740-7601.

November 17, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm.  Advanced Directives. Review what advance directives are, who needs them, and how you get them. You will have the opportunity of leaving this class with a completed advance directive document. Also, learn what it means to appoint, or to be appointed, a health care agent. Registration is required for this free event. Call 410-740-5858.

Symphony of Lights Festivities – Dazzle Dash Weekend
Saturday, November 19, 2011; 5-7:30pm – Runners only
Sunday, November 20, 2011; 4-7:30pm – Walkers only
A fun filled kick-off community event to celebrate the opening of the 18th Annual Symphony of Lights. Friends and families gather to walk or run 1.4 miles through the magical outdoor display of lights. Come and experience the excitement as the holiday season begins. Enjoy games and activities for children of all ages, food, entertainment and giveaways.
** Pre-registration required. Space is limited! **

November 29, 10:30-2:00 pm.  Dietician.  Individual 30 minute dietary counseling appointments with a registered dietician. This program is for people who do not have diabetes. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Suite 100. Register online. For more information call 410 740-7601.

November 30,  5:30 – 9:00 pm. Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED. Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia. Register online. For more information  call 410-740-7601.


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by Matthew Hall

So many people are unhappy with their weight. If you take a trip to Target or watch TV for 5 minutes, it is almost certain you will see a product or program that will give you some exciting and easy way to lose weight. Celebrities are talking about shedding pounds with fat burners and eating ready-made “healthy” foods, and this has only increased our weight consciousness as a society.

Many people will complain that they gained a pound or talk about how they once lost 5 lbs on an obscure grapefruit diet. Our conceptions of what weight means and how to lose it are generally wrong, and it is unfortunate what people will put their bodies through to change that number on the scale.

Weight is not the most helpful thing to measure when it comes to exercise routines. This is because your weight can fluctuate by several pounds, even throughout the day. If you weigh yourself before vs after eating, in the morning vs night, or even after you drink a really big glass of water, your scale could be telling you a different number. Even the increasingly popular BMI test (Body Mass Index) does not take into account lean muscle mass or body fat percentage. This can cause problems to someone frustrated by their numbers.

Body fat is really the best measure of your health in terms of weight. Not only is this a better measure of fitness than weight, it is also the best way to track your progress. Consider my New Year’s resolution to get in shape. Starting at 185 lbs, I worked out 4-6 times a week and ate a low(er) carbohydrate diet full of lean proteins, fruit, and vegetables. Six months later, I have only lost 5 pounds on the scale but decreased my body fat from 18% to 11%. Many people starting an exercise routine will despair in that they lost inches but not pounds. Inches are what you need to lose, not necessarily pounds! By following a program that involves resistance or weight training, you will add muscle to your frame while decreasing fat, so your weight may stay the same. If you are only watching the number on your scale, you could be deceived into thinking you are not making progress.

The most common way to calculate body fat is with calipers, which you can buy for less than $10. Follow the directions in the booklet that comes with them to calculate a total from the sites you measured. Along with your age, these measurements will help you estimate your body fat. There are also scales that can read your body fat along with your weight, but they tend to be more unreliable than calipers in that they are highly influenced by the amount of water in your body. There are other more costly ventures available, but since most of us here are not elite athletes with access to such methods, we will skip them for now.

So in short, take the time to measure your body-fat percentage. Talk to your doctor, trainer, or consult a reliable internet fitness resource about what a reasonable fat-loss goal is. Then get to work!

 

Matthew Hall is currently an Operations Specialist for Howard County Library System and a student at Liberty University.

He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. His interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.

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Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered the switch that enables breast cancer cells to travel to and be received in the lungs.
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Release Date: 11/08/2011

The spread of breast cancer is responsible for more than 90 percent of breast cancer deaths. Now, the process by which it spreads — or metastasizes — has been unraveled by researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Reporting in two papers, the researchers have discovered the switch that enables breast cancer cells to travel to and be received in the lungs.

The results appear in two separate papers, one in the September 12 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Early Edition and the other in the August 22 issue of Oncogene.

“Metastasis transforms breast cancer from a local, curable disease, to one that is systemic and lethal,” says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Medicine, director of the Vascular Program in the Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins. “Metastasis was long thought a late event in cancer progression, but we have now shown metastasis to be an early event that is dependent on HIF-1″

Discovered by Semenza’s team nearly 20 years ago, the HIF-1 protein controls genes that enable cells to survive in low oxygen, like cells in solid tumors. More recently, others have found that in patients with breast cancer, an increase in HIF-1 activity correlates with increase in metastasis and decreased survival.

To uncover the role of HIF-1 in breast cancer metastasis to the lungs, the research team first looked at the lung, which is prepared for the arrival of metastatic cells by enzymes that are produced by the breast cancer cells. Using human breast cancer cells, the research team examined the genes that encode these enzymes and found regions where HIF-1 could bind to the DNA. Since HIF-1 is active in low oxygen, the team genetically engineered and reduced the amount of

HIF-1 the cells could make, then examined how active the enzyme-producing genes were in cells grown in normal or low oxygen levels. They found that the cells were unable to produce these enzymes without HIF-1.

The team next implanted some of these same human breast cancer cells — some that made normal amounts of HIF-1 and some that made reduced amounts — into mice and examined the lungs after 45 days. Compared with breast cancer cells that made normal amounts of HIF-1, those making less HIF-1 resulted in smaller tumors and fewer changes in the lung, leading them to conclude that HIF-1 is critical for lung metastasis.

In order for breast cancer cells to spread to lungs, they must leave the breast, enter blood vessels that lead to the lungs, and exit those same vessels. “Blood vessels are pretty tight, a cell has to work pretty hard to get through the vessel wall,” says Semenza.

“Since HIF-1 triggers the lung to prepare for arriving breast cancer cells, we wondered if HIF-1 also is involved in getting cells into and out of blood vessels.”

Semenza’s team used breast cancer cells grown in low oxygen to examine the activity of 88 genes known to play a role in metastasis.

Looking for genes that are turned on in response to low oxygen, they found one called angiopoietin-like 4 and one called L1 cell adhesion molecule, known as ANGPTL4 and L1CAM for short. Further examination of the DNA around these genes revealed regions where HIF-1 could bind, and removing HIF-1 from cells rendered them unable to turn on the two genes.

When breast cancer cells turn on ANGPTL4, it helps them travel through blood vessel walls, the team found by injecting these cells either with normal or “knocked-down” levels of ANGPTL4 into mice and examining their lungs. Cells lacking HIF-1 and containing extra ANGPTL4 were better able to invade the lungs than cells without extra ANGPTL4; the researchers concluded that ANGPTL4 promotes cell exit from blood vessels. And they found the same to be true for L1CAM.

Lastly, a few years ago, Semenza’s team found that digitalis/digoxin, commonly used to treat irregular heartbeats, can block HIF-1 production and can stop liver and prostate cancer cells from growing.

To see if digitalis could do the same with metastatic breast cancer, the researchers transplanted human breast cancer cells into mice.

After two weeks, they gave the mice daily injections of digitalis or saline. They found both fewer and smaller lung metastases in mice treated with digitalis.

“This is really exciting,” says Semenza. “The therapeutic range for digoxin is well established, and our findings warrant clinical trials to determine if these doses are enough to sufficiently block HIF-1 and slow breast cancer growth and metastasis.”

These studies were funded by the Emerald Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, the Croucher Foundation and the Postdoctoral Training Program in Nanotechnology for Cancer Medicine.

Authors on the PNAS paper are Carmen Chak-Lui Wong, Daniele Gilkes, Huafeng Zhang, Jasper Chen, Hong Wei, Pallavi Chaturvedi, Stephanie Fraley, Denis Wirtz and Gregg Semenza, all of Johns Hopkins, and Chun-ming Wong, Ui-Soon, Khoo, and Irene Oi-Lin Ng of the University of Hong Kong.

Authors on the Oncogene paper are H. Zhang, C.C.L. Wong, H. Wei, DM Gilkes, P. Korangath, P. Chaturvedi, L. Schito, J. Chen, B. Krishnamachary, P.T. Winnard Jr., V. Raman, L. Zheng, W.A. Mitzner, S. Sukumar and G. Semenza, all of Johns Hopkins.


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Your Fears Erased Daily by Michael Lee Johnson

by Mary Catheirne Cochran

For those who suffer from significant anxiety, there are old and new techniques and therapies being used with great success including teaching patients to disregard biological feelings of fear and helping patients with longer term therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

For the rest of us- who are not crippled by fear but certainly affected by it- there are also things we can do.  If you are trying to withstand the onslaught of a bad news cycle, an unwelcome change in career or the uncertainty of our economic future, here are a few proven remedies from Psychology Today:

  • Eliminate caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants–these fuel the fight-or-flight response.
  • Avoid people who reinforce your fear–they are biological irritants; stick close to emotional nurturers.
  • Stay away from violent newscasts, traffic jams, arguments, or other stress inducers.
  • Take a hot bath.

Or, try this Progressive Relaxation Technique:   In a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, take a few deep breaths while letting your body go as limp as possible. When you’re ready, begin by tightening the muscles in your toes…hold to a count of ten… then relax. Enjoy the relief of tension melting. Do the same with flexing your foot muscles, and move slowly through your entire body: calves, legs, stomach, back, neck, jaw, face, contracting and releasing each area.

(My favorite remedy was not included in the list from Psychology Today…but it works every time…crank up the stereo and dance!)

And, remember these words of wisdom from FDR’s first inauguration speech:

“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…” “In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things… Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment. Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils, which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for… We now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well…”

(If you have the time- click through and listen to the whole, amazing speech)

 


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by Barbara Cornell

Oh, what to do, what to do, now that the farmers markets are finished for the year?  I’ll certainly check Howard County Economic Development Authority‘s website  whose Agriculture Marketing Home Page will tell me when the markets are opening up in the spring.  I can also check Maryland Direct Farm Market Association for direct farm market and pick-your-own information―there are still farms where I can go for fresh apples.  At  Maryland’s Best I can also find local products from Maryland farmers, even a turkey!  Here you can also find Fun Fall Farm Activities and YouTube clips of interviews with farm families.

In the meantime I’ll still try to be a locavore.  I just don’t like the idea of my veggies expending too much truck exhaust getting to me.  I mentioned Barbara Kingsolver’s 2007 book  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life in my August 2011 post.  Her family spent an entire year growing much of their own produce and meat and buying locally what they couldn’t grow.  My book group broke away from our usual fare of Contemporary Fiction to discuss it last year.  In our discussion I was reminded that a lot of jobs and some segments of our nation’s economy depend on the transport of food.  OK, so I’ll let them truck me my mangoes, bananas, and pineapples, but I’ll try to buy locally when I can.

In a chat with Tony, produce manager of an Ellicott City Giant store, I was reassured that Giant tries to buy from local producers whenever possible.  Safeway stores also have a “longtime practice of giving buying preference to our local vendor partners throughout the United States and Canada.”

Some other great sources of local produce are Roots, David’s Natural Market, Trader Joe’s, Mom’s Organic Market―I found reviews for all these nearby specialty grocers at Yelp.com.

Howard County Library system has some great new books for you, too.

The Locavore’s Kitchen: a Cook’s Guide to Seasonal Eating and Preserving by Marilou K. Susko offers a mix of inspiration, advice, and recipes that will let you keep fresh, seasonal flavors in your kitchen.

The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food by Amy Cotler is a great way to be introduced to the local food movement.  Cotler has a wealth of advice on where and how to shop, and how to “play with your produce.”  She even includes dining out and gardening.

Are you still looking for recipes to help you sneak more vegetables into your family’s dinners?  “The Meal Makeover Moms,” Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex, authors of  The Mom’s Guide to Meal Makovers: Improving the Way Your Family Eats, One Meal at a Time, have a new title out, No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms. You can sample recipes like “Oodles of orzo zucchini bake” and “Whole enchilada bake” online.  The enchilada bake sneaks winter squash and corn into a layered casserole, and I found it very forgiving of substitutions and all the richer because of the squash.

So, until the farmers’ markets open up again, I’ll see you in the produce section.

 

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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November Events: The Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center offers classes, events and support groups for patients, family and caregivers. For more information call the Center at 410 740-5858.

The Claudia Mayer Center Library

Ongoing  Yoga for Patients, Caregivers and Survivors. Fridays from 9:00a.m.-10:00a.m., and Tuesdays from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm.  Fall yoga will continue until mid-December. Learn basic yoga movements under the leadership of an experienced, clinically trained instructor. For information, call 410-964-9100.

November 2,9,16,23 and 30th. 10:00 am- 12 noon.  Knitting and Crochet Support Group.  Instruction, directions and good times for the beginning or advanced needler. Ongoing group meets weekly on Wednesdays.

November 8th and 22nd. 1:00 pm-3:00 pm. Quilting Support Group: Quilting and hand piecing techniques and time to work on projects.   Ongoing group meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month.

November 14, noon -1:00pm.  Lunch & Learn – “Acupuncture’s Miraculous Meridians and How They Work”.  Call to register in advance 

November 15th. 6:00-7:30 pm.  Teens Together:   A student-led group that connects teens who have either a family member or close friend with a diagnosis of cancer.  Adult facilitators & teen peers provide support & encouragement.  

November 16. 7:00 pm- 8:30 pm. Breast Cancer Support Group – An ongoing support group for breast cancer patients that occurs on the third Wednesday of each month. Registration requested.  Please call 410-740-5858.  Facilitated by Mary Dowling, LCSW-C

November 17th. 10:30 am to 12 noon. NEW:  Journal your Journey: Every person has a life journey and each one is unique. Create your own journal of your story using scrapbooking to enhance the written word.  Third Thursday of each month. Registration required.

November 17th. 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. Living with Breast Cancer Support Group –  This ongoing support group usually meets the fourth Thursday of each month, but will take place this month on the 17th. Registration requested.  Please call 410-740-5858.  Facilitated by Mary Dowling, LCSW-C.

November 21. 3:30 p.m.Look Good…Feel Better. This American Cancer Society program provides a free workshop by a licensed cosmetologist.   Women undergoing cancer treatment learn to manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment and receive a complimentary bag of cosmetics.

December 4th-  Save the Date!  5th Annual Celebration of Hope.

The Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center is located  in Suite Go50 of the Medical Pavilion at Howard County, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite G050, Columbia, Maryland 21044.  For more information about the Center or these programs, call 410 740-5858.

hocoblogs@@@ cancer classes events support groups


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Howard County Health Screenings and Events

November 4, 2011. Prep work for Saturday tree planting – Patapsco Heritage Greenway. Volunteers needed. Please email patapscofriend@gmail.com for more information.

November 5, 9:00 am – 12 noon.  Tree planting in Patapsco ValleyPatapsco Heritage Greenway. Volunteers needed. Please email patapscofriend@gmail.com for more information.

November 5, 9:00 am – 12 noon. Family Volunteer Day. Join family and friends at the 12th Annual Family Volunteer Day. This is a day for families, friends, scout troops and religious organizations to increase their sense of unity by performing tasks that improve your community. Spend quality time together and teach children about caring as you help beautify local parks and historic sites. Bring a canned good or paper product for distribution to the Howard County Food Bank. For information: Ann Combs, 410-313-4624 or email acombs@howardcountymd.gov. Local parks and historic sites. All ages. Rain date Nov 12.

November 7, 3:30-5:30 pm. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital at the Glenwood  Branch.

November 8 and 15, 6:30-8:00 pm. Moving through Anger. Identify your anger triggers and learn techniques to manage them. $40. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, in Columbia. For information call 410-740-7601, or register online.

November 9, 9:00 am-11:00 am. Diabetes ScreeningFree. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia. Register online. For information call 410-740-7601.

November 9, 10:15 & 11:15 am. How Kind – Choose Civility. Help instill civility in your 2-5- year-old children by bringing them to this class at the East Columbia Branch. They’ll enjoy stories and activities about kindness, caring, and sharing. 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.

November 10, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm. Fretz Autumn Extravaganza – A Harvest of Hope. Enjoy a fun and festive evening to benefit the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center. Food by Carrabbas Italian Restaurant, fine wine by Gus Kalaris of Axios Wines, silent and live auction, DJ, entertainment and cooking demonstrations. For information call 410-740-7570.

November 10, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Rain Barrel Seminar.  Collect rainwater and run off for use in your garden.  Keep the rain out of our storm drains.   Khaler Hall, Columbia.

November 12, 9:00 am. Family Turkey Waddle – Gary J Arthur Community CenterWin your family’s Thanksgiving turkey! Join us for a crisp early morning 1-mile fun run turkey waddle. All waddlers that complete the fun walk/run will be entered into a prize drawing for a gift card that can be used towards your family’s Thanksgiving. Three winners will be chosen. Event will be held rain or shine. Preregistration required. Registration/Information: 410-313-4840. Or register online . TTY 410-313-4665 for hearing / speech disabilities.  5+ yrs, $7.00 per center member and $10 per non-member: Advanced registration required. Located at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood: 2400 Route 97, Cooksville, MD 21723

November 14,  5:30 – 9:00 pmAdult/Child/Infant CPR/AEDEarn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia.  Register online.  For more information call 410-740-7601.

November 17,  11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Great American Smoke Out. Located at the HCGH Lobby. Stop by for resources to help you quit smoking. Registration not required. Free. For more information call 410-740-7601.

Symphony of Lights Festivities – Dazzle Dash Weekend
Saturday, November 19, 2011; 5-7:30pm – Runners only
Sunday, November 20, 2011; 4-7:30pm – Walkers only
A fun filled kick-off community event to celebrate the opening of the 18th Annual Symphony of Lights. Friends and families gather to walk or run 1.4 miles through the magical outdoor display of lights. Come and experience the excitement as the holiday season begins. Enjoy games and activities for children of all ages, food, entertainment and giveaways.
** Pre-registration required. Space is limited! **

November 30,  5:30 – 9:00 pm. Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED. Earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. This is not a health care provider course. $55. Located at the HCGH Wellness Center at the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia. Register online. For more information  call 410-740-7601.

hocoblogs@@@ Johns Hopkins Medicine, Howard County General Hospital, Howard


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By Kim T. Ha

As I mentioned last month, I greatly enjoy dancing to music with kids. Not only can children’s music enhance physical fitness, it can also be a great way to sharpen listening skills. Many children’s songs also reiterate basic concepts such as colors, opposites, and body parts. Below are more songs I highly recommend for getting active with your kids. This time I’ve included a number of songs featuring props, such as bean bags and teddy bears.

“Stretch” from Dragon Tunes
This is a great morning wake-up song and way to start any physical activity with your children. This lively song has an island feel and encourages kids to “do the best you can do and be the best you can be” while reminding them that there is ìno need to rush it or push it. Movements include reaching up high, reaching down to touch toes, and stretching and rocking side to side. Running a little over a minute and a half, this song provides a fast way to limber up and encourages the healthy practice of stretching before exercising.

“Hands are for Clapping” by Jim Gill from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes
This mellow, feel-happy song gets your kids clapping their hands, tapping their toes, and snapping their fingers. At one point they even are encouraged to brush their teeth! The strumming and whistling in this song makes it relaxed and perhaps even a great way for your kids to end the night.

“Beanie Bag Dance” by Greg & Steve from Kids in Action
This boogie-woogie style song instructs kids to place their bean bags on different parts of their bodies while dancing: their shoulders, their heads, their elbows, their feet, etc. The shouting refrain, “We’re doing the beanie bag dance!” is especially fun for children. Also, maintaining movement with a bean bag balanced on a body part can be quite a challenge. This song has a party feel and would be great for working out energy for the hyperactive.

“Teddy Bear Playtime” by Hap Palmer from So Big: Activity Songs for Little Ones
Who doesn’t have a teddy bear? Children will love working together with their favorite bedtime pal to dance to this relaxing tune. Kids throw and catch their bears and then place their bears on different parts of their bodies. I’ve used this song a number of times during Pajama Time at the Elkridge Branch; and at one minute fifty seconds, this relatively brief song can be a perfect way for kids to settle into bed with their stuffed sleep companions.

“Dance With Your Teddy Bear” by Greg & Steve from Jumpin’ & Jammin’
Yes, itís another Teddy Bear song! Unlike “Teddy Bear Playtime,” this song is anything but relaxing. Greg and Steve invite kids to rock with their teddy bears and to perform some fun exercises, such as jumping over their bears, balancing their bears on one knee, and dancing around with their bears perched on their shoulders and under their chins. If you want a high-impact workout, then this song is it and a great way to work out pent up energy in children!

“Pig on Her Head” by Laurie Berkner from Buzz Buzz
I just had to add a song from Laurie, one of my favorite children’s musicians. This bouncy, silly song is fun and requires some imagination or creativity. Animals ranging from pigs to crocodiles to octopuses end up on your head! Kids with the appropriate stuffed animals can use those. Otherwise, they can use drawings or imagine these animals on top of their heads. Kids also imitate the sounds of the animals who have found homes on their heads. For some inspiration, the music video for this song can be found on YouTube. Laurie winds down the song by asking kids to touch different body parts and to clap their hands, a fun way to cool down.

 

Kim Ha is the Children’s Instructor and Research Supervisor at the Elkridge Branch of the Howard County Library System.  She enjoys dancing, jewelry-making, photography and traveling. So far, her favorite destinations are Hawaii and Italy. She recently discovered the joys of yoga and stunt kite flying.

 


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by Mary Catherine Cochran

According to the CDC, 34% of adults age 20 years and over are obese.  An additional 34% of adults age 20 years and over are overweight.  This means that fully 2/3 of our adult population has an issue with weight.

So… what do you do? Practice a little self-control? Go on a diet? Lose a little weight?  Not so fast.  A panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conference in April 1992 concluded that 90 percent of dieters regain most or all of their lost weight within five years. And one University of California at Los Angeles study found that about 2/3 of dieters regained MORE weight within four or five years than they initially lost.  This brings me back to the original question.  “Is dieting the leading cause of obesity in America?”  Probably not, the crux of the issue is still more calories in, less calories out, but if we can’t determine how to reduce those calories, reduce the weight and keep the weight off, we engage in a self perpetuating cycle.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published, Long-Term Persistence of Hormonal Adaptations to Weight Loss.  This study, in a nutshell, concludes that you can blame it on the hormones.  The study shows that when you begin to lose weight, your leptin levels drop.  (Leptin is a hormone that is produced by fat cells.)  This triggers the brain to believe that starvation is imminent and your body begins to conserve energy and preserve calories.  The metabolism slows down.  But, it gets more complicated.  You’ve reduced your caloric intake and so you’re hungry… this causes the brain to send out signals that stimulate your appetite.   A lowered metabolism combined with a stronger appetite is a difficult combination for the person trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss.  NPR puts it this way; “If you weigh 230 pounds and lose 30 pounds, you cannot eat as much as an individual has always weighed 200 pounds.  You basically have a “caloric handicap”.

The study leads to more questions.  Can you control the hormonal changes that reduce metabolism?  How long do the changes last?

In the meantime- we do know that you can kick up your metabolism with exercise- but none of this 30 minutes three times a week routine.  In order to make a difference, you’ll have to exercise at least one hour every day.

So put the Halloween candy down, go out for a brisk wall…  fight the good fight-  but if anybody asks-  blame it on the hormones!

hocoblogs@@@ diet weight loss maintaining weight loss


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